The Happy Sacrifices of a Mama

It feels a bit audacious to entitle this post with that line.

What mom wouldn’t give all for her kids, if she could?

It’s not what the dreamy romantic younger version of myself thought of first when I dreamed of having a family one day, to be honest.

As the dream come true unfolds, the grace comes, too.

But what hard thing doesn’t require sacrifice?

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Our announcement photoshoot for baby #1, our son! Photo Credit: Dana Christine Photography

When I first became a mama, first found out I was expecting within, things got devastatingly worrisome for me, very fast.

I didn’t expect to find myself bleeding and cramping at 6 weeks pregnant, while waiting for prenatal care to start at 10 weeks.

I didn’t realize those are the symptoms of a miscarriage, at first, but then I did and it was scary!

I desperately tried to find a healthcare professional to help make sense of what was going on.

I prayed a lot.

I tried the first option for healthcare and found myself even more worried, with no answers.

I tried the second option that had such strict rules, there was no help at all for me.

The third was a previously scheduled appointment to “just see” if a home birth could be right for me.

I don’t know why I even looked that option up. I always knew my mom had three home births out of 4, but I didn’t know if I had it in me!

Some part of me stretched to imagine the hopeful end of this pregnancy and wondered if I could really make it through contractions with no option for pain relief medication.

Here I was, the girl who just thought how cute my belly would look rounded. And how fun it would be to get cute maternity clothes!

And yet, here I was, the girl who took a natural pregnancy course to prepare years ahead of even being ready to start having children.

Who took a prenatal multivitamin because I was of child-bearing age.

Who tried her best to get her health in order.

I went to the home birth appointment and immediately found support.

Immediately, I was taken seriously AND someone could help.

I was sent to an ultrasound to check for the baby.

I was given a test to see what my progesterone levels were and found out they were almost nothing within a few days.

Our hearts leapt with joy & relief as we saw our little one’s strong heartbeat on ultrasound at just 6 weeks pregnant. (This technician had years in the field, had opened her own practice and specialized in high risk pregnancies- but even then it was super early to see the heartbeat, not a possibility to hear it yet).

But they plummeted as I continued to bleed and cramp through the weekend.

I held onto that ultrasound, knowing there was a real possibility it could be the only picture I’d ever have of this child.

We got the results quickly about the low progesterone and the midwife I had just met was able to refer me to a doctor who prescribed progesterone injections and pills.

My husband became my nurse and was the most amazing.

I barely had bruises that are common at the injection site from how excellent he was at administering the shots! We were pretty shocked with that new responsibility- who knew so many women go through that to have a baby?!

I did however, have excruciating hip nerve pain. I could hardly put any pressure on them. I talked about this with those I was close with, but a new feeling in all of this was a feeling of being alone. I wonder how many other pregnant mamas feel this way?!

I was in a ballet program, at the height of my dreams to finally go en pointe and dancing 6 hours a week.

I had the best abs of my life 😉 And quickly took a picture in case I never saw those things again!

But every time I did a class, I had miscarriage symptoms or excruciating pain I didn’t understand. I so badly wanted to be the girl who did ballet up until birth.

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7 months pregnant with our first!

It took me 33 weeks to finally realize it wasn’t working for my body.

(I took a break until the second trimester then came back full force).

So, enter the progesterone shots that made me so severely ill I threw up more times in a day than I could count. All my favorite foods were out.

I was in survival mode. Survive and let this baby survive.

And…he did!!!!!

And he was worth every second. But that was so hard and I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.

After his homebirth you can read about here, I finally realized I’d been experiencing symphysis pubic dysfunction (SPD). That was the reason for the clicking and the barely being able to walk after ballet class or walk up hills, or even open doors without the pain.

After his birth, I took it easy and around 9 months postpartum, I did a workout program with Beachbody called 21 Day Fix. I craved that intense athlete type of burn that I’d experienced as a ballerina.

But I still couldn’t lift my legs in a grand battement or any of the positions of ballet without intense pain.

So, for the first time in my life, I branched out into weight training and cardio. Those boring things that non-dancers did! 🙂

It was the MOST fun!

At 10 months postpartum with my first, we became pregnant with our second.

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And I avoided over-exercising completely so I would stay far away from that incredible pain of SPD. I had a great pregnancy (if you can just easily say something as hard as carrying a growing person for 9 months is great-  for me it was AND it was so challenging)!

I was so in love with our little girl growing in the belly while being completely in love with our son who was soon to become a sibling, unbeknownst to him!

Her amazing birth came and you can read about it here!

I had taken up a light workout in the last 4 weeks of pregnancy because I couldn’t take it any longer and figured I’d made it this long without having a flare-up, and I couldn’t sleep unless I worked out at least a bit each day.

The birth was great on me physically, so at 4 weeks postpartum, I came back to movement.

And 6 weeks postpartum, I did some postnatal workouts.

I puffed up to the highest weight I’ve ever been I thoroughly enjoyed my maternity leave with baby Eilah and didn’t focus on anything stressful. I was pretty much high on happy essential oils and her sweetness and baking anything I wished; it was the sweetest 6 weeks ever!

Then real life hit and I could barely do it. Two babies at different stages + working was just all I could figure out, and I could never figure it out. It just got done somehow! I tried my very best!

I finally realized I needed a new tool to fight anxiety and down feelings that I’d successfully fought off with other forms of self care- ie, sharing my heart and life with Jesus & family, Epsom salt baths & essential oils.

So I went back to Beachbody workouts and started Morning Meltdown 100. It was neat timing because that program was just coming out at 5 months postpartum and it was set to music, so I felt like it was *my* program!

It added so much to my life! A feeling of confidence, a sense of having control over our days & my health, and those feel good hormones! (I know quite a few amazing coaches if you need a referral!)

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Using baby girl as a “weight” on vacation!

But I had to take it so very slowly and any time I tried anything special with my diet, our breastfeeding relationship suffered.

So I had to let the idea of a “perfect-diet-that-would-magically-make-me-lose-weight” go.

I was heavy, couldn’t eat dairy on top of my regular gluten free diet and it wasn’t fun to be eating so healthy but weighing so much.

At least the workouts made me feel responsible in that area, even though nothing seemed to change.

I don’t know…I guess I’m at the end of the blog here.

Since writing this originally, I’ve done a juice fast this past week. It was lovely & tough and it was just so fun to do something big for detox & my health. I had to cut it shorter than I wished, but it’s okay- mom energy comes first! I really felt in tune with my body like I haven’t in forever & it was so sweet. Also, non-caffeinated Ailene was super fun. (Like when I went to the Post Office & walked out with 3 unpaid packing envelopes to get a pen- then realized it and ran back inside! Maybe the workers watched the whole thing through the huge windows ☺️)

My baby girl is 17 months and we are weaned a little over 2 weeks today.

My journey of letting so many things go and surrendering to so many things happening to my body has come to a new chapter.

Parenthood is funny…any area that I ever used to let slide, I realize that I’m letting it slide now and my kids are growing up to have memories that are affected by that.

If I don’t do dishes today, at some point, we won’t have clean ones to eat off tomorrow. Not a big deal if it happens once or twice, but if it’s regular, that will be their normal! Yikes!

I’ve had to let things go SO much but for the first time in forever (oh wait, right this isn’t a Frozen singalong)…for the first time in a long time I have a sense of self.

I’ve been pregnant or breastfeeding for 3 years & 9 months. (and both for 4 of those). Not the longest I’ve ever heard of, but I’m still amazed I was able to do that.

And one of the things I’ve received back in this past week is the ability to dance without abnormal pain, again.

I didn’t know if that would ever happen for me!

But if I could say one thing in closing?

I think our lives, in a lot of ways, are going to be better than we ever dreamed.

In a time when it’s easy, even prudent to focus on the concerns and fears, let’s not forget all the treasures right in front of us.

“Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.”- Eleanor Roosevelt

Xoxo,

Ailene

p.s. “If circumstances were a person, we could look them in the eyes and say, thank you for not being what I expected. You gave me an invitation to grow and become even more of who God dreamed I would be.”

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God has blessed me greatly with these gifts, the people in my family!

 

Eilah’s Birth Story

It’s a little over one year from the birth of my second baby and it’s time to write.

Hers was so special to me, I’ve just had to treasure it in my heart for this year.

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I write it here on my blog not to be too personal, but because I desire this blog to be a place where courage is written about.

And I write about birth because it is one of the most courageous acts known to man.

Birth is unpredictable. It is a surrender.

It is so beautiful.

*this should be pretty G-rated, I guess PG-rated. If you know going in that you’re reading about birth, you should probably be okay to read the whole blog. No worries if not, peace out here. ❤

When I first began to dream of having a second baby, I just knew I’d like to have that baby in a hospital.

My homebirth with my firstborn son was wonderful. It was everything I had asked for, even if some parts devastated me for awhile. I think that if you’ve given birth, you might know what I mean. If you sit down in my home for tea, I’d be happy to share more with you on that.

Just know that I treasure his birth and I’m in awe of the gift I was given to be able to have my first experience of becoming a mother and bringing life forth into the world, at home. It was SO my personality, SO where I was at, SO what I was comfortable with and SO where I felt “led”.

Not too long after I felt this pull to a hospital birth for my next child, I found out we were expecting. Our first was 10 months old at the time.

We felt shocked and then that shock immediately sparked into joy. Hard to describe the bubbling, free incredible joy of finding out there’s a new life growing inside of you.

I started out with getting care from a group of midwives that were connected to a hospital. It wasn’t a good fit for me. And I’m proud of myself for realizing that early enough so that it wasn’t too hard to switch things up and go down a path with someone I felt so comfortable with. A family doctor whose knowledge and kindness was just right for us.

Fast forward through 41 weeks and 2 days of pregnancy, growing belly a second time around and ultrasounds (including finding out she was a girl!), and it was go time!!

My parents came 5 days before our daughter’s due date and I took off of work to prepare, instead of working right up until labor like last time.

Only…labor seemed to start each time my doctor stripped the membranes, but stopped. I won’t do this again. I had it done 2 or 3 different visits at the end and it just was too painful & I’m not sure it progressed things really at all.

My mucous plug regenerated too many times to count and true to my experience in my first pregnancy, I’d had Braxton Hicks practice contractions & tightening throughout and like crazy for the last 2 or 3 weeks of this pregnancy.

Since this darling didn’t come on her due date, I had to go back to work for a week.

It.was.miserable.

I love my job but it was too much for me emotionally, physically and mentally.

My whole body, soul and spirit was preparing for a baby and I could hardly force myself to focus on anything else. It was so uncomfortable just to sit.

You get the point! And if you know, you know!

I remember thinking the Sunday night that made it 1 week of being overdue, my parents leave in 2 days….my 1 year old needs to be taken care of & he’s so used to them now & they know his schedule…I can’t go back to work…My husband’s whole staff is in limbo with us…I’m calling my doctor first thing tomorrow and getting the soonest available appointment and talking about induction.

I didn’t know too much about induction other than everything I had studied. I’m a researcher, especially when I’m experiencing something or getting ready for something big in my life. I do it for hours, can’t help it, just love it!

But studying and practical experience are two different things.

Anyway, that Monday, I mentioned it and she mentioned it and she asked when I would like to schedule it. I was so relieved!

It might seem like the natural course of things, but for me, I was coming from a homebirth. We didn’t talk about induction too much and I was also hesitant to go for it because of a lot of what I had heard in my studies on natural pregnancy.

Induction is a gift.

It’s probably not for every circumstance, every birth.

But in our story, mine and Eilah’s, it was right.

My body immediately went into painless labor upon scheduling the induction and went from almost 4 cm to 6 cm dilated overnight.

The relief I began to feel after all of that stress was incredible.

I also felt so close to the Lord as I had prayed and asked for a painless labor the first time around and it just wasn’t. It was a different story and I did feel prepared to go through it and I’m grateful on so many levels. I wouldn’t trade that story or working through that pain. It was a huge success story for me.

This labor was different. I felt some big things happening and a few times of cramping that I could breathe through and I wasn’t surprised to find my body had been laboring all night as I slept.

When we got to the hospital, its beauty and the warmth of the nurses enveloped me.

It was so my personality to have things scheduled and such a gift to drive there while my body was not in the thick of things. Hats off to you ladies who have labored in the car! Wow!

I stepped into my spacious room and mentioned to my nurse that I may want an epidural but I wasn’t 100%.

She was very supportive and I already knew my doctor was supportive either way I went.

My husband and sister left the room to get things & I had a moment to myself in that room where I’d give birth to my daughter.

I prayed and envisioned angels to minister and protect. I walked around and felt such peace.

Everyone came back in and my sweet doctor then walked through the door. I instantly felt at home. This woman who had been caring for me from the halfway point of my pregnancy on, was here and she was going to take good care of us.

I was nervous to have my water broken…this was the light induction we had decided on the day before. I didn’t need or qualify for other means because the cervix was dilated a ton and soft and ready!

I laughed because having my water broken wasn’t painful at all. The contractions started coming and it felt so good to walk around.

(It hadn’t felt good to walk through my contractions when having my first baby.)

You can read about his birth here.

I could feel my baby girl moving down with each contraction. I sat on an exercise ball (which had been my saving grace with my firstborn’s labor towards the end) but even though the counter-pressure felt good, I wanted to keep walking so gravity could help as much as possible.

The other surprising thing that was awesome and funny to me was that sitting in the hospital bed was also the best most perfect counter-pressure for my lower back! I just always read that it wasn’t the right position to labor in but for the moments I needed to have baby’s heart monitored and needed to be strapped down, it was sweet relief and very comfortable. And my baby’s heart rate was beautiful!

Maybe one of the biggest preparation points for me going into both births was meditating on peace and being fearless. I had many positive words I would speak and it’s amazing how I felt my spirit was built up each time. I had two different soundtracks I listened to during pregnancy and one I really listened to right before labor and birth to get me in the right spot for leaning on God and trusting and choosing to be fearless.

Jumping back in- I had only back labor with my son. This time I was having labor that started in the front but about an hour and a half into it the pain started stretching to my back.

I made the decision to get an epidural at that point. I knew you had to make that decision early enough and I wasn’t up for experiencing front and back labor while not having a birthing tub and having quite a bit less energy from being a mama to a 1 year old and not being able to sleep much.

The anesthesiologist was incredible and a God-send. He kept explaining everything the whole time and honestly the worst part was probably having to curl my neck over as I had to hunch over so he could place it properly. My neck hurt a ton the next day from that and it seemed to go on forever!

The epidural kicked in and it was magical!

I texted a group of my close friends who were praying for me and they were so sweet!

I told them how much I recommend an epidural and one of my friends let me know she was actually expecting and we had the sweetest conversation!

And then…I felt like throwing up. It was 20 minutes in and I had felt a stitch in one side so they had recommended pressing the button to up the dose.

I felt okay for a bit and Carl laid down to take a nap in the room.

The nurse checked me and I hadn’t progressed, so she contacted my doctor and ordered Pitocin to rev things up.

She left for lunch break.

And then I felt worse. I was crying and felt like throwing up and passing out. It was so tough to have pure bliss and then feel so much worry as pain started to come back.

My sister was right by my side and she had studied up on how I was last time so she could be prepared to help me for this birth. She knew it was hard for me to communicate at all the first time. I was wanting to get outside of myself this time and ask for help, but it was so helpful to have her fight for me and step up and go get a nurse and tell them what was going on with me. This is what a doula does and she was my best friend sister doula!

The head nurse who was older and very sweet came in during this time. She asked if this was my first baby and when I said it was my second she looked around and things got moving. She checked the cervix and said, baby moved down and it’s about to be go time.

It was such a relief to realize that this is what was going on.

They asked me to hold off on pushing and I was happy to.

I really wanted my doctor and nurses to help me not to tear this time around. I know that I needed and wanted that guidance and help from them.

And it did not disappoint.

There is nothing like feeling the pain of contractions (a muscle contraction that you can’t control but just have to breathe through) and pushing with all your might to work with that intensity.

Knowing that baby is working, moving down, too.

It felt like forever to work through that contraction and then wait for the next one. I begged to keep pushing; it’s just such a high level of intensity. This is probably what had me tear almost to the 4th degree the first time around, pushing too soon & not going with my body and I wanted to follow the advice of my doctor because she knew my desire to try to not tear and she was there to help me reach that goal.

The nurses, now friendly faces and my doctor looked me right in the eyes and each one said, you can DO this, that’s it, you’ve GOT this, great JOB and it was one of the most incredible moments of my life. My sister was so touched, as well. She was right there and Carl had woken up and was right there, too. His green eyes were my rock and steady place.

My team told me when to wait and helped me to hold on until the right moments.

It felt like pushing was taking forever but it actually was 4 minutes altogether of pushing, shaving 1 minute off my 5 minute time with my son.

And labor was 4.5 hours altogether.

And my dream come true was here. And I cried.

She was my treasure, my darling girl and she is and always will be. ❤

Postpartum Bliss

I’ve gotta write this down.
It’s entitled “Postpartum Bliss” because that’s what this season has been.
And it’s so starkly different than my first experience, struggling so deeply with undiagnosed postpartum depression.
Part of me feels like I’m holding my breath, having squeaked by the first 6 weeks with only low moments, that I’m able to come out of. And living from one high to the next of this joyful life.
I was all set to see a doctor this time around and even say yes to help for chemical or hormonal imbalances.
It’s just not happening. Tears in my eyes to type that out.
How my postpartum experience has really been…
  • Easy.
  • It makes sense.
  • I feel like my little and big prayers are being answered and heard. They were, of course, last time. But it didn’t feel like it.
  • Not living with anxiety and guilt constantly weighing on me and in all of my thoughts and mind pictures.
  • Getting sleep!
  • Knowing how to do this breastfeeding relationship and being amazed at how well she has done from the very beginning. She does have a pretty serious lip tie, but it doesn’t bother her or I. I guess that happens with lip ties- sometimes they cause all kinds of problems and sometimes, for some reason they just don’t.
  • Understanding how to get my newborn to know her nights from her days and her being able to sleep through the night at 1.5 months old. (She stays asleep while I give her a dream feed when I go to bed, and I wake up 2 times when I hear her starting to come out of sleep and she goes right back).
  • I can actually work out. Without feeling like my body has fallen apart and will take years, if it ever recovers (now I know that it did recover, instead of the weight of constantly not knowing).
  • With getting good sleep and being able to fight anxiety & guilt, I’m enjoying my days.
  • I feel no guilt in being extravagantly good to myself.
  • Being thoroughly grateful for my toddler having care outside the home for 4 mornings a week and then a solid afternoon nap so that I’ve even had alone time since I’ve been off of work. By the time he does wake up, I’m so missing him that the time I have with him is so enjoyable to me. Drinking it in as he’s growing so fast!
  • Because of all the ease and rest available to me, I’ve been able to enjoy my 2 babies even though there’s definite craziness to 2 under 2 years old, I think I haven’t felt the full craziness of it yet. I’m so grateful we are all able to nap! How do people do this with older kiddos?! (I’m sure there’s grace for that, too).
  • During my maternity leave, I did what I enjoy- baking, watching movies, reading some of the best fiction books, planning my future workouts, cuddling my baby (sometimes when you have a newborn it’s easy to forget to just hold them because you enjoy it, not just to meet all their needs), bubble baths.
  • An Epsom salt bath just a few days after birth brought such a sense of normalcy to my upside down world. It was so soothing physically and emotionally. I just had a feeling that everything would be all right.
  • Accepting help with joy from family and just taking it easy.
  • Taking naps daily AND sleeping in. (My babies both have gone to sleep later at this stage and slept later for a full 10.5-11 hours, with 3 or 4 feeds). Um, my first baby didn’t do this until 3 months old? And then completely dropped sleeping through, waking every hour for a regression stage, and THEN slept through with no feedings from 6.5 months on). I know what it’s like to have nothing work and I keep holding my breath that it might happen with baby girl. This brings me to another point…
  • Taking it one day at a time. Each day has enough grace in it. 💛
So, here is my ode to my amazing first 6 weeks, being able to enjoy my sweet girl and sweet life and being so thankful for each one of you who has uplifted me throughout my two pregnancies and postpartum seasons and prayed for me, reached out in any way.
I love you so and I’m so grateful for your support! It means the world to me and I pray for each one of you to have a season of joy upcoming, where things make sense again and you find yourself simply smiling again and your dreams don’t seem too far off. Where the hope of life and joy of life finally catch up to you again and maybe you haven’t even felt it since the magic of childhood, but I pray you’d feel it again. All the magic, all the hope and so much bright joy.
Love,
Ailene

An Open Note from a Very Pregnant Lady

Written January 25, 2019, 2 days before my daughter’s due date.

If I see one more self-righteous, shock factor pro-life photo or statement.

Listen, I’m as pro-life as they come. I’ve had a huge heart for babies who are unwanted and moreso a passion for mamas who are facing pregnancy that is unexpected and perhaps terrifying.

Before we dehumanize the situation by sharing traumatizing things, let’s think about who actually goes for an abortion.

She’s strong. Yet she’s faced with something most of us cannot fully relate to. Can you imagine her situation? She’s a college student who worked so hard to get her scholarships and she had a moment of passion or was, worse, put in this situation by force. Wouldn’t you want to press delete, too?

Yes, deleting a tiny bunch of cells who for sure will become a human is horrific. Yes, ending a heartbeat of a beautiful child is terrifying. But it’s not an easy choice and I don’t know who is righteous enough to look down on someone in that situation.

Maybe you just want to “get the word out” but just look into the eyes, the beautiful eyes of a woman who is in that situation and love her. Fight for her unborn child by supporting her. And even by giving her the dignity to make the choice herself. You just literally cannot save her child. It’s HER child and her choice to save him or her. She’s the one who will live with the choice, in every way and you might be able to come alongside and support her in a huge way by adopting her child. But the traumatic photo on Facebook? Who is that helping?

The statement full of shock factors that are just absolutely disturbing- is that gonna help HER? Or is it some battle you’re fighting against…against who exactly? “The other side”? Just make it personal because though it’s a human rights issue it’s the most intimately personal choice a woman could ever have.

To those who are in this place. You, brave woman, you are strong. You can make this choice. I hope you see the potential this tiny group of cells or this fully-formed human has inside of you and find courage to bring that person forth. This would be the most selfless and heroic thing you could ever do and I believe, the redemption key to your story. I think it will enable you to move forward and not hold you back. You can offer a child literally everything in giving them life. But it’s your choice to make. And I hope you feel the love so many of us have for you, though we’ve never faced what you’re facing and don’t know if we’d have the courage to follow through with what we are asking.

See yourself in five years. Where are you? Where is this little one? Can you be proud of this decision? Can you live with it? Not shame on you– can you live with it? But seriously, if this crushing weight you’re feeling was lifted, can you feel the life you’ll have? Make your decision that way and know you are loved.

To all the women I know who have had a child on their own, facing very uncertain circumstances and risking reputation, future career choices, everything- you are the most bad*ss woman out there. I feel barely worthy to wash your feet. I am astounded at all that you have given up to give life. I am ashamed at how easy I have it in so many ways, for pretty much no reason of my own.

I wish I could do more to advocate for YOU. To help you get the college degree you don’t have the time, finances or mental space to obtain because you’ve chosen to become a mother. To lift off the pressure you feel, bearing all the weight of parenthood on your strong but slim shoulders. To let you deeply, surely know that you are worth loving and being stayed with. Worth being honored and cherished. As a person, as a woman, not just because you are a mother. Girl, I wish I could give you security. For the future, heck, for right now. I can’t, but I will stand up for you and women like you for all my days, in any and every way I know how, and I won’t pretend to “know” you, to know your circumstances and to judge you according to my own standards. I promise to advocate for you and to love you and I commit to speaking highly of you because that’s all that is in my heart for you, all my days. I can’t say it in enough ways, you, you’re amazing. I can’t believe you chose to give life when so many wouldn’t, couldn’t, or haven’t. Thank you for making your child’s world your whole life and in so doing; giving us the whole world. Your son or daughter is one of the most amazing gifts we could ever have in this world and I just want to say, thank you.

How I Prepare for Labor & Birth- Homebirth or Hospital

Hello friends!

I’m here with another topic that requires courage! Labor & birth.

I am 30 weeks along with my 2nd baby and starting to prepare for labor & her birth.

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This post is inspired by my conversations with many amazing moms who have had many amazing different birth stories.

I love gaining tips from them and sharing stories.

My main goals for labor and birth are to strengthen my body gently, rest well, and supplement effectively.

How I Strengthen My Body:

  1. Drink red raspberry leaf tea or take it in my multivitamin. It’s simple, tastes pretty great to me and is a very effective strengthener of the uterus. I think regularly consuming it during my second and third trimesters contributed greatly to my strength in pushing with my firstborn. He was born in 5 minutes and even though labor had gone on for 26 hours, I felt very strong in pushing.
  2. Balance not over-exercising, but using your muscles each day. If you have a toddler who you pick up and run around with, you’re probably set. I’ve tried to add an extra workout in, but each time I find my strength zapped for the whole day & not enough energy to keep up with my 1 year old! During my first pregnancy, I definitely over-exercised but loved every second of it. I paid the price for quite some time by not listening to my body though. Even after having my son, I couldn’t carry him for awhile & had to rely on strollers, baby swings, etc. (I mean, he was also almost 10 lbs, so he wasn’t a feathery light newborn 😉 ).
  3. 30 squats every night. It works for me at night because I get tired out & helps me go to sleep. Squats are so good because they strengthen sore areas like your back (from all the frontal weight), quads and kinda your whole body. I really needed a strong back & legs for the work of labor, just made it a bit smoother.

How to Rest Well:

  1. This is probably different for each person. I try to get 8 hours of sleep a night (not possible for everyone, I know!) and let myself nap as needed. I really try to nap when my toddler is napping, but if I get enough sleep at night, I find that I don’t need it.
  2. Listen to my body. If I need to lay in bed because I just overdid it, I do that. If my hubby is able to help, that works. If I’m still in charge of my toddler and it’s not nap time, I lay down and turn on Peppa Pig in the background with no guilt. I supervise him, but keep drinking water and resting. Especially when experiencing Braxton Hicks, it’s been a sign to me that it’s time to drink water & lay down!
  3. Take Epsom salt baths. So huge for me. The magnesium intake helps with inflammation and soreness; the relaxation of being submerged in water takes some pressure off!

How to Supplement Effectively:

  1. Goals for supplementing for me are to pick the least amount of supplements, but the ones that help with energy, iron, folate & support pregnancy, labor and birth.
  2. I take alfalfa from 28 weeks on. This builds up Vitamin K2, which greatly helps with clotting and preventing hemorrhaging. I did have a pretty severe tear with my first birth, but I didn’t hemorrhage. Since it’s a leafy green, it’s also great for iron stores & helping milk supply.
  3. I drink red raspberry leaf tea. To tone my uterus as that muscle is about to see a lot of work! This tea is great for energy, iron stores, B vitamins and so comforting in my opinion. I made batches of it as an iced tea for my June birth and now drink it hot for my January birth!
  4. I take a multivitamin. I just look for folate, Vitamin D3, choline, and DHA/EPA. And a few others. I currently take the Smartypants Prenatal gummies and love how I feel on them! I used to take Megafood Baby & Me and loved those, especially during breastfeeding.
  5. Vitamin D3 was something I tested low in and along with issues I’ve had with digestion, it’s been something I definitely supplement with. You might have 1 or 2 areas of deficiency that you know about & add into your supplement regime, as well.
  6. I mostly try to eat well to get everything else needed to support pregnancy and my body! I’ve been addicted to 2 egg yolks, toast with butter & wilted spinach this pregnancy! (I couldn’t eat greens last pregnancy, so alfalfa was huge for me to take each day!)
  7. I begin the Gentle Birth Formula herbal tincture at 35 weeks and continue through to the end. I believe this also helped me to push so strongly and effectively. (I decided after a week of taking this and monitoring myself that I’m not going to continue with taking this herbal tincture this time around. I found myself unable to sleep and feeling down which I had not felt prior to taking this except in small, surmountable moments).
  8. I took Evening Primrose Oil orally at 36 weeks according to a dosage my home birth midwife gave me for my first pregnancy. I’ll do it again this pregnancy. You can look up the benefits of this one! Too long to explain! (I decided not to continue with this one, this time around. I will probably use it as a suppository at 40 weeks but will not take it orally, again due to the effect on my emotions).
  9. It’s best to share every supplement with our healthcare professionals and get their opinions. Just wanted to put this here.

How I Strengthen my Mind:

  1. I found a birth affirmation cd early on in my first pregnancy, when I had a miscarriage scare and really needed the support.
  2. I aim to agree with the affirmations I’ve chosen at least twice a week and notice that it helps massively to fight fear, doubt, etc.
  3. I let myself cry for a bit if I need to and move through the emotional release, but this time around, I don’t take it too seriously. It’s just a part of pregnancy, postpartum & all the hormonal swirls and it’s okay!
  4. Surrounding myself with positive people is a big one. Preferably people who can speak good things over you, too and listen to your fears, but then speak positivity over them.
  5. I also talk to at least a few moms and moms-to-be and it’s amazing how normal that makes me feel and how strengthening it is! Thanks, ladies!! Any and all of you throughout last pregnancy & this pregnancy! The sisterhood of motherhood rocks!

I am hitting the publish button now on this post that I had written at 30 weeks pregnant- I’m now 37 weeks and looking forward to a smooth birth with this girl in a few weeks!

Xoxo,

Ailene

To My Darling Second Child

To my darling second child,

You have surprised us with joy.

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Our lives moved forward with no knowledge of your existence for a little over a month.

It was sweet for this planning-everything-to-a-T kinda mama, to have something so completely beyond her, come into being without her knowledge.

Thank you for choosing us.

I’m feeling you kick, for sure now, on the cusp of 19 weeks with you. I’ve been feeling flutters of you since 14 weeks…it must be the way I’m built, being able to feel my little ones so soon.

I remember the ultrasound technician being so sure I couldn’t have felt your big brother at 16 weeks. Later on, when I knew for sure what a kick from a fetus felt like, I knew it had been very real.

My life with you so far is constant, yet in snatches. I’m constantly aware of your presence, the changes in my body. Yet, I’m completely caught up in living and how many times you’ve already kicked your brother or he’s sat on you, I’ve already lost count!

I didn’t know if I’d be able to emotionally handle having the dreamed about second child. You see, hormones swirling & mama’s mental health struggles don’t mix very well. But what I didn’t realize was that more than a cliche saying, His grace is sufficient for me.

And more than I realized, this journey of motherhood is a journey of me rising up, an invitation to step into beauty. The beauty of making my own choices for myself and two little ones. The beauty of being true to what I can handle and refusing the guilt that threatens to overcome me. Just like in my marriage, what is required of me is to become the real me. The one I’ve always been shy of being in bright boldness, but the only option, really. The more I’m true to myself, the sweeter my marriage to your daddy. The more I’m true to myself, the sweeter my mothering is to you. Thank you for requiring that of me. ❤

God’s grace is overflowing, my second baby. From that earthquake shock of a positive test at 11 months postpartum with your brother, to that sweet rush of joy that hasn’t stopped coming, your presence shakes the world little one.

We are all so happy to meet you. Eager to know more about you, little by little. First, you just keep forming & growing, then we’ll figure out the rest when you’re in our arms.

I can’t wait to love you with a little less worry than I felt with mama’s firstborn.

I can’t wait to drink in your sweet newborn newness without wondering if you’ll ever grow, make eye contact, really smile & laugh.

It goes breathtakingly fast and I’m gonna hold on a little longer, and I’m so glad that gets to be with you.

We’re dreaming up names for you & we’re excited to find out whether you’re a girl or boy in 2 weeks.

Until then,

Mama