My journey to squat out a baby

After nearly 42 weeks of being pregnant, the time had finally come to evict baby girl Brice. Of course, she couldn’t just come out easily. This is my labor story.

At 41 weeks pregnant, my midwife scheduled my induction for Monday April 29th, with me going in Sunday night to start Cervidil. But my body had other plans. I went into early labor on Friday night. Contractions were coming every 8 to 10 minutes or so. But once I fell asleep, they were virtually non-existent most of both Friday and Saturday nights (despite walking as much as I could during the day). So Sunday rolls around, and same thing. Contractions every 6 to 8 minutes despite walking all over Oak Park and Forest Park. We pack up and head to the hospital around 7pm. I’m sure to bring my laptop so I don’t miss Game of Thrones.

The receptionist at the hospital mentions the midwife on duty is Jenna, the same midwife who told me not once but twice to watch my weight as I was gaining a little too much according to the amount she wanted me to gain. I take a deep breath and start praying internally so that everything goes well and that I look past Jenna’s shortcomings. As we wait for the nurses, we squeeze in the Game of Thrones episode, you know the one where Arya takes out the Night King. Holy shit! But the nurse checks a few things and tells me that my water has broken. I did notice a little trickle earlier in the day but just thought I was randomly peeing myself. Due to my water being broken, Jenna says we can’t do the Cervidil but can start the induction right away.

Thankfully my cousin Shawna shows up and she helps me by getting my lazy bum to walk laps around the hospital with my IV line of pitocin going. This is fun and dandy as she helps me breathe through the contractions which are definitely getting stronger and more consistent. We take selfies and we talk about how perfect the verse of the day is since it’s now Monday:

Matthew 11:28 King James Version (KJV)

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

But then the battery dies on the wireless monitor, and I’m forced back to the room. This is where things head south. Once back in the room, Jenna comes in with some bad news. Baby’s heart rate keeps dropping during the contractions. The likely culprit is the umbilical cord, which could be wrapped around baby’s neck or leg or something that is causing this to happen. If this trend continues, the likelihood of a C-Section is high. Baby’s health is number one priority. I start crying, balling my eyes out. I can’t afford a C-Section, the recovery time alone will deplete my savings and then some (unpaid maternity leave sucks by the way, but that’s another topic). Jenna suggests we try a procedure to help relieve the pressure on the umbilical cord. There’s no guarantee it’ll work but she will try it twice in case the first time doesn’t work.

Sure enough, the first attempt didn’t work. As I’m laying in bad (due to this procedure), the contractions are getting more intense and painful. Also, Jenna mentions if we do go down the C Section route, I may consider getting the epidural sooner to help with the surgery. Due to this, in the middle of a contraction, I tell Shawna that I want the epidural. Thankfully, she says “We don’t make decisions during contractions.” Also, she determines we should give the procedure a 2nd chance, in hopes that it works. Thankfully it does. With Shawna’s help, I’m able to breathe through the contractions and I don’t fight the pain.

They move me to a delivery room and the first thing I notice is no tub. I had planned on and hoped for a water birth, but it looked like that was no longer an option. It was later determined that I couldn’t even get into the shower due to my IV and the fluid line going into my uterus. 7am comes a different midwife: it’s Mary and she’s my favorite. Around 8am, I asked for some rest. The nurse gave me a dose of Fentanyl to help me doze off for about 45 minutes or so. It was the perfect power nap I needed to make it through to the end. After that, I finally asked for a squat bar since they weren’t bringing one when Shawna asked for it. I had to get out of the bed. Being in bed was making everything worse for me. I felt like I had to be up and doing something to help this baby out. So with Shawna and Remi’s help, I get into a low squat with every contraction.

I’m not going to sugar coat it, those contractions sucked balls. I squat during them for about an hour and a half. At some point I ask for the stool to sit on as well. They put liners on it since I’m basically leaking fluids with each contraction. It was right around this point when the urge to push overtook me during the contractions. That’s how I knew it was go time. Mary makes me get back on the bed, and sure enough there’s a baby head. Up until this point I had been stuck around 6cm or so, but the hour and half of squatting helped get me fully dilated and ready to go. Mary coaches me on where and how to push. I’m pulling my legs up to my chest and giving it all I’ve got. Another hour and a half go by, of pushing this time. And then there’s a baby girl. And she’s perfect. And her name is Aria Lee. 6 lbs 14 oz 20 inches of amazing little baby girl.

IMG_20190507_160935_726

 

And I’d do it all over again in a heart beat. No epidural. It’s been a week and 5 days since she was born and I already feel nearly back to normal. Recovery hasn’t been bad. The first few days I was sore everywhere. Even my arms from holding up and pulling up my legs. But I was thankful to be able to walk right afterwards. And I was blessed to have nothing tear.

Overall, I would give Elmhurst Hospital and my experience a 4 out of 5. I was not impressed with the first midwife who did bring up C-section and epidural multiple times. But I know they are just doing their jobs and usually don’t deal with patients who choose to give birth naturally. Especially when pitocin is involved. I think a lot of people just assumed I would get the epidural once they induced me. But I fought hard to try to stick to my original plan. And despite taking a hypnobirthing class, I didn’t quite use the techniques but still feel like the class helped prepare me mentally for childbirth.

So I guess my two cents of this entire birthing experience is: squat it out. And prepare yourself mentally for the physical side of childbirth.

The Incomplete Book of Running review

Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting a local celebrity, Peter Sagal, who just so happens to live in Oak Park, runs, and is a host of NPR’s Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me! AND he wrote a book that is supposed to be about running, but actually touches so much more.

20190208_075148.jpg

Peter has a story that isn’t completely different from mine. Although his divorce sounded much messier than mine (kids were involved) we both went through a divorce and we both turned to running to help heal our emotional wounds. While you may be thinking why or how would running help you? It’s not just the act of running but actually more so the act of running with others that helped me the most. Back in 2017, I entered the year married but separated. Married but divorce was legally pending thanks to my husband who filed right before the holidays. I was getting push back from my soon-to-be ex over credit card balances, video game systems, and microchip registration for our pets.

I was seeing my therapist weekly as well as reading a book and meditating daily, as well as working out as much as possible only to survive and rise above everything falling apart around me.

When Michael Chitwood came to my new church that I had just started attending the last two months to talk about his story and the Chicago Marathon, I felt a shift in my heart. And I heard God tell me that this was the year I was to train and run my first marathon ever. Everyone, including Michael, said it would be life changing. But I really didn’t know what he meant until I witnessed the transformation within me. There’s something about lacing up and sweating it out for minutes and then hours at a time with people. Things you never think to talk about come out. And there’s no judgment, because just when you think you’re the only one who’s going through struggles, your running friends have struggles of their own.

Through running, I’ve learned that no one is perfect. We all lace up for different reasons. Some of us run slow (me) and some run fast (Peter). But at the end, we’re all bettering ourselves. Whether we’re running the local 5K or the Boston Marathon, we are bettering ourselves. I love how Peter talks about running. He’s ran 14 marathons, and he didn’t start until he was 40. Despite all the odds, he qualified for Boston and has a crazy marathon PR of 3 hours and 9 minutes.

He also survived through his divorce that spanned years, and is now no longer running marathons, but still lacing up and inspiring others to do the same. If you’re on the fence of whether to start running or not, or if you’re an experienced runner, I would recommend this book either way. Peter provides insight into the world of running that I haven’t seen elsewhere. And writes in a very easy way to understand. This is a relatable book, even if you haven’t ran a marathon or not planning to.

What I wish someone told me

In light of all the New Year’s Resolutions, I felt like the topic of fitness, exercise and health was an important one to write about today. As most of you know, I grew up generally disliking exercise and absolutely hated running. I also didn’t have the best diet, my favorite food usually consisted of some sort of fried or processed food. And for most of my early life, I got away with my unhealthy habits and still was skinny. Or skinny-fat, which if you don’t know what that means click that link to learn more.

But half-way through college, the donut holes caught up to me. I was eating too much and just not working out. I didn’t know where to begin, but my mom insisted I take some sort of self-defense class to protect myself, and my boyfriend was a little too concerned over my new-found chub. With these wonderful people in mind, I enrolled in once weekly Tae Kwon Do and started pushing myself to go to the gym 2-3 times a week. Nothing crazy. I also started eating less processed foods and more veggies and protein in order to feel full for longer. But the biggest struggle I experienced was my lack of knowledge at the gym. I would show up with no idea what or how to do anything right. I would run on the track some 30 plus laps until I was sweaty and then be like now what?

There were these strength machines that I would just use like in a loop, the same machines every time. And I didn’t really see much in ways of toning up or getting stronger. Not to say I didn’t feel better, I definitely did, but I was just lost. So lost that after dumping said boyfriend and graduating, I went back to my sedentary life of which I was all too familiar with. Pounds started piling on and about two years later, new boyfriend same situation. This time, I knew I had to do something differently. Going to the gym was just too over-whelming for me. I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out how to do more than just run around like a hamster or sit on some random arm machine and pretend to work on my biceps.

This boyfriend was the evolved version of previous boyfriend and he too didn’t understand gym equipment as was apparent by his severely lacking muscle tone and way too skinny ass. But, I digress. Lucky for me, he had half a brain to suggest an alternative to the gym. One that I had already done before, but rather than just once a week actually push myself to practice martial arts more often, closer to 4+ times a week. We found and enrolled in a local Kung Fu school and the rest is history.

img_20161224_100519_312

Kung Fu led to me starting to run which also led to me wanting to learn said confusing gym equipment and proper exercises. Many years and Kung Fu belts later, I become a certified personal trainer and finally know how to go to the gym with an exercise plan that I can successfully execute and build upon. Where was this knowledge years ago when I was sitting on a leg curl machine next to my ex wondering what was the purpose of building this one muscle in my leg when my belly was the issue?

So my one piece of advice for those of you looking to get started, or restart your fitness journey is this. Do something you love AND are comfortable with. Or at least comfortable being pushed to learn something new. Having a teacher or coach is invaluable. Over the 6 years that I practiced Kung Fu, I dropped easily well over $8,000 that I didn’t even have. And every dollar was well spent. I distinctly remember one day I literally took every dollar I made from tutoring that week from one of my clients just to pay for Kung Fu for that month.

My point is, don’t do this journey alone. Find something you’re passionate about and if you have no idea what you’re doing, get with someone who can show and teach you. Their knowledge will help you grow and achieve your fitness goals. I wish you the best of luck in your journey, grasshopper.

Aid for Women

I’m actually working on a bigger, longer and more helpful post about resources for soon to be single Moms but I just had to write this first.

Aid for Women was there for me before anyone even knew I was having (and keeping) a baby. Don’t get me wrong, I told the Baby Daddy and a close friend after I took four positive pregnancy tests. But neither of these guys could say much more than “Are you keeping it?” I felt cornered, and needed to find a place that would be on my side but also help me know all my options. Also, I had just started a self-employment gig and was still waiting to get onto Obamacare for health insurance. Without insurance or a plan, I started a search on google for resources.

That’s how I came across Aid for Women. Conveniently located in Cicero (with other locations in Chicago and Des Plaines), a mere 12 minute drive from me, I scheduled for the earliest available appointment I could get. A free pregnancy test and a free ultrasound later, I was definitely, absolutely pregnant. And I was definitely, absolutely keeping the baby. I was happy to be at the Aid for Women clinic. They weren’t there to convince me to get an abortion or to keep the baby. They went over all my options and even offered me additional educational resources.

But the best part was they were as excited as I was. Despite the circumstances, the women working there were so warm and happy for me. And beyond just the initial pregnancy test and ultrasound, they offer a program called Earn while you Learn. Basically, you can go once a week to watch a short video about 20-40 minutes long and fill out a worksheet based on the video. All the videos are educational in regards to pregnancy, birth, and raising a baby. And the best part is that every time you go and watch a video, you earn points. The points add up, and you can redeem them for baby supplies. If you earn enough points (15 visits worth) you can get a stroller or a crib. All for going and learning about pregnancy and babies.

They even threw a cute Christmas party with Santa and games for the kids. In addition to free food, they gave out gifts which included a Target gift card. I spent all of the generous gift card on baby clothes. Once I saw the superhero themed little baby clothes, I couldn’t help myself.

What resources have you used while pregnant and preparing for your baby?

What not to say after the first Hello

This past weekend I was out and about much more than I normally am since I had a few extra days off and no marathon to train for. Also, the weather could not be more perfect. I took advantage and explored many areas of the city. I got to see many lights on trees, sip some hot cider at Christkindlmarket, and I even visited my old stompin’ grounds Holiday Club to dance the night away to 80’s hits. While out and about, I also got to meet a few new friendly faces. One in particular struck me as extra-odd and has inspired me to write a little bit about what not to say when you first meet someone.

I’m talking we literally just met, face to face, for the first time. He introduces himself, I already forgot his name, and he starts telling me about what he does and asks me the same. Everything’s fine and dandy, I love talking about what I studied in school or what jobs I have. And I enjoy learning about other people as well; I enjoy networking and growing my social circle. Oh that’s a cool job, I say. I hear that’s a great company to work for.

Then he drops the bomb

The songs didn’t stop playing, the dancing continued on around us, but I took a double look at this guy. What did you just say? You’ve never kissed anyone before? You’re a virgin? How old are you? And why are you telling me this? Of all things, to a perfect stranger.

But then again maybe it’s how he weeds people out. Perhaps there will be one person out of a hundred or a few hundred who’d be like “OH me too!” Okay, maybe more like one out of a few thousand. I know because I’ve been in his shoes. Or close. I was a virgin for a long time (many years), and I also was waiting for marriage (yes, that’s what he told me). But I don’t think I walked around at a bar telling people that. It’s just not a topic that comes to mind when I first meet someone. I’m thinking that’s something that shouldn’t be addressed until you establish and both agree on dating exclusively. Not sure if he thought there was a chance of dating or not, but whatever chance there was burned up once he told me that.

And me, being the ultra-honest female I am, gave him some pointers and feedback afterwards. I told him in the future to keep the facts of his sex life private upon first meeting someone. No one needs to know your entire life story after saying hi at a bar or in a social setting. Not sure he appreciated the feedback, but I told him I was trying to help him out. For the next time he meets a beautiful woman. 😉

You’re welcome!

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever heard upon meeting someone new? I know this doesn’t just go one-way, and that it can be applied to men and women alike.

Princess warriors

Last Friday was an amazing night! It was Sheer One Night event at Free Church. Over a hundred women gathered to mingle, eat, and grow together. Pastor Urshanna was needed elsewhere, so Pastor Katrina spoke in her place. And she brought down the house!

Katrina opened the night with this visual from Ephesians 3:1-8: Paul became a servant of the gospel by the gift of God’s grace given to him through the working of his power. Although Paul was less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given to him: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ. What does this mean? Even the least of us, even the worst of the worst, are given God’s grace when we follow Him.

Comfort

When you need comfort, Jesus wraps His arms around you. Don’t be anxious about anything, but in every situation present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Correction

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9) If you’re not disciplined then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. (Hebrews 12:8)

Compass

I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. (Psalm 32:8)

ymWyiUx

We stay connected to the bride…

  • On Sunday Mornings: Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. (Colossians 3:16)
  • In small groups: And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,  not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
  • Through serving: You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. (Galatians 5:13)

We discover Jesus as our constant savior

We need rescue from…

Others

He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. (Psalm 18:16-19) We are princesses of God but we are not damsels in distress!

 

 

Ourselves

For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. (Romans 7:18-19

We have a great capacity for mistakes.

Some additional passages that are great to read:

Philippians 4:8
1 Peter 3:3-4
Proverbs 31:25-26
Psalm 100:5

Marvelous Halloween Weekend

Halloween at church

yTBhfbDThis past Sunday was a blast! Captain America, Black Widow, Antman, and Dr. Strange all made an appearance at my church (Free Church)! And almost every kid was dressed up either as their favorite superhero or their favorite character. Historically, church and holidays like Halloween have been kept separated. Many traditional churches don’t even acknowledge Halloween, or they say it’s evil and try to encourage their members to not participate in the holiday.

While I grew up attending very traditional Catholic churches and schools, my parents always let me dress up as who (or what) I wanted to be (other than when I was a toddler and they dressed me as a strawberry). I actually trick or treated through high school, well beyond the normal age limit for trick or treating. But I never saw the holiday as an evil tradition. If anything, it was one of my favorite days of the year since I got to dress up as someone else and I got to collect candy.

I think it’s cool and important to recognize and celebrate Halloween inside and out of church. One way to think about it, we are celebrating the eve of All Saints Day, which is a day to recognize the saints.

Marvelous Superheroes

marvelous halloween

Not only does Free Church recognize Halloween, it also celebrates it by bringing in the good guys and gals. The Avengers are some of the best superheroes out there! They make great role-models as they fight crime and protect the good guys. Children and adults alike can look up to these superheroes, very similar in many ways to looking up to Jesus and His teachings. I see the similarities between Jesus and superheroes and can honestly say that I admire and look up to both. This is one reason why I love to dress up as a superhero.

Another reason is that feeling when a kid recognizes the superhero you are and wants to be just like you. I love seeing people smile and feel safe around me (or Black Widow). In general, I love to dress up though as any character that I can pull off. (I.E. Wonder Woman or Han Solo)

Who’s your favorite superhero? Do you like to dress up? Who are you being for Halloween?

See more pictures from this event HERE

Have a happy, safe and ghoulish Halloween!

Modern art

On September 23rd I went to the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) in Chicago to see the acclaimed Takashi Murakami exhibit: The Octopus Eats its Own Leg. It was the last weekend to see the exhibit, so I bought some tickets beforehand and was able to snag an early time to avoid most of the crowds.

The art was beyond anything I’d ever seen before (very interesting!). And the stories/ideas behind it were amazing to learn about. I spent about an hour exploring the exhibit and another 45 minutes seeing the rest of the museum. The entire museum is pretty small, which is nice as we know most museums can be overwhelmingly large and tend to take a day or more to take in everything.

Please enjoy my pictures below. Did you check out this exhibit? If so, leave me a comment. I’d love to hear what you thought of it!

Do you even riot, bro?

Riot Fest Chicago 2017 was this past weekend. It was only my second time attending Riot Fest, but I’ve attended similar music festivals (i.e. Lollapalooza) many times. This past weekend was a blast!

Friday night opened up with amazing acts like New Order and Nine Inch Nails. Saturday I took it easy, and Sunday I partied the hardest with The Vuluptuous Horror of Karen Black and Prophets of Rage. Overall, an amazing weekend of talent and entertainment. Before the fest, I ran 20 miles on Thursday morning for Chicago marathon training. I hit the gym twice (Friday & Saturday) and I made it to church on Sunday morning. I had 4 days off work and I feel like I definitely got the most I could out of my time off.

The only bummer part was Paschen being sick and missing Friday & Saturday of the fest, but we made up for it on Sunday. Epic. I also ran into my cousin on Sunday after we kept missing each other on Friday and Saturday. Enjoy the photos, and if you’d like to see some videos check out my instagram @tanoshii66

 

 

At first, because of the crowds, I was tentative to go next year, but I think it’s worth it to attend this festival again in the future. Did you go to Riot Fest? Did you enjoy it? Would you go again? Do you like concerts? Do you even riot, bro? 🙂

Wonder Woman – Wizard World 2017

Last weekend, I attended my first Wizard World Comic Con here in Chicago. I went dressed as Wonder Woman, and I had a great time. Everyone was very nice and no one was too critical.

I got to see lots of other fellow cosplayers dressed up as many different characters, ranging from cartoon/anime to TV show and movie characters. I even saw an adult man dressed as Eleven from Stranger Things. My favorite, by far, were the storm troopers and anything Star Wars related. It made me miss my Han Solo costume.

But I had a great time actually dressed like a female hero for once. Who should I be next?