Mismatched Mess

of life, love, fashion, & forgetting to update


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Welcome Elliot Rowan: A Birth Story

Of all the words I share, I seem to struggle writing this story. It’s complicated and it’s simple, and the end result was a beautiful baby boy. ️ I finally want to share some of the journey Taylor and I took before we arrived at the birth of our son.

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From the beginning of the second trimester or so I started researching birthing methods and techniques. I wanted to try taking a more natural birth approach with little or no pain relief. I liked the idea of laboring in water, having snacks throughout labor, and doing the bulk of laboring at home. Through my research I discovered hypnobirthing and fell in love with the concept. I began practicing this method months before the due date; training to go deep within myself to relax and breathe into labor contractions, which would hopefully provide a calm birthing experience with or without medicated pain relief.

I was so excited to give this a try, but I also wanted to be realistic. I read and watched every type of birth you could imagine. I wanted to prepare for anything that could happen. From completely drug-free water births, to epidural, to forceps delivery, and emergency C-section. I knew anything could happen and I chose to watch videos of all of these types of births so I didn’t go into my own labor blindly. One birth method I didn’t spend a ton of time on, however, was a scheduled cesarean. That was the last on my list of preferred births and the furthest from my mind.

As my third trimester rolled around I began all the fun little things one might do to help prepare and open the body for birth. I drank red raspberry leaf tea, did squats, and bounced on an exercise ball. I laid in bed every night for 30 minutes practicing hypnobirth techniques and breathing methods. I was ready! Up until this point my pregnancy had been perfect. My biggest complaints had been general discomfort around my stretching body and, of course, always being hungry! I knew that I’d most likely go into labor well after my due date, and even imagined recording a video of me dancing to 90’s music, attempting to get labor started. In my mind, I would share the video online with a caption somewhere along the lines of ‘These hips don’t lie, I’m hurtin’! It’s time to say Baby bye, bye, bye!’ (or something equally cheesy and related to 90’s music.) Even planning for something as silly as that, I was trying to be realistic about my expectations. Yet, when actual reality hit, I still felt unprepared.erw-1
At a routine midwife appointment at 32 weeks pregnant the midwife informed us my baby bump hadn’t grown since 29 weeks. She assured me there was nothing to worry about and scheduled an ultrasound to check the size of our baby to make sure all was well. On the day of the ultrasound we learned Elliot was measuring below the safe size range. The midwife let slip the phrase ‘cesarean’ (pre-term), but made it clear it was probably fine. We were sent to a nearby hospital the same day to have his heartbeat monitored. The heart beat was great, but he was small and his growth would need to be charted for the next few weeks. And he was also breech. But I had known that. I had felt his head in my ribs for months, his legs kicking my left side, his bottom down. That position wasn’t ideal, but I wasn’t worried. It was still early enough in the pregnancy, so I wasn’t concerned. He’d turn.
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His small size started a cycle of several ultrasounds, heart rate monitoring, and many midwife and doctor consultations. After almost an entire routine pregnancy, I had come to really enjoy having just a midwife to look after me, so all these new doctors and medical procedures were really stressful. You’d think that getting to see my sweet boy on the ultrasound almost every week would be amazing. It wasn’t. At this stage in the pregnancy ultrasounds didn’t catch much of an image. It physically hurt me and bothered Elliot to be prodded and poked. And the results on his growth chart just stressed me and Taylor out even more. Suddenly this pregnancy was mostly questions and not enough answers. Emotionally, I started going within myself, just a little bit. The midwives kept saying it was all fine. But I had a feeling that, though Elliot may be great (which WAS great!), this pregnancy had completely flipped from what I had expected.

We monitored Elliot’s growth every couple of weeks, and though he was small, he slowly began to measure above the minimum range. This was a relief! By this time, however, I was well into my last trimester and Elliot was still breech. The midwives reassured me he would most likely turn on his own, but I had already become so familiar with his unchanging position. Was he stuck?

It was hard to pull myself out of the melancholy. I stopped planning my birth experience, I stopped preparing. I was of a singular thought that couldn’t be expressed in words, just worry. I found myself focusing all day on his kicks, and feeling his head shift and startle against my rib cage. At this point the doctors had again brought up the possibility of a c-section. They all assured me he’d flip, he’d turn, it’d be alright. But now I had the thought of surgery bouncing around in my head.

I wish I could describe the emotional exhaustion me and Taylor had already been through. It was weeks of worry about his size (and whispers of c-section), and just as that was resolved, it was weeks of worry about his position. I began researching my options, and then trying them ALL. Taylor and I would go to the gym and instead of doing squats and bouncing on an exercise ball, I did stretches and yoga positions that turned me upside down. When I sat up from these positions, Elliot would squirm madly, just like the articles I had read said he would. My optimism rose–he was moving and I was helping him! At night I’d lay my head on the floor and prop my legs on the bed at a diagonal, convincing myself he would turn.
erw-4So what were my options? First, I could try an  external cephalic version (ECV). A doctor would physically attempt to turn Elliot from the outside. There was a 50% chance of it working. Secondly, I could try having a breech birth. This way, I could attempt having the birth experience I wanted, but there were conditions: I couldn’t be induced, the less pain relief I had the better, and there wasn’t much the midwives or doctors would be able to do except let gravity get the baby out. Thirdly, I could just schedule a c-section. C-sections scared us. Taylor and I made pros and cons list between our options. For the baby, c-section was safest. But we didn’t want to go through that. At its best, it was major surgery that would leave me weak and recovering and could cause issues with later pregnancies. Having a natural breech birth would be better for me, but was more dangerous for the baby, and may even end up in an emergency c-section anyways.

Despite my best efforts of turning him on my own, reality was creeping in: I would eventually have to make a decision. I was the most indecisive I had ever been. How would this breech baby enter the world? I couldn’t choose. I found myself drinking even stronger red raspberry leaf tea and eating loads of pineapple. I didn’t want to make a choice. I just wanted to naturally go into labor and have the choice made for me. I wanted my birth experience! The hypnobirthing, laboring at home, experiencing childbirth. Everyday I hoped I would go into labor.
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Taylor and I decided there would be no harm in trying the ECV procedure. I watched videos of pregnant women casually sitting in a hospital room while a doctor successfully turned their unborn child. It looked painful, but hopeful. On an early evening in January I lay in a hospital bed preparing for my own ECV, but I wasn’t casually sitting up. Much like the upside down positions I had attempted on my own, the bed was at a steep angle; my head was down, legs up. The room was dim, with a bright, sterile beam of light shining on my stomach. I was surrounded on either side with medical professionals. I closed my eyes and began to breathe deeply. I remembered the hypnobirthing techniques I taught myself and used them for the first and last time. I felt the pain of the procedure, but it didn’t hurt. The doctor roughly moved his hands around the shape of my baby, forcing him to move. It’s hard to explain–the doctor was gentle, careful, but I felt Elliot’s distress. He didn’t and couldn’t move. At one point the doctor stopped. I thought he was finished, maybe even successful? Then I quickly realized he was trying again. It had failed. At this point I was emotionally done. I remember a single tear running down my face–I was silently frantic at Elliot’s discomfort. A switch turned on inside me and I knew I would have the c-section. I wouldn’t put Elliot through more discomfort just for my own preferred birth. Looking back, I realize it was probably all in my head. I’m sure Elliot was fine the entire time. But it didn’t matter–I was no longer indecisive and I would do whatever it took to have him safe and happy. When the failed procedure was finished I sat in the hospital bed crying, and tried so hard to focus on Elliot’s heart rate on the monitor. I remember how quiet he was, how still. I remember how violated it felt to have someone try to turn my baby. The doctor was so nice. He wanted the best for us. But I couldn’t help the feelings I felt. I cried the entire way home; Cried at the loss of my birth plan, cried at the pain I felt after putting my body and baby through the ECV, cried with absolute relief that I had finally made my choice. It was a necessary goodbye to what I had expected out of this pregnancy.

Once I made my decision to have the c-section, things moved quickly. Suddenly, I had a date set in stone for the arrival of our baby. My mom was able to book a quick flight to England, I packed and repacked the hospital bag, and then Taylor and I packed and repacked it again. Suddenly, all melancholy was gone. All worry and doubt had lifted. We would be parents soon and all we felt was excitement.
erw-5On an early winter morning my mom, Taylor and I took a cab from a guest house to the hospital. From 7 am to 1 pm we prepared and waited for my turn. I only remember snapshots after that. I remember walking to the surgical table, making jokes with my anaesthesiologist. I remember how it really hit me how real this surgery was when I struggled to stay still for the epidural. Taylor and I were buzzing with nervous energy, or at least I was from the waist up. I felt no pain, no fear, and even some curiosity of what was going on!
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Elliot came quickly and cried immediately. It was a foreign sound, almost like I’d never heard a baby cry before in my life. Suddenly he was there, and we couldn’t believe it! He came swiftly and beautifully and then a midwife was laying him on my chest. The room was organized chaos all around us, but the noise all fell away as I stroked his face. He was here. We made this and he was more beautiful than I could fathom. I remember a single tear falling down my face. My boy, my boy, he was mine, he was ours. Taylor and I spent a beautiful moment in a bubble where only the three of us existed.
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I will never regret my c-section, the choices I made. I remember even thinking it was all a bit fun. I would do it again. Will I? I don’t know. I know I could never compare this birth experience to any other. It wasn’t what I wanted, but it was. I arrived at it with joy, but only after scaling a mountain of sorrow and doubt. I cried so much when things weren’t going as planned, but I barely remember those tears. The first of February at 1:55 pm we welcomed Elliot Rowan into our lives. Our world became smaller, our priorities more focused, and our hearts have been expanding ever since.

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Learning From Children | Underlying Issues of the Innocent

Pre-Teen Girls During 'Tablecloth' Fashion Show

Taylor and I have been working with a small church’s children’s group for the past year. Ages range from sometimes 3 all the way to 12. In one room. Yeah.

But, most of them, thankfully, are within the 9-12 range which helps us find age appropriate lessons and activities.

Because of this job (it is Taylor’s job, but I volunteer), I’ve had a lot of time to observe young girls. I’ve learned their behaviors, cliques,  gossip habits and insecurities.

I’ve learned that one girl goes out of her way to look less poor to her friends. One 12 year old is extremely self-conscious about her teeth; another about her stomach. An 11 year old plays dumb, a 7 year old is so scared to talk she’ll sometimes start sentences excitedly and then immediately stop, almost cowering.

Another pre-teen was molested  as a child and desperately seeks that same level of attention with older boys.

Most of them come from poor, drug-filled households where it’s likely that–if one of their parents isn’t either out of the picture or in jail–they just got out of jail. Which isn’t to say the adults take ALL the blame–this is, after all, the life they grew up in. How does one end this cycle?

Unfortunately, I don’t exactly know how to answer that. I don’t know how to answer many questions regarding the serious issues these young girls face. It’s constantly forcing me to realign my perspective when I ask myself after an exhausting and frustrating children’s session, “Why do they act the way they do?!?!”

Well, Alyssa, why?

Why do they feel the need to prove they aren’t poor? Why do they choose to gang up on another to bully them? Why do they seek men’s attention and approval?

Every week is like a concentrated slap in the face showing me the deep rooted fears and expectations that society has placed on all women.

What these girls are learning from their mothers, they will teach their own children. Of course, I don’t hope for that. I do see a small societal shift in women’s behaviors and I can hope that these girls, specifically, choose to better their lives as they grow up and break a generational cycle of poverty, drugs and heartache.

I have really struggled with all the layers of issues these girls* have made me fully aware of. I think the easiest, yet also most intricate, issues to deal with are the ones directly related to all women. From media to our own mothers and grandmothers, we are given so much “advice” about behavior, appearances and the like that our minds have contorted around some of the most messed up ideas that truly have become part of our ‘norm.’ Like many other newly enlightened women, I’m searching for the balance between losing the chains of societal expectations and still feeling like I understand the strong and beautiful reasons behind what it means to be female.

I’m going to try to voice my thoughts in future posts on the subject of being a woman, as well as all the other major issues mentioned in this post as I rethink my own views and also combat the views these young pre-teen girls already think to be true.

Advice, opinions, help would be oh so appreciated.


 

*Not to say the boys of the group have no issues. We only have 1-4 boys come, sometimes 0. Perhaps there are no boys in the area, or perhaps boys not feeling connected to church and/or groups of peers is an entirely different issue to be discussed. Taylor does a lot for the boys as well as the younger children (As well as the preteens. He’s awesome). My heart has been set on these pre-teen girls from the beginning. Clarification over.

 


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Doing Something More

In Remembrance: Zach Sobiech, 1995-2013

I have become enthralled, heartbroken and inspired through this day from the story of a young man, Zach Sobiech, who passed away two days ago from cancer. It is always so important to bring positivity to the environment around you. So many people drench themselves in drama, heartache and negative thinking.

What do the complaints get you? But where can a positive attitude take not only you, but everyone you meet? That’s one of the many lessons I take away from experiencing this young man’s story.

“Clouds” written and recorded by Zach Sobiech, and sung along by celebrities.

Please take time to learn and share his story and learn how you can help fund the Zach Sobiech Osteosarcoma Fund at the Children’s Cancer Research Center.

 


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Discovering Grace

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“Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Excerpts From My Journaling…

I am seeking out God's grace. 
I know He can fully support my burdens and 
He can cover my soul in such pure and ever-lasting grace.
I know He forgives me. I find comfort in that. 
But I need to fully lose myself in order to completely repent. 
I have such issues with trying to fix problems without giving it to God. 
I need to remain searching for the reasons of God's grace. 

-P.S. Facebook followers: My blogs are being automatically sent to facebook via a second-party program. I promise, I’m not posting the blogs myself during this 2 week break!

 


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Taking a Moment…Away From Social Media

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I have had so much suddenly come onto my plate. I hate not blogging.

But, here I am to make sure to write and remember the journey I am about to go on.

I’ve decided to take a small break from certain social media sites. I am not extremely active on any of these sites, but I DO check each of them multiple times a day.

The goal is to re-prioritize what I find to be important in my life.

I am starting to seek out a few subject matters and the meanings of these subjects through scripture reading, short devotional materials, and journaling.

Coupled with that, I am going to sign out of the social media sites so I can focus more on 1.Scripture reading, and 2. LIFE.

I need to find a balance that will allow me to live a more wholesome life where I can enjoy my husband, family and friends in a truly meaningful way and where I can engage in God’s Word and find comfort in seeking Him.

Here is the journey I’ll be going on:

 

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I’ll continue to blog my 365 photo challange (which I need to catch up on!), plus any thoughts I have regarding the scripture I’m reading, and of course, if I have any thoughts or moments of weakness regarding this very short fast away from social media.

I have decided to keep my blog linked to my facebook and twitter accounts, so if I post a blog…a link is automatically sent to facebook and twitter. But, I assure you, I am not going to add any updates on those sites manually.

Here it goes! Two weeks is nothing. But is it sad I’m wary of making the duration a longer amount of time?

I think that wariness speaks for itself.

 


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Finishing Up a Chapter

Sometimes you have a wonderful story to tell. You think long and hard about the story process—how the beginning shall begin, how the middle will raise expectations and excite the minds, and how the end will pull the whole thing together into a beautiful, inspiring conclusion.

And sometimes you have a week like this:

-Three final projects due by tomorrow
-Aton of cleaning
-A ton of packing
-A ton of moving
-A ton of responsibilities that have been put off

So. Oh, also, I’m tired. Sleep deprived. But, since I can’t work on my projects because I’m at work, I’ve decided to take a little break and do some online shopping for SUMMER CLOTHING:

I love this tunic. Forever21 $8.80

A simple, lovely tank. Not too tight or short. Forever21 $7.90

An awesome romper. I’m wary to buy rompers, because I have a longer torso, but this one is stretchy! Forever21 $9.80

AND FOR MY DO-IT-YOURSELF FIX:

You can buy this shirt, sure, but it appeals to my D.I.Y. nature(and I could make it for cheaper!) Forever21 $13.80

Ok. This slashed tee is a bit much. But I do like the idea. Definitely going to D.I.Y. it Forever21 $11.80

Oh and to explain the list—I’m moving out of the campus apartments. I’m moving in with my Mamaw and finishing out the last semester of college there. Once I move in there, I’m really not sure at all what my plans are. I hope to find a summer job, save up some money, start planning my wedding, and graduate college. After graduation…whew. More scariness. I hope to dive straight into my work field–searching for a job that can start my career in design. That…is very scary.


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Thank You

Thank you God for all that you’ve done for me.

Please be with me throughout today and the rest of this week. Help me continue to uplift you in all that I do, and help me stay in touch with the truth, especially during battles between people who need help knowing what the truth is.

God, you are my strength. I love you, Lord and thank you for my life. You have helped me with so much.