Four months old is a very magical age for babies. They start showing a lot of personality and playfulness, which is, quite frankly, so fun. Plus things are (starting) to get a bit easier (for some moms/babies). You begin to maybe, kind of sort of have a little bit of a routine going, you might even be feeling like you’ve had a night or two of something that resembles sleep lately. You feel like breastfeeding is almost easy now, and you’re looking forward to starting solids in a couple of months. Which means your baby is practically grown up, right?

(Trust me, two years later when you’re wondering if your toddler will EVER learn to use the potty, you’ll know you were wrong.)

So here’s the thing. My very lovely midwife took a much needed vacation and got the month of December off. She is one seriously incredible woman and after spending lots of time with her over the past three years, I’ve grown to love her and her work immensely.

But now vacation is over. And all of the sudden my Facebook feed is being flooded with delightful pictures and baby announcements and oh-my-holy-crap what is this I’m feeling?? It can only be described as Twinges.

We are very VERY much done having babies. It is known. But that also means my time with Rhoda is really and truly done, unless sometime in the future I get into some form of birth work. (Not at all beyond possibility, just definitely not a ‘right now’ thing.)

So I get these Twinges. Sadness? Jealousy? Longing? Joy? Reminiscing? Probably all of these things. I can see why people get a little crazy and start thinking, “maybe just one more.”

But, no. Twinges they may be, but they are just little sweet pieces of my memories flooding in with fondness. They cannot override the part of me that says OH HELL NO when I remember that my mental mantra through Oliver’s birth was Never Again. Beautiful, yes?

And as my husband said, if all else fails, “You may just have to un-friend her for a while.”


That’s what the scale said a couple of days ago when I last stepped on it.

I love it.

It’s only about 15 more pounds than my lowest weight over the past decade or so. That was just before my wedding, of course.

It’s about 35 pounds less than I weighed a week after Oliver was born. And less than 10 pounds more than my pre-pregnancy weight.

It’s just under the line of obese to overweight. (If you’re into that BMI stuff.)

Most importantly, it’s progress.

164 is self love. It’s hard work and finding balance. It’s breastfeeding and finding nutritious food that doesn’t make my son sick. It’s keeping up with a toddler and her constant desire to play soccer.

It’s patience. It’s remembering that with Nora I didn’t even start to lose the baby weight until well after her first birthday. It’s keeping on, finding a couple of minutes here and there, and moving my body with energy I’m not convinced I actually have sometimes.

It’s perfection. Or it might as well be, since it’s an ideal that no one ever achieves. I truly love where I’m at, and where I’ve been, and where I’m going.


Things that are happening this year:

I’m on a super wonky diet because Oliver has been diagnosed with a plethora of food sensitivities. This first month is the most restrictive (I’ll spare you the gory details), but for 6+ months I will be dairy, soy, chicken, zucchini, apple, sweet potato, scallion, sorgum and brewers yeast-free. Also gluten free for the duration of our time breastfeeding, and Oliver will likely be GF his whole life. We haven’t started solids with him yet, but considering the mess his gut is in already, we’ll probably be delaying beyond 6 months old.

We’ve started assembling a home gym. This has actually been in the works for a while, but January brings out all the good sales for New Year’s Resolution-ers. So, so, SO excited to get my lift on again!

Other assorted non-resolution goals. Brandon got me a sweet gift pack of classes at our local yoga studio, plus I’ve committed myself to 100 practices in 2015. (I’m being realistic though, even a 10 minute practice before bed is great.) Also I’m attempting to do pushups every day. They’re great for upper body and core strength, which are both sorely lacking since being pregnant. Finally I’m still working on a reading list for the year, spending less time on my computer, getting Nora potty trained (heh, we’ll see), and some spending less/saving more financial goals.

I’m sure this all sounds very humdrum but I’m super stoked to get things started on a positive note. Self improvement is kind of a big deal for me, and now that our little family feels complete, it’s time to invest back in myself!


Oliver’s Story

Labor Day weekend is filled with bad jokes about pregnant women. The joke was on them though when I woke up Sunday morning and my water broke. But let me back up a couple of steps.

Saturday was rough. We had one real thing to do and that was go to the grocery store. Our fridge was basically empty and I was supposed to make beef stew that evening, so we needed some carrots and potatoes. But I dread the store. The stares, the comments, and worst of all, random people touching me. I get it, I’m huge. But leave me alone.
As we walked through the store, I remember sending my sister some texts about how awful the whole thing was, but at least when we were done, I’d be ready to go into labor. (Ha!) After that we came home and I relaxed for far too long, got dinner in the crock pot far too late, and eventually we scavenged up something for dinner while the stew went in the fridge for “later.” We settled in for the night and all was well.
Sunday morning Nora came into our room and woke us up, and Brandon took her downstairs to play while I dozed for a bit longer. Later when they were getting ready to make the usual pancakes and eggs, they came back up to wake me. As I finally rolled out of bed around 8:30, I felt that trickle of a high rupture and my water breaking.
I texted my midwife and doula to let them know, and then my mom to come over as soon as she could. But we kept doing our normal thing, making breakfast as a family. I had a few contractions, but they were far enough apart, I brushed them off as “random and unorganized.” When we finally sat down to eat, I took the opportunity to start timing them, and of course they weren’t random at all. So we ate, planned to get our dog to the kennel, and started getting ready for a big day.

My mom arrived, and I went to shower. The hustle of arrivals and departures had gotten my contractions off rhythm, so after I was clean (about 10:30), I decided to head up to bed with some music to just relax. We were all in the zone: Brandon got the pool set up, Nora played with her grandma, I put on my headphones and started the Live, Birds of Prey album. It was kind of perfect.
I lay there resting, feeling the contractions washing over me. They were definitely getting stronger, and about 45 minutes later I texted my midwife and doula to head over. I hid out for a little bit longer and then decided I wanted to go see how Nora was doing with my mom.
When I came downstairs, suddenly my contractions got very intense, and I was having to vocalize loudly just to get through them. So when Nora came inside from playing and one of these contractions hit, I could tell it was time for her to leave. She was a little scared and worried about me, but I wasn’t in a position to reassure her. Luckily we planned for just this, so Brandon packed the last couple things in her bag and got the car seat moved, just as everyone was showing up for me. (I heard a rumor that he also accidentally tried to send one of the doula’s bags with my mom, but somehow it was returned before anyone missed it.)
Kat, my doula arrived first, and I was kneeling by the stairs. She sat with me doing her thing, and we hung on until Rhoda, our midwife, and her team arrived shortly after. As everyone was getting set up, Kat casually mentioned that unless I wanted to be checked to see how far I was, I could just get in the birth pool for some relief.
‘OKAY!’ I remember thinking. Or maybe, ‘thank f*#%ing goodness.’ Either way, I stripped down to my bra and climbed in. It was pretty wonderful. Rhoda checked us with the Doppler and we got down to business.
Relief was relatively short lived and I kept thinking about a technique we learned in our birth class, where the instructor, also a doula, would give laboring mothers a couple of combs to squeeze. Somehow the little pain was able to take the edge off the contractions. So we tried that (instead of crushing Brandon’s and Kat’s fingers), and suddenly I realized I was starting to feel sick. I told Kat, and I already knew what it meant and what she would say, but I needed to hear it to believe we were there already. She said, “Sometimes you throw up to throw down.” In other words, it was probably time to start pushing.
Last time I remember I was a little scared of pushing so I fought it (as much as a laboring woman can), and I did end up throwing up. This time, I was ready. This hurts and the only way to be done is to get this baby out. So I pushed and pushed and Rhoda was magically right there to coach and encourage me. It was painfully intense and beautifully surreal. And then he was born, just before 1pm, my son, Oliver Bernard Kelley.
The next few hours are a blur as we snuggled and nursed, relaxed in the herbal bath, I was checked for tearing (just a little, no stitches needed!) and Oliver was weighed, measured, and examined. Kat asked me what I wanted to eat, and I laughed and remembered all the beef stew that was sitting in the fridge. It was perfect!


Egg shells

My due date is in one week.

One freaking week.

We are living in day-to-day mode in hopes that this baby comes a bit early, like his sister, on one hand, but also trying not to get too frustrated if he prefers to come late.

It’s a very, very, VERY delicate balance.

And I have lots of support: people who are eager but patient. People who can give me sympathy without pressure. People who understand that my head is not the most fun place to be right now. Or really anywhere in my skin, as this baby continues to grow and shift and find all new ways to get comfy that usually result in my feeling less-so. 

So don’t feel too bad for me, because on the whole, I’m doing great.

What I’ve become acutely aware of, though, is just how vulnerable women get as these days and weeks tick by. Since Nora came at 38 weeks, I had no real comprehension of just how long another month of being pregnant would feel. And just how easily one person’s eagerness to meet the new baby feels like WAY TOO MUCH PRESSURE to get this kid out now. Or how a casual comment from a care provider can shift a mother’s entire perspective. The idea of induction isn’t quite so far out of question, because, really, you’re so close to your due date anyway.

And the thing is, we’re all guilty of a thoughtless, less-than-supportive, comment. Even if you’ve been 42 weeks pregnant, you can sometimes forget just how sensitive mothers are in these final days. So I’m not asking you to walk around on egg shells because of me, but just… be kind.

This is a pretty fantastic article my doula sent me the other day, on how to begin to empathize and respect women in those final days and weeks. And now, since the ‘any day now’ is closing in on me, I’m off to enjoy some of this sunshine and rub my giant belly some more.


In that one moment

when you wake up in the dead of night and feel them

the presence of all the women gone before you

Your mother and hers and on and on.

Your sisters and friends

and even enemies who have traveled down this road

to birth.

Some in fear, and joy.

With purpose and pain

Suffering humiliation and finding empowerment

Laughing, crying, grieving for something lost

Embracing all that is new.

It is a well worn path

You travel alone, uplifted by all that has been

to write your own story of all that might be.

In the still moments, you wait, and rock and

cry out to all the mothers and gods who will help you.

And soon a babe is born.

Been there, done that

Today Brandon and I finished up our child birth education classes through a local organization called Birth Matters. We had intended to just take the “refresher” class because we’d already gone through their CBE class when I was pregnant with Nora, but there weren’t any other families interested within our time frame, so we opted so sit through the whole deal again. And it was fantastic, again, too.

It was really different going through it as a 2nd time around-er though. The first time, as I’m sure many of the other new parents in our class, we had sat down and watched The Business of Being Born, and suddenly had a fire lit within to not be another cog in the wheel of the birth system. Of course, after our experience with home birth and transfer, we do have a small measure of appreciation that parts of that system do exist and function well. And yet, I still cannot imagine planning a hospital birth. It’s just not my style, especially after being able to labor and deliver Nora entirely at home and then transfer safely to the hospital after.

However, I do have the perspective of having a complication arise that was very sudden and not preventable. And I had to come to my own peace with those events and the possibility that it could happen again. Or something else. So as we sat through the class, we heard again about all the different pieces of technology and interventions that hospitals offer, and I felt suddenly wiser. The first time I heard all those same things, but in my head I said, “Not me, I’m having this baby at home.” Today, I hear myself saying, “This is not my plan, but if it has to go this way for our safety, I’m glad I understand how to navigate these scenarios.”

And that is so empowering.

I feel released from any potential guilt or feelings of failure. I feel like I can make choices in the moment and not be held to any invisible standard of what ‘home birth’ is supposed to be. It’s just… birth. And I want it to be safe and peaceful and full of joy for our whole family. And I’m starting to feel ready again.