Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Butter Crunch

This is something we would eat every Christmas. My husband's grandmother made it every year. This is the first Christmas without her, so we made it in her memory.

Here's the recipe.

Butter Crunch

In large pan, cook:

1 cup sugar
1 cup white Karo syrup
1 lb butter

Bring to rolling boil for 10 min
- Add 2 tsp vanilla at end

In large bowl, mix:

1 box (17.5 oz) Rice Chex
1 cup coconut
2 cups pecans (halved)
1 cup sliced almonds

Mix sugar mixture with dry.
Spread out on way paper to set up.
Store in plastic zip bag.

Happy Holidays

I'm still pregnant! LOL! 40 weeks and 5 days today. My body seemed to be getting prepared last week. Unfortunately, on Brigham's 6th birthday, as well as my guess date, the entire family came down with a stomach bug. All of us except our birthday boy. What a great gift for him. That seemed to put my body on hold.

We are now down at my in laws and parents for the holidays. We had Christmas at Brent's parents house yesterday. Today we are going to my parents house.

Hope you are all having a great week.

Monday, October 29, 2012

32 Weeks 4 Days

I'm really feeling pregnant now.  I've only gained 16 pounds, but feel so much bigger.  I've made it to the stage where I'm sad that my birth journey is almost over. However, I'm to the stage where I also hurt all over. My abdomen, back, legs, crotch, constant acid reflux, can't sleep b/c my arms and legs cramp and fall asleep, my left leg went numb today when taking my son to the bathroom today at the gas station, etc... I don't want it to end, but then I can't wait.   LOL!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Xlear SparX Review

I was chosen by Moms Meet (greenmomsmeet.com) to review Xlear SparX candy and tooth gel. I received the Fruit, Berry, and Citrus flavored candies, as well as the Natural Bubble Gum and Strawberry Banana flavored tooth gels.

This was the first time I had ever heard of the Xlear SparX products. What I like about them is that they are sweetened with xylitol (a plant-based sweetener) instead of sugar or other sugar free products. All the Xlear SparX candies are also free of artificial colors and flavors.

I want to write a little about xylitol, because it is a sweetener I had no knowledge about until the last year. Xylitol is a naturally occurring plant-based sweetener. It does not interfere with the body's blood sugar levels or insulin production, which makes it a great choice for children and adults on a sugar-controlled diet. Xylitol is also dentist recommended, and has been proven to improve dental health and strengthen tooth enamel.

When I opened the box and saw the samples I was excited. I love trying new, healthy products. The tooth gel was a special treat since it is not just sweetened with xylitol, but is fluoride free. We only use fluoride free products in our home, including filtering it from our drinking water.

I opened each candy container first. Who wouldn't get excited over trying candy? I was a little apprehensive at first. I have tried several "sugar free" candies and products. In my opinion, they always leave a bad aftertaste in your mouth. I've never been a fan of natural sweeteners sugar alternatives due to that, as well as the health risks associated with many of those.

I was fortunate enough to only have my 10 year old daughter in the room with me as I was able to sample the candies and taste the tooth gel (which is also safe to swallow) without fighting off all the other kids. We both tried 4 of each candy flavor, and a small drop of each tooth gel. I was very surprised at how good they tasted! The candies are small, but the flavor spreads through you mouth. They are not chewy, but do not explode into powder when bitten. The tooth gel was easily squeezed out of the tube. A great texture. We both wanted more, but I decided to get more "reviewers" opinions. As a mother of 7, I have plenty of people to help try the products out.

For the candies:

My 14 and 10 old daughters, 4 year old son, and I all liked Citrus best.

My 8 year old daughter liked the Berry flavor over the others.

My 5 year old son and 2 year old daughter liked the candies all equally.

For the tooth gels:

My 14, 10, 8, and 5 year olds liked the Strawberry Banana flavors best.

My 4 and 2 year olds preferred the Bubble Gum flavor.

My 1 year old had no preference. He just wanted to eat them all.

The biggest issue I had with the candies and tooth gels were that my kids wanted them all the time. LOL! They wanted candy because it was so yummy (I agree). My 8, 5, 4, and 2 year olds came running with their toothbrushes. Then wouldn't stop brushing their teeth. I would say that is a good problem.

I feel these are great products. My kids love them. They taste great. I would definitely tell my family and friends about Xlear SparX products. I would even be more likely to buy these over other products due to the taste and health factors. Especially the tooth gels. It is hard to find a good tasting, natural, fluoride free toothpaste for kids. This is the first we have found that all of my children enjoyed and said they would happily use.

I give Xlear SparX candy and tooth gel my parent and child stamp of approval. It passed in our family with flying colors. This will be a product found in my house from now on.

For more information about Xlear SparX products, go to Xlear.com or find them on Facebook at Facebook.com/xylitol.experts

Disclaimer: I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms Meet program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agreed to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of the product.

Monday, October 15, 2012

30 Weeks and 4 Days

The last few days have been crazy. Hormonally, I'm everywhere. Happy one minute, then upset. Sometimes I just can't stand the thought of anyone even touching me, at all. My poor Jacob is finding out that he can't squirm and pinch all over me all the time. He hates being sent to the floor from my lap, but it's that or pull my hair out.

I've been trying to clean lately. Nesting I guess. I got almost all of the back room (our future bedroom, and where I plan to labor) cleaned out. Unfortunately, my right hip joint has been acting up. I can work for an hour, maybe two or three if I'm lucky. After I rest, I am limping for the rest of the day. Sometimes the next as well.

Acid reflux has hit hard again. It's been pretty good this pregnancy. The last month or two I've had almost none. I've had trouble sleeping the last two nights, using my Bumbo pillow to prop myself up and curl around like a body pillow. I did end up sleeping sitting up on the couch half the night lastnight. A big roast dinner just before bed didn't help things. Won't do that again.

Other than that, things are going great. Baby is active, kicking and rolling right now. I did misplace my RRL leaves, but found them today. Weight has been stable. I need to keep up with my fluid intake.

Family news:

Brent is in another play. He's so excited. I thought about trying out for the part of the pregnant lady, but being a few weeks from my due date, I decided it would be more stress than I needed. Plus, I see it as Brent's away time. Where he can "get away" for a bit.

Abby has found she likes to read. YAY!!! She has been so insistent she "can't read". However, she read 79 pages in a book I found for her the other day... All in one day! Can't read! Whatever! LOL!

She also went to the park with Hannah today. They were gone for 15 minutes when they came back. Abby somehow ran into a pole, bloodied her nose and whacked her front left tooth. Thankfully, so far her tooth looks fine, and her nose as well. She "killed" her front baby tooth as a little one (around 2). Knocked it on a free weight, abscessed it, and when the Dr pushed on the spot on her gums above it, it killed; turning it grey. I told her of she did that again, she can't get a new tooth.

Hannah has made a couple friends. Jenny and Destiny. It's really perked her attitude up.

Oh, and did I forget to mention that we bought a school bus last week? Yep. Our van officially died a few weeks ago. We found a cool black school bus on Craigslist and bought it.

That's about it for now!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Busy Weekend

We're getting ready for our biggest weekend of the year. Saturday and Sunday we will be selling kettle corn at the Weston Applefest. We go through about 500 pounds of popcorn in those two days! It is CRAZY! What an incredible and fun event though! This will be our third year working this festival. Then, excitedly, we get to also set up at the first annual JCPenny Fall Festival in Hamilton on the 20th. What fun to actually be there for the first year! For those who have never seen how kettle corn is made, here is a video of Brent popping it up. It is not our "official" look, since this was just in the front making some for the family, instead of in the trailer for a festival.

You can follow us on Facebook at Kansas City's Best Kettle Corn or on Twitter at @KCBestKettleCrn.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

27 Weeks

Here is my official announcement.

Tomorrow I will be 27 weeks into my pregnancy. I am excited to say we are expecting our 8th baby on December 20, 2012. The fun part is that is also Brigham's 6th birthday!

The kids are very excited. We told them a couple weeks ago, when my tummy was popped enough that it could not be mistaken for much other than a "Baby Bump".

Brent's Grandmother, Joyce, passed this year. I feel strongly that this baby is a girl. I talked with Brent about names. That I want to name her after Joyce. After talking about it, he came up with a name I really love. So, if we have a girl, the name might be Joy Christine (Joy C).

If we have a boy, that's a different story. I have no clue. Boy names are drawing a blank, which is another reason I "feel" this is a girl. Every time I am like this, the sex is that of the names I think of.

I just wanted to update what all is going on lately.

Our 8th baby, 5th home birth, and 3rd unassisted birth.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Wisk® Deep Clean From Smiley360

I got free samples of Wisk Deep Clean from Smiley360.   I was able to try several samples and see what I thought.

We are a family of 9.  There are 2 active adults in the house, and 7 very active children (ages 14, 10, 8, 5, 4, 2, and 1).  As I used Wisk Deep Clean laundry detergent I was very impressed at how clean it got our clothes, as well as how fresh they smelled.  I love to smell my clothes as they come out of the laundry.  LOL!  This is a detergent you can do that with.  :)

Thank you Wisk and Smiley360 for this opportunity to review your product!

Wisk® Deep Clean: Thx Wisk for my free Deep Clean sample! Like Wisk on FB for $1 coupon http://on.fb.me/O336xm #DeepCleanMission *Please remember the FTC requires you to mention that you received a free sample courtesy of Smiley360 when sharing.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Happy Birthday Jacob!

My little man! What an amazing year!

Born in your Great-Grandmother's bathtub. She loved telling that story, the birth she had no idea that would happen at her house, to every person she talked to. She loved you so much!

As you have grown, you have shown what an amazing boy you are. You are sweet, smart, and adventurous. LOL! Keep it up!

I love you my baby man!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Kefir Water

I've been working with the kefir water. It's been trial and error. What I'm wanting is kefir soda. What has been giving me problems is the "fizz". I finally got my grape soda to fizz really well tonight. Almost too well. LOL! So far I still have yet to get the ginger ale to fizz.

What I did was take the advice from several people. I'm letting my grains sit in the water for 48 hours, for now. I add the grape juice into the bottle, then the kefir water. I plug it, shake it, and let it sit 24 hours. I then vent it (an listen to see if it pops), then plug it, shake it, and let it sit another 24 hours. After that, I put it in the fridge.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Our First Attempt At Water Kefir

I got my live organic water kefir in the mail today. I am so excited!

I rinsed a clean quart jar with filtered water.

Boiled about 2/3 cup filtered water. Then added it to the jar.

Added 1/3 cup raw sugar to the hot water, and mixed it until dissolved.

Added cool filteted water until about 1 inch from the 4 cup line.

Added 1/4 cup kefir grains.

Covered jar with coffee filter (to allow air flow, but keep dirt, bugs, and other stuff out) and put screw band over it to hold it on.

It's now in the cupboard eating and doing it's job.

We shall see how it is doing tomorrow.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Moses Turns 4

Last Tuesday my little Moses turned 4. How do they grow up so fast?

He had a good day. He got a spaghetti dinner, and then we had cake. Brent had a vision of a volcano cake. It was a super chocolate cake, with chocolate chips, hot fudge for the icing, and in the middle was a pyroclastic flow of chocolate milk and dry ice.

He loved it!

Monday, May 7, 2012

8 Years Ago Today

My daughter, Abby, was born 8 years ago today. Here's her birth story.

Abigail is our third baby. I waited patiently with her birth. I was due on April 30. Well, April 30 came and went, and I continued to wait for her. On May 7, I knew I was in labor all day but didn't say anything to Brent until I was getting somewhat uncomfortable. Her labour was the very best of all of them thus far. We were staying with a group in Independence Missouri. I was in the kitchen area with Brent and some of the women there. I remember how we were all talking and laughing. One of them (who had just had her baby a week earlier) asked me how far apart my contractions were. I casually looked at the clock and when I timed it, I said they were 2 minutes apart. She then got somewhat frantic and said Brent and I needed to leave for the hospital (it was about 30 minutes away). One of the other women (who was a nurse) laughed and said we knew when we should leave, and that we would be fine. Shortly after that, Brent and I got in the car and went to the hospital. Our friends there said they would watch Sadie and Hannah, since it was the middle of the night, and they were sound asleep.

I didn't have any pains until I got into the car. Sitting still, and knowing I was going to the hospital, stressed my body and cause the contractions to become almost unbearable. I had Brent keep the radio on, and I sang the entire way to the hospital, except when I couldn't due to a contraction.

When we got to the hospital, Brent parked the car and helped me into the emergency room area. I was in so much pain that I was cramped into a doubled over position, and couldn't stand upright. The nurses led me into an observation room, put me in bed and hooked up monitors to see where I was at. I'm not exactly sure how long I was in there. It felt like hours, but was probably closer to 20-30 minutes. The nurses came in and took me to one of their birthing rooms. The staff was very friendly, but the on call doctor was a little 'strange'. She just seemed kind of out of it, like she was asleep. I think she was just an odd person, but very friendly.

Shortly after getting to the birthing room, they broke my water. At that point, the pain got very hard to handle. I asked the staff for an epidural. As we were waiting, I found something out that I shared with Brent and the nurse. I told them that it felt so much better during the contractions when I pushed. It took so much of the pain off the contraction and substituted it with manageable pressure. The nurse did not say anything to me about it, and left. About an hour after requesting the epidural, the anesthesiologist came in with his assistant. I was in pain, and do not remember anything about this time of the labour. I am completely blank and do not even remember the epidural being administered. Brent said that the anesthesiologist had trouble with the previous woman (that is why it took so long for them to get to me) and he had blood spattered on him, and he had his assistant performing the epidural. While she was trying to put it in, he was yelling at her. That is not an ideal situation, in my opinion.

Shortly after the epidural, I gave birth to my little Abigail Marie. She was born with dark hair, almost black.

The doctors wanted to keep an eye on her. Her bilirubin level was high. They said she was jaundiced and put her on a bililight. I was still kind of 'out of it' and the doctor said something about liver failure and a blood transfusion. I lost it and started crying. I know that they were trying to explain the worst case scenario, but I didn't understand what they were saying at that time. We took her home, and she spent the first week with a biliblanket. I somewhat joked that I had to plug my baby in, but I was actually battling depression at that time. I had a hard time bonding and I was frightened for her. She did great, though. She ate like a champ, and gained all her birth weight, plus some, back within two days of being home. We had a home nurse come and prick her little heal every day to check her bili level. It was sad, and hard to do, but she did great. After a week, the nurse said she was fine and didn't need the biliblanket anymore.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Upcoming Cloth Diaper Detergent Review

I am planning on doing a blog review on laundry detergents for cloth diapers.

I am so excited to start on this project! I have been cloth diapering for a year now. I have tried a few different detergents. Some I liked. Some I did not. Others I discovered I should not have been using on my cloth diapers.

This review is going to take a little time. I am going to separate my diapers out into groups, where I only wash those specific diapers with the detergent for those certain diapers.

Right now, my diapers are in need of some good detergent too. Over the year, they have been washed, soaked, stripped, sun dried, put through the drier, etc. They all now have a funky smell to them that I dislike. It is time for a good review to see which detergent works best.

Oh, and lets not forget that I have very hard water. The water is definately NOT helping anything here.

So... as of now, I have a sample of Planet (unscented) detergent, as well as Vaska (unscented and lavendar). I plan on getting some Rockin Green (Hard Rock), and Soap Nuts since I have heard great things about them.

I will post again when the review is getting close to being posted.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Prenatal Care Chart - Blank

This is what I used for my prenatal care with my last few pregnancies.

Jeans Diaper

So, I finished sewing my "scrap" diaper. I had a pair of my old favorite jeans. The butt ripped out, so they were trash. I just couldn't stand the thought of throwing them away. Sooo, as I mentioned in a previous post, I made a pattern, and cut out a diaper (and an extra for a pattern).

** Here's the link to the first post - http://ourbirthjourneys.blogspot.com/2012/01/what-big-pile-of.html **

I waited a while because I am out of snaps, my velcro is missing, and I don't have a chair for my sewing room. Well, I got tired of the diaper sitting there. I decided it didn't need snaps or velcro, and really, who needs a chair to sew!

I ditched the fleece inner liner that I was going to use. It gets so pilly so quickly. I pulled out my yummy soft minky, and cut out the new inner liner.

After sewing the entire thing hunkered over the sewing table (hubby came in and mentioned that it's no wonder my back always hurts), and with my 5, 3, and 2 year olds watching and "helping" by getting into all my stuff (LOL), I got it done.

Here it is! I'm so happy! I can't wait for Jacob to wear it when it's time to change him!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Double Standard Of Birth Choices

I don't understand why people don't get upset when the choice to home birth with a midwife is stripped from a woman.

I can guarantee that if it was as difficult to find someone to assist a hospital birth, as it is in many states to find someone to assist a home birth, women nationwide would be up in arms! They would be livid that their choice to birth in the hospital was being taken from them.

Why is it okay to let the choice be hospital or unassisted birth? Isn't it safer to give women the ability to have a birth assistant at home, instead of forcing them into an unassisted birth if they aren't prepared, or aren't comfortable with going it alone?

Shouldn't we, as women, be fighting for the rights of each other? Fight for each other's birth choices, even if it's not our own? Why is there such a double standard?

I have had my hospital, assisted home, and unassisted home births. I was put in the position of hospital or UC. I chose UC. I was prepared for it beforehand. It was amazing. :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What A Big Pile Of... Updated With Link To Finished Product

Clothes! I have a bunch of old clothes. Torn up jeans, holey shirts, ragged sheets.

What to do with it all? Well...

I'm making diapers and cloth wipes. Yep! Either toss it or use it. I say, if I can't wear it, baby can.

I'm only in the cut out stage right now.

Link to post about finishing up the diaper.


Saturday, January 14, 2012

Guest Post: A Birthing Center Story - Brett Vincent Woytek

On Tuesday February 8th, I woke up at 5am and couldn't go back to sleep. I was definitely feeling real contractions for the first time during this pregnancy. Later that morning, after getting Elle off to preschool, I started timing them. The contractions were very random... anywhere from 9-10 minutes apart to sometimes 25 minutes apart. Kyle and I went to walk around the outlet mall and have lunch. (A fun memory of that afternoon: We bought a few things at A Children's Place and the cashier lady asked me when I was due. When I told her "yesterday" and that I was in the start of labor, she was shocked and thought I looked too happy and relaxed for that to be true. She said "Don't you need to call your doctor or go somewhere!" After talking to her more, we found out that her daughter delivered at the Birthing Center and loved it! Also, when Kyle was getting us lunch at Freebird's, the guy making our burritos asked him if he had anything exciting going on. Kyle said "well, my wife is in labor out in the car!" The guy said he didn't expect anything THAT exciting! ha ha)

That afternoon, I called into Austin Area Birthing Center and talked to the midwife on call, Mary. (It just so happened that we had met all seven other midwives at our prenatal visits except for Mary simply because the scheduling didn't work out.) Mary said I was in prodromal labor (or some call it "false labor" although there is nothing really false about it). She suggested I relax and take a bath as the evening settles and even have a half glass of red wine if I wanted. Mary said the wine could help me get some sleep or it could jump start true labor. The timing of the contractions was not progressing but the intensity seemed to be, so after dinner I did as the midwife ordered. To my surprise, things started to pick up... and fast! (I thought this prodromal labor may go on forever and I was dreading not being able to sleep to rest up for the true labor that was still to come!) My contractions quickly grew closer.

By 8pm, I was in active labor (4-5 min apart), having very intense contractions. I did my best to use what we learned in our Birth by Nature classes to ease my mind, relax my body, and let the contractions do their work. (That was hard!) Kyle called his parents to pick up Elle. Elle was being so sweet though and wanted to be right by me. She was so curious about what Mommy was going through and I felt bad because she would ask me questions and during a contraction I could not answer her. Kyle also ran around the house and made sure that we had everything we needed in our bags and loaded into the car. Kyle called Mary and packed up the car and we were headed out at 11pm.

With Mary, we made the decision to go to Austin Area Birthing Center South, a beautiful brand new location for AABC. We had been warned of this chance the week prior since they are remodeling the birthing rooms at the North center. They had just painted and they warned any birthing mothers of the possible smell of paint fumes. We didn't want to chance that since my sense of smell is very sensitive. I was worried about the drive all the way to William Cannon and being comfortable during contractions in the car. It was hard since I couldn't move around at all and just had to sit there. I closed my eyes, hugged my pillow and used relaxation breathing like crazy! The contractions progressed to every 3 min on the way down there. I could also feel A LOT of pressure downward as if the baby was almost ready to be birthed!

We arrived at 11:40pm. Mary met us at the door and showed us the three rooms we could choose from since we were the first birthing couple that night. We chose the Austin Music Scene room and Kyle left to go to the car to get our bags. My first contraction at the center, I leaned over the bed and said that I felt like I needed to push. My water broke right there and Kyle came back in surprised! I kept feeling like I needed to push so Mary encouraged me and told Dana, the midwife assistant, to "prepare for birth". I was thinking, "oh my goodness, this is really happening!" I couldn't get comfortable and didn't know what position I wanted to be in. I suggested that I get into the tub for a water birth, but they told me there wasn't time to fill it! Things were really happening fast! (I think they turned the tub on to make me happy, but there truly was not enough time!) I pushed through every contraction for about 19 minutes and Brett was born at 12:04am!!! Mary and Dana were absolutely wonderful and encouraging, letting me know the baby's positioning through my pushing. I remember the best thing I heard was: "the next push might deliver your baby's head". I was so excited and pushed harder and longer than ever! Awesome, intense, and indescribable feelings!!

I look back and thank God over and over for the speed of my labor (4 hours total). I was hoping that we wouldn't arrive at the birthing center and still have hours and hours to go. Things truly worked out perfectly to welcome Brett into the world. After he was born, he was immediately put onto my chest and Mary and Dana did everything to make sure he was okay. He was perfect!

The next several hours consisted of making sure Mommy and Baby were okay. AABC was such a relaxed environment. Loved it! And, since everything went perfectly, and Brett and I were completely healthy and doing very well after his birth, the AABC wants you to be in the comfort of your own home. We left the center at around 7am to make the trip home!

It was Austin's second ice storm of the season that morning. The temperature outside was in the 20s and we had to wait for ice all over our car to melt. Along with the other cars on the highway, we drove slowly home. Brett slept all the way home and didn't make a peep. When Elle came to the center to meet Brett with Papaw and Mamaw, she stayed with us and fell asleep after the excitement wore down. (Another blog post about Elle meeting Brett for the first time!) She also slept all the way home.

What an unforgettable night!

Brett Vincent Woytek
February 9, 2011
12:04 am
8 lbs 15 oz
22 inches

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Guest Post - The UBAC Of Cambree

Tomorrow will make 1 year to the day since Cambree was conceived....it amazes me how time flies.....I was content with having just 3 children. My pregnancies were so hard on my body from hyperemesis gravidarum to symphasis pubis dysfunction to moments where my blood pressure would drop and I would almost pass out (and frequently did while in walmart stores, lol) and the stressful journey of having twins born by emergency csection at 28wks and then an almost 10 week nicu stay. So after having gone thru birth trauma during the birth of my 3rd child and first son, also a vbac, I decided I was done having babies. I thought my husband agreed with that decision. I guess he wasn’t as comfortable with that decision as I was.

In July 2010 my husband told me over the phone that he wanted to have another baby. He was in California and I was back home in North Carolina. He was there for predeployment training and I was home raising our kids without him. I had just been doing research on birth, birth trauma, trying to get a feel for my emotions after having gone through alot of physical and emotional pain following the vbac (vaginal birth after csection) of my son. I was happy I didn’t have to endure another painful csection but knew that what had happened during the delivery just wasn’t right. I didn’t know it at first but everything that had occurred was NOT normal. That it should NOT have occurred. That the doctor, the man I put my trust in to do me no harm directly went against his Hippocratic Oath and hurt me. He abused me. He took away my rights. And broke my heart and shattered my soul. So when my husband said he wanted another child, my first instinct was to say no. That I couldn’t, that I wouldn’t go through that again. I let it sink in for a little while and we talked again the next evening about it and heard the reasons why he felt our family was incomplete and just knew I couldn’t let what had happened in the past keep my husband from his wanting of another child.

My reply to him was that if we were to have another child, he or she would be born at home. I would not allow myself to be placed in a situation that could lead to what had happened before. I didn’t trust a doctor or nurse to uphold my rights. I didn’t trust myself to not to surrender to them again. So I wasn’t going to put myself in that situation.
Josh was a bit taken aback by that response but he knew that I was still hurting and that this was what I needed so he agreed.

I began to research birth even more from there. I knew we were going to have a homebirth but I also knew that midwives in our state are limited being that only CNMs (certified nurse midwives) are the only midwives legally allowed to attend births. And in our area there was only one midwife. I sent her an email and we began to talk about my previous birth history, what I wanted from this birth and it was clear we just did not match up. I was not trusting and wanted this very hands off and she was leery that I was a VBAC. So that was that. I kept looking and found an underground midwife an hour away but she too was a bit uncertain being that I was a VBAC and that I carried risks. So I kept researching.

In a group I had found online I heard about unassisted birthing, or freebirthing as it’s sometimes referred to. At first I thought it was absolutely crazy but the more and more I researched homebirth the more that it seemed normal to me. I started researching whether or not it was really safe and if it was legal and saw that it was indeed safe and legal to do so. I brought it up to Josh that I not only wanted a homebirth but I did not want a doctor or midwife to attend. Needless to say, that conversation didn’t exactly end well.

But I didn’t give up. I did more research. I probed my husband for questions, answers, as to why he didn’t want to do the UC. Finally he gave in and told me his fears. I went through with him and showed him the research, showed him that it was safe and explained to him fully that this was just a better fit for me, that if we were to have another child that this was the way we were going to do it. It took time but he finally agreed that we could go ahead with our plans and have this child the way I wanted.

It was shortly after agreeing that we bought a house and moved and were preparing ourselves for our first deployment. My husband was going to go to Afghanistan for 6 months. It was terrifying. We were not going to try and conceive until after he returned but as time went on we felt as though we should just go for it. That if it was meant to be now than it would be. Our first month of trying, we kind of half assed it, I didn’t really track anything and there was just no rush. I had a cyst burst and I just knew this month wouldn’t be our month. I was still worrying whether trying now would be best, as I would be pregnant with him gone, having to raise 3 children 4 and under and go through the HG again without help. But at the same time I worried about something happening while my husband was deployed that would prevent us from having children again. I knew I just had to place my concerns with God and that when it was right it would be. So we kept on.

It was around the 15th of October that I tested after displaying some sure signs of pregnancy. It was still early only 9 days past ovulation and the day I was sure we would have conceived but I got a negative. I was so bummed but I knew that it was still early. My box had 3 tests in it so I decided to wait a day and test the next. So on 11dpo I tested again and sure enough that positive line showed up. Josh and I were so happy. We decided not to tell anyone just yet and wanted to wait to find the best way to announce it this time. Luckily an idea popped in my head and I shared the info with a close friend who is a photographer and we came up with the idea to announce it via family photos including a sign that read "baby #4 due June 2011" the photos were a hit when we released them via facebook. Everyone was shocked but pretty happy. Many thought we were crazy but we expected that.

Halloween came and I was already showing even though I was only a few weeks along. Josh was supposed to deploy but they delayed things so we welcomed the time together. I was feeling tired but great. I wasn’t sick yet and I just wanted to enjoy everything as we are sure this would be our last pregnancy.

Mid November arrived and I made my first appointment on base. Got the pregnancy confirmed and went to my first visit where we had a quick ultrasound to determine due date which was right on of course, with what I knew to be my due date. Had my second visit and just knew that I couldn’t continue seeing the doctors. It was laughable. They were so naive as to what normal birth was. That because of my genetics and history I was so high risk and had to be managed. I knew better. I wasn’t broken; i didn’t need to have another csection because I had one before. I didn’t need to be followed closely the whole pregnancy just because we were at risk to have another child with Down Syndrome. I didn’t need to have weekly visits since I had previously had preterm labor and deliveries. I was made to give birth. I was made to grow this child perfectly within my womb. I didn’t need the doctor’s help for this. But i wasn’t sure if I could just not go to these pointless appointments.

December arrived and it was time for Josh to deploy. The week before Christmas he left, and that is when my HG hit me full force. I had my dad come up for a few weeks to help out with the kids and house chores and such and it helped keep my mind off of everything. I went to my doctors’ visits, dreading each one. After going to a specialist appointment that I was tricked into, we discovered my cervix was shortening. I was only 15 weeks along. They wanted me to start progesterone shots weekly and to have monthly appointments with ultrasounds at each one. I was hesitant. But the doctor here seemed supportive of me that I could have the birth I want IF I could do what i needed to do to stay pregnant. I went to a few more appointments with her and realized nothing was happening further with my cervix without me needing the meds or being on limited bed rest and the doctors following me really weren’t providing any care that I couldn’t do myself. So at 16wks I stopped seeing the regular OB. I still saw the specialist once a month for a few months but more and more I realized they were just looking for something to be off, for a reason to say, let’s have this baby now.

At 32weeks, my last visit with the specialist, they pulled the 'big baby card' saying my little girl was already over 5lbs. that if things continued there was no way I could deliver her vaginally. They wanted me to repeat a glucose tolerance test. I laughed and said I never did one at all. They freaked out saying I must have gestational diabetes and that I had to test immediately. I thanked her for her opinion and let her know I had done the research and that I felt confident that the testing was not needed. We ended the appt with that and I left and never scheduled another visit and never went back.

At 36 weeks I got a call from the OB that I had quit seeing at 16wks asking how things were, where had I been and if I planned on returning. I had to laugh at the nurse calling. I told her I was having a homebirth and no longer required their services. I could tell in her tone of voice that she thought I was crazy as we said our goodbyes. I just laughed thinking it had been 20 weeks since my last visit and they just now noticed I was gone....

May had arrived and it was almost time for Josh to return home from deployment. I was so excited. I loved talking to him online and everything but the time apart was tough. But we had made it through. And most importantly he was safe and I was still pregnant! He finally came home and we were a family again!

Just a few days later I had my first "false alarm" I had been having contractions 3-5 minutes apart for 2hrs they were much stronger than my other prodromal labor contractions and more painful than braxton hicks contractions I had been having. I even called my friend and doula to come over and sit with me as I wasn’t sure if this was it. Of course a few hours later it was clear this was just prodromal labor again and it wasn’t time. But I was ok with that as my parents were due to arrive a few days later and I didn’t want them to miss the birth of their grandchild. And most importantly I was ok with waiting until Cambree chose her birthdate. It amazed me to think that had I gone into the hospital they would have pushed augmentation of my labor via artificial rupture of membranes and pitocin and would have forced her to be born before she was ready. I couldn’t imagine doing that to my precious little one. So I was glad we were doing things the way they were meant to be.

All through the month of June I wondered when baby would arrive. I was feeling the pressure of my family since they were on a schedule with when they had to return to Florida. We wanted hubby to be able to take more time off. We were going to be going on vacation to Florida in July and I didn’t want to end up giving birth there. So I was feeling the stress but still was happy with baby choosing her day, but it was getting harder to keep waiting.

Then my due date arrived. I was still pregnant! I never expected to make it to my due date, let alone passed it! I felt great though. I still had a lot of energy considering. But I was big and my hips and back hurt but I was doing well. I saw a chiropractor a few times to get my pelvis realigned and it helped me a lot.

On the morning of the 4th of July I was trying to sleep in a bit but woke up around 8:30 to go pee. I go and came back to lay in bed to hopefully fall back asleep for a little while longer before we started our day. We had a full day planned from the block party bbq at our doulas house on base followed by fireworks with the family. Josh came in and asked how I was doing and asked if labor was near. I just said no, that I was kind of crampy but U didn’t have any contractions or anything. I could tell by the look on his face he was bummed and I just kind of shrugged. Baby would come when baby was ready.

He left and I tried to get comfortable again to rest. 15 minutes later and I’m hit by a super strong contraction that I had to really focus and breathe through. It HURT! I was like man..... It was pretty crazy. 5 minutes later another one came, just as strong as the first. I rolled over and cuddled up with a pillow trying to get comfortable. But again was hit by another even stronger contraction. I looked at my phone and it had been 5 minutes again since the last. Hmmm i thought. Could this be it?

I posted on my facebook from my cell "happy 4th of July, let’s see what the day brings" as a lil clue that I might be in labor. Some thought so but many didn’t. I Kept still after that and tried laying there and fought to breathe through these contractions but couldn’t. So I got up and got dressed but didn’t leave my room. I wasn’t sure what was going on but I thought maybe if I moved they stop or slow down. I put on some shorts and my tank top and was almost knocked over by an even harder contraction, Just 3 minutes later another. Holy cow, I think I’m really in labor. Just from getting out of bed my contractions went from 5 minutes apart to 3 minutes apart.

Around 9:45am I went out to the living room and sat next to hubby and whispered to him, I’m having contractions, don’t tell anyone. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to tell my parents yet as they were quite jumpy whenever I mentioned them before. But that plan was short lived as I was hit with yet another strong contraction and right then my dad came out of the kitchen and asked if I was in labor yet, as he had every morning for the last month. The fact I couldn’t respond kind of gave it away. Once the contraction passed I said yes I’m having contractions, but I’m not sure if this is it. Another contraction came and I couldn’t sit through them any longer I had to get up.

Josh and my dad went into the kitchen and I hung out at the pass through looking into the kitchen and tried to talk with them for a bit but had to stop and really focus during the contractions. I would lean over and hold the edge of the pass through and slightly bend my knees. It was clear this was labor. They were steady at 3 minutes apart.

It was 10am when i went to the back bedroom to wake my mom. I told her, hey mom i think I’m in labor... contractions are about 3 minutes apart. My mom who was half asleep almost jumped outta bed at that point, 3 minutes apart?! She practically yelled out to me. She got up so fast, lol. She headed to the bathroom and was trying to start the day when I needed to use the bathroom, I felt like I had to pee. I joined her and sat down and tried to pee but instead had a few contractions. My mom was doing her hair and looked at me and kept saying stuff and I was trying to tune her out. She asked me at one point 'Are you sure you should be trying to pee, you don’t want to end up delivering on the toilet" at which point I yelled at her. SHUT UP MOM, JUST SHUT UP. My mom quickly left the room as I ended the contraction and I heard her tell my husband and dad that I was clearly in transition already.

I left the bathroom and texted my doula "if these contractions continue I don’t think I’ll be making it to your 4th of July party" that they were 3 minutes apart. She texted back, well then I don’t think I will be either! Just a few moments later I had another harder contraction than before quickly followed by another and then another. Looking at the clock I realized, these are 2 minutes apart! I texted Chrissy back again and said, ya contractions are 2 minutes apart now, I need you. She replied with I’m getting dressed and I’m on my way.

We knew from her house to mine was 16 minutes and man did those 16 minutes feel like ever. I was having contraction after contraction and I was trying to focus and breathe through them but it was getting pretty difficult.
I went back into my room and I posted in my due date group a simple post....
" if this isn’t labor, I’m in hell cuz OMFG!!"

It was 10:56am and I had been in labor a little over 2hrs. 2 very intense hours.
I was in my room on Josh’s laptop leaning over my bed, browsing FB and Cafemom, listening to music when Chrissy arrived. We had a laugh when she saw what I was doing. She said something like "I just knew you’d be on FB while in labor" the laughing was nice but it distracted me right as a contraction hit and it was very intense. I had to slightly squat and breathed through it and Chrissy could tell this was definitely the real thing. She rubbed my back and her presence there helped get me back into my zone.

After a few more contractions like that I had Josh fill up the birth pool. I could not wait to get in it. My legs were getting tired and I was just hurting. I wanted my "aquadural". I wanted the relaxation the water would provide. The pool was quickly filled and I got in. And the pool slightly overflowed. But I didn’t care. It was sweet relief, At least for in between the contractions. I was sitting down slightly leaning back against the side when the next contraction hit and I knew I could not stay in that position. It hurt just way too much. I got up on my knees leaning over the edge and spilled more water out of the pool but it was much more comfortable.

Another contraction hit and I made Josh sit in front of me. I held his hand and squeezed it as he squeezed back. Chrissy poured water over my back during the majority of the contractions. Whenever I would start to tense up she'd remind me to breathe and it would help me back into my zone.

I kept contracting about every 2 minutes for quite a while in this position. Each time I would need hubby to squeeze my hands I don’t know why but it helped get my mind off the pressure and intensity of the contractions.

My 4.5yo daughter Alayna was in and out of the room helping Chrissy pour water on my back, she'd tell me I was doing great and was excited but very curious to watch me labor. It makes me happy now thinking about her being there.

Around 2:00pm or so I began to waiver, I was getting exhausted. I tried to rest in between contractions but they were coming so fast, about every minute, minute and a half now, sometimes double peaking. My body began to get pushy at the end of them as well. I knew not to fight it but it was taking up alot of my energy. I kept thinking to myself I can’t do this, why am i here, why am i doing this? I know at one point I vocalized that I couldn’t do it and chrissy was right there telling me that I could do it, I was doing it and that I was awesome and doing great. It helped me to focus.

Each time I would think to myself I couldn’t do it, I would tell myself what I couldn’t do was get in a car and drive the 5 minutes to the hospital and go through all the trouble there in triage to moving to a room to wait for an epidural,etc. That I wasn’t going to give up on everything I had wanted just to get a lil relief. That I could do this. I could do it. That i was doing it.

A few minutes later I asked josh what time it was. He told me it was 2:15... I thought to myself, I better have this baby before 6:00...I don’t know why but I thought it. Right after that my body just took over. I began pushing with each contraction and I couldn’t help but go with it. I pushed down and I grunted and it was hard. But i did it. I was still holding my husband’s hands and Chrissy was still there to comfort me and i was pushing. I was going to deliver this baby, unassisted, at my home, just like i had wanted for so long.

After what felt like forever I wanted to move so my mom suggested I try leaning back on my husband for leverage to push as I was getting really tired in the squatting position. So Josh hoped in the pool and I pushed with the next contraction. Oh my- the ring of fire!!! Johnny Cash is right, it sure does burn!
**side note, I don’t recommend listening to a playlist on random if it includes this song... while we laughed we had to turn it off as it totally ruined my concentration lol**
But man does it burn. It was like my clit was going to tear in two! I tried supporting that as I pushed but the angle I was at I could support my perineum and my clit and feel for baby as she came down.

I started to lose it. I got scared. I kept saying it hurts it hurts, my doula kept saying its ok, push through it, she was coming, and my husband was telling me to just push, that it was ok. It was almost chaotic. But they got me refocused and in the next contraction Cambrees head was out.

This part hurt alot. Her head was out and she was facing my left thigh. My contractions just stopped. I kept waiting for another to come and they didn’t. I could feel cambree inside of me trying to free herself but together we could just not get things going. I told chrissy that I felt like things were getting stuck. I knew in the back of my mind what we needed to do but Chrissy was the voice that got me moving. Once i said things felt stuck, that she was trying to move but couldn’t, she ordered me to get up and move. At that josh helped me up onto my knees again and my mom took Alayna out of the room because she wasn’t sure what was going on and didn’t want her to see anything if it went wrong. But I wasn’t really in a place to tell her it was ok. As soon as I got back up on my knees with my legs spread as far as I could a contraction hit and I pushed with all my might.

I grunted and pushed and pushed again. Took a deep breath and pushed again and cambree was born into her daddy’s hands. She had a nuchal cord (cord around her neck) but it was easily unwrapped.

With help from Josh and Chrissy I turned over to sit and they handed me the baby. She was purple and gurgly and hadn’t yet taken her first breath. I rubbed her back and her breastbone trying to get her stimulated so she would start to pink up. She'd gurgle but wasn’t responding exactly how I would have liked. I knew she was still receiving oxygen through her umbilical cord and the placenta so I wasn’t too worried but I wanted to get her breathing and pinking up. I gave her one little breath and she coughed and sputtered. I patted her back and talked to her, telling her to take a deep breath and gave another short breath and she let out a nice cry as my mom walked back into the room.

We checked the time and it was 3:00pm, just 6 hrs and 15 minutes after my first contraction. Cambree pinked up nicely and we were all elated. I nursed Cambree for the first time and it was great.

Hubby got out of the pool and immediately into the shower as he "was covered in yucky stuff" as he said. After about 15 minutes or so I decided to get up and let gravity help the placenta out as the after birth contractions were pretty rough. We moved over to the chaise and nursed a little more and then delivered my placenta. After the cord was completely white, cool and limp we had a fun time trying to clamp the cord with the cord ring, I guess I should have researched that part a little bit more. We got that clamped and cut and then we weighed Cambree and she was 9lbs even and 20" long. A nice big healthy girl!

I did not think she was going to be bigger than her big brother and my mom kept saying she was.... she was right because Cambree was almost 2lbs heavier!

After a bit I went and took a shower. While in there I could feel my blood sugar dropping so ate some granola bars and cheese sticks and drank some juice to get my blood sugar back up and then I laid down for a while with Cambree and Chrissy, my doula, helped me with side lying nursing.

Healing went well, and postpartum bleeding was very mild the whole time. The hardest part was the after birth contractions. They were awful and nursing just made it so much worse.

After a bit of a nap we joined the rest of the family out in the living room for dinner and for the kids to really get to see and hold Cambree and it was amazing seeing them with her. They adore her and she really does fit in, just like she was always there.

Looking back at everything, reliving the birth experience in my mind, I definitely know that we did the right thing, the best thing for our family, by having Cambree be born here at home, unassisted. Even though many think we really are crazy, we have been surprised at just how many have been supportive in this journey. It is certainly nothing we will ever forget. It’s been an amazing experience.

~Stephanie Lunday

My Dream Job

As I entered motherhood, I never imagined I would be where I am today. From the time I was 5, I knew my job in life was to be a veterinarian. I loved animals. I always had a pet. A dog and many cats were always at my home. I had rabbits, gerbils, hampsters, birds. Then, when I was a Junior in High School, it happened. I no longer wanted to care for animals. I still had a love for animals, but I had changed. It was not a passion. I just didn't want to do it any more.

I got married right out of High School. I had kids. I worked here and there (airlines, quality control for DirecTV, travel agent, hotels, etc.). Mostly, a SAHM. Then, after my 4th child, a spark began to kindle.

My 4th baby was my first home birth. I had my wonderful midwife and my doula. It made such an impression on me. I began studying pregnancy, labor, and birth a lot. During that pregnancy in 2006, all my time was studying. I wanted, I needed, to know more.

I went on to have my next child at home in 2008, assisted by my friend's mother and her daughter. I learned so much from her about natural healing and herbal remedies.

I went on, in 2010, to have my first unassisted pregnancy and birth. Then again, in 2011, my second unassisted pregnancy and birthed my son completely alone.

That was when the spark burst into flames. I knew what it was that I was to do with my life.

I have since began my journey as a Doula. I am still studying. I am trying to get off the ground. I have my site, my Facebook page, listings on Craigslist and Facebook. I am just waiting, hoping, praying, and searching for the opportunity to help women through their labor and birth. I am so excited to be there for them. To offer placenta encapsulation. To actually have a job with what I have my passion and love in.