<![CDATA[I Am Mama Stories - Blog]]>Mon, 15 Feb 2016 14:31:37 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Welcoming Everlee Violet Rose]]>Mon, 15 Feb 2016 15:00:01 GMThttp://www.iammamastories.com/blog/welcoming-everlee-violet-roseSo I'd like to share my birth story with my second baby girl. My birth plan was to have an all natural birth with no pain management. So on Monday 1/25/16 I had my 39 week appointment (I was 39w1d) so they called me to come in early if possible and to bring my hospital bag just incase. I did just that after getting my toddler up, dressed and fed. Thankfully my mother in law stayed with me over the weekend and that Monday during the first winter storm and she could take me to my appointment. We loaded up my toddler and bag and headed to my appointment. (11:30am)
Once my dr called me back he asked how I've been feeling which I told him the past few day I had bad back pain but nothing too unbearable. He then checked me for dilation and effacement. To all of our surprise I had my bloody show and I was 4cm. Great! So I headed to L&D because miss Everlee was going to come into the world that night. I gave Chris's work a call so he could meet me. I then I had to say my goodbyes to my amazing mother in law and my sweet girl Aubree. Chris was still on his way to the hospital. So around noon they checked me again and I was 6 cm and 80% with very little back pain and contractions.
Chris finally came later that after noon with time to spare. My back pain was getting worse but nothing I couldn't handle. Around 6pm they checked me again and I was 7cm 100%! Good! The dr popped my waters and have me a little bit of pitocin to speed things up. Eventually my back labor got worse and contractions progressed. I knew this natural birth was something I wanted so badly. I got on my feet. I rocked my hips, I bounced on a birthing ball, I had Chris push on my spine to relive the pressure. It helped but wasn't enough. Chris was such an amazing, supportive coach. He did not leave my side when I needed him the most. He pushed me to go further when I felt I couldn't. He was amazing!
Eventually my contractions got so bad I was so tiered and just wanted to sleep. Clearly that wasn't happening. I asked for the epidural I didn't think I had the energy to push. The nurse then asked me if the dr says I can push would I try to push without the pain MEDs. I agreed in hopes I could push! Well dr said I could do that is exactly what I did. As soon as I was pushing my back labor was gone and I was that much closer to meeting my second baby girl. I pushed through the pain and at 10:45 pm we welcomed a beautiful 7lb 14oz 21.5in baby girl into the world on Monday 1/25/16. 
I could not do it without he support of Chris and our good friend Alice who was a big part of documenting our birth story and labor. Thank you both. You have no idea how much you helped me. 
<![CDATA[Walter's Miracle Birth Story]]>Thu, 11 Feb 2016 15:00:01 GMThttp://www.iammamastories.com/blog/walters-miracle-birth-storyMy name is Marla Berry, and I just gave birth to my very first child on 12/24/15 (right on my due date); I couldn’t be more happy and grateful to have him here. I am 30 years old and  this was mine and my husband Nic’s first pregnancy and son. I’ve been trained as an emergency room nurse. So I apologize if this story gets a little technical (or long… really this is a sort of journal entry for me so I can remember everything that happened).
I had a fairly easy pregnancy as far as complications go. My main complaints were mild fatigue and swollen legs (started wearing compression stocking daily around 20 weeks). Every once and awhile I would get hypoglycemic so my OB made me take the Glucose Tolerance test twice. Both times I walked out of the clinic with a blood glucose in the 40s or 50s and shoving a chocolate bar in my face. I did also have a “breech scare” starting at 32 weeks, but luckily he flipped by our ultra sound check at 36 weeks (after multiple trips to the Chiropractor and “baby flipping” with forward leaning inversions). All in all I would call those minor complaints compared to what I’ve heard from some women.

Shortly after finding out that I was pregnant, Nic and I hired a fabulous Doula team (Tammy and Lisa from Birth Baby and Beyond here in Cedar Rapids Iowa). Tammy and Lisa took fabulous care of myself and Nic while I was pregnant. I was very concerned that I would end up with a c-section due to spontaneous rupture of membranes without induction of labor (water breaks but labor doesn’t start). This had happened to 3 of my sisters and I wanted to avoid a c-section unless absolutely necessary! Tammy and Lisa helped us write up and simple and flexible birth plan, but being a nurse I was suspicious of birth plans; Nic and I called it our “Birthing Wish List” (copy included at the end).

I wanted to labor at home for as long as possible, because while I wasn’t comfortable birthing at home, I did want a low intervention birth and I knew the longer I was at the hospital, the bigger the chance of me getting multiple interventions would be. During my OB screenings I found out that I was Group B Strep +, which would require a dose of antibiotics at least 4 hours prior to delivery of my son. I told my OB that I still wanted to labor at home (I only live approx 3-4 minutes away from the hospital at which I chose to deliver.). My OB was agreeable to let me labor at home. He was of the opinion that  me being a first time mom, by the time I decided I was ready for the hospital, I would more than likely have more than 4 hours left of laboring.

The morning before my due date (12/23/15) I had an OB visit, my OB was off for the holiday and the office was slammed trying to fit 5 days of appointments into 3 days with some of their OBs off that week. The OB that did my check was very rushed (he didn’t even tell me what I was effaced or dilated to, and I had started both in the weeks before this visit). I asked him what would happen if I didn’t go into labor by the end of the weekend. I didn’t know if I would just call the office on Monday and try to make an appointment to be checked again? He said, “Don’t worry we’ll get you taken care of,” and rushed out of the room. He returned shortly and abruptly handed me paperwork to start an induction on Sunday night (12/27/15). I was a bit shocked and taken aback; it was my understanding that first time moms often have a longer pregnancy and it is normal for them to go to 41 weeks. I asked him if I MUST have an induction and he acted very put out that I would question his plan of care, stating “Well we have to get him out of there eventually”. I convinced him to delay the induction until later the next week by promising to come into the hospital over the weekend for a non-stress test. When I left the office I went to my car and cried; I was upset that I hadn’t had the foresight to discuss this with MY OB before he went on vacation and to set up a plan for if I was late. I was sure that if I ended up with an induction that my labor would be too intense and I would end up with an epidural. I had spent so many months reading, learning, and practicing techniques to have a low intervention birth so I didn’t want that all to go to waste.

That night I finished getting ready for our low key Christmas (we didn’t even put up a tree since we didn’t know if we would even be home). I very much wanted to spend my 4 day holiday weekend relaxing and getting ready to meet my son! Nic and I decided to go see a movie (Star Wars). That night and I was surprised when baby boy spent most of the movie kicking and jumping around. He had been active my whole pregnancy but not usually for such a long period of time. After the movie, we were home and in bed by 11:00 pm and he was still wiggling; I loved his wiggles; I miss them now.

At around 12:30 am, I woke up suddenly because I thought I was wetting the bed! I ran to the bathroom and was very suspicious that my water had broken but it was really hard to be sure, so I laid a chux pad down on the bed and put a huge pad on me and went back to bed. About 20 minutes later it became more clear that my water was definitely breaking when there was a large “gush” and I became quite thankful for the chuxs and pads I had put down! Nic and I sent the Doula on call (Tammy) a text letting her know that my water was broken and that the amniotic fluid seemed to be a clear yellow color. Tammy assured us that yellow was a perfectly normal color for a full term baby. I also started to have small contractions every 10 minutes or so lasting 30-45 second each. They were very tolerable and not quite regular. Tammy said that as long as I was tolerating everything so well, that I should try and get some rest because I was going to have a very long day ahead of me. I took a shower, did my hair, and then went back to bed around 3:00 am and was able to sleep until about 6:00 am. My contractions were still 5-10 minutes apart, still approx 30-45 seconds long and still very tolerable, so Nic and I decided that he should go to work so his Paternity leave wouldn’t start until Monday (12/28/15) due to the holiday and long weekend.

Shortly before Nic left for work at 7:30 am, while I was standing in the kitchen making toast and folding laundry, I felt a new weird pressure in my vaginal canal. I remarked on it to Nic, told him it wasn’t painful, just different. I thought perhaps it was a larger piece of my mucus plug since that had only started passing during the night. Nic left for work and I stayed in the kitchen with the toast and laundry for another 10 minutes or so. I started to feel a little “crampy” so I went up to the bathroom and sat there for about another 10 minutes letting more amniotic fluid drain and passed a small BM (sorry for the TMI but birthing is gross). I also noted that on my pad was some darker green meconium looking discharge, I decided I should text the doula and let her know about the change.  

Then when I went to wipe and clean up, I suddenly had a handful for umbilical cord in my hand. This changed everything. I felt that the cord was still pulsing. I called down to my mother (who lives with us and was staying with me during labor) and she came running up the stairs and I asked her if she could see my umbilical cord (I couldn’t see past my pregnant belly). She said that she could see about 4 inches hanging down. I looked at her and said, “We either need to call an ambulance or we need to go to the hospital right away.” She said, “Let’s just go!” I pulled up my dirty pad and pants, grabbed my purse, and ran out to my mom’s minivan. I sat in the seat behind her, leaned the seat all the way back, placed my feet against the front passenger seat, and then lifted my hips into the air to get pressure off the umbilical cord.

For those of you that don’t know, a prolapsed umbilical cord is a medical emergency under even the best circumstances (in the hospital with monitors and IVs and just minutes away from an OR). In only 4 minutes a prolapsed cord can cause fetal demise because blood is being obstructed from the baby and so is the oxygen in that blood. I had already been prolapsed for approx 20 minutes. The biggest thing keeping me from panicking at this point was knowing that the cord had been pulsing, that my contractions had not been very strong yet, and that panicking would fix nothing. This is also where my training as an emergency nurse came into place. I knew I needed to get my pelvis in the air and use gravity to push the baby back and off his cord.

While in the car, I called my husband, told him my cord was prolapsed and that he needed to come to the hospital right away. Later on Nic told me that he was sure that the baby was dead and that he took his time shutting off his computer and driving to the hospital because he was sure that the baby hadn’t survived such a dangerous complication. Next, I called the doula; I told her I was on my way to the hospital because my I had a prolapsed cord. She told me to get there as fast as possible and asked if I had called the OB unit yet because they might want me to go to the ER entrance. I hadn’t even thought of calling them yet, and we were only a few minutes away from the hospital. Luckily I had programmed the Birthplace phone number in my phone and I called them next.

I asked the woman who answered the phone if I could talk to a nurse, because I was a pregnant woman who was in labor. She said she was a nurse and asked what I needed. I told her that my umbilical cord had prolapsed and that I was on my way to the hospital but I needed to know what door to use and whether she wanted me to walk to the unit, or if they would meet me outside. The nurse asked me, “How do you know your cord prolapsed?”. I told her that I had felt it, and my mother had seen it. She told me to come to the OB entrance, and that they would meet us outside. It was only another minute or so before we entered the parking garage and started to circle our way up to the 3rd floor. It was approximately 7:55 am at that point.

There were 2 women waiting for me, one with a wheelchair and another wearing sterile gloves. I jumped out of the van and sat in the wheelchair so that my butt was hanging off the front edge. I was taken straight back to a room where even more nurses were waiting and told to take my pants off ASAP. As I dropped my pants right in the middle of the room, I heard a nurse yell, “I can see the cord! GET IN THE BED NOW!”. I jumped in the bed and the nurse (I later learned her name was Susan. She is one of the biggest heroes of this story) wearing the sterile gloves crawled on the bed in between my legs and shoved her hand into my vagina to provide counter pressure against my son to get him off his umbilical cord. To say the least, this was incredibly painful; it was a very intense sharp pain when Susan was pushing back on my son. I started screaming because it hurt so badly, but I didn’t want Susan to think I was screaming for her to get off of me or screaming to make her stop. I started screaming “IT’S OK, IT’S OK, I KNOW YOU’RE DOING THE RIGHT THING”, over and over again. At the same time the rest of my clothes were getting ripped off and monitors are being placed everywhere as they were attempting to find fetal heart tones with the doppler. They could not find them. At this point, I lost it a little. I started really crying and sobbing’ I felt for sure that my son had died and that I was too late. Before I knew it, they threw a sheet over me and started rolling my bed with Susan and me on it down the hall and towards the OR for an emergent c-section.

In the OR, Susan and I had to snake our way over to the OR cart and then it was another swirl of more monitors and IVs. Then blessedly they broke out the larger ultrasound machine and were finally able to find fetal heart tones! I started crying, “IS THAT HIM? IS THAT HIM?” I was so happy! His heart rate was 155 bpm which is a great rate; I was thrilled! Shortly after that, the anesthesiologist arrived and my nurse mode set in a little bit. I wanted to know what meds they were using and I was a little frustrated that the oxygen mask was blocking my view of my vital signs. I think I told the anesthesiologist multiple times that narcotics make me very nauseated and asked for antiemetics. Then the OB on call showed up and I was finally draped with a sterile field (poor Susan got stuck under the sterile drape until my son was out). The OB told me, “Marla we are getting your son out right now!” Then they put me under general anesthesia; I remember being so relieved when they finally put me under, because I was still feeling so much pain from Susan’s counter pressure and now I wouldn’t have to feel that pain anymore.

I was not conscious for the next things that happened, but this is what the nurses, my mom, and Nic have told me what happened.

Walter (my son) was born at 8:19am, he gave one cry (Susan said that was the best Christmas gift to hear him cry since she was stuck under the sterile drape). He was covered from head to toe in meconium (when his cord prolapsed he became stressed out and passed a large meconium, which is why my amniotic fluid changed from yellow to dark green). Walter had to be bagged for 2 minutes before he started spontaneously breathing. He had aspirated meconium into his lungs so he had to be placed on CPAP to help him breath, and he was placed on IV antibiotics to prevent an aspiration pneumonia. Nic was taken back to Walter’s NICU room about 10 minutes after Walter was born. Walter also had cardiac monitors, O2 saturation, and temperature monitors on him. Later that night, he would also get an OG tube (Oral Gastric) to decompress his stomach from air being pushed in from the CPAP so his stomach wouldn’t push up on his lungs making it harder for him to breath.

I woke up from surgery at approx 9:15am, They brought Nic to me fairly quickly, which was wonderful. I had really been wanting him near since I was first taken to the OR. When I awoke, my whole body was shaking (from the medication they use to put you under). They gave me dilaudid and demerol to help with pain and shaking. Nic showed me pictures of Walter on his phone, and there were so many monitors on his little body; though, I was told he was doing well. He weighed 7lbs 13 oz. and was 19.5 inches long; APGAR scores were 2,6, and 8. While Nic and I were in the PACU, the OB MD came in to talk to us. She was mad. She couldn’t understand why I hadn’t come to the hospital right when my water broke, and in my altered state with pain medications on board, I couldn’t seem to explain to her that my amniotic fluid was normal when it broke. She didn’t care. She was not impressed by our choice to stay home and told us multiple times that Walter almost died. A reality that Nic and I were all too aware of, something that we are not likely to ever forget. Even though the OB was not the nicest person to us while we were in the hospital, she is still one of the heroes of this story, and I will forever be grateful to her for getting me son out alive. This story could not have had a happy ending without her.

While in the PACU, once I knew Walter was okay, I remember being really sad that I didn’t get to see my placenta, something I had really been looking forward to seeing (my body had worked so hard to make that thing! I wanted to see the fruits of my labors!!). I was also a little disappointed that we hadn’t been able to bust out our slightly satirical “Birthing Wish List” that we had worked so hard on.

After the PACU, the nurses rolled my bed into Walter’s NICU room. I couldn’t see his face with the way he was positioned, but I was able to reach my hand through his bed to touch his little knee. They let us stay in there for about 30 minutes and then I was taken to my OB room and started on my own IV fluids and antibiotics. I also had a catheter and SCDs on my legs, as well as a dilaudid PCA (narcotics make me feel awful, yay Zofran). I wasn’t allowed to get out of bed for 6 hours, and I honestly don’t remember much of those 6 hours. When I was finally allowed to get out of bed, Nic and I hobbled over to Walter’s NICU room. We weren’t allowed to hold him yet, too many monitors, IV’s, and CPAP. Although I couldn’t hold him, I could still touch his baby soft skin and giggle at his hairy little shoulders. I didn’t think he looked like either of us, but was happy to hear the nurses say that he was doing well, that they were sure he would be off the CPAP by the morning.

Back in my room, I asked my new RN that was coming onto the night shift if I could start breast pumping (Walter was not allowed to eat for 24 hours because they were worried that he might have a bowel injury from his decreased oxygen levels at birth). She brought me a hospital pump, said she hadn’t set one up yet (she was a new young RN). So we read the instructions together, and I stupidly sat there on the pump set at full blast for a full hour! It might not have been so bad except that I had used a flange that was too big so my left areola tore, which is good because it kept me from doing the same thing multiple times the rest of the night. By morning, one of the NICU nurses saw what I was doing and corrected my course. She is another one of our heroes, because she let me hold Walter for the first time. He had successfully weaned off the CPAP during the night. Holding Walter for the first time was wonderful. We stayed skin to skin for hours, snuggling and trying to figure out breastfeeding (which we are almost 4 weeks out and we are STILL trying to figure out breastfeeding!).

Walter and I stayed in the hospital for 4 days. Walter made great progress; although, he will always be at risk for some sort of cerebral palsy or seizure disorder because we’re not sure how badly the cord prolapse affected his brain. So far he is acting and behaving like a completely normal baby. The neonatologist is optimistic about his prognosis, because Walter has all the expected reflexes and behaviors. I have healed from my c-section quite well; pain hasn’t been nearly as bad as I expected it, and I was able to avoid all narcotics after my IV was removed post-op day 1. All in all, we have been very lucky and blessed.

There is a lot of gratitude in my heart for the people that helped bring my son to me safely. It didn’t take much to start me blubbering and crying during the weeks after his birth, because I knew how close we had come to a much different ending to our story. I’m so thankful to have my son, my little Walt, to listen to his little snores while I’m typing up this story. I’m grateful to our friends and family who have done such a great job taking care of us. I’m thankful for my wonderful husband, who has had to do a lot more nursing of me than what was expected. I am amazed that I was able to have had training as an emergency room nurse, so I knew what to do when I felt the umbilical cord hanging. I am reminded how much my Heavenly Father loves me, and my heart is full.

Marla and Nic's "Birthing Wish List"

My Dear Sweet  Fellow Nurses,

Thank you for taking care of me and my family. I know you are working your asses off to keep my baby and I healthy. I am new at this and I appreciate all your hard work.

I brought a great birthing team with me:

Husband - Nic
Sister - Laura
Doula - Tammy/Lisa

They are here to take some pressure off of you. I have a very small wish list that would help me feel less anxious about this whole birthing process.

Of course, if shit is hitting the fan, we have full faith in Dr. Pickering and his team. We know you guys are prepared for emergencies; we trust you. Please keep us in the loop.

Wish list:

-I’d really like to move around a lot, walk, with multiple laboring/birthing positions.

-Go ahead and slap an IV in me, but I’ll let you know if/when I’m ready for pain meds. I’m one tough cookie; I’d prefer no epidural.

-No need to wash that gooey baby off! Plop him on me as soon as he pops out with breastfeeding ASAP please.

-Delayed cutting of cord.

-At least one parent with baby for all procedures, please no formula.
    We are NOT circumcising baby, pacifier is fine with us! Dr. Machnowski is our pediatrician.

Sweet and short! I apologize ahead of time for all the cussing, but I’m sure you’ve heard and said worse ;)
<![CDATA[Hayleigh's Story]]>Mon, 08 Feb 2016 15:00:02 GMThttp://www.iammamastories.com/blog/hayleighs-storyWeighing 6lbs 8oz, our baby girl arrived with no assistance at 15.36 on 28th October 2015.

My waters broke at 00.30 on 27th October (her due date), I was shaking with shock! Something I really hadn't expected, I only expected excitement. I was shivering like crazy and my teeth were chattering as my husband put his arms around me. We called the midwife and they suggested we come in to be checked in the morning and to get some sleep... we didn't sleep at all! We stayed up talking about what was to come, we were finally going to meet our baby!
A few hours later we went into hospital and I was examined - after much deliberation as they didn't want to increase the chance of infection. 2cm. After going home for a few hours I started getting quite uncomfortable with contractions so we went back in again... 2.5cm. I thought maybe I should stay in and have help with the pain but for some crazy reason we went home.

After suffering with back labour for almost 24hrs and trying to wait it out at home, we headed back to hospital as I was desperate for some pain relief. I didn't get an epidural until 3am the next day but finally I was able to speak! I was still 2.5cm and due to our baby being awkwardly positioned, my cervix was only half dilating. The other half was swelling and closing and the whole time my body was forcing me to push. It took all my energy trying to stop it pushing as it was only making the swelling worse. Epidural boosters were the only thing keeping me going!! My temperature was high, I had a drip, antibiotics, the epidural and so many machines hooked up to me... and I hadn't had chance to get changed! I didn't catch a wink of sleep this whole time and seriously couldn't handle food. My energy levels were on the floor.

At about 15.10 they finally decided to examine me again after I had told them I was struggling not to push anymore. I was ready to go, baby was in position (although facing the wrong way) so that was it, I was told I could push. With the next few contractions I pushed with all my energy then suddenly my contractions slowed right down and we lost babies heart rate. I was internally lost, what was happening? Was the baby OK?  Why aren't my contractions coming? Finally they found the heartbeat. It was dropping, massively. The next thing I know I'm being hooked up to hormones and people are flooding through the door with all sorts of medical equipment.

I went into myself completely, I knew I was the one who needed to do this. I focused everything I could on the pain and pressure and pushed at every contraction once they started back up again. Just as they began discussing the use of forceps I felt the baby move, it was a strange sensation so low down, she had turned herself into the right position. I just kept reassuring myself that I can do this, my body is made for this. In that next push I felt a sudden relief. Had I just delivered our baby? Was the baby ok? Then I heard that cry.

I don't remember anyone in that room except my husband and the midwives. Then suddenly, there, there is my baby. 40 weeks and one day of carrying and creating life and there it was in front of me. Our beautiful baby girl with her misshapen yet gorgeous little head. Swollen eyes, covered in her life supply and with a true knot in the cord which the midwife had pulled off from around her neck. The cord that had worried us our whole pregnancy, with its single artery. 
I had done it, I had given birth to our healthy baby girl. There she was in my arms, beautiful and warm. My first words to her- 'I'm so sorry about your head beautiful'. I didn't feel that initial bonding moment, it took a few days for me and it took time to realise that I didn't fail by having an epidural - it was the right thing for me and my baby because it helped. I felt so guilty, I always expected an immediate bond. Maybe it was the hormones, maybe I was too sleep deprived, I don't know but it took time, although I knew I loved her and would do anything for her.

She had to be taken to the special care baby unit for an IV to keep her dosed up on antibiotics due to my high temperature and we ended up staying in hospital for a few days. I'm sad to say I don't properly remember the first time I breastfed her but I do remember that first night together feeding almost all night. It was a beautiful experience and we are now 12 weeks string into our breastfeeding journey and my love for this beautiful life we created grows stronger every single day.

After being told I may never be able to carry my own children due to polycystic ovarian syndrome, I was blessed with two pregnancies. One to become an angel and one to be our rainbow baby. Our little miracle. To my darling girl, I am so happy to be your mummy. 
<![CDATA[I am not Mama]]>Thu, 04 Feb 2016 15:00:01 GMThttp://www.iammamastories.com/blog/i-am-not-mamaI will never experience motherhood.
I will never experience pregnancy, give birth, or adopt.
No child will ever belong wholly to me.
The above declarations are not due to the fact that the parts of my body required for motherhood do not function properly
(to my knowledge at least, they do) but because the desire - an innate maternal instinct - simply is not there. It was never a choice NOT to have children, it was just never an option TO have them.

I have stood firm in this mindset for as long as I can remember. One particular memory stands out from my 9th grade Life Issues class, a required course for all freshmen that dealt with matters of the home, nutrition, career development, personal relationships and child-rearing. At one point, when discussing ways to prevent unwanted pregnancies, my instructor asked if anyone knew for certain that they did not want children. As my hand instantly shot up, I looked around for support from my peers, but not a single person seemed to openly share my convictions. Nine years later, at the age of 23, I still have not wavered in those convictions.

To me, motherhood is one of if not THE defining characteristic of the female sex. I think a lot of my non-desire for children stems from the fact that I have never felt 100% female. I refer to myself as a woman, but I have always been situated somewhere more toward the middle of the gender spectrum - a tomboy, if you will. “Feminine” is certainly not a word I would use to describe myself, though “masculine” doesn’t quite fit the bill either. And while I am not transgender, there are certain physical characteristics of my female body that I prefer were either completely absent or at least de-emphasized. Obviously, biological females of any gender can and do have varying opinions on motherhood, but for me, the ability to birth children is just another part of that all-encompassing “femaleness” that I have never really felt a strong connection to.

Apart from a lack of motherly instinct, there are many other reasons kids are not for me: fear for the loss of my independence and personal liberties, the overwhelming financial burden, the guilt of contributing another human life to this planet that is already grossly overburdened, the absolute repulsion at the idea of physically carrying and birthing a child - the list goes on. All, however, are perfectly valid reasons for remaining childfree, for me or for any other woman who feels the same way.

There remains in our society a certain stigma behind childfree women. The idea held by some that people born with female reproductive organs are somehow inherent caregivers, inherently nurturing, that they must inherently feel the desire to become mothers, is archaic. The idea that life is unfulfilling and meaningless for childfree women is equally archaic. I am grateful to live in an era where I can make my own decisions regarding my body and how I do or do not use it. As such, I respect every woman’s choice to do with her body as she pleases, and I can only ask for the same in return.

The bottom line is this: whether a stay-at-home mom, a working mother, or childfree by choice, no matter what labels we attach to ourselves, as women - as humans - we’re all in this together, and we’re all awesome in our own unique ways.
<![CDATA[The Labor and Birth of Gisella Kate]]>Sun, 31 Jan 2016 20:12:22 GMThttp://www.iammamastories.com/blog/the-labor-and-birth-of-gisella-kate9 days past my due date, I woke up at midnight to some mild abdominal cramping. After weeks of false labor though, I was reluctant to believe that this may lead to anything productive. In fact, I had almost resigned myself to the induced delivery which my midwife had already scheduled me for on the following Tuesday. I was ready to say goodbye to my dream of an unmedicated, birth-center birth. As the waves continued into the morning though, I became hesitantly hopeful. I hadn't slept all night.
40 weeks
The next day, my contractions continued but were irregular and sporadic. At my final prenatal appointment, I had only dilated a half a centimeter more than I had been the previous week. My membranes were stripped for the third time and I went home disappointed. Later in the afternoon, I began feeling more timeable contractions and a significant back ache. I called my mom (who would serve as my doula) for support and she stayed for a short amount of time, only to head home a while later to try to get some rest. I couldn't believe it, but we were about to embark on the second night of no sleep.

I bounced on the birth ball, walked the house, and got in and out of the tub a few times.  My mom returned. Immediately upon lying down my pain level increased from manageable to unbearable, so I was unable to rest. When the sun came up that morning, I was having a hard time walking and talking during contractions. They were coming every four minutes and lasting for one minute at a time. We were advised by the midwife to head to the birth center to check my progress. On the drive over, my contractions, and time, seemed to slow to an almost complete stop.

We entered the beautiful birthing suite we had chosen in the last few weeks of my pregnancy. I eyeballed the large tub and breathed through a few difficult contractions on the toilet before my midwife Kim was able to come and check my cervix. In the sweetest way possible, she told me I was only at 2 centimeters dilated. I was devastated, exhausted, and in shock. I asked myself how I was going to go on like this. I decided to accept her offer for an injection of pain medication in hopes of having a few hours to lie down and rest. I barely made it out to the car before I passed out. I don't remember how I got into the house when we got home.

In a haze of sleepiness and the wearing off of medications, I began feeling waves of contractions again. During the peak of one, I felt a pop, and I immediately jumped out of bed and ran to the toilet. The breaking of my waters was such a distinct sensation. For a short while, my contractions caused pain in my abdomen and my back got a little break. I remember thinking that this felt much more tolearable. The waves came every two to four minutes and lasted for a minute and a half. When I began having back labor again, we proceeded to the birth center for the second time, confident that I was now in active labor.

"You are very thin, and about three centimeters," said the friendly back-up midwife. If there is a word to describe feeling beyond shocked, then it could be appropriately applied to this situation. I wondered how I could be contracting so regularly and intensely and not be making progress. I was scared. I felt broken. I was mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted and I know my husband and mom were, too. We decided to head to the hospital for pitocin and an epidural. I felt defeated and small. I felt like a failure.

At the hospital, I was having back labor contractions every two minutes. The anesthesiologist made me laugh and the epidural was an amazing relief. They turned up the pitocin and we waited. I couldn't sleep. I was being squeezed by the blood pressure cuff, had two monitors strapped around my stomach, an IV pouring into my arm, and I could still feel much of the contractions in my upper legs and vaginal area. As my husband napped, I looked over at my mom, who had proudly and bravely stood by my side from the beginning of this ordeal, and said "I cannot believe we are here right now, in the hospital, with an epidural and pitocin going." It was so far from my ideal birth situation, it was almost comical.

I began to experience very strong pain sensations in my upper left leg. I was told they would administer a bolus of medication to decrease the sensations of the contractions. I also mentioned to my mom that I felt the need to poop. I began shaking all over. My mom knew that I was in transition, but the staff insisted on getting the medication administered first. Kim was planning on inserting an internal monitor, but instead discovered that I was fully dilated and the baby was at +2 station. The epidural was turned off at my request, but unfortunately I could not move my legs.

Kim offered to let me labor down for awhile but I insisted that we started pushing. I wanted this baby out of me immediately. After nearly two full days in labor (and two, going on three sleepless nights), I wanted to be done with this labor experience and move on. My mom and my husband picked up my legs for me during each contraction. I would bare down and watch my progress in the mirror. I saw my baby's head inch towards the light, then ease back up into my body again. I felt rolling waves of nausea from the intense pressure. People in the room were talking around me but I was in a daze and would lie back between contractions with my eyes closed, blocking everything else out. It felt like the only people in the room were my mom, my husband and I. Finally, the baby's head was out. I watched Kim ease her shoulders out and she was placed on my chest. We finally had an answer for my back labor, and contractions with a lack of progress: Gisella came out with both of her hands up by her face.
My sweet, stubborn girl didn't cry at all. She just stared up at me. I remember thinking that she was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen before. It felt like the heartbreak, exhaustion, and difficulties of the previous three days immediately disappeared when I looked into her eyes. My husband cut her cord and she weighed in at 8 pounds, 8 ounces, and was 21 inches long. 
My labor and birth experience was nothing like I had hoped it would be. It was far from text-book. It took awhile to processes the entire experience and to accept the fact that I had not failed, as I had previously believed. I underwent extreme physical and mental exhaustion, pain, and emotional highs and lows.  I relied on my support team to help me through. I made difficult decisions for the benefit of myself and my baby. I survived.

I hadn't failed, I had prevailed. 

Gisella is now a healthy and happy three year old. She's a sweet, caring girl who loves to make people smile. She continues to teach me flexibility and patience. She has shown me that even with the best laid plans, things will likely change, but I have the ability to adapt and overcome. 

PS Read Gisella's entire (three part) birth story here
<![CDATA[Plans Changed into an Unbelievable Blessing]]>Thu, 28 Jan 2016 15:00:02 GMThttp://www.iammamastories.com/blog/plans-changed-into-an-unbelievable-blessing​Justin and I knew we always wanted a child; only one, and he always dreamed of a little girl. We had been together for 10 years, married for 2, bought a home, both had good jobs and of course the questions of when we were going to have kids was asked often. In our mind we were still young; unsure if we were financially stable enough for a child, but always knew we would someday.
​August 2014; I had put off my annual Pap smear a year over the recommended 3 years. When I went in for a physical, my Pap came back with high grade abnormal cells, HPV positive and the HPV strain was one to be concerned about. I was sent for a colposcopy, there were multiple areas that had highly abnormal cell changes (CIN3). The abnormalities were pre cancer looking and there was no way to tell when or if they would change into cervical cancer. The Doctor recommended a LEEP procedure in October 2014 to remove the cervical tissue with abnormalities.

​During the procedure follow up as I spoke with my Doctor; he explained with the type of HPV I have it was very likely the abnormal changes could return and require future procedures. Of course with our plan to have a child my question was how this and further procedures would impact having children. My Doctor recommended if we were in a position to have a child that we should. Sooner rather than later. I was scared that waiting any longer could lead to us not having the opportunity to be parents. But I was fearful we weren’t fully ready and we were going to rush in. My husband and I sat down and decided that we would stop using birth control and just wait to see what happens; if we became pregnant great, if not we were happy and content just the two of us. 
​We quickly got a positive in late December 2014 and reality hit; we were doing this! We told our parents immediately, and my husband was too excited; he told anyone he could. But knowing I had the LEEP procedure in October I was scared that my cervix would not be strong enough for a full term pregnancy just yet. I didn't want everyone to know and have the worst happen. I kept it from the entire extended family and most friends (the ones my husband had not already told) until I was 12 weeks along. The beginning of my pregnancy was super easy, not a lot of weight gain, no nausea, great looking hair, and baby grew amazingly well; baby was ahead in growth. We were due September 8th 2015.
My second trimester started out just like the first, everyone was growing fine and we found out we were having a girl; my husband’s dream!! Just a few weeks into the second trimester I began to have leg swelling. The swelling was mainly in my left leg which my OB chalked up to normal pregnancy due to carrying so low. I had a gut feeling it was a sign that worse was coming. My mom had toxemia (pre-eclampsia) when she was pregnant with me and I was born 2 months early. I did speak to my OB about this concern; she stated I was low risk because of my age, my blood pressure was good, my weight gain was not out of control and all my blood work was amazing. 
By the end of my second trimester and into the third my swelling was really bad, I couldn't wear tennis shoes, only slip on flats and flip flops (thank goodness it was summer). My blood pressure slowly began to climb; in the beginning my OB was not concerned because it was not that high and everything else was coming out great. In my gut I knew it wasn't good. I knew I had to pay attention to my pressures even if everything else was coming out perfect. I was lucky enough to work in a medical facility and have trained nurses there who could take my pressure for me.

I recorded them twice a day at work; when I went in for a normal visit I went over the pressure readings with my OB. She was now getting a little concerned. The readings were getting high, she wanted me to continue to watch them and notify her if they got into the hypertensive range; my labs continued to come back great. As I continued monitoring, the readings climbed; they got high enough where they wanted me to come in for a non-stress test (NST) to check on Natalie. She was amazing, there were no issues with her and my blood pressure began to decrease while I was in the office. I was sent home but told to continue to monitor my pressures, being I was in my 34th week she did not want to give me blood pressure meds and mask any issues that may arise. My OB didn't tell me, but I knew in my gut we were watching for any pre-eclampsia signs; she continually told me to watch for vision flashes and be diligent in monitoring my blood pressure. 
As I continued to monitor, my levels were not going down or even maintaining, they were rising and not slowly. While I was at work I had a nurse check my blood pressure and it was 180/105. I immediately was sent to my OB, again an NST and blood work was completed. The baby and blood work were still great; but my OB was getting very concerned with my blood pressure. Our plan was to do an NST, blood work and biophysical ultrasound weekly until 39 weeks and we would induce.

A week later, August 16th. I had planned to pick my mom and sister up at the airport, as I pull on to the freeway, for several seconds I have flashes of light in my vision. I knew immediately it was exactly what my OB had told me to look for. When I got to the airport I had my mom drive home and I called my OB’s office. They asked my blood pressure reading, and immediately wanted me to come into labor and delivery.

At 36 weeks and 5 days my husband and I went into the Emergency department at St Joseph Hospital; we were quickly taken to labor and delivery where they did labs and a urine test. My liver enzymes were elevated, and I had protein in my urine. Of course my OB had a scheduled vacation when I have complications so I was in the care of the on call; the on call OB came in and said they were admitting me; we were having a baby! I was immediately put on magnesium to prevent seizures since my blood pressure was so high, and they started me on a 9 hour course of medication to soften my cervix. This process had to happen even before they could induce labor, my labs and blood pressure were continually monitored, and someone was required to be in my room at all times; family or nurse. Three hours in (after I already sent my family home) the on call OB came in and told my husband and I that my platelet count was 117 and she did not want to do surgery if platelets dropped below 100; she told us we could decide if we wanted to do a C-section now, but would force the decision in the next 30 min if my platelets dropped any further with the next blood draw. I chose C-section.

As I was prepped my husband excitedly called my parents (who of course just got to sleep), his parents and anyone else he could get a hold of at 2am! My anesthesiologist came in and began explaining how everything would work, he stayed with me as we went to the operating room (OR). Finally Justin was able to come to the OR, after I had my epidural and was hooked up to all the monitors. He sat down next to my head, held my hand, told me to breath and was my calm. As we went through the C-section, my anesthesiologist talked to us about what was happening and what they were going to do. The anesthesiologist began explaining they don’t have the spouses stand up until after baby is out. He quickly asked my husband if he gets queasy, when he said no the anesthesiologist told him get your camera ready and quickly told him to stand up.

My husband was able to watch Natalie be removed from my belly and take pictures of her birth; something I thought I would not get being I was having a C-section. I heard her first cry, she was born August 17th 2015 at 4:57 AM. Everyone in the room telling me how beautiful and perfect she looked, as my husband clicked picture after picture. All I wanted to do was to finally see her; she was on the table next to me as they checked her vitals. I could see my baby girl. Finally they laid her skin to skin on my chest and she immediately stopped crying. She just looked up at me; it was the perfect moment, I had both loves of my life with me. She was beautiful; 7 pounds 3.3 ounces and 19 inches long. 
We were whisked back to the labor and delivery room, which I had to stay in for the next 24 hours to continue magnesium treatment. My edema was even worse; I had compression wraps that squeezed my legs to prevent blood clots. They continued to monitor my platelet count, and they dropped to 75. I was told that if in the next few hours if they were not improving I would require a blood transfusion.

Due to not being able to get out of bed, and my weakness from low platelets Justin did EVERYTHING for Natalie. Being in a labor/delivery room and having to be so highly monitored there was no sleep for me, Justin or Natalie. People were constantly in and out of the room. He changed diapers, soothed her and held her to my chest so I could feed her. He was my saving grace; for the first 3 days he did it all.
Finally, I was able to be taken off the magnesium, my platelets had gone up, I was getting some of my strength back and I was able to get out of bed with assistance and slowly walk around. I was being moved to the recovery floor; my amazing experience in the labor and delivery area did not continue to the recovery floor. My husband was exhausted; for 3 days he was the sole care giver for Natalie with zero sleep. I was finally able to take care of my little girl. I was able to feed her, change her, and slowly walk around the room soothing her. My husband still checked on me, making sure I was ok and offering assistance; I wanted to care for my child. Every time the nurse came in he was sleeping, and I was up walking with Natalie or holding her in bed. The nurse judged my husband; she continually asked if I had assistance at home, finally when I said ‘yes I have a husband’ she stated ‘well every time I come in your up with her and he’s asleep’. I immediately felt judged, she was insinuating my husband was a dead beat. He did EVERYTHING for the first 3 days, and who was she to judge him. It infuriated me; someone who knew nothing of our situation, and nothing of my husband how could she assume such things about him.

In the hospital we began breastfeeding, since she was born at 36 weeks and 6 days they considered her premature. Even though she was born at a full term weight and had it been one more day she would have been considered full term. This small technicality led too many more issues. Natalie had lost 9% of her body weight from birth causing me to not only be bombarded by the nurses asking when she had last ate (even though they gave you a sheet to fill out with every feeding and diaper change) but every nurse had input on my breastfeeding. I had flat nipples, we tried different positions, a nipple shield and continually latching but Natalie also had a bad latch. Breast feeding became difficult, it was so painful, I bled, I cried and Natalie cried. It was a mess. I decided to exclusively pump, not only because of the pain but to make sure how much she was getting since I was now (thanks to my nurses) afraid my child was not getting enough. With the amount of weight she had lost it was now recommended we supplement with formula.
I began to feel hopeless, useless and stressed out. Being told by the nurse I’m not going to be able to care for my newborn at home by myself, I can’t breast feed, I can’t produce enough milk to sustain my child and my spouse is being judged. I felt like I was failing both my child and my husband. He did everything he could to help me and I couldn’t do what I naturally was supposed to. I planned and dreamed my whole pregnancy to breastfeed. I was coming to the realization this isn’t going to work out as I planned. With the loving support of my husband the plan changed, I would continue to exclusively pump and supplement as needed. I began to feel a little more confident, my husband had my back and we were doing this together.
The on call Doctor ran my blood work in the late morning; an hour later it came back and I was allowed to be discharged. It took the nurse 6 hours to finally finish the discharge paperwork and activities. The nurse would come in to complete the discharge paperwork, she would quickly leave stating she ‘had to help the new moms with breastfeeding’ or ‘I need to get some documents”. Finally, I was discharged with medication to manage pain but nothing for my blood pressure, only being told I need to monitor it closely. As well I was told that I had to feed her every two hours and if she was sleeping I had to wake her or she wouldn’t get the sustenance she needed. I went home in fear; I feared that I wouldn’t be able to care for my child, that I wouldn’t be able to provide what she needs and that I was going to fail as a mother.

We were home, being self-employed my husband had to go back to work the next day. I set alarms to wake up every hour and a half because she woke up to eat every 2 hours. I would pump, warm up what I pumped the last time, make a bottle, feed Natalie, burp her, put her back to sleep, and clean my pump accessories. I maybe got 30 minutes sleep at a time before the whole thing started all over. We tried this for a week and a half, and all I did was stress. I felt like I was a bad mom because I couldn’t produce enough milk to feed my child, I began to be irritated with my child because I was never able to sleep, I felt like a bad mom for feeling that way towards my child. I stressed because my blood pressure was still high probably from stressing. I had to do something, I sat and cried to my husband I couldn’t understand why so many other women were able to breastfeed and I couldn’t. I was angry at myself for feeling animosity towards my child’s eating schedule. He was calm and told me that if I wasn’t taking care of me, I couldn’t take care of her, and if I wasn’t happy she wouldn’t be either. Together we made the decision to exclusively formula feed, it took a huge weight off of me, I was able to take care of me, give my daughter everything she needed.
I also spoke with my mom, and being that I was such a small preemie I wanted her input on Natalie’s care. My mom told me there is no reason to wake my child, she will do that on her own and tell you when she is hungry. She needs her sleep just as much as I do, when she’s hungry she will tell you and when she needs a change she will tell you. After speaking to both my supportive mother and husband I was finally able to feel as though I could do this, I wasn’t a failing mother just because I couldn’t breast feed, that I thought of myself at times or I didn’t militarily manage my child’s eating. I was able to enjoy my little girl, who is now 5 months old and the happiest little girl I know, with the biggest personality.

It’s amazing to see the medical advances we have access to, knowing that had I not lived in a country with these medical advancements myself, my child or both of us would not be alive today to enjoy our lives together. C-section was not my plan but it allowed me the best possible outcome. My family of 3. I would have never made it through those first few days without my husband or my mother and I will never be able to thank them enough for their support. And I am happy to say after having my little girl I realized she was really my angel. I had to have HPV for years, but after my pregnancy it was gone. My little girl was a gift I feared I might not be able to have, and my little girl saved me from further cervical issues. I would not call myself religious but there was obviously a plan and a reason for everything. 
<![CDATA[A Rocky Start to a Wonderful Beginning]]>Mon, 25 Jan 2016 15:00:02 GMThttp://www.iammamastories.com/blog/a-rocky-start-to-a-wonderful-beginningMy name is Sara. I'm 29 years old and the mother of an amazing beautiful baby boy named Kaiden and I'm also the wife of his just as amazing father, Jon. I met Jon when I was 19. We bought our first house in August of 2008. We decided that we wanted a baby more than anything. Marriage to us was not a priority in our book, being parents was. I knew no matter the outcome of mine and Jon's relationship that he would be the greatest father to any child. In October of that year we had decided that I would stop taking my birth control in an attempt to get pregnant. We did get married October 20th 2012. By this time we had been trying for over 4 years. We tried for another year and a half before we decided enough was enough and we needed to find out why we were still not pregnant.
In February of 2014 I went in and had blood work and a hysterosalpingogram (xray done to check my uterus and fallopian tubes ). The results were great everything looked great on my end. There was no reasoning that they could see why I wasn't getting pregnant. The next step was to check Jon's sperm count. We went to a urologist and had blood work and a count done. We found out from his results that he has an extremely low count that would make it nearly impossible to get pregnant. Well that was that we knew what our next steps were.

In May 2014 we met with Dr Barker at Seattle Reproductive Medicine. We were told our two options were IUI and IVF. The IUI was not really a good option based on his count, but she said we could try anyways. I was given Clomid and when it was time for the IUI we drove to Seattle to have the procedure. I remember how excited and nervous I was. When it was time for the procedure they had me go into a room and undress from the waist down. I remember my stomach was in knots but I couldn't stop smiling. I knew the chances of it taking were very small but at least we were trying! The Dr comes in and sits down and tells me that we cannot do the procedure as Jons count was just way too low. I didn't say much or anything at all just nodded as she left the room. My heart had broke and the tears just fell. My husband just held me and let me cry it out. I knew that as horrible as I felt he felt even worse.
A month went by and we were set to try again! This time as they bring me back to do the procedure I asked her if we were actually able to do it before I got undressed and excited for nothing. She stated yes that his numbers were low but it was an option. So a few weeks passed I went in and had blood work done and as expected we were not pregnant BUT this time I was not as broken because we tried and that's what mattered to me. So we go back to the Dr and she lays out the process of IVF and tells us that this was going to be our only option if we intended on having our own child. So we started the process of IVF in October 2014. I had to give myself shots in my stomach for almost 2 weeks. I had ultrasounds of my ovaries to check my egg growth and blood work. My arms and tummy were bruised. We did our egg retrieval on Nov 6th. They were able to get 22 eggs. After 4 days we were called and told that we have 7 embryos that made it and that i was to do my transfer on the next day. Nov 11th. We went in with much excitement and did the transfer. After two weeks I went in for blood work and got the call that it took and we were pregnant!!!!!!! This was by far the greatest day of my life (so far).

My pregnancy went very well. I was sick for a few months and then one day it just stopped all the sudden and everything was great. I only gained 17lbs which was a miracle. I thought for sure I would gain a ton. My due date was 7/30/15. On 
July 26th we were at my parents for my Sister in laws birthday and we were sitting around taking bets on when I was going to go into labor. My husband jokes and says it would be nice if she went into labor tonight so I didn't have to go to work tomorrow. Well, that night at midnight I woke up and had to pee (much like every other night) and as I pull down my pants my water breaks luckily I was over the toilet (TMI I know). I grabbed the door and opened it and yelled at my husband WAKE UP my water just broke. He sat up with his eyes still closed and says "No way, are you sure?" I said yes I'm positive. So I called the hospital and let them know I was going to be heading in.
You watch all those movies and shows of the women who go into labor and they are screaming and yelling with contractions. Well I had no contractions what so ever just this feeling of continuously peeing my pants lol. So we were off to the hospital about an hour later. We get the hospital I get checked in and they test me to make sure my water had actually broke and it had. I was barely dilated to a 1. They call my Dr and he tells them to put me on pitocin at 5am. Before they did that they checked me and no change still barely a 1. So I was on pitocin and around 9am my provider came in and checked me again and still no change. They were having trouble keeping the heartbeat monitor on the babies heart beat so they had to put in a uterine monitor (which did not feel good going in).  He tells me that he will be back after his work day is through to see where I was at but stated that I need to think about possibly having a c section if I do not dilate anymore.

So around 
6pm my provider comes in checks me again and I had barely dilated to a 2. By this time those contractions had definitely kicked in. So he tells me lets give you an epidural to see if we can get you relaxed enough to dilate further. So the epidural was given around 730. Not too long after the epidural was given the heartbeat monitor for the baby went off at my first big contraction. The nurse rushes in and helps me rotate. And again another contraction and his heartbeat dropped again so she called for another nurse. They shifted me all over but could not stop the heartbeat from dropping at each contraction. So they called the dr again and he said lets prep for surgery.

​So I was taken into the pre op room. At this point I was getting really sick and throwing up. I started to shake uncontrollably I thought my teeth were going to break. My blood pressure dropped and again they rushed over and yelled for the anesthesiologist.  My blood pressure when back up and by this time I was so freaked out I couldn't stop crying. The shaking got worse the nausea got worse and I was just ready for my baby to be out. It was time for surgery. My husband has a very weak stomach and thought he was going to pass out just getting prepped to go in for the procedure with me so he ended up staying in the preop room and my mother went in with me. 
At 9:36pm I hear ohs and awes of the nurses and hes so cute, but no noise. I remember it was only 5 seconds of silence from my baby, but it seemed like a lifetime and I just started saying cry baby boy just cry! And finally I hear him! And an instant waive of emotion just swept over me and I just started sobbing all over again. This time was happy tears.  He cried and cried and then they wrapped him up and put his face against mine and he instantly stopped crying.  It was so hard to not be able to hold him all I wanted to do was kiss him all over and snuggle him. My mom handed Kaiden over to Jon and he sat with me while they finished the surgery (Jon was fine now since he was preoccupied with the baby). We left the surgery room and went back to the prep room and they wanted Kaiden to nurse. That kid instantly latched on and I don't think he's let go since .

​Kaiden Jonathan was born 7/27/15  9:36pm 20inch long and weighed 8.1lbs. He was absolutely perfect in every way! My heart was and still is overwhelmed with so much love for our baby boy. We were finally parents! The road to get here was long, emotional,  and rough, but I would not change anything for the world.  As of today my almost 6 mo old kiddo is close to 20lbs and in 9 mo old clothing. He is full of light, laughter and love. He has managed to make noises that sound close to DADADADA So his dad is pretty sure we're going to say his first word was dada 
. We are working on mama now. Everyday I wake up to Kaiden who is full of smiles and giggles and know that I was meant to be his mom and he was meant to be my son. Our family feels complete now, but there will always be room for another.
Photo credit to Brittany Alece Photography & Misti Dawn Photography
<![CDATA[I Am Grandma´╗┐]]>Sat, 23 Jan 2016 14:00:01 GMThttp://www.iammamastories.com/blog/i-am-grandmaBecoming a mother was one of the most important things that I believed that I could do. I grew up in an environment where alcohol was prominent, old-fashioned corporal punishment was the norm, and emotional and physical expressions of love were doled out in measured fashion.

​As I became older, and began to realize that what I had experienced as a young child was not how most families function, and as I thought about my own future, I became strongly convinced that I would not parent in the same way. More than anything, I wanted to raise my children with love and understanding. I wanted to encourage them to be respectful, and honest, and understand that perfection didn’t matter, but trying your best, and being your best would allow for the creation of a compassionate human being.
It was challenging raising children. I can’t imagine anyone ever saying that they breezed through parenting without conflict, without tears or frustration. I know that I am not the only one who had days that I felt overwhelmed, or lost, or ready to crawl into a corner and hide from the world... and my kids. I will even confess to a few days when I didn’t like my kids very much. Of course it was their behavior that I didn’t like, but sometimes differentiating between the action and the person was tough. I never stopped loving my children though, and I hope that they always knew and felt that I loved them with my whole heart. That unmistakable knowing that you are loved was what was missing from my childhood, and what I vowed I would never let my children experience.

I am not the person to judge how, or if I accomplished what I set out to do, which was simply to be a better parent to my children than I remember my parents being towards me. I think that all three of my children are pretty great. I see them now as amazing individual human beings as well as partners in marriage. They are involved. They are intelligent. They are compassionate and caring and gentle. They are unique and opinionated. They respect and appreciate their place in the world and they respect the place and beliefs of others. They are adults who I am extremely proud of.

Over the last few years I have had the absolute joy to become a grandmother. I also have the privilege to be able to be deeply involved in the care and nurturing of my grandchildren. I have the honor of watching an entire new generation of my family grow and learn and begin to understand, as their parents did, just how important it is to love yourself and others, and to allow love into your heart.

I am having the most wonderful time as Grandma. I have learned so much since raising my own children. I can now understand so much of what seemed difficult to comprehend or overcome as a parent - often raising my children alone, being stressed, overworked, exhausted, without support, just needing to have a moment alone - all the things that every parent experiences. The changes that maturity and time have instilled in me allow me to step back and really listen to my grandchildren. I think I had a rather naive attitude with my own children when they were young. I thought that they were little blocks of clay that I could mold and form. Watching and listening and learning with my grandchildren has cemented clearly the fact that these wonderful children are not unformed, not without very unique emotions and purpose and opinions. They teach me something every time that I am with them because I don’t rush to impart myself into their world too quickly. I am merely a guide, working in conjunction with their parents. They discover and learn and explore. They form their own understanding and come to their own conclusions. I get such delight in simply sitting back and watching them think and then seeing the delight on their faces when the moment comes that they realize they have the answer. The depth of their pride shines bright.

I remember hearing, many times before becoming a grandparent, just how wonderful having grandchildren was. I’m now in a position to add my voice to those other grandparents who have discovered that grandchildren are the best gift, the reward that comes after raising and releasing your own child into the world.

The highlights each time I am with them:
Smiles and dimples and wiggles of recognition and joy.

Opening the door and hearing from deep in the house “GRANDMA!!! You’re here!”

Saying goodbye at the end of our time together and hearing, “Wait, I need one more hug.”

And, more than anything, numerous times during the day, a soft sincere voice saying, “Grandma, I love you.”


(Final picture courtesy of Terah from Foothills Midwifery.)
<![CDATA[Growing Cecelia]]>Thu, 21 Jan 2016 14:00:07 GMThttp://www.iammamastories.com/blog/growing-cecelia​Two pink lines. A positive sign. The word "pregnant" in digital print. The official beginning of Cecelia.

The first few weeks of my pregnancy were full of anticipation, excitement, and anxiety. As we slowly told our family and close friends, the worry dissolved. Unfortunately, not too long after this, the nausea, bloating and heartburn came on full force. My first trimester was a blur of napping, constant peeing, and overdosing on Tums.

In the midst of this, we heard baby's heartbeat, at home, on the 9th week. It was the most beautiful sound. 

Week 13-16

The fog finally lifted.  Entering into the second trimester, my nausea and food aversions lessened, but the exhaustion remained ever present. I began to see the physical evidence of a growing baby. My belly started to stretch and grow until finally it looked more like a real baby, and less like I just ate too much. Occasionally I forgot that I was pregnant because things still felt pretty "normal."

Week 17-20

We visited San Diego for a wedding. Exhausted from traveling, I went to bed early to catch up on sleep. While lying in the hotel bed resting my hands on my belly, I talked quietly to baby and felt the first fluttering kicks. The next day, dad felt baby kick from the outside. It is truly the best thing in the world, feeling your baby move for the first time. During our twenty week ultrasound, we discovered that we would be welcoming another girl! Gisella knew, and had been telling us this all along. 

Week 21-24

Decorating the nursery was so fulfilling. I got to unpack Gisella's baby clothes and carefully wash and fold each precious outfit and relive the memories of dressing our first sweet girl in each one. The crib was built and the sheets put on, even though no one would sleep in that bed for quite some time now. The weather was starting to get unbearably warm. I longed to hold my baby in my arms but knew she needed more time to grow.  

Week 25-28

At the start of the third trimester, I felt amazing. This pregnancy was so easy, other than the constant need for sleep. I have never, ever before in my thirty years felt as beautiful as I did during this time. Growing a baby is the most magical, incredible experience of life and I truly felt like a goddess. A sleepy goddess, but still. 

Week 29-32

Cecelia's kicks and rolls were so strong, sometimes they actually hurt me. I tried to enjoy every moment though, knowing that this was likely the last time I would ever experience any of this. The good and the bad, I wanted to remember it all, in vivid detail.

I turned thirty, Cece turned thirty weeks, and big sister turned three years old. 

Week 33-36

My home birth to-do list was nearly complete by this point. The supplies were purchased, sorted, and neatly organized, awaiting the day they would be lovingly taken out and used to help bring our baby girl into the world. I was overwhelmed with emotions: happiness and worry. I was ready to meet my baby girl but worried about how things were going to change.  

Week 37-40

The house was obsessively cleaned. Everything was in its place. The birth pool was blown up and ready. I was reading affirmations and listening to guided meditations on my ideal birth. My sweet girl kicked, pushed, and rolled within my body, stretching it to its max. Sleeping was difficult and uncomfortable. Luckily I was able to work fewer hours and rest more. This allowed me to mentally prepare myself for my upcoming labor. I was able to relax. 

By the time I took my final belly picture, Cecelia was ready to come out and meet us. Early labor had already begun and we welcomed our perfect, precious girl two days later. 

<![CDATA[Baby Roslyn]]>Mon, 18 Jan 2016 14:00:07 GMThttp://www.iammamastories.com/blog/baby-roslynTo say I did not have a normal pregnancy would be an understatement. I was due to have Roslyn on January 24th and had a very high risk pregnancy.  I was told throughout my pregnancy that when I would go into labor I would be under strict monitoring as I had a single umbilical cord artery and polyhydramnios both of which put me at increased risks for multiple complications.  I also knew from my ultrasounds that my baby would need surgery immediately after birth and would have to go straight to the NICU. I remember feeling sad I would not have a normal birthing experience but also felt the strict monitoring would keep me and my baby safe throughout our delivery.  I guess things never really go as planned or how they say they will though!  
I lost my mucus plug on a Monday night and started having contractions which I knew were not your typical braxton hicks contractions.  I went to the hospital that Tuesday and sat in the labor and delivery triage room for hours and they hooked my up to the monitors which did show I was having frequent and timed contractions but they said since I was not screaming in pain and I was able to breath that these were not labor contractions.  They checked my cervix which was closed and then sent me home.  I continued to have the contractions and I just knew in my heart something was not right.  They told me that I would be having these painful contractions for weeks until my due date. 

Thursday they got really bad and I remember timing them and they were coming every 7 minutes and lasting about 1 minute each. That Friday they got so bad I called the hospital and that Saturday morning I went back to the labor and delivery triage.  Again I was sent home and told that because I was able to hold a conversation and was able to walk and breath that I was not in active labor and that this was all 'normal'.  That Saturday night was horrible.  I was in so much pain.  My contractions were coming every 5 minutes and now lasting a lot longer.  I was very afraid because I was only 34 weeks and 6 days pregnant at this time and I was told because my baby would need surgery that I needed to stay pregnant as long as possible.  I was more scared and worried and stressed out so I guess I did not let the pain get to me as much as a 'typical' woman in labor.   I remember telling my husband that I will not take no for an answer this time and they WILL admit me.  So we went BACK to the hospital a third time.  I told them the pain was so bad and I honestly remember trying to fake it a little so they would actually believe me.  The same nurse I had seen every time checked me and I was 100% effaced and dilated 2cm. 

I remember being so freaked out at this moment because I knew if the baby came early it could be bad for their surgery.  They gave me some terbutaline to try and stop my contractions and they were on the verge of sending me home.  I begged to stay and honestly started pretending the pain was unbearable since I kept getting told I was not in labor since I was not acting like I was.  They put me in a labor and delivery room and monitored me.  My contractions were getting picked up about every 5 minutes on the monitor.  They checked me again and I was at 3cm which a bulging sac.  They decided to keep me over night.  I remember feeling so relieved because I was going to be on the monitor and I finally felt safe.

My day nurse had to go and the night nurse came on shift.  She was horrible, she made me feel like I was taking up a room for someone who was actually in labor.  She told me she has had six children and I should expect these labor pains to go on for weeks.  She took me off the monitor and told me to stop monitoring how often and long my contractions were and to get some sleep. She was so cruel to me and I kept telling her something was wrong and she kept blowing me off and leaving me for her patient who was 'actually in labor.'  At around 2300 I called her and told her I could not take it any more and I needed something for pain.  She came back and said I could either get a vicodin or a sleeping pill.  I remember being so angry at this nurse and felt so helpless.  So I did what she said and tried to sleep. 

I was laying in bed breathing through my contractions when all of a sudden I felt my water break.  We called in the nurse who looked and told me that I had pooped the bed and it was not my water.  This really happened to me.  I begged for her to call my OB and hook me up to the monitor since throughout my whole pregnancy I was warned of the risks of stillbirth and complications and was told I was have such strict monitoring.  I demanded she hook me up so I could hear my baby's heartbeat.  She got another nurse who said it didn't look like my water had broken and that I must have just went to the bathroom all over my bed.  I was screaming at this point, not from pain but from fear.  I kept begging them to call my doctor and to hook me up to the monitor.  I told them they needed to to do the test to check for my water being broken.  They demanded that I go take a shower and clean the 'poop' off of me.  I was fighting with these nurses and eventually agreed to take the shower if I could hear my babies heartbeat and once I heard it I ran to the shower just to please them.  While in the shower I kept trying to come back out saying, 'okay I showered now let me on the monitor.'  They said I needed to wash my hair and I remember frantically putting my hair under the water to make it look like I did what they said.  I've never been so scared in my life, fearing for my babies life. 

All of a sudden in the shower I started getting a huge urge to push.  I said, 'I NEED TO PUSH NOW!' They said you probably need to poop some more.  At this point I was screaming at these nurses so the charge nurse came in to see what was going on.  She checked me right away and said, 'She really does need to push!'  I was at 10cm and it was time.  I needed to push SO bad.  And they would not let me push.  The charge nurse FINALLY started making all the phone calls that should have been made the moment my water broke.  She called my OB, and called the NICU because they needed to be there to take my baby away.  I kept needing to push and they would not let me.  I said you better get some doctor in here because this baby is coming and someone is going to be delivering it now.  They had an on call OB come in finally and still would not let me push.  I remember saying aren't you a doctor well then you are delivering this baby NOW! The whole room was filled at this time with the whole NICU staff and all the people who needed to be there.  They said due to all my complications I really needed to wait for my OB since he knew my case the best.  I tried my best not to push but I remember I could not hold back and had to push a little.  I remember when he walked in the room I felt so relieved I could finally push!
I pushed about 7 times and out she came!  I heard her cry and it was the most beautiful sound I have ever heard in my entire life as I was so afraid she would not cry.  They took her away from me right away.  There was no skin to skin, no breast to baby.  No bonding.  I gave birth and they whisked her away from me.  My arms have never felt so empty in my entire life.  Since I had an all natural birth my recovery was not that bad.  I did have a second degree tear which I believe was due to the fact I could not push for so long.  Since I was able to walk I went to the NICU and finally saw my baby.  I had to go back to the postpartum unit and that was very difficult for me.  Here I was in the unit with the mothers and the babies and I was in the one room which did not have a baby.  I heard sweet baby cries and yearned for my baby.  My little Roslyn was born 5 weeks early weighing 4lbs and 10.4 oz.  She did have to have emergency surgery when she was about 12 hours old.  She is still in the NICU and we will probably be here for a while.  I would not change a thing about her.
Mama Carly holding sweet baby Roslyn for the first time at 5 days old.