Thursday, March 26, 2015

Before You Give Up on Breastfeeding Early, Read This!

Dear Momma,

Do you struggle with breastfeeding? Is it just 'not for you?' Or, is your body just 'not made for it' Or does it just plain hurt?

You are struggling. I've been there. You're probably teetering on the edge of driving to the drug store and buying your first container of formula. I've been there too (curse those free Similac samples!). If you're looking for a reason to keep going, you've come to the right place.

This is my story.

On Monday night, I removed the very last bag of pumped milk from my freezer. I plunked the chilly package in a bowl of warm water and took a moment to reflect. I stared sadly at the defrosting Lansinoh bag and came to the harsh realization that my baby boy no longer depended on me for one of his basic survival needs, breast milk. To put it honestly, he hasn't needed me that bad for about 4 months. He's been such a champ at eating solids.

The mommy hormones flooded my body.
Anxiety - "Is he really ready to start weaning? Will he start losing weight?"
Regret - "I should have kept pumping. The W.H.O says you should breastfeed for TWO years now!" Sadness - "Oh, how ever will we bond now??"

I'm assuming that's normal. I reminisced for about 2 minutes, and then some other thoughts came into my mind.

Relief - "I'm SO happy I don't have to pump at work anymore!"
Pride - "My kid basically feeds himself these days. He's so smart!"
Eagerness "Now that we won't be nursing all the time, what else can we do together?"

All this happened in about 3 minutes. I came to the conclusion that I was ready to finish up the weaning process. Then, the BIG feeling came.

"I almost quit. I'm glad I didn't."

If you have breasts, and a baby; chances are you've tried nursing at one point in your life. It's freakin' hard. I didn't think any of it came natural, except the urge to do it! It was harder than labor. Yes, I said it. I had a un-medicated natural birth and even I would have gone through the pain of labor AGAIN if I could have avoided the non-stop pain and headache I endured  the first 2 months of breastfeeding.
Milk Drunk

I remember latching him on in the birth center. 'I'm supposed to connect this thing to my nipple?' No amount of reading prepares you and believe me, I read a lot. Nothing prepared me for picking up that warm body and assembling him to nurse.

Why was I so committed? 

Four of reasons. One, I'm stubborn! I don't give up. I knew I had the body and means to breastfeed successfully, and by golly, I was going to. 

Two, breast is best. (yes! I sad THAT too!) For the same reasons I chose a midwife, I chose breast milk over formula. Better outcomes overall, and I'm just kinda natural like that. 

Three, I did it for the woman who can't. There are some woman who just lack the ability to breastfeed. Call it hormone imbalance or genetics or the environment. But whatever the reason, I know they wished and hoped they could. I had the means, so I couldn't give up.

Four, I wanted the magic. Breastfeeding was supposed to be a magical bond between baby and mom. I wanted my damn magic!! (it came later, keep reading)

I wanted to quit! I wanted to so bad, but I didn't (see 'One'). When my nips were cracked and bleeding from an inexperienced latch. Or swollen from a bacterial infection, or on (insert expletive here) FIRE from thrush or mastitis, I kept it up. I remember crying to my husband (literally, tears) "This is supposed to be amazing. One day, I'll get to that point!"

Your nurse will tell you it gets easier after 2-3 weeks. It didn't for me, so don't get discouraged when you find that piece of encouragement incorrect for you as well! My theory is nurses tell us those incorrect words of wisdom to keep us going as long as we can!

I could go on, but this blog is meant to inspire you to KEEP GOING when you want to quit quit quit, so I'd like to get to the really good part! The part that makes it all freakin' worth it....

When you get past the bad stuff (which was right around 3 months for me), one day, you will sit down and feed your baby, and that will be it. The latch will be correct. The pain will be gone. All that is left is the bliss of a happy baby nursing away and you staring down at him/her, or playing on your phone, or reading a book, or sleeping (which is what I learned to do). Let's all take a deep sigh of relief because that feeling, that moment - it's wicked awesome.

You can be out in about in public, and in an instant, find a nice place to park it, whip out the milkers, and feed that precious baby. Use a cover - or don't. I did at first and then I quit. I've NEVER had a negative comment from a single on-looker though I was quite prepared to deal with someone if I need too.

You can end a long day at work (if you're working) with a nice quiet bonding session. Your baby will love to nurse first thing when you pick them up from daycare. All those lovely mommy hormones will kick in, and you'll feel aahh-mazing.

You can pump out the ounces at work and send them off to daycare with pride. Your baby is getting the best of you, even when he's away.

To sum it up, breastfeeding eventually became a non-event. I even learned to do it in my baby carrier. I was able to relish in the joys of a breastfeeding mother.

Continuing to nurse was the best decision I could have made at the time. It provided an amazing maternal experience and it gave my baby a ridiculously good start to his life! It also helped shed the baby weight (40+ pounds). If that's not a reason, I dunno what is!

So, with all that being quite passionately said, I urge you to keep it up. It will get better. It will be worth it and one day you can share your journey with other moms who are attempting to give their baby exactly what it needs.

Our society isn't exactly an easy one to make this commitment in. Lots of woman need (or want) to return to work. Our bodies are meant to breastfeed around the clock. The pressure of dieting and body image helps very little...we need those good calories to make milk! The ridiculous misconception that breastfeeding is sexual and should be done in private is enough to drive any new mom mad. Who wants to only feed their baby in private?

 It's not always easy, but you CAN do it! Here are some useful resources that helped me get through my journey.

Latch On (Video)
How to Breastfeed - Deep Latch Technique (Video)
Top 10 Breastfeeding Duties for Dads
Search "Breastfeeding" on Pinterest and you'll find more information than you'll know what to do with.

You can do it!

If breastfeeding came completely natural and pain-free to you, congrats! I wish it was like that for all woman. Please give your support to those who need it!

(I do know that some women choose not to breastfeed, and others simply can't. I respect you both. This blog was written to encourage those who truly want to succeed and have full physical capabilities to do so, but are otherwise lacking support from those around them, or haven't had the chance to speak to anyone who has overcome these issue.)


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Your Alley Family Update. It's a New Year!

Out with the old. In with the NEW YEAR! Welcome 2015. 

2014 was an amazing year. Let's review, shall we?
  • January: Spent most the month waddling. 
  • February: Jackson was born! Learned to parent. 
  • March: Continued parenting. 
  • April: I returned to work. 
  • May: Seth finished didactic classwork at UMKC, School of Pharmacy
  • June: Celebrated our Four year Wedding Anniversary 
  • July: Hot! Started training for a 5K, learned how to jog. 
  • August: Jackson turned 6 months! / Discovered consignment sales
  • September: Ran my first 5K!
  • October: My 26th Birthday / Ran two more 5Ks
  • November: Jackson's first Thanksgiving. Ran three 5Ks
  • December: Jackson's first Christmas. Ran a 5K. 
It was an action packed year for sure, and the turning point of many more to come. The past few months have been a whirlwind of baby milestones, holidays, and general health & life. 

Jackson is now 1 week shy of 11 months! He turbo crawls everywhere. Pulls himself up on all the furniture. Says Da-Da when I try to get him to say Ma-Ma (stinker...). Scuttles around the apartment hiding blocks and throwing things and is in all fairness the most adorable creature I've ever laid eyes on. Jackson continues to captivate our hearts, minds and souls. Seth and I have spent countless hours staring at him in the typical "new parent" way, watching him learn and interact, and just acknowledging the fact that he is ours! Yea, we still can't believe it. Jackson sleeps through the night and has taken to solid foods with a vengeance! I pretty sure breast milk is "dessert" to him now. We're continuing to nurse until a year, and then slowly taper off from there. 

Seth has been hard at work studying at his various rotation sites around the Kansas City Metro. He graduates in June!! **big celebratory applause** and we are uber excited to finish that chapter of our lives, and move onto the next. I'm so proud of what he has accomplished over the last 5 years. Being a student, husband and now a dad, isn't easy on anyone, but he's come out the other side seemingly better at all three! I don't know how he does it, but I sure am grateful. 

I myself have been busy mothering sweet baby J. His cheesy giggles and toothy grins keep me smiling and glowing with joy! My heart stays melted, and its such a privilege to be his Momma (even if he never actually says "ma-ma"). I cherish every morning, evening and weekend with him. Our favorite past times are lazy mornings on the weekends (nursing in sleepily in bed, making breakfast, playing on the carpet) and spending times outside (visiting parks, taking walks in the Tula carrier, jogging with the stroller).

This year is bound to be as exciting as the next, and I look forward to these highlights.

  • January: 
  • February: Jackson's 1st Birthday! 
  • March: My first 10k on March 1st
  • April:
  • May: Seth's Commencement from UMKC. Soon after, he'll begin studying for his board testing, and then start work as a pharmacist at CVS. 
  • June: 
  • July: Summer lovin'!
  • August: Apartment lease is up, moving to KS (hopefully!) 
  • September: 
  • October: 
  • November: First 1/2 Marathon (13.1 miles) 
  • December: 

I'm a planner, and sometimes I get caught up in "what's next?" Two of my Four New Years resolution is to Live Simpler and Choose Happiness. That being said, I'm adding Enjoy the Now as a subcategory. I want to relish and cherish what's happening now, and not get so involved in what up-and-coming. To sit back, and just breathe it all in...right now.

However, that still doesn't stop me from writing things on my calendar 6 months in advance ;) It is a resolution after all. Until next time! Stay tuned for Part 2 to learn about my remaining two New Year resolutions.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

My Journey to My First 5K

 Well! I did it!

I ran my very first 5K - and it was amazing.

Let me start from the beginning...

I was what you could call and "anti-runner." My family has always gave me a hard time about it. My max speed was a power walk and that's only if the word "hurry" was involved, or if I was late to class. I'd try jogging from time to time - on the evenings I couldn't make it to the gym, or if for some reason I just got an inkling to try it again. I just hated it. I was uncoordinated, sloppy, and just - well, bad at running. I spent my time in group classes where we did dead lifts and k-bands classes. WAY more fun! But also requiring blocks of dedicated time...

Then, I had a baby! If there is one thing a baby can abolish, its blocks of time dedicated to working out!

Parenthood is amazing and wonderful and thrilling (so far) and I love Jackson to pieces, but group training with a baby is not as easy as it sounds (wait..does that even sound easy?). I go to class as often as I can (with baby in tow), but its usually 2-3 times a week max, and that's only if the planets align. I needed something more flexible to fill in the gaps. Binging on Netflix was not exactly melting away the pounds...

Enter, running.

I knew I needed to get my but into gear to lose the baby weight, and the (ahem) excess weight that existed before baby. So I bit the bullet and committed myself to a jogging routine. I found a used jogging stroller on Craigslist (which was harder than it sounds), and downloaded a Couch 2 5K (C25K) app on my phone. I tried to forget all the hateful feelings I had toward running.

Let me just say this now, I COULD NOT have done this without the C25K app. I swear I'm not being paid to say this...its just THAT good.

Slowly, I started making the 8 week trek to a 5K, though it was more like 10 weeks for me (I didn't run 4 times a wins again!). The C25K training plan seems designed for lazy, unmotivated, hateful runners like me. It keeps us from getting too hot, too exhausted, and too pained; until we finally have the stamina to deal with those experiences - until we finally start enjoying it!

The training plan started me out slow, and it kept me from getting sore. I began to realize that I could run and not feel like death the next day.

While I was starting to adjust, Jackson took a little longer. Occasionally, he would just start rapidly losing it midway through our run. Then I found myself caught pushing a stroller a mile home - bent over trying to hold a paci in the mouth of my obviously upset infant - and hoping my neighbors didn't call social services on me in the process. Talk about a buzz kill...

Thankfully, a few weeks in, Jackson figured out this could be pretty fun. My body started getting stronger, and running began to be something to look forward too - something to enjoy! I found a 5K (Diabetes Dash for Life) I wanted to run in. I signed up and marked it on the calender, with the goal being "not to walk".

Once I was signed up, I began to feel excited. By now, I was REALLY looking forward to my evening runs. Jackson loved it too! By this point, he either sat there peacefully...or took a nap. I was cool with either one.

Naturally, I downloaded Runstastic to help track my pace and distance. I mapped out a 5K course in my neighborhood. I did some "5K for Beginners" research on the internet.

Then, race day was here!

Seth and I took off to Town Center, baby in tow. I picked up my race packet the day before, so we just walked around and enjoyed the experience! So much positive energy! It was addicting. I walked and stretched and did a light jog around some buildings. I checked the shoes of some of the other runners - whew! - just checking to make sure that time chip is actually supposed to go there..

Then, I lined up with the pack, and we took off! This was my first time actually jogging the full 3.1 miles. I had only done 2.95 at home. I kept a steady pace the entire time. Never walking, never feeling like death. I took pride in the fact that I had beaten my former self. I had improved so much that I was doing the one thing I never had been able to do in the past. I was RUNNING! Me! Running.

I finished my 5K in 31:40, and came in 17th out of 45 in my division. I was stoked!

I have several 5K's lined up in my future. My hubby treated me to an early birthday present...running shoes! We went to Gary Gribbles Running Sports and got professionally fitted for an extraordinary shoe.

I am seriously pumped at what I could accomplish. There is nothing better than succeeding at what you once failed at.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Water Baby of Our Very Own

Hello, Summer! Where have you been all year? Hiding around the corner? Simmering in the months of July & August? I had my baby in a freezing February, and now the cool spring days and rains have zipped by leaving me with an adorable 5 month old and a lazy summer heat. I’m in complete bliss!

This week we hit the pool. I don’t know why we didn't attempt this sooner. Perhaps my mind was still stuck somewhere in winter mode, or maybe I was just distracted by how small my human was to even fathom the idea of swimming. Thanks to some close friends, my mind was opened this last weekend...and we’re HOOKED, to say the least. My Florida girl roots are reaching towards the surface. I've obviously been away from the beach (and the pools) too long. Now, wading in the warm pool water feels as natural as walking. Once a water baby, always a water baby...and my son seems to be following the same road.
The weekend before last, we splashed from the sidelines in the pool at a friends apartment complex. While we were missing our swimsuits, we enjoyed the water with my pants rolled up, and him stripped down to a borrowed swim diaper. This past weekend, we went swimming for realz at an OP community pool. Then, on Sunday, we wandered down to our own small apartment pool and splashed and kicked and bobbed the afternoon away. What a life!

Who knew babies would be so much fun in the water? Granted, my baby seems to actually enjoy the water, so that's nice. We toll around the pool giggling and blowing bubbles and singing. I look around at the other quiet pool goers; basking in the sun, or reading something on their e-book. Why aren't they smiling and laughing? Don’t they see how cute my baby is?! I’m slightly offended that no one else is as captivated as I am by my little swimmer.

As we float around, I’m mesmerized by his trust. He could easily give into fear as he feels the strange buoyancy and new sensation of water all around him. But he doesn't. He looks into my eyes and dons a little grin and then a giggle. He starts to kick his little legs, and smacks the surface with his tiny fists.

As I said. I’m in complete bliss with my son. He’s captivated my heart, and I love him dearly. I’m daydreaming about my next pool visit as I type this (which is tonight, if you must ask).

Once we’re all toweled off, and nestled into our dry clothes, I think about what is to come. I’m reminded of all the great experiences we’ll share - all the new wonderful little things my son will learn with and from me.

But, I try not to get too far ahead. I try to just bask in how fun the day was at the pool, just being together.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

4 Months Past and We're Just About in a Routine!

5 cent a smile..saving for college. 
Our baby is nearly four months old. FOUR MONTHS! In some ways it feels like its flown by, and in other ways to hard to remember life the way it was before. He is such a joy! He's just so amazing and captivating and just utterly enticing all in the same moment. I really don't know how its possible.

I am surprised by how much "fun" he is to take places. I feel like we are playing house whenever the three of us (four, including Bandit) load up in the car and take off to some generic place like Burlington or SportClips (which we did this weekend). Does this feeling ever go away? I certainly hope not. I am so proud of our little family. I'm proud of how we somehow deserved this little person. I'm proud of how we have managed to keep him alive and happy for four months.

And I'm REALLY proud that we somehow keep it together through the rare to often crying fits that can pop up for no reason at all. "Oh, you hate your car seat today? That's unfortunate, since the day is just starting... "

Packing up to head out. 
I'm also thankful....extremely thankful. He is truly a gift from God, and now I understand why people call babies miracles.

The three month mark started another chapter in our lives. I'm now officially working full time again in the office, and Jackson is in a full time in-home daycare facility. It was a little heart-wrenching at first. I had hoped to work part time from home for around a year before returning back to the office 5 full days. So this came on us a little early, but I think we adjusted well. I am very grateful for the time at home I had with him home during the day, I'm also very happy to be back at work.

If I'm lucky, Jackson falls
asleep during the warm up run.
I'm a huge advocate and supporter of moms who want to return to work. I'm also on the side of moms who want to stay at home full time. You do whats right for your family, and I've seen both work out wonderfully when the mom makes the choice that is best for them.

Full-Time daycare has opened up several other opportunities as well. I loved having him at my sister-in-law, but I was pretty limited on what I could do on those days. Most of my activities (gym, horse, etc) were located in Olathe/KS and I live in South KC, so driving 30 min (w/traffic) home and then back out to whatever I want to go was just not working out. Having daycare in Olathe just a couple miles from work saves me lots of drive time, and opens up time for me to head out to see the horse in Paola, or to work out afterwards. My schedule is definitely a little more normalized.

Some days drag by and I miss my little guy. Other days go by quick and before I know it, we're hanging out. Some days get super busy and I feel like we didn't get any time at all to just "be", and other days I've planned to do NOTHING except just sit on the couch, floor or bed and bond. What a treat those times are! Achieving balance is never an easy task, but we seem to manage to do ok.

We're happy, and my baby is surely we're doing it right. :)


Enjoying a quite Sunday morning on the deck. 

We love to jog!! ...most days. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

A Two Month Review: What I've Learned So Far

"I'm 2 months!"
We've been parents for 8 weeks now! Its been a great 8 weeks. First off, I LOVE being Jackson's mom. To break it down, its been a combined 5 weeks of awesomeness, 2 weeks of total confusion, and about 1 week of 'WHY did I want a baby???' All in all its been a pretty fantastic time. Then again, I think I have a pretty easy baby.

Besides the obvious some-things-just-don't-matter-as-much-as-they-used-too feeling you get now that you have a tiny homo sapien glued to you 18 hours a day, there are quite a few random things that have changed that surprised me, or; I was not expecting to experience.

  • Spit up is no longer "gaaa-roooose"...or, lets just say body fluids in general. 

Seriously contemplating if he's still hungry or not. 
I've been peed on, poo'ed on and spit up on enough now that I barely give it a brief  'aww, darn' before wiping it off and continuing what I was doing. Sometimes its even cute...say what?? If I don't have time to mess around (Like if I finally got into work clothes in the morning), I'll throw a whole receiving blanket on the shoulder and call it good. Coming from someone who was scared of babies and their hazardous waste products - this is a big deal.

  • Baby socks are no easier to match than adult socks. 
Not only are there 297 different designs floating around, they are also 1/10th the size of a normal sock. So if you were lucky enough to not to lose one before removing it from tiny humans probably won't be lucky enough to see it return from the dryer before it gets sucked up into an air vent or something. 

Since we're talking about laundry...

  • I used to be completely fastidious about folding shirts, pants, etc exactly how I liked it. 
Turned right side out, sleeves neatly tucked away, stacked perfectly. That life has ended. Good bye. Gone. If its clean, its gets folded in half and lucky enough to be stuffed into a drawer in my closet. Hey, gotta safe time somehow.  
Nap time at Aunt Elizabeth's.

  • Pump-and-Dump is harder than I thought. 
Yup, I'm talking about boobs and breast milk here. Sure I'd love to enjoy 2-50 glasses of wine on occasion, but when that means waiting 2 hours, and then pumping a beautiful 4-6 ounces of liquid gold and then THROWING IT DOWN THE FREAKING DRAIN, it is not such an appeasing idea anymore. Just get me a milk shake please. Not expecting that - I love wine.

  • Watching your baby is often times more entertaining than TV. 
Who needs cable anymore? The unique and often adorable faces that your baby makes seem to keep us plenty entertained for now. I've had to re-watch about 10 episodes of Fringe because I ended up spending most of the time staring at baby, or cooing at their babies like moms do. I still do watch quite a bit of Netflix...its just that baby wins more than I thought. 

  • Standard humor is not the same anymore. 
...because nothing is funnier than when your little boy lets a giganteus motor boat fart that your pretty sure the neighbors next door heard with you. What can I say...farts are funny now! 

Jackson prefers to be "worn." This is how we roll at the parks. 
  • Baby wearing is amazing. 
I used to see those parents pushing their babies around in the expensive and adorable little strollers. Everyone say awwww. I thought I'd be joining the stroller herd, but let me tell you this; baby wearing is MUCH better. First off, your baby is happier. Pending hunger crys, little baby has never cried in the wrap for no apparent reason. Secondly, your not pushing a big stroller around the grocery store, and you have two hands to do normal things. Thirdly, it keeps your baby close and snugly and we just love that. I know all babies don't agree with wrapping, but our baby does. I've used a stroller once in the past 8 weeks. We just love wrapping baby Jackson up and taking off! 

  • Falling asleep is easier, now. 
I've never been a very good sleeper, but I guess that changes once you have a limited amount of sleep to your name. I never understood how Seth could pass out after just 2-3 minutes. It takes me about 20 minutes of gentle reflection to pass into the sleep realm, and even after that, I'd wake up once or twice at night just "for." But, when your newborn just closed his eyes, and you've only got about 4 1/2 hours until your alarm goes off - I'm pretty sure I meet the 2-3 minutes mark now, myself. 

Jackson and Daddy snuggling on the couch.
  • Getting up at 5am is easier, now. 
Let me rephrase that. Getting up at 5am is easier...when you have a crying baby that gives you no other choice. 'Ok! I'll get up, just please stop screaming! Here, have a boob!'. I can't complain too much, though. Jackson goes to bed around 10pm and usually sleeps 6-7 hours. Yay! I used to 'practice' waking up in the morning. Dragging my but out of bed by 6am was depressing and discouraging. Now, 6am feels like sleeping in. I guess that's normal. 

  • The challenge of breastfeeding is (nearly) equal to the challenge of labor. 
You do all these things to prepare yourself for labor. Labor labor labor. Prepare prepare prepare. Especially when you do a natural birth. In my opinion labor was almost easy when comparing it to the non-stop challenges of breastfeeding and nursing. Why does no one tell you how completely hard and un-natural breastfeeding can be? No wonder so many moms choose other methods, like formula, or exclusive pumping. The nurses say "After the first two weeks, its easy." I say "The first two weeks are excruciatingly PAINFUL. The next two weeks hurt, but at least your not crying. And by the fourth and fifth weeks, you MIGHT feel like you know what you are doing." Finally, at 8 weeks. I will admit that breastfeeding is FINALLY easy. I swear I almost died a couple times, but alas, I did not give up. 
"I'm precious, and I know it." 
  • The baby only loves me for my boobs. 
He's a boy, what can I say. But no, seriously. Jackson used to cry a lot when I held him because all he wanted to do when I held him was nurse. He'd be happy and sleepy in Seth's arms. Then, when he was handed to me, he'd immediately start rooting and whining to be fed. I was a little saddened by it at first, but I guess God makes them like that so they eat and gain weight. He finally quit doing this around 5-6 weeks, and now he's happy to lounge in mom's arms between feeding without demanding to be fed. 

"It's too HOT for clothes."
So yes, besides all the obvious shockers of becoming a parent, this pretty much concludes all the major items in the past 2 months I was not really expecting. Its been a thrilling, and exhausting two months. But totally worth it, and totally fun. Its not all glitter and sparkles 100% of the time, but it is most of the time, and that rules out the less enjoyable moments. 

We love you, Jackson! 

Dana & Seth 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

A Natural Birth Story

Just a few minutes old! 
Jackson has been here for 4 weeks now! 1 whole month of us parents staring in amazement, awe and wonder. He's the perfect addition to our family. He's so cool and chill and obviously our child. I don't know what we did to deserve this little miracle, but I'll take it!
I had an incredible natural birth experience. Jackson was born February 27th, at 7:13pm. We were 10 days overdue! He weighed 9 pounds and 8 ounces, and was 22 inches long.
Around 1 1/2 weeks before delivering, I developed sciatic nerve pain which only worsened as the day approached. This was probably the only real uncomfortable side effect from my pregnancy. I worked from home the last week and was pretty inactive.
I was starting to get REALLY worried that I would go too far past due, and no longer "qualify" to deliver at the birth center. Luckily, I had great midwives, pineapple, the "miles circuit", acupressure, 6oz of castor oil, etc, etc, etc, that put me into labor before my time was up. My water broke at 1pm on 2/27. I was actually on the toilet when it happened, and my initial thought was " bladder is officially shot." it took a moment to realize I wasn't peeing :p. TMI, yet?
Once I decided that my water may have broken, I called Seth (who was on the way to class, of course) and told him "I THINK my water broke... Though I'm not really sure." I told him to go to class anyways, because I had always read that it can ‘take hours to days’ before you go into labor from your water breaking. I called the midwife next (Melissa happened to be on call!) and she had me come up to the birth center for a check. Then I called Wendy! (my Mother-In-Law). While packing, I experienced that HUGE gush you only hear about in the movies, which confirmed it. I called Seth and Melissa back and said "it's DEFINITELY broke".
Seth met me at New Birth (along with his mom, Wendy) where Melissa checked me and declared I was 4 cm dilated. She also confirmed I was having legit contractions. Woho! I was administered antibiotics for my Group B strep, and the plan was for me to go home and labor there until my next dose of antibiotics 4 hours later. Yah! This is exactly why I chose New Birth.
We went home to our cozy apartment (only about 12 minutes from New Birth). I packed up the rest of my things super quick, while Seth cleaned up everything spick and span spotless for the soon-to-be arrival of our baby boy. Stronger contractions came on fast! I proceeded to labor on the floor of our apartment like a complete wimp. I had grand plans of walking and moving around while laboring, but with my nerve pain, that was the last thing on my mind. I laid happily on my left side, putting some pressure on my belly (recommended by Melissa to help get Jackson into better positioning) and timed my contractions with my "contraction timer" app on my phone. Yes, they make an app for that ;)
The contractions hurt A LOT. Not gonna lie! But it was a good hurt. Each one felt productive, like it had a purpose. Each one was bringing my son a little close to us. Around 4:30pm, contractions were lasting about 2 minutes long, and we're about 3 minutes apart. Fun! I'm still lying on the apartment floor like a beached whale. I probably sounded like one too! Or a dying cow... That probably would give you a good audible picture. I was excited, and I knew I could do this. It was just a matter of time before Jackson was with us for real.
About to get weighed and measured!
We called Melissa around 5pm, and told her my progress. She must have had great faith in me, or maybe I just should have sounded worse on the phone, but she told me to wait until 6:30pm before coming back. ‘WHAT?’?! was the reaction going on in my mind... but I resumed the beached whale position back on the floor.
Seth was absolutely marvelous this whole time. Always right next to me, rubbing my back and sides through contractions (which helped immensely!) but not bothering me or asking too many questions. He knew I was prepared for this, and that I was confident my body knew what to do (it did!)
6pm came around. Somehow, everything was packed and ready in the car. (go Seth!!) I miraculously managed to lug my contracting, nerve pained, doubled over self out to the car. I attempted to eat an apple on the way there. I knew eating would be important to keep up my energy. Sitting through contractions in the car was the worst. By now, they were full blown. I felt the beginning of "transition" and I was fighting not to "push". Of course, there was an accident on the highway and lots of traffic. I tried to focus on my apple. We made it there eventually with Seth's mad driving skills.
Walking into New Birth was exhilarating. I had imagined the day I would finally walk up to that building for the "real deal". That day was finally here! I'm pretty sure Melissa and the nurses knew my answer when they asked "You look great! Would you like to stay here?"
‘Holy Lord, thank you Jesus YES YES YES’.
I actually just say "Yea" but I was a lot more elaborate in my head. I went to the room, where I assumed the standard whale position on the queen sized bed. Ahhhh, love this place... I chose the "Contemporary" room. It had all my favorite colors, and it was the same room my sister-in-law had her baby (Jackson's cousin!).
Dressed to impress! And go home. Such a rockstar!
Melissa told me they wouldn't check me for a while unless I felt like I needed to push. The pushing sensation had sorta died since I was fighting it off in the car. I laid in the bed for a few minutes until I had to pee. I forgot there was something worse than contractions in the car... contractions on the freaking toilet. Oh my lord… Yup, that pushing sensation was back. I resumed whale position back on the bed, where they administered my second dose of antibiotics.
Melissa and the intern (whose name I have forgotten) checked my cervix. Almost a 10?! What? 2 more contractions later, I was a legit 10 cm dilated. It's about 7pm now.
Somehow, Mom, Dad, Dedi, Wendy, and Seth are all in the room now... Along with Melissa and a whole team of nurses. It's time to push (after dad leaves, of course). I was still on my left side. This position felt the most comfortable all day. Why change things now? Wendy held my leg up for me, while Dedi coached me on pushing. "Chin to chest!" Was the most helpful advice. My body knew what to do. I knew which contractions were "good" ones to push with. It was VERY painful, but still an effective pain. Yes, I was a bit of a screamer towards the end. Dedi coached me to hold the scream (and my breath) and turn it into pushing. This helped! I do not know what I would have done without my team.
Quick nap to pass the car ride...
In about 3-4 good pushes, I was able to reach down and feel his squashy little head. In about 2 more, he was OUT and they handed me this wide eyed beautiful slimy boy who I instantly knew was OURS! He rested skin to skin on my tummy and let out an annoyed little cry when nurse Aubrey started toweling him off. He was perfect, and he was here.
We did the delayed cord cutting, so he could get all his blood back before clamping. Seth cut the cord, and they laid him on my chest skin to skin. It was a wonderful, glorious moment. Most of the staff cleared out, and things got quieter. Holding Jackson was the most surreal thing I've ever experienced. So much love for this tiny creature with the cone shaped head and squinty eyes. Yet he's so perfect and so OURS that you can barely contain the emotion. It's still like that now.
Seth held him while Melissa helped me deliver the afterbirth. The placenta was pretty fascinating...
I got to drink my New Birth fruit smoothy and relax for a few minutes with our son. Then we started breastfeeding! Its harder than it looks, by the way. Cats, dogs and horses make it look easy... Later I was served breakfast in bed. Yum! The nurses baked a delicious chocolate cake and sang us Happy Birthday. Then I relaxed in a hot herbal bath to promote healing.
We were able to stay the night at New Birth. Aubrey was our nurse, and she was perfect! Well trained and very confident in her work. We were in excellent hands. She checked on Jackson and I every hour or so while we rested, and also helped us breastfeed.
We were discharged around 7am on 2/28. We had two home visits 24 and 48 hours later. Normally you'd have one, but with the Group B Strep, a second visit is made. Both nurses checked us out, and offered more support with breastfeeding.
The next morning, recovering and relaxing at home! 
My birth experience was amazing, and it was everything I wanted. My midwife Melissa was fabulous. The whole New Birth team was fabulous. My family and friends were fabulous too.

Jackson is the best baby a mom could ask for. We love love love him to pieces! He the next step in mine and Seth's life, and we could not be more pleased that he is ours. We love you Jackson!
P.S: I went to the chiropractor 1 week after delivery. She was completely able to eradicate my sciatic nerve pain! Woho!