Thursday, May 31, 2012

Trish's Birth Plan & Story

Thank you Trish for sharing your birth plan and story with us. I love how personal and thorough your plan was for your dr's. When you described your labor, I felt like I was right there with you. It was incredibly realistic and inspiring. We are honored to share your story. ~Jen

Regarding labor and birth - Patricia (Trish) McKenzie
Due Date: 10/18/2011
Patient of Dr.’s Hall & Morales
Scheduled to deliver at Capital Regional Medical Center

Dear Dr.’s Hall & Morales
I'm having a baby and these are my wishes for before, during and post delivery. I understand that these wishes may not pertain to any unplanned circumstances, but I would like to stick as close as possible to this plan. Please direct any questions to my sister, Barbie. Thank you.
Trish McKenzie


  • I wish to be able to move around and change position at will throughout labor.
  • I would prefer to have a saline lock rather than a routine IV.
  • I wish to be able to bathe/shower, as long as my membranes are still intact.
  • I would like to be able to have fluids by mouth and eat lightly throughout the beginning stages of labor.
  • I would prefer to keep the number of vaginal exams to a minimum.Monitoring
  • I do not wish to have continuous fetal monitoring unless it is required by the condition of my daughter.Labor Augmentation/Induction
  • I do not wish to have the amniotic membrane ruptured artificially unless signs of fetal distress require internal monitoring.
  • I would prefer to be allowed to try changing position and nipple stimulation before Pitocin is administered.
  • I do not want any kind of anesthesia offered to me during labor, though I would like it available if I specifically request it.
  • If my primary care provider determines that a Cesarean delivery is indicated, I would like to obtain a second opinion from another physician if time allows.
  • I would like my husband present at all times if my daughter requires a Cesarean delivery.
  • I wish to have an epidural for anesthesia.
  • If my daughter is not in distress, my daughter should be given to my husband, Wade, immediately after birth.
  • I would like to breastfeed immediately after delivery. Episiotomy
  • I would prefer not to have an episiotomy unless absolutely required for the baby's safety.
  • I would prefer warm compresses and massage to reduce the risk of tearing. Delivery
  • I would like my husband and/or sister to support me and my legs as necessary during the pushing stage.
  • I would like a mirror available so I can see my daughter's head when it crowns.
  • Even if I am fully dilated, and assuming my daughter is not in distress, I would like to try to wait until I feel the urge to push before beginning the pushing phase.
  • I would like to have my daughter placed on my stomach/chest immediately after delivery.
  • I would like to decline Pitocin to deliver placenta, unless medically necessary for excessive bleeding.

After Delivery
  • I would like to postpone clamping/cutting the cord until it stops pulsating.
  • I would like my husband to cut the cord.
  • I would like to attempt to breastfeed immediately after delivery.
  • I would like to have my daughter examined in my presence, and would like to delay this for 1-2 hours.
  • I would like to delay bathing baby until going home.
  • If my daughter must be taken from me to receive medical treatment, my husband or my sister will accompany my daughter at all times.
  • I would like to decline the Hep B shot and Vitamin K shot being administered to my daughter. I will give her an oral dose of Vitamin K.
  • Unless medically necessary, I do not wish to have any bottles given to my daughter (including glucose water or plain water).
  • I don’t mind my daughter being given a pacifier.
  • I would like my daughter to room in with me throughout the duration of our hospital stay. Photos
  • I would like photos/videorecording of labor and/or the birth permitted. Other
  • My support people are my husband, Wade, my sister, Barbie, and my doula, Kris. I would like them to be present during labor and/or delivery.

Emery Rae’s Birth Story

October 19, 2011 (40w1d)—Appointment with Dr. Morales, and still only 2cm dilated. He was willing to give me until Sunday before he would induce, but I left with a scheduled appt. to be at the hospital Sunday evening to start Cervadil, and then start Pitocin Monday morning. I was very discouraged. After a week of trying EVERYTHING (walking, nipple stim, massage, acupressure, etc.) with no progress, I was tired of “trying” to go into labor. 

Barbie (my sister) and the fam came over for supper, and decided to leave to get a good night of rest. Wade and I were tired, and decided to hit the sack early. While Wade went to shut the gate, I stood up from my birth ball to start shutting off lights, etc. and felt a gush of water. I thought to myself “but I didn’t even feel like I had to pee” and walked to the bathroom. I sat down, and knew that what I was feeling wasn’t pee. Wade came back in the house, and as he passed the bathroom I calmly said “Baby, I think my water broke.” He said, “ok, well what do we need to do? I’ll call Barbie and catch her before they get too far away.” I attempted to clean myself up, and Barbie came back to the house. We took our time getting things together, and Wade took the time to sharpen his granddaddy’s knife for “cord cutting.” 

We left for the hospital around 10:15 p.m. and arrived in the ER. My contractions began not long after my water broke, but were tolerable and fairly consistent at about 6-7 minutes apart. As everyone was shuffling for a wheelchair, I told them I was fine to walk, and walked in to check myself in. In triage, I was checked (by a mean, nasty nurse) and was still only 2cm. They were trying to figure out a way to prove that my water was broken so I could be admitted, and my version of the events wasn’t quite good enough. Kris, my doula, arrived shortly after we did, and after an hour or so, I was finally admitted. 

I got into a L&D room around midnight. Dr. Hall was called, and threatened that if nothing happened by 5:30 a.m., he wanted Pitocin started. In my mind, I had a goal, and my goal included no Pitocin. The mean nurse kept teasing me that I didn’t want any of the “happy juice” and she was very rude. I was so glad when she got off. My contractions were starting to intensify, and all I wanted to do was to get up out of bed and walk around, but they wouldn’t let me until they could get an iv in. I was doing really well, breathing through the contractions, and was so relieved when I was finally able to get up and move. I thought I would use my birthing ball a lot in labor, and I actually only used it once as an alternative to lying in bed while the nurse tried to get a reading on the baby’s heartbeat. 

After the iv port was in, I headed straight for the shower. I switched back and forth between standing in the shower with my head on the tile in the corner, water hitting my lower back, and sitting in the shower chair with water hitting my belly. The pain was intensifying, but with each contraction, I went in to my own world to work through them. Wade, Barbie, and Kris all did so great with encouraging me and being there for me. At some point (probably around 3:30 or 4 in the morning) I don’t really remember any breaks in contractions, and I was so exhausted. I wanted to lie down on my side for few minutes. 

Once I got in the bed and on my side, I was feeling like I was coming to the end of my abilities to continue on. I kept visualizing my safe word in my head, “mistletoe”, but I also knew that I was too far along to get an epidural. I didn’t know how I was going to keep going. I really was not responding much to outside stimulation, but I was moaning and making deep, primitive sounds that seemed to keep me focused on the process. The nurse checked me and I was 8cm, but I was having such a strong urge to push. 

Since Baby Girl was still sunny-side up, I got on my knees to see if that would help her kind of flip over. I couldn’t fight the urge to push, and I kept telling them I couldn’t wait any longer. The nurse started working on me to get me stretched enough to call me a “10”, and I kept having the urge to push. I was so exhausted and I had no idea how this baby was going to get out of me. I felt like I was pushing with everything I had, and it wasn’t enough to make her come out. It felt like she wasn’t even moving very much. 

I remember Dr. Hall coming in around 5:30 or so and saying he was proud of me for not having an epidural, and that now it was time to get her out. I just couldn’t push with enough force to be productive. Dr. Hall used the vacuum to help get her out, and I felt myself ripping apart. I think I pushed for about an hour. 

When she was finally out and she cried, it was the most beautiful sound I’d ever heard before. I wanted her on my belly and in my arms, and I was so afraid that someone would clamp her cord too soon. I wanted to delay that for as long as possible. 

When I finally got to touch her, she was so beautiful. She looked just like Wade, with the exception of the big lump on her head from the vacuum. Wade came over and was crying with me, as we looked at her. He got to cut her cord, and Dr. Hall let him use his granddaddy’s knife. She started nursing like a champ almost immediately. 

Because of the vacuum and because Baby Girl was transverse, I tore pretty significantly, 2nd and 3rd degree tears. This required some pretty extensive repair and my recovery was way tougher than I anticipated for a vaginal delivery. I wasn’t able to get out of bed and walk for 3 days. 

When looking back at my birth plan and the expectations I had versus the reputations of both my doctors and the hospital I delivered at, I am so please at how my birth experience went. (My doctors and the hospital both have extremely high epidural rates, and even higher ceasarean rates.) For the most part, I achieved my goals and birthed a beautiful, healthy baby girl, without using drugs.

Emery Rae McKenzie
October 20, 2011
6:37 am
7lbs 15oz, 21”

Jen Starks, Owner

Morning Harmony = Powerful

This morning, I realized how much I have been relying on music to help our family transition into our summer mode full of activities and often broken schedules.  Things were very predictable during the "school" year and it brought a lot of ease during each day as the kids and I knew what to expect.

Needless to say, the new transition has been challenging for me, as I mentioned in my last blog post.  I prefer routine but I also seek out fun and new activities.  I've been trying to embrace these changes but realize how much more effort it is to change things up.

Music is a passion of mine and I have heavily relied on it during my lifetime, whether by playing an instrument for meditation purposes or listening to various genres.  The right music enhances my mood in whatever I am experiencing at the moment.  For example, when I am doing my bookkeeping, which is really boooooring to me, I play some classical jazz.  It helps me to concentrate while also provide me pleasure while doing something I typically wouldn't want to do. I end up completing my task much quicker than without the music.

Every morning this past week, I have relied on my "relaxation radio" station on pandora to provide me with some extra peace and harmony in our morning routine.  I come downstairs with the kids, who apparently rise with such enthusiasm that I want to go running back to bed and hide for countless hours. I turn on my cell phone and use my pandora app to play music through some portable speakers that were once used on an expired computer.  It is my goal to bring down all that hyper energy and assist them in sitting calmly while they are eating breakfast or start some low key activities.  And even when they get a little crazy, despite the musical mood, the music helps remind me to breathe and relax.

As humans, we have a biological need for peace and harmony in our lives.  As parents, we can wonder if we will ever have that peace and harmony (especially when more than 1 child is involved).  I especially struggle at these early morning hours when I need time to clear my head and let my body and brain simply "wake up."

What do you do in your home to provide peace and harmony?

What provides you and/or your kids peace and harmony in the morning?

With peaceful music playing in the background,

Jen Starks, Owner 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Transitions to Summer

Wow, this past week has completely pulled the rug from under me.  Apparently, I don't do well with transitions.  My daughter's preschool ended last Wednesday and I seem to be floating around in never never land.

I can't seem to find the time to do any work, cook, keep up on laundry, or plan out our week.  We haven't resorted to watching tv all day nor eating out every meal.  I'm just winging it grasping to set up a new schedule.  It has been....exhausting!

My life looks like my diaper bag.  It has random crap in there, most of which I don't need it to be in there. I can't find my license and money is tucked in random pockets.  My cell phone cover is missing it top and I can't keep it charged.  Basically, I'm in a bit of a mess.

The kids feel it too.  They go from overexcited to fit all day long.  Their sleeping has varied further throwing off our schedule.  They get along one minute and then the next they are fighting over a book...or a crayon...or who has more of something.  I feel like I am constantly "reacting" to their recent drama.  It's not a good space to be in.

I'm grateful that I can chock it up to the change from the school year to our summer mode.  I know that things will calm down and our summer isn't going to be like this everyday.  Well, I am HOPING!

So please bear with me these next couple weeks.  Some of you are probably experiencing or will be experiencing a similar situation as your child(ren) finish their school year.  I'm working on serenity and finding our new balance.  In the meantime, I may not be answering my phone right away to protect you from hearing our crazy life in the background.  I will have to find a quiet moment later on in the day when I can offer you my full attention.

Peace and joy,

Jen Starks, Owner

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Celebration Giveaway- "21 Day Challenge Ends"!

Today we have our friends over at Mama and Baby Love hosting our fun giveaway to celebrate the end of our "21 Day Challenge".  For those of you who participated in the the challenge, we hope you had fun and were able to see a positive impact on your life as you made a change for 21 days.  I know it has been a very positive experience for me and I plan on doing more of these challenges in the near future.

Mama and Baby Love just released their new ecookbook and we thought this would be a great win for all our readers!

About the book:

This ecookbook has nine new recipes in it, twenty total.  I have even included my family’s famous empanada recipe in it for extra fun.  Everyone always asks me for the recipe, so here you go!
It also has all my classic recipes, some that have updated and tweaked just a bit for added flavor.
It also includes grocery lists.  I divided up all the recipes into groups of three.  So you can easily shop for 3 recipes, which of course makes 6 meals.
Each recipe has nutrition info.  So you know exactly how many calories, protein etc that you are consuming.  Although, I will mention, try not to count calories, and just focus on eating good quality, real food and you will be lean eventually, promise.
And lastly, the book includes some super cute labels that you can print out and place onto your freezer bags.  It will tell you the name of the recipe, any items that need to be added the day of cooking and a place to write the day you assembled and placed in your freezer.

To Enter Giveaway (Total of 5 Entries Possible):

1.  Like EB on Facebook.

2.  Like Mama and Baby Love on Facebook and tell them you came from the 21 Day Challenge Giveaway.

3.  Follow or subscribe to our blog.

4.  Follow us on Pinterest.

5. Follow Mama and Baby Love on Pinterest.

Giveaway ends 5/23 at NOON (EST)!

Good luck!

Jen Starks, Owner 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

What's for dinner - week of May 21, 2012

Howdy, folks! Here we are! Another week, another meal plan. I enjoyed sharing last week's plan with you, and I'm glad this is going to be a regular series. Please feel free to share your own plan in the comments, or send me links with your favorite versions of what we're having.

Once again the disclaimer that I am not a nutritional expert, so I'm not advocating this as how I think you need to eat. My family likes simple food and we have no dietary restrictions.

Summer produce is in full swing here in sunny Florida, and I love utilizing so many fresh, local ingredients in my cooking. Since farmers markets are getting really cranked up now, we are considering suspending our buying club share for the summer and then resuming in the fall. We love going to the big Wednesday market downtown at Lake Ella. It's great to actually meet the farmers, and also this way we can have easy access to local grass-fed beef, honey, eggs, and goat cheese and milk without making multiple stops.

So here we go! This is what we're having this week. By the way, school is almost out, and this teacher's wife is not sure who is more excited - me, or my husband. So ready for some family time.

The Meals

1. My favorite easy homemade macaroni and cheese (we had TONS left over from last week, so we're having it yet again. I know. It's sad.), sliced tomatoes with chopped basil from my garden, leftover cucumber salad (which at this point is probably more aptly named "pickles")

2. Chicken enchiladas, rice, black bean and corn salad

Chicken enchiladas - I'm really sad to say that I am back to square one with enchiladas. They are one of my FAVORITE dishes to make. I had a really bad break up with Old El Paso brand enchilada sauce, since I have decided to vanquish all canned products from my pantry. Especially acidic tomato products, which are even worse about leeching nasty BPA into your food. A few months ago, I found a powdered sauce mix that actually was made of pretty decent ingredients, but now I can't find it again. Plus "powdered sauce mix" just sounds really nasty, doesn't it? So PLEASE! Help a mama out. Send me your favorite enchilada recipes. I lived in Texas for 13 years and still can't make a decent homemade sauce.

Black bean and corn salad - Now this I do know how to make. :) I don't have a real recipe, since I kind of made it up. The only hard part is remembering to cook your beans in advance, since as I mentioned earlier I'm on a quest to get rid of cans. Use about 1 1/2 C of cooked black beans, and combine with a chopped tomato, and an ear's worth of fresh corn. Add chopped onion and garlic if you like it. Add salt and pepper, a dash of cumin, some chili pepper, the juice of one lime, and a glug or two of olive oil. Toss and chill before serving. You can eat this by itself, with tortilla chips like a dip, or on top of lettuce leaves. We'll probably take both of those options!

3. Pork tenderloin, glazed steamed carrots, green salad

Pork tenderloin - I haven't decided how I'll prepare this yet. It's on sale at the grocery store this week, that's why I chose it. Plus we haven't had it in a while, and we all really like pork. I'll probably make some kind of glaze. It's good brushed with a glaze of apricot jam and dijon mustard, as weird as that sounds. I just bake it.

Glazed steamed carrots - Cut into small rounds, then steam. Drain, then toss with butter, salt, and a little bit of honey.

We get watercress in our buying club box this week, so we'll have that as a salad with a simple vinaigrette.

4. Stuffed portobello mushrooms, sugar snap peas, bread

We get mushrooms in our box this week, and I found this recipe online that sounds pretty tasty. I'm just going to broil them in the oven, though, since I don't really want to fire up the grill just for this quick dish.

I'm just going to sautee the snap peas with some garlic and grapeseed oil. Nothing fancy. Maybe a pinch of sugar.

I really like making homemade bread, but I might splurge and get something from the bakery. I am a pretty good baker, but I like a really crusty baguette sometimes, and I haven't quite mastered that yet.

5. Pasta with sausage, peppers, and onions; steamed broccoli

The pasta is pretty much what it sounds like. This is one of our favorite ways to cook peppers, which is another item in our box this week. We like to get smoked sausage from a local place called Bradley's Country Store. It's a fun trip up there, and my son loves to go. We usually get a drink and a sausage dog, run around in the fields a bit, and make a little trip out of it. They've been making sausage and cured hams the old fashioned way for almost a hundred years.

Slice and brown your favorite sausage, then take it out of the pan to drain a little. Drain out some of the fat and add a little olive oil. Sautee sliced onions and peppers, and add some salt and pepper. Toss the sausage, onions, and peppers with hot cooked penne pasta, and cover with a good shaving of parmesan cheese. SO GOOD, and takes about 15 minutes to make.

I'm having broccoli just so we have a different color item on the table, and because sometimes my 3yo will eat peppers, and sometimes he will not. But he will always eat broccoli. Well, almost always.

6. Eggplant parmesan, green salad

This is not a very inspired meal. I found some fried eggplant slices in the bottom of my deep freezer this weekend when we cleaned it out to defrost, so we're eating it. I just bread the sliced eggplant in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese which I've seasoned with salt, pepper, and dried Italian herbs. Fry in oil for just a couple minutes per side. I serve it over spaghetti noodles with marinara sauce and mozzarella, then put each plate under the broiler for just a minute to melt and brown the cheese. If you're limiting your carbs you can omit the pasta and just have extra slices of eggplant. Surprisingly, my son actually likes this. Probably because he doesn't ask what is the fried and cheesed item on his plate, and I haven't offered to tell him.

So there you have it! That's what's for dinner this week at the Williamsons.

What are you having? And won't you please share your favorite enchilada recipe with me?

Claire Williamson, for Ecological Babies
(850) 228-8322

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Blair's Birth Story

Thank you Blair for sharing your story with us.  I love how simple and non-intrusive you made your pregnancy and birth.  If I read correctly, I believe you may have actually had Hannah on your due date!

Blair's Birth Story

I love to share our story. It is a memory that me and dean will never forget.
I knew from the beginning that if we were going to have kids that I was going to have them natural and not in a hospital if all possible. When I found out that I was pregnant I called the birth cottage and set up my first appointment. When I went Layla asked me where I wanted to give birth and I said my first choice is home, second was the birth cottage and last resort was the hospital. At my next appointment I asked Alice if I had to get an ultrasound and she said as long as everything is going good and im not having any bleeding then I did not need one unless I wanted to find out the sex of the baby and I said no that me and my husband wanted it to be a secret and the only one who knows will be the baby. 

I never had an ultrasound my whole pregnancy so we never knew an estimated weight for the baby. Me and my husband were guessing the baby would be around 8lbs at birth. I decided to take a birth class to prepare me for labor and chose to take the Bradley Method Class with Kim Stanley. My class started on April 6 and was 12 weeks long. After I had finished my birth class I was ready to have a natural birth at home. So my due date was getting closer and closer and by 38weeks I was over being pregnant my feet and legs were swollen and my back hurt. I was so ready to meet this baby inside me and find out if it was a girl or boy. Though out my entire pregnancy I would dream about giving birth at home and the baby was a girl. I just had that feeling that it was going to be a girl, but we had no idea.

Well... Today is Aug, 22, 2010 and tomorrow I will be 40weeks pregnant and praying that I will not go past my due date. I usually would take an afternoon nap on the weekends but my friend called and wanted to come over and bring her son to see our koi pond and I told her that would be great. We decided to go to dinner that night around 6pm and when we got home it was 7:30pm. I finished doing my chores around the house and then got into bed. Well at about 8pm I started having contractions and would lay in bed and try to relax and breathe through the contraction and then go back to sleep once they ended. 

Eating Fruit and Drinking water while laboring in the bath tub

At about 11pm I called my friend Kerry who attended all of my birth classes with me to give her a heads up that I was in early labor. She said to try to get some rest and I told her I would try. By 11:30 I was walking the house during contractions getting in and out of the tub thought-out the night while my hubby was sleeping. 

Around 3am I called Kerry and told her that I was ready for her to come to our house that it was the real thing and that I wasn't sure how far along I was and how dilated I was. She got to our house at about 4am and we sat on the couch and talked. Then my hubby woke up and joined us.

Laboring on my couch in our living room

 I continued to labor and at 7am Kerry called the midwife to let her know that I had started labor at 8pm Sunday night and Alice asked to talk to me and she told me to get some rest and eat something and to call her back at around 9am. So I laid in bed and tried to fell asleep in between contractions. 

It was around 9am and I told Kerry to call the Alice back to tell her I was ready for her to come to the house. She said she would get her stuff together and head our way. She got to our house at about 10am and at 10:30 she check me and I was 9cm. Alice, Missy and Kerry went out to our living room and left me and my husband dean alone in our room to labor. I started to make grunting noises and Alice came in and asked if I had the urge to push and I said yes. 

So I started pushing it was around 11am.. While I was pushing, Dean (my hubby), was cheering me on telling me that I could do this and that I was doing a awesome job. During a contraction I would squat in front of my bed holding on while looking in the mirror against the wall seeing my water sack with black hair floating in the fluid. Which I thought was really kool. I kept saying, is this baby ever going to come out? Cause all I could see was the baby coming down while I was pushing during a contraction and then going back up. 

During the last couple of pushes I was laying on my side and I would squeeze my husband's hand during each contraction and Alice would tell me that I was almost there. Then on my last push the head finally came out and Alice had to break the bag of water and then unwrap the cord from around the babys neck and then sucked out the babys nose and the baby started to cry. I then gave another push and then the rest of the baby came out. Alice said here mommy take your baby, I laid the baby on my chest and reached my hand around and under the cord and said It's a girl. 

Just Born. Laying on my chest.
Mommy and Daddy looking at their new daughter

We waited until the cord stopped pulsing to cut the cord. Once the cord was cut Hannah was on my chest looking at us and was starting rooting around. She was nursing within 30minutes of being born and did it all by herself. Then my placenta was delivered and 
we put it into a plastic bag so we could plant a tree with it. 

First Time Breastfeeding

Then we called the family.First Dean called his mom and sister who then called everyone else on his side. Then he called my mom and dad who then called everyone on my side.

 I had second degree tears from the birth and had to get stitches. But did not feel a thing. All I could think about was my beautiful healthy daughter that I just delivered. After I got stitched up and cleaned up, Hannah pooped on me and so I had to clean her up and then me. 

One Hour Old
Then it was time to weigh and measure hannah, so Missy laid her in the fish scale and ask Dean if  he knew how to read one and he said yes so she held it up and told Dean to read it and he said 9lbs 2oz. Then Alice and Missy measured her and she was 21.5 inches long. Hannah was a big healthy baby girl. Then family arrived to meet Hannah.

2 Hours Old

Jen Starks, Owner

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

"Bucket List" Summer 2012- Part 2

 "Bucket List" Summer 2012

  • Camping
    • Near Lake Michigan/Dunes (August sometime)
    • In Upstate NY (July 4th wknd) (CANCELLED)
    • W/Brian's family (late June)
  • Attractions
    • Curious Kids Museum (St Joe, MI)
    • Fernwood Botanical Gardens (local)
    • Healthworks (local)
    • Museum of Science & Industry (Chicago)
    • Potowatami Zoo (local)
    • Venetian Festival (St. Joe, MI) (CANCELLED)
  • Beaches at Lake Michigan (2+ times)
    • Build a sand castle and bury each family member
  • Strawberry Picking 
  • Blueberry Picking (Late summer)
  • Fly a kite
  • Canoeing (2+ times)
  • Volunteer/Prepare Meals (3+ times)
  • Feed ducks at Leeper Park (1 time)
  • Visit Bertrand Farm (2+ times)
  • Visit Grandma & Grandpa and visit their zoo
  • Go to pool with Papa & Nana
  • Order from the Ice Cream Truck- just 1!
  • Ride on Papa's Boat (1-2 times)
  • Drive-In Movie Theater (date night 2 times)
  • Rita Clare write letters to her friends & skype (3 times)
  • Backyard Fires (5+)
  • Host a Potluck (1-2)
  • Neighborhood Yard Sale & RC's Lemonade/Jewelry Stand
  • Grow herb garden
  • Put together 3 plays written and with costumes
  • Rita Clare's Extracurriculars- Violin lessons, t-ball, tennis lessons,swim lessons?
  • RC learning achievements- understand money values, learn address, learn phone number, emergency & safety in house procedures
  • Tyler's extra- swim lessons?
  • Tyler's learning achievements-all the colors, shapes, dress self, potty training 
Me (Personal Goals):
  • Finish organizing all family pictures to current ;
  • Read 3-5 books
    • Nurtured With Love (Suzuki)
    • Nonviolent Communication
    • Bossy Pants (Tina Fey)
    • Fun Fiction 
    • Why mothers and daughters fight and how both can win (Uninteresting)
    • Book on my shelf I haven't read yet

This seems like an awful lot but would be fantastic if we did 80%.  I'm planning on printing this out and posting it in our kitchen eat-in area where we spend a lot of time with the kids.  Then as we do something on the list, we can mark it off together.

I'd love to see YOUR bucket list!  If you made one, will you post it in the comments section please?

Peace and joy,

Jen Starks,

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Summer "Bucket List" 2012-Part 1

Summer 2012 Bucket List

Usually when people make a "bucket list", they put in all the things they want to do before they die (or "kick the bucket").  I wanted to turn that concept into a way for me to make a list of all the things I want to do by the end of the summer.  

Often I find that if I don't make a plan, then life happens and I miss out on opportunities.  I'd like to get a little more organized with my time, so I can feel like I "lived" each season the way I had hoped.  

Are you interested in putting together your own "Summer 2012 Bucket List"?

I am going to spend the next 24 hrs coming up with a list and also to talk it out with my husband.  After all, this plan affects the entire family!  :)  

Are you in?


Jen Starks, Owner

Leslee's Birth Plan & Story

Today we share Leslee's birth plan and story with us.  This is a great story told from the perspective of a doula mind.  It has some great ups & downs and full of determination.  Thanks Leslee for sharing!

Leslee and Dan Boldman’s Birth Plan

This is our first child, and we are looking forward to having a natural, un-medicated birth. We have completed natural childbirth classes and have read as much as possible to prepare ourselves. Our doula, Lindsey, will be present to assist us in staying relaxed and comfortable. We would like to try to avoid all medications during the birth, and instead use relaxation, heating/cooling pads and massage for pain relief. We will request medication if we feel it is needed.

We would be most comfortable in a room where the lights are dimmed, the doors are kept closed, and as few strangers as possible are present. Leslee would also like to wear her own clothes and to remain mobile for as long as she is able, to walk the halls, use the shower and tub during labor, and have access to a birth ball and squat bar. She would also like to be free to try different positions for pushing, such as squatting or kneeling if she finds it comfortable.

We trust in Leslee’s body’s ability to give birth; however, we appreciate your expertise and understand that there are procedures which may become necessary. We understand that some interventions may be necessary for the health of Leslee and baby, but we request the opportunity to accept or refuse any procedure except in the case of an extreme emergency.  After medical guidance for pain relief, we would appreciate some private time to discuss which pain management technique or medication Leslee would like to use.

If labor slows to the point that augmentation might be necessary, we would like at least one hour to try natural methods of induction before any drugs are considered. However, if neither Leslee nor the baby is in distress, we do not want chemical induction.  If there is evidence of fetal distress on the external fetal monitor, we would like this to be verified with an internal fetal monitor before any action is taken.

Other than our doula, other people who might be present during labor are our mothers, sisters or aunts. We will be asking that they not be present during birth and from coming into the room until after we have had time to begin to bond with our baby. 

Please wait to clamp the umbilical cord until it stops pulsing.  

We would like Dan to say whether the baby is a boy or a girl. 

We would also like Leslee to hold the baby immediately after the birth and delay all essential routine procedures until after the initial bonding and breastfeeding period. 

If it is necessary for the baby to be taken from the room for any procedures, please postpone these as long as possible after the birth and allow Dan to accompany the baby. 

In an Emergency - If Cesarean Surgery is required, we would like Dan to be present during the surgery, and to accompany the baby if it must go to the nursery.  Ideally, Leslee would like to remain conscious during the procedure.  If the C-Section is not an emergency, please give us time alone to think about it before asking for our written consent.  If possible, we would like Lindsey, our doula, to join Leslee in the operating room if Dan must leave with the baby.

Thank you for your support during the birth of our first baby.


Leslee's Birth Story

In the name of Labor Day, I’ve decided I should probably get around to finally writing the story of Sarah’s birth. She just turned 13 months so I should remember most everything…
I woke up Thursday morning, July 29, 2010, two days after my “due” date, to my first REAL contraction. I’d been having contractions on and off for week since my last cervical check showed I was 3-4cm and maybe 70% effaced. But this one was for sure the real thing. At first I thought, Hey, my hips really ache, I must have been sleeping funny, but then I noticed the tightening wrapped around my hips and across my belly. It was 3:45am. I went to the bathroom and woke Dan up to let him know my labor had changed. We napped and snuggled until around 6am. I couldn’t stay lying down anymore. I showered and made us breakfast, yummy French toast, and used the counter for support during contractions between cracking the eggs or flipping the slices. It was still early, so we were taking things easy.
A few hours passed and my contractions were getting much closer together: 3-5 minutes apart if I was sitting on the birth ball, 1-2 minutes apart if I was standing, but they still were not hard enough that I was sure it was time to go. We called our doula, Lindsey, at one point earlier in the day and called her again around this time. I was starting to feel it was time to go to the hospital, but was worried I was making a rookie mistake — it’s one thing to watch a woman in labor and see in her face and actions if it’s time, it’s another thing to make that decision myself! When she arrived, I was hanging out on the birth ball in the kitchen. I remember laughing because I was worried I was jumping the gun. I think she thought I was, too, until she saw me in a contraction.
I wasn’t in control of my actions anymore, I couldn’t help but stand, my body hovering, squatting, my face pressing into the side of Dan’s neck as he sat next to me. I rode the surge in the quietness and warmth of that space, and found the same comfort later in labor pressing my face into him, squeezing his hands or arms. It was time.
The car ride to the hospital was interesting. I was kneeling in the passenger seat, facing the rear, and I could see Lindsey in her car following behind us. The only time it didn’t hurt was when Dan was slowing the car… other than that, it was uncomfortable, near unbearable! There was a gush of fluids and I said, “I either just started peeing or my water broke!” It had! We arrived at around 11:15am. Don’t knock the amount of pillows – each and every one were needed.
Even though I’d registered at the hospital I was still able to scare the crap out of a waiting room full of people with a few contractions while I waited for them to take me back to triage. I also don’t plan on sitting on those chairs ever again because I know I can’t be the first mama to leak fluid on them… ew.
I was about 6 or 7cm when they checked me and I was allowed to move freely around the room after they gave me some antibiotics since I was GBS+. Here is a picture of the awesome nurse who was with us for the first half of labor:
I got in and out of the bath, especially as my labor got more difficult. The power of the water coming straight out of the faucet and onto my tailbone was glooooorious! Here I’m singing the shower (I couldn’t think of a single song, so I was really just pretending to sing into the “mic”), taken around 2:00pm:
Celebrating a break between contractions with a lollipop! Those breaks were a treasure, a little treat during labor, and I appreciated them so much – it was like I got to take a little lunch break from work and visit with Dan and Lindsey, I could smile and laugh, and then go back into my holding space for labor a little bit refreshed. It wasn’t too much longer before I was in transition and missing those breaks, they were long gone and not coming back ever again!
Here Dan is applying much-appreciated counterpressure to my tailbone a few moments later (around 2:30pm).
Soon after, I started laboring on the toilet, which is a wonderful place to labor! They checked me because I started talking about pooping and asking when to push and they found me to be at what they called “9+” which is really fully dilated with a small lip (as an aside, this is typical with malpresentation because baby’s head isn’t pressing uniformly onto the cervix). Then the nurses started being jerks, pushing on the little piece of cervix that was left during contractions… it sucked. “Resting” through contractions with Lindsey’s help (around 3pm), I was HOT and trying not barf everywhere (thank goodness for lemon oil!):
I wrestled the bed and ignored the kind nurse telling me the beds weren’t made to withstand that kind of rattling… it’s not my fault the birth beds weren’t made for a birthing woman! I also began to push, well my body was really pushing, and they were telling me to not push so I was grunting through contractions and pushing in little bursts. Around 4pm, a nurse who knows my aunt called her to say that if my family didn’t come soon they would miss the birth. Riding the contractions, here’s my favorite picture of labor, taken around 5pm:

Here we are around 9:00pm, still no baby, in one of our few safe-for-sharing pictures of me pushing (I told Lindsey that I’d rather have these pictures and delete them than not have them at all!):
You can see my knees are red from squatting and kneeling so much. I was on hands and knees for hours, it was the only comfortable position with relief from the pressure on my tailbone. My knees were sore even the next day… I’m not sure of the exact timeline, but soon after this photo was taken the doctor wanted to use the vacuum to get the baby out the rest of the way. I kept asking why no one was saying they could see her head, and the doctor said it was just inside and was “all but crowned.” He said the vacuum would hurt because it would be pretty much ripping her out the rest of the way and he would only proceed with an epidural. So epidural it was. And then I pushed and he pulled for maybe an hour? I dunno, but it seemed quick to me. The baby’s heartrate dropped and wouldn’t come back up, and the meconium started pouring out of me after having clear fluid for the nearly twelve hours since my water had broken. The doctor said that it was time for a cesarean, that we couldn’t wait any longer. The baby had to come out now. I had negotiated until I couldn’t anymore and I am so proud of the hard work I did. If if it was up to the doctor, I would have had a cesarean long before it actually happened, and I would have always carried around so many What Ifs? All I know is that this is the very next picture after the one above and it’s time stamp is over two hours later (11pm):
I was wheeled out of the room and past a crowd of my family who were waiting for the baby to be born. I am not sure who was there waving to me as I rolled by, they had taken my glasses, but I remember the outline of my grandmother and my aunt’s voice saying they loved me. I started bawling… the last time I was wheeled into an operating room, I wasn’t sure if I was going to live, much less if the little life inside of me would survive… The anesthesiologist tried to reassure me by telling me that cesareans were very common… and I told him why I was crying and he apologized… My legs and hips were rocking throughout the entire surgery and even through the next day – my body didn’t know that birth was over until after my milk came in. They rushed around me and it wasn’t too long before they were frantically asking Where’s Dad?!? Where is DAD?!? They were needing to get the baby out but Dan hadn’t even made it into the room yet. I didn’t even know he was in the room before I hear his voice saying It’s a GIRL! There are five minutes between the time stamps of the picture of Dan in his lovely OR outfit above and Sarah Beth’s first picture below:
I had to ask if it was still Thursday because I knew that I had been wheeled back not too long before midnight. Sarah was born at 11:27pm, weighing just under seven pounds, and was “sunny-side up” with a long bruise from her shoulder blade to her waist where she was caught on my tailbone. She didn’t have a name at first because we couldn’t decide on one beforehand, but after she was born she was given the name Sarah Beth. Sarah was the last name we were talking about before going into labor, and Beth fit because my grandmother’s first name is Elizabeth and my aunt’s name is Betsy, which is another nickname for Elizabeth.
Our first family photo:
Her first moments are nothing like we’d imagined. Her first moments are full of my only regrets. Her cord was cut immediately, she was intubated with a deep suction because of the meconium which was the root cause of our breastfeeding issues that took the first three weeks to overcome, so many things happened to her in her first moments that we did not want for her. Her first hours are a haze for me because after she was born the anesthesiologist asked me to close my eyes and gave me morphine without my knowledge; the epidural traveled into the nerves in my arms and I wasn’t comfortable holding her by myself at first. I was going to share a photo of me in recovery, Lindsey helping me try to latch Sarah because she knows how important it is to establishing a breastfeeding relationship, but I can barely look at it without feeling sad for what was lost in those first moments and days. I barely remember being there, and I feel almost that I’m looking at something that didn’t really happen, not to me at least.
That aside, I am proud of what we accomplished during the hours before her birth, and appreciate that our birth plan was followed completely. I enjoyed labor and really was able to step back and watch myself through each contraction in awe at what my body was doing. It was an amazing experience and I know I could do it again someday if given the chance.

You can learn more about Leslee &her doula practice in Tallahassee, FL. at

In peace,

Jen Starks,