March 4, 2015

Welcome, Rowan Sage Paul Douglas!

Rowan Sage Paul Douglas was born via scheduled repeat cesarean February 20th, 2015.
He weighed 8 pounds, 12 ounces and was 21 inches long.

He looks so much like Lennon (our eldest) did when he was the same age!

Life has been so different but so much the same since he's been here... It's been so, so good.
I'll write more on our new life soon, I just wanted to post an update on his birth! It was amazing, by the way.

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February 18, 2015

Mama Gets Real; Menstruation. Period.

I am excited to get my period back.

Most women are quiet about their menstrual cycle... ashamed even.
Why? Periods are so amazing.
Our bodies produce an egg; assuming we'll have someone fertilize it, and then when it doesn't get fertilized, our body says.. "okay, we'll try again next month!"

"But... blood is gross!"

Why? Everyone has blood. Always. And vaginal blood is no less clean than any other blood.

Why are we taught that having periods is gross? Why are we taught that talking about our menstrual cycle is a no-no?

I've never had easy periods.
From the very beginning of my menstrual journey, I remember having very, very bad periods. Vomiting, lots of cramping, lots of blood, headaches... It was hell. For years. I was used to it, but it would throw me for a loop every time it came around. I even missed school often because of it. The worst part for me was that my periods have always lasted about a week / a week and a half. Always. I don't mind so much now, but back in the day I hated it.

I remember sitting with my mom, talking about periods. She would tell me that she (and basically every girl she knew) used cloth pads with safety pins. (For those of us that never tried that, can you imagine sitting on a pin all day, knowing it might stab your precious bits?!) That they would have to go to school despite stains on their clothes because that's all they knew. The way she described it sounded absolutely humiliating and, despite my having access to disposable pads and tampons, I was always really freaked out about my periods.

I used to wear tampons because I didn't want anyone to know I was on my period. Wearing a disposable pad felt like wearing a diaper. And, despite the fact that it's not like anyone could possibly tell that I was wearing a pad, I felt like they could... But eventually, I stopped wearing tampons because I would forget how long I had them in. I've always had very heavy flows and, regardless of how heavy my flow was, my tampons were never saturated. They never worked for me. They were painful and I hated, hated, HATED using them.

Matthew and I have always had a healthy sexual relationship. He's always been so respectful of my body and feelings. This changed everything for me; I realized that I had literally no one to impress with being in pain and using a tampon so I quit using them. (And never have since; that was ten years ago!)

Fast forward to after I gave birth to our eldest, Lennon; I had off-and-on periods for a good long while. I treated my body like shit and my menstrual cycle was completely confused. In 2013, I started taking care of my body; I started loving it, I started listening to it, I started taking care of it. And I got my periods back, consistently. And they had never been better. I was still in pain; still having a lot of cramping, still lots of blood... But the headaches and vomiting were gone. Finally taking care of myself was what I needed for my periods to become regular.

Around the same time I bought some reusable pads and a menstrual cup. The menstrual cup was a good idea but with my fingernails I felt like I was stabbing my vagina every time I would go to take it out; and with my heavy flow I had to empty it too frequently to warrant using it often. So I quit. But the pads... I love them. I would use them and hand-wash them. I don't have enough for how heavy my flow is, but that's something I plan on remedying soon.

With Lennon, we hadn't been trying to get pregnant, but we sure weren't trying not to, either. We had thoroughly discussed the chance of pregnancy for a good long while. So after quite some time of not getting pregnant, we actually assumed maybe we couldn't. We figured if it were meant to be, it would be.

Well, we did make some changes. Not necessarily to get pregnant, but to better our health and to possibly increase our chances of pregnancy in the future. Matthew started wearing boxers, he stopped taking such terribly hot showers, I quit sitting my laptop directly on my lap... And in addition to those things, we both quit eating meat. It ended up still being a while, but we did get pregnant. On one hand it was a huge surprise, on the other it wasn't. Obviously we knew that sex could lead to a baby.

Fast forward again to 2014. Matthew and I discussed having another baby.
After how unhealthy I had been for a few years (for a good, long time actually,) we didn't know if we could get pregnant again. Despite me having lost about 100 pounds, getting consistent, pretty normal (albeit heavy) periods back, having a much healthier body image outlook... And despite us both being significantly healthier (bowel issues, year-round allergy and sinus issues, so on and so on... gone) we just didn't know if it was practical. Could my body handle it? Would I have the issues that I had while pregnant with Lennon? After much discussion, we (ultimately I, as it's my body,) decided to try for another child.

We saw how amazing Lennon was with his younger cousins. We saw how well he took care of our cats. We see every day how sweet he is to us, how much he enjoys helping take care us if we need it... And we knew that he would make the most amazing big brother ever.

We went home one evening and made the decision to begin trying to get pregnant immediately. We initially had planned on waiting a few months and realized that by the time we were planning on trying to get pregnant that our new baby could actually be here. We decided that there is never a perfect time for anything and that if it were meant to be that everything would work out.

Within the week, I knew that I was pregnant. It was the same with Lennon, though we weren't trying to get pregnant then. With both pregnancies, I actually knew long before it would be possible to get a positive on a pregnancy test. I ended up testing earlier than recommended with both, as well, and got positives very early on. (A week before my period was even due.) We couldn't believe how quickly we got pregnant. We thanked the gods and just tried to continue taking care of ourselves as we had been.

Fast forward to now... My cesarean is scheduled for this Friday. Two days from now. Our second baby will be born. All because we trusted our bodies, we both trusted in eachothers' bodies...

After a child is born, the woman will bleed for some time; relatively sporadic. And I'm awaiting that. I'm not afraid. I wish I could have a very large stash of heavy-flow or post-partum cloth pads but I don't; and that's fine. I'll slowly get them as I can. I'm not sure how my periods will be, as I'm planning on breastfeeding. (I never have before.) But I am excited to end up getting them back. My periods empower me. The awe I am in of our bodies, as women is just... surreal. We hold, within us, most of what is needed for life. We create life. LIFE. Within ourselves!

I urge each woman to become familiar with her periods, with her blood, with her body. There is likely not much more beautiful than a woman that realizes how much of a goddess she is.

If you need encouragement or just want to talk about all things menstruation, vaginas, feminism and empowerment... I'm here.

Let me also just note that I realize not every woman has periods. Not every woman can get pregnant. There are so many possibilities out there. I encourage each and every woman, though, to become empowered by their bodies and realize how wonderful they are for what they *can* do; not for what they can't. Don't care to get pregnant? That's cool, too.

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February 17, 2015

Pregnancy and Birth; A Poem and My Thoughts

My back aches,
My belly swells,
I grow.

I nourish,
I encourage,
You grow.

We thrive,
We are one,
We know.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

I was inspired this morning to write a short poem about pregnancy and birth.
I have felt so empowered by this pregnancy...
Only in the past week or two has it been difficult; and that is such a blessing to me.
Only just now am I feeling tired, swollen, achey...

When I was pregnant with Lennon five years ago, I was so unhealthy. My entire pregnancy was difficult. So much pain, so much aching, so much difficulty, so much sickness...

I didn't know until mid-pregnancy this time around that I had pre-eclampsia with Lennon (our eldest). It was something that we had discussed before becoming pregnant; we didn't know if we wanted to get pregnant again because of the issues I had with my first pregnancy, but I'm glad I didn't know that I actually had pre-eclampsia beforehand. Thank the gods, I haven't gotten pre-eclampsia with Rowan. Because I previously had pre-eclampsia, though, we have been thoroughly monitored; more so than this crunchy mama was into at first. But whatever needs to be done to ensure that Rowan and I are fine is alright by me. And the frequent visits have actually quelled my anxiety to a point. Instead of overwhelming anxiety every visit, it's been just a small amount and, thankfully, infrequently.

It's so very strange to me to know that I'll only be pregnant for three more days. I feel like we just started trying to get pregnant... But on the other hand, I feel strangely like I've been pregnant for a year and a half. My cesarean is scheduled almost exactly three days from now. After how difficult my pregnancy was with Lennon I didn't know if I'd ever want to be pregnant again. But I knew that I had overcome all of the issues with him and we both ended up being more than fine. I know that I am strong and I know that our babies are strong. So I knew that if I could do it when I was less healthy that I'd be able to do it again in a healthier, happier body for sure. I knew that I could handle being pregnant again with the outcome being another baby.

In just three days I will be the mommy of two boys.
Matthew will be the daddy of two boys.
Lennon will be a big brother.
Rowan will be Lennon's little brother.
Our boys... Our boys.

All of the anxiety, all of the "what about..." questions I had...
None of that matters. Everything works out.
All I care about is making sure we are all safe, happy and healthy.

Lennon is so excited to be a big brother.
I think he's just as excited to help Matthew take care of Rowan and I, though, as he is for Rowan to actually arrive. He is a fantastic helper and such a beautiful soul. I am so proud to call him mine.

Today and tomorrow are all Matthew has left to work before Rowan arrives.
He is taking Thursday off as we still have much left to do; a long doctor's appointment early Thursday morning, we need to get some food for Pooh and us (Lennon needs to take Vegan food to my parents' house for the few days we'll be in the hospital and we don't expect the hospital to have much if any Vegan food.) We need to finish getting the house all ready; one last sweep of the floors, make sure the dishes are finished, make sure everything is picked up, nice and cozy, the cats and our fish are taken care of...
Thursday night we'll be dropping Lennon off at my parents' house and then Friday morning we go in early and will be having Rowan!

We aren't having visitors on the first day, though... We figured it would be easier on us if we got some alone time with him. Not to mention, I'll need to heal some after my surgery and I also want to breastfeed... Preferably without an audience.

I am so in love.
So full of love.
So empowered, so... excited.

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