Full Birth Story

They say that there are three sides to every story: your side, my side and the truth. But the truth is so multifaceted that, really, there are an infinite number of sides to every story. I ask myself, is this your birth story or mine? I guess that since we were both living it one body it is our story.

Ben, my sweet boy, this is MY version of our birth story, my truth. Yours may be different, and that’s ok.

It’s a beautiful story. One of triumph and loss, celebration and grief, togetherness and isolation. But mostly, it’s a love story.

Unlike for your sister’s birth (remember, she was also born at home, but not on purpose), this time we were set up for a home birth so I had lot’s of support; a midwife, Leopi, and a doula, Gingi. Leopi had the most beautiful accent that I couldn’t really place. She had such a loving presence and touch. I felt completely safe in her arms. Gingi, also known as the smell good fairy because she brought essential oils with her, was also very knowledgeable about pregnancy and labor. I loved the way her voice sounded, calm and relaxed, and the way she wore beautiful jewelry and blue eyeliner. And, of course daddy! He was my constant companion during labor, getting me water and making sure I was comfortable. And let’s not forget sister Grace, who stayed asleep the whole time! This was my dream team.

On August 15th at 4:35 you came sliding into this world after 45 minutes of “pushing.” Except it didn’t feel like pushing to me. It felt like my body was contracting and releasing to slowly rock you out of me. Daddy was there, waiting with open arms. He caught you and was so excited to see that you were, indeed, a boy. He and Leopi had been giggling that I was already rocking you, even before you had exited my body. Because with each contraction they thought, “OK the head is coming.” Then you would slip back inside. You did this for almost an hour. And I loved every second. I loved feeling how strong my body was. How it knew exactly what it was doing. How, in that moment, there was not one iota of fear. Total trust.

And then you were here.

But really, you had been here all along. Even though the doctors will say I carried you for 39 weeks and one day, really, I have been carrying you inside of me much longer than that.

I married your dad for so many reasons, one of which is that I saw YOU inside his eyes. I have been bonded to you since you were a little star baby, waiting to be manifested in physical form. I talked to you long before you were on the inside of my body, when you existed in the everywhere. And you answered in a warmth deep inside my belly. It felt like a smile. And you are the smiliest baby I’ve ever met. (As of this writing you are 4 months old and already full of so much gladness my heart can barely contain itself with all the love I have for you.)

After you were born I remember feeling your thick pumping umbilical cord. I was surprised by how big and firm it was. It had almost completed its job of  connecting the two of us, but we still let it pulsate for the next 15 minutes just to make sure you got ALL that it had to offer. And then, with a big smile, daddy cut the cord.

But let’s back up a little bit, to the moment my water broke. I remember being really excited and it was right then that I knew I had two choices, I could either stay in my excitement, which can sometimes turn into anxiety for me (What if I have postpartum depression again? What if I can’t handle having two kids? What if we have to go to the hospital?), or I could go into labor land. The second option was my choice. I had daddy call all the appropriate people: midwife, doula, Jessie, and our parents and then I lay down in bed and went into my zone.

Leopi and Gingi both got to our house quickly and began setting up their equipment. My contractions were in full swing and I was handling them very well, using my breath and my meditation practice to stay calm and relaxed. At one point Gingi suggested I get into the shower and that sounded like a good idea. Normally, the water in that bathroom doesn’t stay hot for very long, but this night the labor gods were with us. I took an hour long shower. The whole time daddy was offering encouragement and water even though he felt like he was going to pass out because of the steam. He had lit some of candles and the room had a cozy feeling. Eventually I got out of the shower and got back in bed. But then I had to go to the bathroom. I realized that I really like to labor in the bathroom. The privacy and the toilet were both comforting. This was, after all, where your sister was born!

And then, the moment came where my contractions became more intense and I let out a guttural grown. Leopi said that it sounded like I was pushing. I told daddy that I was cold and he got me a hot water bottle. It felt like a warm hug as I held it to my chest. I decided to get on all fours on the bed and that is where you were born, all 7 lbs 4 ounces of you.

I held your wet slippery body against my own and already I was in love. I kissed your head and looked into your eyes. “He doesn’t look at all like Grace!” I said. (Now you do!) Leopi mentioned her concern that you were grunting and she rubbed your back vigorously. I didn’t think much of it until she asked Gingi to get the oxygen. Then I started to worry that something was really wrong. After an hour of labored breathing, she suggested we go to the hospital. So with concern and overwhelm, daddy made the same call he made when Grace was born: 911. I remember feeling like this had all happened before. Seeing the red lights streaming in through the windows, not knowing if my baby was ok, walking down the stairs holding my hour old baby in one arm and the EMT’s had in the other. Even the same fireman showed up, Gerry Blue. He said, “Hey Doc. Congrats” to daddy and gave him a fist bump.

The ride to the hospital was a blur as was the two days you spent there. The doctors gave you antibiotics and oxygen. I hated being separated from you. The reason we wanted to have a home birth was for that sweet bonding time after you were born when I imagined all four of us being in bed together for several days. Instead, we had to go to this cold, sad place where they stuck you with needles and where you had to lye in a plastic crib.

They had us sleep on a cot in another room and I woke up every 3 hours to try to nurse you. The second night we were there we woke to the ground shaking beneath us. More rocking! This time it was an earthquake! Daddy and I held on to each other. He looked at me with frightened eyes, “Are you ok?” He knows that the two things I hate most are hospitals and earthquakes. I ran to you to make sure you were ok. Of course, you stayed asleep the whole time, but the nurses were pretty rattled.

That day one of the doctors said to me, “ It wasn’t so bad being in the hospital was it?” “It was horrible!” I said. And with total dismissal she said, “No, it wasn’t that bad.” I thought I was going to scream at this point. Everything was so out of my control.

Finally, we got to take you home. But you had tongue tie AND lip tie (making nursing very painful), just like when Grace was a baby, so we didn’t stay home for long. The next day we took you to a dentist to get your frenulums lazered. Even after the traumatizing procedure nursing was STILL painful. I was devastated. I nursed Grace for 17 months and it hurt the whole time. I didn’t think I could do that again, but I was hell bent on nursing my baby. We called the lactation consultant, Amrit, and she said she would come tomorrow. Which meant that I had to nurse you all night in excruciating pain. It was terrible. The next morning Noni took Grace to the park while Amrit worked with us. She talked to us about latch and made a few adjustments to my technique and it made all the difference. Now you nurse like a champ!

I wish I could say that everything was rainbows and butterflies after that but we continue to have our ups and downs. I remember that one time your sister came home from a playdate high on magic mushrooms (yes really!) or the day that you just didn’t sleep longer than 45 minutes! or the time I thought I was going to murder daddy for asking me if he could go out partying with his friends and then was too tired the next day to parent.

But we also have our really good days too. And those are the days that I cherish and will remember. Ben, you will always be my little baby and I will always be your mama. Those are the things that matter most. That and love. Always always love.

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Pre Birth Story.

The days leading up to Ben’s birth were just as meaningful as his actual BIRTHDAY. Here is my recollection of them…
Despite not liking hospitals, a homebirth wasn’t what I had envisioned for myself 4 years ago when I was pregnant with Grace. I fully intended to give birth the new-fashioned way. You know, at the hospital, yet still with as little intervention as possible. But, my first labor went from “Hey, I wonder if that’s a contraction?” to “OMG! I’m about to shit a bowling ball!” in only 7 hours. There was a 911 call, a public display of nudity, two pushes into daddy’s arms, and the arrival of a stunning and healthy baby we named Grace (followed by a dramatic ambulance ride to the hospital.) It was crazy.
Fast-forward 4 years: I’m pregnant again and planning a home birth. Second babies come even faster. I have visions of being the subject of some TLC show about women who give birth on the sidewalk, at the yoga studio, or in a restaurant. And so my story begins.

December 16

I peed on a stick and it turns out I’m pregnant! “YAY!” and “Uh oh…” rapidly  run thorugh my mind. I wrap up the peed upon stick and give it to Brandon as a birthday gift that evening in front of Jessie and Kevin and Eleza and Judd. Everyone is excited.

December 31

I had my first doc appointment today for the obligatory confirmation that I am, in fact, with child. When my doctor asked if I had any concerns, I fast-forwarded right to the “this time we are planning a home birth. Will you be supportive of that?” question. I want to be up front with her about my intentions. She had some judgement in her voice, but she said yes and that I should let her know when I wanted to switch my care to a midwife. My estimated due date: August 23, 2015.

January 20

Went to the yoga journal conference this past weekend and took a great class with Jane Austin. I also did an acro yoga class. Holy cow. I think I’m already showing. I didn’t show with Grace till I was about 6 months pregnant. Jessie and Hayley came over and we compared bellies AND yoga poses.
February 13

I’m slowly starting to tell people that I’m pregnant.
April 10

I got an e-mail today from Victoria, my friend/mom group buddy. She told me all about her homebirth midwife who she loved- Leopi. We made an appointment to meet with her. Grace is getting excited about being a big sister.

April 22

I just met Victoria’s midwife. Leopi is amazing. I REALLY want her to be my midwife. I’m so nervous that she’ll be busy. Apparently, booking a homebirth midwife is much like securing a great location for your wedding: It’s ill-advised to wait, the way I have, until you’ve only got four months till the big day.

April 25

Leopi has room in her schedule! I really like that she is also an artist and does orthobionomy. She also exudes confidence and medical awareness. She sends me lots of information about supplements and placenta eating. I think I’m in love. I’m beginning to wonder how another whole person is going to fit into our already very full lives/car.

May 5

First appointment with Leopi. She came to our house, and she talked to Grace like she was a regular person, not a small child. My husband, Brandon, and I asked her questions — he focused on the what-to-do-in-case-of-an-emergency while I asked about postbirth cleanup and if she does placenta encapsulation. (She assured us that it would not be crime-scene messy and said we’d have to order placenta pills from someone else.) She tells us what she’s capable of handling (she brings an oxygen tank to every birth, is trained in neonatal resuscitation, can stop hemorrhaging, can suture vaginal tears, and can give IVs) and what she’s not able to do (C-sections or other surgical procedures, administering pain medication). She tells us when and why she’s had to take patients to the hospital (often a patient has changed her mind and wanted pain meds). And she asks us questions — not just about my pregnancy but about the stress and excitement of adding to the family. She wants to know us. After she leaves, Brandon says, “I love her.” Plus, the tumbleweeds of dog hair rolling through my house didn’t seem to faze her one single bit. Also, Brandon had an allergic reaction to some salsa and his face turned all red and puffy.

May 7

Date night. Steak. Holy moly, it was so good. And Brandon and I finally got to really talk about this baby. Between work and preschooler wrangling, we haven’t had a moment to bask in this pregnancy at all. We talk about Leopi and how comfortable it seems. We talk about how this pregnancy is going and how Grace will like being a big sister. A homebirth is the only option for us and Brandon is totally on board. And it’ll give my little No. 2 fanfare of his own. He deserves it. Why should Grace be the only one with a great birth story?

May 27

There’s no turning back: I called my ob-gyn and dumped her. Said I was ready to transfer care to my midwife. She looked at me with that judgy doctor look. I know what people think of homebirth. I might as well braid my armpit hair and breastfeed the whole neighborhood. I also hired a doula, Gingi. She’s so great.

We went to an A’s game with some friends too! The kids favorite part was climbing on the barriers in the parking lot.

June 6

Today was my second official visit with Leopi, in her house this time. I had no idea what to expect. She lives in Vallejo so I’m a little concerned about the distance she lives from our house. Will she be able to get here on time? She took my blood pressure, measured my belly, and listened to the baby’s heartbeat. I love that her art work covers her walls!

June 16

Brandon and I are discussing whether or not we want Grace at the birth. Part of me does and part of me doesn’t. I mean, it might be strange for her to go on a playdate and come home to a new sibling. She might never want to leave the house again.

June 27

Leopi gave me a checkup and asked Grace if she wanted to hear the baby’s heartbeat. She quickly scooted up on the couch and nestled up next to me. Thump-thump-thump. “Huckle!” she said. And a nickname was born!

Grace is loving camp at head over heels.

June 31

The birthing kit arrived today! It’s filled with gauze, a syringe, straws (!), a baby hat (!), measuring tape, and more. So exciting! Next step: Unearth old sheets and towels from the garage; and buy a bunch of cheap towels. We also need to secure someone to dry and encapsulate my placenta. OH, and it’s super rainy today. RANDOM!!

July 17

Eleza called at 4am to say Judd had had a heart attach and they were going to hospital. She asked if could I stay with girls. Judd died and all our hearts are broken.

June 20

Gingi asked me how we’ve prepared Grace for the birth. We’ve read a few “I’m a big Sister” books, talked about the baby in my belly and all that, but I’ve never really given her the whole baby-exiting-my-body lowdown. Gingi tells me to just let her know that Mommy will be making some noises that might be scary and then make some of those sounds for her so she knows what to expect. Also, we took a trip to Sonoma with Anaolga, Kyle, and Maya.

June 28

Baby shower!

June 30

Brandon and Grace went to Idaho for a week, leaving me all alone (possibly for the last time in a very long time!)

July 10

Steven did a prenatal photoshoot

July 14

Nicole did henna on my belly today at bloom.

July 21

Jessie came with me to do a 3D ultra sound. I waited too long so we didn’t get to see much, just a very squished baby. I still think it’s cute though. I cannot believe I only have a month to go! Grace is getting excited and has started to play with her dolls a lot more.

July 31

I’ve created a care calendar of people who will be on call to take care of Grace when I go into labor. I just wish I KNEW when it would happen so I could make sure she’s ok. Jordan came to visit today. It was so fun seeing him. We discussed parenting and both of our wishes to have cousins for our kids.

July 31

I’m watching Rhye a lot these days to give Eleza a break. She is such a pleasure to be around. I hope my baby is as sweet and easy going as she is.

August 6

Happy birthday to me. We had dinner at kronner burger with Jessie, Kevin and Lez. It’s strange for Judd not to be here. I’m about to pop!

August 7

Salmon with capers and lemon and cheese potatoes and sauted greens for dinner. Brandon did the dishes too! Best gift I could ask for. Toys are all over the floor. There’s a pile of clothes at the foot of the bed. I am feeling really good and still attending “normal/non pregnant” yoga. I wonder when I’m going to deliver since Grace was 2 weeks early. Everyone says I look like I could pop.

August 14

New moon today. I predicted I’d have my baby today.  Pretty soon we will be a family of 4!!!

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Birth Story

Ben is 6 weeks old.
I can’t decide if that feels impossible (wasn’t he born a week ago?), or totally completely exactly right, or maybe even he’s older than 6 weeks (hasn’t he always been a part of our family?). Baby-time is confusing like that.
It’s time to share his birth story.————

Despite not liking hospitals, a homebirth wasn’t what I had envisioned for myself 4 years ago when I was pregnant with Grace. I fully intended to give birth the new-fashioned way. You know, at the hospital, yet still with as little intervention as possible. But, my first labor went from “Hey, I wonder if that’s a contraction?” to “OMG! I’m about to sh*t a bowling ball!” in only 7 hours. There was a 911 call, a public display of nudity, two pushes into daddy’s arms, and the arrival of a stunning and healthy baby we named Grace (followed by a dramatic ambulance ride to the hospital.) It was crazy.

Fast-forward 4 years: I’m pregnant again and planning a home birth. Second babies come even faster. I have visions of being the subject of some TLC show about women who give birth on the sidewalk, at the yoga studio, or in a restaurant. And so my story begins.

BENJAMIN LLOYD BOESCH, Born: 8/15/15  4:35 am

 August 14

11:00 p.m. I wake up suddenly as a huge gush of water plunges out of me. Is this labor? Ponder. Sit up and see that Brandon is not in bed. Scream down the stairs, “Brandon, my water just broke!” His response: “Seriously?”

11:10 p.m. We Call Leopi and Gingi to let them know it’s happening. They say to call back when I’m having contractions 5 minutes apart.

11:25 p.m. Brandon calls Leopi and tells her that labor has progressed. She says that her water has been turned off so she’s not going to even shower. She is on her way. She tells Brandon to contact Gingi and whoever else we want at the birth. Meanwhile, I text Jessie and my parents to let them know my water broke. I have predicted that I will go into labor today (9/14, a new moon) and I tell Brandon that I might be right. “I hope not” he says. “It’s almost tomorrow.”

12:42 a.m. Contractions are coming on strong. Gingi rubs my back and sets up some essential oils. It really helps. Brandon is also rubbing my back and encouraging me.

———————–

Birth Day! August 15

1:30 a.m. Jessie comes over in case Grace wakes up.

2:45 a.m. Leopi and Gingi suggest I get into the shower. I do and stay there for an hour. Magicaly, the water stays hot the whole time. I can’t usually fill the entire tub with hot water before it goes cold on me. The labor gods are with us.

3:00 a.m. Brandon lights some candles in the bathroom. It’s all so romantic. He stays in there with me despite getting so hot he feels as though he might pass out. He occasionally offers me sips of water.

3:45 a.m. I get out of the shower and head to the bed for some reclined contractions. Then I head back to the bathroom, my favorite place to have contractions (I think for the privacy it offers) and also where Grace was born. It feels really good to sit on the toilet. Then I get really cold and ask Brandon to make me a hot water bottle. He does and it’s so comforting. Feels like a warm hug.

4:20 a.m. Pushing contractions are in full swing. Leopi doesn’t have time to call the second midwife so Gingi fills in.

4:32 a.m. I’m on all fours (just like last time except now I’m on the bed.) I get loud and hope that Grace doesn’t wake up. Real loud.  Leopi and Brandon make warm compresses for me. Feels so good. With every contractions I think “YES, this is happening now.” Lots of sensation… NONE of which I would describe as “pain.” This pushing part is actually my favorite phase of labor. Leopi and Brandon giggle because every time the head looks like it’s going to pop out it slides back it. Leopi tells me I’m rocking my baby out.

Finally: “Do you want to feel the head?” Leopi asks me.

I do. AMAZING. Our baby is coming.

More pushing contractions. It feels like my body is pushing, but I do not feel like I am actually bearing down. I just let my body do it’s thing and stay very present.

4:35 a.m. My baby emerges. The head comes out first and I hear crying, then that quick slide of the shoulders. In an instant I roll over onto my back and am handed a big, fat, slippery boy. Tears. Laughter. And Grace slept throught the whole thing. Get the camera! Hello, Benjamin Lloyd.

I slowly bring him to my  chest, cord dangling, baby in arms, husband and Leopi on the bed. It’s all so surreal. We let the cord pulse for a good 15 minutes until it is time for Brandon to cut it. This was the perfect birth. It was more than I could have ever asked for.

I’m proud of myself for doing something so personally challenging. I gave birth naturally, and at home. It was the most profound and empowering moment of my life (equal to when I gave birth to Grace) and I feel really proud that we made that choice. Not that we always get what we want. But that’s another blog post.


TO BE CONTINUED…

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Notes from a UCMom graduate

Becoming a mother was one of the most humbling experiences of my life. Since I had worked with kids for several years prior to becoming pregnant and after being called “the baby whisperer” with my friend’s kids I thought parenthood would be a breeze. Uh, NOT! It was really hard. In fact, it sucked (literally and PAINFULLY!) The first year of my daughter’s life was the worst year of mine! It’s hard to admit that, but it’s true. I was depressed, lonely, and pissed at the world that my life had suddenly been turned upside down and no one else’s (including my own husband’s) seemed to be. I felt like I was expected to do ALL the things I was doing before becoming a mom, only now I had a newborn for a side kick. There seemed to be no ending to my todo list: wash the clothes, change the diaper, pump (sometimes all at the same time)… And repeat. It was exhausting. PLUS I had a baby who wouldn’t f*cking sleep, so neither could I. I constantly felt like I was falling behind. Like I was missing out on something.

Well, my daughter recently turned four and around the time that she did I began to feel a little bit more at peace with myself and the state of my life. It was almost like I had graduated from a 4 year college and I finally feel like I can put the letters M O M after my name. Well, a few months ago (actually 24 weeks as of this writing) I enrolled in a PhD in mothering program called “baby number two.” So, the fun continues! This time around HAS to go better than the first time or I’m not sure I’ll survive.

SO… I wanted to take note of, and share, somethings I learned since going to UCMom in hopes that if I write it down I might REMEMBER it and also to help those of you who find yourselves in a similar spot.

Here goes…

The world does not count on me to continue spinning. In fact, Brandon (the hubs) is fully capable of doing his own laundry and having a tidy house at all times is actually much less fulfilling than having a home that looks live in.

Behind is just a state of mind. Rather than feeling behind all the time, now I do what I need to do. I prioritize so I know what is really important and let the other stuff slide. (BTW, deadline is an interesting word, isn’t it?!) I prefer to think of my priorities as my “lifelines” and let deadlines die.

An over crowded life is not the same thing as a full life. I regularly ask myself these questions: How is my life out of balance right now? What can I do to simplify and create more balance in my life? What would I need to let go of to bring more sanity to my life so I can really be there in a way that I want for my projects and for the people I love?

-Busyness is not a badge of honor. Do you know anyone who, when you ask them how they are, always says, “I’m so busy.”? Are YOU that person? I actually DO feel like I’m always busy. And as a stay at home mom it is offensive when someone asks me, “What do you do all day?” as if I’m eating bonbons (I don’t even know what those are) with my feet up. I feel much more at peace though, and am a better parent and partner, when I create space (not busy time) in my day. Now, when someone asks me how I am I’ve been known to say, “I’ve been resting and taking it easy.” Most people exhale a little at even the thought of resting. This reframe gives me and the other person permission to not always be doing something. Let yourself experience this spaciousness and you’ll be hooked too.

-Grasping is a trap. When I feel trapped I tend to constrict instead of relax- which is actually a much more helpful choice. For example, I cling more desperately to my stuff when it gets ruined. (“I JUST bought that rug and the dog has already torn a hole it in? Are you EFFING kidding me?!”) I cherish my personal time and space and clutch it close to my heart. (“My morning time is sacred. It’s my chance to meditate, do yoga and be by myself. How dare you tell me that I won’t get that time when I have a new born.”) AND I’ve been known to hang on to the stories that I’ve been telling myself since I was a child even though they no longer serve me. (“Well, this happened to me once so I can never…” “Oh he’s just going to disappoint me again so…”) Stories about what others think of me, about my past or things “they” ALWAYS do.

When I find myself constricting around something I ask myself, “Is this a monkey trap?” And I experiment with loosening my grip a little bit in hopes of getting some more peace around the issue. Very buddhist of me, don’tcha think?

Do you have something to add to the list? Please share.

Peace, Isabelle

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Grace’s Birthday Party

We had a simple party this year. Grace gets to invite the same number of guests as the age she is turning so this year she invited FOUR friends to join in the festivities. We had a great time in Santa Barbara.

We had a simple party this year. Grace gets to invite the same number of guests as the age she is turning so this year she invited FOUR friends to join in the festivities. We had a great time in Santa Barbara.

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Our nature walk (January)

As we entered the “woods”, the narrow trail that meanders along lake Temescal, Grace kept wanting to go play on the jungle gym. So, at first, I redirected had to redirect her, or as Grace’s waldorf teacher puts it, “shifted the focus,” back to the woods. I said things like, “Wow! Look at this leaf! I wonder what the name of it is. Let’s make it up.” It was so cute to watch her come running over to me to see what the excitement was about. Then, I found a bunch of bark on the ground and made it sound like it was a brand new shiny toy. My trickery worked again. Before I knew it, she was walking around expressing the same excitement for everything she saw and heard and asking questions about it.  It was precious, and so much fun.

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At first she was frighted when I pointed out this bird, but after watching it for quite a while she realized it wouldn’t hurt her.

IMG_3393IMG_3390IMG_3379 Showing us how big the lake is.

It accomplished exactly what I set out to do – when does THAT ever happen?! And it was fun to see how much it had changed since our last visit.

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January                             vs.                   December

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Day 12

 

Today is my last day of 12 days of New Years Resolutions so I want to make it a good one…

Practice being present. I resolve to practice being in the moment at any time during the day. Since I’ve studied meditation for several years, I know that the key methods of being present include paying attention instead of daydreaming, observing what is going on around me, breathing attentively and meditating.

 

I hope you have enjoyed my resolutions as much as I have🙂 Happy New Year.

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