Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Nursing School

Well, I did it. I got accepted into Nursing School early! It's a great honor to be given an early opportunity, and it just goes to show that maintaining a 4.0 truly has paid off! But even though this is exciting news, it was one that was very difficult for me to hear.

Levi brought the mail in on Saturday and there was a large envelope from UAA's School of Nursing. When he picked it up, my heart stopped. I knew what was inside and I froze. He opened up the letter and started enthusiastically reading my early acceptance notice with a smile on his face from ear to ear. I on the other hand, was trying my hardest not to burst into tears. This is fantastic news, but receiving something so life-changing only four days postpartum was a bit too much to handle.

I am so excited to start nursing school and finish my degree that I've been working on for far too long. I can't wait to finish here and then pursue my ultimate goal of Midwifery. We intend to move as soon as I'm finished with school, and Levi is counting on that sooner than later.

I've been an emotional wreck over this whole idea. I only have a little over a week to make my decision as to whether I accept this offer or not, so I've had lots of contemplating to do. I have no concerns over whether I can juggle school and my children, my question is now 'do I want to?' I have always excelled in school, and I've been doing it with a toddler for the last year. I truly enjoy learning and pushing myself and when I'm not in school I often find myself feeling lazy and unproductive. I'm so used to being over-stretched that any freedom or me-time throws me for a loop!

I seriously went into mama bear mode that night and barely put Levin down. I stared at him for hours trying to wrap my head around leaving him sooner than I anticipated. I was worried leaving him at 9 months old to start, now that's all been jumped up to 4.5 months. I didn't leave Lucas alone for the first time until he was 18 months. Obviously, things are going to be much different this time around.

I just did a little research on previous semesters and since I've taken two of the courses designated for this first semester of nursing school already, I only have 3 classes to take. Looking at the schedules from the past, it appears that I will only need to go on campus for roughly three hours a day...Monday through Friday. I suppose that really isn't as bad as I originally thought. So although I am still not 100% set on my decision, I think I am going to accept the early offer. There are a lot of things that I will need to take care of before my start date in early January, but if I get a head start now I'm sure it wont be too overwhelming.

So, wish me luck! Looks like I'm about to take a big leap and jump into full juggle mode here in a few months. But I know I can do it. I have two little reasons for bettering myself and pursuing a career that gives me the perfect flexibility to help provide for my family and still be at home frequently to play mommy!

Monday, August 29, 2011

1st week of preschool

I'm a little behind on documenting Lucas' new preschool experience, but hey, I did just have a baby. If you read my birth story you know that I attended his first day with him...and we only left 30 minutes early. He did so much better than I ever imagined!

Upon arrival he placed his backpack and his sweater into his very own cubby. Then, he signed himself in! He even used the urinal, which I think is just too stinkin' cute!

The art project for the day was an adorable rainbow for all of the students to place their hands on. Lucas chose to paint his hand green, and then placed his print smack dab in the middle!

When he made his way to the play-doh table, I stepped away to see if he'd play solo. He did better than that...he taught his teacher and the students how to make snakes! Daddy and Lucas make snakes together all the time and he immediately decided to have the entire table make them, too!

They practiced sitting patiently during story and song times. He really liked hearing new songs that even I didn't know.

But of course, this is preschool and the kiddos had far too much energy! Teacher Lisa had them line up against the wall and they had races...both on foot and while crawling. That was an instant hit!

Daddy attended class with him on Thursday and he had just as much fun. Apparently Levi was quite the hit! It's not very common that the dads attend class so all of the children loved having him there. I heard that all of the little girls sat with him to read stories, and that he had every single child running laps around the playground playing follow-the-leader.

I'm so happy that Lucas was comfortable enough to play and venture off without shadowing either of us. I am still required to attend with him until he turns three in November, but I plan to sit back and watch as much as possible. I can't wait to see how this new experience changes Lucas for the better. He was definitely ready to go to big boy school!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Levin's Birth Story

The day before Levin was born I felt a very strong urgency to make a belly cast. I didn’t do one with Lucas and I decided that it would be a great keepsake to have this time around. I think a part of me knew that this was going to be my last night pregnant, so I ran to the store and got one for Levi and I to do together. I am so thankful that we made it in time and that Levi actually enjoyed doing it with me. I really want to remember that belly forever!

On Tuesday, August 23rd, I was woken up at 1:50 in the morning to a very strong contraction. I realized that I was starving (as usual) so I decided to get up and grab a bite to eat. This had been my nightly routine for a few weeks now, so I didn’t think too much of it. I went and laid back in bed afterwards, but had a really difficult time actually falling back to sleep. No surprise there. At 2:40 my insanely squished bladder couldn’t handle it any more so I got up once again to pee. As any pregnant woman knows, night trips to the bathroom come in great numbers. But for some reason, I had this really strong feeling that I should turn on the bathroom light. Without my contacts in my eyes are ultra sensitive to the brightness, but I couldn’t shake this feeling and did it anyways. What do you know...I had my bloody show! If I hadn’t of happen to look down at the toilet paper, I honestly never would have known. Talk about a mother’s intuition right there!

I went in and woke Levi up to let him know that baby day had finally come! I told him to rest up and that he most likely wasn’t going to be able to go to work that day.

I woke again at 6:30 from another strong one and that immediately put my mind in baby mode. It was definitely baby day! I tried to go back to sleep but the anticipation was really starting to grow. I knew that I needed to be up in an hour or so to get Lucas ready for his first day of preschool, so I just laid in bed watching him sleep. I couldn’t believe this was going to be the last morning he would wake up as a single child!

Lucas woke up right when he needed to and the two of us had some special time together in bed before starting our day. We talked all about going to preschool and I tried to emphasize on all the fun he was going to have and all the new friends he was going to make. We got up, ate breakfast, and started getting ready. At this point, I was having contractions every 20-25 min and they were definitely increasing in strength. I told Levi to go ahead and go to work, but to keep his phone on him. I honestly wasn’t sure how long I was going to make it at school. As we were getting ready to walk out the door I was struck once again by a very strong contraction. This one caused me to grab onto the counter top to ride it out. I had questioned to myself if I was really in my right mind taking Lucas, but decided that I was able to bear through the pain well enough to not let it affect his big day. Levi took one look at me and said “nope, you’re staying here. I’m going to take him.” Although I knew that was probably best, because HE said it, I naturally argued back. I was determined to go and nothing was going to stop me. Not labor, and certainly not my husband!

I stopped at the gas station shortly after leaving my house and had another strong one. I figured I could time it perfectly between sets, so we made our way to the school. Sure enough, shortly after pulling into the parking lot I had another. I was pretty impressed with myself!

We got to Lucas’ school at 9:30 and shortly after 11:00 they started getting more frequent. I called my midwife to let her know she needed to start getting ready to head over, and I attempted to persuade Lucas to let us leave. He was having far too much fun and told me that he didn’t want to go, of course.

By 11:40 they were now exactly 10 minutes apart and I knew that I really needed to get home. The other parents couldn’t believe that I was there in the first place, but I was handling myself wonderfully. Yes, maybe I was out of my mind. But the way I saw it, my body just needed to labor. Why sit at home when I could occupy my attention elsewhere? Allowing myself to continue walking and to stay active was a way to help my baby descend down to where he needed to be. I was truly enjoying myself there in his classroom and watching my son experience such a big milestone in his life was absolutely priceless to me. And just as I was the first time around, I was completely comfortable being in labor. Yes, it hurt, but I knew that each contraction was only bringing me closer to my baby. That mindset was all I needed to get me through the day.

I felt a really strong one coming on so I stepped into the hallway where no one could see me nearly collapse into the hand rail. Levi happened to call me at that very moment to tell me he was heading home and after I was able to speak again, I agreed that I needed to do the same. I grabbed Lucas and we headed out.

Once again, I timed our departure around my contractions. As I’m sitting here typing this I can’t help but realize exactly how crazy I was, but I never felt that I was putting myself in danger. Sure enough, exactly 10 minutes later I was struck again. I was going to pull off into a gas station as I was watching the clock, but I got lucky with a nice long red light. Fate was definitely working in my favor.

We pulled up to the house at about 12:15 and I told Lucas that we needed to hurry and get inside. Daddy was already setting up the pool and Lucas instantly became infatuated with the whole event. We told him that the baby was getting ready to come out very soon and that we needed to get everything ready. He was so comical and thought that the jets on the tub were just the most fascinating thing. I instantly knew that having him present was the right decision for us.

I started moving about the house like a mad woman trying to tidy up and prep. In a short matter of time, they went from ten minutes apart to between five and six... and then quickly to three. I couldn’t believe how fast things were happening! I looked at Levi and told him he really needed to get a move on filling that tub. We were running out of time!

Things intensified so quickly and since I got the greatest relief from being on all fours, I spent the next 30 minutes laboring in the middle of the living room. They were very intense, but I still remained focused on everything that was going on around me. Namely, Lucas. Levi was busy filling up the pool and he kept insisting that I get in. But at this particular time, I was content just where I was.

I knew I was in the middle of transition based on the short break between contractions and the nauseous feeling that was coming over me. I asked Levi for a puke bucket, but it was thankfully never put to use. All of a sudden, without warning, my water broke at 1:34. I was still down on all fours and I instinctively tried to cup it in my hands. I told Levi what had happened at he ran for some towels. All I could think was “I can’t believe this just happened on my new carpet!!” haha. Levi and I kept laughing about it and I told him that Shine, our midwife, needed to get here NOW! I could tell I was nearly ready to pop out this baby! So he called her and she was only ten minutes away. Hubs said “make it 5!”

Shine walked in shortly after 1:45 and immediately started prepping all of her supplies. I glanced up momentarily and saw her checking the oxygen tank, rifling through her bag and explaining to Levi what all the different instruments were. Lucas was pretty happy to see her and started telling her about the pool!

I continued to labor on the floor for a tad while longer. I never seemed to have relief long enough to actually stand up and get in, so I just continued on where I was. I knew that I really wanted to get into the water eventually but I started to think I wasn’t going to be able to on my own. Shine came over to listen to the baby’s heartbeat for a moment and I told her that the contractions were now 2 minutes apart. She told me that everything was fine and to pay no attention to the timing. I immediately felt comforted by her presence and decided to let go and entirely surrender myself to this process. I was never stressed or fearful up to this point, but having her present with us put me in the comfort zone that I needed. I was no longer watching the clock wondering if she was going to make it. I knew everyone was in safe hands.

Levi sat down next to me and asked what he could do to help. I leaned my head onto his knee and told him “nothing, just be here for me.” I knew there was nothing he could do. This was really just something that I needed to do on my own. After a few more contractions I told him that I was ready to get in the water. I took off my already soaked shorts and he slowly helped me step inside. The water wasn’t as warm as it should have been and honestly, the tub was only about 1/3 of the way full. Like I said, it all happened so fast!

As soon as Levi and I were in the water, Lucas yelled to Shine that he needed to pee and he asked for help with his pants. This made me smile and laugh. Lucas has always taken well to Shine and I was happy that he didn’t insist on daddy getting out to help him. Afterwards he came prancing out of the bathroom and asked, “Shine, will you help me take off my clothes and put them in my laundry basket? I wanna get into the water, too!” Levi and I both chuckled and said she could go for it. We had decided to let Lucas do whatever he was most comfortable with and had no problem with him joining us. This was a family event after all, right?!

I only labored in the pool for a short while before I knew it was nearly push time. Levi and Lucas rubbed my back for a few minutes while I worked through each contraction.

Just as every laboring woman dreads, your body usually has a bowel movement in the heat of the moment. Shine calmly grabbed a net and scooped it up, but this sure caught Lucas’ attention. He blurted out that there was more poop and that Shine needed to come grab this one too. All I could do was laugh! Doctors and midwives try to be very discrete and remove the waste without comment, but a two and a half year old sure likes to point everything out! Shine joked to him that it was in her job description and I told Lucas that she was a professional poop catcher! Everybody laughed. Lucas had now assigned himself poop duty and made it clear that he was looking out for more.

There is a lovely point once you finish transition and are fully dilated where your body allows you a much needed break. I was contraction free for a few minutes and really soaked in this time to relax. Lucas was having an absolute blast in the water and Levi was being fantastic at keeping him entertained. At this point I didn’t want to be touched...at all. So, the boys kept their distance behind me. Leaning onto the side of the pool was so comforting and relaxing that I didn’t move from that position. Not that I thought about it at the time either, but it did keep Lucas from direct eye-shot too.

That urge to push became so overwhelming at this time. I didn’t resist it, but I didn’t necessarily push either. I decided to let the contractions do the work and let my body naturally push baby down. Many women tear from a pre-mature urge to push and I didn’t want that to happen. I can’t remember exactly what was said from Lucas, but he made me laugh so hard that I naturally beared down. It was exactly what needed to happen because he crowned at that point! And oh my goodness did it burn!! They are not joking when they reference to it as the ring of fire...ouch! Shine told me to reach down and feel my baby and to really take it slow getting him out. I relaxed and let him sit there for a moment and he even came back inside me a bit. With the next contraction and a slight effort on my part, the head was out. Again, I took it slow and waited for my body to do the rest. One last contraction and his body followed! Levi, who had been directly behind me, grabbed him from the back and pushed him forward into my hands. I then pulled him up out of the water! We unwrapped the cord and I pulled him tightly to my skin.

I was half laughing, half tearing up and then I heard Lucas let out a tiny little gasp. His eyes lit up as he realized that the baby was now here!

We were all so ecstatic. Our baby boy was perfect!

We sat there in a daze just admiring this little beauty of ours. Lucas loved his little feet and kept trying to tickle them!

Baby latched onto my breast and began nursing right away. Absolute perfection! Lucas announced that he now needed to poop so we asked for Shine to grab him a towel. Daddy lifted him out of the water and Shine followed him to the bathroom. Levi and I sat there together in awe over our baby and the events that just unfolded. We laughed about how fast everything happened and at how crazy the timing was. I walked in the door about 12:15 and had a baby in my arms by 2:32. Who does that?! Heck, our midwife wasn’t even at our home for an hour before he made his debut. That was definitely one close call.

Shine came back out to check on us and to help me expel the placenta. After pushing a baby out of your hoo-ha, a flexible glob of tissue is a piece of cake! She collected it into a bowl and asked if the cord was still pulsating. We had decided to delay the cutting of the cord until after the placenta was out, and it was now time to cut. Lucas had been saying for months that he wanted to be the one to cut it so we yelled for him to hurry. From the bathroom he yelled back, “I’m not done pooping! It’s okay, you just cut it!” We all laughed and I yelled back that we would just wait for him to finish. Everything this child was saying just brought so much laughter into the room. It was priceless.

While waiting for Lucas, the unexpected happened. Our dog Rori, who had been peeking over the side of the pool trying to catch a glimpse of baby, decided to jump into the water. YIKES! I pulled baby up so that she didn’t scratch him and we all were in complete shock! Levi jumped up and grabbed her while Shine swooped her out with a towel. We were all laughing so hard and Shine said, “well, that’s definitely a first!” Leave it to my dog to join in on the family fun. Needless to say, she got a nice grooming the following day.

After Lucas finally came out of the bathroom he gave daddy permission to cut the cord. So, Levi clamped it and did just that.

The entire birth process was over and we were ready to get out of the water. Shine had prep’d my bed for me already and instructed us to dry off and head in that direction. I went in first and Levi took this time to properly introduce the boys to each other. Lucas is so happy to be a big brother!

After some wonderful bonding time, Shine brought back the placenta for us to examine. It was absolutely gorgeous! All of the proper parts were present and it was very healthy in appearance. We sat there and admired my baby’s little tree of life!

Now it was time to thoroughly examine baby and do his newborn assessment. He didn't really care for this part all that much. Shine gave daddy the tool used to weigh him and we put him inside. He was a whopping 8lbs 6oz! Big and healthy!

He measured in at 20.5in long...identical to what Lucas was. Levi had joked my entire pregnancy that Levin was going to be just like Lucas. I always snickered and told him that they’ll probably be total opposites, but he was adamant that they were going to practically be twins. What do you know? He was right! They were the exact same length and only one tiny ounce different in weight. But in all reality, since I nursed Levin prior to weighing, he was probably the exact same.

They even look similar. Levi pulled out my scrapbook from Lucas’ birth while we were lying in bed and the resemblance was astonishing. So, I let him have his 'I told you so' moment.

Lucas on the left, Levin on the right.

My exam went great too. No tears, and no need for sutures. Letting him come out as gently as I did truly paid off!

The entire experience was everything that I hoped for and more. The labor was short, the birth was natural and gentle, and my baby was as healthy as could be! I created, nurtured, birthed, and caught my own child...there’s nothing more magical than that!

I am so pleased that we decided on a home birth, but even happier that Lucas was present to experience this miraculous event. The day was full of excitement, love, and most of all, laughter! There was no hospital stay, no pushy people telling me how to care for my baby, and no visiting hours. Instead, I was free to relax in the comfort of my own home and spend amazing quality time with my newly expanded family.

We are now a happy little family of four and our home is filled with so much love! Levi and I are absolutely blessed to have such handsome little boys and we love watching Lucas interact with his new baby brother. This is going to be another amazing journey in our lives!

After the events of this day, I have no fear when it comes to juggling my boys and giving them the individualized attention that they deserve. This was a huge day for both of my children and I managed to treat it as such. There was no way this mama was missing her oldest son’s first day of school, nor did I let my birth experience fall beneath my expectations. It was kind of fitting that our new baby was born on the exact date that our oldest officially became a 'big kid'. It was an absolute perfect day and I truly felt like a super mom!

Instead of uploading a million pictures, I've created a mini-video for your viewing pleasure! This is just a rough draft I created in 15 minutes, but I wanted to get something up. Eventually I'll go back and set it to music and add text throughout.

Now this is what life is truly about!!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Ricki Lake Weekend

I just had the most amazing weekend! On Saturday I was given the privilege to watch a sneak preview of Ricki’s latest documentary, More Business of Being Born. This time around there will be four films, and we were showed the first two in the series. Both were absolutely fantastic. They offered great insight, had the perfect amount of humor, touched on sensitive topics, and best of all, educated. Theories were proposed and it truly got you wondering about our current maternity care system. I am confident that women around the globe are going to be touched by these films and that the birthing world is slowly going to be turned around in a positive direction.

I also purchased Ricki’s latest book, Your Best Birth, and was able to meet her and get an autograph.

I have just browsed through it briefly, but I cannot wait to sit down and read it through. It isn’t a book that emphasized the “right” way to birth. Instead, it informs women of all of their options; from the un-medicated homebirth to the scheduled cesarian…and everything in between. I left the screening in such a blissful state and honestly cannot wait to give birth once again. I almost got teary eyed just thinking about it!

On Sunday I had the amazing privilege of attending a private luncheon with Ricki and a number of birth professionals in our community. I got to mingle and speak with doulas, childbirth educators, midwives, chiropractors, L&D nurses, and more.

It was held at the most beautiful lodge I have even seen that overlooked a lake. It couldn’t have been more fitting! However, it was a tad overwhelming with all of the mounted animals staring down at us. The cabin was as Alaskan as it gets and truly would have been a hunter’s dream come true. I joked with a friend that we were of bunch of women obsessed with new life, being thrown into the room of death. But I wouldn’t have chose a different location…it was amazing to say the least. The weather was perfect, the people were fabulous, and the day was everything I hoped it would be. Not to mention, the food was delicious and in great supply! It was an honor to speak with Ricki again on a one-on-one basis, but even more importantly, I made connections with some amazing like-minded women. I was able to put faces to people that I knew of, learn a bit more about services we offer in the community, and learn how we can successfully work together to benefit pregnant women.

Dr. Elrod is such an inspiration and his desire to integrate midwives and ob’s into a successful partnership is something that I hold true in my heart as well. He and his wife Tara are also expecting and the excitement of their upcoming homebirth brought such a calming energy into their hosting. They could have chose to keep Ricki to themselves and enjoy a private baby shower, but instead used this opportunity as a means of integrating our already wonderful birth community! Tara came by to thank everyone for attending and when I was speaking with her she knew who I was from my blog. For a moment I was speechless and couldn’t believe that she knew who I was. It felt like such an honor for someone so promising and up-and-coming in the birth community to know of little 'ol me! So Tara, if you are reading this, thank you for co-hosting such an amazing event. It was an absolute privilege to be a part of something so special!

Being pregnant myself in a room full of birth junkies sure got me lots of attention. Ricki grabbed my belly and told me that she just couldn’t get enough of me! I was given compliment after compliment about how beautiful I looked pregnant and it never got old. Being in a room packed full of birth professionals gawking over me reminded me how blessed I am to be a women and how much of an honor it is to create, nurture and birth a baby. There is absolutely nothing more beautiful!

I came home in such a high that I ran over to my husband and kissed him. I thanked him for watching Lucas all weekend and giving me the opportunity to experience everything I did. I went on and on about the day and I’m sure he got tired of hearing it all pretty fast. The combination of having one last weekend to myself, meeting Ricki, and connecting more into the birth community had me on cloud 9. I look forward to working alongside these amazing people and growing as a birth professional myself. I am so passionate about my chosen line of work and my desire to make a difference is now greater than ever.

Thank you to everyone who made this weekend a reality!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Soft Start

We had Lucas' soft start day for Preschool this morning! Each student was scheduled a private 30-minute slot to have alone time with the teacher. This gives them the opportunity to get to know the teacher, explore the classroom, and for us parents to talk one-on-one and voice any concerns that we may have.

I think Teacher Lisa was very impressed with Lucas! She commented on his wonderful verbal skills and noted that he is very interested in his surroundings. He was very comfortable walking around and looking at all the activities, and even put his sweater up in his own little cubby! She said that we definitely made a good choice in putting him in school early because he was obviously ready.

I cannot believe my baby is starting school. It is such a bittersweet feeling. I am so excited to watch him explore and make new friends and learn a bit along the way. There are only 7 kids in his class at the moment (3 boys and 4 girls) but a few others will be starting at the end of the year once they turn 3. This sounds like a perfect transition to me!

So, Tuesday is his first official day! I will be absolutely devastated if baby comes then and I can't attend, but that'll mean daddy is required to take lots and lots of pictures :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A sad departure

Although my brother was originally going to stay until mid September, we decided that it was best for him to head home before school started next week. We didn't want him falling behind in school and he really wasn't doing much up here anyways. He didn't end up working as much as we hoped, and he was really uncomfortable with the idea of being present when Levin is born. I guess I can't blame him though. Fifteen year old boys just don't have the love for babies that I do!

So he headed home today, after 4.5 weeks of his Alaskan summer. I wish he had been more active and prone to exploring this beautiful state, but he was a typical lazy teenage boy. He did however spend lots of time with Lucas and their relationship flourished. Lucas always asked to stay with Brian when Levi and I went places, and they played hard every day that he was here.

I didn't tell Lucas that he was leaving until the morning of because I was afraid he would get upset and act out. He acted alright while we were walking through the airport together but once Brian entered into the security area, reality set it. Lucas stood there shocked for a moment and tried to run after him. We said our goodbyes and exchanged hugs...but Lucas was obviously having a hard time. I had to pull him away and try to turn his attention elsewhere while Brian walked into the other direction.

Lucas was devastated to say the least! He immediately started crying for Brian and said that he didn't want him to go. I tried to cheer him up, but it only seemed to make things worse. We walked over to the food area and sat down, and that is where he completely lost it. He instantly started bawling and the tears just would not stop. I have never seen him this sad before. He could barely speak because he was sobbing so hard and he kept crying that he missed his uncle Brian already. I swooped him up and he continued to cry in my arms for some time. It was the saddest and most pitiful thing I have ever seen, and it literally brought me to tears too. It really broke my sons heart to watch his uncle leave, and it broke mine to see him in this state.

My mom and youngest brother will be here in two weeks for their visit, and I'm already dreading their departure. Saying good-bye has never been easy, but now that my son is affected just as much (if not more), I foresee them getting even harder. That is by far the biggest downfall to living so far away from our loved ones.

Banana Pancakes

Yesterday was an absolutely gorgeous day! Levi has been working non-stop lately and even continuing many jobs late into the evenings. He plans to take a few days off when baby arrives, so he's working to get in as many hours as he can now. But yesterday was just so nice that we decided to make it a family day and enjoy our little trio one last time before we are welcomed by a new little member.

When we woke up this morning it was pouring down rain. The weather here shifts so fast that you really have to take advantage of the good days. Levi left very early but Lucas and I woke up slowly and had breakfast together. I had multiple loads of laundry to fold so we locked ourselves in my room, turned on some Pandora, and got to folding.

The first song to begin playing was one of my absolute favorites: Banana Pancakes by Jack Johnson. It was one of those moments where the universe seemed to be sending us a message...stay inside and have ourselves a nice and lazy day!

Can't you see that it's just raining
Ain't no need to go outside...
But baby, you hardly even notice
When I try to show you this
Song is meant to keep ya
From doing what you're supposed to
Like waking up too early
Maybe we can sleep in
I'll make you banana pancakes
Pretend like it's the weekend now

And we could pretend it all the time
Can't you see that it's just raining
Ain't no need to go outside

But just maybe, laka ukulele
Mommy made a baby
Really don't mind the breakfast
'cause you're my little lady
Lady lady love me
'cause I love to lay here lazy
We could close the curtains
Pretend like there's no world outside

And we could pretend it all the time
Can't you see that it's just raining
Ain't no need to go outside
Ain't no need ain't no need Mmmm MMmmm
Can't you see can't you see
Rain all day
And I don't mind.

The telephone is singing
Ringing it's too early
Don't pick it up
We don't need to we got everything
We need right here
And everything we need is enough
Just so easy
When the whole world fits inside of your arms
Don't really need to pay attention to the alarm
Wake up slow, yeah wake up slow
You hardly even notice
When I try to show you this
Song is meant to keep ya
From doing what your supposed to
Like waking up too early
Maybe we can sleep in
I'll make you banana pancakes
Pretend like it's the weekend now

And we could pretend it all the time
Can't you see that it's just raining
Ain't no need to go outside
Ain't no need, ain't no need
Rain all day and I really really really don't mind
Can't you see can't you see,
You gotta wake up slow

Lucas seemed to really like the song too and even laughed at the "mama made a baby" verse.

Thank you Jack Johnson. Advice taken.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Baby Ladybugs

Lucas loves ladybugs. (Geez, I can't seem to get away from all these L's, can I?!)

While playing outside he yelled for me to come and look at all the ladybugs he found on the giant rock.

He wasn't kidding! Look at all these tiny little guys. I have never seen one so small. Ever. And yes, as my mother already pointed out...I need a manicure. That's just how life goes with a toddler.

Lucas leaned up against the rock for a second and quite a few of them got onto his jacket. The ladybug lover in him insisted that I put each and every one back on their home.

This last little guy was very persistent and didn't want to get off Lucas' hand. He carried him around for quite some time. Amazing!

We've gone out every day to check if they are still there. Apparently Lucas has his own little ladybug farm right in his very own front yard!

Project: Fence

Last summer we tore down the fence on one side of our home in order to level out our lot. There was a really steep hill in the back yard and Lucas had quite a feel tumbles after he learned to walk. Summers here are far too short, so it was over before we knew it. We didn't have time to build a new one, so we took the old chain link and blocked off a small area for the dogs. It wasn't much room, but it did the trick for the winter.

This year we were lucky to receive almost all of the fencing materials we needed...for free! (A good $2500+) There are some wonderful perks to having a husband in the construction industry, let me tell you!

Lucas loves construction vehicles and could barely contain his excitement when we returned home to find a cement truck here. It was drizzling outside so we put on his rain gear and headed out to help.

The truck run out and we had to mix up a few bags for the last remaining posts. As soon as Lucas saw the guys using their wheel barrel, he insisted we go and find his too!

He was all decked out the next day to help. He insisted on wearing snow boots, a mosquito repeller attached to his pants, and a head lamp on his forehead. This kid cracks me up!

When we were nailing the boards on, daddy hammered a bunch of nails into one for him to remove. He loves using tools and feeling involved in daddy's projects.

I'm really happy with the turn out! The front in nicely staggered (although you can't see it in the picture) and it divides our property from our neighbors lot.

Once again, summer is almost over. Thank goodness we got this project completed. I was starting to feel really bad that the dogs couldn't roam the back yard. Then again, it's nice only having to deal with poop in one area.

Next year we will add top soil and work on getting the grass to grow again! There wasn't a huge area that we had to add dirt to, but it'll be nice having a lush green yard again on the side of the house.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Great Name Debate

I never imaged that Levi and I would have such a difficult time choosing a name for our second son. To put it mildly, it’s been a nightmare.

We began brainstorming ideas while we were trying to conceive, but decided not to stress about it too much until we learned the sex.

A few days after we learned we were having another boy, the list began. Levi had a particular name that he was really fond of, and after a while, it grew on me as well. It was settled...baby had a name!

Turns out it wasn’t that easy.

We made the huge mistake of telling Lucas the “name” and he referred to the baby as such for the longest time. About a month and a half ago Levi decided that he just didn’t like that name anymore, so we began brainstorming all over again. We spent every night lying in bed thinking, contemplating, and searching names on our iPhones. Problem? Our list continued to grow instead of be narrowed down. *sigh*

After a few weeks of narrowing down my favorites, hubs decided that the name absolutely must start with an L. No exceptions. He was adamant that he and the boys keep the same initials and reminded me that had we conceived a girl, her name would have started with a C. Did I have any L names on my list? Of course not.

Here we go again.

So we thought, and thought...and thought some more. Any name or word that semi caught our interest was jotted down. At this point I was certain that my poor child was going to be born nameless. We couldn’t agree on a general name...now it needed to begin with a specific letter, sound well with Levi and Lucas, and flow with the designated middle name that had already been decided upon. (Douglas, which is Levi and his father’s middle names). And because Lucas’ middle name is Danger, we knew that baby #2’s first name needed to be a strong one.

What a nightmare I tell you.

But finally, after much consideration, we agreed upon a name! We let it brew around in our minds for a few weeks to make sure it was "the one". We wanted something unique, yet not too off the wall. Something masculine, yet sweet. Bold, yet simple:

Levin Douglas Cecil

So my boys are Levi, Lucas and Levin. I like it! L.D.C. #1, 2, & 3!

But how did Lucas react you wonder? He hated that we wanted to change the name. He refused to call the baby by anything other than his “original” name and it took us a long while before we could convince him that he needed a new, and special, one. He finally took it serious after some time and would always give us random name suggestions. “I think we should name the baby _____” was a daily conversation in our house. Mind you, he’s 2.5 and nearly every name he “thought” of was one that already belongs to someone he knows, or was a very crazy, random, silly one.

When we decided on Levin, we asked Lucas how he felt about it. He thought really hard for a moment contemplating and then blurted out, “I think we should name him SIX!”

Get it? Levin...11...6?!

Leave it to Lucas to make a funny!

(The above picture is one of the sneak peak shots we got from our family maternity session with Laf’n Photography. Like I said before, I’ll share the rest as soon as we get them!)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Mommy & Me Maternity

While Levi was in California, Lucas and I did a mini outdoor "Mommy & Me" photo shoot. There is a Facebook community page called Alaska's Talented Moms that supports local mother's business, and better yet, promotes buying local to help our economy. A few weeks ago they held an auction for the public to bid on products and services by many of the talented mothers here in town. A local photographer, AmerberLeigh Photography, had a few different sessions to bid on, including a maternity shoot. I was the starting bid at $30 and no other bids were placed after me. So, I won a session and all of the rights to the beautiful photos for such a steal! And you all know how much I love a great deal!

I was 35 weeks and 3 days along at the time. We met up at Campbell Creek, a park located only a few minutes from my house. Alaska sure offers some wonderful scenery! Here are a few of my favorite shots:

Each vendor was required to place one freebie item up for grabs in order to enter into the auction. I entered to win a newborn shoot from this same photographer, and a maternity shoot from another. Turns out I won the other maternity shoot, too! I was so thrilled because I feel in love with the work of Laf'n Photography but was sad that the only maternity shoot she was offering was located in the freebie section (which I'm sure tons of people tried to win). Trust me, it would have turned into an all out bidding war had there been one. I decided to use her for our family maternity pictures and I cannot wait to share them!! She went on vacation and won't be back for two more weeks, so looks like I have to be patient. Hopefully I get them back before baby is born, but considering all the contractions I've been having that may not be possible. I'll share them as soon as I can!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Ricki Lake is coming to Alaska!

Any birth junkie such as myself loves Ricki Lake. How could you not?

The first time I saw the documentary, The Business of Being Born, I was so inspired and drawn to making a difference in the birthing world. I knew this was my calling so I made the decision to become a Birth Doula, and decided to go for my Masters in Midwifery after I finish up nursing school. Ricki worked with filmmaker Abby Epstein to explore the maternity care system here in America and they followed around several expecting couples as they explored their options. It is a powerful, must-see film for women everywhere. She has the same philosophy as I do on birth...it’s a natural and miraculous rite of passage.

I can’t say that this film is what inspired me to have a home birth, but it certain reaffirmed my reasons. I feel that maternity care is far too medicalized these days and women are pushed into a circle of medications and interventions that are at many times, unnecessary. I whole heartedly believe in the strength and power of a woman’s body and trust that it knows exactly what is needed to birth a baby. Although I am not a total crunchy mom who hates hospitals, I do feel that their approach looks after the interests of the hospitals themselves, and not the laboring woman. I am thankful that we live in a modernized time with the equipment and knowledge to handle complications should they arise, but I believe we shouldn’t jump for help when help is not needed.

After the original documentary, the film crew felt that some people were left with more questions and a greater thirst for knowledge. Their desire to get the community to question their options and review all alternatives sparked their decision to create a second film, More Business of Being Born, which is scheduled to release in October of this year.

The original film was funded entirely by the staff and unfortunately they didn’t even come close to making their money back. But that didn't matter because they were truly passionate about their desire to educate. So this time around, they decided to ask the community for help. A site was created to help them reach their goal of $100,000 in order to make this next film a success. Incentives were given to backers willing to pledge and the project quickly exceeded its goal!

Dr. Elrod, a local Obstetrician/Gynecologist in the valley, pledged $10,000 and received one heck of an incentive. Ricki and Abby have to decided to fly to Alaska to host a private screening of the new film! As a member of the Alaska Birth Network, I was invited to this screening and couldn’t wait to RSVP!

So assuming I’m not in labor myself, I will be attending this sneak preview hosted by none other than Ricki and Dr. Elrod! It is a free event open to the public and will be held at the Wasilla Alaska Club at 6:00p.m. on August 20th. I am beyond excited not only to meet Ricki and hear her speak, but to watch this highly anticipated documentary that I'm sure is going to make a huge impact on birthing mothers everywhere.

Fingers crossed my little munchkin comes either before, or after, this screening because this is definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity that I do not want to miss! But then again, considering everyone attending is as passionate about childbirth as myself, I’m sure they wouldn’t oppose if I had my baby there, right?! Wouldn’t that make for an interesting birth story!

Full Term!

Today I turned 37 weeks. If you don’t know what that means...we finally have ourselves a FULL TERM baby! Although my due date is still 3 weeks from today, he is now safe to come at any time! And if you know anything about birth, babies truly come on their own schedule.

Oh my.

Am I really ready to have a newborn again?!

I’m definitely excited, but I’m also filled with so many mixed emotions. We decided that we are going to stick with two kiddos…for now. I really want to focus on school and we decided to re-evaluate the baby talk after I get my Masters in Midwifery. A huge part of me feels that Levi wants to stick with just the two boys, but I don’t truly feel done. Everyone says when you’ll know when you reach your maximum child limit and I honestly don’t feel like 2 is enough. For now, yes, but who’s to say I won’t be craving another baby 5 years down the road?? It’s a bittersweet feeling. I am so uncomfortable and ready to be done with this pregnancy, but also want to soak it in just in case it is my last. Ugh.

But I don’t want to relish too much on the what-ifs and the what-abouts. Truth is, my baby could be here any day! We are about to be a family of four and Lucas is about to be a big brother. Amazing!

I celebrated today by getting my first prenatal massage. Well truth is, it was my very first professional massage. Ever. I have truly been missing out!

I am so anxious to see which day he chooses as his birthday! It’s an important date that we’ll celebrate for the rest of his life, so I hope he’s not taking this decision lightly!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Lucas' Pregnancy & Birth Story

Most aspects of my life now revolve around pregnancy, birth and babies, so it is no surprise that is what’s most often on my mind. With all the anticipation as I approach closer to my own due date and as I begin scheduling more clients for my newly started Doula business, I’m reminded of my own experience venturing into motherhood. Every time I hear a birth story or learn more about the processes of labor, my mind takes me back to the greatest day of my life...Lucas' birth day!

I figured that I should document that journey that we took together before I have two birth stories to share!

As my pregnancy began, I thought it was truly going to be the end of me. I was so overwhelmed with morning sickness that simply getting out of bed was a nearly impossible task. I was still working at the time and was very thankful to be around so many supportive people. I always had a toothbrush and toothpaste on hand because during those first few months, I vomited nearly every single hour of the day. I immediately lost 10 lbs and was on the verge of severe dehydration. I was prescribed anti-nausea medication which I tried to only take when I absolutely needed to because once it was in my body, I was comatose.

Things starting looking up when my morning sickness subsided around 14 weeks. I slowly starting gaining weight and my energy levels were unbelievable. It was summer time here in Alaska and you couldn't keep me off the trails!

I finally felt alive again and my appetite was unsatisfiable. By the second trimester I was working with my husband up on the slopes of Prudhoe Bay. Being one of the very few women up there, and pregnant to boot, I sure got a lot of special treatment! The kitchen staff always asked my input on meals and the 24/7 access to food was just what I dreamed of! Needless to say, it wasn't long before I started gaining some good weight.

We found out at 17w5d that we were expecting a boy...and boy we were excited! We were both nervous and somewhat frightened of having a girl. We were told that he looked healthy as could be and was growing right on track!

The remainder of my pregnancy was very normal and free from complications. I had awful back pains and was forced to wear a brace...but that's to be expected for someone as tiny as myself. I also had restless leg syndrome, heartburn, hemorrhoids, bleeding gums, and many of the other "normal" pregnancy symptoms. Oh joy.

I had an appointment with my midwife just two days before I had gone into labor. She was in awe over how well my body was handing a full term baby and shocked that I wasn't the slightest bit swollen. Here I was with this gigantic belly being balanced on skinny little chicken legs...and they didn't even puff up at the slightest. She said all was well and estimated baby to be roughly 7-7.5 lbs.

My original due date was bumped up two days after receiving measurements from our ultrasound and what do you know...that's the day he decided to come! (November 8, 2008 – 39w5d). I woke up around 4:30 in the morning with very minor contractions, but woke Levi up to tell him that I thought this was going to be the day! I just knew it. We both went back to sleep for a bit and after a few hours I decided to come sit on the couch. Laying down was no longer comfortable.

I labored peacefully on the couch while Levi rested some more and I told my mom that this was definitely going to be the big day! The morning went by really fast and I never felt overwhelmed by the pain, so I decided to stay home as long as I possibly could.

The neurotic nesting truly came out at this time! I was so relaxed and comfortable with being in labor that I sent Levi away to run errands. Here I was in active stage labor, and my husband was making a trip to the bank and the store. It's so funny to think about it now, but I was just so content with my body doing what it needed to do.

After he returned home the contractions were nearly 4-5 minutes apart so we decided to head to the hospital.

Once I arrived up in Labor and Delivery, the nurse asked how she could help me. I told her I was in labor and she gave me this look as if she didn't believe me. She must not have taken me serious because she sure left me waiting for quite some time. They hooked me up to the monitors and were pretty shocked at the strength of my current contractions. Like I said, I was handling them so well! My midwife happened to be working that day so I was excited when she came to examine me. Surprisingly, I was already dilated to 7cm! No one could believe it. They told me I had better get to the delivery room before it was time to push.

Once in the room I hit transition and the contractions got very strong and more frequent. I was asked if I wanted any pain meds, but I refused. I'd made it this far...what's a few more centimeters? I remember getting very nauseous at this point and it wasn't long before they had to retrieve a puke bucket for me. Transition was NOT fun, but thankfully it didn't last long.

My midwife decided to examine me once again and I was at 9cm. She chose to break my water and told me that it wouldn't be long before the little man was out! I remember being so worried that I may not know if my water had broken during pregnancy, but let me tell ya...you know! It was quite a warm uncomfortable gush and that definitely can't be mistaken for anything else. She left the room and told me to have her notified when I felt the urge to push. It wasn't long before I had them hunt her down!

I asked my nurse what the average push time for a first time mother was and he estimated about 2 hrs. WHAT?! That must have been all the incentive that I needed because I pushed Lucas out in 25 minutes flat. Seriously. I remember having a bit of difficulties pushing at first because I kept wanting to push my legs away from my body instead of pulling them closer, but I finally got the hang of it. At one point I was given an oxygen mask because both baby and I need it. That final push was emotionally overwhelming as my baby boy came out and joined us in the world. The placed him on my chest and it was love at first site. Levi and I were both teary eyes and emotional and it completely hit us...we we're now parents!

Levi cut the cord and they took him to the scale to be weighed.

A whopping 8lbs. 5.2oz...can you believe it? Well I sure didn't. I asked them if they were sure and insisted they weigh him again. I never in my wildest dreams would have suspected my tiny little body could carry, and birth, an 8.5lb baby!

He was big, healthy, and absolutely perfect! Our lives were forever changed!

Lucas Danger Cecil!