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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Motivational Monday – Reflecting On Losing–and Finding–Focus

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1. 5 Steps to a Productive Morning by thedailypositive.com | 2. How to Lazy-Proof Your Day by Bravely | 3. Progress, not perfection daily goal checklist by EliseJoy | 4. Motivational Poster by The Motivational Type

There’s something so fluid about productivity. That is, if you allow it to be fluid.

I can go weeks with doing everything right. I can follow the few steps I’ve laid before myself; waking up early, maintaining a decent pace at work, even exercising and cleaning. I can be wholly there and I feel great. I feel amazing, actually. Each day gets better and better as my body adjusts to a productive schedule and a full life.

It only takes one day. Not one day to allow myself to take a break: one day to stop everything. It’s like I’m cursed in a fairy tale. As long as I stay productive I can be the adventurous, independent hero the story knows and loves, but as soon as I stop, I turn into the slothful troll who does nothing but make a mess of the story line.

Maybe that analogy made sense.

I am not a marathon runner in this race of life. I’m either sprinting full speed ahead or tumbling down a hill so fast back into a lazy way of living, and I’m still trying to figure out how to balance this. I know this kind of laziness is not healthy for me. Sleeping late, eating terribly, no exercise…. it physically hurts me. The back pain I’ve been dealing with for years comes back full force, my skin starts battling between too dry or too oily. Sure, I still work and still get things done, but nothing feels good. Nothing inspires me.

It’s interesting that I do this to myself. So yes, I’m still figuring it out. Perhaps it will always be an issue, but as I learn to work at home and learn more about myself, I feel like I’ll be able to better manage myself more and more each day. I’m just going to make being productive a habit that I can’t break.

So here’s to you, Monday, the start of another work week and another chance to make this week a healthy, productive one!


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Loss of Focus

The Office Jim Falls Asleep

A dull throbbing pain at my temple. The sound of a nearby wall clock ticking away the seconds. The steady hum of a computer fan. The rhythm of the office.

I blink my way out of a dazed expression and re-enter reality. I was just thinking about that one scene in The Office where Jim dies of boredom.

“No, not just thinking about,”as I look down at my to-do list,”living it.”

I adjust in my chair, realizing I had slumped over.

“What’ll it be today? A quick run to the store for a coffee? Or just go all the way and take a quick 15 minute nap right on the keyboard?”

I ponder where I’d go to get coffee…that 10 minute walk into town doesn’t sound too fun. But the 5 minute trip to the grocery store to check out their snacks and drink aisle wouldn’t satisfy my desire for a nice, hot latte. Better skip it.

“Need. To. Focus.”

I look up to my computer screen and see Facebook.

“Ugh. Oh yeah. I came here to update the pages for work and ended up scrolling nonstop through the most uninteresting news feed ever and why did I do that to myself? Facebook has me trained. Enough of that.”

Exiting the page the next Tab open is an article about ’10 Ways to Wow On Social Media.’ Scrolling down, I see an ad for another article: ‘When Baby Kittens Attack.’

“Yes!”

The first .gif of an adorable kitten lunging for a sleeping dog loads and, “Ugh when are the rest of these going to load I want to see kitt…”

“Focus!”…exits article.

“Yes…back to Photoshop. I need these retail banners finished before next Christmas. If that could be accomplished that’d be greeeat. Ha! An Office Space reference. This is my life right now. Alright, now what font would look best here?”

Changing the font on ‘SALE ENDS MONDAY!’ what seems like 100 times, I give up and delete the text.

“That was way too clichéd to write anyway. Back to square one. Ughhh this is hard. ”

Takes out phone and scrolls through Instagram. Stopping at an ad for a retail store, I’m struck by an idea.

“Wait. What if I created something like this for the store?…What if I create a whole theme?!”

I put the phone aside and open a new file in Photoshop. Product photos. Style. Colors. Arrange. A whirlwind of clicking as ideas pop into my head one after the other. My to-do list carries onto a second page as more ideas fill my mind. A mere hour passes and I’m emailing my boss the marketing strategy for the next month along with five example graphics.

I spend the rest of the work day excitedly carrying out the rest of my tasks. Energized, accomplished, and excited to begin the next day, I shut off my computer and leave the office. I walk 10 minutes to a cafe for a celebratory latte.


ISFP-active

This scenario happens to me all the time. I understand having mid-day lulls and the importance of taking breaks, but I’m learning that this lack of focus has a lot to do with my personality type. I hope to explore my ISFP personality and find ways to use it to my advantage! When I’m excited, I’m focused and determined. Otherwise I can really lose track. I hope to report back with some tricks and tips so that inner dialogues like the above happen way less often!

Want to learn your personality type? I used this site.
Also, sorry I made up the article about kittens. But here’s one just as good.


 

This was part of the Writing 101’s Blogging University. The prompt: Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t anymore. (I’m making a habit of not sticking to the prompt…but I don’t think it’s so necessary as long as I’m writing and learning…is that just me?)


 


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The Potter Trail! | Edinburgh, Scotland

Advocate's Close

Step out of Waverly Station in Edinburgh and look in any direction to see exactly what inspired J.K. Rowling to create the Harry Potter universe the way it is. The famous author still lives in Edinburgh and was at the Wales vs. Scotland rugby match in Edinburgh Sunday as we were walking around. No we didn’t spot her, but saw many rugby fans from both teams decked out in team colors. (So fun!)

But this post is about Harry Potter! Every turn, alley and hill is so beautiful. Edinburgh has this charming old town feel to it that leaves you awe-inspired. I did my fan-girl research and found some notable spots. (Pictured above is Advocate’s Close located on the Royal Mile. Walk down the steps and you’ll be led up the hill to Cockburn’s Street which is a gorgeous street as well.)

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Discovering A Goal

This year as one one of my personal new year’s goals, wanted to really dive back into personal blogging.

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The initial goal was simple: Record the journey I’m on through writing and photos. There was no pressure to create—just a rule: don’t lose the desire to create.

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As I am reaching the end of January, I have really enjoyed my simple blogging (mostly of my 365 Photo Project and my husband baking), but I’ve also realized, if I want a cohesive “life story” at the end of the year, I may want to try to get organized. Even though this is just a personal, digital journal for me, I want its’ purpose to be evident and inspirational.

I want to attempt to schedule certain posts so that each week, even if all I can blog about most days are my 365 project, that at the very least, I’ll have a couple “extra” entries. I hope I’ll fall in love with this method and find a spark of creativity to add even more posts.

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I’ve naturally wanted to create a few Photoshop images each week. These seem to naturally fall on Sunday.

Sunday: Quoteables – The end result of these posts may be simple, but for me, it’s about exercising my design skills and imagination. The process is searching for a quote that describes that week/day. For instance, on a rainy weekend, I wanted to brighten the mood. I researched a quote, found one appropriate to my mood, (researched the person I was quoting!) and created a graphic in Photoshop.

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Here’s to making some goals and sticking to them. I hope.