Tuesday, June 17, 2014

an epic win

Francis Bruce's birth was an epic win. epic. EP-IC. the night he was born I felt amazing. and nope, no epidural to be found. here's the story.

Sunday night, Mother's Day night, I'd felt...different. just off, a little crabby (ok a lot crabby), tired, and heavy. just plain done. Charlie and I had gotten into it the week before, and we still weren't completely through it, and Lydia had gotten on my last nerve...it was just one of those weeks I'd just as soon try to forget. my friend Brynn was staying with us, which brought much joy to me because I was very happy to have her company and that she'd be helping us out with baby's birth. so when I went to bed Sunday night, I tried to focus on the positive and ready myself to bring baby into a little happier of a home. I spent a little time with the breast pump that night just to see if anything happened, but all that came of it was a drop of colostrum and a wasted 15 minutes...or so I thought.

when my water broke Monday morning at quarter to six I was flabbergasted, and instantly became the happiest woman in the world. gone were the annoyances with my husband and daughter, gone were the stresses of the week past. I hopped out of bed, ran into the bathroom, and giggled as I felt baby shift. to be honest I smelled the amniotic fluid and became teary--it smelled like new baby, and I knew that very soon we'd meet the little one I'd carried so well and healthfully. after a nice long shower we had a powerhouse breakfast of farm fresh eggs with cheese, toast, and fruit salad, then left Lydia with my mom and headed down to Luverne. I want to remember Charlie hurrying me along--he was remembering how fast my labor with Lydia went after they broke my water, but I reminded him that going from 0-10 is more of a process than a 9 to 10...and at this point I hadn't had more than a few contractions after my water broke earlier that morning! we reminisced and laughed on our way down to Luverne as the rain started to fall...it would turn out to be chilly, breezy, and drizzly all day.

because I tested positive for GBS, we opted to labor longer at the hospital and receive the recommended dosage of antibiotics, which was a dose every 4 hours, intravenously, for 15 minutes at a time until baby was born. knowing the statistics and risks involved with refusing them, it was a no-brainer, and at no point in my labor did I feel offended by the heplock in my wrist for easy access. there weren't any limitations on laboring, which was wonderful. when we arrived at the hospital they checked me in, hooked me up, checked me, and I think I was between a 2-3. we had the nurse bring in the birth ball, got out the essential oils and rebozo, and got to work! Brynn made fun of, I mean, motivated Charlie and I throughout some different movements with the birth ball and rebozo, and the mood remained light and happy throughout the morning.

however, the contractions became more steady and painful as we moved into the afternoon, so we switched to walking when the more passive earlier work of massage, bouncing on the ball, and squats with the rebozo just wasn't cutting it anymore. we walked. and walked. and walked, darn near putting on eight miles that afternoon (I later joked that my hammies hurt worse than my bottom!). we walked outside and inside, in the healing garden and down the halls, the contractions getting stronger and stronger. I remember just powering through them, breathing through them, and using the walking as a means to count steps and get through the surges. Brynn and Charlie walked with me, carrying my water and offering massive motivation and conversation when the time between contractions allowed. I was staying super hydrated thanks to the efforts of my husband and bestie, and every time I went to the bathroom I'd have a titanic contraction, moving baby closer and closer to us!

when we stopped walking around 5ish to get checked, have another dose of antibiotics, and have some fetal monitoring, they couldn't read my contractions as well or find his heartbeat as consistently (nothing was wrong, he'd just moved in a way that prevented our hearing him) so we decided to get into bed so I could rest and position myself well to hear how he was doing. I was nervous that the progress that I'd worked so hard for that day would stall out with getting into bed, but we were surprised and happy to find that I dilated just fine without beating laps around the hospital! hot dog! I should mention that throughout the day I felt so clear and in control, and fearless. just fearless. I had faith, my lover, my best friend, and an awesome hospital team rallying with me...it was feeling like a blessed day despite the pain. I heard everything, saw everything, and never once panicked. it was like night and day compared to Lydia's birth!

I progressed nicely through the evening. the contractions became stronger and closer together, my hands gripped Charlie's a little tighter, and the pain became all-consuming but manageable at the same time. I still felt in control, and mindful of everything going on in my body and around me. I remember Charlie encouraging me to take deep breaths--he was watching the fetal monitor and saw how my holding my breath in some contractions was affecting baby. I remember the nurses having me turn on my side to remove one lip on my cervix, then the other. I remember those being the most painful moments of labor, becoming fully dilated and ready to push.  I remember accidentally shrieking during a couple of contractions (I truly was doing well at just moaning or exhaling loudly through them) and a reassuring rub on my thigh from a sweet nurse. and I laughed when Dr. Crabtree, at 10:45pm, said, "Let's see where we're at around 11:30" when the nurses asked him about my next dose of antibiotics. I thought to myself, there was no way in hell I was still going to be pregnant at 11:30! A few minutes later I was pronounced fully dilated and ready to push!

Dr. Crabtree readied the room with the nurses and coached me on pushing--the first couple didn't do much, so we repositioned surprisingly so I was laid back a little bit further. I remember the room suddenly filling with people: other nurses and staff, my mom, Brynn, Charlie...it was a little blurry at that point but when we started pushing again, I became so clear. I heard Dr. Crabtree say after my second set, "Let's have a baby, Katie! Come on!", and I gritted my teeth, and pushed through another set. The room just buzzed and I heard a few people say, "Katie, reach down! Reach down!" I took my hand off the squat bar long enough to reach down and feel a slippery, warm, fuzzy head exiting my body--I began to cry, bore down, and gave birth to our son at 11:00 on the nose after just a few minutes of pushing. Dr. Crabtree said, "You have a good looking boy here, guys!" and immediately placed Francis on my chest. I had to laugh and cringe watching our birth video later--I was making all sorts of high pitched cooing noises with Francis' cries. I asked Dr. Crabtree if I tore and after a quick examination said, "Nothing more than a paper cut," which I attribute greatly to his doing perineum massage and just plain dumb luck. after they checked Francis over and cleaned up our room, the hospital staff bid us adieu, my mom and Brynn left for the night after snuggling the new babe, and Charlie and I were left to revel in being new parents all over again.

I'll write another post on Francis' night and first few days, mainly because I want to remember how much more confident and relaxed I felt enjoying our new son. when Lydia entered the world it was into a world of Mom worrying like all get out about breastfeeding and having a ton of pain from a significant tear, and both Mom and Dad being exhausted from being so scared throughout the labor process. I was up and showering a half hour after Francis was born, with no pain and a giddiness that was so so sweet. his birth was transformative, empowering, and just plain amazing. we accomplished our goals. we had an epic birth and a healthy baby--everything worked out perfectly. we felt so blessed drifting off to sleep that night, baby tucked in safe and sound with me. more later on the adventure of feeding a lazy little boy and coming home to one excited little girl :)

Friday, January 17, 2014

why I am ditching the idea of a peaceful birth

I have come to understand birth in a few varied dimensions. and more often than not, I read blogs and lose myself in other women's birth stories. here are some adjectives I've pulled from those amazing remembrances of what were very special days for those families:

serene. rejuvenating. healing. spacious. peaceful. tranquil. purposeful. mindful. powerful. incredible. amazing. empowering. brave. scary. quiet. beautiful. sweet. calm. intentional. loving....

the list could go on and on.

calm in between pushes
I always thought I'd be in the peaceful birth camp. truly, it's what we shot for with Lydia's birth. I had a birth plan that involved soft music, meditation, yoga, low light, gentle massage, water immersion, and a loving doula's presence. I had insinuated to every staff member that the room was to be quiet, that traffic in and out be kept to a minimum, that I had to have the right environment to bring Lydia earthside...peacefully.

well, open mouth, insert foot. because that's not what happened at all.

what happened was me shrieking, then opera singing with how painful the contractions were.

what happened was that I lost all consciousness of rational thought.
what happened was I panicked with the pain, instead of working with it.
what happened was my feeling sick with the pain and wondering if I could make it through.
what happened was the bath sucked. it was too hot and made me nauseous.
what happened was the feeling of being touched made me cringe.
what happened was that, when I was at about an 8-9, they broke my water and my contractions went into overdrive.
what happened was that I found out that peaceful birth isn't my schtick.

my adjectives went from anything peaceful to those more along the lines of football training or marathon running. let's face it--I am not generally a quiet, peaceful person...so why was I expecting to magically have a quiet, peaceful birth?

our birth went decidedly faster once my husband and I got a moment to ourselves, rallied, and clung to each other (he was as scared as I was but much more in adrenaline mode) chanting, "we can do this" over and over. it worked when I got more purposeful with my movements, began feeling my body by not relaxing and letting the contractions go through me, but powering through them instead. birth happened when we took charge, and went in with more of an athletic mindset than a peaceful one. it happened when I committed.

basically, I switched from yoga to P90X in a matter of two centimeters.

and that's when the magic happened.

rallying with some strong pushing
how strange it is that I remember every. blessed. moment of my daughter's birth. I remember seeing the look of fear in my husband's eyes, my doula praying and spoon-feeding me applesauce when my energy tanked. my friend gingerly guiding my hips in doing hip circles. my wondering why the hell they'd talk to me about pain medications when I was already too far into labor to receive them. I remember how good it felt to push, feeling my attending doctor touch the spot on my body where I needed to "aim" my pushes, and how Lydia was born in just a few minutes after that.

what labor? ;)
I remember everything, but when I was immersed in it, I was unable to connect my reactions and my decisions, my goals and my dreams with reality. through giving birth to Lydia I learned that my expectations and plan were for naught, that I had to experience it to comprehend what my body and mind could do. not that having a plan was worthless, as I am far from disappointed with my birth experience--I'm just proud that I didn't put my entire "birth worth" into what I had planned versus what I did. I can adapt to what my body is telling me. I also know what I've learned from Lydia's birth in terms of what we'll shoot for with the birth of this baby--which will be coming in another post. :)

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Chapman mornings

I think you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who likes these cold, drafty, windy mornings.

we'd really like to bury our heads back under the covers when that dratted alarm goes off.  but there are cows to feed, corn loads to haul, farm equipment that needs fixed, nursing mothers to counsel, maple syruping events to organize...oh yeah, and a preschooler to wake up and feed!

mornings have been less than fulfilling lately. usually I.Am.A.Morning.Girl. mornings are my thing, they're what I do. they're usually my time of the greatest relevant productivity, when I can look back and say that I knocked out half my day's to-do list in a couple short hours. fueled on tea and toast, it's never been hard for me to bounce out of bed at five, ready to start my day.

until recently.

this cold weather has me feeling more lethargic. more content to stay in bed well past my normal awakening time. more content to snuggle in behind Charlie and dream away another couple of hours before we both have to be up for work. normally this is not the case--there is too much to do, and I honestly get bored lying around in bed. until now, anyway.

when we do get up, it's sluggishly and with little fanfare.  I'll get dressed and start coffee for Charlie, tea  for myself and breakfast for the both of us.  I am so proud to say that Charlie likes hot breakfast cereal the way I make it--no matter if it's steel-cut oats, Malt-o-Meal, Bob's Red Mill 7-Grain cereal, buckwheat groats, etc...somehow in my long, long love affair with hot cereal I have managed to develop an eye for it being perfectly cooked, never slimy, never gloppy.  just wholesome, chewy, and delicious. he likes his with peanut butter and our homegrown maple syrup, I prefer mine buttered with jam. we pray, we eat, we go over our daily devotion together...then he wipes his mouth, pours coffee to go, and I kiss my husband off to work.

then my morning starts. with fuel in my tank I feel more energized to tackle things that are just easier with Lydia still sleeping--shower, get dressed, paperwork for WIC, tidying, pet chores, etc.--someday she will learn that she has a role in the household stuff and I'll teach her how to do more chores than what she's already responsible for, but for now it's nice to feel productive and get them done the way I like them ;)

when Lydia gets up, it starts with her bellowing, "Mama, I all done SEEPIN'!" (sleeping).  we'll snuggle in her big girl bed for a few minutes and talk about her dreams. once she's mobile she'll go potty, after which we wash hands and face, brush and floss teeth, and go pick out an outfit. 

MOM TIP: every Sunday I match pants, shirts, socks, underwear and sweaters into seven different bundles, then rubber band them together so I can have her pick one out in the mornings for the week. it gives her power over what she wears, but I know I won't have to worry about it being warm enough or matching. and I could give a hoot if it's wrinkled from being rolled up...it matches, we didn't argue, and we're out the door that much easily! 

after getting dressed, sometimes she'll want breakfast, sometimes not.  she's not really a morning eater, usually munching on some grapes and a half piece of toast, or some hot cereal, or fruit with greek yogurt, or a scrambled egg with cheese. then we inevitably wash face again, warm up the car and clear it off, then head to daycare/work. I also keep things laid out--hat, mittens, coat, snowpants, etc. to have them ready for us taking off.

this is the first of a few morning posts--looking forward to some insight into the hidden mornings of my friends! everyone does mornings differently and for me honestly it goes by the season. during the summer it's SO much easier to get going when the sunlight's shining in, the dog doesn't scoot to the back of the kennel when I suggest a walk, and the warm breeze comes in through the screens to wake us. even autumn holds lovely mornings (I say a bit tongue in cheek because the marching band goes past our house at 7:03am practicing away for parades and whatnot). but winter mornings are slow, docile, purposeful and somewhat productive around here. what about yours?

aw :)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Thanksgiving and the upcoming holidays

this Thanksgiving flew by, despite its later arrival in November.  we enjoyed a not-long-enough whirlwind trip to visit my dad and stepmom, and rounded out the weekend with the Live Nativity out at camp, the delicious Chapman Thanksgiving dinner, church, and house chores.

it was so nice to visit with my step-siblings and family up north. we had an amazing dinner prepared by Dad and Peggy...turkey, stuffing, roasted sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, salads...the list goes on, and then there were pies and homemade ice cream! the kids played well together and we did a fun winter craft project that I found on Pinterest and had to try:

it was so easy and fun! you will need:
painter's tape
watercolor paper
watercolor paints (do yourself a favor and cut out the blues and purples to give to the kids, otherwise it will come out a brown mess ;) )
[hindnote: I wish I would have wet the watercolor paper first so the colors blended better, but as long as the kids got their brushes nice and wet it seemed to transfer over fine]
--rip the painter's tape into varied lengths and sizes to make the silhouette of a tree
--have the kids paint over the tree and all over the paper
--as they paint, sprinkle salt (sea salt or Morton's works fine) liberally over where they've painted.  the salt will suck up the color and create beautiful textures and white patches that look like snow crystals!
--when finished, lay paper on a smooth surface to dry, preferably overnight but a hair dryer works too ;)
--peel off the painter's tape when paintings are completely dry and voila! winter artwork!

December will be a busy, busy month. between work, marriage, starting school again (yep, announced that I was going back to grad school and found out a week later we were pregnant), Lydia's shenanigans, pets, house stuff, and family/friends, I find myself torn in so many directions! hoping to find light where it shines most--in our hearts, remembering why we're celebrating, and trying to put into perspective the purpose of our time and energy spent in the holiday season.

stay classy, sweet lydia!! :)

Monday, October 28, 2013

pheasant and farming

I made my first successful pheasant dish of the 2013 hunting season! last year my attempts at cooking that lean, bone-ridden bird were laughable. picture the Christmas turkey in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and you'll be able to understand my plight with this fowl. I had tried roasting it in the oven, which dried it to the point of no return. cue the polite chewing and copious amounts of water.

well, that bird got conquered. by a CrockPot.

I rubbed the plucked and cleaned bird (after removing all little feathers, bird shot, etc.) down with coconut oil (almost 3 Tbsp, I greased him up well), then made my normal chicken rub of thyme, smoked paprika, garlic, sea salt, white pepper and onion powder and rubbed that [dry] over the bird before putting it on a bed of carrots, potatoes, onion and turnips (cut into 1" chunks) in the CrockPot. high for two hours, low for 4, and that bird came out just perfect.  Lydia ate some of the breast and a leg, plus veggies, bread with butter, and most of an acorn squash that I baked with butter, a sprinkle of salt, and brown sugar.

in other news, harvest has been kicking our butts this year. I really feel for my husband--when he comes home sore and exhausted from being on the farm all day (5am-12am some days!) all I want is to keep him home and in bed, waited on hand and foot for working so hard for our family. the amount of work he does in a day is incredible--from chopping silage to loading hogs, feeding cattle, making bales, running semi loads of corn to the elevator, etc...he doesn't quit moving for hours on end. makes me feel so...I don't know, like I could never match the amount of energy he puts into a day with what I do on my end. from one camp I suppose balancing two jobs and taking care of the house, Lydia and pets would seem like it requires so much energy (which it does)....but it's not the same. and I certainly wouldn't expect Charlie to get home from work and do anything but take a hot shower and cuddle in with Lydia if she's still awake. but this too shall pass, the corn and beans will come in, the fields will get plowed, the animals sent away, and another season shall start at the farm once this time is over. it's just a lot of hard work and emotional sacrifice right now--hard not seeing my husband in any other mode other than exhausted and sore.

however, it has been so nice to grab up Lydia from daycare, make a quick supper, and bring it out for a ride-along in the truck or tractor with him! I am learning so much from other farm wives as to the best ways to keep in touch with husbands who seemingly marry their tractors for a month.  those ride-alongs give us a chance to talk, and it gives Lydia time with her daddy, something I have noticed to be very affective in her little life. she misses her dad, and it becomes readily apparent at times via meltdowns or her simply vocalizing, "I need Daddy." this winter we'll have to make up for lost time and spend more time together doing fun things as a family...looking forward to the Christmas season to do so! I've been Pinteresting some ideas already, but the mature adult in me is petulantly waiting until after Thanksgiving to do any serious Christmas planning. :)

Saturday, September 28, 2013

one of those days

today it's chilly and breezy.  Lydia and Charlie are napping, and I've just finished charting on two new clients. supper is in the crock-pot (Greek-seasoned zucchini, onion and celery tops with chicken, which I'll serve over orzo tonight with tzatziki). maybe after everyone wakes up we'll head out to the state park to go for a walk (Lydia loves her birthday bike, and our dog could stand to be out of his kennel!).

it's been a busy September, busier than any I remember. amazing how the days literally fly by.  a couple of cool things that happened:

first, our darling daughter turned 3. THREE. we had a little party for her at our house with family and friends, her godmother Brynn came to spend the night and they had a slumber party, and her daycare buddies shared in her birthday as well.  so many fun presents that reflect what she loves most these days...a Lorax puzzle/activity book, a new bike, a salamander (from Mama!), a beautiful owl purse, dollies, a Super Soaker, play outfits, and more. I woke her up the morning of her birthday with a raspberry butterbraid pastry, and we enjoyed it together as an early-morning treat. I cannot for the life of me think back to when she was tiny. she's so capable and wise, brave, funny and sweet; in short, becoming the person I saw inside her the day she was born (aaaaauuggghhh there go the tears!).

and secondly, in the middle of the month I stayed in the Twin Cities for a week, taking the Certified Lactation Specialist course.  it was an intense range of information being presented, from counseling skills to proper identification of nursing barriers/issues.  my coworker and I worked hard throughout the week learning as much as we could, spending time networking with other state/medical staff, and enjoying some time to ourselves (I did water aerobics and swam in the early mornings, which felt amazing). we both ended up passing the course and I can now place Katie Chapman, CLS on my business cards. proud to be able to better help the moms in our area with breastfeeding!

with Lydia being so busy, and work with both camp and WIC picking up, Charlie and I have really tried to put some focus on decluttering our home and lifestyle.  it feels so good to let go of things that we felt had been holding us back...clothes that no longer, and never will again, fit, baby items that found better homes, office supplies better used in friends' classrooms, furniture we weren't using and won't need, doubles of household items, you name it. out the door it went. because somehow, we have to have enough room in our home for the master bedroom, our office, Lydia's room, and a new nursery.

that's right.

Mama's having a baby in the spring.

and we couldn't be happier!

this pregnancy is different from the one I experienced with Lydia in a few ways:
I am tired. with Lydia I had energy all day, slept well, and felt like I could run marathons.  with this pregnancy I am not sleeping as well (restless legs and some insomnia issues), and I feel as though I have already run a marathon before my feet hit the floor in the morning.
I am experiencing some food aversions. two of my staples, hummus and coffee, are making me slightly queasy. eaten or drank at the right time is fine, but my stomach turns just thinking about them now. happiness is found these days in a cup of Meyer Lemon tea (Stash brand), coconut quinoa or millet, cinnamon, squash, eggs, yogurt, and other foods/beverages that seem easier on my tummy.
I am emotional. I experienced this with Lydia a little, and perhaps I was too busy to truly feel feelings and process them.  I find myself lamenting the loss of my baby daughter quite a bit, even though she's grown into such a beautiful little girl. I find myself tearing up at the silliest things--insurance commercials, diaper ads in magazines, pictures of nursing moms, you name it.
I am confident. THIS feels so good! I am not reading about all the things that can go wrong in pregnancy like I was with Lydia. I am trusting my body to grow a healthy baby and know what things I can do for myself to facilitate that...taking good prenatals, exercising, staying busy and active, resting when I need to, and trying to limit the amount of stress in our lives. I am confident in my choice of health care providers, and am comfortable bringing up my concerns in a way that communicates our beliefs on birth and breastfeeding while being respectful. 

in short, life is about to become much, much busier...but we can't wait. :)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

a photo journal of some summer love

Lydia and her little buddy Evelia

Making Mommy a beautiful painting

All done! Mother's Day surprise a success!

going fishing

Lydia and her 'best fwend' Uncle Tom

the proud gang

though we're still unsure...

this one was delicious!

Wood Duck Days

Lydia and her very special friend

cousin love! yay Baby August!

too cool for school

pretty as posies

pontoon ride!

my breastfeeding booth at the Murray County Fair!

everyone loves a parade!

excited to ride the roller coaster!

shucking corn with Grandma and Great Uncle Derald

big hugs for Rocky

an heirloom tomato for our farm girl!

this kid loves tomatoes beyond belief...

and blackberries!

she's our peanut pie! almost three!!