Thursday, May 26, 2011

Emi Lou's birth story

WARNING: This is a really long post. I personally don't enjoy reading verbose blog posts, but this post is more a record for me and Emi Lou than something I think other people will enjoy reading. Feel free to skip over the story and just look at the pictures :) Oh and speaking of pictures... these are pictures of childbirth, so you may not want to look at them if you are offended by too much skin. I tried to make sure there's nothing too graphic, but consider yourself warned...

Our sweet little Emilia Lucia arrived on May 19th at 2:42 a.m., and it was a magical, beautiful event!I’m pretty sure this sweet little angel was ready to arrive for a few weeks before she did, but she waited until mommy was ready.

As I mentioned before, we started remodeling the entire main floor of our house about a week before we decided we wanted a home birth. (I know I STILL need to post “after” pics of the remodel, but I figure this is a more important topic to blog about :) Here's a sneak peak though...)

The normal me has a hard time functioning in a disorganized, dirty house. The nine-month pregnant me, who was planning to birth at home, could hardly function in the mess that was left when the remodel was finished.

It took a couple of weeks, but on Tuesday, the 17th, I finally had my house mostly put back together.  I woke up the morning of the 18th feeling like I would meet my baby girl before I went to sleep. I washed the little outfit I wanted her to wear when she arrived and spent the day doing some deep cleaning.

Marco came home around 6 pm and was a little upset. He had been talking to our friends about how I had been measuring small for the past month and was worried that there was something wrong with the baby. He wanted to get an ultrasound, so I called the midwife and she agreed to set something up first thing in the morning.  I remember thinking that it would be a little weird to look at the baby in utero the next day, because I really imagined having her in my arms.

Around 9 pm I started wondering if my mind was playing tricks on me. I was feeling contractions about every 10 minutes, but they still felt like Braxton-Hicks contractions. I decided to take a bath and see if they went away (something which had worked without fail for the 6 months I had been enduring Braxton-Hicks contractions). They were still coming pretty regularly while I was in the bath and started coming about 5 minutes apart when I got out, so at 10:30 pm I decided to call the midwife, Melissa.

When Melissa arrived around 11 pm I still didn’t really feel like I was in labor, but when she checked me she found that I was dilated to 4 and fully effaced. She said that some people would stay at that point for days, but she felt like we should go ahead and set up the pool. So Marco and Melissa set up the birth pool while I went downstairs to try to put Gigi to bed.

I think Gigi knew something was up because even though she was really tired, she just wouldn’t fall asleep. I nursed her for at least an hour while we watched Word World, and although the nursing didn’t put her to sleep, it was at least helpful for moving labor along.

I got up at about 12:30 because the contractions were getting longer and stronger and were finally feeling like more than just Braxton-Hicks. I tried texting and calling the friends who had planned on attending the birth, but of course, couldn’t get a hold of anyone! I wandered around for a bit… said hello to the other midwife, Heidi, who had arrived, made sure the video camera and digital cameras were ready, and at about 1:30 am I finally decided to get in the birth pool. 

Just as I was getting in the pool, my friend Liz called me back to let me know she was on the way. I was so relieved! Liz had used Hypnobirthing when she delivered her daughter and had given me a few birth hypnosis CDs (including “Baby Stay IN!”, which I listened to every night for a month, up until May 17th :) I knew Liz would be able to help me stay relaxed and focused during birth, and I was glad that she would be able to help take pictures of the birth as well.

The power of Hypnobirthing!
After I got off the phone with Liz, I heard Gigi coming upstairs. When she saw that I was in the pool, she wanted to get in too, so Marco helped her put on her swimsuit.  I could hear her in her room saying something to Marco about Emi Lou coming in the pool :) She was so excited!

Gigi’s pool time didn’t last very long though. As soon as she got in, she decided she was ready for bed! It was perfect timing… I could see that she was completely wiped out and would be asleep in no time, and my contractions were still manageable… so after Marco put on her jammies, I got out and took her down to bed.

Even though I was wrapped in a towel and covered in blankets, I was shivering uncontrollably! Gigi giggled at me and said “Can you please stop that?!” Then she latched on and passed out.  

I was kind of amazed how quickly she fell asleep and stayed asleep... a couple of minutes after we laid down (before I was sure she was asleep) I felt a contraction come on and I remembered thinking “Oh my gosh, I feel like my water is going to break!” Sure enough, a second later, it broke with a gush. I was sure Gigi would feel it and freak out, but miraculously she just snored away.

I snuck out of bed and into the bathroom. I guess Marco must have heard me because the next thing I remember is being curled up in a ball on the floor with Marco trying to help me up. Somehow we made it upstairs and into the birth pool, which was sweet relief!

My beautiful midwife, Melissa

I can’t say enough about what a wonderful tool I think a tub/pool of warm is for a laboring woman. It is so relaxing and makes labor so much more manageable! And from what I’ve read, being able to stay relaxed is the key to helping your labor progress.

I know this pic is a little blurry, but I just love the intensity in Marco's face in this one.

So far, that has definitely been true for me. I remember I progressed really quickly with Gigi while I was in the tub, but then things slowed down when I had to get out to push. Since I was able to stay in the water for the entire labor and delivery this time, it took less than an hour from the time my water broke till my baby girl was in my arms.

I think the best thing about having a home water birth though, was how Marco was able to be so involved in the whole process. The midwives were so wonderful about assisting us in delivering our baby... they coached and encouraged us, and knew when to step back and when to get involved.

Emi Lou was born into all of our hands. I asked for help after her head and shoulders came out, because she didn’t slide right out like I had imagined she would. I’m definitely glad the midwives were there to help after she was born because she didn’t make a sound for a few minutes after she arrived… she just looked at me.

Honestly, it worried me a little, but the midwives reminded me she was still getting oxygen thru her umbilical cord. They were right there with oxygen immediately, and kept checking her heart and lungs with the stethoscope. She had good color, and it only took a minute or two for her to make a little squawk and clear her lungs. But after a squawk or two, she fell asleep and took over a 10 minute nap! I don’t know if that was a sign that her birth was exhausting or super peaceful, but it seems like I have another super mellow baby :)

After I got out of the birth pool, we moved into the bedroom so daddy could have some skin-to-skin bonding time and so she could have a chance to nurse. She latched on right away and has been nursing like a champ! (In fact, she weighed an ounce more than her birth weight when we visited the pediatrician 4 days after she was born, and I hear it normally takes a week or 2 for babies to get back to their birth weight!)

We did the newborn exam right on the bed, and I was able to hold her hands which was nice because it helped her stay calm. Official stats: 8 lbs 3 oz (after nursing :) and 20.5 inches long!

The midwives stayed for about an hour to clean up and make sure we were doing ok. After they left I called my mom, tried texting a bunch of people (only to find out that I can’t send a text to more than 10 people at once and I have no way of forwarding sent texts on my phone), and finally went to bed. I had planned on us all going to bed in the same bed, as a big happy family, but decided to sleep in the guest bed with Emi Lou so we could capture on film the moment Gigi met her baby sister. (Which I did, and it was beautiful, but that’s another post for another day…) 

So my home birth was everything I had imagined and hoped for. I don’t think it could have gone any more perfectly! We are all recuperating and adjusting to life as a family of four wonderfully. Gigi loves her baby sister (sometimes a little too much) and she is such a great big sister. Emi Lou is calm and mellow and makes it easy to still be able to spend lots of time with Gigi. Marco has been so incredibly helpful… cooking (he’s an amazing chef) and cleaning and helping out with the girls. I feel great, although I am a little sleep deprived because sweet Emi Lou spends a lot of time awake at night wanting to nurse and look around :) But I can’t complain… Emi Lou had a perfect birth and I have a perfect family! Life is good!!

Friday, May 13, 2011

An exciting change of plans...

So I’m now officially 38 weeks pregnant by the latest due date they gave me… which is about 2 weeks more pregnant than I’ve ever been.  This is a good thing though.  The past few weeks have been crazy hectic and I’ve been begging my little baby to stay in just a little longer. 

We did some EXTREME nesting (started by moving the office downstairs and girls room upstairs, then decided to hire the neighbor to install the hardwood floors that have been sitting in the guest room for a year, which then turned into installing all new mouldings, painting, and completely remodeling our upstairs bathroom) and I ALMOST have the house put back together.  I think the hubby is going to finish painting the girls new room this weekend, and I’m planning to spend a few days deep cleaning… oh, and hopefully have a chance to blog about the before and after of the whole project.

Anyway, in the middle of our remodel, when the house was pretty much turned upside down and I was just a week from when I had originally expected the baby to come (36 weeks… which was when our first munchkin was born) my sweet hubby said to me “So we had better decide if we’re going to do a homebirth or not.”  This totally caught me by surprise, because I thought the issue was off the table.

I guess I should back up… In March a friend had given me a copy of world-renowned midwife Ina May Gaskin’s book Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth.  It’s such an inspiring and empowering book, I could hardly put it down!  And it l left me really wanting the homebirth experience. 

So I asked my hubby what he thought of the idea.  When we were pregnant with our first and I had told him I wanted to have her at a birth center, he wasn’t really excited about the idea, but then we watched The Business of Being Born and he decided he never wanted to have a baby in a hospital.  Well, we all know how that turned out… I had an amazing, natural hospital birth J 

So my hubby’s question was, “What’s wrong with another hospital birth?”  Theoretically, if it went well the first time, with no unnecessary interventions, then it should go well this time too, right?

While I know I most likely would have been able to have another successful natural birth at the hospital, there were a couple of things missing.  First, the option of a waterbirth.  None of the hospitals near me allow pregnant women to deliver in the water.  A few hospitals have tubs that moms can labor in, but many of the benefits of a water birth (such as reducing tearing of the perineum and easing the baby’s transition from the womb to the world) occur during the actual delivery of the baby.  (If you’re interested in some of the other noted benefits of water birth, check out this website:

The other thing I didn’t love about my hospital birth was the recovery.  Between all the noise, the uncomfortable bed, and the well-meaning nurses coming in to check on me every hour or so, I got almost no sleep while I was in the hospital!  Not to mention the fact that they convinced me to let them take my baby away for some reason in the middle of the night when my husband was sleeping and I was only half awake.  (My hubby was NOT happy when he found out about that, since we had agreed that the baby would never be out of our sight!)  I didn’t feel like I did any “recovering” until I got home.

I was also not excited about the thought of having to spend 24 – 48 hours in the hospital after the birth, and not being able to have my 2 year old with me.  We are pretty much attached at the hip, and we’ve only ever spent one night (a total of 10 hours) apart.  I figured the addition of a new little person to share mommy’s love on top of being separated from mommy for that long might be a bit too much for her to handle.

So, back to my shock at the hubby bringing up the option of homebirth again... we had discussed the option back in March and it seemed like his mind was made up against it.  I could see his point of view… we had a good experience at the hospital the first time and he felt safer there.  His sister was born with special needs and, although no one is sure what caused her condition (or even what condition she has), she was born with the umbilical cord tightly around her neck.  While I understand the concern regarding suffocation by the umbilical cord, I found it comforting to learn that according to the March of Dimes, about 25% of babies are born with the umbilical cord around their necks and it rarely causes any problems.  (Here’s another interesting article about the likelihood of a baby being strangled by the umbilical cord.)

I know there are a lot of concerns in general about the safety of home birth.  What many people may not realize is that homebirth midwives are well prepared for the many childbirth emergencies.  They carry with them oxygen for moms and babies and can administer Pitocin via IV in case of hemorrhage.  According to a 2005 study of over 5400 planned home births attended by Certified Professional Midwives in North America (comprised of 98 % US citizens and 2% Canadian), (estimated to be 80 – 90% of American women) is just as safe as hospital birth and is associated with MUCH lower rates of intervention.  In fact, according to the study, your chances of having a cesarean section are six times higher if you deliver in a hospital!  That’s reason enough to keep me out of the hospital!

So now it’s official… we’re having a home birth!  I’m still not sure what made my husband change his mind about having a home birth.  Maybe it was spending lots of time during our remodel with our neighbor who was one of six kids born at home.  I know about half of my friends will be super excited for me, and the rest of you will probably think I’m crazy.  I personally know I’m crazy!  I mean, I know insurance won’t cover my homebirth and I’m actually choosing to pay more for something than I absolutely have to… ME… the coupon queen/bargain hunter!!  This is pretty momentous and I’m not going to lie, it has caused me a bit of inner turmoil over the money aspect.  But in the end, I know being able to have the water birth I’ve always wanted in the comfort of my own home will be priceless!!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Money Saving Monday - How to save on organic foods!

One of the great things about using coupons and some of my other strategies for saving money is that it has allowed me to have extra room in my budget for more organic foods.  Even so, organic foods can be expensive, so I've had to figure out ways to save money on organic foods too. 
Today I'm sharing my tips for saving money on organic foods.  Hopefully they will help you to be able to afford more organic foods in your budget too.  A lot of the things I do to save money on organics are the same things I do to save money on groceries in general (like cooking from scratch and stocking up when I find a great deal), but a few of my "tricks" are unique to shopping for organic foods...

Tips for Saving on Organics

1.      Buy in Bulk 

Don’t pay a premium for packaging… use your own containers and save tons of money while saving the environment!  Buy organic yogurt in quarts rather than 4 oz. – 8 oz. cups.  Annie’s Organic crackers cost 3.2 cents per ounce in a big box at Target or 30 cents per ounce in individual packages in the big box at Costco!  (Costco does have great prices on organic raisins and sugar.)  Always pay attention to the cost per ounce!

2.      Stock up when you find a great sale

I never pay more than 49 cents for Annie’s Organic mac ‘n cheese because I stock up when Smith’s (Kroger) has their $5 off 10 promotion. (They usually run this promotion 2 – 3 times a year.)

3.      Cook from scratch

Why buy a box of organic frozen waffles, when you can buy organic flour, eggs, milk, and oil and make them yourself for half the cost?  I always double or quadruple my recipe and freeze the extras so I only have to make waffles once a month.

4.      Shop at Sunflower Market and Fresh Market (if you’re in Utah)!

·       Sunflower Market has “Double Ad Wednesdays” when their weekly flyers overlap, so twice as many things are on sale!  They have great produce prices and wonderful quality.  I can almost always get organic apples and carrots for 99 cents a pound and often get organic lettuce for about $1.50 a head.

·       Fresh Market’s “Natural Directions” organic prices are very affordable. (This line is also sold at Harmon’s, but generally costs less at Fresh Market.)  I generally buy my organic canned goods at Fresh Market.

5.      When it comes to produce, buy only the “Dirty Dozen”, not the “Clean 15”

Let’s face it… organic produce is expensive!  Try to spend the bulk of your organic budget on those items with the highest pesticide residues.  Clean all produce well before eating.  (Follow these guidelines.) 

6.      Subscribe to Saving Naturally and other organic deal blogs

This where I find out about the current organic deals available on and other online retailers.  This is also a great resource for links to coupons for natural and organic foods.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Money Saving Monday - More Ways to Save!

I figure this post is better late than never.  I actually TRIED to get this posted yesterday, but I'm trying to figure out how to use MS Word for blog posts... it's not working so well.  I finally got it to actually post, but it didn't keep my formatting or pictures.  And then when I tried adding back in the pictures, it wouldn't put them in the right place.  I don't know if it's something I'm doing, a problem with blogger, or something that got messed up when I tried posting from Word (most likely!) but if anyone has any tips or knows of any tutorials I can turn to, please let me know!
Anyway, over the past couple weeks I've blogged about my top 10 tips for saving money on your grocery budget, how to save money using coupons, and now I'd like to share some other tips on ways to save.
I've listed these tips in order of least amount of effort to most.  I always recommend starting out slowly... don't try to implement all these tips at once or you may get frustrated or burn out.  The first couple tips are really simple though, so give them a try!

Sign up for store cards

Not only do you often save money immediately because you're a "preferred customer", you also usually get special coupons mailed or emailed to you. Here are some of the cards I have and their benefits:

  • Smith's (Kroger) Fresh Values Rewards: save money on certain sale items each week; get points for purchases, good towards money off gas or cash back at the end of the quarter; load coupons to your card; Smith's also mails out store coupons and manufacturer coupons.
  • Target REDCard: This DEBIT card saves you 5% off all purchases every day.
  • Starbucks Rewards: Register your Starbucks gift card and get rewards based off the number of drinks you buy. Keep reloading your card so that the points keep accumulating!
Sign up for "rewards clubs" or mailing lists from your favorite restaurants and stores

Every store is a little different, but you often get special coupons or money back based on purchases. Some examples…
    Get 30% off diapers and wipes, shipped to your door, when you "Subscribe & Save", and get free shipping for up to a year based on your purchases. You can make these deals even sweeter by using coupons often found in BabyTalk and other baby magazines. (I actually did a comparison recently, and found it's cheaper to buy Huggies size 3 diapers from than at Costco, even when Costco has a coupon! {Regular price on is 17 cents per diaper while regular price at Costco is 22 cents per diaper or 20 cents with the coupon.} You can occasionally get Huggies cheaper at Target if you have a Target coupon, plus a manufacturers coupon, and they're doing one of their gift card promotions, but it's definitely more work!)
  • Chili's, Cold Stone, Noodles: Get a free meal or dessert on your birthday; get emails once a month or more with coupons for free items or money off.
  • Carters: Sign up in-store for local deals and emails. Get emails for 20 – 30% off your purchase of $30 – 50; Stamp card for $10 off once you fill up the card (Tuesdays are double stamp days!)
  • Staples, Office Max, Office Depot: Get office supplies for free or next to nothing by taking advantage of these programs. You'll get cash back for purchases and for recycling ink cartridges.
Buy in "Bulk" (this does NOT necessarily mean a huge package of something!)

Image cinderellasg

Don't pay a premium for packaging… use your own containers and save tons of money while saving the environment! Buy yogurt in quarts rather than 4 oz – 8 oz cups. Annie's Organic crackers cost 3.2 cents per ounce in a big box at Target or 30 cents per ounce in individual packages in the big box at Costco! I buy all my beans & legumes, spices, and baking ingredients (flour, baking powder, etc.) in bulk at Winco.

Buy used and other online classifieds are often great resources for finding gently used furniture, strollers, and toys. Yardsale-ing can be a fun way to find amazing bargains if you have the time.

Price Match

Walmart almost makes price matching TOO easy! You don't even have to show them the ad!! Just browse your weekly ads (or use the Grocery Smarts database) and write down the best price for the items you want to buy… then buy them all at Walmart instead of going to 5 different stores! (Keep in mind that Walmart doesn't always carry the same brands that your local grocery stores do, so you may have to go to Harmons to get the Organic Valley milk deal or Fresh Market for the Langers juice deal. They do match store brand for store brand though.)

Take advantage of money-back & money-off promotions

  • Catalinas, Register Rewards, +UP rewards: These print at the store if you purchase certain items, and are good towards your next purchase. Register Rewards are specific to Walgreens and +UPs are from Rite Aid; Catalinas can be found at any grocery store but are most common at Smith's/Kroger stores.
  • Buy X number of products, Get X dollars off: This is something Smith's does regularly. For example, Annie's Mac n Cheese and Ronzoni
  • Rebates: Lots of stores and manufacturers offer rebates, and these can save you TONS of money. Rite Aid has a great rebate program that is super simple to complete online, as does Staples. I usually get my printer paper and a lot of office supplies for free after rebate.

Play the "Drugstore Game"

This definitely takes some time, practice, and patience, but can save you THOUSANDS on toiletries and medicine. I never pay for body wash, toothpaste, razors, or deodorant thanks to the "drugstore game". Basically, spend a little out of pocket up front, but after rebates and Register Rewards/+UPs, you'll get lots of items for free… and sometimes even MAKE a little money!


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