Mind & Body by Samantha Nichole

Mind & Body by Samantha Nichole

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

My Reading List: Part 2

A while ago I published a reading list, and it has gained popularity. In fact, it remains to be one of my top posts! Today's entry is an update to my reading list in honor of Dr. Seuss's birthday and National Read Across America Day.

My husband and I spend the majority of our free time reading. This isn't too different from the past, but I like to think our interests have matured beyond whatever it was we used to read. My goal in celebrating the new year was to read more fiction novels. Aside from this blog and my personal journal, I actually spend a great deal of time writing fiction--usually for preteen girls. All characters in books are inspired by people; my nonfiction reading isn't in vain, but I think reading fiction will improve my creative writing skills.

The first book I read this year was "The Art of Racing in The Rain" which happens to be the only fiction novel I have read thus far. (Oh well. I like what I like!) I'm sure I'll find some other great fiction novels soon. If you have any suggestions for me, please write them in the comments below this post.

Book #1: "Pen on Fire" by Barbara DeMarco-Barrett
Book #2: "The Jewishness of Jesus" by Rabbi Evan Moffic
Book #3: "Survivor Moms" by Mickey Sperlich (MA, CPM)
Book #4: "Clean Food Diet" by Jonathan Vine

I am just starting books 1 and 2. I've nearly completed books 3 and 4.

Pen on Fire
This is a book that's great for my lifestyle because it's about how to write as a busy woman. What I like about it is that I'll read a page or two and suddenly be inspired to write, so while I'm not making much progress it's obviously doing its job of motivating a woman to write who has very little time to spare. 

The Jewishness of Jesus
Written by a Rabbi, this book tells Christians everything they need to know about the Jewishness of their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It's a great book for anyone, but especially Christians wanting to get to know more about Jesus by learning more about Judaism and how it shaped the Son of God. 

The writer, Rabbi Evan Moffic, will be speaking about this book at Plymouth UCC in Milwaukee, WI in just a couple months. I hope to attend.

Survivor Moms
As a birth worker, I find this book to be an irreplaceable addition to my collection of doula, breastfeeding, and parenting books. It's an emotionally difficult book for me to read, so I have to put it down often. Female survivors of sexual abuse share their own stories of how trauma has resurfaced emotionally and affected them while giving birth or parenting.

Clean Food Diet
I'm not too impressed by this book so far. The writer doesn't cite sources often, so the researcher in me finds that detail difficult to read past. My family and I are taking steps to eat consciously and healthy, but I might take something useful from this book once I'm done.

What My Husband Is Reading

My husband is currently reading the Foundation Series by Isaac Asimov. If you're a sci-fi fan, check out his work. Click HERE to be directed to Asimov's Goodreads page. 

Photo courtesy of Goodreads.com

We have both been listening to podcasts and audio books, but my husband listens more than me. I spend more time with access to my Kindle and paperbacks, but he spends more time commuting for work. His favorite podcast is Hello Internet, and mine is This American Life.

What My 2 year-old is Reading

If you look at our living room bookshelf, you'll notice that it's filled with children's books! Our oldest daughter Audrey loves to read, but even with a vast selection of books at her fingertips she always chooses the same book to read for roughly one month straight. This is mostly due to her age, but both her parents are creatures of habit as well, I'll admit.

Audrey's favorite book so far this month is "That's Not My Bunny" by Fiona Watt. When she does choose another book, she picks "Goodnight Moon" by Margaret Wise Brown.

What are You Reading?

What are you reading? What are your favorite podcasts, and why? Please share in the comments below.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Annie's Birth Story!

An Unmedicated Hospital Birth Story


It was February 3rd, 2016, the day before my expected due date. I woke up that morning feeling different. After having 12 hours of consistent practice contractions the week prior, I was hesitant to believe what I was feeling could be early signs of labor, but I was able to believe that giving birth was in my near future. I trusted my gut. That morning I informed my employer that I would be coming in late to work since I didn’t feel well. I took my time getting ready and went into work.

When I was at work, I started getting contractions that were consistently 20 minutes apart but distinctly different from those I was feeling the week before. They started in my hips, wrapped around to my lower abdomen, and sent a soft but shooting sensation down the side of both my legs. There was no doubt in my mind that something positive was happening, but I’m well aware that early labor is a process that can take several days or weeks, depending on the mother. Even so, I trusted my instincts, wrapped up any last-minute business at work, and left for home a little early.

This was my second birth. One of the things I so badly wanted for my first birth was a natural, unmedicated birthing experience for my baby and for me; and although I consider my first birth to have been a good experience, the cards did not fall in place for an unmedicated birth. With all the research I have done to this point, and with what I have witnessed as a birth doula, it was my intention for both births to have as few unnecessary interventions as possible. That can be easier said than done when planning a hospital birth as I had. My plan for this birth was simply to stay home longer--until I felt like it was time to leave for the hospital--and I hoped I could wait until my contractions were 5 minutes apart and lasting for one minute at a time. The truth is that every woman experiences labor differently, so the 5-1-1 rule professionals tell women to go by is a general guideline. I knew in my heart and mind that a hands-off labor and delivery is what’s usually best for a positive birthing experience with a healthy mother and her baby, so that’s what I was seeking--it’s what I felt was best for my baby and for me.

First & Second Stage of Labor:

I left work early that day and immediately went into the shower to slow down my contractions and freshen-up. I had my parents pick up my daughter at about 5:00 in the evening. My husband and I made dinner, ate early, and I went to bed at about 7:00 p.m. I was awoken with contractions at 9:30 p.m. and they stayed consistent at 15 minutes apart from that time until about 3:00 a.m. the next morning (February 4th) when they were roughly 10 minutes apart. Partial sleep was my saving grace during this time; I was able to drift off to sleep after each surge, and each time I ignored the fact that I just had a contraction. I continued that pattern until 5:00 a.m. when I couldn’t ignore them anymore, and I woke up my husband at 5:30 a.m. and gave my doula a heads-up.

I labored for a lot of the time in the bathroom and in our living room. Most of my laboring was actually done alone and by choice, but I knew when I needed support from my birthing team. With my labor partners (being my husband and doula) I listened to classical music on Pandora, and I used my favorite doula tool, doTERRA Deep Blue rub (which works like Icy Hot), on my stomach and lower back. I labored in the restroom for a long time as well, but I was also sure to stay hydrated and eat throughout the morning. (Being properly hydrated and having something light in your stomach are two really important things when you labor! You need to be hydrated and have enough energy to run a marathon.)

I asked for my doula when contractions were about 5 minutes apart, but I felt like I could easily keep laboring at the house. A part of me was fearful that we would arrive at the hospital and the staff would say, “You’re only at 3 or 4 centimeters,” which I knew would make me feel defeated. I wanted to go in once I saw classic signs of transition or simply needed something more for pain relief. Thankfully, my goal was to trust the process of birth. This may sound cliche, but my only fear was fear itself. (Fear or a sense of insecurity can often stall labor.)

We labored at home with our doula for just under two hours when my husband said, “I’m not rushing you, but your contractions are less than 5 minutes apart, so we might want to think about when we’re going into the hospital.” I was thinking the same thing right before he said something, so his instincts validated mine, and I decided I would make a decision about how I felt after a few more contractions.

We went into the living room, and my birth partners helped me through a few more contractions. I started to shake slightly, I suddenly felt nauseous, and I entertained the thought of pushing. My contractions were also coming at about 2 minutes apart. The time was 9:05 a.m. on my due date, February 4th, 2016. I told my birth partners it was time to leave for the hospital, and I got into the car for the bumpiest and most uncomfortable ride of my life. We arrived at 9:15 a.m.

My husband called the OB triage to tell them we were on our way. They informed us we needed to go to the clinic to be checked first, but upon hearing my labor cries in the car the triage nurse immediately changed her mind and had us come to the hospital directly. That was a very good decision, because if she hadn’t, we would’ve had our baby in the clinic’s lobby.   

Transition & Birth:

I was quickly taken to our room, checked, and the birthing process began shortly after. I was 9.5 cm dilated when they checked. Sadly, my midwife was on vacation and her backup midwife wasn’t able to get there in time, but thankfully I had a very kind OB who attended my birth. I was able to have my most important requests on my birth plan granted. I was offered an epidural but declined, and therefore an IV wasn’t necessary.

Annie Eloise was born at 10:00 a.m. on her due date, February 4th, within a few contractions and after roughly 9 minutes of pushing. She weighed 8 lbs 12 oz and was 20 inches long. Although it would have been nice if the hospital had more time to prepare for my arrival, this was a very empowering birthing experience for me because I was able to trust my body. The hospital staff kept their word in allowing me to have immediate skin-to-skin with my daughter, also. She didn’t leave my chest for the first two hours of her life outside the womb, and I had a very minimal amount of interventions--perhaps the bare-minimum in a hospital setting. Oh yes, and the first thing I said when I gave birth to my first daughter, Audrey, was something about her ears looking good for piercing. The first thing I said after the birth of this daughter, Annie, was “Shit.” #sorrynotsorry

I am very thankful to my birth partners and to the hospital staff for helping me have the hands-off experience I was hoping for, which I believed to best for the health of my daughter and me. I’m excited to share my story with other women and continue empowering women as a birth doula--once I’m done cuddling my newborn for several months, of course.

Daddy and sisters bonding.

Helpful Links:

Thursday, January 7, 2016

How We're Preparing Our Toddler for Big Sisterhood!

At 36 weeks pregnant, the arrival of our baby is just around the corner. She (the baby) isn't expected to be here for another four weeks, but considering the normal range for babies to make their arrival is between 37 and 42 weeks, and this pregnancy has been so different from the previous (as all pregnancies and childbirth experiences are different) I'm ready for whatever comes my way, within reason.

My husband and I have been preparing our 2 year-old for what will likely be a difficult transition. We've been talking about the baby with her, and she even helped pick out the baby's name. We were torn between two names and we asked her which one she liked better. She told us, and that's the name we chose! The name is our little secret, and so far--as far as I know--she hasn't told a soul. (What a fun way to choose a baby name, and what an awesome story to share with her in the future.)

You know you're a birth worker when your two year-old daughter insists on watching YouTube videos of home water births. Whenever she wants to watch something, it's between Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood and "Baby in the water! Baby in the water!" as she says. For several months I have been browsing the internet for videos and pictures of birth and taking care of babies, and my daughter has been diligently taking care of the babies she has at home.

This week my daughter and I brought up the bedside co-sleeper for the baby. It needed some cleaning, and the sheets had to be washed, so I had her help me wipe down the crib and set it up. We wheeled it next to the bed, and she practiced putting her babies in there while we talked about what the bed was used for and who was going to go in it!

Most recently, I decided to get some gifts for my toddler to congratulate her on becoming a big sister, and the plan is to give these to her when she comes to meet us after the birth. Since Christmas was so fun this year, we know that she understands gift-giving, and she will understand why she's getting the gifts. We bought her a Daniel Tiger plush--since she loves that show so much that she tried bringing her toy trolley to bed--and a Daniel Tiger older sibling book called "Big Brother Daniel". Did I mention her favorite show is Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood? Yep, in case you couldn't tell.

I'm not sure if our tactics for introducing baby to our toddler will work in the way that we expect, but as adults we often underestimate the power of little ones to comprehend what's going on in our world. I don't want to assume that she won't remember this and doesn't understand that she's becoming a big sister. In fact, I think it would be very traumatic to bring a little baby home without any explanation or preparation, so that's why I think that--even if she does have a hard time with the new sibling transition--our efforts will never be in vain. She understands she's going to be a big sister, and it's just a matter of time before her little sister will be here to change her life.