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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Baby Weaver Expected February 2018!

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We have been so excited to find out we are expecting our first child in February 2018! Honestly, the news has been hard to believe, but here we are, week by week watching as this journey continues to become more and more real.

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First Trimester
btyMy pregnancy aversions were few, but insane: I didn’t like the smell of coffee (crazy! Coffee is my life!), the smell of alcohol, fresh flowers, floral scents, and fruit. Walking past the large public garden to get into the city centre didn’t smell fresh and outdoorsy–it smelled like floral rot and decay. I had to completely avoid the coffee shop we are regulars in, because the smell of roasted coffee was too pungent! However, the severe exhaustion was my biggest pregnancy symptom. Even when I wasn’t sleeping I was most likely in bed, trying to stay awake enough to work and eat. And if I didn’t eat? I felt nauseous. My morning sickness wasn’t terrible, thank goodness, but I NEEDED to eat anytime I felt hungry, or I would instantly feel weak and nauseous.

Speaking of eating, food has been a big pregnancy symptom, but my preferences would change almost weekly! Early on, I was ravenous. I easily ate three meals and two large snacks everyday. And a lot of that extra food was as much protein as I could eat! Unfortunately, the craving for meat wasn’t healthy. The first weekend I had these cravings (July 4th) Taylor made a delicious holiday meal of barbecue ribs, potato salad, fries, and corn. Over the course of that same weekend, I also requested hot dogs, chicken strips and mac & cheese.

 

toddler-meal.jpgAfter a weekend of giving in to my cravings Taylor had a food request of his own–to add vegetables back into our meals! At this point, I was okay with that. I no longer felt like an adult; my food cravings started with meat, but I felt like I was regressing into even simpler food cravings. At one meal all I wanted was chicken nuggets (with ketchup), raw carrots, pickles and tomatoes. Turns out my huge appetite was slowing down and would become even simpler than what a toddler would want very quickly.

A few weeks of eating six meals a day quite suddenly took a turn. Suddenly, I wasn’t feeling very hungry at all, although I was still nauseous if I didn’t eat. I felt full almost all the time. I decided to cut back to three meals a day, but that didn’t seem to do much. It wasn’t until I totally simplified my diet that my body started feeling better. My daily meals were simple: for breakfast I would have oatmeal, lunch I would have soup (yes, in July), and dinner I would eat what Taylor made, but usually just a small portion.

I am so grateful to Taylor for being patient and understanding as I figured out my body. The first trimester was hard on both of us. He took care of most (basically ALL) of the chores and cooking. I would usually feel good enough to do a load of dishes or laundry a day, along with making breakfast every morning, and sometimes I felt ok enough to go to the gym for simple exercises, which equated to maybe 1-2 hours a day where I was being active. Otherwise I was in the bed or on the couch.

The First Ultrasound

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We’ve been slowly navigating our way around the UK medical system. Most pregnancies are dealt with by midwives and it’s totally free. We are in awe of this, and so grateful, but the first trimester didn’t have a ton of appointments. I was expecting a lot more confirmation about this pregnancy than we received at first, simply because of what I knew about US healthcare. It was 6 weeks before we met one of my midwives. She walked us through a lot of paperwork and blood draws, and told us to wait for our ultrasound appointment to come in the mail.

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Before our scan, we had calculated the baby was around 12 weeks. The day of our scan, we were excited and nervous–this would be the first major confirmation there was actually something there! (I know, this is crazy, but even with all the pregnancy symptoms it’s hard not to wonder if you’re making it all up) We were both in awe when we saw this small body on the screen! For me and Taylor, it was an amazing experience. We saw the baby jump and wriggle and could make out all the tiny features. However, to the ultrasound technician, this baby was not cooperating! They couldn’t properly measure everything, especially the nuchal fold at the back of the neck. The tech had me bounce, jump, and cough to try to get the baby to move. After a while, the tech told me to eat some chocolate, walk around the hospital for a bit, and come back to try again. We were grateful we got a second chance that day, but no matter how hard we tried (I even did squats) the baby refused to stretch out properly. Although we got some cute pictures out of the deal, the technician told us the scan was inconclusive and we couldn’t get an official due date. One thing we DID learn from the measurements, is that the baby was measuring way bigger than 12 weeks, more like 13 weeks 6 days. Technically the measurements didn’t count, but we had a feeling I was further along than we originally thought.

 

The Second Trimester

davEven though our first ultrasound couldn’t give us an official due date, I decided to mentally skip ahead from being 12 weeks along to 13 weeks 6 days, meaning just one day after we saw the baby I was suddenly in my second trimester! I wasn’t expecting all my first trimester symptoms to go away immediately, but I’ll make this quick and easy—I feel A LOT better. I get tired and winded easily, and have a few slight food cravings. I also get headaches almost daily. Coffee and alcohol smells normal again! Flowers smell normal, too, but I’m still not enjoying any type of floral scent! All in all, every week is different, but my energy levels have risen and my eating has mostly evened out (No more soup-only diet)

We also got to meet my second midwife. This appointment was more paperwork, but we heard the baby’s heartbeat on the doppler! The midwife talked me through a few simple pregnancy questions, but one of the highlights (aside from hearing the heartbeat, of course!) was being told about the Pregnancy Exemption Certificate. She told me to go to my general practitioner to pick one up so that I would be eligible for free dental work and free prescriptions from now until up to a year after the baby is born.

 

 

The Second Ultrasound

mdeAbout three weeks after the inconclusive first scan, we were scheduled a second scan. When all goes well, most pregnant women only get a 12 week scan and a 20 week scan. However, since they couldn’t measure the baby properly at my first scan, I had to go into a second one. Having an ultrasound at this time is considered less accurate, as far measuring the nuchal fold, but it was still important to try again.  Unfortunately because we weren’t expecting this scan and it was scheduled only a few days before the appointment, Taylor couldn’t go. He had already made plans to attend a conference in Ireland that week. He really didn’t want to miss the scan, but was able to text me during the whole process. As far as measuring goes, the technician had a much easier time. I didn’t have to jump or eat chocolate to try to turn the baby. I saw fingers! The baby had grown so much since the last time and I couldn’t wait to show Taylor. However, I was in for one more surprise–our official due date. February 8th! The same day as my birthday! I was in total shock and completely amused at this! This due date also meant that I skipped ahead four more days and was officially 17 weeks pregnant!

Now…

So, here I am at 17 weeks 6 days. I have my third midwife appointment tomorrow where we will learn about the results of the scan and blood work. She will tell us about any potential risks, and we’ll get to hear the heartbeat again.

However, this time, I definitely don’t need confirmation that something is in there, because I’m starting to feel kicks! Almost daily I can feel small nudges and bumps when I’m laying down. It’s amazing how something so small already feels so real to me. I can’t wait until Taylor can start feeling the kicks as well.

Three weeks from now we will also get to find out if we’re having a boy or girl!

Thankfully I’m not craving TOO much, and what I am craving is actually American food. This is interesting, but also frustrating! My unhealthiest cravings are fast food–but only American fast food! Even from the same restaurant, the taste of food differs greatly because of nutrition and ingredient regulations from country to country. This is actually a good thing for me, because other than the breakfast sandwich I had from McDonald’s last Sunday morning, I haven’t eaten any fast food and maintain a fairly healthy diet (once again, ALL thanks to Taylor for cooking most of the meals!).

However, the strongest cravings that I can’t get out of my head have been Hot Cheetos and sour gummy candy. They don’t sell Hot Cheetos in the UK! Seriously, Taylor and I have bought every kind of spicy chip we can find (probably about 6 attempts, so far) and nothing is spicy or satisfying enough to replace Hot Cheetos! Same goes for sour candy–the gummy candy isn’t sour enough, because I’m craving specific things from America.

Our Plans

davSo this is a big year for us (now until end of 2018, that is). Taylor is on the last leg of his PhD, I’m pregnant, and our visa that we use to live in the UK is almost up. We’re staying optimistic, planning ahead for the things we need to plan ahead for, and focusing on the present where that’s more important. Without getting into too many personal details, we realize we could move anywhere fairly soon (again, after 2018, most likely). Because of that, we decided to have as minimal of baby stuff as possible. We aren’t splashing out on a big nursery update, lots of baby gadgets, or even a lot of clothes and toys. In fact, we’re hoping to make a lot of smart hand-me-down purchases.

redroomSo, our dilemma was: If we weren’t going to spend a lot of money, what SHOULD we invest in? We decided to focus on the first few months with baby–lots of sleeping, feeding and learning to be a family. To me, this equated to having a calm, relaxing bedroom, so we are working on repainting our room, adding a small co-sleeper crib, and making it the main ‘hub’ of baby activity.

However, as I was taking a break from painting the bedroom one day, I sat on the small couch we have in our second bedroom. I looked around and saw a hopeless mess. The couch is a faded purple color, which folds out into a bed for guests. The curtains were bright blue, and the walls were a terrible wallpaper of red and cream. It was just too much work to rip down the wallpaper and make all the repairs needed to make this a nursery, or even a prettier guest room.

But, as I took another look, I had a crazy idea–what if I just painted the red stripe in the wallpaper? It wasn’t a perfect plan, but it set the ball rolling to create a small nursery/guest room! I spent £1 on a small paint roller, and 50 cents on the black and white throw blanket over the couch, but other than that (and the baby stuff, like the Moses basket!) it didn’t cost me anything to paint or decorate this little room. It’s probably not the nursery I would set up for myself, if I had more of a permanent home, but it makes me happy, it’s bright, and features a lot of black cats, in honor of our three legged cat, Sabre. We’re still planning on having the baby in our bedroom for at least the first few months, but for naps, storing clothing and supplies, and also as a contingency plan (what IF the baby sleeps better in a separate room? Who knows what could happen, right?), this tiny room will be there!

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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.