Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Working from Home

First I have to mention I reopened my hand-stamped jewelry shop, Joy Belle! I had closed it temporarily because of having the baby. As of yesterday we're back in biz. You can use the coupon code HALLOWEEN11 to get free shipping in the USA until November 1st!

And second I wanted to talk a little bit about working from home. And I bet y'all want to see my totally rad, cluttered work space!

My workroom (I have since gotten rid of the dog bed!). Work bench on the left, awesome shelf full of items I need at arm's reach, the pink thing holds my packaging supplies, the table itself is a catch-all for junk mostly and the dresser to the right holds more supplies.

In 2008 I got this creative itch. I needed to find something to do, for myself, as a stay-at-home mom. It is important to me to have creative outlets. I really didn't know what I wanted to do until I stumbled upon hand-stamped jewelry and thought I could do it! I figured up my start-up and started to buy the supplies. I had to factor in business cards, packaging and had a ton of tools and pieces to purchase. My start-up was several hundred dollars. I took a few weeks to order what I needed and I opened my first business on September 11, 2008.

Those plastic containers hold beads, stones and findings galore!

With any business you have to have money to start. There are supplies, advertising, website fees, etc. So if you do something do what you love or you'll be out a lot of money without any benefit when you decide to end the business because your heart isn't in it. And realize that you CAN take time to get your supplies together, whether days or months. Don't put yourself in debt trying to make money!

My work table is an antique "dry sink" because it is rock solid. I recently added the sewing bench so I can work sitting down (the pillow is on there because I was pregnant when I took this and needed extra cushion).  I did paint the dry sink, too! It was maple wood and I painted it black and added pink glass knobs.

Now in the beginning this was more of a hobby. In fact my workspace used to just be the black piece (no bench). But this has evolved tremendously and I've really had to develop a head for business. I am customer service, technical support, editor, photographer, product lister, creator, packager, shipper, advertiser, designer... It is a full-time job!

My stamps. I stamp each letter and symbol individually onto metal.
Each box is a different font. The shiny silver sets cost almost $200 each. Invest in GOOD tools! Using high quality tools reproduces high quality product.

I think the hardest part in this is working with strangers and awaiting feedback. It is hard to have your work critiqued. This is an especially important time to have a good business head. Yes there is a personal aspect, especially when you're creating art. But in the end someone has paid for a service and should get what they pay for; it's what I expect as a customer to other artists. 

I wire-wrap all crystals by hand.

Another hard thing has been pricing. This is a business and it's hard work but sometimes I'd feel bad for charging what I charge (I don't feel bad anymore; I find my prices to be more than fair while still giving myself some profit). You have to get over that and realize you are working and deserve to be paid for that work. You can't just give everything away. I had to pay for those $200 stamp sets somehow as well as other tools, had to pay myself for my time, pay for the packaging, pay for supplies and the shipping to receive those supplies, pay my website fees, etc. If you begin a business price things fairly so you are earning money, too!

The dresser in my work area holds some supplies but it's also storage for my scrapbooking and I hide gifts in here, too. It is an enormous, roomy dresser! Get creative when creating your workspace and use what you have.

So how do I do it? I have to break it up. I may edit pictures one day and work on orders the next. Then I may take a day to list the new items online. Another day I do inventory and order supplies. Some nights I just sit down with all those crystals and wrap them in wire while watching a movie. There's no way I can do everything I need to do in one day, especially with my little ones running around. Breaking it up is the only way I am able to do what I do.

Closeup of my actual workstation. Lots of tools! And I do periodically clean it up... ha ha! My chaos is actually an organized mess. I know where everything is at.

I do enlist the help of my kids. Elaina loves to cut out shipping labels for me! I think it's important to show them good work ethic. Most kids don't get to see their parents work beyond household chores. We have a toy hammer and Abigail was banging away with it, talking to her stuffed animal and saying, "I'm working! I'm making jewelry!" Made me feel good that I can be a positive role model!

How far have I come? This has been the most productive year by far. I am just now actually making profit three years after beginning. So it is also important to note to yourself that it can take time to make money, especially in a competitive line of work and if you have a lot of tools and supplies to upgrade. Advertisement is so important! If people don't know you're out there they will have a hard time finding you.

I mostly work first thing in the morning when my kids are happiest and most energetic (so they're busy playing and entertained) and when they go to bed. It may seem like there are not enough hours in a day but if you're passionate enough you will find and make the time to do what needs to get done.

My Top Tips:
1). Find something you LOVE to do that you can turn into a business.
2). Research, research, research. Find the best prices for supplies.
3). Take your time buying supplies, biz cards, etc.
4). Break up your tasks and make daily goals.
5). Price things fairly and make sure you're making some profit.
6). ADVERTISE 
7). Find pockets of time to do the work and use that time wisely.
8). Create a cozy, comfortable and well-lit workspace. Mine is a work in progress and needs better lighting and storage but for now it works and is much better than it used to be!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pics of Le Bebe

Picture overload! Too tired to type anything of significance so I let pictures speak for me...

3-weeks-old
The many faces of newborn babies! I especially love the crazy-eyes on the top row and the little lip pucker in the bottom middle.

I'd say he's growing just fine! 

While I'm distracted with baby my girls do this to the house...

Painting pumpkins... we'll be carving our really big ones tonight or tomorrow!

Zoë thought it was hysterical when I sat Judah in the corner of this chair and he stayed in a seated position!

And my little guy today; snoozing away!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My Thoughts on Cloth

I have always been a very eco-conscious person. As a child I was taught the three R's - Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. My schools constantly beat this into our brains and it's something I've always believed to be important. We need to take care of our world. We have two big, blue recycle bins and I have a jug in my toilet tank (reduces how much water fills in the tank after a flush), I've been begging Daniel to put up a clothesline for me for two years now... and so much more.

So it only made sense that I'd be drawn to cloth diapering. However there are two main arguments about  whether or not to cloth diaper - stop filling landfills with disposables OR use more water in order to clean cloth. I decided the latter was the lesser of two evils and finally jumped into the Cloth Diaper Bandwagon!

Initial washes in HOT to get them clean!

So first thing first - how affordable are cloth diapers? I've seen some diapers go for $20 apiece! However I got mine in an amazing bundle from SunBaby and didn't pay shipping. I got them for $6 apiece and that price included two inserts per diaper. Because I can reuse and reuse these diapers I'm getting way more bang for my buck, even when you consider the few extra bucks on my water bill. Not to mention these are so so so cute! They come out with new patterns all the time.

There are different types of cloth diapers, too, which I won't get into (pocket, AIO's, prefolds, etc.). I will just mention that mine are pocket diapers and they are one-size-fits-all (from newborn to 35-lbs). A pocket diaper is a diaper that you insert "liners" (AKA "soakers") into. I like this method because this means I can add as many liners as I need for added absorbency for overnight.

Some diapers have velcro, snaps or require pins. Mine are snaps. Because of this I do not dry my diapers in the dryer. I only dry the liners in the dryer (the big white rectangles you'll see below). I do not want to distort my snaps!

My detergent

When my diapers arrived I needed to wash them and "strip" them. This means I needed to get all the buildup and junk out of them from the manufacturer. I washed mine on hot three times for perfection (picture at top of page)! I used this detergent from Fuzzi Bunz featuring Rock'n Green. I will most likely continue to use Rock'n Green detergent. I've really liked it thus far! I also got the detergent shipped to me for free!

Hung them up to dry on extension cord

Once I had washed the diapers the initial three times I opened the washer lid and realized I didn't have a clothesline. Oops! I grabbed an extension cord and duct tape to jerry-rig a line. I loved seeing all my diapers hanging out! But a clothesline is a must. I'm getting this retractable clothesline for only $9 so that I can hide the line whenever I want. I will also get an outdoor one when it warms up again. I did toss the liners in the dryer and dried them as normal laundry.

All cleaned up and ready to go!

When I woke up the next morning my diapers were all dry and ready to begin using. I haven't used Judah's diapers on him yet (his are the stack on the left; he has double the amount of Zoë). So the pocket diapers have a pocket inside and I inserted two liners for Zoë. The diapers have lots of snaps so you can choose the best fit for your child, making these a one-size-fits-all, up to 35-lbs. Here's more information on the SunBaby page on how the diapers look and work.

Showing off her diaper!

During a diaper change I remove the diaper and remove the inserts. Then I toss everything in a "wet bag". I have a large one that fits your average 13-gallon kitchen trash can. So my wet bag fits in a trash can and I made sure to get a can with a lid. Contrary to how it sounds a wet bag is not actually wet. It just contains wetness. It won't contain a glass of water being poured into it but it will contain moisture from wet diapers.

If there is poop on the diaper I toss the poop in the toilet before putting everything in the wet bag. When it comes time to wash I throw everything and the wet bag itself into the washer for a cold rinse. This gets rid of any poo on the diapers and in the washer itself. Once the rinse is done I do a hot wash cycle with my detergent. Then I line dry the diapers!

So a lot of people have told me they don't want the extra laundry and to that I say - it's not a big deal. It's one basket every other day and you have to do it out of necessity or your child will be running around naked. It's so simple and your older kids can help pin up the diapers to dry. I don't fold anything - I just stack them. I think the biggest issue with laundry is the folding, not the washing and drying.

Here's a simple breakdown of my routine:
1). Diapers & liners separated at diaper changes and put in wet bag.
2). Dump contents of wet bag and the wet bag into washer.
3). Cold rinse.
4). HOT cycle with detergent.
5). Line dry diapers; can dry the liners in dryer if desired.
6). Stack for storage.

There you have it! Easy as pie! It may seem like a lot of steps but mostly it all does itself (no hand-washing, for instance). And to answer the question of smell and stains... we don't have stinky diapers or stains at all! And Zoë has had quite a few nasty poops on these diapers. I'm very impressed! Of course everyone has their own routines, their own diapers with special instructions, etc. so you may see others out there doing things differently.

A list of things you'll need (first three are necessary, the others are extras):
-A baby/child (ha!)
-Cloth Diapers (some people have a mix of many types)
-Cloth Diaper Detergent (can make your own)
-Wet bag for diaper bag (Sweet Bobbins on Etsy)
-Wet bag pail liner for trash can (also at Sweet Bobbins)
-Trash can for wet bag pail liner, preferably with lid
-Clothesline (indoor, outdoor)

Do you cloth diaper? Do you want to if you don't? Tell me what you think about it!


*A great resource for cloth diapering is AllAboutClothDiapers.com.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My Birth Playlist

I did a lot of things differently this birth than with my three previous births and one of those things was to have music while in labor. Daniel also brought his guitar but there never came a moment where he got it out to play. Having him near and close was most important. But it was still nice to have the guitar there just in case.

My husband built a playlist for me on his IPod to which I vehemently declined many songs and told him to add others, ha ha. We got $10 speakers at Walmart so I wouldn't have to have the ear buds in my ears and there'd be background noise for everyone. Here was my playlist:

1). Where You Go I Go by Brian Johnson
2). There is Nothing Like by Hillsong United
3). Drink in Deep by Jake Hamilton
4). Beautiful by Phil Wickham
5). Divine Romance by Phil Wickham
6). Already Over Pt. 2 by RED (when this one came on when I was in the water I jokingly said, "Okay it's time to be done! The singer is saying 'It's already over' so we need to be done!")
7). My Romance by Rick Pino
8). Deliver Me by David Crowder Band (another one that got giggles from everyone in the room because of the title and some of the lyrics; however after sitting in the water and listening to the lyrics I began to almost cry! Such an overwhelming, powerful situation to be in when having a baby!)
9). Coming Toward by David Crowder Band
10). Miracle Maker by Delirious? (my favorite song)
11). Driving Nails by Demon Hunter (no one understood but I love this song so even though it is a hard rock song I wanted it on my list!)
12). Dance With Me by Jesus Culture
13). Obsession by Jesus Culture
14). You Won't Relent by Jesus Culture
15). Mighty Breath of God by Jesus Culture
16). Sweetly Broken by Jeremy Riddle
17). Light Up the World by Desperation Band
18). God be Praised by Desperation Band
19). Our God Reigns by Delirious?
20). Come Away by Jesus Culture
21). My Soul Longs by Jesus Culture
22). Awakening by Hillsong United
23). Obsession by Ian McIntosh

So there was my playlist! There did come a point when I tuned out the music or it would come and go in waves. And then came a point (transition - right before you get to the pushing stage) when I did notice the music and it was way too distracting during contractions. I'm the person who has to have absolute silence in transition when having a contraction. I can't handle anyone touching me, talking to me, suggesting things - it all distracts me from trying to breathe and relax my muscles (instead of tensing up).

I remember that when a contraction would start and I'd go from dozing to moaning was when my husband would pipe up and tell me I was beautiful and doing great and like the lovely lady I am I'd say, "Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh...ut up!" or a quick "Sh!" I feel bad but I know now that if we have another baby to remember to tell Daniel that in between contractions is the time to tell me how I'm doing, not during, ha ha! Four babies and I'm still figuring out my labor style.

Do/did you have a playlist? What do you listen to?!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

If at first you don't succeed...

Try. Try again. And again and again and again. Persevere and don't give up!

That is how I would describe my breastfeeding relationship with Judah. After he was born I brought him to my breasts many times that first hour but he just wasn't interested. He was awake and alert but my big boy didn't seem to care about nursing just yet. I had this feeling in the pit of my stomach that this wasn't going to click as quick as I would have hoped having just finished breastfeeding Zoë 6-months ago.Each child is unique and different - they will also breastfeed differently!

Three hours after he was born the nurse, who is also certified in breastfeeding, asked me how I felt about his nursing and if he was doing alright. I told her I couldn't get him to want to latch on. So with her help we finally got him snuggled at the breast for awhile. I felt a little better, especially as his latch was PERFECT. I felt absolutely no pain or tenderness whatsoever.

He has continued to latch on really well... when he decides to latch on. He does this thing where he'll latch on, break off, latch on, break off. It drives me bonkers, especially in the middle of the night when I'm fighting to stay awake and I'm engorged (that is such a weird word). After doing this little game for about 5-10 minutes he'll finally get serious and get down to business. Sometimes he eventually gets frustrated and sometimes he just has these big eyes and funny expressions.

He doesn't break off because of a fast letdown nor because he's waiting for letdown. He just does it no matter what is going on. I've tried multiple positions to see if it was the position bothering him. Nope. I've got people telling me it is probably just his personality or he's still trying to figure it out. Establishing a great breastfeeding routine with your baby can take up to 4 weeks. You're not broken, he's not broken. It takes time to get to know one another! Do not give up before 4-weeks!

Okay so at first he was doing pretty good other than breaking off a lot in the beginning of our nursing sessions but then came the hospital stay, the IVs, the medication, etc. and all hell broke loose. I cried and cried those first days at the hospital and coming home afterward. But I also determined that my baby wasn't going to have formula or a bottle. When the nurse brought in nipples to his room (for the pumped breastmilk) I told her I wouldn't need them... and I was right.

At the hospital he was still doing his latch-on-break-off routine but with a lot of tears and screaming. His IV was in the way (they strap their arms to stiff boards so they won't pull on the IV) and he was in pain. Then they gave him a medication that touted side effects like nausea, dizziness, etc. so on top of that he felt like crap. He was crying, I was crying. Somehow we made it work. I would express milk into his mouth and pump so I wouldn't lose my supply. I got as much into him as I could and that he would tolerate.

Our last moments at the hospital I told the nurse to take his IV out (they had stopped the fluids and had left the IV and board on his arm). I told her I wanted to nurse him without it before I felt comfortable going home because I felt it was helping to hinder our nursing relationship. The doctor agreed with me. They were all so wonderful at the hospital and really listened to me when I had a concern!

Judah nursed a good, long time with that IV board off his arm. But we still struggled with breastfeeding when we got home. He was sore and stiff (something a pediatrician denied - he told me, "All of the ordeal at the hospital is forgotten!" as though babies don't feel pain, stiffness, tenderness, soreness, etc. which is B.S.!). He was still on the medication that didn't make him feel well. The daytime feedings were going okay at home but once the evening hit Judah was back to being frustrated and having a hard time calming down to latch on.

Here's a bit of advice if your baby takes a binky - if your baby is too worked up to nurse just stop. Check their diaper, swaddle them, give them a binky and rock them until they calm down. Then bring them back to the breast. It worked like a charm for us! Some parents don't want their breastfed newborn to have a pacifier so instead you can offer a clean pinky finger (nail-side down) so they can suckle and calm down.

TODAY - at 2 weeks and 2 days old Judah is getting better and better each time we nurse. Thus far he hasn't wanted to nurse lying down (we're both lying down in bed) but last night he finally did it! That was a blessing to me because it was hard to sit up in bed and stay awake for 40-minutes at-a-time to feed him. If you can nurse lying down then you can both drift back to sleep without worry or fear of baby being dropped because you fell asleep holding them.

He's also latching on much quicker and not doing his weird latch-on-break-off thing as much. He is also refusing the pacifier more and really only likes it at night (which can help reduce the risk of SIDs, if you were not aware of that). I don't really care about the binky thing. It doesn't offer baby anything other than to help them fulfill their desire to suckle. It doesn't nourish him or fill his tummy so it doesn't really "confuse him". So whether he takes it or not is no big deal to me. I think he got into the binky more because of the hospital (they dip it in sugar-water for procedures to help calm baby) and I obviously do not do that at home. So as time goes on he seems to refuse it more and I don't offer it to him all the time unless he's really upset.

Breastfeeding - it can be so natural to some mommies and their babies and for others it can take time. Judah reminds me a lot of Elaina and I gave up breastfeeding her because she would arch her back away from my breast, scream when I tried to nurse her and pretty much fought the entire process. I know that if I had stuck with it and remained calm and nurturing she may have been a breastfed baby. I gave up when she was about 2-weeks old. I did pump for 2-weeks after that so she did get breastmilk for a month. Then, because of a misunderstanding, I stopped pumping as well. I thought you couldn't pump long-term and decided to just stop and go to formula. That is why it's SO IMPORTANT to have support! Whether you get it from your spouse, your girlfriends, your mom or aunt, La Leche League or other support group or just someone online - get the facts and stick with it. When in doubt ask around!

I know that for the many tears I've cried in frustration and fear while trying to nurse Judah it has been worth the struggle. Breastmilk is the perfect food for your little one and my desire for him to have that rather than formula is so incredibly strong. He hasn't starved or suffered - he's mostly gotten milk by me expressing it rather than him suckling... until now! Now he's getting it and he's doing so well today I am ecstatic.

Okay I have to add a picture to make this long post sweeter!

 2 weeks 2 days old

Friday, October 7, 2011

Crazy First Couple Weeks

These first 12 days of Judah's life have kept us on our toes, to say the least! Poor guy was hospitalized when he was five days old for uncontrollable bleeding. We were there for two days and one night. The hospital was wonderful and provided me with meals and a breast pump since I was breastfeeding my son, the patient (it's a children's hospital). However the whole ordeal and the blood-clotting medication they put him on had made breastfeeding very discouraging and difficult because he was weak and the med made him feel icky.

 All boy!

I bawled my eyes out the entire two days we were at the hospital. He had an IV in each arm (they tape their arms to stiff boards) and he had vials of blood taken to check for bleeding disorders (they all came back normal, thank You Jesus!). It took five attempts over the course of an hour to get the IV's because of his little veins. He screamed and screamed. I had to leave the room twice because it took everything in me to not knock out the nurses, grab him and run. Of course I wouldn't and couldn't do that as he was in trouble and I'd rather he get help. But I couldn't stand the parts where they poked him. In fact, at discharge, they decided they wanted to get another vial of blood before we left and I put my foot down. I told them no more, he had enough (by this time he was so weak and worn out from the ordeal he was hoarse). It was something that could wait or not be done at all and that is another reason we said no.

Needless to say I didn't get pictures of him at the hospital; it was an experience I wish could be wiped from our memories. No one wants to see their baby this way. At least I could hold him, nurse him, etc. I know many babies don't get that and have to be in their beds. Or their parents just leave them at the hospital. I slept two hours total at the hospital with nothing to sleep in except a chair and I just held him.

He's very calm most of the time! This is him yesterday! We have been home 6 days since the emergency that required him to be monitored at the hospital so you can see how awesome he looks!

But things are turning around and he's been doing much better. He's nursing better and latching on absolutely wonderfully. What is going on now, though, is that he's lost a pound. He now weighs 8 lbs 2 oz and at birth he was 9 lbs 2 oz. At almost 2-weeks old he's supposed to be back at his birth weight or more. So his doctor is concerned and we're doing weight checks and I have to supplement his feedings. I nurse him and then I give him an extra 1/2 oz of pumped milk through a syringe feeding tube that he suckles off my finger.


The supplement system using tube and syringe taped to my finger. Pic taken tonight. He was sleepy and had his little fist by his face; too precious! He really loves doing this. I, however, do not!

So my baby is not sick, he does not have a disease and he actually looks absolutely fantastic (my midwife and his doctor have both said so as well as many nurses!). His doctor mentioned that babies that come in losing that much after such an ordeal look like little skeletons but he is round, chunky and happy! But we still have to get his weight back up. The goal is 1 1/2 ounces per day gained. Right now he's gaining at 1 ounce per day. Which is still really good, in my non-professional opinion!


Happy guy now!

My favorite picture from our photo-taking yesterday!

Zoë and Judah snuggling tonight! Her upper lip looks bloody but it's a scab from our walk yesterday in which she fell face-first onto the sidewalk... ouch! Then she got a runny nose and keeps rubbing it raw. Double ouch!

First bath yesterday! He absolutely loved it! Until he got out anyway...

So that is a quick update on us. Judah is my little snuggle bunny. He has been letting me sleep 3-4 hours at a time at night. He does sleep in bed with me. We spent his first week mostly in a glider or chair (my poor neck!) but now he'll lay down with me in bed for longer stretches that make it worth laying down, ha ha! I pretty much hold him all day. I am just soaking up this time. Before I know it he'll be Zoë's size, then Abigail's size... then off to elementary school, middle school, high school and beyond! It really goes by way, way too fast.

Keep praying he gains what he needs to gain, if you could! I appreciate all the prayers and support!

Post coming up on breastfeeding and how it was going and how it is going now. And a post about my post partum recovery! Yay, how thrilling!!!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Judah's Birth Day Story

©AnneDurekaPhotography
Judah's feet!

The weekend of Judah's birth was absolutely gorgeous. We were finally out of the heat but it wasn't so cold that you needed a jacket yet either. Saturday, Sept 24 I kept having Braxton Hicks contractions all over the place but they were more intense than they had been. Still not painful but definitely noticeable. So after dinner we decided to go on a family walk to see if that would help things along.

We went on a gorgeous, cool walk under the trees. We went up and down some serious hills and walked for a long time. When we got home I definitely felt more pressure and lower back pain. When I went to bed that night contractions were about 11-minutes apart. I wanted to get good sleep if I was to go into labor in the middle of the night or the next day.

©AnneDurekaPhotography
Final belly pic!

Well when I woke up the next morning, on Sunday, I laid there for a long time, waiting and listening to my body. I only had one strong contraction and then nada. Discouraged I got up and started my day. Getting up was doing something, however. I was noticing the contractions were coming back and I could time them at 6-minutes apart for about 30 minutes and then they'd disappear for another half hour. It was really weird to have the contractions come and go like that but that is normal in early labor.

By lunchtime I had bloody show. I could have cried with joy! Up until that I had no sign of anything happening except the occasional contractions that would regulate and then stop. We sent the two younger girls to Poppy's house and grabbed some lunch at a favorite, authentic Mexican food joint. My contractions were coming back and were still 6-minutes apart and strong (still painless and could talk through them).

We called Cathy, our midwife and she told us it was up to us what we wanted to do. She said to come on over and hang out, see what was going on. So Daniel, Elaina and I got in the car and headed to the birth center. Daniel's mom and sister drove separately. His mom was going to be a helper with Elaina and his sister is a photographer! And I have to say that I loved having someone else do the photography so Daniel could be part of his child's birth instead of scrambling with the camera. It was really great!

We arrived at the birth center at about 1:30pm. When we got there we chose the room we wanted for our birth and I got an exam. I was only 2cm. Cue some crazy discouragement! I thought we were going home! Instead Cathy told us to go walk, walk, walk. The birth center sits in the midst of this wooded area, along with other businesses, but it was so quiet because it was the weekend.

©AnneDurekaPhotography
Come on contractions!

We went outside and walked in the wonderfully cool fall air, under all these beautiful trees! We walked and walked. I had the IPOD on so I couldn't hear anyone and could just try to relax and enjoy this time. I still kept getting really distracted so we headed back to the birth center where I paced the halls. Contractions were getting stronger and stronger. I had to stop when one would hit me. We were joking and laughing between them. My midwife would pop over from time-to-time and ask me how I was feeling. When I'd tell her they were getting painful she'd pump her fist and say "Bring it on!"

©AnneDurekaPhotography
Got in the tub later on...

We'd check on his heart intermittently and he was doing great. My next exam showed I was at 3-4cm so progress was being made. I felt better and continued to do my walking but I felt myself slowing down. Before I had been pacing ferociously but now I had to shuffle because of the intensity and discomfort.

©AnneDurekaPhotography
Later when I was in the tub; checking his heart with the doppler.

By my next exam (have no clue what time it was; maybe 1.5-2 hours since we arrived) I was free to get in the tub! I was surprised because I didn't feel that I was that far along in labor to be able to get in the tub (you have to be at least 5cm). I wouldn't have had the exams except that with all the sporadic contractions and needing to be far enough along for the tub I decided to go for them. That was the last exam that I was told how far along I was dilated.

©AnneDurekaPhotography
Daniel and I talking between contractions.

Daniel filled the tub and I got in. The water felt warm and great but honestly... the contractions felt the same to me as when not in the water. I'm not a huge water person anyway so I started to doubt that I'd actually have him in the water and I was fine with that. I stayed in the water for awhile, listening to music and trying to focus on breathing. Contractions were picking up and I was having a harder time with them in the water than I expected. Things started to get intense and hazy. I remember bits and pieces.

I knew Elaina was coming and going from the room. At one point I opened my eyes and saw the clock said it was after 5pm and I went into Mom-mode. "Elaina needs to eat dinner! It's past dinner!" but everyone assured me she had snacks and was doing fine, to not worry about it. Back to Labor-mode I went...

©AnneDurekaPhotography
Getting intense!

I remember my husband whispering to me, telling me I was beautiful and doing great. I also remember my midwife coming and sitting by the tub to add warm water and stir it in the tub for me. That felt good. It was just during contraction peaks that I wanted to jump out of my skin and run for the hills. When I started making noises during them, like moaning, I knew I was in transition and getting close to pushing. I kept trying to focus on my breathing and "breathe him down". The pressure was getting intense and I could feel his head getting lower and lower.

And for some reason I got scared! I kept thinking, "I don't want to push!" I knew the pain would be temporary but I still lost it and the fear came in. I had a really strong contraction and my water broke in the water. It was like a whirlpool jet stream and it startled me and actually hurt a little! I asked Cathy about that and she said it was like a balloon bursting under great pressure. Normally your water breaking doesn't hurt so that was very interesting to say the least!

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Time to get out!

I decided to get out of the tub after my water broke. The moment my feet hit the ground I waddled as fast as I could to the bed before another contraction could take over. I literally fell face-first onto the mattress as another contraction hit me. They helped me get on my side and Cathy kept suggesting getting on my hands-and-knees. All I could get out was "No!" What I really wanted to say was, "I'd love to but I just can't move!" LOL! When you're to this point it's hard to get the words out. The nurse was holding one leg up for me and I kept telling her, "No" so Cathy told me to grab my own leg as I would know what would be the best position for myself. Again all I could get out was, "No!" There was so much more going on than I could communicate. What I wanted to say was, "Something doesn't feel right! It doesn't feel right in this position..."

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Cathy checking on his heart.

Finally Cathy just had me get on my hands-and-knees and stopped asking. I was glad for that because I had a few people suggesting things and what I needed at this time was direction. I was losing it and needed that. When I got in the new position the urge to push overcame me! They got the birth ball somewhat under my chest. I even tried biting the birth ball during a contraction (which we all laugh about now!). I had my eyes closed but I remember opening them and seeing Elaina there, near my head, at some point. I got excited! I got excited that she was there and that he was going to be here in moments!

I pushed and I felt his head come through but I didn't feel that relief that comes when their head is finally out. Cathy got serious and said quietly but sternly, "Do not push until I tell you to push and stop pushing if I tell you to stop". I don't remember if I answered her with a nod or with words or at all. The urge to push came again and I followed that urge. Since I was on my hands-and-knees I couldn't see what was going on but there was a LOT of tugging and it felt like baby was spinning in a circle... but finally! His shoulders came free and he was born into Daddy's hands.

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My baby boy!

Daddy passed him up to me through my legs and I took my baby into my arms! His shoulders had gotten stuck, very stuck. But we got him out without a single tear to my girly parts and without hurting him! It was actually a really great thing that I was in the position that I was in because that is optimal for getting a stuck baby out. Praise God!

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Double-checking to make sure he was indeed a boy!

He was so peaceful and quiet after birth. He did cry a little and the sound was so beautiful.

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The oh-so cute beanie the center puts on the newborns!

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Big sister kept begging to hold him!

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Getting his weight; 9lbs 2oz

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Breastfeeding and checking him out.

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Looking at his dark hair!

After he was born and we were all cleaned up my midwife and some other ladies who work at the birth center partied! There were whoops and hollers out in the hall (I didn't hear them because the rooms are so sound-proof). Judah was the first baby born at the new birth center building! The center had been open for only a week. Cathy got pictures of Judah and put an announcement up on the center's FB page (with our permission of course). They hung an It's a Boy balloon outside the birth center, made us a BIRTHday cake and we drank a toast to our new baby.

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My birth team and our BIRTHday cake!

It couldn't have gone any better. What a beautiful day it was! I may have felt out-of-control at the end but I truly had control in my son's birth. I'm so grateful to have had a professional present because he did get stuck and I'm so grateful that she encouraged Daniel to catch his son (something I've wanted him to do). He was nervous but said it was the most wonderful and amazing experience to be the first to hold his baby and hand him off to his mother!


Judah is exactly as I thought he'd be - very peaceful and snuggly! He looks like I thought he'd look. I do have to catch myself sometimes; I've accidentally said "her" in reference to him. I'm so used to girls, ha ha! I still can't believe we have a boy.