Monday, August 30, 2010

If you're looking for me....

I've moved. I finally got Lu on board to do some family blogging. Woohoo! Come follow us- trust me, he's much more interesting than I am!! :)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Birth Story According to Luis

This wasn't something he just decided to write; he's not that guy. Well, he kind of is. He wrote a few words documenting the day because of it's impact on him, but he didn't set out to write a "birth story". He was falling behind in his online English lit class, so this is extra credit. There are a few cheesy references to a couple of female authors- that's just fluff for his grade, haha. I think you can still get the gist of his emotions and his feelings about the birth. Enjoy, and please let me know what you think.

Every year a few elite climbers grace the top of Mount Everest. These climbers studied the terrain, prepared themselves physically as well as mentally for one of the most challenging feats of their lives. Do most people understand why a person would risk their life just to stand on top of a mountain? No way! Most would fall in line with the mentality that the view is the same whether you get there by helicopter or by foot. Why go through the pain, the cold, and all else that comes along with it? Only the climber and a few people who understand the climber ever truly know.On May 9th, 2010, my wife, Myndee, climbed a mountain of her own. Everest? No, but just as much training and dedication went into the preparation of her accomplishment. My wife gave birth to our second child completely natural and medication free!

As I read some the writings of Grace King and Kate Chopin I started to see my wife as a woman of great determination by wanting to take control of her body and delivery experience. I of course don’t feel that having a birth med free is as monumental as woman’s liberation as a whole, but I do feel that it has its roots in the same fight these historic women were in. As my wife and I discussed having children we were in mindset of having the doctor come to our house to give her drugs. However, as the birth of our children went from fantasy to reality my wife’s planning mode kicked in. During this planning and learning process she discovered that modern women have almost forgotten how to give birth. She realized that many hospitals viewed labor as a medical event, instead of a natural process. She learned that one of the main problems was that a lot women are for the most part uninformed when it comes to childbirth. And it was this uninformed state which caused them to put all of their decisions about the birth of their child into the hands of another. The problem is that often times, the more interventions there are, the more there is a need for interventions. It's difficult in this day and age to go against the grain of the medical professionals.

My wife has been met with such opposition due to the choice to have our children naturally. The strange thing is that she isn’t over the top hippie, she just wanted to experience a natural part of life without drugs, but people acted as if she was going to have the baby in the dessert alone. They made comments that implied that she would be helpless and beg for the doctors to intervene. Just as the girl in Grace King’s Little Convent Girl, my wife took a plunge into what many believe to be the dark unforgiving river of labor. Just as the girl in the story, even though many didn’t agree and it would seem alien to others, she took control of her life.

A year and a half earlier my wife gave birth to our first child. It was a beautiful experience. Our child was healthy, and we were so overjoyed with being parents for the first time. But something was amiss. Even though my wife labored from 6am to 10pm without an epidural, 30 minutes before the birth she couldn’t deal with the pain and received the epidural. She felt defeated. I didn’t understand what the big deal was; to me healthy baby trumped med free baby, and after insensitively stating this to my wife I learned that a healthy baby was her ultimate goal as well, but she wanted to experience birth naturally. She couldn’t believe that she was so close to accomplishing her goal and gave up in the last few minutes. She swore that the next time she would fight it out to the end.

My wife isn’t an adrenaline junky, and she isn’t very competitive, so it was unlike for her to be so gung ho about delivering med free. Although she researched for our first, the sense of failure that lingered afterward kicked her research into warp speed. She read everything she could on the subject, spoke to anyone who had experience, practiced relaxation techniques, and prepared herself mind, body, and soul for the mountain that lay in front of her.

The day had arrived! Contractions started around 9pm on the 8th. Myndee stayed cool and collected through these contractions, and once we realized this was it, she calmly had me call our babysitter and doula and make all the arrangements for us to go to the hospital. At about 2:30am, contractions were in high gear, so she took a bath to help her relax and cope with the pain. When 4am rolled around, we headed to the hospital.

After arriving at the hospital, Myndee stayed focused on her goal. Doctors and nurses were prepped with birthing plans, and she made it clear that no arbitrary procedures were going to be done without first explaining the necessity. There was one nurse who resisted at first, probably because patients don’t normally question them, but soon left us alone.
Contractions began to get much more intense a couple hours after arriving at the hospital. Myndee refused to be on constant monitoring so she was free to labor in the shower, standing, sitting, or however she felt like dealing with the pain. I knew the pain was bad, but I wasn’t sure how far into it we were because she was doing such a good job dealing with the pain. I was shocked when the doctor said that after a few more contractions she would probably be ready to push. I won’t lie, the last few contractions seemed like they were unbearable; she shouted some obscenities and had a few “what did I do?” moments, but one of the last contractions before she pushed she didn’t make a sound. She focused and relaxed through the pain…it was as though she were asleep.
When the pushing started, I did the best I could to be encouraging and keeping her focused on me. But I was also able to step back and take in the entire room as an outsider. I noticed that everyone in there, including her doctor, was calm and completely believed that my wife could have a med free birth. The research was necessary to prepare her, but the support system that she had in place was pivotal in helping her reach her goal.

Finally, with two big pushes our new baby entered the world. At that moment it was clear to me, I had been supportive but wasn’t 100% on board. Now I knew why she did it. I finally understood why she endured a pain that most choose to bypass. She wanted to experience child birth for all it was. And she did.

I am not a sappy father who thinks that all that is natural is beautiful. I don’t recycle much, I eat processed foods, and I don’t care how big my carbon footprint is. But this experience was beautiful almost beyond words. I have a new level of respect for my wife for setting her mind to such a goal and reaching its peak. I respect her for doing all she could to make sure our child was healthy. I thank her for opening my eyes to how beautiful child birth can be when done naturally. It’s difficult as a man to encourage women to remember how to give birth naturally; no I haven’t done it and never could, but I would encourage you to try. Your body and your baby know how to do it.

My wife astonished me with her dedication and drive on May 9th. She wasn’t the first nor the last to do it but that doesn’t change the fact that she tackled one of the most difficult things known to (wo)man.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Dear Gavin

Dear Gavin,

You, my son, mean the world to me. I am writing you on my blog because sadly, I have yet to get a journal to write you the way I have for your sister. Part of the delay is lack of time- even now, you're sleeping on me. Another reason I haven't written you yet is because I don't know if a boy will want to read love letters from his Mommy. I've decided that's too bad. If you get all embarrassed, then you can stop reading them. I'm hoping that you'll appreciate them one day though.

Your arrival has completed our family (unless God has other plans). You've also turned our world upside down, in a good way. You are the polar opposite of Kadence, so we've had to re-learn how to parent a newborn. One thing you guys have in common is how content you both are. I know some people complain how their kids just cry for no reason, for hours on end, but you rarely do that. You only really cry when you are hungry or overly tired. I'm so thankful to have happy babies.

You are so big!! You are barely 2 months old wearing 3-6 month clothing! Every time I do laundry, I find something else of yours that is too small. I had no idea I would end up with a big baby. You are getting cuter and cuter each day. It's so fun to watch you smile...I finally caught a smile on camera the other day...that was nearly an impossible task.

Gavin, I had no idea how happy I would be to have a son. To be honest, I felt a little scared of having a boy, but God knew I would be able to handle it. I am so thankful for you. You are my little man, my buddy, and I am looking forward to watching you grow and learn. Thank you for being my son.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Harder than I imagined...but wonderful

I love that our family feels complete now. I love having a SON. I love that Kadence is a big sister. I love our life. However, I am beat. I am only on here because Gavin is asleep and my grandma is over entertaining Kadence so I could have a few minutes to myself. I imagine Gavin will wake up any minute and I'll have to cut this short. We have good days and bad days here. It's hard not to meet your child's needs immediately. Sometimes, I'm changing Kadence when Gavin needs me. Often, I'm feeding Gavin when K needs/wants me. It's hard to find a balance. I think we're managing though.

Kadence has had the worst month of all of us. She's had an ear infection, a virus, she fell and busted her mouth TWICE in the past two weeks. She's also adjusting to being a big sister and having someone new live in our house. I know she'll be fine, but I really feel for her. Aside from right now, every time Gavin is asleep I am engaging her and trying to play with her. It's hard because we're stuck in this little house. It's so hot outside, and I am still too scared to go out alone with 2u2 (that's "two under two"). She's really been a trooper though. I love her so much.

Okay, so this is just a quick compilation of my thoughts. I am going to get back to reality now. :)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

I will get a dance at a wedding!!

Yes, that was one of the first things I thought upon learning that I had a son. At weddings, they typically have a father/daughter and mother/son dance, and I was excited to learn that I would get a dance! During pregnancy, I thought deep down it was a boy, but I really had no idea. Truth be told, I was terrified of having a boy (I still am a little). I am a girl, I have a girl, I know girls, I have girl parts; I don't know the slightest thing about raising a boy. Even though I have a brother, he's older than me, so it isn't like I watched him grow up the way I did my little sister. I mean, boys like bugs- bugs creep me out. Boys like to do tricks on bikes and get hurt- I'm a worry wart. Boys aren't emotional- I'm still crying from the video slideshow of Kadence I just watched. Thankfully, my husband is a boy, and he will help me figure out what to do when Gavin starts acting more like a boy. Actually, he already does. He eats more than Kadence did, and man, he's ravenous. Let's just say I'm having breastfeeding troubles like I never did with K. Also, he poops more, which I can pretty much guarantee is a "boy thing", at least in this house. While I'm a little scared about raising a boy, I am also more excited than I ever thought I could be. I just love looking at my little man. I love seeing Kadence interact with her "baby butter". I love knowing that someday, he's going to fall in love and get married, and I'll get a dance. I love having a SON!!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

No more false labor!!! Baby is HERE!!

Saturday, May 8, 2010. I was miserable. I was so thankful to be pregnant with a healthy baby, please don’t get me wrong. However, I was coming off an extremely stressful work week, two rounds of “false labor”, one which sent me to the hospital. I was just a wreck. I had been trying all the old wives tales to start labor, but my efforts were futile. I know that though. I know babies don’t come until they’re ready, yet when I found myself the most pregnant I’d ever been (Kadence was born at 37w1d, and here I sat at 38w5d), I was willing to try almost anything to get this baby out. My good friend, Ashley, was in the same situation, only about a week farther along than I was. I read online about “labor cookies” and learned they were basically gingerbread cookies with cayenne pepper added to them. I knew Ashley liked gingerbread cookies, so I called her to invite her to have labor cookies with me that evening. We cheated though. The actual “labor cookies” required countless ingredients and time and work. Not happening. So, we got premade gingerbread cookie mix and added the cayenne. They were actually pretty good. A little too spicy for cookies, in my opinion, but Ashley loved them and has decided that’s how gingerbread cookies should be made all the time!

About 45 minutes after eating my third….or fourth cookie, I felt a real contraction. We just laughed it off claiming the labor cookies were working. Then, I had a couple more over the next hour. I knew they were different, but they were so far apart. I figured maybe the spicy cookies were upsetting my stomach or something. Around 11:30pm though, I started to wonder…could this be it? Luis’ “nesting” instinct kicked in and he started cleaning the house and getting everything ready to go. I hung out in denial for a little while longer, blogging and watching “Couples Retreat”. The contractions were definitely real, and coming about 20 minutes apart. I just couldn’t believe I was potentially going into labor. I told Luis we should sleep, just in case. Yea, that didn’t work out. Luis was too excited, and my contractions were coming closer to 10 minutes apart. They stayed that way for a while, I think. I was only occasionally timing them. I was starting to believe this could be it, but I was hesitant to call our sitter or doula, since I had already disrupted their lives for nothing earlier that week. At around 3:45am though, I told Luis, “This is real”. I called the doula, Chrys, and he called our babysitter. I told the doula I planned to head to the hospital around 6:00am. I didn’t know if it were too early, but I was already dilated 3cm and had read one too many “we JUST made it in time” stories. I figured I’d rather be at the hospital too soon than have the baby in the car. I asked Luis to start a bath for me so I could see if that would help with the contractions. Oh my goodness, did it ever! I had a couple contractions in the tub, and while I felt them of course, they were so much more bearable than the ones I had been having. It was so nice and relaxing to just sit there, too. After about 30 minutes, I was ready to get out though. From the time it took me to get out of the tub and towel off (less than 10 minutes), I had three contractions. Thankfully, our babysitter had arrived because I told Luis we were leaving now. We get down the street and I had him turn around because I forgot my makeup bag. Yup, I’m vain.

We arrived at the hospital just after 5am; they checked me in, and Chrys and her assistant, Stephanie, met us there. They did a quick exam, and I found out I was 5cm and they were getting me a room!! Even though I knew it was real, I still imagined them saying, “Nope, no change, honey...go home”. The contractions started to intensify, but I was able to walk/breathe through them. I wanted to be in the tub again, but Chrys didn’t have any available, and our hospital doesn’t have birth tubs. They did have a shower, so I figured I’d try that. It was nice, but I wasn’t really comfortable sitting or standing through contractions anymore. Though I’ve heard and read that laboring in the bed is the most difficult, that’s the only place I wanted to be. I was sitting up in bed, and for each contraction, I would breathe loudly and slowly, either looking down or at Luis, and the doulas would rub my back or feet or hands. Everyone was encouraging me saying I can do this. I felt confident that I could. The contractions hurt like hell, but they were so different than the ones I had with Kadence. Normal contractions feel like you’re going up a mountain. There’s a beginning, a peak, and a downward slope. Pitocin contractions are more like slamming into a brick wall. The on call doctor checked me again at 7:30, I was 8cm! I couldn’t believe things were moving so fast. She alerted my doctor, who just got back in town that morning, thank God, and she was on her way. I was having really rough contractions, and Luis would just remind me that I was doing great and could do it, and Chrys was constantly reminding me to relax my shoulders, which helped so much. Your first instinct is to fight the contractions, and that makes them so much worse. It still hurts like crazy, but when you relax and embrace the pain, it’s more manageable.

The next hour or so was the worst. Transition. Yea, I hate that word now. I started being nearly unable to “embrace” the contractions. See that sentence above about relaxing and not fighting them, telling me that during transition would make me punch someone. I was squeezing Stephanie’s hand and pushing against the bed rail or Luis’ chest for each contraction, screaming things like, “This fucking hurts!!!” and “Why did I DO this?” I could not help but tense up, even though I knew it was the worst thing to do. Though, for one of these contractions, I was able to stay totally relaxed. I didn’t even open my eyes. It still hurt like a bitch, but it was more bearable than the ones I kind of fought. I imagined that’s how the hypnobirthing mom’s are throughout labor, and momentarily regretted not paying more attention to that book. At 8:30, my doctor arrives to check me out and I’m still 8cm. She says if she breaks my water, things should get moving pretty quickly. I agreed. Oh my God, it felt soooooooooooooooo good. I don’t know how to explain it, but the release of my water bag was relaxing in some way. Until the next contraction, that is. More screaming and cursing ensue. I’m feeling intense pressure during each contraction, almost like I want to push. I say this, loudly, over and over again…”I feel pressure!!! I want to push! GET MY DOCTOR!!” They have my doctor come back in, and she watches me through a few contractions. She said I was moving the baby down but not quite ready to push. After about 4 or 5 horrific contractions, she checks me again. I’m ready to go! On the next contraction, I push with everything I have. I scream SO loud. Thank God, I was the only one laboring at that time so I didn’t scare other moms. I think with the second push, the head was out…but then I had to wait. They had to remove the cord from around his neck. I cannot describe how weird it feels to have a person’s head sticking out of you. It was only a matter of seconds and I got to push again. I actually felt a shoulder come out, and that hurt so badly. Then, baby was here. On my 30th birthday and Mother’s Day, at 9:03am, just 33 minutes after the doc broke my water, my SON, Gavin Thomas entered the world weighing 7lbs9oz. I want to say “I immediately forgot about all the pain”, but that so wasn’t true. I was distracted looking at the beautiful baby, but I looked up to Luis and said, “Damn, that hurt.” After not being able to go completely med free with Kadence and having regrets, now that I had done it, it truly didn’t matter. I was only concerned with the fact that Gavin was here and healthy. And since I don’t exactly know how to wrap up this story, how about closing with a picture or two:

Sunday, May 9, 2010


and we're on our way to the hospital!! I'm prettttttttttttttty sure this is it!!