How to WHOLE 30 While Breastfeeding


One of the biggest concerns I had as I started my Whole 30 was that it would tank my milk supply. My little man had just turned 4 months old and this was NOT the time to have that happen! I had friends attempt a Whole 30 in the past and stop because of supply issues- I knew that it could happen to me and I wanted to take every precaution that I could- including going into my whole 30 knowing that I would have grace and stop if it wasn’t working for Shepherd and I.

To my surprise, I had no supply issues at all! If anything, I had more frequent and more noticeable letdowns- win! But, there’s some things I did to ensure this, and I want to share with you today.

Psst….looking for some great Whole 30 recipe ideas? There are a BUNCH of great Whole 30 resources in this year’s Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle- 107 resources for just $29.97! Grab yours now!Β 

DOUBLE THE FAT

Seriously. There’s a recommended amount of “plated fat” with each meal, and I ate about double that. That meant a LOT of avocado, a LOT of nuts, and using more oil than I normally would when cooking. And even being generous with my compliant bacon πŸ˜‰ You know what? I felt GREAT.

ALLOW SNACK(S)

Whole 30 is as much about breaking mental habits as anything else, and so snacking is typically discouraged. However, I decided to be gracious with this and let myself snack as my hunger cues dictated- and I really tried to be mindful. Typically, this was a handful of nuts or more avocado- easy, fat-rich foods to give me more energy. In a pinch, a small banana (Rwandan bananas are like 1/3 the size of normal ones) or a green apple would do the trick.

DRINK ALL THE WATER

All of it. I made it my goal to drink my weight in ounces of water each day. I didn’t always make it, but I usually got pretty close, and I definitely think it helped curb my “hangover” at the beginning of the Whole 30 and made sure I was hydrated enough to be making ample milk throughout.

ADD SOME COMPLIANT CARBS

As in, potatoes. White ones. Cooked mindfully and with compliant oils- but yes, potatoes every few days helped keep my stamina up and give my body lots of energy to work with!

BE GRACIOUS

Whole 30 doesn’t work for all breastfeeding mamas- it’s just true. If you are going into it knowing that you’ll feel like a failure if you have to abandon your whole 30 to save your milk supply, wait! Having a gracious mindset with sound priorities is key- your baby is worth it!

Have you attempted or completed a Whole 30 while breastfeeding? What was your experience?

Friday Favorites #4

Friday Favorites is back! All the things I’ve loved from the interwebs this week, and a few products I’m crushing on. Enjoy! 

This beautiful and challenging, short writing on marriage and how time affects the allure of one another. I really loved this! 

Real life places that belong in a Wes Anderson film. This gave me life y’all. 

My friend Danielle opened her new health & wellness consulting business! I’m so excited for her! 

Maklemore’s birthday celebration for his grandma. Yes. 

This piece about implicit bias in missionaries and sometimes humor being racist….super convicting. 

This girl

This couple crowdsourced some photoshopping….hilarity ensues. Legit LOL for this one.

This collaboration between Coach and NASA. gimme all the things! 

This card commercial about infertility and community. SO MANY FEELS.

Need. ALL. The cannoli!  

A list of all the dangerous things you should let your kids do. Some of these would be super hard for me. But others we already encourage daily πŸ˜‰ 

The IG account @youdidnotsleepthere πŸ™‚

Gimme this cheesecake. 

Gollum reading Trump tweets. Dying.

My Summer Reading List

Behold, my (ambitious) summer reading list! I’m already chipping away at a few of these, but it will likely take me to the end of the year to finish them all. Have you read any of them?

Cultivate by Lara Casey. I am midway through this one and I am loving it- it’s especially wonderful for us women who are feeling pulled between motherhood and other talents/skills and how the heck we honor the Lord through different seasons and make what matters happen- whatever that is.

Only Love Today. I’ve loved Rachel Macy Stafford’s last few books- they have challenged me to my core as a mother to be present with my family and to take big, bold steps to having an unplugged life that honors my children. I can’t wait to read her next one!

 

Harry Potter… my goal for 2017 is to finish reading the Harry Potter series. I just started the Order of the Phoenix!

Americanah. I actually don’t know anything about this book, other than it’s been critically acclaimed and on a number of “must read” “best book” lists, so I decided to add it to mine. Anyone read it yet?

Dancing in the Glory of Monsters– this book is a popular one here in the East Africa expat community, as it details a lot of history of the region, particularly Congo. It’s been recommended to me several times, and I finally got my hands on a copy.

At Home In The World- confession, I actually just finished this one. It’s fabulous and you should download it ASAP. It’s inspiring and fun to read and now I want to travel the world with my kids!

The Handmaid’s Tale– another one I don’t know a ton about (and I haven’t watched the series either) but it keeps showing up/people keep recommending it to me. I love dystopian fiction and apparently this fits the bill….

Little Women. I’m trying to read more classics and my BFF got me this one for my birthday! And the cover is by Rifle Paper Co, so, duh. I wanna read it. πŸ™‚

Of Mess and Moxie. Jen Hatmaker forever. This doesn’t release until August but I’m grateful to have gotten an advance copy and it is SO good, y’all. I have laughed out loud so many times, and I’m an internal processor, so that’s saying something. I’ve been encouraged and challenged and you just need to read it! So much good! PREORDERS NOW AVAILABLE. HOLLA!

Last Child in the Woods. This has been on my shelf FOREVER but especially as we look to the future and dream about what we want life to look like for our kids as they get older, I think I need to read this to help solidify my parenting principles πŸ™‚

BONUS: The Bible. Specifically, this one. I just got it and I love it. My goal is to finish before my 30th birthday, so I gave myself a year! Really though, if you’re looking for a new Bible, these are beautiful and affordable.

So there you have it- my ambitious summer reading list- spanning fiction, history, encouragement, parenting, and beyond. Are any of these on your list? What are you looking to read this summer?

Friday Favorites #3

LINKS I LOVE

The Multidimensional Poverty Index– a really important tool for assessing development. I really want to learn more about this!

This artist’s drawings of his clients asking him for free work. Just, yes.

Ryan Reynolds tweeting about parenting is all of us. Hilarious. Warning; some language.

This map with WIFI passwords for airports all over the world. The number of times I’ve wished for this to exist….

The Facebook page “Africa, This Is Why I Live Here.” I don’t know how I stumbled on this, but it is both hilarious and gives a good window into Africa life πŸ™‚

I’m laugh-crying this morning at Robin Wright saying that Trump stole all the ideas for House of Cards season 6 ?

This article on flipping the narrative of scary birth stories. Real! I had a scary birth with Halle, and I was really intentional about ready very positive birth stories while pregnant with Shepherd to help myself jump the mental hurdle that birth would always be super hard. My birth with Shep was worlds different!

And speaking of birth- this writeup on the difference between a doula and a midwife, and why your midwife can’t be both. I didn’t get this with Halle but did with Shepherd, and it made a big difference in how I viewed my care.

This lovely and enlightening piece about the work of Fannie Lou Hamer and the creation of food systems in the south to alleviate poverty in the 1960’s. Go girl!

This hilarious and spot-on article, “10 Reasons You Should Be a Missionary.”

Becky Thompson’s (of Scissortail Silk) words to mompreneurs: don’t miss the people in front of you. I have found this to be so true in my business and it’s served me well.

Lara Casey is one of my favorite people. I got an advance copy of her new book, Cultivate, and it’s excellent! You can preorder now and get a TON of bonuses- so worth it!

THINGS IM LOVING

Texas Cup Factory! I love my RTIC cup but these powder coats, y’all…..

Awesome with Alison podcast. I’m addicted. I have a huge crush on Alison and it’s on my bucket list to go to one of her parties. Her podcast is equal parts fun and business/branding advice. Love it!

Listen, I absolutely LOVE my Coach diaper bag (4 years and it still looks brand new) but I am SO crushing on these ergonomic backpack types. And the colors are so good!

Koala Crate. We got one for free with a bundle we got last month, and it’s the cutest! Each box is themed and has games and crafts for your preschooler πŸ™‚

Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs, and Rosewater. My favorite for flying and also spraying midday. Cheap and refreshing!

DoTERRA’s Root to Tip Hair Serum. I’m actually using it on my eyebrows to help fill them in, and on my hairline which is receding #postpartumhairlossisreal but this stuff works! My eyebrows are already looking more full!

THE WHOLE 30: My Experience


Ok guys. I finished the Whole 30 yesterday. I’m gonna have a few posts on this in the coming weeks, but I wanna just do a quick stream-of-consciousness and results review while it’s fresh! 

First, what I feel like everyone wants to know right off the bat: I did lose 10.5 pounds. Whole 30 says that you shouldn’t step on a scale for the entire 30 days, but I totally don’t have that much self control, so I can say this: the first 8 pounds came off in the first week. Another 2 came off in the following week, and then I held steady until the last few days of the month, when I dipped again to 10.5. Just in case you’re curious. My clothes fit better (or don’t fit anymore…) and I just feel- lighter? Yes. Lighter. In all the ways.

However, it’s really the non scale victories (NSVs) that I am most grateful for- especially because I didn’t really set out to lose weight (though I’m not complaining). The biggest reason I wanted to do Whole 30 was to feel better- to have less bloating and more energy. And I got it! 

The bloat was gone almost immediately. Though, I will say, I found the published Whole 30 timeline to be very accurate: around day 10-11, you have a period of indigestion and discomfort as your gut rebalances. That was REAL. I felt so gross. But it didn’t take long at all to recover and then feel good again in my gut πŸ˜‰ 

The energy though- that took much longer. I think I was Day 18 or so before I started realizing that I was waking up easily in the morning, with energy (even with getting up multiple times at night with my son) and I wasn’t dying for a nap in the middle of the day. I was able to use my mornings productively- cooking myself breakfast and doing yoga before my daughter would wake, and sometimes even having time for a shower and meditation. I also found that I had the energy to use the kids’ naptimes well- and I even felt like I WANTED to work out. Like I had the energy to burn and my body was craving it! This culminated with me going for my first run in about a year on Day 30- a celebration of sorts. This was really the only legit workout I did during the 30 days save for some morning sun salutations, so the results are really from the diet change. 

I also got into a habit of cooking all of my meals- which I mostly did anyway, by now really is like second nature. Example: I used a bit of coconut milk for dinner last night, and I instinctively threw the leftovers into a Tupperware and made chia pudding for a meal for today. Even though technically, today, I could revert back to toast and peanut butter. But I don’t want to!

I also have gotten in the habit of keeping already prepped food in my fridge- pre-chopped vegetables, already made sauces, a container of caramelized onions. Jen Hatmaker said recently that whole 30 is really about “keeping containers of food in your fridge” and she’s right. I tried to always have 2-3 vegetables ready to roast or throw in a stir fry, and it saved me many times when I was hungry but short on time. I’m now in the habit of chopping up one veggie a day. I always have things ready! 

Perhaps the most surprising thing to me is that I don’t feel a burning desire to add foods back in. Sure, I had hard moments of saying no to freshly baked focaccia or a friends birthday cake, and I had a few days when I really really wanted a beer, but honestly? I have eaten so well in the past 30 days. I don’t miss the food, save for the occasional treat of gelato or a drink to end the day. I think I will mostly continue to eat this way, moving forward. I plan on doing the “slow burn” reintroduction plan, in which you really just reintroduce foods as they become appealing or “worth it” to you. Dairy and legumes I don’t really miss, so I’m going to wait on those…. 

So what are my thoughts about the Whole 30? You should do it! Seriously. If you have ever had an unhealthy relationship with food, or any bad eating habits, or you want to know what’s making you feel tired/sick all day, you should do Whole 30. If you follow the guidelines, you’ll learn how to eat to fuel your body and build good habits for your life! 

*note: I did some specific things because I am breastfeeding to help me be successful, namely doubling the recommended allowance for plated fats and allowing myself snacks as my hunger cues dictated. More in a post next week! 

Friday Favorites #2

 

Welcome back to Friday Favorites, where I get to talk about my fave things from this week and share them with you! What are you loving this week?

FAVE LINKS THIS WEEK:

This article about the need for organizations to shift tactics towards local leadership and equipping local people, rather than bringing in outside solutions. Bravo!!

This is a great write up on toy minimalism and how it fosters more creativity and contentment in our children. I love the idea of toys being well-chosen and thoughtful and versatile! We try to do this as much as we can.

Rwanda is planning to build an amusement park. It’s fine. Another reason to come visit!

Not really a link but….. Choose Joy just announced that their conference will be on the East Coast next year! It’s a dream of mine to go….so if you can, do it!

This is an old article, but worth sharing every Mother’s Day. Be conscious of those who will have a hard time this Sunday, and make a point of celebrating all incarnations of motherhood!

Shauna Niequist started her own podcast and I’m newly addicted to podcasts so this is the best. Woot!

The BowWow Challenge. Y’all. This is hysterical.

I loved reading Tori’s tips on living a Whole30 lifestyle while traveling as a flight attendant. I feel so much better on Whole30 and anticipate my future diet to be fairly similar, so this was great for me!

STUFF I’M LOVING

I started reading Tsh Oxenreider’s new book Β yesterday and it is sooooo good and makes me wanna plan great trips with my kids!

Richard Rohr’s daily meditation emails.Β Β I don’t always get to read them but I’m grateful when I do.

The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey podcast. So fun, and so many great guests!

Barbra Ignatiev’s artwork. I love her #mermay prints! I have one as my phone background πŸ™‚

Cat and Jack baby sleepers. I am so sad they only go up to 6-9months (at least online) because we are outgrowing them all!

This quiche recipe from goop. Such a staple for my Whole30 (almost done!)

Doterra’s motivate blend. My secret sauce!Β 

Emily Ley’s new planner cover release. Swoon! WHAT TO PICK THIS YEAR?!

Be Still Clothing Company. Can I have all these shirts please?Β 

Sakura Bloom’s collab with Mr.BlueSkye. Have you seen these slings? They are magicalllllll!

Friday Favorites #1

Breastfeeding around the clock has me doing tons of reading but not always a ton of writing! I thought that a fun way to combine the two would be to start a quick “Friday favorites” column, combining my random thoughts for the week and my favorite things/links to share with you as well! It will be mostly stream of consciousness and not taken too seriously…..I hope you enjoy!

FAVE LINKS THIS WEEK:

This article about teaching self-sufficiency in young children. This is a priority in my parenting, and I love seeing what my daughter can accomplish on her own! She’s so proud of herself, too.

Florida passed a bill to allow couples who miscarry/lose babies before 20 weeks the option of a certificate for their baby. This is HUGE in the birth/loss world and I am so grateful that mamas will have the option of this closure.

This feature on Anglicanism from The Gospel Coalition! We are missionaries here in Rwanda with the Anglican church. Though I am new to being Anglican, I do really love the liturgy and how it is saturated in Scripture and grace.

My friend Haley really nails it with her thoughts on perfectionism, parenting, and self care. The struggle is real, y’all, and she doesn’t pull any punches. Taking care of ourselves as parents (not just moms, dads too) is so important to the vitality of our families!

This blunt call-out of the modern church‘s lack of attention to the, well, lack of millenials involved in their midst. It’s harshly written but both the points and the suggestions ring true for me.

This difficult but important read about the statistically MUCH higher infant mortality rates among black communities here in the US. Again, hard to read but very important to be aware of and praying for.

Rwanda just got white rhinos! Akagera is back to being a BIG FIVE park! This is a really big deal πŸ™‚

This amazing cartoon about our defensive instincts and how we should all just chill the heck out. Also about George Washington’s donkey teeth.

This heart-wrenching yet encouraging narrative of the heart of stay-at-home mamas. A great read for all mamas, really. It’s hard work, this kingdom work, but it’s relly important!

Alec Baldwin’s photo being mistakenly run as Donald Trump in a Dominican newspaper. This is bipartisan humor, folks.

LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA WILL BE IN A REBOOT OF MARY POPPINS.

Announcement of Jen Hatmaker’s new book, Of Mess and Moxie! Jen has gotten some heat having some controversial views lately, but she has been and continues to be both an encourager and challenger of mine, and I am grateful to support her in this endeavor. Click above to read the introduction πŸ˜‰

THINGS I LOVE THIS WEEK:

My Lipsense. Forever lipstick forever!
These carved and painted whales. GIMME.
The Moana Soundtrack. Again with the Lin-Manuel.
Rae Dunn Clay. Why didn’t alert me to the cuteness before? Gimme all the coffee mugs!
Lularoe Carly dresses. Even though they spelled KARLI incorrectly.
My new OH SHE GLOWS Cookbook! New cookbooks are a love of mine and hard to find here, so I lucked out. It’s gold!
Norwex EnviroCloth. Because every cleaning product here is all chemicals or costs ALL my money.
My RTIC keep-cool tumbler. I can forget it in my car on an Africa scorcher and still have cold water on return!
LA LA LAND. If you haven’t, just watch it already. Also, LION was amazing!
Apple Music. Because I was still listening to playlists from 2004 and now I know who Chance the Rapper is.
Harry Potter! I’m reading the books for the first time this year, I’m about halfway through Book 4!
Whole30. Because I’m on day 19 and I basically feel invincible.

Tell me, what are you loving this week?

The New / Expecting Mama Gift Guide

 

No surprise- as I sit here with a sleeping 4 month old on my chest, new mamas have a special place in my heart this year! I feel like it’s hard to get these ladies to even think about what they want for themselves, and if they do- a lot of times people are too busy spoiling the baby to notice! So with that in mind, here’s some great companies that are making beautiful things that will bless the new or expecting mama in your life- and a few bonus gifts for baby, too πŸ™‚

Write the Word Journal

I use this every day! I discovered this product early in motherhood and I am so grateful that I did. Each day has a short passage of scripture to write out in your journal and then a space to write your thoughts. It’s just enough guidance to not feel overwhelming, but enough freedom to let each day be what it needs to be. I usually take about 10 minutes or less- very doable during naptime! I love their new themed selection, too.

Carefull Candles

Currently burning as I write! My friend Caroline makes these candles, and they are nontoxic, too! Typically, candles are full of terrible chemicals that can legit make you (and baby) sick, but these not only smell incredible but are totally safe. Our favorite: Balsam and Cedar. We are addicted.

Harry’s Razors

I’m a new convert to Harry’s and I’m never going back! It’s a disposable razor head with a reusable handle. Super affordable, super high quality. If you’re only gonna get to shave your legs once every 2 weeks, might as well do it right, yes?

RTIC cup

Like Yeti but for people on a budget. I live in Africa and my RTIC cup goes with me everywhere, and legit keeps my water cold even if it’s left in my car baking in the African sun! New mamas need to drink lots of water, and this definitely makes it more enjoyable. Bonus: get a pack of fun straws to go with it!

Lularoe Leggings

If you don’t know, now you know. LuLaRoe makes incredibly comfortable and flattering clothes for women in any stage of life. Their leggings are to die for! If you don’t already know a retailer, comment below and I’ll hook you up: I think I know like 30, ha!

Wildbird Sling

I LOVE my Wildbird sling. I’ve tried a TON of different baby carrier options, and the Wildbird is the perfect mix of stylish and functional! They are exceptionally well made and come in a huge variety of trendy but versatile color options. We love our Mallard!

Lipsense Intro Kit

Self care goes right out the window for new mamas. But a little lipstick can work some magic, I tell you! Lipsense has revolutionized my makeup routine: it stays COMPLETELY put for up to 18 hours (and I’ve pushed it further) and it has really healed my lips, too! My sweet SIL sells it, and you can join her FB group here to find out more!

DoTERRA Family Essentials Kit

If you’ve read this blog for even a second, you know that I love essential oils! I was gifted a Family Essentials Kit when I was pregnant with my daughter and I haven’t looked back. It’s changed the way we handle our wellness in our family! If you’d like more information, please email me at karli.vonherbulis@gmail.com! {BONUS: get $50 in free oils in May!}

Dwell + Slumber Gown

I don’t actually own one of these but I’m crushing SO hard on them. Anyone wanna get one for Me? Ha! They are pregnancy dresses and pushing gowns and nursing dresses and nightgowns all in one and they are so beautiful.

Fraiche Interiors

Morgan is the sweetest maker in all the land and she makes incredibly beautiful textiles for babies! Swaddles, hats, nursery sets, boppy covers, you name it- and soooo many different fabrics, it’s hard to pick a favorite. She helped me find the perfect sheep print for when Shepherd was born, and he still sleeps on his organic swaddle every night πŸ™‚

Cuddle and Kind

My new kids stuffed animal obsession, My best friend gifted our kids each a deer form Christmas, and they are obsessed. Halle sleeps with hers each night, and we use Shep’s as a size comparison in his monthly photos! Bonus: each purchase donates 10 meals to hungry children. And could they get any cuter?

Greeting the World with The Honest Company

Living in Africa- especially with children and ESPECIALLY with a newborn- presents a number of challenges that just aren’t a part of life in the developed world. We feel strongly about exposing our children to life in Africa (as opposed to sheltering them) as much as possible, but we have so many things to think about here- and one of the big ones is hygiene.

13012818_10206491367622929_8652254032494564540_n

Many sicknesses that have been eradicated or are very scarce in the US are still a part of life here in Rwanda- typhoid, yellow fever, malaria, dengue fever, and a cornucopia of different intestinal woes are all sicknesses that happen in relative frequency here, which means that we have to be prepared! Even something as simple as shaking a hand on the street or children playing together should be, for us (as our immune systems aren’t used to the same germs) conducted with caution.

See, I will never forget the first time our daughter visited the Kibagabaga preschool and shook hands with each child through the fence. Or when we waited at our church for her daddy to get off of work, and she ended up being led by the hand into a room where the schoolchildren sang songs to her. The delight and adventure in her eyes as she got to follow these new friends and experience their world is something I want her to experience every day. It fills my heart with joy. But in the back of my mind, as a mama, I have to think- could she be being exposed to something that might make her sick?

Product-397-slide_with_zoom-88798737-7fdf-4829-b929-be32811a805c

One of our favorite tools for making our lives peaceful and worry-free is Honest Company’s Hand Sanitizer. I keep one in my purse and one in my diaper bag- and I can watch my little one knowing that she is having the time of her life and that I don’t have to fret about the germs- it kills 99% on contact, using plant-based ingredients! It’s gentle but still super-effective.

It’s crazy that something so small and simple (and affordable!) can give me such peace of mind, and empower me to be more confident in meeting new people here in a different culture! I can let new friends greet our baby with the knowledge that I am doing something to protect my little one. We can build relationships while also keeping ourselves healthy- and that makes a huge difference in my heart. Thank you, Honest Company!

Shepherd’s Birth Story

Our dear little buddy is turning 3 months old this week, so I think it’s high time I share his birth story!

Just like his sister, our precious little guy was about as late as you can go before anyone starts getting nervous- 11 days after my due date! Over the few weeks prior, we had several occurrences of false labor, and we knew that I was dilated 2-3cm already, so we figured he would come anytime. He had other plans!

For a few days before his birth, I tried many, many things to get him to come out- you might remember my post 40 ways to go into labor, well, we probably tried 38 of them! Finally, on day 10 (the day before he came) I said ENOUGH. I believed that my body knew what it was doing and that he would come when he was ready. My labor with Hallelujah was nightmarish and I didn’t want a repeat, and I remember trying EVERYTHING to get her to come. It’s like my body finally gave up and went into labor with her, but didn’t really want to yet. I didn’t want the same experience.

So, on day 10, I decided to rest in the Lord and the fact that he made my body perfectly (even though many times it’s not seemed that way). I felt this peace about just waiting and making the most of my day- and I did! I decided to cherish those moments with Halle and take what could be (and was) a last opportunity to really make her feel loved before Shepherd came. We walked to the bagel store and the grocery store, went for a swim in the frigid pool and drank hot cocoa while we swam, took a bath, took a nap, and took her to her first ever movie in a theater (Moana). We had a quiet night at home and just enjoyed each other’s company!

And then, before I knew it, I woke up at about 4:45 to basically feel like I was peeing myself (if you know me IRL you know that I know this feeling well). I stood up out of bed quickly and….it stopped? Did I really just pee myself in my sleep? I went to the bathroom and noticed that it didn’t smell like pee, didn’t really have a smell at all. I had read about / had several friends who had high water leaks, where your water breaks near the top of the uterus and then the baby’s head plugs up the hole when you stand up- so I figured that might be what was happening. I decided to lay down and go back to sleep.

Around 6am, it happened again- basically confirming what I knew. I got up, changed my pants (again) and made myself a protein shake while I still had an appetite. I was having contractions maybe 5-6 minutes apart, but nothing major. Around 6:45, I woke Matthew up and told him we needed to get ready- the contractions were getting closer together. He insisted on showering (insert eye roll for my husband who takes the longest showers of any man) while I got things together. I called the midwife, who agreed that I should come in (we were almost an hour away from the birth center) and called Matthew’s mom to have her meet us at the birth center.

Shepbirth-1

We woke Halle up and told her that her brother was coming! She was excited and behaved well as we gathered our things and got ready to go. We were in the car and headed to the birth center at about 7:30. We listened to the Hamilton soundtrack the whole way (we are sooo obsessed)! However, I began to get discouraged as my contractions slowed down to every 8-10 minutes apart. Could this seriously be another bout of false labor? I honestly think I would’ve turned around and gone home, except for my suspicion that my water was broken.

We arrived at the birth center at about 8:30, and I was completely comfortable. The midwife (Michelle, who also owned the birth center, and made our “coming from overseas” experience a breeze)) checked me and said that I was 5cm and that I was definitely having Shepherd that day! I was so relieved. After so many false starts, I was ready to go!

I told Matthew the good news (and Debbie, his mama, and Halle, who were in the waiting room together) and we went to unpack in our room. We were the only ones there in labor at the time, so we had our pick- and we chose a pretty room with a tub in-room- because of Halle’s shoulder dystocia, we wanted everything (bed and tub) close together so we could avoid having to move me mid-birth, haha! We were psyched that out ideal room was available- the bed even had a mosquito net over it, just like at home in Rwanda!

The birth assistant began filling up the tub while we unpacked. I told her I was concerned about getting in the tub too early and slowing down labor, but both she and the midwife assured me that I was already in active labor and it was fine. So I got in for a bit- it was sooooo relaxing but, after Halle’s hard birth, I couldn’t help but feel like nothing was happening! I was restless. This was too easy, right?

We decided that going for a walk would make me feel better, like I was “working”. The birth center was just a few blocks from the St John’s River, so we walked down to the riverfront a few times, The contractions stayed consistent but not painful. Soon, our photographer and dear friend Kristy, arrived!

Shepbirth-7

Shepbirth-9

Around 11:30, my contractions began to be stronger, andI stayed in bed for a bit to try to relax all of my muscles and let my body do it’s. This is when Halle decided to come give me a “checkup”- cue the preciousness! I also labored on the toilet for a bit. Everything was feeling more intense, but I was really fine! Michelle decided to check me, and I just KNEW that I would only be like 6 cm. To my surprise, I was 8!

Shepbirth-47

Shepbirth-33

I knew from my education that 8-10cm, or “transition”, can be the most intense part of birth. I wasn’t feeling that at all- that is, until Michelle pulled my bag of waters down and released all of the fluid that was left. I was laying on a chux pad on the bed, and so much fluid came out that I was soaked up to my shoulders! Holy moly. Weirdest feeling ever. And….cue the cray cray contractions- no water to balance out the pressure, it was go time!

What I didn’t realize at the time was that, to release the water still left in my uterus, Michelle actually had to push Shepherd’s head UP and allow the water to drain out. So then, when my body went from 8-10cm in about 10 minutes, when I felt like I needed to push, he wasn’t actually down in the birth canal where he should’ve been. My body was pushing but he wasn’t there yet- it was exhausting. Even though they kept telling me not to bear down, I couldn’t help it- that’s the only thing that felt right at the time. This started at about 1:15pm.

Shepbirth-55

Shepbirth-78

Shepbirth-93

Shepbirth-101

So, I labored on the toilet and then in the tub for a while. I got very nauseous at one point, but was quickly given nux vomica and it went away completely (amazing!). It was hard and more of a mental strain maybe than anything- knowing that he needed to move down and re-engage before my pushing would actually be productive. Finally, at about 2:15, Michelle said it was time to really work! He was ready and so were we.

Michelle and I had previously discussed my plan for the actual birth, especially in regards to Halle’s shoulder dystocia. While one dystocia doesn’t necessarily mean you are predisposed to it, it can- and I didn’t want to take any chances. So we had decided early on in the morning that I would deliver on the bed, flat on my back, so that my knees could be pushed up to my head and Shepherd would have optimal room to get under my pelvic bone. Not my ideal, to be sure, but I wanted a healthy baby, so I didn’t hesitate.

 

 

Shepbirth-114

After pushing for about 10 minutes, a receptionist came in and told us that our dear friend Keri had arrived! Keri is an LDRP nurse and I wanted her to be at the birth SO badly- but she had been scheduled to work that day. But, surprise! She had left work and made it JUST in time. She dutifully kept a cold rag on my head while Matthew helped hold my legs up and encouraged me. Kristy kept taking amazing photos- man! I had the best team ever!

Finally, at 2:42 pm, Shepherd was born! Matthew caught him and lifted him to my chest in one of the most surreal moments of my life. Especially after so many losses- to hold my miracle son was like a dream. His placenta soon followed, and after we were both examined to be in perfect health- yes, you read that right, almost ten pounds of baby without a stitch πŸ™‚

Shepbirth-133

Shepbirth-145

Shepbirth-157

Shepbirth-164

Shepbirth-170

Little man nursed right away and we had some quiet moments to ourselves between Matthew’s family coming to visit. Uncle Maverick and Aunt Mony brought us Smoothie King (because I was craving it) and we waited to be discharged. I have to be honest, I felt like I took longer to recover from this birth than the last at first- I think with Halle, I basically fell asleep immediately after birth for about an hour and then felt great, but with Shepherd I was lucid the entire time but felt very weak for a few hours- probably due to my low iron throughout my pregnancy. Though, luckily, I was apparently the only client that didn’t hemmhorage that day!

By about 8:00, we were ready to go! We packed up the car and drove to Matthew’s family’s home, where we spent our first two nights. Shepherd slept 5 hours in a row, and has been doing that ever since! He is a dream and we are so grateful for our little man and a great birth experience!

Shepbirth-180

Shepbirth-183

Shepbirth-187

Shepbirth-190

Shepbirth-198

Shepbirth-201

Shepbirth-203