Postpartum Healing

I’ve wanted to take the time to sit down and write an entire blog post devoted to postpartum healing and recovery since I gave birth back in September. My body continues to amaze me every day with all that it has been through over the last 15 months and all it continues to do to help feed and nurture my son all while healing itself.

Birth is such a magical experience, but it does take a toll on our bodies. Not only do we need to recover physically, we also need to make sure we are mentally and emotionally recovering. I wanted to share a few of the steps I took to let my body heal itself naturally during the first few weeks postpartum.

Thanks to some wonderful advice from my amazing midwife and doula, I think my body healed very nicely.  I do want to point out that I am not a medical professional and it’s important for you to talk with your doctor or midwife to find what your body needs. What works for me might not work for, or even be healthy, for you!

Healing Physically

While my birth was an all-natural, non-medicated home birth, I did end up having a few set-backs that were not in my birth plan. I ended up having to be catheterized and I had an episiotomy that required suturing (I talk more about that in Ellis’ birth story). Due to these things my body was more prone to infection after birth, so my midwife suggested a lot of natural supplements I could take to make sure my body stayed healthy and healed properly.

As soon as my baby was born and in my arms, my midwife wanted me to eat something. I wasn’t hungry, but did as she said and ate a little something right away. Next thing I knew my husband and my birth team were taking turns getting me to sip various different drinks and take tinctures.

The first thing I was offered to drink was a homemade labor aid I had made ahead of time mixed with liquid chlorophyll. I was also given blue cohosh tea and cotton root bark right after Ellis was born. One was in the form of tea, the other a tincture.

Here’s a quick look at everything I’ve been taking to help my body heal naturally:

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  • Liquid Chlorophyll — My midwife recommended I have a 16oz bottle of liquid chlorophyll on hand for after the birth. Liquid Chlorophyll is known to build red blood cells and can help speed the healing of wounds. I lost a lot of blood during labor (half a quart is normal for a vaginal birth, I lost at least twice that much) and my midwife said I handled it very well. She recommended that I drink the whole bottle by the end of the week. Brendan mixed it into orange juice for me, and I drank that three times a day.

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  • Arnica — To help with the pain of cramps and bruising, I took 3 small tablets of Arnica every 4 hours. I had a bit of internal bruising and had some slight cramping of the uterus while nursing, so the Arnica was a homeopathic medicine to relieve that.
  • Motherwort Tincture — A Motherwort tincture by the brand Wish Garden was included in our home birth kit. I took this tincture to help with the cramping of my uterus, and it also helped with mood swings due to hormone imbalance. I took half a dropper full of this tincture a couple of times a day. I simply held the tincture under my tongue for 30 seconds and then swallowed. After I finished this tincture I started taking a Baby Blues tincture by Wish Garden, which has Motherwort and St. John’s Wort.
  • Vitamin C — There’s a lot that goes on in the body right after birth, that’s for sure. To make sure my immune system stayed strong and healthy, my midwife recommended I take 3,000mg of vitamin C a day. This was especially supposed to help keep my immune system functioning properly so I didn’t catch any illnesses.
  • Garlic — Garlic has natural antiviral properties and helps to strengthen the immune system to keep illness at bay. My midwife told me that I could eat foods cooked with garlic cloves, but I knew that I wouldn’t be in the kitchen with a newborn, so I opted for the garlic in supplement form and took that 3 times a day.
  • Goldenseal Root — Goldenseal Root is used for internal bleeding, bleeding after childbirth, and vaginal pain and swelling. My midwife had me take this 2 times a day.
  • Echinacea — My midwife told me to take an Echinacea supplement 3x a day for 5 days. This was to help strengthen my immune system so that I didn’t get sick.
  • Phytolacca Decandra — My milk came in 3 days after I had Ellis. My breasts were so swollen and engorged during those first few days and it was very uncomfortable. I have a lymph node on my underarm that is very sensitive to hormone imbalance and will become swollen when things aren’t right in my body. When my milk came in my lymph node became swollen right along with my breasts. My midwife recommended that I use a warm compress on it and also for me to take Phytolacca Decandra to help with the swelling and draining of the lymph node. Thankfully my local health food store had it on hand!

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  • Herbal Sitz Bath — An afterbirth herbal sitz bath from the brand Lucy’s Garden was included in our home birth kit. My midwife recommended that I get a sitz bath that I could put on the toilet and use. I took a sitz bath 2x a day for 15 minutes.

Aside from the above, I did lots of resting, iced my perineum using frozen maxi pads that had aloe vera and witch hazel or raw coconut oil on them, and I used a natural cooling perineum spray by Earth Mama Organics.

The only non-natural things I used for my healing were an over-counter numbing agent my midwife used when she did my sutures, and then I think I took 2 ibuprofen within the first couple days of giving birth for the swelling. And that’s it. No epidural, no IVs, no numbing perineum spray, etc.

Brendan took such good care of me in the first two weeks after having Ellis. He cooked for me, did laundry, changed so many diapers, brewed my herbal sitz baths every day, made sure I was keeping up with all of my supplements, fixed my chlorophyll orange juice, and made sure I was eating and drinking enough water.

I think we mamas underestimate how important it is to simply rest and let our bodies heal after giving birth. I followed my midwife’s advice and stayed inside and didn’t drive for 2 weeks. If you are able to stay home and have someone care for you during the first 2 weeks (or the first month) after giving birth please do so! In doing so you’ll be able to give your baby the attention they need while also giving your body time to recover. Take this time to focus on healing and getting to know and bond with your baby.

 

 

 

End of Year Reflection 2018

And Just like that another year has come and gone. It seems like just the other day I was writing 2017’s reflection post on my previous blog, Novel Ideas. I’m pretty sure 2018 has been the biggest year of my life, full of so much growth and transformation.

I haven’t blogged since Ellis was born, so I wanted to write a reflection post as a way to catch everyone up on my life. I’m hoping now that Ellis is a bit older I’ll have more time to blog in the new year. I’m so thankful for this space and being able to share my thoughts, feelings, and my experiences throughout motherhood.  

Here are some questions of reflection from 2018:

  1. What is something I accomplished this year that I am proud of? That’s a hard one. The only thing that really comes to mind is that I had the unmedicated home birth that I wanted, despite the doubts of others. I’m pretty freaking proud of all my body is capable of! Birth is amazing.
  2. What is something that happened this year that I think I will remember for the rest of my life? Giving birth to my first son at home on Labor Day! I had the most beautiful home birth with the most amazing birth team. I’ve been writing Ellis’ birth story and hope to have it posted soon. I never get tired of talking about his birth and I love sitting down and reliving that day with anyone that is willing to listen! If you haven’t heard the full story let’s grab a cup of coffee some time and I’ll tell you all about it.
  3. What was the most challenging part of this year for me? By far, parenthood has been the most challenging part of this year. My pregnancy and labor were fairly easy and I loved it, but I was anxious about becoming a parent and it really is hard. I’ve sacrificed sleep, warm meals, one-on-one time with my husband, and on some days my happiness. I know that sounds awful, but I’m trying to be really honest here. Becoming a mother is one of the best things that has happened to me and it’s been such a beautiful journey. But, I’ve been struggling with Postpartum Anxiety and there have been some dark days where everything is messy and I feel so lonely. Thankfully, I’m doing a lot better now and I’m in a much better place than I was a couple months ago.
  4. If I could change one thing that happened this year what would it be? I’m not going to go into detail about it on here, but even though I wish I could change what happened I know that God let it happen for a reason. I had some dark days where I felt numb and broken but I’ve come out on the other side and can see that I’m stronger now. 2018 was an amazing year, but I’m not going to lie you guys, I had some awful days, probably the hardest days I’ve ever had to face. There really wasn’t anyone I felt like I could truly open up to. I’m hoping that I’ll find that person that I can talk to soon.
  5. What are the three most important things I learned this year? 1). It takes a lot of work to keep a marriage happy and healthy, but it’s always worth the fight, 2). You’re stronger than you think you are, 3). Nothing changes if nothing changes.
  6. What was the nicest thing someone did for me this year? There are so many times people have reached out to show me kindness this year!! After I had Ellis people stepped in and helped me out when I couldn’t help myself. Brendan was so amazing at taking care of me after Ellis was born. He did laundry, cooked me food, made sure I was taking my herbal supplements for postpartum healing, fixed me a sitz bath, and loved and encouraged me. I would have been lost without him. My mom was my hero and came over about once a week to help out with Ellis so that I could shower, get chores done around the apartment, and go shopping with some extra help. And then there was one Monday in particular I remember where Brendan had gone out of town for work and I had been up all night with Ellis and was exhausted. My doula (who had moved across the country at that point) knew that I was having a rough day and sent her doula friend to my apartment with coffee and breakfast from Starbucks! Dani held Ellis and played with him while I ate my breakfast. It was awesome and really lifted my spirits.
  7. What was something that was hard for me at the start of the year that is easy now? Breastfeeding! Obviously, I didn’t start until I gave birth to Ellis in September, so I didn’t struggle the whole year. I had absolutely no problems with my milk coming in or my supply, but it took Ellis and I awhile to get a good latch. And then once he did latch it hurt and I was raw and sore. Giving up wasn’t an option for me, and I knew I’d push through, but there were some days that I didn’t look forward to feeding Ellis because of the pain. I felt like I was missing out on the bonding aspect of breastfeeding because I was so sore. Honestly, it was more painful for me than labor was. I know some women don’t experience any discomfort and that’s so awesome! I had read different women say that it takes about 3 months for breastfeeding to get better, and that was so true for Ellis and me. Now I absolutely love it! Don’t give up, Mamas.
  8. Of the books I read this year, which was my favorite and why? While I definitely didn’t meet my reading goal for the year, I did read some amazing books. Most of the books I read were about natural birth and my very favorite book was Hypnobirthing: The Mongan Method by Marie F. Mongan. Brendan and I took Hypnobirthing classes during the summer that were taught by my doula and it was such a positive and empowering experience. I ended up having a beautiful home Hypnobirth and I’m so grateful for this method. If you’re at all interested in a natural birth, I highly recommend this book (and classes).
  9. Which person has made the biggest impact on my life this year? Why? My son. Ellis has been changing and molding me into a new woman ever since I found out I was pregnant with him. But he truly impacted my life on the day he was born. That day I became a mother and all of my priorities shifted. Caring for Ellis has been the best and hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. He’s taught me a lot about selfless love and he’s helped me grow closer to God.
  10. What could I have done to make this year better? Spent more time with my friends.
  11. What three words best describe this year? Change, Birth, and Strength.
  12. Knowing what I know now, if I would travel back in time to the start of 2018, what advice would I give myself? Stay in God’s Word, no matter what.
  13. What are my most important goals for 2019? I would have to say spending more time with my husband, serving him more, loving him better, and working on our marriage.
  14. How am I planning on achieving them? Spending more one-on-one time together, serving him and helping him have time to himself, reading a few books on marriage, etc.
  15. What should I do differently next year? Be more open to letting people into my life.  

I’m excited to see what 2019 has in store for me!

Watching and Waiting – Weeks 37-39 Pregnancy Update

As I sit here in front of my laptop on this beautiful last day of August, I am blown away by the fact that tomorrow we enter into a brand new month, the month where my son will finally join our family outside of my womb space.

September has always been a favorite month of mine. Not only is it the month of my birthday, it’s also a time of shift and transformation. The lush green foliage gives way to the deep burning colors of autumn leaves and there is a hush that comes over the land whispering to us to slow down and prepare for the harvest before winter comes knocking at our door.

This year, September holds even more of a symbolic meaning of transformation for me as I step across the threshold and go from maiden to mother. This time last year my mind was consumed with thoughts of becoming pregnant. There was nothing I wanted more than to become pregnant and carry a tiny babe of my very own in my womb. I thought about becoming a mother long and hard and was very reflective of what my life had been like up until that point and what my life would look like if I conceived and birthed a child. A year later, I sit here thinking deep thoughts on what my life will look like with my son here in my arms.

So, as I sit here watching and waiting for the cool, crisp days of autumn to surface, I’m also watching and waiting for my son to arrive.

Pregnancy Update

I still can’t believe that I’m 39 weeks pregnant and that my little Sunshine Babe could come any day now. The weeks all muddle together now and I find myself scurrying about trying to do all of my last minute nesting. I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot since we moved into our new apartment, yet at the same time I can’t help but think of all the things that are still left undone.

I know that we have all of the major things taken care of – the crib is built, we have diapers, we have our home birth kit in place, and a bag packed and ready to go in case we would need to transfer to the hospital. But there are still so many little things I want to get done. I feel confidant and prepared for the actual birth, but I’m honestly feeling just a bit anxious about having everything I need for the baby and actually becoming a parent. I know these are all normal feelings though.

How I’m Feeling Physically

For months now people have been telling me how miserable I’ll be come August when I’m 9 months pregnant. Well you know what, it’s August 31 and I’m 39 weeks, 3 days pregnant and still not miserable! I really think it has a lot to do with attitude and mindset, but I’m grateful that I have been thriving and loving this summer heat while pregnant.

I’ve been feeling pretty good these past few weeks. My energy levels have been steady, I’ve been sleeping through the night more often, and I have been motivated to meal prep and get some more nesting done. I think my body knows that the time is ticking and I have this innate sense to get all of the preparation taken care of now. So far I’ve made and froze a batch of vegan banana blueberry lactation muffins, vegan banana bread, and some labor aid. Still on my list to make is some vegan corn chowder.

I kept having this feeling that Sunshine Babe would come early, but now that we’ve made it another week I think he’s going to stay nestled inside just a bit longer. Brendan was out of town for work last week, so I think I was a little anxious that the baby would decide to come while he was gone. And then we had a full moon last Sunday and I had a feeling that I would go into labor then. Still nothing though.

This baby and the entirety of the this pregnancy has taught me to sit and wait patiently and simply ride the waves as they come. There is no need to fret and fuss about things I have no control over.

Up until this past week I hadn’t experienced any practice surges. But on Tuesday at 3:40am I woke straight up from my sleep with really intense cramps. I got up, went to the bathroom, drank some water, and simply focused on my breathing. Within 10 minutes or so the intensity had faded away, so I got back in bed and drifted off to sleep again. I haven’t felt anything like it since then. My midwife says its a good thing that I’m having practice surges and is my body’s way of slowly preparing for labor.

How Baby is Doing

Last Thursday I had my 38 week appointment with my midwife to make sure that baby was healthy and everything was going well. My little guy is active and healthy but I was still measuring small, so my midwife suggested that I go have another ultrasound done to check on his growth.

So on Friday (August 24), Brendan and I went to have our fourth and final (hopefully) ultrasound done. The last time my midwife suggested we go have an ultrasound done to check on the baby’s growth I was scared. This time I was a tad anxious, but knew that she just wanted to be cautious. Turns out that our little Sunshine Babe is just a small guy and there’s nothing wrong with that! He’s healthy, active, head down and in a good position for labor. The only thing the sonogram technician recommended was that I need to drink a lot more fluids.

So this past week I have been more mindful of eating more and drinking lots of water. Today we went for my 39 week midwife appointment and things looked a lot better. My midwife said that I’m measuring bigger now and she could see some growth, and that my fluid levels seemed a lot better. Baby’s heartbeat was a strong 140 and is still very active.

My midwife says that I need to be drinking at least 70 oz of water a day and eating every 2 hours. Seems simple enough, but eating and drinking enough have been two of my biggest struggles throughout this pregnancy. I keep reminding myself it’s not for me, it’s for the baby and that helps. But it’s still hard.

This might be my very last pregnancy update post here on my blog. It’s a bittersweet feeling to know this pregnancy journey is coming to a close, but I am looking forward to finally holding my little Sunshine Babe in my arms after 10 long months of carrying him in my womb.

37 weeks, 6 days pregnant 
37 weeks, 6 days pregnant 
Sonogram pictures of my Sunshine Babe from our last ultrasound 

Weeks 33-36 Pregnancy Update

I’m still a bit behind on writing these pregnancy updates and honestly at this point I feel like all of the weeks are sort of blurring together. Being finished with work has taken some getting used to but I’m thankful for the time I’ve had to rest and start my nesting.

Brendan and I got settled into our new apartment pretty quickly. We had family coming into town for my baby shower 2 weeks after we moved, so that helped motivate us to get things unpacked and into their proper places. We still have artwork to hang up, but besides that our new place is feeling pretty cozy.

Baby Shower #2

We had my second baby shower on Saturday July 28th. It was such a sweet time celebrating my little Sunshine Babe! We had family come all the way from Florida and New Jersey to help celebrate.

I was gifted lots of cute baby clothes, homemade baby blankets, Target and Amazon gift cards, crib sheets, a few natural toys, a baby bath, a Boppy, a Fisher Price Rock n Play Sleeper, and lots of other thoughtful things for the baby.

Doula Prenatal Visit

The day before my baby shower our doula came over to our apartment for our second prenatal visit with her. This time we were going over comfort measures and positions for pregnancy and birth.

We learned how to use a rebozo for “sifting” (seriously so amazing! Look it up.), and different exercises that Brendan can help me do every week to help ease the tension in my body from carrying baby in my womb and to help keep my body strong for an easier labor and recovery. I love how these exercises give Brendan a chance to be even more involved and have an active roll in this pregnancy.

After we went over comfort measures we just visited with each other and chatted about all things pregnancy, labor, and postpartum recovery. I’m so thankful that we decided to hire a doula – she has been such a comfort to have!

Home Visit With Midwife

The first weekend in August we had our home visit with our midwife and her assistant. During this visit we gave our midwife and her assistant a tour of our apartment so that they know where everything is when they come for the birth of the baby. She also went over everything that came in our home birth kit and explained what it is all used for and brought her birthing tub over for us to keep for the birth. And of course she checked on the baby’s heartbeat and growth and we talked about the different stages of labor, when to call her, etc.

After this visit it really started to sink in that we are now in the home stretch of this pregnancy.

That’s all for now!

33 Weeks, 2 Days Pregnant 
34 Weeks, 4 Days Pregnant – All dressed up for my baby shower 
35 Weeks, 4 Days Pregnant 

Weeks 25-28 Pregnancy Update

Hello Third Trimester! I honestly can’t believe that I’ve already arrived to the final stretch of this pregnancy. At this stage in my pregnancy I feel like things have been flowing without much physical change, but there have been a few changes with life during the past few weeks.

Travel

Within the past 4 weeks Brendan and I have been on two mini vacations. The first was a trip to New York City at the end of May to celebrate our 2 year wedding anniversary! We celebrated both our honeymoon and our 1 year wedding anniversary in New York City as well, so it seemed fitting to visit our favorite city once again before we become a family of 3.

In years past we thoroughly planned out our NYC trips – hitting up lots of tourist-y spots and seeing all of the main attractions the city has to offer. But this time we really didn’t plan a whole lot. We decided to stay in Queens this time vs. Manhattan and it was definitely a fun change.

We do a lot of walking when we are in NYC (I’m talking walking at least 15 miles on foot throughout the day), but this time I couldn’t get around as fast. I guess that’s what happens when you’re 25 weeks pregnant! This trip taught me that it’s okay to slow down and enjoy time together with my husband and that it’s okay to listen to my body and allow myself to be pregnant.

Our second mini vacation was a trip to Delaware to visit Brendan’s family at the beginning of June. We were hoping for some nice sunshine filled days spent lounging on the beach, but the weather ended up being rainy and in the 60s most of the time we were there. We did get one beach day in though and we had a nice time.

We’re Moving!

After what feels like months and months of searching for a new apartment and praying about whether we should stay in Roanoke or move back to Lynchburg, we finally found a bigger, cozy apartment at a wonderful apartment complex in Lynchburg!

While I’m sad to be leaving Roanoke and all of my amazing co-workers and our Bible study group, I’m looking forward to being back in the city where Brendan and I met and to be just that much closer to my family. I’ve loved living in our little downtown apartment – its something that I always wanted to experience. But I must say I am thrilled to move into our new, bigger apartment and start my nesting and setting up the baby’s nursery!

Doula and Birthing Classes

While we were away on our trip to NYC we signed up for our very first birthing classes in Roanoke and found a wonderful local doula (who just happens to teach the birthing classes). A friend of mine recommended my doula to me and so far she has been absolutely amazing! Originally Brendan and I weren’t planning on having a doula for the birth of our son, mostly to save money. But the more we thought about it and read about the benefits of having a doula the more it felt right for us to hire one. If you are in the Roanoke/Lynchburg area and are looking for a doula, shoot me a message and I’d be happy to give you some recommendations!

We chose to enroll in Hypnobirthing classes instead of classes that are taught at the local hospitals in our area. These classes take place over 5 weeks and teach methods of deep relaxation, different breathing techniques, and learning how to surrender to your body and your baby during the birthing process.

I have loved everything about these classes! I love how this method really lets Brendan get involved in the birthing process and how it has helped us bond more with each other and our baby. I’ve also noticed that not only am I learning how to go into a deep relaxation for when I’m in labor, but I have been able to use the calm breathing method throughout my day-to-day life. And most of all, it has helped me build confidence in myself and my body and my ability to birth naturally. Brendan and I have also learned to not listen to people’s negative comments about the birth we are envisioning and the horror stories of birth they have experienced. It really has been such a freeing and empowering experience and I would highly recommend this class!

How I’m Feeling Physically

Honestly besides my belly continuing to swell, I really haven’t felt much different physically. Some days I definitely feel more “pregnant” than others, but so far I’m still feeling pretty energetic and healthy. My little Sunshine Babe is still on the small side, but no doubt he is growing and getting stronger everyday!

So far I haven’t had any swelling, no headaches, no stretch marks, and I haven’t been bothered by the heat. I have only had very mild heartburn on occasion and the other week I noticed that I was getting the occasional calf cramp in the middle of the night. But those have been my only discomforts, nothing to complain about though!

And one of the most exciting physical changes that has come with my transition into the third trimester is that I have started to produce colostrum! Two days before I hit 28 weeks I started lactating, and it really took me by surprise. But I am just amazed at my body and it’s ability to not only grow and nurture my son in my womb, but also to produce the most nourishing food he could ever receive when he arrives – “golden liquid”, the sweet nectar that is colostrum.

We have so many exciting life changes happening within the next few months and I am just trying to focus on being present and enjoying every little kick, wiggle, and hiccup while Sunshine Babe is still in my womb. This journey is magically beautiful!

25 weeks pregnant – In New York City by the Hudson River
25 weeks, 6 days pregnant
25 weeks, 7 days pregnant
27 weeks pregnant
27 weeks, 7 days pregnant – Sunshine Babe’s first time at the beach
Hello Third Trimester! 28 weeks pregnant
Hello Third Trimester! 28 weeks pregnant

Weeks 21-24 Pregnancy Update

These past few weeks feel as if they have blurred and blended together. As I sit down to type this post I’m trying to think back and recall how I’ve been feeling and what milestones me and my little sunshine babe have met.

Between finding out the gender of our baby, Brendan flying out of state for a week of training, and the two of us celebrating 2 very happy years of marriage with a trip to New York City, the past few weeks have been a whirlwind of excitement!

22 Week Ultrasound

On Friday May 4th, Brendan and I went for my second and last ultrasound. We were excited to see our baby again and to find out the gender!

During the first few weeks of my pregnancy I thought I was having a girl – I had always thought that I wanted a little girl first and Brendan said that he thought he’d like a girl too. But despite all of the old wives tales and dreams I had, I really couldn’t tell whether or not I was carrying a boy or a girl. It wasn’t until the night before our ultrasound that I had a strong feeling that I was carrying a little boy.

The lady performing our ultrasound waited until the last 15 minutes of our ultrasound to tell us that we are having a boy! Even though I had been preparing myself for this news, I was still so surprised. For the longest time I thought I was pregnant with a little girl, so it took a little bit of time to sink in that Brendan and I are going to be blessed with a son.

Gender Reveal

The very next day (May 5th) Brendan and I shared the news with all of our friends and family.  We had a special little gender reveal for each set of parents. For Brendan’s family we sent them two numbered envelopes that were filled with either pink or blue confetti and then we did a video call with them and Brendan’s brother and had them open the correct envelope.

Then for my parents we had a gender reveal balloon that we filled with blue confetti and had them pop at their house. I think both of our family’s were guessing it would be a boy.   I also did a little gender reveal for my co-workers since I went into work to use the helium tank to blow the balloon up. All of my co-workers dressed in either pink or blue and it was seriously the sweetest thing. My heart is so full knowing how much my little guy is loved already.

How I’m Feeling Physically 

The second trimester has been good to me. Over the past few weeks I’ve had more energy, I’ve been working out more often, and I’ve been motivated to eat much healthier than I did in the first trimester. I think the sunshine and warm spring time weather have really helped with my mood too.

What I’m Eating

For the most part I’ve been eating all of the foods I normally would, except I’ve added dairy and some farm fresh organic eggs back into my diet for the time being. This is simply to help me get more protein. There are still times when I feel guilty about eating dairy again because I really did want to have a vegan pregnancy, but I know that I’m doing the right thing for my body and my baby.

Since the temperature has been consistently in the upper 70s and 80s recently, I’ve been eating lots of smoothies (Green Mango smoothies are my favorite), almond milk yogurt, and fresh fruits like watermelon, pineapple, and strawberries. Since getting enough protein has been a struggle for me, I’ve also been incorporating Garden of Life’s Raw Protein and Greens powder into shakes and smoothies to get that extra protein my little guy needs.

And it seems that I’ve finally found my first and only real pregnancy craving – ice cream! Strawberry cheesecake to be exact. I’m not proud of this and I honestly think that it’s my body’s way of telling me that I need more protein. So I’ve been allowing myself ice cream here and there and limiting my dairy consumption elsewhere.

That’s all for now!

21 Weeks Pregnant 
21 Weeks Pregnant 
24 Weeks Pregnant 
24 Weeks Pregnant 
24 Weeks Pregnant 
24 Weeks, 5 Days Pregnant 
24 Weeks, 5 Days Pregnant 

Weeks 17-20 Pregnancy Update

Me and my little Sunshine Babe have officially reached the halfway point on our magical little journey together! 20 weeks has come a lot sooner than I thought it would and I still find myself in disbelief that this is my life right now and I am a mother-in-the-making.

How I’m Feeling Physically

This month has been basically the same as last month. While it’s not what it was prior to me becoming pregnant, my energy levels have been pretty steady throughout the day. I’m able to go about my days normally, but I do get tired earlier in the evenings.

I haven’t been consistent with going to the gym, but I have been trying to do low-key workouts at home. I’ve mostly been focusing on doing plenty of squats, stretches, some weight lifting, and walking outside when the weather is nice.

I’ve noticed that my face is getting fuller and I’m a bit softer all over. If I’m being honest, I really don’t like looking at myself in the mirror right now. It’s hard to see my face and my body changing like this because it brings back memories of what it felt like to be heavier and overweight during my first year in college. I worked so hard to lose that weight and to get healthier, and now to see the weight coming back can be defeating. I know that I’m gaining weight for a good reason and it’s not because I’m neglecting my health. Nevertheless, some days are harder than others.

What I’m Eating 

Originally my goal was to stay vegan throughout my pregnancy, but sadly that hasn’t happened. I wish I could say that my baby has been plant-based since conception, but that’s just not the truth. I’ll write a more in-depth post about my diet in the coming weeks to explain further.

Foods I have been eating more often recently include organic farm fresh eggs that my parents buy from their friends, lots of dairy-free yogurt for protein, veggie sandwiches, berries, raw nuts, dried mango, and green smoothies.

I still haven’t really had any cravings. I have noticed that I’ll get hooked on a certain food for a week or two and eat it a lot, and then not want it anymore. A few weeks ago that was veggie subs. So I guess that’s my equivalent to cravings.

How I’m Feeling Emotionally 

This whole pregnancy is just flying by and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it! I’ve been sleeping well, I haven’t had any aches or pains, I haven’t been sick, and I am so excited and looking forward to the whole birthing experience.

I think mindset is very important when it comes to how you approach your pregnancy and your ever changing body. Yes, there are days when I feel defeated about my weight gain and there are even times when family members have tried to throw doubt and negativity my way. But I am choosing to be happy and move past all of my negative thoughts and the doubt that other people are casting on me.

God has chosen me to walk this journey and to carry this baby and I trust that He is going to take care of me and guide me along the way. Will everything continue to be smooth sailing? Maybe not. But I’m trusting that everything happens for a reason and that what’s meant to be will happen at just the right time.

17 Weeks Pregnant
18 Weeks Pregnant 
19 Weeks Pregnant 
20 Weeks Pregnant 

Searching For The Right Model of Prenatal Care

Written: 2/21/2018

First Impressions of Birth

Growing up I enjoyed hearing stories about how my mom gave birth to me and my siblings. When I became a teenager I was intrigued to learn more about the birthing process, what it was like being in the hospital delivery room, how long it took, and my dad’s reaction to the whole process. I then started to imagine what it would be like for me to give birth and have my own baby someday. But I never once thought about whether I would have my baby at home or in the hospital.

I knew about home births and water births when I was in my late teens, and I had even watched some reality TV shows where women gave birth at home. But if you had told me 8 years ago that one day I would be considering a home birth for myself, I would have said you were crazy.

Even though I grew up knowing about home births, I never thought that would be an option for me. It just wasn’t the “normal” model of birth you hear about in the United States. My mom had me and my 4 siblings in the hospital, and I had only ever heard stories about women giving birth in the hospital. All I really knew was that birth was supposed to hurt severely and that you needed to be in the hospital to have the help of doctors and their hospital equipment to have a safe birth.

Thankfully, my mom never painted birth as something to be fearful of. She said it hurt, but that it is so worth it and you forget about the pain once your baby is in your arms. Sadly, most young women hear horror stories from their mothers, mother-in-laws, friends, and even television shows about how painful labor and birth is. And that is their first taste of what birth will be like.

I didn’t start taking my health seriously until I was about 18 years-old. I wasn’t really into natural medicine back then, but I was skeptical of doctors and our modern healthcare system. Over the years I’ve become more educated on natural holistic medicine and herbalism, and I tend to shy away from doctors as much as possible. So when I started daydreaming more about becoming pregnant and having a baby of my own, I naturally started thinking about and researching midwives and natural birth.

Even before getting pregnant, I was very fascinated with natural birth and home births. I found myself following several different Instagram accounts of women who were planning on having a natural home birth and I even read a book called Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care by Jennifer Block last summer, so I could do my research and get educated on the differences between a hospital birth and a home birth.

The Hunt For the Right Midwife

Finding the right prenatal care provider for this pregnancy has not been easy. I started searching for midwives and birthing centers in my area last summer before getting pregnant. I wanted to do my research and be prepared for when the time came. At this point, seeing an obstetrician was not an option for me. I knew I wanted to have a midwife for my prenatal care, whether I was to give birth in a hospital or at a birthing center. I knew of one birthing center that was about 15 minutes away from where I lived and it had good reviews. So, as soon as I found out I was pregnant I contacted the birthing center and set up a time to meet with the midwife there for a free consultation.

I was a bit nervous but mostly excited when I went to see the midwife at the birthing center. As soon as she took me back to a room to chat, she calculated when I was due. She said I was due right at the beginning of September, and unfortunately that was the one month that she didn’t take clients because she takes the whole month off for vacation. So, that was about it. There was nothing she could do for me. She gave me a couple names of other midwives in the area, but they only did home births, not a birthing center birth.

I left the birthing center trying not to be beaten down, but I couldn’t help but cry and feel defeated. I honestly didn’t know where to go from there. Thankfully, it was still very early on in my pregnancy, so I knew I had time to figure things out. Even though I was feeling very discouraged when I left the birthing center, there was a part of me that knew it happened for a reason.

At that point, I hadn’t told anyone that I was pregnant besides our close family, so I really felt like I didn’t know where to turn. I looked up a couple of other birthing centers that were about 30 minutes away from me, but I could just tell by looking at their website that it wasn’t meant to be. So, I decided to reach out to a girl that I had known in college who I knew was pregnant and was into natural birth and midwives, and she just so happened to live in the nearby area.

Even though I wasn’t close friends with this girl, she was so open to sharing with me and was so sweet and encouraging. God knew that I needed her in that moment, and I was so glad I decided to reach out. She told me of the midwife that she was using and said that she had been amazing thus far. Thankfully, this midwife lives in my area and was affordable.

Disappointment

In the meantime before I scheduled a visit to meet with this midwife, I decided to go ahead and schedule an appointment with a women’s center in Lynchburg to get a check up and an ultrasound (since I still hadn’t seen a health care provider at this point). I chose to go see a nurse midwife in Lynchburg instead of Roanoke because I had family that recommended the place to me. So, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to go ahead and visit this women’s center for one visit, even if I chose not to continue seeing them.

I just wanted to see my baby and to know that things were okay.

Well, I set up the appointment for my ultrasound and Brendan asked his manager to come into work later that day so that he could come with me to the appointment. Even though I wasn’t thrilled about going to a women’s center, we were both excited and looking forward to seeing our baby for the first time. So we got up and drove all the way to Lynchburg for our appointment at 11a.m. only to get there and have the receptionist tell me that they had called to let me know they had rescheduled my appointment for 9:30 a.m. and that I had missed it. We both couldn’t believe it. I told her that I had gotten a voicemail on Friday with a reminder that my appointment was at 11a.m. (I even had the voicemail saved on my phone), but that I had never received a call telling me that the time was changed. She sat there looking uninterested and said there were no more openings that day and there was nothing she could do for me but schedule me for a different day.

Me and Brendan walked out feeling angry, upset, and discouraged. I had taken off work to make this appointment, and Brendan had asked to come into work late, and we both took an hour out of our day to drive to Lynchburg for the appointment. And on top of that, Brendan then had to turn around and drive four and a half hours to get to his client for work. I couldn’t hold the hot stinging tears back any longer, and I let them flow. I felt so helpless. Here I was at the second appointment I had made to see a midwife, and it didn’t work out. I felt like I kept trying to do what’s best for the baby, to make sure he or she was okay, and I kept failing them.

I had planned on hanging out in Lynchburg for the rest of the afternoon, taking myself out to lunch and then going shopping. But all of a sudden I had no desire to do any of that. As I watched Brendan drive away on his way to work, I couldn’t help but feel lost. I drove to Goodwill to do some book shopping, but couldn’t find the motivation to get out of my car. I just sat in my car for an hour crying, and talking to Brendan, my mom, my aunt, and my second mama. I knew that there was a reason for the appointment cancelation and I knew that God would take care of everything. But I just needed a moment to sit and feel all of the emotions that were racing through my mind.

Falling Into Place

Thankfully things really started looking up for me and the baby later that week. After our disappointing appointment cancelation on Monday, Brendan made a few phone calls to find a good place for us to get an ultrasound in Roanoke. He ended up finding a place a few minutes away from where we live and the price was actually cheaper than what we would have paid at the women’s center in Lynchburg (even with our insurance). So I called the place and made an appointment for our first ultrasound! Unlike the people at the women’s center, this lady was so sweet and seemed genuinely interested and excited for me. I felt like it was God telling that He had orchestrated everything that happened on Monday for a reason – to save us money and to put us in the hands of someone who genuinely cares and is in our area.

The day after that I had a free consultation set up with a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) in Roanoke (the one my friend had recommended to me). This consultation was to go over her model of care (the Midwife Model of Care), tell me about her studies and experience, and to go over everything she can and can’t do as a CPM. This midwife specializes in home births in the Roanoke and Lynchburg area.

The meeting went so well and I was so pleased with her. I loved how calm and friendly she was, how she made me feel like my baby and I truly mattered, and how she went over everything in such detail with me. She was very open and honest with me about the things she can and cannot do as a CPM, and I so appreciated her raw openness. She provided me with a lot of paperwork, articles on home brith, and nutrition information to take home and go over. I left feeling like things were finally falling into place and that everything was slowly coming together.

Brendan and I originally thought we wanted to give birth at a birthing center with a midwife. This seemed like the best in-between option for us since we knew we didn’t want to give birth at a hospital unless it was medically necessary, and a home birth with our first baby seemed a bit daunting. But the further along we got on this journey to find the right prenatal care, the more it became apparent to us that a home birth seemed to be in our near future.

I truly believe that things didn’t work out with the birthing center and women’s center I visited because we were meant to have a home birth. Some said that I should maybe plan on giving birth at a hospital since the first CPM I visited didn’t work out and since, after all, a hospital is probably safer for a first time birth. That didn’t sit well with me though and I continued to pray, trust my intuition, and keep searching.

It’s great to be open minded and listen to people’s advice, but in the end, you have to do what’s right for you and your baby, whether other people approve of that or not. Trust the process, trust the journey, trust your intuition, and above all trust God.

Weeks 13-16 Pregnancy Update

Written: 3/21/2018

Time for another Pregnancy update! Sometimes I feel like I don’t have a whole lot to say when I write these monthly recaps, but I feel it’s important for me to share how I’m feeling and any changes I may be experiencing.

First Ultrasound

On March 5th I had my very first ultrasound. By this time I was 13 going on 14 weeks. Most women have their first ultrasound around 10 weeks, but as I’ve mentioned in another one of my posts Brendan and I had a hard time finding the right prenatal care provider. Brendan did a little research for me and found this wonderful place in Roanoke that does ultrasounds for a reasonable price, so I called and made the appointment.

Thankfully Brendan was able to go into work late that day so that he could come with me to the ultrasound. The attention and care I received at this ultrasound was phenomenal! The lady who performed the ultrasound turned out to be the sweetest person. She walked Brendan and I through every step, went over everything in great detail, and answered every question we had. And she seemed to love her job and genuinely care about me and my baby. She even explained to me that she had worked in the hospital setting before and that most doctors that perform sonograms prefer to keep the room as dark as possible so they can keep interaction with the patient to a minimum. I was thankful that my experience with her was nothing like that.

Seeing our little baby for the first time was such a beautiful experience. I was in awe of God’s beautiful creation and humbled that He chose me to carry this little babe. And then hearing the little heartbeat was incredible. I knew I was pregnant before, but I think in that moment it really started to sink in for Brendan and me that we made this little life together and that in a few short months we’re going to be parents.

Everything went really well and the baby is healthy. I was amazed at the detail we got to see on the sonogram. We saw all ten little fingers and toes, the spine, and the teeth embedded in the gums. And this little babe sure is active! He/she was moving all over the place. The lady that performed the ultrasound had Brendan hold out his hand to show us that from the head to the little bum, our baby is about the length of Brendan’s ring finger.

Our ultrasound session lasted for an hour and gave us time to get to see and admire our baby, ask questions, and voice any concerns. The whole experience was wonderful and I walked out of the room smiling.

Pregnancy Announcement

Brendan and I officially announced our pregnancy on March 12th at 14 weeks 6 days. The week before that I told all of my co-workers that I was pregnant and seeing all of their reactions was the sweetest thing. I was so excited to finally tell everyone! And now this pregnancy is truly starting to feel real.

Midwife Visit

I had my first official visit with my midwife during week 15. Again, I was a lot further along for my first prenatal visit than most women are, but I’m just thankful that I took the time to find the right midwife that I felt comfortable with.

My first visit consisted of going over paper work and doing all of the necessary routine things such as checking my pulse, blood pressure, and temperature and then listening to the baby’s heartbeat. All was well and normal. We also did a urine test and blood work.

Honestly, the blood work has been the only part of this pregnancy that I have been a bit nervous about (forget the whole birthing process! Having blood drawn is what makes me uneasy). The last time I had my blood drawn to be tested I felt dizzy and shaky afterwards and it was not a pleasant experience. I told my midwife about this and she had me lie down right away and just try to relax and focus on my breathing. I asked her how much blood she was taking before we started and she held up several vials to show me the amount (I didn’t count them). As I lay there focusing on my breathing my midwife talked to me about yoga – where I practiced, how often I did it, etc. And before I knew it we were done! I was surprised at how quickly it went and was very pleased with how gentle and calming my midwife was. Such a better experience than I’ve had with doctors and nurses in the past!

Now that the blood work is done, I think the worst is behind me.

How I’m Feeling Physically

I’ve been feeling really good physically. Around 14 weeks I really started to show for the first time and it seemed like my little belly came out of hiding overnight. I’m really loving that it’s truly a baby bump now and not bloating!

I’ve gained about 7 pounds so far, which my midwife says is right on target. While I know that my weight gain is a good thing because it means my baby is growing, it’s still a little scary to step on the scale and see that I am the heaviest I have been in years. This pregnancy has taught me to love my body and it’s ability to grow and carry another life. I’ve also learned to mentally accept the fact that it’s okay to eat 3 normal sized meals a day (something I struggled with up until I became pregnant). I guess my fear is that I will gain weight and then not be able to lose it after the baby is born, which I know isn’t true. It’s definitely a humbling experience and there are still many lessons for me to learn on this journey.

So far I haven’t had trouble sleeping or any aches and pains, just a lot of fatigue in the evenings and sometimes throughout the day. I feel like I’m turning into a fuddy-duddy because I can’t stay awake through movies at night and I fall asleep on the couch at 9 and 10 pm regularly. But I guess my body needs the rest so that baby can have more energy to grow and thrive.

That’s all for now! It’s hard to believe that in 4 short weeks I will be half way through this pregnancy. So far I am loving being pregnant and I am so excited and blessed to be on this journey.

15 Weeks Pregnant
15 Weeks Pregnant 

Pregnancy Update Weeks 0-4

I’m a little late in sharing these pregnancy updates, but since Brendan and I decided to keep our pregnancy a secret until around 12 weeks I didn’t plan on sharing these right away. Regardless of the timing, I wanted to document how my first pregnancy is progressing and share it with you all.What an exciting time in our lives this is!

As I mentioned in a previous post of mine, Brendan and I found out I was pregnant on Christmas Eve last year. It was still really early at that point, so I took a second test on December 29th, the day my period was supposed to start. Sure enough, there was no denying those two little pink lines on the test.

I was about 4 weeks along by the time I found out I was pregnant. We ended up being off by about a week or more on far along I was. We were basing it on the conception date, but later learned that doctors and midwives base the due date on when the day of your last period was.

During the first few weeks I felt pretty normal, just a bit more tired than usual. I had cut back on my caffeine intake at this point (I had been drinking on average around 3 cups of coffee a day), but was still drinking a small cup of coffee in the mornings that was at or under the recommended 200mg of caffeine. I was still eating regularly and so inspired to cook and try new recipes. I stopped taking my regular supplements of Evening Primrose Oil, Vitamin E, Activated Charcoal, and Echinacea that I was taking prior to becoming pregnant, and I also stopped drinking most of my go-to herbal teas, just to be on the safe side.

I really didn’t feel a shift in my body at this point, I just had that feeling that something was a little different. There were a few days when I noticed my breasts were a bit swollen and tender, and I had some light cramps, all symptoms I usually experience right before my period starts. I was holding my breath during those first few weeks, because I really thought and felt deep down that I was pregnant, but didn’t want to get my hopes up too soon.

How did you feel the first few weeks of your pregnancy? Did you have any changes in your body right away, or did it take a few more weeks before they really kicked in?