Selah’s Birth Story

You know the old phrase “silence is golden”? As a now mother of two, I can attest to that! I am currently sitting on my couch enjoying probably about twenty minutes of alone/quiet time while Zemirah has rest time in her room and the baby naps in her crib; I’m eating some peanut butter lactation bites (recipe coming soon!) and washing cloth diapers. It seemed like the perfect time to revisit an old TV sitcom, but I thought it might be fun to sit down and write! I have a couple of recipes in the works, but pictures aren’t edited so I thought for my first blog back I would write out Baby Girl’s birth story! You can read about my first, second, and third trimesters, and if birth is your thing, you may also be interested to read Zemirah’s Birth Story, then hang onto your hats because this one is completely different!

Let’s start at the very beginning (a very good place to start…) which was week 38 of pregnancy. I had accomplished everything on my baby to do list, finished up with work, and the new shelter-in-place orders were in effect for my county. A scary time in the world, everything was shut down, and as if feeling trapped at home isn’t hard enough, imagine waiting for a baby, too! Zemirah was born 5 days before her due date, and everyone says second babies come earlier, so I was expectant; however this same “everyone” also says second babies come quickly – everyone lied.

Fast forward to forty weeks pregnant – yes I made it to my due date, and I was not happy about it. At my 39 week check up, my midwife said everything was looking very soft and ripe and she thought it would be any time now and likely go quick. Again, a lie. *insert eye roll emoji* At forty weeks and one day pregnant, I was bouncing on my birth ball watching church online (what a time to be alive), trying to get Zemirah to sit semi-quietly so I could at least hear the pastor, and I was noticing some contractions. I had been having them irregularly for weeks, so I didn’t think much of it. However, after about 30 minutes, they were still consistently coming every five minutes, so I thought this might be the real thing! The contractions were not yet painful, but just a crampy, tightening feeling. After timing them for a little over an hour, they were consistently 4-6 minutes apart, so I called my mom to come pick up Zemirah. Saying goodbye to my firstborn, knowing our relationship was about to change, our lives would be different, and she would no longer be my baby, was such a bittersweet moment and I can’t explain the complexity of my emotions in that moment. There was no looking back; I handed my parents Z’s overnight bag, and David and I stood on our driveway waving goodbye with happy tears in our eyes.

Now that David and I were alone it was officially baby time! We packed our last few items for the hospital bags, kept timing my contractions, and headed out for a long walk around the neighborhood. We walked, talked, and day dreamed about what life with two girls would be like; contractions were still coming regularly, but still not powerful. After a good 3 mile walk, we decided I should nap to gear up for what was to come; well after a nice nap, contractions had all but stopped. Unacceptable! We loaded up the car for not just a walk, but a hike! For two and a half hours, we walked the nature trails at a local nature preserve, and my contractions were definitely intensifying. I still wouldn’t call them painful at this point, but there was a lot of pressure. Finally, they were about 2-3 minutes apart for about an hour so I called my midwives. Again, they told me “second labors are usually quick” so they advised me to head to the hospital.

We arrived at the hospital around 7 PM, we were screened for Covid and immediately escorted to a room. Being monitored, my midwife confirmed that I was indeed contracting every two to three minutes, but after having sat down for so long I told her I wasn’t feeling them anymore. She checked me, said I was almost 5 centimetres dilated and 75% effaced; I was so excited that I was almost in active labor and thought I could have my baby before midnight. Boy was I wrong… IMG_8008

Due to Covid rules, I was not allowed to walk around the halls, so, like a caged animal at the zoo, I paced anxiously back and forth. We also sadly discovered that due to Covid rules I would not be able to get my birth tub. So we continued pacing, dancing, watching Ellen’s Game of Games while bouncing on my ball, getting Baby monitored every 30 minutes – all of this happened for hours and still my cervix remained the same. We now had our night nurse and midwife, and the midwife advised me to lay on my side with a leg up in a stirrup because Baby was stubbornly stuck up high on my left side, and for me to get more intense contractions, I needed her to change positions. It was around midnight at that point, and though I was still contracting, they were not yet painful so she said we should get some sleep. Try as I might, I could not sleep for more than 30 minutes at a time because every now and then a painful contraction would be so intense it would wake me up and have me moaning, then I would get excited they were more intense and try to walk around to get them more intense, but to no avail.

Finally, after a long night, my midwife came back around 6 AM and checked me; she said I had made a little progress and it seemed like Baby was in a little bit better position. Again, things were still slow and not intense, so we just enjoyed our morning watching Golden Girls on the hospital TV and eating breakfast. My labor was intense enough at this point that I was slightly nauseous and unable to eat or drink much, which was an encouraging sign.

The day midwife, Taylor, came in around 8 AM (at this point, we had been through 3 sets of nurses and midwives – eye roll) and checked me. She actually said it seemed like my progress had gone backwards, and we needed to talk about our options to speed things up. After a long night of laboring and not being able to sleep, that was incredibly discouraging, but I was certainly eager to speed things along. The options she gave me were: go home (heck no!), break my water, or start me on a low dose of pitocin to see if that would get things going. I didn’t have to have pitocin with Zemirah’s labor so I have no experience with it, but have heard it makes contractions essentially unbearable. Because I wanted to have an un-medicated birth, I knew I didn’t want pitocin because of it being medicine but also because I was afraid it would lead me to an epidural. At this point, I had been laboring for almost 24 hours, and was not getting anywhere, so even though it was intervention I wasn’t expecting to need, I had Taylor break my water. Upon breaking my water, Taylor commented that I had a large amount of amniotic fluid which is likely why my contractions hadn’t been intense yet; that made me feel confident we made the right decision and hopeful things would begin to speed up.IMG_8007

A couple of hours later, contractions were more intense; lots of vocalizing and swaying when a contraction surged over me, but they were still far apart enough that I could take little micro-naps in between. Then Taylor came in to break the news that a mom at their birth center was in labor and she would have to leave – she told me who would deliver me instead because she was confident I would have this baby soon. We just kept doing what we had been doing – walking, swaying, bouncing – and a couple of hours later Taylor was back. The birth center mom had the stereotypical second child birth and delivered so quickly that she ended up delivering in the birth center parking lot. I was so jealous! I can’t help but laugh about it now, and I know that mom has quite the story to tell!

Around 1 o’clock PM I decided to get in the hospital bathtub just to relax and rest some more. At this point, the contractions were so far apart that the tub slowed me down even more – I only had one contraction while in the tub. Taylor and our amazing nurse, Kiersten had suggested I try pumping because nipple stimulation releases all the happy hormones and contracts your uterus. So I hopped out of the tub, sat on my birth ball, and pumped for just 10 minutes. I was delighted to see some little drops of colostrum coming out, but even more delighted for the four back to back contractions that came over me like waves of power. I got another cervical check after pumping and I was finally in active labor with the baby’s head at 0 station! It was go time!

I was contracting powerfully and basically one on top of another for a while, but the pain wasn’t nearly as intense as it was with Zemirah’s labor – I could easily breathe through each surge. Eventually, though, my lower back was in excruciating pain; Taylor did rebozo on me to help move Baby down and help relieve some back pain. I felt vaguely like I needed to push, but wasn’t sure. Taylor had me sit backwards on the toilet for a while to help move Baby down even more, and that was definitely effective! The contractions were so strong and powerful, but I didn’t have an overwhelming urge to push like I did with Zemirah. After some time, I would guess around 2:20 PM, Taylor checked me again and informed me that I was 9.5 centimetres dilated – my cervix still had a lip on it, and my baby was still completely on my left side. This is why I wasn’t feeling the urge to push yet, but she told me it was still time. They say (who are these people and why do they always tell us things?!) that mothers forget the pain of childbirth when they hold their baby, but I’m not sure I can ever forget the feeling of what happened next. Taylor had me lay on my right side, pull my left leg up; she then reached inside of me, pushed my cervical lip aside, and told me to push against her hand. With all my might I pushed, multiple times, my lower back was screaming at me – I felt like it was going to rip in two. I vomited.

Finally, Taylor had me flip onto my hands and knees, pulling down on the top of the bed for support. It was in this position that I continued my strenuous pushing; my husband David constantly encouraging me and me saying “I can’t do this!” over and over. I have a vivid memory of at one point feeling three hands on me – one from Taylor, one from Kiersten, and one from David – and I felt so supported and cared for. Their caring touches gave me the strength I needed.

If I felt like a caged animal when pacing in early labor, now I was a lioness freed of all inhibitions. I screamed – no, roared – as I pushed with all my might. At 2:52 PM, Selah Jade Mills was born, and though I couldn’t physically see her right away, I instantly heard her strong cry! She was passed between my legs, and I clutched her to me. The long, hard work was worth it! She was here in all her soft, slimy glory.selahjade1 (2)

She instantly peed and pooped on me, but I just laughed as sweet Kiersten wiped us down. Though I won’t quickly forget the pain of trying to get her in the right position and pushing through that last half centimetre, I also won’t quickly forget the smell of that freshly born baby, or the feeling of nursing her for the first time, holding her close for that first golden hour while we both dozed after our hard work of birth. I won’t quickly forget David’s strong arms around me as I worked to bring Selah here, I won’t forget the tears in his eyes as he gazed lovingly at our new daughter, and I won’t forget the feeling of immense love between us as we realized how blessed we were to take part in another miracle.

Because that is what pregnancy and birth is. A miracle! And the Lord graciously allows us to take part in His magnificent plan for life.

“For everything comes from Him and exists by His power and is intended for His glory. All glory to Him forever! Amen.” – Romans 11:36

Third Trimester Recap + Postpartum Freezer Stash

Spring has sprung – flowers blooming, I saw some bluebonnets this week, allergies flaring up, all the butterflies flitting about, and our second baby girl is about to make her entrance! I will be 38 weeks pregnant tomorrow, so for my last blog before Baby I wanted to do a third trimester recap (you can read my First Trimester Recap here, and my Second Trimester Recap here) plus give a run down of what I’ve stocked away in our freezer for those early weeks after birth.

Third trimester. Wow. I’d like to say it was rainbows and unicorns, but let’s face it, the end is uncomfortable for everyone! However, I’ve maintained a healthy diet, listening to my body’s cravings, and remained active. The difference in my third trimester this time and last time was incredible, though! When pregnant with Zemirah, I struggled with higher blood pressure, had pitting edema – I’d press my swollen ankle and the indention would stay there – terrible acid reflux, excruciating low back pain, and of course my weight was way too high. This time, however, my blood pressure has been perfect (lower than average), I’ve had minimal swelling here at the very end – I’m still wearing my wedding ring! My back pain has been non-existent until just this past week (it is always on the side Baby’s on), and my heartburn/acid reflux has been exponentially less! All in all, this pregnancy has been very easy, I’m so thankful, and praying the same for birth and the postpartum time.

So, what made the difference in these pregnancies?

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34 weeks pregnant with both girls – both photos taken by my talented friend Melissa Conklin

Food

Eating real, whole foods has made a world of difference in my life these past two years (you can read our food journey here), and an immeasurable difference in pregnancy. During my third trimester I ate:

  • Dark chocolate – and lots of it! The sweets cravings are real but only dark (60%-72%) chocolate will cut it for me. Add in some almonds or coconut and salt and I’m in my own personal heaven!  One of my favorite packaged dark chocolate snacks is Bark Thins, but I also made a few homemade versions which I will blog after Baby.
  • Beef – it’s what’s for dinner. My midwives told me after my glucose screening that I was also anemic, which explained my meat cravings. So we started eating beef about once a week, whereas we usually go a couple weeks without red meat. Steaks are my favorite, but we would also have ground beef in pasta sauce, taco meat, or beef sausage.
  • Kale – sauteed in butter, topped with salt and a hefty squeeze of lemon juice has been a staple this whole pregnancy. Leafy greens also happen to be high in iron so that helped my anemia, too, in conjunction with upping my prenatal vitamin to twice a day.
  • Citrus fruit – tangerines, navel oranges, blood oranges, grapefruit, you name it! Not to mention, squeezing lemon and/or lime juice on everything. Fun fact, having adequate Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron (it’s almost like my body knew what it needed based on my cravings…hmmmm)
  • Fats – butter, olive oil, avocado, oh my! Seriously. Almost everything is cooked in butter and/or olive oil and we have avocado/guacamole nearly every day.
  • Dairy – this has been a theme throughout my pregnancy. I seem to digest dairy better when pregnant, and have been taking advantage of that! Soft, fresh mozzarella, goat cheese, and plain, tart Greek yogurt have been my go-to choices.
  • Water – how boring, huh? But seriously, lately I’ve been drinking around a gallon a day give or take a few ounces. I am so thankful for easily accessible, clean drinking water.

Exercise

My weight gain has been average thus far (30 lbs), but I’ve remained active throughout this pregnancy not for weight, but for wellness for my mind and body! Some things I’ve done to exercise are:

  • Yoga – I love Yoga with Adriene on YouTube and completed my fourth round of “30 Days of Yoga” in January. I had to modify to accommodate my growing belly, but it felt so good to stretch and move daily, taking that all important time to myself. I would also do my own little stretchy yoga flows combined with some suggested activities from Spinning Babies to help get my body prepared for labor and delivery.
  • Walking – I love walking, and I make sure to get a long walk in once a week, but now that the weather is warming up and my due date is getting closer, I’m trying to walk almost every day.
  • Fit4Mom – I love this company and what they stand for – helping moms find their fit. I am a Stroller Strides instructor, and was teaching two classes a week until last week (taking a break until a few months after Baby) and would also go to the occasional Stroller Barre class to get my legs strong for birth.

Freezer Stash

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In preparation for those first few months postpartum, AKA the “fourth trimester”, I began stocking my freezer with some meals a couple months ago. Here’s what I have:

  • Lasagna – I have used this lasagna recipe for years. I just subbed in gluten free noodles, used cottage cheese in place of ricotta, and added mushrooms to the sauce
  • Chicken/broccoli/rice casserole – this one speaks for itself; it’s all held together with my creamy dairy free “cheese” sauce
  • Beef taco meat – like the taco meat in this recipe
  • Shredded chicken
  • Cooked brown rice
  • Meatloaf – just like this meatloaf but with ketchup and kale
  • Two Bean Turkey Chili
  • Slow Cooker Pork Roast with Veggies (not technically in the freezer yet, making it this weekend!)
  • Homemade biscuits
  • Gluten free sausage balls
  • Sausage and veggie breakfast casserole – similar to this recipe, but with a crust
  • Flax and Oat Pancakes
  • Frozen vegetables that can steam in the microwave
  • Frozen fruits for quick smoothies
  • Frozen chicken bones for Chicken Stock

I think that’s everything! I plan to make a big batch of overnight oats and bake some russet and sweet potatoes for the fridge when it’s almost time for the baby. Who knows, maybe that’s how I’ll keep busy during early labor hehe! I am praying all these healthy, whole foods will nourish me and Baby well during those early weeks.

To read more about baby stuff, check out Zemirah’s Birth Story and My Postpartum Journey. Can’t wait to introduce our newest girl to the blog world; thank you for following along on this pregnancy with me! Stay safe, stay healthy, hug your family…and enjoy your Pinch of Crazy!

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase using the links, it is of no extra cost to you, just a small commission for me. Thank you for supporting A Pinch of Crazy!

 

Second Trimester Recap

Ahh the second trimester. Also known as the “honeymoon trimester”. As I sit here and type this “honeymoon trimester” recap, I am nearly 34 weeks pregnant, feeling our baby girl tap dance on my internal organs, and feeling like there is no way I’ll be able to make it to my due date… I am certainly thankful to carry life in my body, but no one likes the last few weeks of pregnancy – kind of a blessing in disguise because by the end you are so ready to deliver!

My creativity and motivation so late in pregnancy is close to 0 so, similar to how I wrote a First Trimester Recap I wanted to recap my second trimester, including all things exercise, food, and family related!

What I Ate

So to be fair, I was in my second trimester during the holidays and when the flu struck our house, but I was just wanting us to stay healthy, enjoy some holiday treats, and try and eat nutritious foods for myself and Baby. So we did have a lot of carbs, yet again, and I ain’t mad about it! Some foods I ate frequently during the second trimester were:

  • Marbled Peppermint Bark (it was the holidays, and the peppermint helped with heartburn)
  • Molasses Cookies (again, holidays, and I just love sweets)
  • Plenty of hearty soups (both to keep warm and make us feel better) made with my homemade Chicken Stock
  • Also while sick, we discovered (thanks to my sister) this juice/smoothie which is delicious! Zemirah chugs a big glass of her “green juice” every morning.
  • Peanut butter and honey toast for busy mornings or afternoon snacks
  • Same as the first trimester, but I couldn’t get enough of my Roasted Chicken with Carrots
  • Also same as the first trimester, but plain Greek yogurt with berries, honey, and granola – another breakfast fav!
  • Lemon-y kale sauteed in butter (yum!) at least twice a week!
  • I could finally stomach eggs again toward the end of my first trimester, so we have also had plenty of big breakfasts (eggs, uncured bacon, more lemon-y kale, avocado, toast…) both for breakfast and/or dinner. Always a quick, delicious option!

I am sure there were more foods I loved, but I didn’t have strong cravings, and I was just trying to keep things simple during this time – lots of frozen veggies, baked sweet potatoes, and simple proteins.

How I Exercised

As I mentioned in my First Trimester Recap, exercise has greatly reduced pregnancy symptoms for me. Because the second trimester is the honeymoon trimester, I was already feeling pretty good to begin with, but exercise helped me stay energetic and feel my best on top of beginning to prepare my body for labor!

At least twice a week, I would do a Fit4Mom class, even if it was just my two Stroller Strides classes I instruct. I also began to make yoga a regular part of my exercise routine again – at least once a week. At the suggestion of my midwives, I looked up Spinning Babies and incorporated many of their recommended activities into my yoga flows – including psoas/hip flexor stretches, lunges, squats, and a safe and simple inversion. While the weather was nice, I would try and go walking once or twice weekly without pushing Zemirah in the stroller. It doesn’t hurt that walking all by myself listening to the birds and worship music is one of my favorite things to do. All of these activities make me feel my best, they are movements that make me happy, and are great for preparing my body for labor!

Other Second Trimester News

During the second trimester we also discovered the Baby is in fact Baby Girl and everything looks good and healthy! The doctor who did my sonogram said that he thought she would be small, but currently, as she is simultaneously pressing into my ribs (both sides!) and my hip, I don’t see how that could be possible. I can’t wait to find out how big she is; see her face, who she looks like, and sniff her little newborn head. Okay, now I’m crying.

We also ran the normal gestational diabetes blood work towards the end of my second trimester and saw that everything looked normal with my blood sugar, but that I am low on iron. So at the suggestion of my midwives, I’ve been eating a little (lot) of dark chocolate every night – just following doctor’s orders 😉

The honeymoon phase of pregnancy definitely flew by in a rush of holiday fun/madness and ended with a sick house, but I enjoyed this trimester. I was able to start getting to know my newest little girl; when she is most active, what foods she seems to like (she kicks a lot after a protein packed meal), and even begin playing with her! Oftentimes after dinner, we will all take turns pressing “Baby Sister” and then feeling her press back. I know she will add a fun new dimension to our family, and I’m so excited to meet her in about six weeks!!!

Hopefully before she makes her appearance I will be able to write a third trimester recap + a list of meals I’m stocking our freezer with, but until then, feel free to read my other family blogs! First Trimester RecapZemirah’s Birth StoryMy Postpartum Journey are just a few blogs about my extremely limited parenting experience, and 23 Pounds and Other Non-Scale Victories and Traveling with A Pinch of Crazy are more specifically food related. Hope you can find something to read here that is helpful for you and where you are in life! Embrace this life stage, whatever it may be for you…and enjoy your Pinch of Crazy!

This post contains affiliate links; if you purchase using the links, it is of no extra cost to you, just a small commission for me. Thank you for supporting A Pinch of Crazy!

 

I Want to Remember

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I was looking through old photos and got a familiar ache,

the ache you get when you miss someone from your past.

I know it’s cliche, but I’m discovering it’s true,

that babies grow up fast.

 

Right now, I count down the hours until nap time comes,

so I can pick up, sit down, and do what “needs” to be done.

I rush through the days, I clean, and I cook,

When, really, I just need to sit with you, snuggle, and read a book.

Because I’m realizing with a heart-stabbing pain,

that you’re growing up,

and you’ll never be this small again.

The days are long, emotions run high,

yet, at the same time, the years fly by.

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Oh I want to remember, and never forget

the way you climb in my lap and lay your head on my chest.

But only for a moment, and then you run away

you’re squealing and laughing, wanting to be chased.

 

I want to remember your sweet little words,

which ones are especially cute, and which ones you said first.

I want to remember you blowing kisses and saying “wub you” in bed at night.

I know someday it will just be a quick hug and you’ll say “love you” right.

I want to remember your little round cheeks, long lashes, your little button nose,

your sweet dimpled hands, and tiny, round toes.

I want to remember every tiny thing. The things that make me smile, laugh, and cry,

Because, no matter what, the years will continue to go by.

I shouldn’t wish these times away,

Because someday you’ll be grown, and I’ll wish you could stay.

Oh, I want to remember these short years

where the days seem so long, and often end in tears.

Though, yes, the days are hard, a memory is what I can’t lack

because I just know, someday, I’ll wish for my little toddler back.

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Keep growing, my little love, be wild, and don’t lose

your spark.

Even though the growing breaks my heart,

I will be sure to notice, really notice, you;

I’ll watch you learn and play,

take in all the new words you say.

I want to notice and take stock of all of you,

because the years fly by, it’s true.

 

So one day when you’re grown, and I’m in Life’s winter,

I can smile, look back…and remember.

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