Thursday, April 30, 2015

Homebirth After Cesarean Birth of Sterling

2 Days Old
Ina May Gaskin said that, “there is no other organ quite like the uterus. If men had such an organ they would brag about it. So should we.”

Therefore, I’m going to brag about my uterus (it is after all, the cuterust)

Adelaide was born via an unplanned cesarean in 2012 that truthfully, was quite traumatic to me. My care during and after the surgery was subpar and I felt neglected (from vomiting all over myself twice on the operating table while my nurse wasn’t paying attention to me and then after my postpartum nurses were obviously over loaded with patients and weren’t able to stay on top of basic things like my pain medication and ensuring breastfeeding success)

Since I was told at 16 that I may never have children I didn’t dare even think I would get pregnant a second time. I did my best to cope with my first birth as my only birth experience and dedicated myself to help others achieve a birth in which they felt empowered and cared for. I became a doula and through my training and education I realized that my birth with my daughter was even worse than I had originally thought. My midwife for Adelaide's birth did many things she shouldn’t have and then didn’t do many other things that should have been done and that more likely then not, with the right care, Adelaide could have been born vaginally with no issues at all. That was a hard pill to swallow.

Fast forward to July 2014. My pants wouldn’t zip… Mitch said, “You’re pregnant” Me “nope, not possible” One week later I finally take a test and what do you know!?!? I was pregnant.

I interviewed several care providers home birth and hospital. (In our area there are very few birth centers that will VBAC) I asked lots and lots of questions and compared everything to this list. (  I really liked all the providers I interviewed because they all came highly recommended. I decided to go with the care provider with the most experience with VBACs. We just clicked and I felt very at peace in her presence. She is a saint!

All of my prenatal care went great. I started going to a chiropractor during my pregnancy. Sterling was lined up in a good position and we were set to go!

At 40 weeks and 2 days a big ice storm hit our area and my contractions started….

I called my midwife and she suggested some things to slow down my labor since there was no way for her to get to us with an inch or so of ice on all the roads. Praise the Lord! It worked.

Nana and Addy the day after the ice storm, swinging at the park

At 40 and 3, at the same time as the previous evening my contractions started again. By 8 they were in a regular pattern and I let my midwife and doula know that I thought that tonight would be the night. Mitch and I watched some TV after Addy went down to sleep. He went to sleep after a little while and I did my best to rest in between contractions. Sitting in the bed became uncomfortable so I got on my exercise ball and leaned over the bed. It helped a lot!

Scripture cards I made before labor
I labored on my own with my Rend Collective Pandora playlist going until around 1:30 am when my contractions became more intense and I wanted Mitchell’s help. I woke him up to “slow dance” with me. When I stood up my water started leaking!

I let my midwife and doula know and they both headed over. While they were on their way Mitchell and I moved into the room that we had set up for the birth. He started airing up the pool and I found that our dresser was the perfect height for me to lean over during a contraction.

Phrases and encouragement hanging on the wall in my birth room
Close ups: Addy traced our hands together and other phrases
My doula arrived first and she started applying counter-pressure to my back and it felt amazing! It helped so much!

Soon my midwife followed. When she checked me I was at 6 cm 100% effaced and at -1 station.

All his things set out: hat, outfit, mittens, and quilt
I was anxious to get into the tub but we had trouble getting it warm enough for a little while. I was rehydrating with coconut water and laboring on the birthing ball until about 4 am when I got onto the bed and labored on hands and knees. That didn’t feel super great so I tried sitting on the side of the bed (something that I really liked during Adelaide’s labor) but it didn’t feel as good this time.

At 4:30am the tub was full and warm enough so I got in. I liked squatting while leaning against the back of the tub or leaning over the side one my knees.
Mitchell was so helpful

Around 5 the contractions changed and I started feeling a wee bit “pushy.” My midwife checked me and I was around 7-8 cm and the bag of waters was bulging.  At 5:30 am the bag ruptured and I was at 8 cm and +1 station.

At 6 am I was at 9 cm with an anterior lip (same thing happened with Adelaide) For a few contractions my midwife held the anterior lip up over his head and it helped reduce the cervical lip.

At 6:30 am I decided to move to the bed. I rested in a side lying position.  Over the next 30 minutes I got to 10cm but then the cervical lip slipped back down and I went back to a 9.  I started feeling a tightness across my cesarean scar during contractions as his head would pull down on the tissue. My midwife was able to quickly slip it back up and then had me push his head past the scar and then the pain totally dissipated and stayed away for the rest of the labor. During this time I was scared but my midwife was calm and collected. 

She trusted the birth process but also knew when to intervene to prevent any issues. From the time that I started feeling a bit of tugging to the time she had it fully ameliorated was only 3 contractions.  My midwife kept me feeling safe and actually safe through my whole birth

I was “officially” fully dilated at 7 am.

At 7:20am I had a honey stick and my midwife did the McRoberts maneuver to help move his head down further because although he had been OA, as he entered the birth canal he turned OP (sunny side up). I was making fair progress in my pushing but still wasn’t “in the zone.”

Around 8 am my midwife had me sit on the toilet because it tends to help lots of women figure out pushing since it’s a natural place of release. At 8:15 am she did the McRoberts again.

During my pushing my midwives and doula were audibly praying over me. It was so wonderful being lifted up to the Father while I pushed. At 8:45 am we got the first visual of his sweet little head.

This is where it got really hard for me mentally. I felt like I would never push him down. I continued to make good progress but even as they said “he’s coming down” “reach down you can feel him” and Mitch saying, “I see him, I see him.” I still doubted myself and my abilities. I was exhausted. My arms were tired from holding my feet back and my legs were fatigued (probably from all the squatting I’d been doing earlier)

At one point I asked my midwife if she had forceps, not because I really wanted her to use them but because I needed to know that I had to do this! No one else would be able to do it for me. She assured me that I could do this. I love that she was able to see through my question and to my heart and worries.

As I started crowning I had more fear. I could feel his head but he still felt infinitely far away. The second midwife said that she could tell that as I started to feel the pain I was backing off and at the point I was backing off was when I needed to push past it. I took her advice and at 9:20 am he was nearly crowned.

At 9:27 am he delivered. 8 lbs 3 oz (4 oz bigger than his sis) Since he was OP the first part of him that I saw was he sweet, squishy face!  It was so amazing. As a doula I’d never attended an OP birth. It was pretty amazing to meet my baby face to face. He was also acynclitic so he had a goofily molded head.  Then instead of getting a break between contractions and him turning he decided to cannon out with transverse shoulders. Woo, wee, that part was crazy! His cord was a little bit short (14 inches compared with the average being around 18 inches) so he wasn’t able to be lifted to my chest but rather, rested on my belly as we waited for his cord to stop pulsing.

Just born! So relieved and exhausted :)
Look at those sweet brown eyes!
As soon as my mom and daughter heard his sweet cry they came in to meet their grandson and brother. I kept telling my mom, “I did it. I did it!”

Nana, Addy and "Baby Stella" being introduced to Sterling by Mitch
Smitten from the beginning
Sterling peed on me while he was laying on me. Haha. It made me laugh, just his first of many times to urinate on his parents.

Checking on little man

At 9:47 am the cord stopped pulsing and Mitchell cut it and held his son. The placenta delivered about 5 minutes later.

Mitch and Sterling
At 10:30 am we nursed for the first time (I wasn’t able to nurse Adelaide for more than 8 hours after she was born because I didn’t have the help I needed since my arms were still numb from the too large dose of epidural I was given) I ate a cinnamon roll and drank orange juice.

Goofy newborn face, still figuring out his eyes
Birth is hard but I am strong.

Women are strong.

We are designed to endure hard things, persevere and to be victorious.

I share my story to renormalize birth. For 3 or 4 generations we have told women that birth is something to be scared of, something that we need to be rescued from but the truth is that birth can be empowering. You are capable and you are strong! With God’s hand of blessing and protection I delivered my son!

“A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world” John 16:21

My precious bundle

My little loves!

Here its easy to see his molded head and how amazing my midwife is, look at that smile on her face :)

We all were guessing weight! I was only 1 ounce off ;)

8 lbs 3 oz

Big sis helping with the newborn exam!

I’m forever grateful for everyone that supported me during my pregnancy and birth. I am so amazed at what my body can do! I am so happy that I was able to have my VBAC. The VBAC didn’t erase my cesarean birth or my scar but it did put my trust back into my body: that it was made with a purpose and that it works and functions! 

As Ina May Gaskin says, “Your body is not a lemon!”

Friday, April 18, 2014

My neighbor sold his car... and I cried about it

My neighbor sold his car on Tuesday. He and his wife are both in their late 70s. They've lived in that house for over 30 years. His whole life is here in town: his church, his grocery store, his job was here, his son lives here. His little Chevy s10 only left our town a handful of times.

When we first met him shortly after we moved in November of 2012 he told us that his wife had Alzeihmer's and that he was worried that he wouldn't be able to take care of her by himself much longer. She'd wake up many times in the middle of the night and ask if it was time to go to church yet. She rarely slept. You could tell he loved her very much. He worked so hard to make it work for so long. He wasn't taking care of himself because he wasn't able to sleep and had a heart attack about 6 months back. Around that time he hired some nurses to come and help. When the nurses weren't there his son or people from their church where over helping him out.

About a month and a half ago he finally had to put her in a memory care facility because it was just too much. She never slept anymore and was often confused and disoriented. Talking to him you can tell that he knew it was time but that he still feels guilty about it. It seems to hurt him in a way that I pray Mitchell or I neither one have to understand.

With it just being him in the house now he no longer needed both of their cars. He cleaned up his chevy (which was always in immaculate order anyway) posted a "for sale" sign in the window and parked it in the driveway. Every morning for two weeks he backed it out, turned it around in the street, and reversed into his drive. Person after person drove by, slowed down, got out, peered in, and knocked on his door. Person after person drove away.

On Tuesday, as I was doing my bible study at the kitchen table I saw him pull up in his driveway in his truck. He slowly unloaded his groceries from the back but didn't pull his truck all the way into the garage (the way I've seen him do since we moved in) You could tell he was taking his time. You could tell he was trying to take it all in and squeeze out every memory that he could.

About thirty minutes later a couple pulled up with an envelope in hand. They went inside with our neighbor and shortly after walked out with the keys and title. The man got in the front seat and drove away in his new truck. Our neighbor stood at his front door with the storm door closed and watched his truck pull out of his drive way for the last time.

As I was watching this unfold I was moved to tears. It's not very often that you so firmly see the closing of a chapter as that. Yes, he was "just" saying goodbye to his truck but in reality he is saying goodbye to the wife of his youth. Even though she is still here corporally, her mind is gone and he is having to move forward into this last chapter of life alone.

The other day he was sitting on his porch alone so Mitch went over and talked with him. They talked for about an hour about nothing in particular.

If you think about it today, say a prayer for my neighbor and all the other people like him who are saying a bittersweet goodbye to the things of their past without being able to hold the hand of the person they thought they'd be still walking side by side with. Reach out to your neighbor that may be lonely.

There are so many people on earth, we shouldn't be lonely. Be a friend to those who may not have any.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Stirrings in my heart:

Hey everyone! Some great  news to start off this post: Our home is finally certified! That's right! Our child could potentially come home at any time now :) I'm kind of feeling "April-y," how about you?

God has been working on breaking me down and ruining me yet again to build me back up stronger.

Last weekend Mitch and I were doing the same thing to our garden. We were pruning back old growth that didn't produce fruit last year on our apple and peach trees. We cut back new growth in the wrong places from the bushes and shrubs. We tilled under the garden and added new compost in to enrich the soil to be ready for the work it has before it in this upcoming season of growth.

Lots of different things have been working in me. I feel very blessed that it has (for the most part) been things that God has put on my heart or stirred within my soul and I obeyed to follow through. If God calls you to do something and you don't follow through that's a huge issue in your relationship. Our former college minister once said "If God's not showing you the next step maybe its because you didn't do the last thing he called you to do" WOW!

Have you heard "Oceans" by Hillsong yet? O my goodness! Yes, God! This song has been my anthem. The stirrings He's putting within me call me even further away from safety, from tradition, from ordinary. But I've got to tell you the looser I hold on to "me" and my expectations the more beautiful life becomes. The less I focus on me the more I see of Him! The deeper I swim into Him the less I need mundane things. Things that used to be my oxygen are now crumbs. I can't subsist on that stuff anymore.

I watched the IF: Gathering until the free streaming of the conference ended and my world was rocked! Christine Caine was talking about the difference in "deliverance" and "freedom." In Exodus, as soon as the Israelites left Egypt they were delivered out of slavery but it took them 40 years to reach their freedom in the land of Canaan. The journey should have taken 11 days but because of distrust and backsliding the people didn't get to walk into freedom. In the Christian Bible we call the book that contains the story of the time "Numbers" because they count the number of Israelites but in the Jewish Pentatuch it's called "Bemidbar" meaning "in the desert"

That really made me look into my life. Where am I settling for deliverance when I should be thriving in freedom? Once the generation that had doubted passed away Joshua led the new generation into the Promised Land (surprisingly, the story of that is found in the book called "Joshua") But freedom didn't look like what they had expected. The first town they came to that had to be conquered was Jericho... BIG... BAD... HUGE... JERICHO...

God had a plan. He had already given them that place they needed to only do what He had said.

Jericho was nothing compared to our God and His plans.

This was nothing new and was not the last time His Plan looked nothing like our reality.

In John 6, Jesus and his disciples were speaking to people on the hill side. He fed them from a few meager loaves. He fed all of them, thousands of them.

Sarah and Abraham gave birth to Isaac.

Ruth saved the lineage of Israelite people even though she wasn't of the "right stock".

Moses parted the Red Sea.

George Mueller provided safety to thousands of orphans.

Cassidy became a mother to the motherless and gave a home to the homeless. (I say this not because it has happened yet but because, if God plans it, it is as good as done)


None of this is from me, Sarah did nothing, Ruth did nothing, Moses did nothing, Mr. Mueller did nothing... except... except that they did what God told them to do.

You don't need to make the plans. You only need to trust that the God who goes before you has the best plans.

I implore you to run to Him. And do what he has told you to do.

From a practical stand point I wanted to give you examples of a couple of things God has called me to do in this season of life that I have followed His plan on.

1. God called in to me a desire for simplicity and focus on Him. Modern day slavery is a huge burden in my heart as is our Modern World greed that drives the slavery to still exist. He told me to give away half of my clothes. Once I decided to follow through it was really easy. I took all the clothes out of my closet stacked them by type (pants, shorts, dresses, skirts, t's, blouses, etc.)


Everything on the bed

On my first pass I picked out my favorite 10% of clothing items. This showed me my main colors and favorite style.
First pass (see all the pink and floral!)
My next pass I picked out 20% that worked in well with what I had already selected.
After my second pass
 Then my last time through I picked out the final 20%. If I got stuck between some pieces I opted for ones made ethically and that fit in with the main colors I saw after my first pass.
My new, half full closet!
It really was easy. Everything else that I didn't choose out got put into a different closet. I sold some of the stuff to friends and then gave the rest and the money to a local mission here that helps people get back on their feet after crisis times. (For those that are interested over 90% of my closet is pink, grey, floral or stripes)

2. God has been calling me, for a long time now, to apologize to someone who I wronged almost 9 years ago. I finally got up the nerve yesterday. I found his FB account, asked for his address and sent a letter. I don't know what God will do with it, but I hope it gives him peace. He was a very important person in my life and he played a huge role in God's plans for my life.

No excuses. Swallow your pride. Lay yourself aside and be the person that God has called you to be! Do the things He has called you to do! Live in freedom, don't settle for deliverance!

This freedom is beautiful. It's addicting. The freer I become the more freedom that I crave. The freer I am from the things of this world the more things of God I crave.

Cherokee lesson: Chesequah (chat-say-kwa) red bird.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


As you may know, last year I grew a backyard fruit and veggie garden. Some people have asked for me to do a post about it.

So here is a novice gardener's advice in becoming a novice gardener.

I, truthfully, got most of my basic gardening and food growing advice from the Bible... (what did she just say?)... yeah, it may sound crazy but there was a reason that Solomon wrote about gardening and that Jesus' parables referred to gardening things... because everyone knew about it back then and it ws incredibly important. So I "reverse engineered" many passages and came up with my basic outline for gardening.

For veggie specific info I bought The Heirloom Life Gardener book from Baker Creek Heirloom seeds. I also buy all my seeds from their website: all NON-GMO and they are committed to a safe and diverse food sources. The book goes through basics and then digs into each of their 50 most popular veggies and fruits to grow. The pictures are gorgeous and the book really is a life-saver. It details history of the plant, when to plant, how to care for, how to save seed, and how to cook with it!

January is the perfect time to start because we are now 8-10 weeks from the last frost (at least in North Texas)

Step by step:

1. Plan where you want your space: needs full sun and an easy to irrigate area if you are someplace hot like me. In January (or whenever you are going to start) lay out black plastic to kill the grass so that you can start fresh. A week or two before you need to put something into the ground take up the plastic and till it under (we bought an electric tiller from Home Depot, you could rent too, or if the space is small, till be hand) Then add compost/manure/store bought compost and till again.

Remember that the terrain of your garden is important. Remember the parable of the sower and the seeds? The seeds that grew were the ones that weren't in too rocky of area, that were able to grow deep roots. Make sure that your ground is level or else the seeds will wash away in heavy rains.
My garden during a very heavy rain. There were inches of rain. They were planted firm and already sprouted so they were secure (sound familiar?)

2. Decide what to plant: ask others what has grown well for them. What food do you like to eat (and I mean really like because if you over plant like me you will have said produce coming out of your ears.. haha corn joke...)  We chose to plant tomatoes, peppers, corn, watermelon, squash, cucumber, carrots, lettuce, and cilantro last year. This year we are planting okra, carrots, corn, tomatoes, peppers (spicy and sweet) cucumbers, lettuce, peas, marigolds, chard, broccoli, kale, watermelon, and squash.

3. Plant when they need to be planted. Some plants need to start inside anywhere from 8-10 weeks to 4-6 weeks before the last frost. Others can be planted directly outside from 4-6 weeks before last frost to mid summer.

During this phase it is important to control weeds and keep your sprouts safe... the trick is that it can be hard to tell what is weed and what is the plant you are trying to grow. Therefore you have to let the weeds and plants both grow up enough so that you can tell which is which. I also learned this idea from the Bible in Matthew 13:30.
I tried the "cardboard" method to control weeds but it didn't work for us. They kept blowing away.
We ended up using straw as our mulch. Here it is around our cow horn peppers last season.
Swiss Chard sprouts. NOT weeds.. don't pull these ;)
Carrot sprouts are the "frilly" ones. The flat leaves are weeds
Lettuce sprouts

4. Water, weed, control bugs and control other issues. As you can see in the picture with the straw mulch we used soaker hoses throughout our garden. We also had a rain barrel that I would use to hand-water plants when we had extra rain.

We were blessed to not have any bug issues this year but we did have blossom end rot. We added calcium and watered extra.
Blossom end rot on our tomatoes
We also had a problem with one of our peach trees breaking a limb. I tried to "fix" it with duct tape... it didn't work...

Cassidy the arbolist's hard work...

5. Watch it grow, grow, grow!

Early days of our garden... June

Growing, growing... July
  Here was our "final" product. To the left of the tomato plants, behind that are peppers, then the corn are the tall plants behind those. To the farthest right are the carrots, swiss chard, and lettuce. Then the cucumbers are braced up and then the watermelons are crawling along the ground.
Towards the end of the growing season. August or September.
Here are close ups of the different plants growing.

Beautiful Heirloom Cherokee Corn

Pink/purple silks on the corn
Yellow/green silks on the corn
Our corn "field" some stalks grow up to 9ft tall!
Beautiful lettuce mixtures with the swiss chard to the right. (Note all the grass growing in between... those should have been pulled)
Red chard and yellow chard
Apples growing on our tree with the roses behind them

Cucumbers growing. See the beautiful yellow flowers?

Watermelon vines! All of those vines are from 6 plants!
6. Eat your goodies!


We grew the tomatoes and grilled peach. The tamales, avocado, and cabbage are from the Farmer's Market

Adelaide loved the carrots!

A few last tips:

Enlist help, here Adelaide was helping me water.
Sun protection is important :)

Finally, get out there, get dirty, and have a blast growing!
 Gardening is important work and hard work!

Proverbs 20:3- Don't love sleep or you will grow poor; stay awake and you will have food to spare!

Psalm 104:14- He make's plans for people to cultivate, bringing forth food for the earth.

1 Thessalonians  4:11-12- And you should study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; that you may walk honestly toward them that are outside the faith, and that you may lack nothing.

Proverbs 16:31- She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hand she plants a vineyard.

Proverbs 6:6-11- Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider her ways and be wise: which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, providing her meat in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest. How long will you sleep, o sluggard? When will you arise out of your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber and a little folding of hands to sleep: so shall your poverty come on you as a their and scarcity as an armed man.

Any questions? Did I miss anything?

Bonus Cherokee lesson: Dog-   gi-li (geey-li) because Theo the dog also liked the carrots :)