June Rose: A Birth Story

When I was pregnant with Eleanor, I couldn’t read enough birth stories. I especially loved the stories in Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. I loved how the women in that book relied on and trusted their bodies to birth their babies. I always felt so empowered after reading their stories.  I read blogs about natural birth, I listened to Hypnobirthing CDs, and I prayed every night that I would be able to manage the pain and intensity of labor.

But, like most second-time moms, this time around I was lucky if I got even a page into a birth story before falling asleep at the end of the day. It made me feel under-prepared and apprehensive about labor not reading as much, not taking all the childbirth classes, or going to prenatal yoga three times a week. I wondered if I could really do this again. My lack of confidence surprised me. I guess I thought I should have confidence in spades having done it before, but I didn’t. I feared this labor being completely different and not knowing how to do this one, whatever it would be. Of course, everyone would tell me I was more prepared and capable than I thought; having gone through it once I had everything I needed to birth this child. I hung onto that as much as I could and hoped I could remember it when I was in the throws of labor again.

Saturday, July 11th, I went to bed noticing some mild cramping but didn’t bat an eye as it was nearly a week before my due date and thought I’d surely see my due date come and go. I remember waking a few times in the night from the cramping but easily drifted back to sleep. The next day I had the same mild menstrual-like cramping throughout the day off and on but nothing noteworthy in my mind. I went to my dear friend’s son’s birthday party while Daniel finished painting a doorway we had been meaning to get to for forever.

That evening I got the bloody-show but honestly didn’t think twice about it not only because I hadn’t reached my due date but because of how my labor with Eleanor went. I was in labor for days after I got the bloody show with her so it didn’t mean too much to me. But that night when I went to bed and the cramping got more contraction-like and woke me every time they came. Again, I did my best to ignore them and thought maybe I’d have the baby this week sometime.

Monday, July 13th, I continued having contractions but they were off and on, and would back off when I’d change position. I told Daniel to go ahead and go to work and I kept all my plans that day. I took Eleanor to her play group that morning, and went to hang out with my friend and her baby after I dropped her off. For the most part, I was able to hold conversation and talk through the contractions. I’m not sure my friend would have even known I was having contractions if I hadn’t told her. Mid-hang out with my friend I went to the bathroom and saw more bloody show. Again, I thought—at best—I might have a baby this week sometime…

We had planned on going out for pizza at The Firehouse down the street that evening and I insisted we keep those plans. I wanted to go out just the three of us for what I knew might be the last time for awhile. We got to the restaurant at about 5:00 that evening and as dinner progressed the contractions were becoming more regular and difficult to sit through. I would have a contraction every time the waiter came to our table, of course. I was annoyed and tears started coming to my eyes. The contractions were getting painful. All I could think was if I could just get home and sit on that birth ball the contractions would subside again and I could maybe rest. I told Daniel I couldn’t make it through dinner and decided to start walking home. Meanwhile, Daniel got a to-go box for the food and came home with Eleanor shortly after.

At home I sat on the ball but the contractions were not letting up like I thought they would. I thought maybe this was the start of one of those long contraction-filled nights, like I had so many of with Eleanor, and they’d back off in the morning.

Soon I realized I didn’t want to be in the pain alone anymore. I needed Daniel with me. He was frantically trying to get Eleanor to bed and emailing his coworkers to let them know this was probably his last day of work before he took his paternity leave. I sat on the birth ball, moaning, begging Daniel to squeeze my hips harder. I heard Eleanor upstairs, mimicking my sounds. I remember thinking how sweet that was, but also feeling anxiety about keeping her awake. Daniel called his parents to come get Eleanor for the night or, in my mind, probably 3 nights.

Daniel’s parents got to the house at about 8:00pm. Eleanor came in to see me before she left. I remember her putting her hand on me and not wanting to leave me. I was moaning and crying and probably should’ve gotten a clue that I would be having this baby sooner than later when I couldn’t hold it together in front of my kid. But I just couldn’t believe it. I wouldn’t let myself believe it. I remember wanting it to stop and if I could just fall asleep maybe the contractions would subside. But there was no way around it. Contractions are like nothing I’ve ever felt, and even now, having experienced them twice, I can’t describe them accurately.

Daniel decided to call Cindy, our doula, because of how I sounded. I remember thinking why can’t I get it together? Did I sound like this this early on with Eleanor? Cindy heard my yells over the phone and said she was coming over. She was with me through two contractions and said she thought we should call the midwives. I remember looking at her in utter disbelief…I think I said, “Really? But it’s so early…” She asked me if I was feeling any pressure. Yes, I had been feeling that but just thought “what an inconvenient time to have to poop.” Second-time moms are apparently exquisite at denial. Especially mamas who had prodromal, long labors with her first baby, like I did. The midwives got there at 9:20pm and June was born at 10:03pm. Like I said—exquisite at denial.

The next 40 minutes were long and short and bizarre, and I’m probably not the person to tell the accurate version. I remember it was dark: how I like it to be when I’m in labor apparently (I wanted it as dark as possible with Eleanor too). I remembered that one of my midwives was away for a long weekend and feeling sad she probably wouldn’t make it to the birth.

The student midwife on my team arrived first, heard my crazing animal-like sounds, and asked someone where the baby blankets and hats were. I remember being confused, wondering why she was worried about getting those things together right then. I don’t think I would actually let myself believe I was having this baby until I was pushing.

Stephanie, the midwife I had with Eleanor, arrived soon after that. It was a relief to see her and, at some point, I remember grabbing her hand and telling her it had to be early still, it just had to be. She responded in her lovely midwife way, “Let it be whatever it needs to be.” Meanwhile, Daniel remained by my side squeezing my hips through the contractions, saying beautiful things to me. In the incredible pain, I felt so much love for him for doing this with me again.

The contractions were relentless and so were my yells and moans. Stephanie asked if I felt like I had to push, and I remember not feeling sure. She suggested changing position and getting off the birth ball. She said having something beneath me, holding me up, might be keeping that need to push at bay. I agreed, even though I was afraid of giving into the pain and pressure, and got on my knees, holding on to her and Cindy at the edge of the couch. Stephanie checked me at some point and I told her I didn’t want to know (still believing, crazily enough, she would surely say I was only 3 cm or something awful like that). She had Laura, the substitute midwife standing in for our lead, check me as well. I remember her saying, “Your baby has a lot of hair.” I was completely shocked. I was 9 cm. I think I even said, “I don’t believe it. I don’t believe I’m 9 cm.”

I wondered if it was ok that I was pushing when I wasn’t fully dilated and hearing Laura say, “Your baby doesn’t care that you’re 9 cm, push if you feel like you need to.” So I did, and it was excruciating.

It was so different from my experience with Eleanor. The pushing was much more painful this time, perhaps because June was coming even though I wasn’t complete. Stephanie asked if I would like her to hold that lip of cervix back while I pushed. I didn’t want her to because I knew it would hurt, but I agreed because I knew it would make it go faster. I just wanted it to be over.

Before this point, my water had not broken. As I pushed I almost forgot that fact, until I heard a pop and felt the gush. I remember trying to channel my screams and yells and energy downward, but I felt so tense up in my shoulders and felt so afraid to let go. So much more afraid than I did when I was pushing Eleanor out. I didn’t like the fear I felt. I wanted so badly to let that go, but couldn’t and felt disappointed in myself: disappointed that I couldn’t quite get on top of all the contractions and pushing. I was sure this labor might kill me. But I remember Laura saying, “It’s just for now. Just for now,” which was such a helpful, buoying thing to hear. Every time I thought I couldn’t do it, someone was there to tell me I could.

Stephanie made the call that she thought it was going to be a boy and that all that hair would be brown. Everyone thought it was going to be a boy throughout my pregnancy so we thought it would be too, even though I secretly hoped it was a girl since I knew Eleanor wanted a sister so badly. I pushed and pushed and even though it was so fast it did not feel fast enough. And then there she was, my June. Stephanie caught her, I sat back on the ground from my squat and relaxed, looked at her beautiful, crying face, and then looked up at Daniel’s crying face. I could not believe I had done it again and I felt so grateful. We checked for the gender and literally couldn’t believe what we saw. Both Daniel and I thought the same thing when we looked, “Well that’s a weird looking penis.” We were both so convinced with everyone else that it was a boy, and after the insanity that is birth you aren’t really seeing straight. But I looked again, and lo and behold, June surprised us all and made one big sister very, very happy.

I felt each moment and now, writing this, the sensations feel impossible again. They feel mysterious and unexplainable. June Rose was born at 10:03pm, on Monday, July 13th, three days before her due date. Named after her sister Eleanor Rose and after the city they were both made and born. She was and is so beautiful. I am in awe of what my body did, and I feel so much gratitude for being able to have another home birth, and to have another healthy baby girl. I know I was blessed and I will never forget that. It was what I had feared—the vastly different labor I didn’t think I could get through. But I did, and I couldn’t be more humbled and grateful.

June's birth

June's birth

June's birth

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Maternity Shoot // Becoming Four

Baby #2

A few weeks ago my sweet and crazy-talented friend, Alyssa, took pictures of my family. I wanted to have this special time as a family of three captured before we become a family of four. She, of course, delivered… and then some. I have looked through them so many times now and still can’t seem to get through them with dry eyes. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Alyssa, for the gift of these pictures. They are priceless, and I will treasure them forever.

We started the shoot in our home and then went to Sauvie Island for the rest of the shoot—two places we love so much and where we have shared some of our happiest, hardest, most intimate and life-changing times as a family.

I’m terrible at narrowing down favorites (especially when they’re this good!) so forgive the ridiculous amount of pictures you’re about to scroll through…

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One Tiiiiny Part of Our Kitchen Remodel is Complete?!

Kitchen Remodel-Breakfast nook built-ins

In February we started the work of remodeling our kitchen. We knew it would be a slow process as we are doing some of the work ourselves and still saving more funds as we go. But, as remodel’s usually go, we came across some major wrenches (aka, the dumb chimney taking up precious space in our teensy kitchen that needs to go) that are going to cost us more time and money than we originally thought…

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Weekend Beach Day

Canon Beach

Canon Beach

We drove to the coast over the weekend since the weather was going to be so nice and because we were in need of a break from our everyday…dishes, laundry, chores, etc. And it did just the trick. It was revitalizing for our family and Eleanor was in H.E.A.V.E.N. I haven’t seen her so content in a long time (threenager). We feel so lucky to live just an hour and half away from this gorgeous place…

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Art Wall Of My Dreams

Pegboard Art Wall

Over the past couple weeks my husband and I installed this arts and crafts wall, aka the wall of my dreams. I first saw the idea here and shamelessly stole it ASAP. Our arts and craft supply situation was driving me batty — a bottomless abyss of bins that were a complete mess and totally unusable. We could never find anything, didn’t ever know what we had or didn’t have and I would end up just leaving a mess of random supplies on our breakfast nook table for Eleanor. At least that way she could see some of what she had and would be inspired to make art and occupy herself happily. But the mess of supplies on the table I knew wasn’t sustainable. Between my neat-freak self and actually needing the space on the table to eat, etc., it was not a permanent solution. So when I saw this brilliant idea, it was like angels, choruses,  all the stars aligning, the whole thing.

I feel like when you come across an idea this good, it must be shared. So, without further adieu, read on for my how-to process in putting together the wall…

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The Most Beautiful Excerpt…

Be Present

We waste so much energy trying to cover up who we are when beneath every attitude is the want to be loved, and beneath every anger is a wound to be healed, and beneath every sadness is the fear that there will not be enough time. When we hesitate in being direct, we unknowingly slip something on, some added layer of protection that keeps us from feeling the world, and often that thin covering is the beginning of a loneliness which, if not put down, diminishes our chances of joy.

 

–Mark Repo

I first saw this quote on Courtney Adamo’s Instagram feed (her feed is stunning and so inspiring, one of my favs) and I can’t get it out of my head, so thought I’d share it with you. The quote is from the book “The Book of Awakening,” and I think it’s going on my long list of books to read next.

In our world of social media, perceptions, and public personas, I found this the most refreshing and challenging reminder to be more present and less quick to put up the walls and masks. To live more authentically and think about my response, post, picture, etc. before putting it out there. Am I layering, filtering, protecting myself too much? And for what? I crave the security and freedom that comes with living honestly and unafraid and deeply admire/envy the ones who pull it off.

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These Skincare Products Are Nothing Short Of Miraculous…

SW Basics

My friend Kim generously gave me a bundle of these incredible products this past Christmas and I can’t believe I’m just now getting around to sharing them with you. They are miraculous. Ever since approaching thirty I’ve become more selective and careful about the skincare and makeup products I put on my skin. I’m always on the lookout for new products that are truly all natural, and organic. So when Kim showed me S.W. Basics and I saw the list of 4-5 ingredients front and center on the bottles, I was floored. Not only are the products completely natural, all ingredients I can recognize (coconut oil, rose water, tea tree oil, etc.), but they work! I have fairly sensitive skin and my skin has never felt or looked better since using these products.

And that’s what makes S.W. Basics stand out. They make all their products from scratch using only whole, high-potency ingredients. Here is an excerpt of their story…

For us, less isn’t just more; less is everything. We’ve found that if we stick with only absolutely essential ingredients and don’t add a bunch of extra stuff, we don’t need to put a hundred things into our products. Using fewer ingredients means more potent skincare. We don’t water it down with cheap synthetics or exotic fillers. It also means that our products are more likely to be safe even on the most sensitive skin. That’s why everything we sell only has 5 ingredients or less. And they still make you look amazing and smell pretty.

Above are a few of my favorites from their line of products. That moisturizing cream will knock your socks off. I’ve been using it on my face (morning and night before I go to bed) and even all over my belly and my skin feels so hydrated and my belly not so itchy! I’ve noticed less breakouts since using their products too! I can’t recommend enough. Next I want to try their oil serum, which sounds like a game-changer.

BONUS: I just learned that S.W. Basics are sold at Target now too!!

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What Is Beauty?

I came across a new favorite magazine, Darling, not too long ago and had to share. It is a magazine about and focused on women, in the most refreshing, honest way. It challenges cultural ideals of beauty, questions its exaggerated importance, and sees beauty in every type of woman. None of the women featured and pictured in this magazine are altered or photoshopped in any way. How amazing is that? It’s super inspiring. I’d highly recommend.

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Weekend Bits

Rainy Day

Rainy Day

Though we’ve had amazing weather around here lately, this weekend was decidedly wet and blustery. But when you have a three year old, cabin fever gets real, real fast. So we didn’t let the rain stop us and ventured out to a new, lovely tea spot not too far from our house.

Tea Bar

It is such a beautiful spot. Everything is clean and sparse and gorgeous. Not everyone finds a sparse aesthetic very inviting but oh how I do. Maybe even more so after having a kid. All those clean lines and no clutter puts me at ease instantly. They also have the best magazines like this one I’m currently obsessed with. I have a feeling I will be back there…maybe with just myself next time :)

Rainy Day

Eleanor drew with Papa and watched him too (one of her favorite things to do), while I read a bit (toddler interrupted reading, mind you). And we all enjoyed some delicious tea of course. It was really wonderful to just rest and be together.

Rainy Day tea and treats

Daniel and I were also able to get out for a date night, which was much needed. We followed the best advice and went to a movie before going out to dinner. That way you’re not falling asleep during the movie and can talk about the movie afterward over dinner. We saw Birdman, which we really liked. Thought-provoking, incredibly well-acted, artistic, and the cinematography was super different, but interesting. We went out to eat at Kachka, a newish Russian restaurant that was delicious. If you go, make sure to get the borscht and sour cherry dumplings—to die for. Also, the vodka flights are a must too. Though I can’t really give a review, my husband really liked it and I watched enviously across the table. I will definitely be going back after this baby is born :)

Date night Kachka

And lastly, a few pictures of the most epic post-nap hair you’ll ever see and apple snacking/being a goof :)

Post-nap epic hair

Post-nap hair and snacks

Hope you’re weekend was lovely , and happy Monday! We can do this! xx

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Maternity Style / 01

Maternity Style

Maternity Style

“I never felt more beautiful than when I was pregnant, because it wasn’t about me. The whole purpose of my body was no longer to fit into a sample size. It was to nurture another being. So I always felt great, no matter what I was wearing.” –Amy Adams

Being pregnant can be both incredible and hard, in so many ways and on so many levels. One of which is the changes your body undergoes. There are moments when I marvel at my body, what it’s doing, and what it’s capable of. And other moments it’s…hard. I feel large and limited and not terribly pretty. I don’t like those times and am not proud of them. Because Amy Adams nailed it. The insecurities that creep up in me about my changing body are based on outright, mostly cultural, lies. Pregnancy is nothing short of miraculous and I want to see our society start to value women and mothers as givers and supporters of life. Think about how much would change for you and me and our daughters if we viewed women like that.

Anyway, I’ll get off my soapbox. Just really needed to say all that.

In my daily attempt to value myself and see the truth about how I look right now, I have been making sure to get dressed (most days) and care for myself in that way. I decided to start up a maternity style series like I did when I was pregnant with Eleanor and hopefully inspire any other pregnant mamas out there to get dressed and be proud of yourself and the changes your body undergoes to make another human!

One of my favorite, go-to pieces in this pregnancy has been…

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