10.11.2017

How I Found the Confidence to Deliver My Baby









 You can clearly see how "thrilled" I am to be spun around while 8 months pregnant, haha ;) I love my Mitch, though, and the light heartedness he brings to our lives.










Photos by the AMAZING Ceclia Harvard

I'm going to start off by saying something I said frequently throughout my pregnancy; I suck at being pregnant. I don't say this because I have any sort of extra physical challenges while pregnant. I say this because I had a crummy attitude for a good chunk of my pregnancy and it was 100% because of my vanity. I've always had struggles with body-confidence and have had obsessive tendencies when it comes to trying to control or 'regulate' what my physique looks like (being majorly OCD about exercising, eating healthfully, etc). From the get-go this mind-set made it hard for me to open up to the idea of gaining weight while pregnant and feeling beautiful. I would see the numbers on the scale go up and up and up and it would drive me bonkers. I would see my once flat stomach slowly starting to protrude and I would feel "huge". There were times when I honestly wouldn't even want to be seen by anyone I knew because I felt such silly shame about how "huge" I felt. In hindsight, I look back on all of my pregnancy photos and all I see is beauty and I can't help but feel 100% embarrassed and ashamed of all of those feelings. The swelling goes down, the weight comes off, tummies shrink back down, clothes fit again and everything is OKAY. More than okay even because you have this new little life that your body created! Anyway, this isn't meant to be a body post (I'm saving my post-partum health journey for another day and after I've had a few months to truly experience it). This is meant to be a post to discuss how at about 8 months pregnant all the negativity I had been carrying with me turned around completely and how I went from being absolutely terrified of delivery to feeling confident and assured.

At about the 5 or 6 month mark with my pregnancy I stumbled across a hypnobirthing class called the "Curtis Method". I looked it up and everything on the website just spoke to me and really resonated with me and the kind of birth I wanted but wasn't really sure would be possible. From the second I found it I told Mitch about it, and shared snippets of what it was all about with him. Being the supportive husband that he is, he was all for it and told me to sign us up for the next round of classes right then and there. I'm a bit of a second guesser to begin with and the classes were a bit of an investment, though, so I held off. I kept putting off signing up for the classes and missing round after round of 5 week class increments. One day, though, I came across a birth video from one of the moms who had taken the classes and it was so beautiful, brought me to tears, and finally convinced me that I needed to give these classes a shot no matter the investment. Let me tell you, it was by far the BEST investment I made my entire pregnancy and my only regret was not signing up sooner. 

The classes were 3hrs long once a week for 5 weeks. Over those next 5 weeks, Mitch and I learned about my body, how it works and was perfectly designed to deliver babies, the stages of labor, techniques for how Mitch could be an active participant in the delivery process, and so much more. What really helped me more than anything, though, were the positive affirmations that I would practice daily. These really helped me feel more confident in and appreciative of my pregnant body. I wish I could go into more details about everything we learned but that would be a discredit to the instructor. I will say, though, that I 100% credit these classes to the confidence I had when I went into labor. They really took the mystery right out of the equation and I was able to begin laboring knowing exactly what would be happening that day and that I was 100% capable of doing it. More than anything these classes taught Mitch and I that labor doesn't have to be scary, and that it can actually be one of the biggest experiences of love we can ever feel. 

Another big component of the classes was teaching how to overcome 'pain and fear' through relaxation and hypnosis. I honestly wasn't great at relaxing and practicing the hypnosis when I went into labor but I truly think this is because I ended up having such a short amount of time to practice the techniques since Noah was born the day after the last class. I'm 100% confident, though, that with my next deliveries I'll be able to relax and truly have pain free deliveries because I'll have more time to practice and prepare.

Anyway, I would 100% recommend these classes to any local pregnant mamas out there. I promise you they will give you the tools to have a confident, beautiful, and love filled delivery! I have nothing but positive feelings about Noah's delivery and the high I felt from how amazing it was! I know an unmedicated birth isn't everyone's goal, but my goodness the feeling of it all is truly amazing and I wish every mama had the chance to feel those sensations at least once because there really is nothing like it! I won't lie and say it's easy, but it is worth it!

10.04.2017

Noah Mitchel Nelson - Birth Story






(These first few images were my attempt at getting some new born shots of Noah. The next shots were taken and edited by my AMAZING and talented best friend, Romina. Check her out here!)







Noah's favorite pass time is throwing shade, haha. He is my little grouch!






Noah Mitchel Nelson, my little angel baby came to us all of FIVE days ago. I can't believe it. We've already had five whole days with this little soul. I figured it was about time to write down his birth story before the details and feelings start fading from my mind so here goes. Buckle down for a loooong post.

Noah's birth story starts the Wednesday before he was born. I had an appointment with the midwives that afternoon and, like usual, I was excited to hear my babe's heart beat and feel reassured that everything was still a-ok. While I was at work that day I had been feeling random contractions that were so mild I didn't recognize them as contractions, at the time, and just shook off as cramps. When I was with the midwives they asked if I had been contracting at all and I mentioned the cramps but since I described them as being so mild and wasn't even sure if they were contractions the midwife who saw us that day just shook them off as nothing and told me that if they had been contractions I would know. I trusted her opinion because I had, had Braxton Hicks earlier in my pregnancy and they had been iiiiintense. Well, after finalizing our appointment we scheduled my 39 week appointment for the next Wednesday and headed off. I was feeling a little disappointed that I didn't seem to be anywhere near heading toward labor but also mildly relieved that I would still have more time to finish up my to-do list. 

The next day we had our last night of our hypnobirthing class, a milestone I hadn't been sure I would reach since we were cutting it so close to our due date. I had been telling myself, and Noah, that we had to at least make it through all five of our classes. We wouldn't be 'ready' yet until we had been through all five classes. It's funny how literally Noah seemed to take this wish because he held off till exactly the day after our last class to make his debut! Another funny note is that during our last class the teacher mentioned that it was helpful to eat lightly during labor and avoid dairy and meat but that if we wanted a cheeseburger we could gosh dang have a cheeseburger. We'd just have to be okay with the fact that cheeseburgers take time to digest and our stomachs had to be empty in order to give birth, so that cheeseburger would be debuting either upstairs or downstairs before a baby could make its appearance. I swear she said cheeseburger so many times, though, that all she did was make me want a flipping burger like crazy. Luckily there was an In-N-Out right next to our class so on our 15min break, Mitch and I went over and ordered ourselves a couple of burgers and a chocolate milkshake. As I was eating my burger the thought occurred to me that it would be funny if after eating my burger I ended up going into labor. 

Around 5am on Friday September 15th, I woke up to cramps. I laid in bed for about 30min trying to shake them off but since they weren't easing up, I decided to get out of bed, chill out on the couch, and listen to some of my hypnobirthing relaxation tracks. I did this for about an hour without any easing up on the cramps so it started to occur to me that my 'cramps' might actually be contractions. I thought about waking Mitch but since I wasn't sure they were contractions at all I decided to wait. About another 30min later Mitch woke up, came out to the living room, and asked me what was up. I told him I had been feeling crampy for the last hour and a half and he asked if it was 'contraction' crampy. I told him I wasn't sure since the midwife at our last appointment had shaken off my cramps as nothing. Mitch decided to start timing them just in case and in the meantime we decided to re-read the portion of our birthing book that outlined the phases of labor so that if this was the real deal we'd know how we were progressing and when to leave for the hospital. After reading our birthing class book and taking note of the consistency of my "cramps" we both decided that they weren't actually cramps and that this was the real deal. I was in early labor! Surprisingly, we both stayed pretty calm and relaxed.

I decided that I wanted to get a little dolled up so I could feel a little extra confident so for the next 30 minutes I rolled through contractions in the bathroom while doing my hair and makeup. They honestly weren't too bad at this point. When they came if I just paused and swayed my hips I could manage the pressure fairly easily.

Fast forward about an hour of rolling through more contractions on my birthing ball and I decided we should snuggle up on our couch and watch Matilda. Around this point my sweet Mitch lit tea candles, dimmed our lights, and made me a smoothie so I would feel as comfortable and in the zone as possible for the next who knew how long. Shortly after this I threw up the smoothie and ended up sleeping through pretty much all of Matilda, haha.

Around 4pm, after hours of steadily progressing with my contractions and throwing up I decided I was to the point where I was having a harder time bearing with the pressure of the contractions and I felt we needed to head in to the hospital. We had my mom drive us there because the only car we had available that day was Mitch's truck and there was no way I was going to be attempting to climb into that thing in the middle of labor.

When we got to the hospital we were checked into a triage room to get some stats taken so a decision could be made on if I was far enough along to be admitted or if I would be sent home. I had decided I didn't want to know how dilated I was because I know myself and I knew that if I knew how dilated I was I would feel disappointed and stressed if it wasn't what I wanted it to be so the nurse just told Mitch where my dilation was at and that she'd be back in an hour to see if I had progressed. Sure enough an hour later I had progressed and we were ready to meet our midwife and head into our delivery room. But of course the midwifes were in the middle of a shift change and our room needed to be cleaned and prepped so we ended up waiting another hour in that sterile and uncomfortable triage room, at which point I got so grumpy I started being kinda mean to Mitch and asking if I could swear. Also at this point, I was letting all my frustrations get to me so much that I was failing at my relaxation techniques and for the first time since 5am I started to really feel my contractions painfully and started wondering if I should just give up and get an epidural. Honestly, the only thought that pushed me through the intensity and wanting to give in to drugs was the thought of feeling the post-birth high and the higher chance of not tearing if I stuck it out unmedicated.

After what felt like a lifetime our midwife came in and introduced herself. *Sidenote: the nurse midwives at the IMC in Murray perform deliveries on an on-call basis so you don't know which of the midwives you'll be getting for your delivery.* Since we had switched to the nurse midwives so late in my pregnancy we still hadn't had a chance to meet all of the midwives and the midwife that would be delivering our baby was one that we had never met before, Melissa Boll. Let me just say, though, she was a heaven sent ANGEL. I really can't imagine having to deliver with any other midwife and I really think that she was key in making that night as special as it was.

Melissa came into our room with a quiet and sweet energy and instantly jumped right in to stroke my back during contractions, apply counter pressure and show Mitch some different ways to do it that would help, and just encourage me to keep on going. After about 20 more minutes of laboring in the triage room and our delivery room was finally ready for us. I don't know why but I kinda felt like things couldn't/wouldn't get "serious" until I was in the delivery room.

Once we got to our delivery room, Melissa encouraged me to try breathing through some more contractions on my birthing ball again while Mitch applied counter pressure. Shortly after getting back on my birthing ball, my water broke. Mitch says this was the first and only time that night that I said. "ow". I think this is kind of funny because 1- I didn't even realize I said "ow" and 2- It didn't actually hurt at all. It just felt like a little popping sensation somewhere near my navel and then a GUSH of water. After this my contractions got about 1000x more intense and I lost all concept of time. All I had it in me to do was forcefully say, "pressure" every time a contraction started to signal that I needed Mitch to apply counter pressure to my hips.

I have to say, Mitch was my hero that night. He never stopped applying counter pressure, never hesitated, kept positive encouragement rolling -even when I would say things like, "We're not having anymore kids. I'm never doing this again, Mitch."-, and was just so fearless and tireless. He even encouraged me in my birthing sounds because I was not laboring quietly. I had assumed I would be a quiet birther, but let me tell you, I was not. I was a full on "ooooooooo" girl. As Dory would say, I was speaking whale like nobody's business. I honestly would have been super embarrassed by it if weren't for Mitch telling me my birthing moans were beautiful and powerful. Also, I know Mitch must have taken a beating applying all the counter pressure I demanded because even though in the moment it felt good, after delivery, it felt like my tailbone had been smacked repeatedly with a bat, haha, and was a heck of a whole lot more sore than my lady parts, which speaks to how hard he was pushing on my hips and sacrum.

After my water broke I thought I would reach the point of being able to push a lot faster than I did. It felt like I was contracting and working on dilating for what felt like 1000 years before I got to the point of pushing. I kept asking if I could push yet and every time the answer was "not yet" I would start feeling like I would never have the baby.

After what felt like forever I was finally dilated enough to push! I was so excited because for some reason I thought the pushing would be the easy part. Ha! We tried pushing on my hands and knees first but I was having a hard time feeling whether or not I was pushing in that position and apparently I was just clenching not pushing so Melissa had me try lying on my side to push. In the side lying position I was able to really feel the pushing sensation a lot stronger so we decided to stay there until baby was out.

Part of our birth plan, which we hadn't technically written out yet till that very morning -we thought we still had another two weeks to get it done- was to have mother directed pushing. I would push when I felt the urge and stop when the urge left instead of pushing at the direction of others who couldn't feel my birthing sensations. The idea behind this being that this would give my vagina enough time to dilate and minimize or completely avoid tearing. Did I mention that tearing was my biggest birthing fear? So I was allll about anything that would help guard against that.

Every time a contraction came, so would the urge to push so I would focus all my energy and breathing into pushing while the contraction was there. Melissa and my nurse encouraging me all the while. Telling me I was doing great, to keep breathing, etc. Mitch and Melissa would also excitedly tell me they could see the head with each push. Melissa had the nurse bring over the mirror so I would be able to see the head too and feel encouraged to keep going. Honestly I could hardly tell the head apart from my own body parts and I liked having my eyes closed during pushes so seeing myself in the mirror didn't do much besides make me realize something I hadn't known or expected. When you push you can see the head but as soon as you stop pushing it's like the head sucks back into you. This made me feel like I was regressing instead of moving forward but Melissa reassured me that this was normal and just the way the baby was twisting his/her way out.

I reached a point with my pushing when Melissa thought I was close to getting the baby out so she she told me that if I really gave the next push everything I had we might be meeting our baby. This was all the encouragement I needed because let me tell you, pushing isn't called the ring of fire for nothing. That crap is haaaaaaaaard and if I could get my little baby out in the next push I was going to do it. I felt like I had given my vagina enough time to dilate so with the next push I just took the deepest breath of my life and bore down with all my strength. After a huge feeling of release I heard the first cries of my babe! I honestly felt so much emotion in that moment that I was too in shock and delirious to hear what anyone said. I don't know if Mitch told me it was a boy or if anyone told me but next thing I knew a little baby boy was being brought up to my arms. I honestly thought I would cry but I was just in such shock and awe to be able to really define any emotion. All I knew was that he was finally here and perfect in every way. I immediately started talking to him in Spanish. I don't quite remember what I said to him. I think I may have been telling him that he was my little "gringo" and I loved him. He was so milky white with the softest dark curly locks. Mmmmm. I could relive that moment of having him placed on my chest for the first time over and over again. There really is no feeling comparable to it.

Almost immediately after having him placed on my chest we started our first feeding and let me tell you, it was BLISS! One of the happiest moments of my life. It just felt so natural and so right. I felt so connected to this little human my body had just spent the last 9 months creating.

At this point I asked if I had torn and Melissa said yes but barely and that it wasn't a perenial tear just a vaginal tear. It was a first degree tear and so small. This reassured me so much. I could handle a first degree tear. I had heard of much worse so I felt truly relieved. Melissa told me she thought the only reason I tore was because my little man's arm shot out so fast after his head that it kind of snagged on my vagina.

After this all other cares left me and my only thoughts were for my baby BOY. Birthing the placenta was a breeze and honestly just felt like I pushed out a squishy pillow. I hardly noticed when Mitch cut the cord, when Melissa stitched up my tear, and was just so engrossed in my skin-to-skin bonding with my baby. Heaven on earth I tell you. Heaven on Earth.

I will say that waiting to find out the sex of our baby was such a fantastic experience. I loved not finding out what my baby was until the very moment he was out and in my arms. Mitch was the one to break the news to our families that where waiting outside anxiously and I'm sure that was fun for him and them as well!

Now here we are with a SEVEN day old (it took me a couple days to finish this post) and I could stare at the miracle that he is all day long. Birth truly is such an empowering and beautiful experience. It's challenging and more work than you even expect it to be but the most rewarding work ever. Throughout my pregnancy Mitch and I had decided we wanted a very intimate experience and had opted out of getting a videographer or photographer but on the lasts day of our birthing class we decided we wanted both or at the very least a photographer because it was a moment too special to not have a visual record of. I was going to reach out to some friends to get something lined up but since little Noah decided to come that day it was too late. I wish we had been able to get it set up but oh well! Mitch filmed some fun clips throughout the day on his phone that hopefully he'll let me share on here! Also, I will say that our birthing classes where a huge help in the mindset I was able to have throughout Noah's delivery and the fearlessness I felt but I'll save details of those classes for another post. 

7.21.2017

30 Weeks + Pregnancy Thoughts

Like I thought would happen, I've been complete rubbish at keeping up on this pregnancy. But that's ok, because I'm here now. I think lately I've been having a nostalgia for the days when we were kids and our parent's idea of a perfect picture was standing us all in a row in front of wall, and taking a simple pic on a disposable camera. It's funny because those are some of my favorite pics to look back on. So I don't know, I guess I've been longing for the days when even the simplest of moments were worthy of a picture and so the picture was taken. Whether the background and/or lighting were perfect or not. It feels like back in the days there just wasn't as much pressure to start off marriage or parenthood with the perfect new house, styled to perfection, and just the perfect nonstop moments that social media, Instagram in particular, can make it seem like most people in their early 20s have achieved. It's just crazy. I mean, I know we all understand that Instagram is just a highlight reel but really, how many people in their early 20s can there really be whose highlight reel consists of perfect homes, clothes, and cars? Are there any broke young adults left in the world, haha? 

Anyway, I guess what I'm trying to get at is that I'm not the social media "it girl" that has the charming house in the perfect neighborhood that makes meals that look 10/10 every single time (let's be honest, sometimes by the time I've jumbled up all the ingredients and random left overs I felt like eating that day my food resembles barf, haha). With that in mind, I'm just going to try to do my best to keep it real here on my blog and on social. The reason I'm bringing this up now with these bump pics is because now that I'm 30 weeks along (baby could be born any day now and be safe!) the idea of motherhood has started to feel more real and to be honest I don't want to shuffle my baby around my crappy lit apartment all day long just to get an "instagram worthy" picture. If I want a picture of a moment I'm going to take it. Perfection be danged. Also, if I'm the last mom on a budget that doesn't include a $60 outfit for baby and a $100 outfit for myself, on Earth then I want to record it for posterity haha. I think what spurred this all was just the inundation of young mom's with, seemingly, never-ending funds to buy their newborns wildly expensive outfits and all sorts of expensive gadgets with weird gibberish names. You could say I was a little green with envy, I guess, haha. But really, I also just wanted to be able show the side of motherhood that doesn't come with all that jazz and fluff. Also, if you are one of those Mom's with a never ending pocket-book and you're reading this, please don't get the wrong idea and think that I hate you or that you're a horrible person.  I don't, and you're not. I just think you're hecka lucky, haha.

Well, that about concludes my sermon of the day, heehee, so let's get into some pregnancy deets. :)

Cravings: Most cravings have subsided. I just still have a bigger appetite than normal, though. I started a clean eating plan with Mitch (with my calories calculated for pregnancy, don't worry) and it's been going fairly well! I'm excited to see if I'll be able to see any difference from cleaner eating, and my regular workouts, in places like my arms, back, and legs. Because obviously the only difference I'll see in my belly is that it will get bigger haha.
How big is baby?: The baby is now about 2 1/2lbs and the size of a cabbage...I think. I always forget the produce size the baby is at haha.
Total Weight Gain: I think I'm at about 25lbs right now and trying to keep it slow and steady.
Maternity Clothes: Dressing the bump has been haaaaard. I do my best most days, but I just feel guilty spending money on myself now that we're trying to save for the baby so I haven't gotten a ton of new things as far as maternity wear but I don't feel like a total hag, haha, so that's a win! ;)
Sleep?: Sleep has not been great. I've never been able to sleep well, though, so I've been dealing with it pretty decently I think. Except for when I nod off at work that is, haha....
Symptoms: I feel mostly fine aside from some gross symptoms that I'd rather not talk about haha.
Gender: We are still holding out strong! We don't know whether Baby is a boy or girl and we're anxiously waiting to find out on this little sprout's big day!
Belly Button In Or Out: The button is O-fficially OUT. Mitch thinks it's cute as heck, I think it's gross haha.
What I Miss: I really miss sleeping on my back, being able to workout to my max, and just having a flat belly. All those things will come back in time, though, so I'm trying not to focus on them.
What I'm Looking Forward To: Rubbing my baby's cute little belly, and just finding out if we're welcoming a boy or girl!
Bump?: Oh the bump is here and here to stay for the next little bit, haha. Thankfully no stretch marks yet but we will see if that holds up!



5.23.2017

Happiness


Hey guys, hope all is well! Everything on my end is going pretty dang awesome. :) I honestly have had the best month and a half of my life! Mitch and I have really got our routine down, and are just really enjoying marriage and the phase of life we are in. As cheesy as it sounds marriage really is 10x better than you ever imagine it will be. Also, I am 22 weeks!

As happy as I've been the last few weeks, though, I do still have the tiny tiniest of stress clouds hanging over my shoulder all the time just encouraging me to freak out about finances when the baby comes because we both decided that when Baby comes I will leave my job and focus on motherhood full time. Which, I do have to say I am so, so grateful that Mitch is on the same page as me with this and 100% supports my desire to be a stay-at-home mom. Even, though, I'm super excited to give my baby my full attention and time, that little stress cloud I mentioned earlier, just drives me to waste time imagining how nice life will be when we have x things or when Mitch is done with school and makes x amount of money, or how easy things will be when x things happen. 

If any of you follow me on Instagram, though, you'll know I recently started reading "Be Happy" by Hank Smith (one of my former seminary teachers, holla). Anyway, so far, and I'm not very far, I've learned that only 10 percent of our happiness comes from our circumstances. Only TEN! I don't know if that's blowing your minds as much as it blew mine, but I was super surprised. I feel like it's almost human tendency to think that our circumstances and what happens to us impacts more like 90 percent of our happiness.

Anyway, I wish I could share the whole book with you guys but since I can't I'll share this quote with you, "People who believe all their happiness depends on circumstances fall into a dangerous trap. They think that happiness will be in the next place, with the next job, with the next partner, and so on. You'll chase it your entire life and never catch it because it wasn't ever there in the first place. And until you give up on the idea that happiness is somewhere else, it will never be where you are." WOWZA, am I right?

That paragraph from the book really got me thinking about how that sounds a lot like the family goal Mitch and I set for ourselves to enjoy the phase of life we are in instead of wasting time wishing for the next one. And it gave me a big old wake up call to focus on the present and finding happiness in my life as it is and will be in the next few months!

So to conclude I guess I just want to encourage all of us to really focus on the present, finding our happiness, and not letting our circumstances determine our level of joy! Oh and just as a side-note, I can feel Baby moving now and it's gotten me so, so excited!

Much love! 



5.11.2017

Finding Joy in Pregnancy








Hello, hello! I've been intending to write more frequently now that I'm prego, I want to be able to keep better track of this pregnancy so baby has something to look back on. Here goes then. I feel like this pregnancy has been a whirlwind of emotion for me. If I'm being honest, the first trimester, I didn't have any of the warm fuzzies and excitement that most women seem to have and I felt like something must be wrong with me. I mean, don't get me wrong, I loved my baby, but I was just having a hard time feeling connected with the fact that I was pregnant. If I'm being totally and completely honest, though, I know it was just because I was being resiliently selfish, having a hard time letting go of selfish thinking, and being overly concerned with the changes my body was and would be going through. What finally changed things, though, were a couple of things. 

One, when I finally felt the baby move for the first time last week! It was so crazy and I'm telling you, that moment, was my, "This is real, this is my baby, and I love him/her so, so much" moment. It wasn't even a big movement or anything, just a tiny little rolling sensation, but it was amazing! The second thing that really turned things around for me was thinking about what a blessing it was to even have the opportunity to be pregnant and have gotten this far in my pregnancy. Just thinking about how it isn't as easy for every woman to reach motherhood, and there I was completely taking it for granted, really humbled me. 

Pregnancy is beautiful and it really is a time to be in awe of what our bodies are capable of and feel gratitude that we have that opportunity! Maybe that's a little cliche and cheesy but it really is so true. And reminding myself of that daily helps me to get over my fear of one, pushing a baby out of my body, and two my concerns over how soft and big my body is getting/will get. Just trying to focus on the miracle of it all day by day so I don't get too scared, haha. So yeah, Baby, if you ever read this, I want you to know that I love you SO much and it just took your mama a little second to get over herself, haha!


DESIGN BY AMANDA INEZ