My husband walked in the door at 8pm, after a 10 hour work day, and greeted me, “Hey love, how was your day?”
“Good. Lazy. I didn’t get much done, but Ginny’s sound asleep,” I tattled on myself.
Am I the only one who does this? Discredits how much energy I pour into my day, into my students, into my family, into my life?
Um, hello Kelsey: You kept a tiny human alive today! NBD…
Let’s cut this self-sabotage out together – okay?
We live in a “hustle” culture, a “because of 4am” culture, a “stay at work later than the next guy” culture, and you know what…I’m not buyin’ it!
I’m not buyin’ that I have to work myself into the ground to be happy, or to be worthy. I’m not buyin’ that the best way to measure my success is by the length of my to-do list and the intensity of my exhaustion. I’m not buyin’ the lie, and I hope you don’t either.
If I have the privilege of taking inventory of my life when my time is up, I’m not gonna look back and say to myself, “You know, Kels, you really should’ve gotten more laundry done. You should’ve sacrificed sleep to finish that project sooner, and spent less time snuggling on the couch with your dog.”
I’m celebrating my lazy days…the days where I prioritize BEING over DOING. The days of conserving energy rather than expending it. The days when “nothing gets done.” Because these are the days that I indulge in the pleasure of being alive! I linger on the porch with my coffee, I stare into the eyes of my baby, I listen to an inspiring podcast while I soak up the sun. These are the days filled with moments of truly living!
The theme of my pregnancy and birth experience with Ginny was *Trust*
At my 30 week ultrasound, we received unsettling news: Ginny was measuring extremely small size and my placenta was potentially segmented. This meant that I would be going in for testing three times a week for the remainder of my pregnancy. It also meant that my delivery was too high risk for the home birth we had hoped for, so I would be delivering at the hospital.
Just as I had trusted in the timing of my pregnancy, I trusted this new path.
In true Divine coincidence, the Midwife I had been seeing for prenatal care, and whom I had developed a strong bond with, had rights to deliver at Mission Hospital.
After weeks of testing and being prepared for the possibility of induction, Hubby and I were due for some serious rest. We decided to send our oldest off with Noni for two nights so that we could have a “staycation” Babymoon.
I knew I had been in early labor for a bit. I had lost my mucus plug, was having irregular contractions and was 1cm dilated and 90 percent effaced at 37 weeks.
On Tuesday, April 3rd, my love and I spent the entire day doing what we do best: shopping at Fashion Island, eating delicious food, and making strangers uncomfortable with our PDA. As we walked hand and hand, we smiled and savored the opportunity to nourish our friendship before our biggest transition to date.
On Wednesday, April 4th, we were relaxing at home when I realized I was bleeding. This is an unwelcome sight for any pregnant Mama, especially with all the concern about the state of Ginny’s wellbeing.
I chose to trust that I would be guided to the best course of action.
My best friend Stevie was planning on taking a road trip from Denver to Cali to be with me for Ginny’s birth, but I sensed she wouldn’t make it in time. I called her at 5pm and said “I think you need to book a flight.” She was able to snag a ticket for the last flight out of Denver at 8pm.
After hours of back and forth with my Midwife, we decided to throw our dinner in tupperware and head to the hospital for monitoring since my bleeding wasn’t letting up.
We arrived at the hospital around 9pm and I was hooked up for monitoring. I’ve never been in a hospital after hours — it felt like a ghost town. I was grateful for the privacy of our suite and the peace and quiet of the hall (with the exception of the moaning first time Mama next door).
I was now 4cm dilated and 100% effaced.
My Midwife, Allison, continued to review the print out from the monitor while we chatted and then lovingly added, “I think it’s time you stop eating your dinner.”
I knew what this meant: she was thinking C-section.
I breathed in — “It is well with my soul.”
It’s important to note here how much I trusted my Midwife. From day one, she had listened attentively, spoken candidly, and honored my values. For the duration of my prenatal care, Allison’s actions aligned with my belief that pregnancy and birth are natural processes and should be approached with confidence rather than fear. I knew that my best interest and the best interest of my baby were at the heart of her practice. Because of this, I was at ease in her care, even as it looked like the path ahead was bumpy.
Happily, Allison returned later to say that baby was looking great on the monitor and we were on track for a vaginal delivery.
Stevie joined Dan and I around 10pm. Me and my two best friends sat in the birth suite chatting, laughing and listening to Kings of Leon. My Doula, Natalie, arrived around 11pm after my water has just broken. I was given a mobile monitor that was taped to my belly so I could get up from the bed and freely move around as I labored. Now that I could eat a little something, Stevie got me an orange flavored popsicle from the lobby. I swung my hips as I raved that it was the most delicious popsicle I’d ever had!
The nurses coming in and out commented on the joy and lightness in the room. They seemed confused when I casually informed them I was having an extra big contraction with a big grin on my face. I couldn’t have been happier — my body was doing the work to bring my baby into my arms.
I remember sweetly caressing my own forearm and saying “I’m so grateful my body is doing such a good job. Thank you body!”
After a couple hours of joyfully dancing through active labor, I turned on my “Transition” playlist and found my position for this intense work leaning over the bed. This is how I would remain through this phase of labor, and where I would sink into a meditative state with the loving hands of my Doula on my low back and the hands of my sleepy husband in mine.
“…Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders…when oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace…”
I sang my baby down. My movements were intuitive, soft and rhythmic. I was alone inside myself, relaxed in the knowing that I was fully supported by my team.
This space, Transition, is thoughtless and beyond time. The room was dim and sleepy and I knew my body needed some nourishment. Natalie gave me a small bag of trail mix and with eyes closed I said, “Yes, this is exactly what I needed.”
My contractions were powerful and frequent, so I woke up my husband so he could accompany me to the bathroom. As a powerful pressure wave approached while I sat on the toilet, I looked up at my husband with a bit of shock and said, “I’m ready to push.”
I just knew it was what my body wanted next. There was no analyzing, no doubting, just a humble following of the very clear cues my body was giving me. My only job was to get out of the way so my body could do her job. I gladly surrendered, knowing she had the wisdom needed.
Dan assisted me as I wobbled from the bathroom to the bed while Stevie left the room to get Allison and Natalie who had both just briefly stepped out.
Without pause, I climbed onto the bed, braced my forearms on a stack on pillows and kneeled facing the wall. This moment will live in my memory forever — it was the one time I felt genuinely scared by the shear force of the sensation building inside me. I stared directly at the back of the bed, and said with conviction, “Dan I need you really bad right now.” He stood to my right with his hand securely on my back and said “I’m here my love.”
I felt the presence of Stevie to my left — the same presence that had stood by me since childhood. I was aware in that moment that the pain she carries from grief doesn’t have a finish line. My pain did. Her courage fueled me. I whispered aloud to myself, “I can do this. This is temporary.”
The surge rose in me like a ferocious tsunami wave and my body pushed with a vigor I could not have impeded.
I roared from the depths of my soul!
“Stop pushing and take a breath in” my calm confident Midwife coached.
“Now give me a little push.”
“Don’t push. Take another breath.”
“Another little push.”
Breath out…with baby!
Allison passed Ginny through my legs and I bowed to embrace my sweet baby, cheek to cheek.
When I saw her face, I recognized her. We greeted each other like old friends. “Oh hey you! I’ve been waiting. I’m so glad you’re here.”
Danny, Stevie, Allison and Natalie: Thank you from the bottom of my heart. We couldn’t have done this without you!
The story of Ginny’s fierce and serene birth begins before conception…
My husband Dan and I had been a family for four years already, although we weren’t yet married. We lovingly coparented our daughter Thea, although she is not biologically related to Dan. Over the years we discussed back and forth the idea of creating a child together and how that might impact our relationship and Thea’s life. There came a time where we decided to open our hearts to the possibility of expanding our family, knowing full well that conception is beyond our control. Without expectation, I consciously stopped refilling my birth control prescription and let go, knowing that we had already been blessed beyond measure to be parents of a healthy daughter.
Then, life was flipped upside down by one phone call. My dearest friend, my chosen sister that I have spent my life alongside, tragically and unexpectedly lost her sweet husband, Justin. She was pregnant with their rainbow baby that they had waited patiently for, and she was beside herself in agony. I flew out to be with her as she reeled from the million ways her life had changed.
When I returned home, I made an appointment with my doctor to get back on birth control and put pregnancy on pause for the time being. Then I received another call: my sweet Stevie was losing her baby. Again, I rushed to be by her side and sat with her while she grieved like I had never seen before.
It was that second trip that I realized I had missed my period.
“This can’t be happening. That would just be cruel!” I thought to myself.
Once back in Cali, I went to my doctor appointment, got my birth control, and went home. I thought it was strange that I wasn’t given a pregnancy test and wanted to be sure before I started back on my regimen, so alone in my bathroom I took a test.
I lost my breath. I wept.
“Oh my God! My Stevie!” The words flew out of my mouth.
You see, Stevie was there the first time I took a positive pregnancy nine years prior. I had “accidentally” been granted a gift that countless women pray for and agonize over month after month. I had watched Stevie walk a painful fertility journey, and knew how her soul longed to experience this joy with Justin.
Now, once again, without struggle, I was blessed with a baby.
I was excited! This was a brand new experience. The first time I was pregnant, I was a teenager and it was “shameful.” The announcements I made were dreaded and met with judgement and concern. I needed to celebrate this new life for the miracle it is! I wanted to shout for joy, but I hesitated because I knew how painful this news would be to the one person who had walked beside me my whole life.
Instead of being swept away by confusion and fear, I chose to dive into faith — Shradha. I chose to trust the bizarre timing of this blessing and allow myself to be guided by my Higher Power — Isvara Pranidhana. I relaxed into my mantra “It is well with my soul.”
I knew what I had to do. I felt like I had a dagger hidden in my pocket as I picked up the phone. As soon as she answered I spit it out like ripping off a bandaid. There was no better way to do it.
We sobbed. We said “I love you” and ended the brutality quickly.
The next few weeks were beyond hard. I deserved to celebrate this blessing and she deserved to grieve her losses. So that is just what we did. We loved each other through the awkwardness and gave each other plenty of space to have our feelings.
This is true friendship: to hold each other’s hand through thick and thin while honoring the other’s unique journey.
Thanks to our unconditional love, Stevie was present at my wedding on the three month anniversary of Justin’s passing. She was at my baby shower months later, and she agreed to be by my side when I welcomed baby Ginny into the world.
That was a great day….
I just returned home after an ultrasound and meeting with my midwife. At 34 weeks and 2 days, baby Ginny is measuring in the 5th percentile for abdominal size, and 12th percentile overall. My husband and I are both tall, so we would expect our baby to be on the higher side of average. Ginny’s size is alarming because it could indicate that she isn’t getting the proper nourishment she needs in utero. We first discovered her small size last week, and this week was no different.
I’m now on a regimen of twice weekly scans to diligently monitor her growth. I could be induced any day if we have reason to believe she’s not thriving based on unsafe measurements in growth, blood flow or fluid levels.
This isn’t the news any mama wants to hear. This means that I am no longer a candidate for the home birth I’d envisioned. It’s scary to think that my baby could be in danger, and of course my first instinct is to blame myself. I immediately thought “I’m not doing a good job taking care of my baby.” I’m wrestling with myself right now. I’m upset that I’ve been indulging in sugar and paying little attention to my protein intake. I’ve prioritized work over self care more often than I want to admit. I’ve allowed the fear of financial insecurity during maternity leave to propel me into overdrive, and that stops now.
Of course my midwife reassured me that there is no fault here, yet I can provide Ginny with the best odds by giving her the best nutrition possible.
It doesn’t serve me, or Ginny, to remain in a mindset of blame and fear. Ginny is the size that she is. I cannot undo the way I’ve been feeding myself up to this point. When I surrender to this truth, I can focus on where I do have some power: over my choices moving forward.
My sweet husband is helping rid the house of my Achilles heel: sweets! The Costco box of rice crispy treats, the Girl Scout cookie stash and the cupcakes are being replaced with nuts and hummus. I have an alarm on my phone to remind me to eat every two hours, and I’m using an app to track my nourishment throughout the day. These things are within my ability to control, and this is where I will focus my energy.
We are scared, and that’s okay. My Yoga practice has taught me how to hold two opposing things at the same time. I can rest assured that I have the tools to respond to whatever comes of this challenge, and still acknowledge that it’s super scary. I can use this experience as an opportunity to surrender to that which is beyond my control, and practice my intention for 2018: Faith
With this shift in focus, I will be putting work on the back burner. My one priority will be nourishing myself and Ginny and preparing for her arrival. I absolutely love this online community, and am so grateful to know that my decision to temporarily step away will be fully supported. Thank you <3