Welcome to your lodge.
Welcome to your lodge.
Welcome! Can't wait to hear your story!
Welcome to your lodge :)
Welcome to your lodge!!!
Aw, yay! I'm so excited!! :) This is my first lodge, I wasn't really active here with the last 2 babes. I'll update as soon as I can (and also, I cannot believe it's that time already?!!?)
Ok, I think I have a few minutes to write some things in here!
A bit about me: I'm 27 and live in northern Ontario with my husband Mark (who is a pastry chef and kitchen manager), 2 kiddos (stella, 3 and Sebastien 2), our dogs (Leia, a chinese crested, Mojo, a big white mutt and Roxy, a siberian husky), and 3 ferrets (Stevie, Marley, Swiper). I've got a Master of Arts degree in cultural studies and teach part time at the local college (mostly sociology, but also other social science classes, when the need arises). I also work a few hours a week at a yoga studio, coordinating classes and teaching childbirth education and meditation for childbirth classes. Very occasionally I also work as a doula (although that's been put on hold until sometime after this babe arrives). I'm a Buddhist (kinda... not a very good one, I suppose) and I am very interested in natural living, nature, and being a good part of this planet. I love taking photos, writing, and when I have the time, painting.
That's me in a nut shell.
So. The story of me and DH. :)
Mark and I have known each other, through mutual friends/acquaintances, for more than a decade. In the early 2000's, we both worked in retail, in the same mall, and during my breaks I would sneak away to go spy on the cute boy at the electronics store. I had no idea he did the same thing with me.
Fast forward a few years, and we both started blogging, and joined a community of writers in our hometown. We soon started reading each others' work, meeting in passing at community events, and corresponding online. In the summer of 2006 I split with my long time boyfriend. Shortly after, I found out that Mark also became single. I immediately went to his blog and left what I hoped was a witty, flirty comment, designed to make him want to talk to me. :) It must have worked, because we started emailing back and forth, and really quickly set up a date. After that first night, I knew he was the man I would spend the rest of my life with. We got married in May 2007, after only a few months together, and found out a few days before our wedding that we were expecting our first baby (totally a surprise, albeit a happy one!)
Our first kiss as man and wife
first kiss by mandoratheexplorer, on Flickr
wedding by mandoratheexplorer, on Flickr
Our wedding cakes
cakes by mandoratheexplorer, on Flickr
married by mandoratheexplorer, on Flickr
Our honeymoon was pretty rough – we had decided to go camping... not so fun for a newly pregnant, nauseous, nervous momma! We ended up cutting it short and staying in a couple of crazy hotels and exploring a bunch of small towns between Vermont and our home in Ontario. It was an adventure though, and one I will never, ever forget. Mark took such good care of me and was so patient with the fact that his sick new wife was totally blowing the whole honeymoon experience.
Once we got home, the pregnancy didn't get much better. It was rough from start to finish. Around 24 weeks I was hospitalized for kidney problems, and I ended up on bed-rest pretty much from that point on. At 36 weeks my water started to leak, and at the advice of my midwife, I consented to being induced.
My last belly shot of Stella's pregnancy, 35 weeks, 2 days
35 weeks, 2 days by Mandora, on Flickr
It was a horrible routine of 24 hours of pit, with painful contractions that didn't make any progress. My water broke around noon on the 30th of December 2007, and around 4pm on December 31 I FINALLY started to see progress. They were about to call it a c-section since nothing at all had happened despite rather huge doses of pitocin, and the fact that my water had been broken for more than 24 hours, etc etc (typical medical birth stuff)... I asked them to give me a rest, turn everything off, and just let me re-group before we started all that. They agreed to all that, but that at 8pm they'd come back and prep me for a c-section (at the time I was really upset, but looking back, they really did give me more chances than most hospitals would have). Anyway, I started meditating and in only a couple hours I went from1cm to 10cm. At 8:51pm, after only 20 minutes of pushing, Stella was born.
In keeping with the way things had gone until this point, our first week was also pretty awful. I ended up getting a HORRIBLE flu from being in the hospital, was dehydrated (so nursing was awful to begin with), Stella wouldn't latch OR sleep, and I ended up having a meltdown about not being able to nurse properly, and turned to formula. I had pretty awful depression about the fact that I couldn't nurse her, and it was something that I carried with me until my son was born.
Stella and Daddy on one of our first nights at home
stella and daddy by Mandora, on Flickr
Looking back on her birth, it wasn't a 'bad' birth, but I was so disappointed at the time that I hadn't had the natural homebirth I had wanted that I carried a lot of guilt, anger and sadness. It wasn't until I started my training as a childbirth educator, and had to write a reflection paper on it, that I started to turn a page. I did what I had to do in the moment, given the circumstances we were given, and in the end, my body came through when it counted. But I still felt like something had been 'missing' with Stella's birth (and to this day, she's terrified of doctors and will NOT watch a birth video where a person in scrubs 'delivers' a baby).
She's turned out to be the most wonderful little person I could ever have asked to share my life with, and however we got her here, she's brightened my day every day since.
Stella at 6 months:
Ooo0oO0oOoo! by Mandora, on Flickr
Stella's 1st birthday:
the chicken monster by Mandora, on Flickr
Stella a few weeks ago, with Leia, our Chinese Crested:
025 by mandoratheexplorer, on Flickr
My next post is Sebastien's birth story, as written for a creative writing class I did, and then later tweaked for my doula/CBE website:
So, this was written as a piece of creative non-fiction, so it's a bit different than your 'average' birth story. I hope you enjoy!
3 weeks old by Mandora, on Flickr
In late April of 2008 I was a new mother, engrossed in the task of raising my baby daughter, only 4 months old. I certainly wasn’t expecting to become pregnant again, and was happy with our little family of 3. But, one morning I woke up and recognized that particular brand of ‘unwell’ that only those who have experienced morning sickness are familiar with. There was no mistaking that feeling, and even though several pregnancy tests told me I was wrong, I knew our lives were about to change again. Finally, on May 2, after several days of testing over and over, two lines appeared. It was official. I was pregnant again.
2428951465_1e0b0af089 by Mandora, on Flickr
During this time I was studying to become a childbirth educator. The birth of my daughter, a typical North American medically managed birth, helped me to see that there must be a better way to bring babies into the world. My first experience of labour was a terrifying one – I felt robbed of my personhood, simply a number on the conveyor belt of the maternity ward – get woman in, get baby out, move along. There was no feeling or reflection about the magic that is childbirth. This amazingly personal, spiritual moment was shared with a team of people I had never met before, in a sterile room full of beeping, angry machinery. When it was over I didn’t get to cuddle with my new family, I was given a sleeping pill and told to rest…ignore the euphoria and adrenaline I felt at having given life to a brand new person. My husband was sent home, away from his drugged wife and lonely child. No, this was not right, and there had to be a better way. And when I saw those two lines appear on that morning in May, I knew that this was going to be something special. This was my chance to prove that I could do it – that WE could do it, my baby and I together.
My pregnancy progressed as well as one could hope. We recruited the same midwife as helped me through my first pregnancy, and she encouraged my desire for a home birth. The other midwives in the practice were less optimistic about my chances, after all, the birth of my daughter had not gone according to plan. They all expected my son to arrive early too, and were very vocal with the idea that I shouldn’t set my heart on a home birth. But we stayed true to our convictions, and despite a few days of contractions coming and going, I made it to 37 weeks – the official beginning of the allowable time-line for a home birth to take place.
The weeks came and went. I was having mild contractions, and the baby’s head was very low, but labour didn’t begin. Where everyone was concerned that I wouldn’t make it to the 37 week guideline, it now looked like we would end up with another, unexpected problem – a pregnancy gone too far post-dates to be allowed a home birth. My midwife and I began to talk about medical induction. It was a conversation I never expected to have. Together, we decided that if I hadn’t gone into real labour on my own by the morning of January 6, 1 day into my 42nd week, then she would break my waters at home, with the hope that I could still avoid a hospital birth. However, before doing anything so drastic, she cautioned, I should try some castor oil as a way to start things along at home. I agreed, and on the morning of January 5, I had a shot of castor oil with breakfast. For good measure I took another shot a few minutes later. And waited.
Castor oil is a stimulant to the bowels, with the resulting contractions causing reactive contractions in the uterus. One can imagine the delightful time that castor oil is reputed to be – particularly for a very pregnant, already-very-uncomfortable woman. However, despite all the buildup, nothing happened. Aside from some light contractions, there was no effect. I went to bed that night certain that the castor oil had had no effect, and that I’d wake up the next morning prepared for an induction.
At exactly 1:00 am I woke up to go to the bathroom. As I stood up out of bed I was hit with an incredible pain in my side that quickly spread to my entire abdomen. Although slumped over the birthing ball in the corner of the bedroom, I thought it was just a normal pregnant pain, (of which there were plenty). But when it didn’t let up after a few minutes I started to think that maybe something was wrong. I called to my husband Mark and he came to see what was happening. After a few minutes of discussion as to whether I should go to the hospital (I was worried I had caused something to go terribly wrong with my castor oil experimentation) I felt something warm at my feet and realized that my water had broken.
The contractions came on hard and fast – I immediately felt that this was going to be a quick labour. Mark began trying to reach the midwife while I changed into a dry night gown and concentrated on riding out the contractions. Each one felt like a wave, rippling through my body, from my rib cage to my pubic bone, and once they’d subside I was left with a dull ache that never really went away. I wasn’t getting any relief between the contractions, and was trying my best to focus, go inside myself, and ride them out. Unfortunately, the paging system for our midwife was malfunctioning and Mark and I were starting to get concerned that he’d be the one delivering our baby – not something that made dealing with contractions any easier!
Around 1:30 am (only 30 minutes after the first contraction) we finally got in touch with our midwife and she was immediately on her way. While we were waiting, I continued to rock and to moan, which was helping to make the sensation of the contractions into a manageable entity and not just an engulfing organism. I was finding it hard to stay in the moment, and kept comparing the sensations of this labour to those of my daughter’s birth. I just couldn’t call these contractions ‘pain’, the way I would have with a hospital birth. It was intense, but beautifully so.
At 1:45 am our midwife arrived and started to set up in our cramped little bedroom. With the three of us jammed into the tiny room, there was barely room to breathe. When we turned on the heater to try to warm the room for the birth, a fuse blew, plunging us into total darkness. Mark went to repair the fuse, and our midwife continued to set up her things in the dark. She jokingly suggested that we might have a birthing by candle light – just like they did in days gone by.
I was barely aware of any of this (in fact, I don’t even remember if the power was ever restored, although Mark assures me that it was), since I had retreated to one corner of the room, moving between a birthing ball and the bed, changing positions frequently. The contractions were easy to deal with as long as they were my only focus. If my attention was demanded for some other detail of preparation, the tightness became overwhelming – almost like holding a sit-up well past the point of comfort. Our midwife knew that the birth was drawing near – my breathing turned into panting, and I began pacing the room and the hallway just outside the door. I felt primal and out of place indoors. I was amazed at the primitive connection to our animal ancestors. No one needed to tell me what to do, and with the lack of medical interventions my natural instincts and primitive mind took over.
A little before 2:00 am, I started to feel tremendous pressure and told our midwife that I was going to need to push soon. Her partner and student still hadn’t arrived, and she asked me to try to keep from pushing until they arrived. After only a very few contractions I realized that it wasn’t going to be possible for long – I could feel my son moving down, demanding to be born.
Thankfully, only minutes later, the second midwife and her student came into the room. Although people were now spilling out into the hall, I was given full encouragement to proceed as I wanted. In the background, amid moans and pushes, I heard my midwife tell her partner that in her haste to set up, she had broken her vials of anti-hemorragic drugs. We were working without a net. If anything went wrong, we were on our own. With no time to focus on potentialities, I began pushing. Short, trial pushes at first, followed by long, deep, powerful draughts of bearing down. Once I began to feel his head pushing against me, the enormity of the situation hit me. I was about to accomplish something that only a handful of people of my generation have done in North America. And yet, it was not a scary or difficult situation. The process of birthing at home was more comfortable, less frightening, and even pleasurable, compared to birthing in hospital. As my son slid into the world, only 17 minutes after I started pushing, I was struck by the differences in atmosphere between his entrance into the world, and that of my daughter.
Sebastien’s birthing room smelled of burnt candle wax, incense and the musky, wooly smell of my dogs. In hospital, whenever I became aware of the room around me, harsh lighting and the smell of clinical antiseptic was overpowering. At home, as soon as Sebastien emerged into the world, his slippery, wriggling body was placed on my chest, where I cut his cord, and the midwife cleaned him. He was then handed to me while we waited for the placenta to be delivered. As soon as the afterbirth started, the second midwife took Sebastien to the side of the bed to be weighed and examined, where I could watch everything that took place. Once I had delivered his placenta (with no problems and no need for anti-hemmoragics), he was returned immediately and began to breastfeed. My daughter’s birth, in contrast, was frenzied and impersonal. As soon as she was born, her cord was hurriedly cut, she was whisked away to a table for examination and weighing, while doctors pulled on my cord to force the delivery of the afterbirth. I hemorrhaged, and she was taken to the NICU for observation while I ‘recovered’. A full 12 hours passed before I could hold my daughter and feed her for the first time.
The midwives stayed until the sun started to come up over the snow covered trees, just to make sure all was well with our new little man. As I lay in my husband’s arms feeding my son, the family that had been waiting in the kitchen began to trickle in to meet its newest member. The ability to birth in my own home, by my own terms, was a life changing experience for all in attendance. Once again, my children had given me an amazing gift – one I couldn’t have asked for or known that I needed. At 2:32 am, January 6th, only hours before his medically induced deadline, Sebastien David was home – reaffirming for me the importance of trusting in nature and in the knowledge inherited from generations of ancestors.
About 15 minutes after birth
My mother likes to tell the story of Sebastien’s birth in a different way. Instead of talking about the moment of his arrival into the world, she likes to tell people about the hours immediately after. Her first meeting with her grandson was memorable, she says, not because of how he was born, but because of what it meant for the women present. She likes to talk about how, upon entering the birthing room, the first thing she saw was a group of women absolutely blissed out on the power of the mind and the spirit working together. She’ll never forget the looks on the faces of all the women present – that starry-eyed look of connection, sisterhood, and profound understanding that came from seeing, at first hand, what a woman’s body is capable of, if we simply have faith in our abilities.
Sebastien's birth gave me so much, just like Sebastien himself. He is my challenge - raising a little boy is SO much harder than I ever imagined! He's so busy and full of life, and everything is wonderful to him. He wants to touch and to climb and explore. He's also my momma's boy, and loves our time in the mornings, just the two of us, when the rest of the house is asleep (he was always an early riser, even in the womb).
Sebastien at 6 months:
P1030359 by Canadian Mark, on Flickr
Sebastien at his first Christmas, 1 year old:
Sebastien, Christmas day by mandoratheexplorer, on Flickr
Sebastien's 2nd Christmas, just shy of 2:
sebastien by mandoratheexplorer, on Flickr
Welcome to your lodge! Your babies are beautiful! I cannot wait to go back and read your birth stories.
I really enjoyed reading your birth stories! Welcome to your lodge! And since we're both due to same day... I'll race ya! haha
EDIT: Also, look at our tickers! Yours says you still have 42 days to go... mine says I only have 28. I win! :) LOL!!