Category Archives: natural childbirth

Week 2 training & the hiccups (or kidney stones) that accompanied it

I knew going into last week’s training that it was probably not going to be my best training week in terms of hitting all the miles required, but I had no idea it would turn out the way it did! Last week was busy for me in terms of class & assignments, and since that is my top priority right now and it’s sooooo early in the training cycle, I was okay with it. I missed my Sunday 9-miler because I was on a home visit – I always feel blah about missing a long run, but it is what it is! I intended to do a second 5-miler this week as well but didn’t get to it. Oh well. Here’s what the week looked like:

Sun: no run

Mon: 3.1 at 8:48 min/mile – I was NOT feeling well that morning!

Tues: no run

Wed: 5 miles at 8:40 min/mile

Thurs: 3.1 miles at 8:20 min/mile

Fri: no run

Sat: 7.1 at 8:37 min/mile

The 7-miler was my scheduled long run this week (it was a low-mileage Kurtis week), and while it was scheduled for Sunday, I wanted to get it in on Saturday because Audrey & Caroline had their own races to run Sunday morning – Potomac River Running’s Mighty Mile Kids’ Race! They were both really excited for it, especially Audrey. Good thing I got that mileage in early since Sunday morning took an unexpected and unpleasant turn.

I woke up around 4:30am on Sunday with abdominal and pain on my right side. I thought I had pulled a muscle or something and tried to switch positions and go back to sleep. That did not work out very well – I could not find relief no matter what position I tried! I suffered alone for a while, but then I started getting nauseous and throwing up. I felt like maaaaybe I should wake Brian up, but I didn’t want to get him up so early! We are going through a bad sleeping spurt w/ the girls, and he is always up at the crack of dawn (or before). I didn’t want to be the cause of the early wakeup this time when we go to bed every night hoping that the next morning is the morning the girls sleep in! I couldn’t stand it anymore, though, so I woke up and told him what was going on. He said that I looked so pathetic that he couldn’t find it in his heart to be mad at me…ah, love. 🙂 We sat on the couch for a little while with me in fetal position before I decided I was going to try and get some sleep. I went back to bed and still couldn’t get any relief, and then I threw up again – all over the sheets. I called Brian in and he sat next to me for a while. Eventually it got bad enough that we decided to get the girls up and go to the ER, so the girls came along with their crazy bedhead and footie pajamas.

Long story short – after lots of time in the hospital, more throwing up, an IV, a urinalysis w/ elevated red blood cell count, bloodwork, and a CT scan, the diagnosis was a kidney stone. I actually passed it in the waiting room, and it wasn’t very long after that I felt way better. B told me he could tell when I was feeling better because I actually talked audibly instead of whispering and mumbling 😉 On our way out of the hospital, we spotted the Ft Belvoir Fisher House! I don’t really pay attention that much when leaving the hospital because usually I am driving chatty children home from doctor appointments, so this was maybe the second time I noticed it. I remember when they were building both FH and the hospital and that area was just a huge pile of dirt. So cool to see it up and running – and it is beautiful!

So, yeah. That was our “relaxing” Sunday morning! I have had two natural births (I call Audrey’s birth a “supernatural” birth), so I am not a wimp when it comes to pain – and that is what made B realize it was serious because I don’t cry wolf with things. If I complain, I am probably already way past being in normal pain and on my way towards excruciating pain, ha ha. And for the record, I prefer childbirth to kidney stones. At least with labor you can move around and ease the pain, contractions come in waves and aren’t constant, AND you get a sweet baby after.

The girls were angels during that whole 4 hours in the hospital, but Audrey was really sad to miss her race. I am doing a 4th of July 5K, so she gets to come run the fun run to make up for it!

Here’s to a better training week this week – it can’t get worse, right? I will leave you with pics of my sweet baby Bear (her older sister was pouting in the other room):





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Filed under birth, Fisher House, Fitness, Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon, natural childbirth, New York City Marathon, NYCM, Race, Racing, Run, Running, Team Fisher House

Our original Busy Bee is 4!

I think the underlying sentiment that Brian and I have surrounding Audrey is “we are not ready.” We weren’t ready when we were told that we’d meet her two and a half weeks earlier than expected (though after that tough labor, I was definitely ready for her to be born!), and we are not ready for her to grow out of babyhood and into childhood (though I think that ship sailed a while ago).

Even though four years is a relatively short time, it seems like Audrey has been with us forever (but in the very best way possible). Neither of us can remember life being this good before she graced us with her presence; she is such a blessing – even with her Jekyll & Hyde qualities! Happy Birthday to our little Audrey Bee who was “born on Tana” but is “Audrey from Virginia” and who appreciates both the sparkly things in life & playing in the dirt!

From this:


September 12, 2009

To this:


1 year old

To this:

Audrey 2

2 years old

To this:

Audrey 5

3 years old

To today:

4th birthday

4th birthday

We are so lucky.


Filed under baby, birth, Celebrations, Family, Home, natural childbirth

Nine months

It is so strange that Caroline has been out of the belly as long as she was in the belly! I can’t believe how quickly this little snuggle-bug is growing. She is such a happy-go-lucky baby these days, but is very much a mama’s girl. She is not a fan of being separated from me in large crowds and will often even catapult herself out of Brian’s arms and into mine. I can’t say that I mind (usually, anyway)! I find myself babying her a lot more than I did with Audrey, but I think part of that is because now I know how fast time flies and I just want to cherish every moment. I’m not in a hurry for her to grow up!

She is 18.5 lbs, has two teeth (and one more getting close) and is so close to crawling. There have been a handful of times this weekend where I was so sure she was going to just do it but she always psychs herself out. Part of me can’t wait for her to be mobile but another part of me doesn’t want her to be because I know the snuggles will dramatically decrease once she’s on the move! My bedtime snuggles are already nonexistent because now when she’s ready to sleep, she is READY TO SLEEP. She doesn’t want to mess around with cuddling and rocking and singing. She’s also started trying to pull herself up on things occasionally and she waves “hi” and “bye” when we wave to her. It melts my heart and watching her hit all of these milestones is amazing, even though it’s the second time around for us. I worried that maybe it wouldn’t be as exciting to watch her do things since she is baby number two, but honestly, it is just as wonderful.

Speaking of milestones, Audrey whipped out a skill she has apparently been working on at school. She had drawstrings on her shorts today and said, “LOOK DADDY!” as she proceeds to tie them. She needed a little bit of help, but not much at all! We were both shocked!

C & A have slowly started to develop a very sisterly relationship in that C refuses to yield to Audrey’s desires all the time. It’s funny to watch her start to assert herself a little bit. The next montage of pictures definitely shows that…

By the way, these were the dresses they were supposed to wear for Easter but then I couldn’t find where I packed them after we moved! So this was their first (and last) time wearing them because they are both growing out of them so of course we had to get pictures!

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Filed under baby, birth, Hypnobabies, natural childbirth


Recently one of my pregnant sorority sisters asked me about my experience with Hypnobabies and I remembered a blog post that I had saved in drafts and not yet published! So I will share that post now and then add on my actual experience with it.

This is what I wrote before Caroline was born (I changed everything to past tense):

I am not an expert in the art of relaxation by any means; I can never seem to turn off my brain enough to truly relax. As I’ve mentioned before, Brian always has to tell me to stop moving & to sit down. However, I really challenged myself to do this by studying Hypnobabies: Hypnosis for Childbirth. I did the home study course, so it was all self-run and I really liked the idea behind it. I know it probably sounds really hippie & new-agey (for lack of better words), but I think there are elements to it that were really helpful. It emphasizes positive associations with pregnancy & childbirth rather than the horror stories you hear from so many people and I think that’s so important; going into labor & delivery with a ton of fear in your mind is never beneficial.

The way the program works is that each week is a new lesson. You read a little bit in a workbook, then you alternate between hypnosis tracks depending on what day it is. You are also asked to listen to a “Joyful Pregnancy Affirmation” track every day. This specific track’s purpose is to change all negative pregnancy connotations and to help you think of pregnancy & birth as a positive, healthy, natural thing. It even seeks to change some of the language we use for birthing, pregnancy, etc into more positive language. I liked listening to this track when I took my lunch-time walks around campus. Sometimes I tried to listen to it in my car but pair that with my occasional road rage during the commute & I don’t think that was necessarily the best time for it!

Part of the reason I decided to try Hypnobabies was because I felt like I needed a plan for this birth because we didn’t have a doula this time around. We had a birth assistant but we only met her once before the birth and I felt like I wanted to rely on myself & Brian more this time around. Plus, with Audrey, I tended to become very introverted when I needed to focus, and I thought this would be a great thing for me to be able to focus on. I wish that I had had this training w/ Audrey because I wasn’t able to move around much during her birth (since we were on constant monitoring).

This is how I incorporated Hypnobabies into my birthing experience:

Hypnobabies definitely played a role in my birthing experience, though it was mostly in labor prep & early labor. Even though Caroline is my second, it was easy to get nervous about the birthing experience and how it would go, but I loved listening to the Affirmations tracks because they calmed my nerves immensely. One of their tracks talks about envisioning your perfect birth. This is inspired by the idea that what you think influences what happens. My “perfect” birth consisted of me going into labor early in the morning (not at work) and ideally during the day so Audrey had as easy and normal of a day as possible and so we weren’t stressed about coordinating her caretakers. Lo & behold, that’s exactly what happened. I was in early labor on Wednesday morning when I woke up, Brian drove Audrey to daycare & came home where I labored for a little while, went to the birth center around lunch-time, delivered Caroline around 3pm and we were home by dinnertime. It was like going to a normal day of work…minimal interruptions for Audrey (except that she got a new sister at the end of that day!). I do believe that there is some substance to the idea that how you imagine things will happen can actually help them happen that way (like The Secret talked about…or whatever that book was). I was skeptical at first, but this sort of pushed me in the direction of believing in the power of thought.

When I realized I was in early labor, I kept trying to remember & utilize all of the relaxation techniques that I learned through Hypnobabies. When contractions started getting harder to deal with, I laid down, listened to some tracks & dozed off. On our car ride to the birth center, I tried staying calm by listening to some tracks; when we arrived at the center, I was already 7-8 cm dilated, so I know the relaxation helped with that.  Another thing we tried to avoid doing was telling people (except as necessary) that I was in labor because I knew that I would start getting very excited and adrenaline would start pumping and then relaxation would be next to impossible. That’s why so many people didn’t know that she was even on her way until after she had arrived! I laughed when I saw some people posting on my Facebook page that they predicted she would come the next day or the day after that because I knew she was already on her way (or even here!).

Even though I brought my iPod to the birthing center with the intention of turning on some tracks meant for late labor/pushing, I never ended up turning it on once things really got going. Even though that was the case, there were many, many moments during active labor (especially when in the tub) where I referred back to the Hypnobabies relaxation techniques. Relaxation is work to me & requires TONS of focus, and the only thing I could focus on during the pushing stage was…pushing.

Hypnobabies talks about having a pain-free child-birth experience and mine was definitely not pain-free but the pain was VERY tolerable and the birth was peaceful, calm and relatively easy; I’m sure my dedication the home study had a lot to do with it.

Anyway, that is just my take on it for anyone who is curious about my experience with it.


Filed under baby, birth, Hypnobabies, natural childbirth

Has it seriously been almost a month since my last post?

For obvious reasons, it”s been hard to get myself to sit down & write an update. Whenever I have a free minute with two hands, there are about a billion other things I want to be doing…well, maybe not WANT to be doing but NEED to be doing (dishes, laundry, cleaning, etc).

Caroline is so beautiful and such a blessing. She is a HUGE cuddler, though, so it’s impossible to get anything done when home alone with her. I’m always trapped on the couch w/ her…I know it sounds awesome to be able to relax & do nothing but watch TV all day, but it gets REALLY old, especially when I usually have maybe 10 minutes a day with both hands free. That means I often face the very tough choice of deciding whether I want to eat or whether I want to shower because God forbid I get to do both! Ha ha.

Sidenote: as if to prove my point, I started this blog entry yesterday morning but then got pulled away by C and am now just sitting down to (attempt to) finish it. Maybe someday I’ll actually post about our holidays and visitors from this past month…no guarantees.

While having a toddler and a newborn comes with a lot more stress, it’s hard for me to remember that at the moment because…CAROLINE STARTED SMILING TODAY! I had been catching a few smiles from around 3-4 weeks on, but wasn’t sure if they were legit social smiles (though they seemed to be to me), but today there was no question that she was giving me REAL smiles!

Here is a super grainy iPhone photo (sorry, I had to be QUICK to catch them!):

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Caroline’s Birth Story

Caroline must have sensed how ready I was for her to come out during that last blog post because she arrived the very next day!

On Wednesday, October 26, I woke up a little after 5:15am with a really upset stomach and crampy feelings. I just thought I had eaten something that didn’t agree with me. Pretty soon, though, it became obvious that the cramps were not the normal cramps that come with an upset stomach, but I kept trying to power through them in order to make it to work that morning. It quickly became pretty clear to me that these were probably contractions. They were much different & more painful than the tightening Braxton Hicks contractions that I had been feeling up to that point. Nevertheless, I kept trying to get ready for work just in case nothing really happened & things stalled out. However, at around 6:15 am, I started timing them and they were about an average of 5 minutes apart but lasting less than a minute. I was able to breathe, walk & talk through them pretty easily but still decided to email my boss and let her know that I wasn’t going in that morning, just in case. I told Brian that I didn’t feel comfortable with him going in either because I know myself well enough to know that if it HAD been real labor (which it was), I would have called him home from work WAY too late. In retrospect, that was a genius decision since we ended up at the birth center relatively quickly that morning. So Brian dropped Audrey off at daycare & came home.

Contractions were starting to get a little more painful, but still nothing too horrible. Around 10am, I decided to go upstairs, put on my Hypnobabies tracks and rest. I was able to doze off between contractions but was taken by surprise by the strength of some of them. Around 10:45, I got up and it became pretty clear to me that we needed to get to the birth center ASAP. Contractions were coming around 3 1/2 min – 4 1/2 min apart at that point, but were picking up intensity. I had to breathe through them and was no longer able to talk. I had Brian call the midwife & our birth assistant and off we went! Thank God the traffic into Old Town Alexandria was decent and it didn’t take us too long to arrive & minimal utterances of “Hurry the expletive up!” from me to the other cars. We got settled in, and about 30 minutes after arriving, the midwife decided to check progress. I was SHOCKED to hear that we were at 7-8cm dilated already, especially because at my appointment on Monday, my cervix was still too posterior for them to even feel dilation. Because I was so dilated, I got my first (and only) dose of antibiotics for the GBS almost right away.

I kept going through contractions using different positions on the birth ball, and then eventually moved to the toilet to sit because I felt increased pressure. Brian said that while I was in the middle of a contraction before moving to the toilet, the midwife apparently predicted that I would have two more contractions and my water would break. She was right! Luckily it broke on the toilet so no one had to clean it up. After our time on the toilet, Brian and I decided to move to the birth jacuzzi. That was SO nice. Contractions were picking up in intensity but Brian (and the student midwife and assistant) was amazing and really coached me through them well. He always reminded me to breathe, so I was able to focus on him telling me that, and our assistants saying “Let it all out on the out breath”. I also repeated some of the Hypnobabies stuff in my head. However, after about 30 minutes of some pretty painful contractions in the tub, I had a REALLY awful contraction that I just could not breathe through or stay focused through. I let out a few shrieks…all of the midwives came running in and at that point, my suspicion that this was transition was confirmed because they immediately began emptying the tub & telling me we had to move to the bed quickly. Obviously transition is never fun, and this was no exception, but I felt lucky that it only lasted one (long) contraction. We drained the tub and despite my lack of desire to move anywhere, got up to move to the bed between contractions so that I could push this little baby out! Stage one of labor lasted a little bit under 10 hours (from 5:15am to 2:40pm).

Pushing was hard, but apparently I only did it for 14 minutes…but in all honesty, it really seemed a lot longer than that. I had a few longer breaks between the pushing contractions which really frustrated me because I just wanted to be done! Brian had the option of “catching” Caroline when she came out but he opted not to; I was pretty happy with this decision in the long run because when push came to shove (no pun intended), I don’t think I could have let go of his hands during the pushing stage! I really needed his support in sitting and cradling my head and shoulders and hands. The midwives kept asking me if I wanted to touch Caroline’s head or watch her coming out and I kept saying “no, no, no, let’s just finish!” because when I am focused on an end result, I want that result accomplished. At one point, they made me stop for a minute, look down and see her head. I was really happy that they made me stay in that moment because seeing her head made me fully take in the enormity of what was going on. The hardest thing was waiting for the last contraction to push her shoulders out. As soon as I knew her head was out, I wanted the rest of her out ASAP! She was born at 2:54pm, about 10 or so hours after labor started. We both cried when we saw her! She is such a beautiful newborn with little rosebud lips, dark hair & dark eyes. It was impossible not to fall in love at first sight! She was SO alert and it was for such a long time; one of the midwives told me that as soon as her head came out, her little eyes snapped right open and she was looking around intently. Apparently, they do not see that level of alertness very often!

Our experience at the birth center was day and night compared to our experience delivering Audrey. Even though this was hard (of course it was, it was a birth!) and challenging and I found myself saying “I want to be done!” many, many times, this was easy & quick compared to Audrey’s birth! A naturally occurring labor is SO much more tolerable than a pitocin-induced one. Not to mention that the laboring and birthing environment is so much better and more soothing at a birth center than a hospital. The midwives laughed and said I made it such an easy birth for them because a) it was a day birth and b) I was very independent during it and allowed them time to “gossip and eat the cookies” we brought. Too funny! At the end, they commented that it was like I had never given birth because my attitude and energy were so good and high afterwards…I’m telling you, it was the adrenaline & endorphins!

We were allowed to go home within 3 hours of having her and that was so nice. It was like going in for a day at work and being home by dinner! We got to see Audrey off to “school” and were able to tuck her in last night. Caroline is nursing like a champion which is a total change from the early challenges we had with Audrey.

Audrey is IN LOVE with her new baby sister. As we were coming up the driveway with her yesterday, Audrey calls out “Baby sister?” It melted our hearts. She also shared HER blanket with Caroline…a big step for a toddler who thinks everything is “hers”. She loves giving kisses and pats to “baby”. I know we have challenges ahead of us when it comes to Audrey adjusting to this new presence in our lives, but we could not be happier to have two beautiful, sweet girls.


Filed under baby, birth, natural childbirth

Officially overdue.

This was not a phrase I wanted to utter! I had hoped to have Caroline sometime in the 39th week because it seemed like a nice compromise between having her too early (like Audrey) and having her past her due date. I know due dates are just estimates but oh man, it is hard to blow right by it with no sign of baby. I think the hardest thing for me has been logistical planning. All of my maternity leave is planned around this specific due date, and now I have to re-work everything! Totally stressful, especially to be basing decisions on only an estimate of her arrival. Without getting into too many details, state maternity leave policies are complicated and do require a LOT of advance planning in order to get the maximum amount of pay (which is still a minimal amount of money). I am trying to keep my spirits up because I know that being miserable will only make the next week or two go by even slower than it already is…poor Brian gets a huge load of emotional outbursts from me, though. Yikes!

We have had a less than encouraging last two appointments (in my perfectionist mind anyway). I had hoped to go in and hear things like, “You will have her any time!” but no such guarantees were given. At yesterday’s appointment, the midwife said she didn’t think I’d make it to 41 weeks, but I know not to give that statement too much credibility & I am trying not to get my hopes up!

At our 39 week appointment, we were told that she was in posterior position which is not an ideal position for birth because it leads to back labor, longer labor, etc. Of course the Type A in me panicked about that. It seems like she has turned since then thanks to LOTS of hard and proactive work on my end, so phew. Then at yesterday’s appointment, she was measuring small. She had hit a slowdown in her growth in the previous appointment or two, but this time she went from measuring at 37 to a 34-35. This could have been because she dropped, but the midwife also mentioned that it could mean the amniotic fluid was starting to become low, so she told us we could go in for our post-date ultrasound early if we wanted or we could wait until Halloween when it was originally scheduled. Of course we decided to go in early just to give us peace of mind.

Today was that appointment and Caroline is measuring on the smaller side. Fluid, blood flow & her biophysical profile all looked great, so the midwives aren’t worrying too much about it and we’re not changing any birth plans…especially in light of the fact that this same thing happened with Audrey. Caroline is measuring at a gestational age of 38 weeks, but what really “worried” the ultrasound tech was that her stomach measured 35 weeks. However, there is no sign of distress, so that’s why no one is super concerned. Estimated weight as of now is 6lbs, 12oz. Brian and I just grow smaller babies than some people, apparently!

Anyway, everyday we tell Caroline that it’s okay for her to come out and that we are ready and excited to meet her! We’ve even taken to listening to “Sweet Caroline” over the last week and dancing around w/ Audrey to it. Hopefully she gets the memo & comes ASAP!

40 week picture:


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