Wednesday, May 21, 2014

You are beautiful.

I am fed up. I am fed up with the amount of products being sold to "make" everyone beautiful. How much money do you need to spend to make yourself beautiful?! Even if you are "only" buying makeup. Even if you are "only" dying your hair. Even if you are "only" buying this one weight loss gimmick. It's ridiculous!

Why is it so amazing and brave and courageous to love your own body, your own face, your own hair? Here's the thing. It shouldn't be. I actually kind of love this whole selfie thing that is happening, because people are posting some really beautiful photos of their beautiful selves. I even more love this nomakeup selfie thing. I do think that should be the norm rather than shocking, but maybe it's progress (maybe it's not, but I can hope).

So listen, embrace who you are. Stop dying your hair. It's beautiful. Really and truly. Your hair is beautiful. Stop putting make up on. Your face is beautiful. Really it is. Even if you have a zit. Even if you have freckles. Even if you have moles. Even if you have wrinkles. Even if you are "blotchy," whatever the heck that means anyways. Your face is beautiful. Don't cover up. Be comfortable. Your body is beautiful. Your cellulite, yup that's beautiful. Your scars are beautiful. Your story of your life is beautiful. You are beautiful. If you have ten kids, or no kids, or workout every day, or not at all, you are beautiful. You have earned that body and that face and those gray hairs, you should be proud of who you are every single day. On one side of the coin I see all these women who have given birth and they are told to be proud of their tiger stripes (aka stretch marks) and then in the same breath they are saying but buy this age defying wrinkle cream cause those wrinkles on your face are apparently horrible. That's my story though, I don't want to erase it. I want to love it and embrace it and show it off.

Instead, as a society, we should focus on feeling healthy, feeling energized, feeling beautiful. Beautiful has nothing to do with models, and movie stars, and magazine ads. Be confident, do what you love, love others. All these lessons we are trying to teach our kids; we need to learn first.

Teach your children they are believing you are beautiful. Don't hide your "flaws." Embrace them because they make you who you are. You are beautiful. Teach your daughters that they are beautiful every single day, without makeup, without being a size 2, without dying their beautiful hair. Teach your sons that they are beautiful. Teach them to be confident as they walk through their life. They don't need to fit a certain style to be popular and have friends. Teach them that women are beautiful...without makeup. Show those children, that life is beautiful and they will amaze you with their own beautiful selves.

The world is bigger than your world. You effect those around you with every decision you make. Make it count. You don't like what media is teaching our youth...then stop letting it determine your family routine, your own lifestyle, and the choices you make. Live free and beautiful and love openly.

And that's what I have to say about that.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Art for Littles: Alternative Paintbrushes

It has been so nice out this past week that we had to get out and paint! First we took a walk around our neighborhood and collected all sorts of fun different objects. Some of the things we found were dandelions, long grass, small leaves, big leaves, dried leaves, a stick, a pinecone, and buttercups (Owen tried to catch a toad to use as part of his art as well, but the toad was too fast for him, thank goodness). While we were collecting things we talked about whether the objects were soft or hard, bumpy or smooth, big or little, etc. We do a lot of talking when we are making art. We talk about colors, textures, dark vs light, bright vs muddy, etc. 

Once we had a whole bag full of different items we went back to our house. I rolled out a huge piece of paper and let owen choose three colors of tempera paint that I squirted onto a palette (we use a plastic cookie tin lid that you can see in the table painting). I dipped the stick in some paint and made a mark on the paper. Owen got it right away and started experimenting to see what marks each object would leave. He also used his hands and feet (good thing I had brought a bucket of water out with us to wash up in). This is his finished piece.

The next day we decided to refinish a little table we have on our front porch that holds some potted plants. We used acrylic paints for this (if you have a paint eater stick to the tempera or watercolor until they understand not to eat it.). I gave O a couple colors and let him choose some brushes. He also decided to a pinecone and his hands. We sealed the table with a clear spraypaint after he was finished. Here's his table.


Friday, April 25, 2014


Salads are underrated and overpriced. The good news is you can make them in your very own kitchen for very little money. Why does a salad (that's supposedly fresh) at any fast food chain cost more than five bucks?!?!?! You can get a head of lettuce at the grocery store for a dollar, and that's enough lettuce for 2-3 good size salads. Also they are delicious...oh and you can make tons of different kinds of salads! They are the ultimate quick and easy meal. There's also a thousand variations like chicken salad, fruit salad, pasta salad, potato salad, mashed potato salad, egg salad, tuna salad, and I'm sure many more. I like to make a big batch of pasta salad on the weekend and enjoy it all week long (my two year old loves it too).

When I was younger my dad would make a massive (and I mean like the biggest bowl in your house) salad. They were delicious and always different. Lettuce (please note there are a ton of different types of lettuce alone!), kale, carrots, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, sprouts, beets, radishes, green beans, mushrooms, so much delicious. You can add shrimp, chicken, cheese; make a taco salad with some cooked ground beef or turkey and tortilla strips or go with a nice soy ginger chicken and at some wonton strips and edamame. Try a new homemade dressing (there are at least a thousand recipes online) and they are also really inexpensive to make! Salad is a great solution when you don't feel like cooking or are crunched for time. I like to chop the lettuce and other veggies when my boys are napping or content entertaining themselves for a few minutes and dress it lightly, then add some fun crunchy toppings just before it's time to eat.

We try to have salads once a night for dinner and it's always a dinner we look forward to. It's almost farmer market season here and I can't wait to find some new fun things to add to our salads! So go make some big delicious and healthy salads (of any kind) for dinner! What's your favorite kind of salad?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Art for Littles: Styrofoam Prints!

This is a relatively easy project and can be used to quickly make a lot of pieces (aka this is great for the holidays where you want to send something homemade to many friends/family members). This project can also be done in steps so they can take breaks if they aren't digging it right away.

For this project you need:
-a tube or two of speedball water soluble block printing ink
-a brayer
-a couple of old Styrofoam trays (the kind they package meat in are good or leftover containers)
-some paper (pretty much any kind will do, we used construction paper)
-a pencil

You will need one Styrofoam tray to roll out your ink in so make sure and hang onto one. Cut a flat piece of Styrofoam from the bottom of a tray or a leftover container. I made my Styrofoam piece about 3x5 inches. Any size will do, a small print is easier for them to handle though. This will be your littles canvas to create their art on. Give them a dull pencil to draw on the Styrofoam with (just a note when you make a print from the Styrofoam it will be reversed so if you were to write their name on the piece it would print in reverse). I had to trace over a few of Owen's lines to make sure they would be deep enough. He made this print when he was about 20 months old. This is his Styrofoam block for printing after he was done with it.

I just tore paper to fit the size of the plate. We made about a dozen prints so I tore up three pieces of paper just by folding it in half and tearing on the line. Once you have your paper you are ready to ink.

Take your brayer and place a dollop of ink about the size of a nickel in your Styrofoam tray that you saved earlier. Spread the ink up and down and side to side until you have an even covering over your brayer. Using your brayer cover the design on your littles Styrofoam plate. Press the plate down onto the paper and have them press really hard with those little hands or you can have them walk on it which they think is hilarious and lots of fun! Lift the Styrofoam off and you will have their print. Do it as many times as you want!

Two of O's prints on one piece of paper.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Tempera Paint with Littles

Tempera paint is great because it gives those little hands more texture to work with. It is messier and if the weather is nice, I recommend taking it and your littles outside to make some art and soak up some vitamin D. Sometimes I let Owen paint in the grass and sometimes I take his high chair out to paint in. We have a cheap high chair from ikea that I LOVE for making art. With tempera it does stain, so I make sure we are wearing our paint clothes. I also have a plan for clean up, before we get started painting. Below are a variety of projects all using tempera paint. Please be aware that a lot of the time you need to seal the project after the painting is complete and dry, even a cheap can of clear spray paint will do, just make sure to do it in a well ventilated area when there are no littles around.

Tempera on canvas. 
You can get really inexpensive canvases at A.C.Moore or Michaels or any arts and crafts store. Owen made these with his Uncle Wes, when he was just about a year old. I took him outside, put him in just a diaper and let him go nuts. I gave him a variety of brushes to experiment with and let him use his hands...and feet. It was great! I plopped him right in the tub afterwards and he was good to go. This is what he looked like while painting. As you can see he really had a good time exploring the squishy paint. These were also sealed with a clear spray paint after they were fully dry and away from Owen.

Tempera with sponges.
I cut up a sponge to make some snowflakes and a snowman hat and we used a cup to make the snowman body. Owen experimented painting with sponges. He really enjoys using different tools to apply paint. Some other things we have used are a plastic fork, fabric scraps, a potato, foam stamps, the other end of the paintbrush, grass, a flower, and leaves. This painting was just done on black construction paper.

Tempera on paper board.
My husband had Owen paint this for our younger son for Christmas this year. Tempera gives nice bright colors as you can see here. This was spray sealed after it was dry as well.

Watercolors with Littles

Watercolors are my favorites with littles for a lot of reasons! They are easy to use, give a good variety of colors, are so easy to clean up, and for the most part wash out of clothes! They are definitely my go to paint when I don't have a project planned and Owen just wants to paint. He usually does wear his painting shirt, but if he does get any on his clothes it will generally come out in the normal wash (the red does stain a bit). It washes off his hands and face as well as his high chair. Invest in a pad of watercolor paper, it's so worth it! Below are some basic watercolor projects that Owen (my now two year old) has done in the past year, along with how we did them. I squeeze water into each color on his eight color tray of Crayola watercolors and hand him a brush or two. I don't recommend giving them a cup of water because it will get spilled or they will just want to play in the water. *Please note: playing with water is another great activity and I give him cups of water to play with how to pour or let him "paint" the sidewalk with water.* If you are trying to get them to paint though, introducing a cup of water will only distract them and you will have an overflowing watercolor tray in no time. I also tape his paper down so that it doesn't slide around while he is working on a masterpiece.

 Owen set up in his highchair to do some watercolor painting with his Uncle Wes.

Watercolors on paper.
These are basic watercolor paintings done on watercolor paper. Owen likes to experiment with different size brushes and use his hands to make different marks.

Watercolors on wood.
These are some Christmas ornaments that Owen painted using watercolors. When I wet his tray of Crayola watercolors I usually don't put water in the black or brown as it results in a lot of muddy looking work and makes it harder for him to mix colors since he is not washing his brush between dipping it in the different colors. I did seal these with a clear spray paint after they were dry.

Watercolors and salt.
I cut out circles for Owen to paint with watercolors. While the watercolor paint was still wet I let him sprinkle on some salt, which gives it the spotty effect you can see here. We decided they were bubbles so he added some foam fish stickers to his bubbles. Owen loved this project and the different steps involved. He really enjoyed peeling the backs off the stickers and sticking them down.

Friday, March 14, 2014


Owen is two today. When he was one I was elated that we made it to one for a lot of reasons, a big one being that I had successfully breastfed him for one full year! Two is a little more bittersweet. My little isn't very little anymore. He weighs thirty pounds and is three feet tall. That might not sounds very big, but compared to my seven pound eleven ounce baby that wasn't even two feet tall, he's big. I am very proud of him though. He is an amazing person. He is curious and fearless and so so loving. When I say to him,"Stay little my little." He replies,"But I'm big." And he is.

When he was one his favorite color was red. His favorite book was Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton. His favorite food was pickles. His favorite toy was an airplane his Aunt and Uncle got him. His favorite activity was anything outside.

Now that he is two his favorite color is blue. His favorite book is Art & Max by David Wiesner. His favorite food is cheese and pickles. His favorite toy is his train from Gramma and Pampa or any ball. His favorite activity is bug hunting outside.

So happy birthday to my little boy who will not always be little, but will always be my little, even when he is taller than I am. I hope you travel farther than I have, see more than I have, love bigger than I have, help more than I have, and learn more than I have. Stay curious, stay fearless, and keep your hugs full and free. I love you.




Art Projects: Family Handprint

One of the very very first projects we did after Owen was born was a family hand print. I used water soluble block printing ink, a brayer, Bristol board, and an old Styrofoam meat tray. I put a dollop of ink the size of a penny on the old meat tray and used the brayer in alternating directions to spread it evenly in the tray. My husband put his hand print down in yellow ink, I did my hand print over his in red ink, we let this dry overnight. We did at least 3-4 of these because I knew getting a one month old's hand print would be a challenge and may not come out very good on several of them. Once the ink was dry that my husband and I put down, we inked our sons hand in blue and were able to get some decent prints over top of ours. We are doing this again now and adding our youngest son's hand print to the mix. Here is a photo of our family hand print that hangs in our kitchen.

Thursday, March 13, 2014


Dirt goes primarily in your hair or down your shirt, try to avoid your eyes.

Flour goes everywhere but in the bowl.

Pompoms and rocks are really the only toys you need.

Paint goes primarily on your hands and is also good on your face.

Someone will always poop in their fresh diaper when getting in the car, especially if you want to be on time.

Bugs are yummy but it's sad when you eat your friends.

If there are geese at the pond, the groceries are going to have to wait.


You can fit at least six grapes in your mouth at once, anything less is a disappointment.

Roar your way through the grocery store, you will hear people laughing in every aisle.

Dirt on your hands is approved. Dog poop on your hands is not.

The "right" spoon is always the last one that mom chooses.

There is no such thing as "too little."

Cheer for everyone, including the mail man and the landscapers.

Always say "thank you," even if you are saying it for someone else.

Water dries. Even a lot of water eventually dries.

Snow is magic.

Deodorant goes on your neck and face and takes about a week of baths to get off.

Blueberries are ear hole sized.

The milkshake song is the best song.

Everyday there is a reason to say "Wow!"

Strollers aren't nearly as much fun as running.

Cookies do not need to be cookie shaped to be delicious.

You can't see it if you can't touch it.

If you fill your pockets with "treasure" your pants may fall down.

Art with Littles

Owen loves to get messy and make art. From the time he was born I started doing art projects with him. Now he will be two years old in two days and he draws every single day and is always asking to do projects! Other parents always ask what exactly you can do with such little littles and the answer is a lot as long as you aren't concerned with them making epic art museum worthy pieces! You also do not need to be artistically inclined to enjoy making art with kids!

So to begin with this is my basic list of go to supplies that I always have on hand because our older son (2 years old now, was probably about 6 months old when we really started doing projects) asks to do art every single day. I started doing some really basic projects when he was born and we have been doing simple but fun stuff ever since. 

I always have:
-colored construction paper 
-non-toxic tempera paint
-a variety of brushes to experiment with
-non-toxic crayola water color paint (the 8 color one is plenty)
-watercolor paper (usually I get Strathmore watercolor paper when it's on a good sale, Michaels just    had it for 60% off so I got a big pad for $4. I also cut the paper in half or smaller so it fits on his highchair tray)
-Speedball block printing ink (Please note that I use the water soluble type, but I do NOT think it is marked as non-toxic. I do help with every project that we do with the ink and we thoroughly wash hands/feet immediately after we are finished.)
-a brayer
-a pad of bristol board (also always purchased on sale). 

Owen also has his own sketch books (these are legitimate spiral bound sketch books, not coloring books.) that he draws in every day. All together I spent less than $30 on these items and the only things I buy more of every few months are the papers. 

Here is a photo of our supplies.


Spaghetti is delicious and cheap. Home made spaghetti sauce is actually really easy, and can be made quickly in a pinch. This is my basic down and dirty, cheaper and better than ragu or prego, sauce that can be modified or added to quite easily.

1 can of tomato paste
1 can of diced tomatoes (I can and freeze fresh tomatoes but due to a lack of space we never have enough to last us how often we eat spaghetti so any store brand will also be just fine)
2 tomato paste cans of water
About 2 teaspoons of olive oil
A dash of salt and pepper
Fresh garlic if you have it, otherwise some garlic powder will do
About 2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning
A pinch of thyme

Put it all in a pan, and cook on low heat stirring occasionally. I like to cook my sauce for at least an hour, but really as soon as all the ingredients are combined and the sauce is hot, you can eat it. You can also add anything to this sauce, I like to add frozen spinach, leftover ground turkey, sliced and lightly sautéed bell peppers or mushrooms or both! Including the pasta this costs about $1.00 per person depending on your add ins.

We also like to make home made bread to have with spaghetti. It can be really easy and some recipes only use flour, water, yeast, and salt.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

One Dish Chicken and Rice

As far as active cooking or prep time goes, I have, at most, about 30 minutes where Owen will play blocks or quietly read and Beck will hang out in his swing. I don't make much along the lines of a "gourmet" meal. I do make whole balanced meals that are quick, easy, and inexpensive. Owen is also really into helping in the kitchen and as long as I'm not doing anything with large knives or an open flame, I fully welcome his help.

I have been making a one pot, baked rice and chicken dish that we are loving. You can easily make different variations to mix it up and change the flavor profile. It also doesn't create a ton of dirty dishes so it saves us time on that front too. We also do not eat huge portions, so while this may be enough food for us, it is not a normal American sized meal.

Here's the basic how to:

1. In an oven safe dish with an oven safe lid I put about a tablespoon of olive oil. I add a cup of brown rice and stir it up. *Please note: the cook time for white rice is much less and your chicken will not be cooked through or your white rice will burn if you put the chicken and the rice in the same dish. Use brown's delicious and will cook properly with the chicken.
2. In the microwave I heat two cups of water, sometimes I add a bouillon cube, sometimes I don't.
3. Pour the hot water over the rice, I add either some soy sauce or teriyaki or balsamic (pretty much anything you would normally add to rice), and some seasonings to accompany whatever is in it. Stir it up again.
4. Put one large chicken breast in the center of the water, it can be thawed or frozen (for frozen it will just take a bit longer to cook as the frozen chicken cools down the water you heated up in step 2.). I drizzle a little olive oil (and/or more sauce from step 3) over the chicken and add some seasoning.
5. Cover and cook at 350 for 1 hour for thawed chicken or 1.5 hours for frozen chicken.
6. When there are about 15-20 minutes left of cook time, I add some frozen veggies around the chicken, and usually drizzle on a little olive oil. If I have fresh veggies I want to use I usually add then with about 40-45 minutes of cook time remaining.
7. When the rice has absorbed all or most of the liquid, it's done. Plate and enjoy.

Total prep time: 10 minutes
Total cook time: 1-1.5 hours
Serves two adults (and one toddler) at a cost of about $1.00 per person.

Friday, March 7, 2014

I Love Food.

For the past 40 days I have made dinner at home. I usually cook most of our meals at home, but we have been really tight on money this past month due to some large bills so I have only been cooking at home. I'm a big believer in home made food and I enjoy cooking. I enjoy cooking less, however, when I have a toddler and an infant. I also enjoy eating home made food. I was raised on home cooked food. It's cheaper to cook at home, a lot cheaper. And we can eat better food. I secretly love grocery shopping. We usually have a $200 budget a month for groceries for the 3 of us, since Beckett just has breast milk right now. When we first moved to Arizona we were broke. Like, not kidding, really broke, somebody offer me any job and I will probably take it broke. We didn't have a grocery budget then and it was a big problem. So we fixed the problem. And it's been fixed ever since then. This is my system.

At the end of each month I sit down with a calendar, I use an old frame with a white piece of paper in it that is divided into the days of the month and I use dry erase markers to fill it in. I fill in the whole month of dinners. Yes I know what I'm making for an entire month. And yes I love it. We have a couple of standards that we have each week. We instituted spaghetti madness on every tuesday, and my almost two year old toddler can make it (almost) completely on his own (can openers are hard though). Spaghetti is cheap to make and delicious, I make the whole meal for less than $1.00 per person. It doesn't always have meatballs with it, but we do different variations with veggies or leftover ground turkey in the sauce, home made bread, and sometimes we do have turkey meatballs (also home made). We make chicken and rice with a veggie every week. We love rice. Rice is cheap. We could probably eat rice for every meal if we had to because rice is so easy to make in a lot of different ways.

Once I get the whole month of meals laid out, I make a list of everything I need to make all of the meals and list specifically how many of each item I need. I do all of the grocery shopping in one day. Usually I have to make a few small trips for things like milk, fruit, and bread, but everything else I buy enough for the month and either freeze it or store it in air tight containers. My big trip usually costs about $120 (at either walmart or target and a local grocery store) and then from there I spend about $20 a week on milk (Owen drinks a lot of soy milk), eggs, bread, and fresh fruit and veggies. I usually get our fruits and veggies at our local farmers markets.

In a typical month, in addition to the meals mentioned above, we will have things like lasagna, shepherds pie, salads with chicken breasts, southwestern stew, pulled chicken BBQ, empanadas, stir fry, tacos, shrimp Alfredo, chicken pot pie, turkey burgers, salmon, and beans with rice and chicken apple sausage. As I said, we eat good food via this method and a decent variety.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Answers and Images

I have received a few questions so I would like to use this blog to answer those and if you have any questions, feel free to ask and I will answer as much as I can.

A few people have asked about Beckett's name. In a round about way he was named after Beck, the musical artist. About two weeks before Beckett was born, Luke and I were saying how we hadn't really thought of a name we really liked yet. With our son Owen we had a list of names we liked and knew that he was an Owen once we met him on his birthday. So while we weren't trying to name our baby before he was born, our list was slim at best and neither of us loved any of the names we had come up with. So Luke and I were jokingly tossing names back and forth. At one point I said I liked Tate, Luke replied that he didn't as it seemed to abrupt then went on to suggest Nate. I was confused since that is just as abrupt and joked that what are we just rhyming now. Luke then suggested Toby, but we recently met a Toby (and while I doubt he would mind at all if we used his name, it felt a little weird to us). So then I said what so maybe Moby, since it rhymed. Again this was all in joking. I said that we would have to name the baby Beck though because Beck is way cooler than Moby. And then Luke said well actually...I do kind of like that. So it went on our list and when he was born, he was most definitely a Beckett.

Our midwives are Certified Professional Midwives, there are also Certified Nurse Midwives. Because of the rules in Virginia, CNM's do not attend homebirths in this state. In other states CNM's can attend homebirths and they are permitted to carry some medicine, including oxygen. When we had our first consultation our midwives talked about the fact that they are CPM's and not permitted to carry any actual medicine. They do take your blood pressure and your pulse, and listen to the baby with a special stethoscope rather than a Doppler (the sounds is much clearer!) These are women who have attended many births and become certified professional midwives through apprenticeship (aka attending many births) and they must take several written exams. Through this experience they can do much of what an OB does without the medical equipment. They can tell the position of the baby by feeling your belly, often times they would be able to identify limbs and hands just by feel. Childbirth is a natural process for a woman's body (not a condition or disease that needs to be treated in a hospital). That being said there are risk factors that they identify as reasons to transfer out of a midwives care to an OB. During the birth if they feel that there is any reason for you to be transferred to a hospital to finish the birth process they will recommend so. If you are transferred they will go with you and act as a doula (basically be your advocate and try to keep things as close to your original birth plan as possible). If you do not listen to their recommendation to transfer, then you assume all rights and responsibilities if something is wrong with you or with baby (this is made very clear in some of that terrifying paperwork we had to sign). Basically when you meet your midwives, you start building a relationship of trust. Your appointmens last longer than normal OB appointments last. All of our appointments ended with hugs all around. You can email, or text, or call at any time of the day about any concern. These women are fantastic and they are very very good at delivering babies. If you are interested and want to know more you can look into the film "The Business of Being Born," it's on Netflix watch it now.

A "crunchy" mom is someone who does things in a natural way. Often ideally an unmedicated and unaltered birth, breast feeding, cloth diapers, making their own baby food, baby wearing, those type of things.

CPM's can order blood tests and ultrasounds through outside laboratories.

Most insurance does not cover Homebirth. Homebirth is significantly cheaper than a hospital birth, ours was $1,500 total. This includes all the appointments leading up to the birth, the birth, and follow up postpartum appointments. Our insurance was supposed to cover our Homebirth, but it did not.

We had to take Beckett to get his PKU heelprick test in he days following his birth. The Virginia medical system is not fond of Homebirth and has made this clear. We still feel that it was a great experience, but there have been plenty of eye rolls and medical professionals glaring at us. If you are considering Homebirth (or have had a Homebirth), own it, be proud. It's really really nice.

With all that said, to all you beautiful and awesome momma's, I think that no matter what your birth story is, wether it as your dream birth or your plan changed, you should be proud. You grew a baby and that baby was born! You are so strong! That's amazing!

Here are a few images from Beck's first moments as an outside baby.

A few images of proud big brother Owen as well.

Beckett's Birthday

On 12/10 we started having some signs of labor. I was excited because at that point we were 11 days past due and I was anxious for things to get moving. Nothing else really happened that day though aside from mild, steady contractions. Then on Luke's birthday, 12/11 we went into early labor at 4am. Early labor was not very painful, but it went on a long time. I got a bath, but I didn't like it so I got out. I walked and bounced on my exercise ball. Contractions were 6 minutes apart all day. I wanted to take it slow and rest as much as I could because I knew my body had more work to do. I also wanted the contractions to give us progress. With Owen I was very stressed out being in the hospital and I feel it definitely slowed things down for us. I knew that I needed to stay relaxed and I saw each contraction as a good thing as the day went on. I mentally pictured waves washing over me and tried to visualize the vast openness of the ocean. And yes I know that sounds nutty, I just needed my body to make progress! Luke would ask me how I was doing, and I always said,"I'm okay, just thinking open thoughts." Luke made me food all day and made sure I was drinking lots of water. 

By about 4pm I was feeling tired. I was worried we weren't getting anywhere and I would just exhaust myself, which is one of the things that happened with Owen. I texted Chrissy, our midwife, and asked if she had any recommendations. She suggested a walk and then a rest. Walking didn't do much, and it was just about time to get Owen's bedtime routine going. Luke gave Owen his bath and I laid down on the couch for a bit. At this point the contractions were still 6 minutes apart and were uncomfortable enough that sleeping was not happening, but I wanted to rest. Owen went to bed at 7pm as usual. We continued to be in early labor until about 9pm. I texted Chrissy around 8:30 asking her to come check on Beck, I wanted to make sure that another long labor was not stressing him out. In the hospital this had been a concern, and while Owen was born healthy and perfect, I just wanted to check on my baby. He had been kicking all day so I didn't suspect anything was wrong, but I wanted to check on his heartbeat and I think Chrissy did too. I had been texting with Chrissy throughout the day. 

Chrissy and Bridget came over around 9:30. Chrissy got to our house first and we hugged and she asked how I was doing. By that time thes contractions jumped to 3 minutes apart and were getting more intense. I rocked and bounced on my ball and Luke would apply pressure to my back and hips when I wanted him to. It still was not horribly painful though so I thought that we couldn't be that far along, since they were still easy to work through. Owen woke up a couple times and Luke got him back down once, but I think he knew something was up and wanted me to snuggle him. After Chrissy arrived I got him back to bed once and when I came out of his room, Bridget had arrived as well. Once Bridget was here they asked us a bunch of questions, had I been eating and drinking through out the day, going to the bathroom, all the usual stuff. Bridget said to Chrissy,"She is very quiet, but I'm pretty sure she is in transition." I didn't really register this until the next morning. They asked if I wanted to be checked. I did, but I was also incredibly nervous because every time they checked me at the hospital we had made such little progress and I felt like the contractions weren't strong enough for us to be more than a couple centimeters. So they checked me at 10pm and we were at 6cm! Hallelujah! We were doing this...and it wasn't that bad?! Chrissy said that we were doing great and I was excited that we had made it past 5cm! The midwives apprentice, Leslie, came over too. Our midwives set everything up and brewed some coffee that Luke had set up earlier in the evening. I focused on laboring and Owen realized people were here and got up to entertain them of course. I labored on the exercise ball for a while (that thing was my best friend!) and then on the couch. Luke would rub my back and hips or if he needed a break then one of our midwives would come over and help me through the contraction. 

I was on the couch laying on my side when my water broke around midnight. I heard a pop and told Luke I thought it had broken. Later I asked him didn't he hear that?! It had seemed so loud to me. I asked to move to the bedroom then, partly because I just wanted to move and partly because I didn't want to get amniotic fluid on the couch. Chrissy and Luke helped me move to the bed and we worked through about six more contractions. It was a lot more intense once my water broke. Luke had been texting with a few people nearby that could potentially come help us out with Owen if we needed it, and I remember being so angry he was texting and told him to stop. I used some more choice words than that....but really he was trying to be helpful. He sat on the floor holding my hand and keeping eye contact when I would. Two more contractions and I told Luke that my body was pushing. Our midwives came in and said okay! I didn't think that labor was painful enough or long enough to be pushing, but my body took over and just knew it was time. No one checked or said okay yes it's time, my body knew exactly what to do and when. Four pushes later at 12:49pm Beckett was born and placed on my chest. They looked him over while we just were together. He was perfect. He grabbed onto my finger right away. The whole time he was inside I kept feeling his hands moving around his head and he put his hands up to cover his face on the outside too. He still does all the time. Our midwives let us have some family time and cleaned up everything. I was shaking afterward from the adrenaline, and they gave me some juice and asked if I wanted to eat. I didn't. I had thrown up several times during transition and my stomach was still unsure about food. After a little while I had a nutrigrain bar. Beckett latched right away and ate for a couple hours. He was still attached to his cord (which was incredibly thick!) for quite a while after as well and I hadn't delivered the placenta yet. His cord pulsed for about an hour and once it finally stopped I delivered the placenta and Luke cut his cord. Our midwives were so patient and relaxed about everything. We could not have had a better team of people to support and help us with our birth. There was no mess left afterward, which I think was something Luke and I continue to be surprised about because in the hospital everything seemed so messy. They did the laundry and the dishes. They just gave us our space and let us have our perfect beautiful little boy! I will be always grateful for everything they did and didn't do for us and to us. For something we never even considered when this adventure began, we could not have had a better experience in welcoming our son into our family.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Beckett Part 3

We ordered our birth kit (which has a lot of the disposable items in it that you will need for a birth), and set up our weekly appointments. At our first weekly appointment, my belly was measuring small. Our midwives ordered an ultrasound to check that everything was okay. As it tuns out Beckett was extremely low, but perfect so while we (I) was really stressed about my belly measuring small leading up to the ultrasound (hate google!), we were good to go. The ultrasound tech did say that his head was huge...but Owen had a huge head too, so that wasn't anything unexpected.

At 37 weeks we had our home visit. This is where the midwives make sure they can find your house, and get oriented with where things are in general so they don't come into it blind.  They also gave us a list of things they would need us to get together. We met their apprentice, Leslie, at this visit too. Everyone involved in our birth was really awesome and positive. We could not have had a better group of people at our birth. At this visit they also gave us another intimidating piece of paper. It was a yellow sheet of paper that we needed to put on the fridge and it listed emergency contacts and the hospital we would want to go to if anything went wrong. No matter how much you tell yourself nothing will go wrong, there's an evil little part of your brain that just keeps making you have this small piece of doubt. At this visit we opted to do the Group B Strep test as well. Then that evil little part of my brain got a win because at 37 weeks we tested positive for GBS. Just when we were getting really excited and feeling good about our Homebirth, we got knocked back some. Now if we did have to go to the hospital, I would definitely be given an IV and put on antibiotics that can really mess up your stomach and can effect the baby's stomach. GBS can cause serious complications in a newborn. Luke and I debated what to do. Should we transfer out? We needed to know what the odds were that this could effect Beckett. We also needed to know how effective a natural treatment could be. As it turns out there are some pretty effective natural ways to reduce the amount of GBS bacteria in your body, in fact some women have been able to eliminate the bacteria entirely via a change in diet. I started eating yogurt for breakfast every day, eating a lot of sauerkraut, and taking garlic supplements as well as eating a lot more fresh garlic (I'm sure my breathe was quite lovely...bleh). The odds that Beckett would actually have an issue from the GBS were less then 1%...but this is our little baby boy so even though those are pretty darn good odds, it was still nerve wracking. We had to trust our decisions and trust our midwives. Our midwives didn't seem concerned and didn't tell us to transfer out to a hospital. They were very reassuring. So we trusted each other and our midwives and kept each other positive towards our Homebirth.

Once we got through all the tests and big visits, it really became empowering to tell people we were planning a Homebirth. We were planning it and it would work. We could do this. Luke and I trust each other completely. No we didn't know exactly how or when it would happen, but we knew we could do it. We definitely had to reassure each other a lot, but we both really wanted a great birth experience. We got a lot of doubters giving us crazy looks, this was hard because some of those people are close to us. Other people were interested, but seemed intimidated by the idea and said so. That's okay, this was our birth experience. This was for me, for Luke, for Beckett and for Owen. This was a good idea for our family. As it turns out it was a great idea actually, but surrounded by doubters we couldn't have known how great an idea it actually was.

And then we were past due...again. People get really annoying when you are more than 40 weeks pregnant. They ask you stupid questions, like where's the baby?! Who says that to someone who is clearly epically pregnant?! Anyways. We waited. Beckett was born 13 days past due. In reality he was born right on time. But by the calendar he was 13 days "late." With Owen we were 11 days "late" and it was hard to wait. Our OB told us we had to induce at 41 weeks, he used the term still born. We were freaked out then too. We trusted ourselves then to make the right decision for my body and for the baby and again this time, we trusted ourselves. We were confident about our Homebirth and confident that my body could do this, that we could do this. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Beckett Part 2

This was a big decision. A thousand things that could go wrong race through your mind because society in America says having a Homebirth is insane. But then you think about it, you get to stay at your house where it is comfortable, where you have all of your own things. There are no weird sounds, there is no IV, you can do whatever you need to during labor. It was normal years and years ago, it is normal in other countries, maybe it's not a bad idea and maybe it shouldn't be such a weird thing. Both Luke and I did not get pregnant thinking we were going to have a Homebirth though and we had apprehensions and questions about this idea. 

With Owen I had pretty bad tearing. This was one of our biggest apprehensions with this baby and a Homebirth. What happens if I tear? The answer is that the midwives go with you to the hospital, you get numbed up and stitched up and go on your way. The better answer is that we didn't have to do that! Our midwives took preventative measures (unlike the hospital) and they don't do episiotomies (which increase your chances of tearing). All leading up to Beckett's birth I was still nervous that I would tear. Owen had a big head (in the 95th percentile). Beckett had a bigger head. I did not tear. I did not need stitches. Head size has nothing to do with tearing. With Owen we had an episiotomy and I was not in a position that would work for me in terms of tearing. Luke and I talked about this to death even in the weeks when we had decided to go ahead with the Homebirth. We looked for articles, read discussion board posts, anything for some reassurance. Especially when everyone started doubting our decision for us. Clearly we were insane.

We were as low risk as a pregnancy can be. I was young (27 at the time of birth), my blood pressure was perfect (and had been perfect through Owen's pregnancy and birth as well), I eat really well, I'm active and in good shape, I didn't have gestational diabetes, I didn't have any kind of anything that would raise a red flag as far as needing to go to the hospital to have the baby or myself taken care of. We decided to have a Homebirth. Yes.

When you decide have to sign a whole bunch of papers. Those papers scare the crap out of you and make you doubt your decision again. Basically if someone goes horribly wrong, you understand that the midwives have no medicine, they can not carry oxygen. They want to make you aware that if something does go wrong, family members and friends often blame the parents for it because they chose Homebirth. Even though in reality, the statistics say that things go wrong in hospitals just as often and even if the doctors use all the medicine and fancy gadgets they have, the baby won't survive. Those words are scary. Especially when you are pretty far into a pregnancy. We signed the forms. Again we were extremely low risk. I was still nervous. I read a lot of Homebirth stories and asked some ladies in a crunchy moms group I am part of if they had any insight to offer. Luke and I decided that we really did want a Homebirth. This was a good idea for us. Once we were committed, we were excited. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Beckett Part 1

We moved from Tempe, Arizona to Newport News, Virginia at the very end of July. Luke accepted a job in Williamsburg, and two weeks later we packed the moving truck, and were on our way. It was a five day drive, driving about eight hours a day with our corgi and our then one year old son, Owen. O was treat on the drive and we made it without too many hiccups along the way. Once we got here though we were about 24 weeks pregnant, which meant sorting out insurance, an OB, and hospital tours all fairly quickly. 

Beckett Eli Schmura was born at home. On purpose. Yes. When we moved from Arizona to Virginia, I started looking for an OB here. We were 32 weeks pregnant by the time our insurance was approved. When you call OB's and tell them you are 32 weeks pregnant, do you know what happens?! They tell you they won't see you! What?! Excuse me?! This baby is going to be born wether or not you want to see me. Wouldn't it be better if you saw me and checked on this baby before he was born? The whole thing left me in shock and I was angry. When someone is 32 weeks pregnant, you shouldn't mess with them. Especially when it comes to their unborn child. It's just a bad idea. So I sent an email. To Bridget at Williamsburg Homebirth. We weren't sure we were even interested in Homebirth, I jut needed to reach out to someone to see if they had any suggestions or ideas on what the heck to do. If we didn't hear anything back, our only option was to show up at the hospital in labor....good plan right? 

Less than an hour later I got an email back. She offered to do a consultation with us to discuss the idea of Homebirth. She also gave me some advice as far as doctors, other midwives, birth centers, and doula's. Helpful right? The complete opposite of the more than twelve doctors offices I called. What? Someone wants to help us?! Maybe I read that wrong. We decided to go to the consultation the next day. Their office is in a little old house in Williamsburg. Owen was welcome and invited to come along. Bridget and Chrissy talked to us about what they do as part of your Homebirth. They are certified professional midwives. This means they are more than qualified to deliver babies, but they can not carry or dispense any actual medicine. They asked us about what we wanted from our birth. They listened to us. They asked about our fears of doing a Homebirth. Owen gave them numerous hugs. We left the appointment feeling positive about the idea. We both wanted to think about it and talk about it before we made any decisions. They were totally cool with that. What?! This is ridiculous.