Friday, April 27, 2018

Far-from-home Mom

7am Wuksachi Lodge sequoia National Park

The baby is nestled in beside me, thumb in her mouth, humming and sleeping. Her and I had been up for an out and a half in the dim of our hotel room, trying to spare echo and Jared and give them a few more hours of sleep. She gave up but of course I’m wide awake. So a blog post written in notes app sounds about right. 

I was wary of this vacation. We wanted to get away before Jared was thrown into PA school and the key was tossed aside. However, traveling 2000 miles and enduring a 3 hour time change with 2 very young children seemed a bit ambitious. 

I also spent the last few months dithering back and forth over resigning from my job; heretofore known as The Decision. 

Going back to work, moving, trying to find our place in our new home, keeping clean underwear on everyone and The Decision had my stress level at Mach 10. Every time I’d open a tab to start planning the trip, I was overwhelmed with stress and anxiety. So I just didn’t. Jared and I did the bare minimum of booking flights, hotels, and car, and I made sure there weren’t any free gems we were missing out on and then I just put it on a shelf. Btw RIP the days of an air bnb being a steal. The golden age of super cheap 2 bedroom apartments is gone I’m afraid. 

After I made The Decision, the cliched weight from my shoulders melted away. Literally the burden and guilt and stress and self doubt that has plagued me for months was just GONE. It’s nice to know, definitively, that you’ve made the right decision. So here I am, a stay at home mom very far away from her home. 

The flights weren’t all that bad. Remind me to write a post on the pitfalls of having huge breasts and trying to feed modestly in public. I really don’t care what you do with your own nipples, but generally speaking I like to keep mine on the low down. But at some point I made the decision that is totally fine and completely ok to just feed her. And not have to wrestle her adorable but determined little self under a cover. Seriously would you rather hear wild ravenous screeching cries in an airplane or see 1 inch of side boob? Moving along! 

The first night in Fresno was ROTTEN. Echo had been so great all day but cooped up in a little room and unable to have her own space to wind down and sleep she was over it. We battled, took an ice cream run at the local Freezy Queen, and finally everyone slept a few hours. The next morning we headed out to Sequoia. 

It’s drop dead gorgeous. Everyone should come here. At some point Jared pulled off to potty and when he came back he told me to just go walk a little ways in to the forest. It was perfectly cool, pine scented bliss. So peaceful and soothing. 

The last few days have been so fun and so nuts. Echo is still a 3year old even in the midst of an ancient giant forest, who knew?! It really is so enchanting to see her stride off, climb a big giant rock or log,sometimes a little too confidently for my liking. She jumps and runs and talks to strangers, and is all in a joy. She also cries and whines, refuses to pose for 80% of our photos, and at one point unlocked the stroller climbed inside and started rolling down a hill towards a small creek until a nice man stopped her. Happened in about 2 seconds while I was taking a photo of Jared. Lorelai, as usual, is just a ball of sunshine along for the ride. That is until we get in the car to make the long drive across the park and she cries for 20-30 minutes at a time. But all in total trooper.

 Today we leave for the coast, and while I’m literally salivating at 7:30 at the thought of the cafe rio I’m going to eat later, and the dim sum waiting for me in San Francisco, it does leave a pit in my stomach knowing we can’t be surrounded by these amazing giant redwoods forever. We’ll be back. We’ve got to! 

Friday, February 16, 2018

What to do if your uterus feels like it's going to fall out of your body. Or: Pelvic Prolapse

Disclaimer: I'm turning 29 in a few weeks and have had many experiances in my life, none so crazy and wonderful and terrible as natural childbirth (twice) (humblebrag). It's pretty much stripped me of any embarrassment around my body, and also helped me become a better and more true version of myself. That said, if you are my Dad or my 3rd cousin or my elementary school teacher and can't handle me talking about female anatomy, kindly click away from here.


So cue to about 3 months ago. I was roughly 2 weeks postpartum and I was feeling GOOD y'all. My recovery from Lorelai's birth was incredibly easy, my angel newborn was sleeping 5-6 hours at night, I was feeling #blessed. I didn't tear at all with Cub, but there's always a certain amount of swelling and general weirdness that goes down afterwards. But then another few weeks went by, and that swollen heavy feeling was not going away. I was chatting with a friend who had her baby just a couple weeks after I did, and described the feeling. She'd had 3 babies and had no clue what I was talking about.

The feeling was a nagging. A heaviness in my vagina, like a menstrual cup or tampon thats edging out and irritating you in a way you just can't quite describe. When I'd wipe or sit on the toilet, the feeling was stronger, and to be honest with you I was terrified to look and see if what I thought had happened had really and truly happened. I was also plagued with feelings of self doubt. I do not tend towards hypochondria, but I didn't want to drag myself and my new baby and perhaps my toddler in to a doctors office only to be told that this was all part of the normal postpartum healing process. One night I'd had enough and I explained to Jared what I thought it was and forced him to check it out. All he said was "It definitely looks like something is there."

Reader: It was my uterus.
A girl with a slipping uterus

Spoiler alert: my uterus did not ever leave my body. But it was NOT where Mother Nature had originally placed it. And Google will tell you some very unclear and scary stuff about all of this. Once I went in to the midwives, they confirmed a stage 2 prolapse. Stage 3 would have been completely out, this was just very low. Basically, Cubby came out so fast and furious (some would say 2 Fast 2 Furious)  that my muscles had just given up. They could no longer adequately hold up my internal organs. My uterus had slipped down in to my vagina.
Image result for womens pelvic floor
It's important to note here that nothing is fastening your reproductive organs in place. Your pelvic floor in basically a hammock of muscles, and if they are weakened enough it causes massive problems. Most women have urine leakage problems after having a baby, and slight prolapse is why. Other women's prolapse is so bad they have to wear special devices called pessaries to hold everything up and in. Basically a vagina cork. My midwives set me up with a pelvic floor therapist and sent me on my merry way.

When I got in the car after my appointment, I was feeling pretty darn bad for myself. I wanted to shuffle off this mortal coil, and had a good cry and a milkshake. In truth I was incredibly lucky to have 0 symptoms besides the nagging feeling in my nethers. Some women experience constant poo and pee leakage after prolapse. While I was convinced in the moment I would never be able to sex, carry a baby, or live a happy life ever ever again, that certainly was not true.


Shortly after this pity fest, I met with Eliza, my pelvic floor therapist. She is a doctor of physical therapy and specializes in women's health. She is very charming, disarming, hilarious, and the person I really needed at the moment. When I walked in to her office she first told me that I was VERY freshly post-partum (6 weeks) and that I truly was still healing. People are often telling me to give myself a little grace, and I am often being an A Type freak who needs TO FIX THINGS RIGHT NOW. ahem. Anyway, she did an assessment that was quite literally her sticking a few fingers in my vagina, feeling around and having me kegel. For many people this would be mortifying, but I was so scared of  my organs falling out I felt only mild chagrin.

At this point she confirmed the stage 2 prolapse, and told me my uterus was hanging out maybe 1/2 to 1 inch inside my vagina. I could only hold a kegel for about 2-3 seconds before giving out. She asked me to work on 5 second holds, and we started meeting regularly.

The next few appointments involved sensors placed on either side of my ahem rectum, so that a computer could chart the strength of my kegels. It was all very scientific. She'd coach me through kegel exercises and taught me how to activate them when carrying things or walking. I worked with Eliza for about 7 weeks and here I am: a graduate of therapy! Who can now hold a set of kegels, standing, for 10-15 seconds at a time! I no longer feel that heavy nagging feeling.
Image result for womens pelvic floor
I am not a doctor, and I won't go in depth to much about what I actually did at my appointments because I am sure everyone is different. I wanted to write this post because when I was searching for information about this there just wasn't a lot out there. I posted on 2 separate Facebook groups for women and didn't receive even one response. Not a word of encouragement or an acknowledgment that this happens to others. Well, guess what it happens to LOTs of people. This is why lots of ladies end up regularly peeing themselves when they sneeze! That joke is part of the zeitgeist, and we just accept it and move on. Doesn't have to be that way

Here are 4 things I learned in PT that will hopefully help you:
  1. Kegels. You are probably doing one now if you are a vagina-owner and thinking "Please 10 seconds? I got this." But it's not about the length of time, it's about endurance. To strengthen your pelvic floor you need to be able to squeeze those muscles, release fully, tighten again and release fully in sets of 10. And to keep doing that multiple times a day. Try it and I am sure you'll feel yourself tire. 
  2. If you have health insurance, chances are PT is covered. I barely had to pay anything for my treatment, and I have a high deductible plan. It's really hard to learn how to do these exercises on your own. The coaching and monitoring helps so much. 
  3. You can see results quickly in your symptoms! I felt some relief just a few weeks after starting PT.
  4. Your health and comfort are worth WAY more then embarrassment over having a doctor look at, touch or talk about your vagina, anus, uterus or any other part down there that may cause you to blush. 

^^ myself and Lorelai, the pelvic floor destroyer.

If you have any questions or you'd like Eliza's info, let me know!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Mom of two

 Today I have:

  • Cleaned up Echo's puke and pee at the Chic-Fil-A
  • Nursed Lorelai 9 times (it's only 7pm)
  • Supervised 2 time outs 
  • Supervised 4 "Echo holds the baby" sessions
  • Made 3 breakfasts (all three were eaten by Echo)
  • Ordered pizza for dinner and nuggets for lunch
  • Quarantined Jared at his parents for the night for the second time this month (flu)
  • Cleaned up lots of poop, both animal and human 
  • Balanced Cubby on the my breast friend pillow,while nursing and assisting Echo with potty activities

Let the record state that if I end up with another baby girl one day,  or another two or three or hundred baby girls,  I will feel like I've won the lottery.  I feel so privileged to raise women in this world.

Monday, November 6, 2017

The second time

Monday, October 30, 2017, I hit 41 weeks pregnant and brought another soul down to this world. I hadn't hit true and complete misery yet, so I thought perhaps I was on my way to week 42.

Around 3 am, I woke up with what I thought to be weird stomach cramps, but by 4 am they shaped into distinct contractions. I downloaded a tracking app and tried to rest while hitting the little button every 5-7 min. They weren't too bad, and I could easily breathe through, but when I woke Jared up he suggested we go ahead and call my Grammie over to watch Echo and get ready to head in. Meanwhile the contraction app was telling me to Call! An! Ambulance! (alarmist much?) because I was regularly clocking these mildish contractions every 5 minutes.

Heaven bless my grandmother, who answered the phone completely lucid, on the second ring at 4 in the morning. She was on her way, and Jared and I puttered around, starting a load of laundry and finishing up some dishes.

Once we hit the road, I called the birth center to let them know we were on the way. Apparently I was supposed to give them an hours notice (whoops), so we sidetracked to air up the tires and grab some trail mix from the gas station. I kept contracting regularly, but I felt a little silly heading in when the contractions were so unlike the roaring pain I remembered with Echo. Around 6:15 we met the on call midwife, Brie, and she checked me (a 5 going on a 6) and left us to our own devices in our birthing room.

It's interesting how critical I can be of myself, even in the most extreme circumstances. I paced around the room, eating a banana and snacking on trail mix, slightly frustrated with how low key everything seemed. I wanted to have this baby! Or get some sleep at least, but when I lay down to rest the contractions seemed to lessen and I wasn't having that. My contractions picked up a tiny bit and my midwife suggested the tub. I lasted about 15 min before deciding it was slowing me down and hopping out. I insisted Jared try and nap since we seemed to be going nowhere fast, and tried to get out of my own head. I wanted to be in the present, focused on the experience as it was, not how I thought it should be. I had this deep feeling that this baby would be coming into the world quick, but here I was pacing back and forth with what seemed like hours and hours before me. I layed down to rest awhile, and later paced the halls of the birth center.

Every time I thought about Echo, my eyes filled with tears. We gave her a call and of course all was well at home. Around 8:15 I got what I had been hoping for and incredibly strong waves of contraction started rolling in. I held on tight to Jared and moaned through each one. At about 8:45 I got back in the tub and tried to let my body relax as they came.

In this labor, I never had a moment where I didn't think I could do it. I had a brief period of time where I certainly didn't want to do it, but I knew I could. I hit transition at about 8:30, and I saw it for just what it was. The contractions weren't stopping and I felt trapped in my body. Jared poured water on my belly during the contractions and handed me ice cold cloths in between. I wanted to run but I knew I had to face it, and that it would be over soon. I asked to be checked and my midwife assured me that once I was ready to push nothing could stop me.

She was right - 10 minutes later I felt my body bare down and push and there was nothing I could do to keep that baby from coming. I got into position and gave one tiny half-hearted push. I knew I could do this and that push disappointed me, it felt like a wasted opportunity (in hindsight - again, what the heck was I thinking?).

I remember asking the time - It was 9:45 - and thinking oh good! A baby before noon. And I'm going to eat a burrito bowl later ! (priorities) And OMG this hurts so much!!!! And one giant push later my babies head crowned! I screamed and the midwife was totally taken off guard, and I pushed once more - Cubby was here. Jared grabbed her and scooped her up and I had my beautiful daughter in my arms. She took her time and then she was there all at once, 4 pushes and done.

Lorelai screamed and screamed, and I remember immediately taking  in on her little arm rolls and chubby cheeks. Lorelai lay on my chest while I delivered the after birth and then we all made our way to the bed. She was 8 lbs 7.5 oz of squealing beautiful baby, more then two pounds heavier then her big sister had been. Bruised and banged from her fast entrance, looking like a prize fighter, and I was immediately and totally in love.

Once we got home that afternoon, Grammie brought Echo back over to meet her new sister. She was excited and obsessed and heartbroken as only a 2 year old, dethroned and sharing her mama and daddy for the first time, could be. She only told us once that she didn't want the baby, and has made it up since by bestowing about 100 kisses on her head. She loves her Cubby. She may possibly shun you if you happen to dote upon Lorelai a bit too much.

My recovery this past week has been pretty incredible. I didn't have any tears, and I actually feel like I've gotten more sleep with a newborn then I did the last month of my pregnancy (insomnia is the devil.) Lorelai is shaping up to be jolly, fat, cute as a button and a champion nurser. I also feel like loving Echo prepared me to love Lorelai in a way that's hard to explain. I appreciate having a sweet smelling newborn to hold more then ever, and I feel like that restlessness I had during labor were all heading towards these moments of contentment post-partum.

We are definitely still in the ultra newborn bliss zone over here. There has been a little drama, with Jared banished for a day to his parents with flu-like symptoms, Echo coming down with a tummy bug, and Jared locking us out of the house for an hour or so...but hey! you can't rain on our parade! Being a family of 4 seems pretty sweet so far.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017


So I wasn't actually there to witness this, but I believe the story will be told for years to come about the day Daddy and Echo went to Sea World and Echo's backpack became squirrel bait. Seriously, Jared left her little pack with the stroller, and a pack of squirrels, smelling her stash of almonds inside, commenced to ripping the bag to shreds. Bless Fjallraven, who when I emailed them, asked that I send the bag in to be either repaired or replaced. 

As this has now happened two pregnancies in a row, I am guessing it's just how the cookie crumbles for me. Right around 37-38 weeks I start to get people coming out of the woodwork and gasping YOU'RE PREGNANT WHEN ARE YOU DUE?! I try really really hard to not find this insulting, but my vain nature has a hard time letting it go. Anyway, there have been more paws on my belly and gasps over my due date (Oct 23) in the past 2 weeks then in the last 9 months.

I have shared this with many a friend, but truly with Echo I was so mystified and terrified over actually having a little human to take care of that I was content up to the very last days of pregnancy for her to live in there forever. This time, I really can't wait to have my little baby and grow our family. Being a mom to Echo has been such an amazing and sweet experience. She truly enriches my life, and I can't wait to see her as a big sister, smell that sweet baby scent, nurse, cuddle, and get to know this new little spirit. Not to mention I am WAY more uncomfortable right now then I ever was with Echo. Epsom salt (with lavendar) baths have been a game changer though - my number one new recommendation for pregnant moms. I can finally sleep again! At 39 weeks this is the last call to get your guesses in for gender. I am still thinking girl.

Echo's yeehaw face. We had a great time with friends at the Amazing Grace farm and pumpkin patch. It was insanely hot that day- we didn't even make it in to the corn maze, but if you have a toddler/younger child you should really check it out.