eshakti Dress Review

Thursday, June 30, 2011

And God created woman beautiful in every shape and size ~eshakti

When I first received an offer from eshakti to review an item of clothing, I was thrilled. I had been a fan of eshakti, an online clothing retailer, for a while, but the pricing of the clothes was always a bit prohibitive for my budget. So when I was given the opportunity to choose any item I wanted for free, I jumped at the chance.

Perusing their website I was impressed with the considerable variety of styles. There were so many cute dresses and tops (not to mention earrings and necklaces) that I had difficulty choosing only one. In fact, it took me several days to select the dress I eventually chose (see below).

The Flora & Fauna Embroidered Wrap Dress (in Orient Blue) is perfect for a casual night out or a formal event. (I plan on wearing mine to my daughter’s Baptism.) The color truly is a vibrant blue and the wrap aspect of the dress is perfect for my postpartum figure.

When I received my dress in the mail, I was impressed with the quality of the fabric and stitching. I ordered the dress a few sizes larger than my usual dress size, which turned out to be a wise decision. Their dress sizes do seem to run a bit small, especially in the bust.

However, one advantage of ordering clothing through eshakti is that they offer to custom fit any size. So I could have opted to have the dress tailored to fit my current size. Perhaps next time I’ll take advantage of this feature.

Considering my aversion to department store shopping I tend to do a great deal of my clothes shopping online and will certainly consider eshakti for my future purchases.

Check out more cute styles here.

Great Post

Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Mandi at Catholic Newlywed has written a fantastic post about being open to life. She confesses of going from "terrified of becoming pregnant to 17 weeks pregnant (and so excited!)."

Go read her story here.

Keepin' It Real

Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Hannah got up at 4am this morning. Before the sun. Most days I don't put on deodorant and I haven't had my eyebrows done in I don't know how long. I have 25lbs to lose (okay, that one I don't care about too much, after all I only had Abby 3 weeks ago.) And our place is currently a disaster area.

Hannah's favorite chore: pulling books off the shelf.

Our living room complete with toys everywhere.

Our new photo wall. Don't you just love the "R"? I do.

Sigh. Best friends. P.S. I totally put Abby's hand on Hannah like that before I took the picture.


Life with two babies is h.a.r.d. They both need me so much. And while it's great to feel so needed, it's exhausting too. I'm ready for bed by 8pm every night. Unfortunately, little Abby is not always ready for bed by then, so we stay up a little later than I'd like.

But I keep telling myself that this too shall pass and eventually these two little girls will be the best of friends and learn to play together. And when that happens my life will get a whole heck of a lot easier. And someday when I'm much older I'll look back on this time as the best days of my life.

**Grammie, if you're reading this, any advice on how to cope with two little ones so close in age?

7 Quick Takes: Abby Edition

Friday, June 24, 2011

1)She’s growing like a weed. She’s already in 3 month size clothing and last week she weighed in at a hearty 9lbs 11oz.

2)Abby was born with some severe molding (probably due to spending 3 days in labor) and she looked like a boxer after 10 rounds when she was born. But now her head is looking so much better. She gets cuter every day.

3)She’s a great sleeper. I’m waiting for that to change, but as of now she sleeps for about six to seven hours at night (as well as a 3-4 hour nap during the day). I know, I’m so lucky!

4)She loves to be held. She’s a real Mama’s girl, but she likes being walked around by Daddy too. Matthew gave me a Moby wrap for my birthday, so hopefully this will accommodate Abby’s need to be held and my need to use both my hands.

5)She loves to sleep next to Hannah (and Hannah loves to sleep next to her). We joke that we’ll just have them sleep together in a twin bed when they’re older, a la Little House on the Prairie.

6)She’s fairly mellow, except when she’s not. She has a very demanding cry when she wants something. This does not bode well for future temper tantrums.

7)She’s just started to smile occasionally. She’s so cute when she smiles, her whole face lights up.

For more Quick Takes go here.

Quote of the Day

"No Hannah, Abby doesn't like it when you wipe boogers on her head."

(Now when I type out Abby with a "y", I do think it looks better. Go figure.)

What's In A Name?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

(I just bought Abbie the above St. Abigail from Saintly Silver. It is soo cute!)

When choosing a name for our daughter, we opted to once again go the traditional, old-fashioned-yet-currently-popular route.

Abigail is a Hebrew name meaning “my father’s joy.” Matthew, of course, loves the meaning of this name because his daughters truly are the apples of his eye. Not much is known about St. Abigail except that she protected her town in Ireland against the plague and helped heal her townspeople’s wounds with herbs and honey. Because of this she is considered the patron saint of beekeepers. And for now, one of my nicknames for Abbie is “my little bumble bee.”

Abigail was also a revered woman of the Old Testament. She was married to King David and together they had a son. She was known for her strength, cleverness and beauty.

We will most likely call Abigail, Abbie. Although we currently disagree about how to spell “Abbie.” I like the “ie” ending because that’s how I spell my name, but Matthew prefers “Abby.” He says there’s some guy named Abbie Hoffman who apparently was a real hippie anti-war (Vietnam) protester. I told Matthew nobody knows who that is (at least I didn’t), but I can foresee myself eventually caving and spelling her name with a “y.” Time will tell.

Abigail’s middle name, Elizabeth, is also my middle name. There are so many great St. Elizabeth’s, I don’t quite know which one we’ll attribute to our Abbie, but for now we like St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and St. Elizabeth of Hungary and of course, Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist.

So that’s how we ended up with Abigail’s name. We like our children’s names to really mean something and we feel like we were able to give our daughter a name with significance.

Birth Story: Part 2

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Saturday morning everyone (but me) felt refreshed and ready to go again. After a second night of no sleep, my strength was really waning. I was really struggling to gear up and “rally.” And naturally because of my exhaustion, I was reluctant to try and increase my contractions. But after a lot of encouragement, especially by Matthew, I felt enough gumption to go another day.

Once again Matthew and I took a walk around the block to try and get things going. I was a beautiful day. In the middle of a contraction a lady in a car pulled over and started talking to Matthew. I was holding on to him and breathing through my contraction, thinking just please keep driving lady. Eventually she wished us luck and drove on. After walking for a bit, we decided it would probably be a good time to try the castor oil. This was recommended by my midwives as a last resort sort of thing and we were pretty much at the point of last resort. So my midwives made me a fruit smoothie with castor oil. It actually wasn’t bad at all and I think the smoothie gave me some strength too.

Perhaps it was timing or perhaps it really was the castor oil, but after drinking my smoothie my contractions started to increase again and were about every 5 minutes. Again I labored a lot in the bedroom on the birth stool and on the rocking chair. The midwives checked me and I was still about 8-9cm, so close. The bag of waters was bulging, but again the baby’s head was still fairly high. I remember thinking and telling Matthew if I can just make it to the pushing stage I know I can do this. We just had to get the baby’s head down further into the birth canal. I was trying so hard to will the baby’s head down.

We walked the stairs in our building and found a fire escape ladder on the 4th floor. I used the ladder to hang and squat from in attempt to bring the baby into a better position. For a couple of hours, we walked the loop of up the stairs to the ladder and down the stairs and back again.

Around 1 that afternoon I decided to get into the tub again. My contractions were always really strong in the tub, but at this point I was reluctant to get in. I was really tired and honestly didn’t want to deal with very painful contractions. Plus, the muscles in my legs really hurt. With every contraction my hip flexor muscles would be in excruciating pain. I swear my muscles hurt more than the contractions. The midwives gave me some arnica as a natural pain killer, but unfortunately it had zero effect. They also tried rubbing different oils on my hips and legs and while the massage felt good in between contractions, it really didn’t help to alleviate any pain.

Anyways, I finally got into the tub and with the first contraction in the tub my water broke. I felt a little pop and was so excited thinking now things will really get going. But when I looked down and saw meconium my heart dropped a little. Although, the baby had been doing fabulously until that point, and her heartbeat continued to remain really strong, the meconium made us all a little nervous. Apparently, meconium in the bag of waters is not unusual in “overdue” babies. (At this point in the pregnancy I think I was 41 weeks and a few days.) In retrospect, I think it was actually the castor oil that I took with my smoothie that caused the baby to, umm, release her meconium.

I ended up getting out of the tub and for the next few hours, I labored on the rocking chair. Every few contractions gushes of water would come out and the midwives would inspect the meconium.  As the hours went by, the meconium increased in thickness, meaning that perhaps the baby was becoming increasingly distressed. Yet, her heartbeat remained strong, so the midwives weren’t too concerned. (Despite long and difficult labors, I’m so grateful our babies handle labor really well.) Although the midwives weren’t terribly worried, I was becoming increasingly uneasy about the whole situation.

By late Saturday afternoon I was starting to lose it. I didn’t know how much more I could endure and since the midwives couldn’t offer me any real time frame, I didn’t know if I could labor indefinitely. At that point I really needed my midwives to lie to me and tell me it was almost over. They didn’t, they told me the weren't sure how much longer I had, possibly 6-7 more hours. Hours. In that moment I swore if I ever became a midwife or doula I would know when a laboring woman did not need to hear the truth. I was feeling done and that pushed me over the edge.

We labored at home for a few more hours, but in my head I had already made up my mind to go into the hospital. I was exhausted and hurting and worried about the baby. Part of me felt weak and like a failure, but part of me knew that I had really tried everything and had given it my best shot. I remember apologizing to Matthew and telling him that I hoped he wasn’t disappointed in me. He hugged me and said of course not, what I had done had been heroic. He said a lot of supportive things, which I will always treasure. His support though everything really made all the difference to me.

Saturday night we all agreed to go to the hospital. Once the decision was made, I didn’t want to spend one more minute at home. I wanted an epidural-stat. And I don’t apologize for wanting one. There’s only so far I could go and I knew I was at my limit. We haphazardly packed a bag and drove to the hospital which fortunately is only about 15 minutes away. It was about 8 or 9pm, so luckily there was no traffic. The midwives had called ahead to speak to the doctor and explain my situation, they had worked with this particular doctor before and said it was great he was on call. (Sidenote: everyone at the hospital was very supportive of our attempt at a homebirth. There was no lecturing or condescension, for which I was grateful.)

The car ride was not as difficult as I expected. I felt like I was willing my contractions to space out and trying to suck the baby back in-haha. I was having a couple of urges to push, but tried really hard not to. When we arrived at the hospital my contractions were still coming about 5 minutes apart and strong. They wheeled me into a room and I asked for an epidural right away. They were so nice and really speedy with getting the anesthesiologist up to my room. The anesthesiologist arrived and gave me a spinal block so I would feel relief immediately and then an epidural. I felt better right away, I was so happy. I couldn’t feel the pain in my legs, which was probably the best part. Obviously, I would have preferred to avoid an epidural, but thank God for pain killers and technology when birth doesn’t go exactly as expected.

After receiving the epidural, we were able to rest. Unfortunately, the epidural wasn’t that great. It felt as if all the medication was going to my left leg, which I could not feel at all (I didn’t like that). And I was having breakthrough pain on my right side. After about an hour, they put me on Pitocin in the hopes that it would help bring the baby down. But after about 8 hours on Pitocin, there was still no change. And my dilation had reversed a little. Apparently, the bag of waters was keeping my cervix open at about 8-9cm, but once my water broke, my dilation went back to about 7-8cm. That stunk.

Later we learned Abbie was acynclitic, meaning positioned off to the side a little, which is why she wasn’t descending. She was working hard to turn, but unfortunately was struggling to get into a good position. They said my cervix was ready to give way, so if her head had just been in a good position everything would have been golden. Maybe in time she may have turned, but it’s hard to know how much time that would have required. And with meconium factor, we felt like it was time to end this marathon labor.

By early Sunday morning, Matthew and I had a heart to heart and pretty much decided we were done and we would go ahead and opt for a c-section. As heartbroken as I was to have another c-section birth, we also just wanted to get on with our lives and meet our baby (and see Hannah).

As soon as we made that decision, they started prepping me. And as sucky as it was to have a c-section we were still excited. We were going to meet our baby soon. The one good thing about having a second c-section is that at least we knew what to expect. We knew the drill. They wheeled me into the operating room on a gurney. I really hate that part. It’s really scary to be brought into the OR lying on your back. Everyone buzzes around you and no one really talks to you. You’re definitely treated as just a body, everyone seems to forget you’re a person. I told the doctors to please do a good job. I think at least that helps them remember that I am a person, that this might be no big deal to them, but it’s a big deal to me. It’s my body they’re going to cut open and my baby that they’re going to deliver.

The surgery this time around took a lot longer than Hannah’s. It wasn’t as easy I think because they were trying to teach a few doctors. I wanted to be like “can you just hurry up?” After what seemed like forever, we finally heard a tiny cry. Abigail Elizabeth was born at 10:10am on a Sunday morning. They announced it was a girl and then I started to cry. I looked at Matthew and said “we have another girl! She and Hannah are going to be best friends.” I think he said, “we don’t have to buy any clothes.” Haha, my ever-practical husband.

(Sidenote: I could not believe the baby was a girl. In my head I was so convinced the baby was a boy. I had even been praying to the patron saint of the boy’s name we had picked out, that’s how certain I was, for cryin’ out loud. When they announced it was a girl, I thought really? Are you sure there’s not a boy in there too? Haha.)

(Poor Abbie looked like she had been in a boxing match.)

After Abbie was born, it took them a long time to close me up. They said Abbie had really stretched out my uterus and when they were pulling her out she had ripped a little of my uterus with her hand, so they had to repair that. I was definitely annoyed with how long the repair took because they didn’t bring Abbie over to see me and then they wheeled her up to the NICU even though her Apgar scores were 9 and 9. And of course Matthew went with Abbie, so I was all alone. Ugh, that’s so not how birth should be.

After what seemed like forever, they finally finished closing me up and wheeled me back into my room for recovery. My midwife was there waiting for me, so we chatted, but I was super drowsy from the anesthesia. About an hour later, Matthew and Abbie came in. Finally. My midwife left and we were able to spend some time as a family.

(I hate this picture of me, but oh well.)

Those are the facts of the labor and delivery. My thoughts and feelings on what happened are an entirely different post. Of course, I’m disappointed that I ended up needing a second c-section. Naturally, when we planned a homebirth, we were hoping for an entirely different ending. And I feel like for most of the labor, we got what we wanted. The midwives were skilled in helping my labor progress and helping it slow down when necessary. I would definitely choose to try for a homebirth again. Hopefully I’ll get the chance.

Of course, if you're going to have any surgery, a c-section is the best one to have because you get a baby out of it. And we are so thrilled to have our little Abigail, regardless of how she was born. Her life and birth are truly a miracle. She's such a wonderful addition to our family and we're in love.

Birth Story: Part 1

Considering the extreme duration of my labor and Abigail's birth, I think it's best to write her birth story in installments. So far, the story is 5 pages long and I'm not done yet. Yikes. So here's Part 1

This birth story is long, but I suppose that is fitting considering the labor was long. We had planned to have a homebirth thinking that it would offer the best chance at having a VBAC birth. But, after about three days of labor, we opted to go to the hospital. Abigail Elizabeth, our beautiful second daughter, was born via c-section at 10:10am on June 5th. We are thrilled to have another daughter and can’t wait to watch Hannah and Abbie grow up together and hopefully become the best of friends.

My labor began early Thursday morning (which incidentally was Matthew’s birthday, I thought it was so cute that he and the baby were going to have the same birthday, but I guess Abigail wanted her own birthday). I woke up around 6:00am with contractions that were about 6-7 minutes apart. The contractions were not too bad, but I had a feeling that as the day progressed, so would the severity of my contractions. So I told Matthew he should probably arrange for his Mom to come get Hannah that morning. I labored in the living room and in the bedroom that morning and Grandma came by to get Hannah around 9ish. While she was here I was still able to chat, so Matthew was able to run out and get a coffee for the both of us. We tried to carry on as normally as possible. I spoke with my midwives every few hours, but kept putting off their coming over because I knew I could still handle my contractions fairly well on my own. Finally that afternoon we agreed that they would come over around 3. My contractions were getting harder and still about 5 minutes apart.

Once the midwives arrived they setup the tub and around 5pm I was able to get in. To be honest, I don’t really remember that afternoon and early evening. I know Matthew and the midwives ordered pizza and I know I wasn’t hungry, but forced myself to have half of a peanut butter sandwich. At some point that evening the midwives checked me and I was around 3-4cm dilated. I remember being so happy because that was as far as I got with Hannah. I felt like I was on a roll, I was really doing it, I was going to birth this baby.

Later that night I labored in the tub and we watched some old episodes of The Office. My contractions really started gearing up around 10ish. That was when labor became really hard. My rushes became about 3 minutes apart and they hurt. For the next few hours, everything was a blur. I remember feeling overwhelmed and crying after a few really painful contractions. And I know I leaned over the tub and threw up at one point as Matthew held the bowl (that was very heroic of him because he can get really squeamish with those sort of things). He made some joke about how they don’t warn you about this during pre-Cana, haha. I had read that vomiting can happen during transition and guessed that I was probably around 7cm (which later it turns out I was). So, despite how difficult that part of the labor was, I remember feeling slightly excited because things were definitely moving along. After I threw up, the midwives scurried around getting things ready. I think we all thought the baby would be born soon.

(Laboring in the tub, obviously in between contractions.)

However, after that extreme phase of labor, my contractions eased up. It was as if my body knew I needed a break after those hard hours of labor. Despite how everything ended up, I still marvel how a natural labor allows a woman’s body to rest. It’s as if my body knew my limits and backed off for a while after it pushed those limits. I’m still in awe of my body’s ability to know how and when to do that.

Since things had slowed down a little, my midwives suggested I try to rest, so I got out of the tub and lay in bed for a while. My contractions spaced out to about 10 minutes apart. While it was nice to have a longer rest in between contractions, when the contraction did come, they were long and hard.

Friday morning and most of the day, my contractions were really spaced out (from about 5-10min apart). The midwives said we could either take this as a sign that my body needed to rest or we could try to speed the contractions back up. We opted to try and speed them up. All day Friday was like reading a midwifery book on laboring techniques. We tried so many things, walking outside (walking definitely aided my contractions), laboring on my exercise ball, birthing stool, rocking chair, in the shower, in the tub, hanging from a sheet, robozo, wrapping my belly with an Ace bandage in the hopes that it would help the baby get into a better position. All these techniques did in fact help dilation and the baby’s position. By Friday afternoon I was around 8-9cm dilated, but unfortunately the baby’s head was still high. We thought about breaking my water, but since the baby’s head wasn’t directly on my cervix, the midwives thought it wouldn’t do any good and would just end up putting us on a time limit.

All the action of Friday plus a sleepless night made me very tired by Friday afternoon. So, my midwives suggested I take some Benadryl and try to rest. The Benadryl worked and made me drowsy enough to rest and my contractions spaced out again to about 10 minutes. Most of that night and into early Saturday morning I rested in bed and everybody was able to sleep. Still my contractions were really, really hard when they came every 10 minutes or so. Fortunately, everyone (except me) was able to sleep Friday night, which I think rejuvenated everyone.

That was the end of Day 2. To be continued...

Birth Story Pending

Monday, June 13, 2011
I'm working on Abbie's birth story, but I still feel like I'm processing a lot of my thoughts and feelings surrounding what happened. I went into labor Thursday morning around 6:00am and Abbie was finally delivered via c-section Sunday morning at 10:00am, so needless to say it was a long labor. My contractions were never further than 10 minutes apart during that whole time and at one point I was definitely throwing myself a pity party wondering why other women can have normal quick labors and I cannot. I know Ina May says, "your body is not a lemon," but I can't help but wonder why my body struggles to deliver a baby. My pregnancies are cake, but the labors not so much, go figure.

Anyways, I hope to have Abbie's full birth story up soon. Thank you again for all your prayers and well wishes.

Abigail Elizabeth

Friday, June 10, 2011

(I don't know why this rotated weird.)
Born Sunday, June 5th. 9lbs, 4oz. She's beautiful and we're smitten.
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