This time last year, I was finishing up the last little details of the Elephant costumes I sewed for Penelope and Oliver. At the time, they were both obsessed with the movie “Dumbo”, so making them Elephant costumes seemed fitting. I made a pattern using one of their bigger fitting pjs. I improvised, sewed and resewed. Cut an old baby onesie to make a quilt pattern for the ears, but mostly, I made them with love, so much love.
They were Elephants for Halloween, and they were the cutest little Elephants ever.
I had every intention of putting together a Woody and a Barbie costume this year, as per their request, but last week cleaning up, I pulled out their Elephant Costumes, and Oliver specifically, has been wearing non stop since.
I asked them if they wanted be Elephants again this year – they said a very happy YES!
As a lover of nostalgia, having them choose to wear their elephant costumes again this year, makes my mama heart so happy.
Next year, they definitely won’t fit these handmade costumes anymore. I’ll look back at pictures in years to come, at those two Halloweens in which they were elephants. I will remember how they loved those costumes with as much love as their mother had making if for them, and well, it touches my heart in ways I can’t express.
We put the costumes on today and did a dress rehearsal; added some make up and a few little new details, can’t wait to see them go trick or treating with this tomorrow.
Somehow, and always, Oliver and Penelope always find the most beautiful ways to show their affection, and the simple and beautiful ways to say I love you.
Perhaps this is my way of bringing more green indoors with the cooler seasons arriving, or just me finding new places to hang new plants in the house, ha! Either way, I love how this little DIY turned out.
In the process of winterizing our backyard, I found two sticks/branches I had saved from a tree we cut down in the beginning of summer. They were a lovely shape and color, and I knew they would come in handy when inspiration arrived. Indeed, inspiration did arrive when I suddenly noticed the wall directly across my front door seemed a little blank and needed a little love.
I immediately knew I wanted to fill that space with plants, so I figured a branch macrame plant hanger would be perfect.
This DIY didn’t take long at all to make, it was a wonderful way to use materials I already had, and up cycle ones that I found. I worked on this during nap time for two days, and re potted the plants with Penelope’s help while Oliver napped ; very doable for us busy mamas.
– String & Scissors
– Pots (I found these at a thrift store for $8.00)
– Indoor Plant you have around the house.
– Branch/Stick (from backyard)
TIP : I found the “pots” I used for the plants at a thrift store, and since they were not actually meant for plants, they didn’t have a draining hole. To make sure your plants grow well and it’s not too moist during watering, add a few pebbles at the bottom to allow the water to deposit there.
I started the macrame from the bottom. Measure the bottom of your pot, divide that in half, and that’s the length your first knot needs to be from the beginning of your macrame, to create a nice seat for the pot. I then continued trying neighbor strings to create a net, and made sure to place the pot on top often to make sure it fit well. You can do whatever decoration style of macrame you want on the string, I stuck to some simple spiral square knot pattern. If you want to know how to do these styles of knots, a helpful video here.
I screwed two hooks on one side of the stick, and separated them the same distance as the anchors existing on the wall. On the opposite side of where the hanging hooks are, I screwed four more for the plants to hang on. Once that’s done, hang the stick, and arrange your plants are you like, and voila!
I hope this inspired one of you. Such an easy project, but the result is so beautiful!
It’s officially the first day of fall! I happily welcome this new season; bring on the colder days and yellow leaves! We had such a great summer, and without nostalgia, I look forward to another season with my babies.
We had a simple summer. My first summer as a mama of two. We traveled a little, but mostly, adventured close to home, or at home. I’ve said this before, but in the act of doing nothing special, the most special memories are created, and that rang true for this past season.
I’ve watched my little Penelope learn to ride her tricycle, to fly a kite, to more confidently go down a slide. My little Oliver learnt to crawl in the grass, to love the outdoors just as much as his sister, and started wanting to try taking steps – always with a big smile on his face. I could keep writing about them; I know and love every single thing about them. Instead, I leave this video – for me to remember, and for the kids to watch in future and know how much their mother loved them.
9 months ago, I met my little Oliver. For months, I spoke to him while in the womb, caressing his little body through my skin, counting down the days until I would know his face. I say “his”, but at the time, I didn’t know what I was having. Unlike my first pregnancy, the feeling on what I was carrying this time wasn’t as strong. A few weeks before going into labor, I had a dream that my baby was born en caul, and pressed against an intact amniotic membrane, all I could see was a little piece of male anatomy. It was then, that for the first time in my pregnancy, I had a strong feeling that I could be carrying a son.
I was much more relaxed going into pregnancy second time around. Knowing what to expect when it came to everything – pregnancy, labor, postpartum, breastfeeding, caring for a new born, sleep (or lack there of) – was comforting. Initially, I was nervous to attempt a home birth again, but I knew it was still something I wanted, it was important to me. We were fortunate enough to work with the same midwife who delivered our first, which helped so much. She knew us, she knew our experience, and I felt so safe to have her go through this journey with us again.
My “due date” came and went, which I expected. I made peace with the fact that I simply gestate a little longer, and knew my baby would come when it was ready, which was going to be soon.
November 25th. It was a Friday afternoon, and my daughter and I were both taking a nap. At 40+2 weeks pregnant, every day was potentially the day my baby could arrive, and I needed to take every opportunity I could to rest. Not only was I going to be going into labor any time soon, but after that, I was going to be a mother to a newborn and a toddler- I needed all the rest I could get. When I woke up, I felt a more than normal amount of discharge between my legs. It caught my attention, but this late in pregnancy, I assumed it was a normal pregnancy symptom. My daughter woke up, and as I lifted her out of her crib, I felt another gush of discharge; this time, enough to drip down the inside of my thigh. My waters had broken.
I called my midwife to let her know. The fluid was clear, I had no other symptoms, and we agreed to keep in touch as things progressed. Though I wasn’t in active labor, my husband decided to come home once I called him. I remember he told me his coworkers teased him, because of course his wife would go into labor early on a Friday afternoon to start the weekend early, haha.
My husband got home, I put on a sanitary pad, and continued our day as normal. Later in the evening, my midwife called to check on my progress, and since there hadn’t been any, we agreed that if nothing happened overnight, she would come over first thing in the morning to discuss our options. My husband and I decided to put our daughter to sleep downstairs in our guest bedroom, just in case, and called it a night.
At around 10:30 pm, 7 hours after my waters broke, labor began and I felt my first little surge. I was GBS positive, and it wasn’t too long before my contractions were far apart enough for me to need the first dose of antibiotics administered. My midwife and I chatted while the IV bag emptied, and I would stop and breathe through my surges as needed, and we laughed that the contraction tracker on my phone was telling me “Go to the hospital now!”. My midwife didn’t think she had come over to deliver a baby yet, and neither did I. Contractions were quickly becoming more frequent, but they still very manageable, and since she lived 5 minutes from my house, it was better for her to go home and rest, and come back when I actually needed her. She left our house just a little after midnight.
After she left, my husband and I went back to bed. I had my head phones on playing my hypnobirth tracks, and would fall in and out of sleep through my contractions. The room was dark, and in an almost dream like state, I moved my body as needed through my labor; sometimes lying down, sometimes on all fours, sometimes sitting down, whatever felt right to get through the surges. At around 1:30 am, things were starting to change; active labor had begun. I called my midwife and just said “I think I need you here”. We decided we wouldn’t call any family to come over and watch my daughter at this point; there was no reason to disturb anyone’s sleep. If she woke up, we would go from there. I texted my birth photographer letting her know it was time, and at 2:15 am ish, my entire birth team was with me.
At this point, my body had taken over. I was bearing down without my control, and sometimes, that pressure made me sick too, so I carried my handy throw up bucket with me at all times, ha. My husband got the birth pool ready, and though I was eager to get into the comfort of the warm water, I wanted to advance as much as in my labor before getting in. I realize my concern was a little irrational, since my body was starting to push at this point – we didn’t even have time to do a second dose of antibiotics. I asked my midwife to check me before getting in the water, she responded, “Nope. You need to get in the pool, now!”, and so I did.
Getting into the the pool was just as lovely as I remembered. The warmth of the water and it’s weightlessness was exactly what I needed. My body was doing what it was supposed to do, I was calm and in control. I was able to have conversation in between my contractions, and I was even smiling and laughing…a little, I was in labor after all, haha. I trusted my body to move me into the right position to birth my baby as I could feel the head descending. In the calmest of voices, something we all joked about later since women usually scream this, I said “I can feel the ring of fire”. The student midwife looked, and the head was there. Following her guidance, I pushed my baby’s head out with a few small pushes to make sure it was gentle on both of us. I remember thinking, “I am going to meet my baby soon. Only a few more pushes. I will have my baby on my chest right away”.
For this birth, I was lucky enough to have three midwives present. For any home birth, it is standard to have two, but my midwife had a student midwife who had been working with her (and I) for the past couple of weeks, and I was happy to have her there. Having three midwives at my birth was almost serendipitous, because suddenly, the pace of things changed very quickly, and the next few seconds required all the hands available…
My baby’s head was delivered, and though I was pushing, the body wasn’t coming out. My baby was stuck. With the head delivered, I climbed out of the birth pool and got on the bed. My midwife was calm, but there was urgency in her voice. I can’t remember if she assigned each midwife a job, but they all seemed to know that to do. I was lying on the bed with the hands of 3 midwives on me; one pushing my baby down, another guiding it center, and the main midwife maneuvering his body to help him out. Within seconds, he was on my chest, but the sense of urgency was still there. My husband was asked to call EMS, my baby’s airway was being suctioned, his heart beat monitored, oxygen being pumped into his little nose and mouth; everything to make sure he was OK after a somewhat traumatic birth. Once stable, the student midwife took over the EMS call my husband was on, and he came back into the room.
Everything happened within a minute or two, max; but it was a lot. Though I know it happened (because I was there) and because we talked about it afterwards, in the moment, I experienced something completely different.
From the moment I got out of the pool, in the middle of so much action, movement and unknown, my world was calm and quiet. On November 26th, at 3:26 am, less than 5 hours since I had felt my first contractions, I pushed my baby out with the assistance of my midwives. I held my baby on my chest, and immediately felt his little hand grab my finger. In that moment, in an uncontrollable, almost animalistic impulse, I began to sing.
I began to sing.
In the moment I least expected, but in the moment I needed it, in the moment my baby needed it the most, a new strength in me awakened. The feelings that coexist within you while you are both strong and vulnerable for the ones you love, transforms you. It transformed me. In that moment, the most powerful, yet gentle strength inside of me came out, manifested in song. I was singing my baby a lullaby to wake – isn’t the irony in that is so fucking beautiful?! I knew everything was going to be OK. Already a mother, I was a mother born again, and my identity once again defined. My husband came back into the room, saw his wife and baby both healthy, and tears of joy ran down his face. We had a son; our little Oliver.
My husband and I sat with our little boy. We hugged him, kissed him, welcomed him to the world. One of the midwives asked us what his name was, and we both immediately knew. Oliver Adam. Oliver after the “Olive Tree” which symbolized everything he was; beauty, dignity and peace, and Adam after his father. He was a beautiful. Born with a full head of hair, and the chubbiest little cheeks, he was perfect. He was calm, looking around at the world and taking it all in so confidently. At only a few minutes old, I was already so proud of him, and so proud to be his mother.
Our third stage of labor was managed. I received a shot of pitocin on my thigh after Oliver was born, and my placenta was delivered immediately after. Labor was officially done. My perineum was intact (which I was so grateful for, once again), and both Oliver and I were doing well. I was hooked up to an IV, just in case, since the birth had been a little traumatic, and my midwife wanted to be prepared and monitor me closely for the next couple of hours. EMS arrived shortly after, checked our vitals, confirmed that both Oliver and I were doing well, and after some paper work between them and my midwives, they left.
Once things settled, we debriefed about what had happened. As a bigger baby, a whole 9 lbs 8 oz chunk, Oliver experienced shoulder dystocia, which is when the anterior shoulder gets stuck behind the pubic bone during delivery. It was something we could have not foreseen, and I was so incredibly grateful to have had such an excellent birth team to have handled it so incredibly well.
I cleaned up a bit, my husband did skin to skin with his son, and my midwives made the bed with fresh sheets. We were in pure post birth bliss. I couldn’t stop smiling and was on the happiest high. I had a beautiful son, I had the home birth I wanted, and even with the scary minute towards the end, perhaps especially because of it, I had found a new strength within me, both physically and emotionally.
The world never gives you anything more than you can handle, and this birth, this beautiful birth, is what the world had given me.
My son was born in our master bedroom, in the early hours of the night while his sister peacefully slept downstairs. My little family was complete. My husband and I enjoyed our little son alone for a few hours, and when morning came, we woke his sister up so they could meet. The most beautiful moment of my life… (to be continued)
I have told my children’s birth stories before; to family, to friends, but I finally sit down and write them.
Today, I am 9 months postpartum for the second time, the same amount of time I carried each of my children in my womb, and in honor of that, I share their birth stories.
I begin with Penelope’s, my first born.
The technician at our 20 week ultrasound asked me and my husband if we wanted to know the sex of our baby. We didn’t, but I already knew. I have never been one to really think about the meaning of dreams, but when it comes to my children, they have been true. I met Penelope in my dreams years ago, and when I found out I was pregnant, I knew I was having a daughter. Picking names was easy. We had a boy name, just in case, but in my heart, our search was done once we had her name.
Penelope, “Weaver” in Greek, and Eve, “Life” in Hebrew; she was, and still is, our little weaver of life.
The same way I knew I was having a daughter, I also knew I wanted a home birth. It was important to me, I trusted I could do it, and it was just something I wanted. We found the most wonderful midwife, bought all our supplies for our planned home birth, rented a birth pool, read books, did prenatal yoga and classes; we did what we were supposed to do as expecting parents. My confidence as a first time mom-to-be was high, and I felt strong and prepared. The weeks passed, and so did our “due date”, but we knew we were close, and just patiently waited.
I was 40+3 weeks pregnant, winding down from another day passed. It was 9:30 pm, and just as I was feeling this was another day gone with no baby, I felt my first little contraction. I smiled. There was a note pad next to me, and I started writing down how often I was getting these period like cramps. I did that quietly for the next two hours, and only then, looked at my husband and said “I think I’m in labor”, ha! We tried to go to bed, and the excitement that labor was imminent didn’t allow me much sleep, but I made it through the night. My husband woke up later in the morning, made me an egg and avocado sandwich for breakfast, which I remember clearly, as I ended up flushing that down the toiler later, ha. We waited a few more hours before we called our midwife, my family arrived to keep us company, went for a walk, and a little after noon, my midwife arrived. When she checked me, I was about 7/8cm dilated! I was so excited, like “YES! I’ve got this, we’re almost there!”.
We called our birth photographer, my husband set up the birth pool, my midwife was getting all her equipment ready, the second midwife was on her way, my family in the living room downstairs, patiently waiting for this baby to be born; everyone had a job. At this point, my contractions were getting stronger, and I was bouncing on my toes as my coping technique. It was working well, but when they told me the pool was ready, I got in right away. My goodness; that was B L I S S. The warm water was so comforting and my contractions stopped for a wonderful break that I so desperately needed. Once the contractions started again though, they came on strong. One of them broke my water, as I felt a pop in between my legs, but the fluid was clear, which was a good sign; my baby was happy.
In the months leading up to labor, I had visualized how I saw the whole thing happening. I always saw myself giving birth during the day. At that moment, I was in the birth pool, the afternoon light was beautiful; it’s what I had been visualizing for months and it was happening. I was starting to get the urge to push, the end is near, but I still wasn’t fully dilated, and I had cervical lip. I got out of the pool, my midwife guided me through some movements that could better position Penelope’s head since that cervical lip was in the way, and I followed along.
At this point, my confidence from earlier in the day was starting to shift. I had progressed relatively quickly for the first part, but the last few centimeters were taking longer than I had expected. Of course, there is no formula for how quickly a cervix dilates, but at the time, I figured if I got to 7/8 cm easily, the last 3 were going to happen fast too, right? My body was doing everything it was supposed to do, but exhaustion was setting in, and with that, a little bit of fear, but mostly pain. The hours passed, the contractions kept getting stronger, and we still didn’t have a baby.
At around 6:30pm, almost 21 hours since I had felt my first little contraction, I was starting to feel like this baby was never going to come. At one point, I remember asking my midwife to “Just cut the baby out!”. We tried pushing to see if we could get the cervical lip out of the way, but it wasn’t moving. I was lying in bed, tossing and turning, trying to find the best position to cope with the surges, but they were very painful no matter what I tried. I looked at my husband and he knew what I was going to say, but as my biggest advocate, he was going to support the birth plan he knew I wanted. I was trying to be strong; I never once uttered that the contractions hurt, or that I was tired. I wanted the home birth I had been dreaming about for so long, but I was tired and tense. The more I tensed up my body to escape the pain, the less my contractions were working, but they still hurt just as much. I needed to rest, I needed a break. With a feeling of defeat, but great certainty that is is what I needed, I told my midwife that I needed help and wanted to transfer. At 9cm dilated, we grabbed our hospital bags, and transferred to the hospital.
The car ride to the hospital was horrible. My poor husband would have ran all the red lights if he could have, just to get there faster. My midwife had privileges at the hospital we transferred to, and walked right into a room when we got there; that was wonderful. I got some gas and air, and got an IV hooked up for all the things I was going to receive. I was GBS positive, and though we opted out of antibiotics for our planned home water birth, now at the hospital, I needed them. A pitocin drip was started, and still that last stubborn centimeter took 6 hours to dilate. The gas and air was wonderful, I was smiling away, but then that stopped working. The epidural was not part of my birth plan (planning a home birth), but at this point, I wasn’t refusing one, I was requesting one! The epidural was administered, and I wish I could say I was able to relax after, it really only took the edge off. I still moaned and groaned through my contractions, and adjusted my position on the bed as often I could with the restrictions of all the monitors on me. Several times, my midwife touched my thighs and belly and asked me if I could feel them, and I could.
Though we had transferred to the hospital, I was happy to still be working with my midwife exclusively. She was sitting a few feet away from me the whole time; she’s just amazing. My family were great too; bringing snacks to the hospital, sleeping on the floor or sharing couches to get some shut eye, to keep me company while I slowwwwly dilated. I felt guilty that I was taking so much of everybody’s time, but it made so happy to know this was my birth team. I rested as much as I could, and when early morning came, I was fully dilated and ready to push. I asked for more privacy at this point, and the only people in the room were my husband, my midwife (and lovely birth photographer) and a hospital nurse who would come in every now and then. It was quiet and intimate, which is something I wanted for my home birth. As the epidural had not taken well, I was able to use my contractions to help me, but as a first time mom, I still pushed for about 2 hours.
On May 13th, at 6:58 am, 33 hours after I had felt my first contractions in my basement couch, after many hours of roller coaster feelings and emotions, my beautiful baby was born. Everything in the world made sense again. She was perfect. My midwife placed this beautiful little being on my chest. She wasn’t crying; she was calm, lifted her head, and looked straight into my eyes as if to say “Hi Mama”. We met earth side. After a few seconds, she let out the quietest cry, and they confirmed that she was indeed a little girl; my Penelope. My husband cut the cord, they cleaned her up a bit, and she was back on my chest, skin to skin.
You never know how you’re going to react when you meet your child for the first time. My husband had the most wonderful tears of joy, and I, the emotional one out of the two, had none – go figure, haha. I was so happy, the happiest I have ever been, and all I could do was smile. Penelope was big, bigger than what I thought a new born baby would be like (she was 9 lbs too), but at the same time, she was the smallest and most precious little thing I had ever held. We kissed her, counted her toes, said her name and caressed the softest of skin. While I delivered my placenta, my husband did skin to skin with her, and I treasure the pictures captured of that moment.
Labor was officially done. Penelope and I were doing well, my perineum was intact, and 3 hours after Penelope was born, we were on our way home.
When we got home, I showered, then took a 4 hour nap with my new little family. It was perfect. After our nap, immediate family came over to meet Penelope, and for the rest of the evening, it was just the 3 of us; my new little family at home.
About 6 weeks later…
I got an email from my birth photographer letting me know that my photos and video were ready! My first reaction was excitement, and then I was nervous…
My birth had not gone as I had planned. I didn’t get the home birth I so very much wanted. We didn’t transfer due to an emergency; Penelope and I were healthy during the whole birthing process, it was me – I wasn’t able to do it. Would watching my birth video/photos bring back feelings that I had dealt with in the previous weeks? My baby was healthy, so was I, that’s all that matters! Yes, and no. I grieved the experience I didn’t get, and I feel incredibly guilty saying that, but it’s true. The birth experience is not a throw away. We all have a vision of how we want our births to be, and when we don’t get it, it’s sad. How can an experience that provides you the epitome of happiness and love the moment you meet your child, also be the same experience that, depending on how it went, can cause sadness as well. It’s a weird feeling, and for many weeks, I felt guilty that I associated a feeling of grief with the same experience that had brought me my beautiful daughter. I’m not the only woman who has felt this, and if you, the person reading this, has felt the same, know it’s OK to feel these feelings. It’s part of healing.
I sat in my photographer’s office, and I watched my birth video for the first time while Penelope nursed in my arms.
After watching it, I went upstairs, and she asked me “What did you think?” My first response, without thinking about it twice was, “I fell in love with Adam all over again”.
The woman misses a lot during the process of labor and delivery. Your body is doing a lot of work, and your mind doesn’t have energy to remember the details. I’m sure many women have thought “Oh, that’s right, that DID happen, etc” when remembering their birth stories. Just 6 weeks postpartum, I was watching my birth video and remembered things I had forgotten or missed. I was worried that my birth video was going to bring up feelings, and it did, but not the ones I thought. I saw my husband’s unconditional support during the entire process, the look of love and concern on his face, the tears when he saw his daughter for the first time. I’m tearing up just thinking about it.
I noticed something else watching my birth video. I didn’t feel as much pain as I looked like I did. I remember labor being very hard, but I didn’t remember it being that hard. Perhaps it’s Mother Nature’s way of protecting the woman; a way of allowing us to heal from childbirth, by making us forget the “labor” part of giving birth, but remembering everything else. Just 6 weeks postpartum, I felt like I had learnt so much from my labor and delivery, and was wiser and more prepared if I had to do it again right then and there.
Time is a wonderful thing. I write my daughter’s birth story 2 years after she was born, and I write it with so many feelings of gratitude and love for the birth experience I did have. It was different than what I had planned, but it was beautiful. It taught me to be humble to an experience which I have no control of, and to be grateful for the beautiful things that happened outside that control. I was able to witness the amazing love and support from the people around me; my family, my midwife, my amazing husband. Giving birth was my official journey into motherhood, my transition from woman to mother, but it was more than that, the experience was part of their journey too; my parents became grandparents, my sister became an aunt, my husband became a father. It’s a beautiful thing.
Giving birth to my daughter will always be one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I became a mother, I met the love of my life, and nothing takes away from that.
Thank you for reading. xo.
Oliver’s Birth Story here
My wonderful midwife, Teilya Kiely.
When I was pregnant for the second time, I knew I wanted to do whatever I could to help make the postpartum period easier, especially since I knew I would be taking care of a newborn and a toddler this time around. Placenta encapsulation was one of those things.
I had heard about placenta encapsulation in my prenatal classes, from some friends and my midwife, but didn’t actually go ahead with it for my first pregnancy. Second time around, I knew I wanted to try it. I did some research on it, and the benefits sounded like something I would want. In a nutshell; helps with post labor recovery, replenishment of iron levels, increase in milk supply and can help with postpartum depression.
I’ve recently started to wean off my placenta pills (I am 4.5 months postpartum) and from my experience, I would definitely recommend it. Overall, I feel the pills really helped, especially during the first two weeks postpartum, which to me, are always the hardest. I felt really great given I was getting little sleep, recovering from labor, and taking care of two little people. My milk came in faster and my supply was stronger. In terms of my mood, I was less stressed and happier (this could all be because it was my second time around too), and in my husband’s words “I was nicer” (haha). I didn’t experience any hair loss, until I started to wean off them…that’s why I’m still sort of taking them.
The encapsulation service was done by a local doula, so if you’re thinking about it, I would start looking there. The service can be a little bit pricey (around $200 or more), but the benefits, in my opinion, were definitely worth it. The service included pick up of the placenta, encapsulation, drop off and a little umbilical cord heart shape keepsake (which I loved!).
It’s so incredible to believe the things I’m emotionally attached to since becoming mom; I still have the positive pee tests for both kids, their fallen baby hair in an envelope, and I’ve had Oliver’s heart shaped cord and both Penelope and Oliver’s stump saved for what seems like forever. I know, I know- I’m THAT mom.
It’s amazing to believe that the cord was what kept my little babies alive in my womb, so special. I finally got around to doing something with the cord and stumps, a little DIY below, and I absolutely love it how it turned out.
Did you do anything with your placenta? I would love to hear your experience!