11.22.2014

An eczema update

It's been over a year since I posted our eczema success story. It's horrifying to me every time I point someone new to this blog post to try to help their kiddos, and I see these old pictures and am reminded of how challenging life was for them at that time. 




I've had a few people ask me how things are going now, and someone even emailed me on Etsy yesterday after finding our last post and not being able to find a recent update (I guess I need a better contact button on my blog, eh?). So here's our update!

In the last year, I've learned several things. First, and most importantly, I've learned that topical steroids are much worse than I had ever suspected. When I caved and used hydrocortisone on Landon just a month after I wrote that blog post because the winter weather did bring a tiny flare for him, I unknowingly created a dependence for his little body, and he had to go through withdrawal to allow his body to heal. And topical steroid withdrawal was worse than even our original eczema. It was a nightmare unlike anything I could ever find words to describe. To see your child in that sort of pain and misery and be completely unable to offer relief is just terrible. 

I've now been a part of a support group on Facebook for steroid addiction and withdrawal for nearly a year and have met so many people whose struggles have been even worse than ours, and it breaks my heart each time someone new joins the group, gives up the topical steroids and begins to flare horribly. I know what's in store for them for months or years and it breaks my heart that I can't save everyone from topical steroids. All I can do at this point is strongly discourage everyone I know from EVER using topical steroids, even once. Luckily, I have friends and family who have done a round or two and been totally fine. And I breathe such a sigh of relief each time! I know that the shorter the time on the steroid and the less potent it is, the less likely the person is to become addicted. But because it happened to our little man from sporadic OTC hydrocortisone for less than two months, we ARE the rare case and it makes me so nervous when I hear of anyone in my life taking that risk. 

I also learned more about oral allergy syndrome and histamine intolerance, two things that I believe strongly every eczema/allergy/asthma parent should be well versed in. It may not be a puzzle piece for every child with one of these conditions, but I think it impacts more than we know, by a long shot. I've been able to relieve my kids' skin even more by limiting these foods. Adalyn's skin has remained awesome in the last year. She had a spring flare, which was caused by seasonal allergies and out of our control, but it was mild comparatively and didn't bother her much. We've been able to successfully introduce some foods back into their diet, like sweet potatoes and oatmeal and rice, but many others continue to flare their eczema each time I reintroduce, like wheat/gluten, tomatoes, citrus and more. And Landon has so many severe food allergies that cause anaphylaxis. His food list is very limited and it seems that every time I try a new food, he breaks out in hives, vomits, swells up and gets wheezy. It's been a really scary year with him.

And interestingly, as a side note, I put Ben on the same diet as the younger kids last year, mostly just to make life easier. But within a week, it became extremely clear that he needed the diet as much as they did. Though he only had his eczema for six months, he had been plagued by these terrible headaches for a year or two. Once every week or two, he would start to cry and grab his head and tell us how much it hurt. He'd end up on the couch or in bed in so much pain, and often it would be so severe he would throw up. It never, ever occurred to me that it could be from food. It should have, especially given how much I've always cared about food. But I thought we ate pretty well. From the time we started GAPS, he never had another headache/vomit spell. NEVER. As time went on, I started allowing Ben to have more things that the others couldn't, but nothing terrible. We're talking a piece of sprouted wheat bread. But one day, we went to Trader Joe's, just he and I, and I let him have a tiny cup of juice and the two gluten-free Joe-Joe's a store employee offered him. Literally three or four minutes later, he started complaining that his head hurt. I couldn't believe it. I rushed us through the store and got us home as quickly as I could and shortly after getting home, he threw up. 

I still haven't been able to pinpoint exactly what it is that bothers him so much, but I have to believe it's related to sugar in some way. Or maybe food dyes. I really don't know. But he's taught me even more about the importance of food for children than the others have. The others had this very clear medical issue, but Ben's issues were different, and I didn't suspect food, and his behavior improved so much after the diet started. On the flip side, his behavior has declined so much since school started (at home, at least) and he's had so many more health challenges that we did have to make the decision to send him separate snacks recently (since Kindergarten started, we let him have the same daily snacks as everyone else, but so often the snacks are super sugar laden like cupcakes and Oreos and Hi-C and other stuff that his body obviously should not have).

As for a skin update, I'd say about three months ago, things started improving a lot for Landon. The red blotchy skin got better, we no longer had to keep him in scratch sleeves during the day and he actually started sleeping well! He now just wakes up, on average, once a night. And I'd say maybe three nights a week now he's actually sleeping through the night! That is MONUMENTAL compared to our life six months ago! The elephant skin is gone. All signs of topical steroid withdrawal are now over, and in total, I'd say he went through it for six months. That's pretty short compared to most, but he was only ever on hydrocortisone sporadically for a few months, so the fact that he even went through withdrawal from that sort of use is awful. 

His eczema is pretty much only on his legs now, with a little bit on his arms. We decided, after getting so tired of keeping him in cotton sleepers day in and day out for months on end and not ever seeing our little guy in real clothes (just felt like a constant reminder that "you're different") to just put cotton tights on his legs underneath his clothes. So now he gets to wear regular clothes and if he does scratch his legs (which he does so much less now - mostly only when he's upset), he can't do any real damage. I believe that in the year since I posted our success story, this is what happened: 

Winter came. Air dried out. Skin dried out. Tiny flare. I panicked, fearing his eczema could come back full-force and decided to try hydrocortisone. I unknowingly sent him into steroid addiction, and when I stopped using the cream, his skin got 20 times worse than it had been, quite suddenly. He became horribly allergic to so many foods. His behavior was absolutely out of control. He was miserable and in pain. His little body was so worn down. Six months of withdrawing and he finally came out of it, with his residual eczema now left behind. The residual eczema? It's not great. I would still classify his legs as severe compared to many people with eczema. But to us, it definitely feels more like mild. When you've lived with horrendous, you can totally deal with severe. It doesn't impact our life to nearly the degree it did from January to July. He doesn't need to have his hands covered. We lead a pretty normal life, except for the severe food allergies. He's a happy kid! It feels so, so good to be back to this place yet again.

I think at least until the kids have outgrown it, we'll have to deal with a flare in the winter and a flare in the spring. Their seasonal allergies are pretty intense, so I think it'll just be a thing we have to deal with. But as long as we keep their bucket as empty as we can by eliminating all the foods they react to, I'm sure their eczema will continue to be much milder than it used to be, even when it is winter and spring. And I have TONS of faith that by the time they're teenagers, at worst, they'll be mostly eczema-free, or totally eczema-free, as long as we never touch a steroid cream again.


REAL CLOTHES! NOT A SLEEPER WITH ECZEMA SLEEVES OVER IT! WOOT!


LOOK AT THAT BEAUTIFUL SKIN!

11.20.2014

Our kitchen renovation is almost complete!

We bought our house about a year ago. It was an incredible deal for the size (five bedrooms plus an office, 3100 square feet), so we couldn't pass it up. But compared to some of the other homes we were looking at that were smaller, it needed more work. There was nothing truly wrong with this house. There's just a lot of builder grade things, not much had been updated and it wasn't really my style. But that's okay, we can work with that over time. No biggie.

The kitchen was really the only thing that mattered to me when we were buying a home. Everything else, I could live with. But the one thing I wanted was a nice, large kitchen with nice appliances. I spend so much time in the kitchen, and it was just my big dream. This house definitely had the large sized kitchen! But it lacked in the aesthetics department. Random sidenote: the one thing I wanted, like I said, was a kitchen I didn't need to renovate, and the one thing Tim wanted was a great location for biking/walking/running, and neither of us got what we wanted, go figure!

Anyway.

This was the kitchen when we saw it before buying the house, pulled from the real estate listing:








I didn't have a huge budget to work with. After the sale of our last home and the moving expenses for a cross-country move and the downpayment on the new home, we had somewhere around $6000 for everything we needed to do in the house. When you're going from a 1300 square foot house to a 3100 square foot house, you need to buy things. Lots of them, as it turns out. Especially when you've actually downsized and sold things off from that 1300 square foot house to fit everything into one PODS.

I started planning out what I wanted to do. 

We didn't have the budget for new cabinets, and really, I was totally fine with these. They certainly aren't super fancy, like the ones in the other home we were considering putting an offer on, with the soft-close and the beautiful finish, but they were fine enough for me. So I knew paint was in our future. My cousin-in-law had painted her cabinets the year before and gave me the down low on what paint to buy, our realtor recommended a painter to us, and for $800 for that many cabinets, I considered it a steal. I've heard of lots of others paying upwards of $2000 for the labor. $800, we could do. With my health declining, an entire house to unpack and three young kiddos, we decided that painting them ourselves wasn't in the cards. And in hindsight, I'm really happy with that decision! They did a good job. The finish is super smooth and they've held up well over the year we've had them painted (definitely some places where paint has come off, but that all happened initially and we haven't lost any paint since then, thank goodness, and they're all just small touch-up spots).



The paint alone made a huge difference. We ended up going with Benjamin Moore Advance paint in Mayo. I've been super happy with that decision. They aren't bright white, which I was opposed to. They're a perfect muted white. Love. Them. Even a year later. They are incredibly easy to maintain and wash. Every few weeks I go through quickly with my microfiber rag and do a quick scrub down. It takes me five minutes.

We had a few granite quotes and put down the 50% deposit to have them installed shortly after Thanksgiving last year. After having several bad encounters with the owner of the company, I got cold feet and asked for our deposit back. Something about him struck a nerve with me, and the more I unpacked our home, the more I realized how much we needed to fill our new space, and the $6000 we had to spend on the house really needed to be applied to things other than granite since our counters were okay enough to live with. Fast forward a year and they are in rough shape. They're stained and chipped and even bubbling up a little in one spot. We will definitely have to replace them in the somewhat near future. 

We replaced the hardware with new black hardware we got from ebay. Another tip from my cousin-in-law and it was a good one! Much cheaper than the hardware stores.



Next was the sink! Since we weren't getting granite right away, I couldn't do an undermount sink but our sink and faucet needed to go. Tim installed this new black granite composite one and it really improved the look and feel of the kitchen.


I painted the kitchen next, my favorite Benjamin Moore Wythe Blue (what our last living room and front door were painted with). 

After a ton of deliberation, I decided to go with Allure's vinyl plank flooring. Our linoleum was not only hideous, but in bad shape. It was stained, torn and once the cabinets were painted white, looked even worse (white cabinets on white linoleum floor is some kind of design sin, I'm sure). My cousin-in-law (apparently my go-to gal, eh?) used these in one of her bathrooms and had nothing but positive things to say. Installation was easy and they held up pretty well over time and looked beautiful. The reviews online were mostly glowing, too, so in an effort to keep the reno affordable, allow us to install it ourselves and give me the wood look without the fear of ruining a wood floor in a kitchen, we measured our floors and purchased the Barnwood style

Then I got pregnant and the boxes of flooring sat in our garage for an entire year. I was anxious to get them installed, but between my morning sickness, third trimester fatigue and Landon's terrible eczema/TSW flare, we never had the time or energy. Our linoleum taunted me for a year until I finally convinced Tim to install it last weekend, completing our kitchen renovation for now!

 A close-up:

Progress:

Tim worked his buns off last weekend to get this done! He was pretty happy with how easy it was to install and we were both psyched about how amazing it looked. For fake wood, this ain't too shabby! And because it was pretty inexpensive, if the water or the kids destroy it over time, it won't break my heart nearly so badly. He even made a time lapse video of the installation because he's awesome like that. ;)

When it was all done, I was seriously on top of the world. It was exactly what the kitchen needed to take it over the edge to a kitchen I can really love for awhile, even though I don't have my nice appliances or countertops or backsplash yet. 

We'll be removing the current lights and putting can lights in sometime soon, but other than that, our kitchen is completed for at least awhile, until we can save up enough for the countertops and until our current appliances bite the dust, one-by-one. 

So without further adieu, the before and afters!






 And more photos of the after. :)






I think on a budget of under $2000, that's a pretty dramatic renovation and I'm really happy with it so far!

And now, because I haven't tortured my husband enough with change (the poor man is not a fan of change, so, um, buying a house that needed some changes wasn't the smartest idea we've had), my project for the next couple of days:

Huge thanks to my hubby for putting up with me and my ever-changing mind, and for giving me this beautiful kitchen. Love you, yo. ;)

11.06.2014

The homebirth of Ella Grace

Wednesday evening, October 1st, I had given up on the idea that labor would come anytime soon. I lay in bed most of that day, dejected and in lots of pain. I wrote a blog post. I took a bath. I had Ben come in the bedroom that evening so I could help him with homework and actually feel like part of the family, because the last months had been so tough on me and on our family. I’d felt so separated from everyone after the first three months of awful morning sickness and the last three months of awful pain. This fourth pregnancy was no cake walk. That I was sure of. I was so ready for baby girl to come and for the months of discomfort to be done. 

Ben scribbled on his paper and I stared at him in awe, recognizing that he was about to become a big brother once again. I knew in his eyes, he was going to feel kicked down the totem pole once again when new baby arrived and his mama would be sucked back into newbornhood and all that entails. I cherished those moments doing homework with him. I was mesmerized by how far he’d come in his short month and a half in school as he spelled out words all on his own before my eyes. I smiled at his chubby little kid fingers, clutching his pencil and working with all his might to perfect his spelling. 

“Is this how you spell it?” he asked me, so determined to spell each word correctly. 

About that time, as I was posting a picture of his adorable spelling to instagram, I got a contraction. It came on fast and hard, enough to stop me in my tracks and distract me from whatever question Ben had just asked me. He repeated himself and I bit down on my lip and smiled through the pain, answering his question. Over the next 20 minutes or so, as we wrapped up his homework, I got several more contractions, and I let my heart skip in my chest as I started to believe this was it; the real deal. I pulled out my phone and began to log the contractions. Just in case, you know.

Tim wrangled the kids up for bed time. I knew that he was reluctant to believe I was in real labor (I was almost 42 weeks pregnant, after all, and labor had become an elusive little fantasy). I was reluctant to even let the words, “I think this could be it,” slip past my lips. I didn’t want to let anyone down. 

But I did.

“I think I could be in labor,” I texted my mama. We chatted back and forth for a bit. As a school teacher living three hours away, having her come wasn’t the easiest feat in the world. If I was wrong and this wasn’t labor, she’d miss a day of work for nothing, giving her one less day when baby finally did make her appearance. If I waited it out, she could miss the birth. After having two fast labors (one of which was one miraculous and excruciatingly painful hour), there was always that possibility. 

“I’m going to go ahead and come,” she insisted. We didn’t want to say it, probably because deep down we believed we’d jinx it, but I think we both knew this was it. I didn’t have the weeks of prodromal labor this time around that had plagued my previous two pregnancies. I had some bouts of contractions in the weeks before she arrived, but they weren’t terribly painful and were never consistent or long-lasting. So when these contractions keep coming on, irregular or not, I was pretty sure it would become real labor.

My midwife, Carrie, and I sent texts back and forth as I breathed my way through early labor. Stopping every few minutes to log a contraction and take a breath, I worked my way through our downstairs, picking up the toys strewn about, the dirty dishes by the sink, the laundry piles on the couch, trying to make sure our house was perfect. Funny how things like that seem so earth-shatteringly necessary when you’re nine months pregnant. If she came into the world and there was anything out of place, I was sure the whole world would stop spinning.

The contractions were wildly sporadic. They teased and taunted. Tim and I watched TV for hours while they came on, inconsistently in intensity and time. I was totally stumped. Was this labor? Some contractions were two minutes apart, but the next would come on 12 minutes later. 

My mama got there sometime between 10 and 11. We chatted. She lugged in her bags. Then she headed to bed to get some sleep, making me promise to wake her up when it was go time.

Around midnight, I finally conceded and told my midwife I thought I was in labor. They were still so inconsistent, but I was swaying back and forth, working so hard to breathe and unable to talk during contractions, so I knew by that point that even though it could be hours before we met our new baby, we were going to meet her soon. Carrie wanted to go ahead and come, and I felt such a wave of relief knowing she was heading over. Even though I didn’t feel like her arrival was around the corner, having had a few “runaway train” labors in the past, I felt peace knowing my midwife would be there in case things took a fast turn. 

I texted our photographer, Jen. She replied quickly that she was on her way over, and I felt a literal weight off my shoulders knowing everything was in place and ready whenever baby girl was ready, too. 

I slipped out of bed slowly, pressing on my aching hips as I stood up. It took me a second to realize that my water was leaking down my leg, but as soon as I did, my heart began to race. My runaway train labors began with my water breaking, and once it did, my labor came on fast and furiously in both cases. I braced myself for those monster contractions with no break in between as I made my way slowly to our bathroom to get in the bath for relief. Hands shaking, I texted Carrie once more to let her know my water had broken. 

Minutes went by as the bath water swirled around me and no contractions came. I was absolutely confused. Where were my monster contractions? When I got out of the bath a few minutes later, I realized that my water hadn’t fully broken, but that I had a slow leak instead. I’d never had a slow leak before, so I knew this must account for the dramatic difference between this labor and my first two. 

Carrie and Jen arrived within minutes of each other around 1:00 a.m. Pretty quickly thereafter, Carrie checked me. 

“You’re eight centimeters,” she told me.

I hadn’t expected that! At this point, the contractions were still so sporadic and I had so much relief between them that I just couldn’t believe I had so little labor left ahead. 

Or so I thought.

Carrie and Jen plopped down on our bedroom floor in front of our bed, where Tim and I lay. We sat around for an hour chatting and laughing. Jen told stories of births she’d been at where the mamas had been laughing and joking up until pushing time. I got excited as I realized this could actually be happening to me, too. I’d never before been so relaxed at eight centimeters. I’d never before been able to laugh and smile and listen to others at eight centimeters (I’d done all that at nine centimeters with Ben, but in my defense, that lovely little thing called the epidural assisted me that time around so I felt nothing but pressure).



And suddenly, as quickly as I’d let myself imagine that I had an easy labor ahead, some monster contractions hit me and I was no longer able to listen to everyone in the room or keep a smile on my face. As if they’d read my mind, Carrie and Jen got up and left the room to start getting things ready in the kitchen. I breathed hard through several contractions, my heart picking up its pace as the realization of what was happening began to hit me.



This was not going to be an easy labor at all, I thought to myself.

The hours blended together as I moved from the bath to the bed, the bed to the bath. The bath was so beautifully relaxing, but I alternated between pouring sweat and shivering so easily and quickly that I couldn’t stay in one spot too long. One minute I was asking Tim to open the windows to get the cool breeze in, and the next I was running for the heat of the bath. Two minutes later, I was burning up yet again and asking Tim to open the windows back up and turn on the fan.







Carrie and Jen popped in off and on. Carrie, checking baby’s heart rate, rubbing my back, encouraging me. Jen, snapping pictures ever so quietly. I’d told them both that I was definitely a labor-alone kind of girl, and they respected that so, so much throughout the course of my labor. They were rockstar birth supporters.



My mom also came down off and on throughout the labor, checking on me and offering encouragement, then going back to sleep when it was clear it wasn’t time. The fact that she’d gotten sleep ended up being a Godsend the next day when she could take care of the other three kiddos as we honeymooned with baby girl.



At times, I got up on my knees and used the birth ball on the bed to lean against. Other times, I stood on the floor and rested my weight on the birth ball. Sometimes Tim used this roller ball on my back and other times, the heating pad. He was the perfect birth support partner once again.





In the background, old hymns played from my phone. Candles flickered in the darkened bathroom. I’d made a hilarious but perfectly-Chelsea compilation of ‘90s hits (hello, Hanson and Spice Girls), classic rock, Dave Matthews and worship music on Spotify, but days before her labor, I decided to pull just the worship songs into a new playlist in case I decided I wanted worship songs only during labor, as I’d done with Adalyn. And when her labor began, that’s exactly what happened. The music was exactly what I needed. It helped me focus and center and remember that God was with us. His presence was in the room with us and through His strength, I could birth this baby. He’d designed my body to do just that, and I needed to maintain that faith.



As the hours rolled by, the pain intensified. What began as quiet moaning had become crying sometime early in the morning. The exhaustion I felt by that point was indescribable. I was tired deep, deep in my bones. My eyelids were weighed down and I actually slept off and on between almost every contraction in those final few hours, something I’d never experienced in past labors (and Tim kept falling asleep half sitting up - hilarious).







As the sun peeked through the blinds early on October 2nd, I’d reached my brick wall. I didn’t believe I was capable of one more moment of labor. I kept crying out to Tim that I couldn’t do it anymore. I didn’t know how to do it.

“It's really hard to get babies out!” I shouted. Tim thought it was hilarious and added it to his memorable quote list he keeps on his phone. 

I had nothing left to give. I was so tired, I was so broken down from the hours of pain, I was so frustrated that she wasn’t here. I started to push, more because I just needed her to be out than because my body was telling me to. Tim ran out into the kitchen to tell Jen and Carrie that I was pushing. Moments later, they were at my side.



I pushed for a seeming eternity. With each push, I felt more and more desperate. I knew I couldn’t feel her coming down. I knew she wasn’t coming. I knew my pushing wasn’t effective.


Then we heard Ben’s little feet pitter-pattering down the hall as he cried out for Daddy. Tim and my mom ran out of the room to reassure him. He was upset that he had missed the bus and wouldn’t be going to school that day (atta boy), but Tim reassured him that his little sissy was on her way and that we wanted him to be part of that amazing experience, as he was part of our family. My mom stayed with the kids and got them breakfast as I finished laboring sweet baby girl down.



When Tim came back in, I went back to pushing. Carrie checked me.

“You’ve still got a little cervical lip,” she told me. It explained a lot, but I didn’t have a clue what to do to get past that, and fear flooded my body. At that point, I began to let the doubt creep in. 

I began to doubt my body and my abilities. 

I began to wonder if my body was revolting against me. 

Would my cervix never fully dilate?

Would this end up in a c-section?

I’ve done it in every labor. It’s obviously my transition sign. Carrie helped me along and together, we got past that cervical lip. I suddenly got a huge burst of energy, and in combination with an extreme sense of urgency to get her out, I gave one gigantic push, screaming at the top of my lungs, and felt her quickly descend. One more big push and her head came out, and another, and my midwife helped pull the rest of her out.




It. Was. Done. 

Halle-friggin-lujah. 

Into my arms came this sweet, chubby baby girl at 8:00 a.m. Tim and I soaked in that glorious moment together. And for once, we didn’t have the stress of a baby who isn’t breathing right away. Not only was she breathing just fine, but this feisty girl was screaming, as if to say, World, here I am

"Is she really a girl?" I asked, examining her, just as I'd done with Adalyn.



She was definitely a she.

We waited for the cord to stop pulsing (it was short, like is usual for me, so she couldn’t reach my chest), then we cut it and she latched right on and nursed like it’s all she’s ever known. In fact, she was such a nursing rockstar that if we dared try to unlatch her to get her weighed and check her out, she let us know immediately that she was not a happy camper. So we all sat around and gave her extra time.




And then we weighed her.





And jaws hit the floor.

You see, our other three babies were 8 lbs, 1oz. When you’ve had three babies weigh exactly the same down to the ounce, you begin to expect it’s just your body’s timer. We were all quite certain she’d be 8 lbs, 1oz. But when my midwife began to laugh as she lifted her up in her scale and the room erupted in gasps and laughter, I wasn’t sure what was going on.

“I told you she was over nine!” she shouted.

“She’s over nine?!” I couldn’t believe it. 

“Nine-fifteen!”

I’d just birthed a ten pound baby, essentially. It all made sense so quickly. The long, intense, all-consuming labor. The horrendous pain of pushing that was unlike anything I’d experienced before. The screaming. I felt somehow justified in the end. And I didn't need one single stitch, believe it or not.




Ben peeked his little head in the room first and bounded right in to come meet his new sister. He declared her cute and gave her tiny little Ben kisses.



Adalyn tiptoed in next, a little unsure and timid, but was so immediately smitten, touching her tiny toes and examining her itty bitty hands.




“I’m going to call her sissy,” she told us firmly.

Landon was the last to make his appearance, and certainly the most hesitant. His pictures capture those moments just perfectly. But funny enough, he’s the one who is now most taken by her, one month after her birth. He’s so tender and gentle and loving with her, and I can already tell he’s going to be the most amazing big brother.




13.5 hours of labor. 10 pounds of baby. Two weeks overdue. Girlfriend was a force to be reckoned with.
















We sat there for hours debating what to name her as we stared at her perfect little chub, wrapped her tiny fingers around ours and laughed at our inability to choose our baby’s names. In the end, it came down to Hadley or Ella, Grace as the middle name either way. The latter won by the tiniest little margin. In fact, we had to look up the meaning of both names to cinch the deal. Hadley means "heather meadow," which has no significance for us, and Ella means "all" according to its German heritage. We thought that was perfect. Miss Ella Grace was all consuming. Her pregnancy, her 42 week entrance, her labor, her weight...it was just ALL. All consuming, but in the end, in the best way ever. She shares her middle name with her awesome auntie Christina, and apparently shares her first name with her great-great grandma, though we didn't know that beforehand. A perfect little surprise to find out after-the-fact. All four of our kids now share a middle name with someone in our lineage, and what a fun bonus that Ella shares two of her names.

Big ole shoutout to Hatched at Home and Jen Conway Photography! You gals are awesome! My midwife made my birth everything I wanted, put up with me in those final few weeks when I had a question every other minute and became the crankiest woman known to mankind. She encouraged me in the moments I let the fear of going past dates creep in. In the end, I have to say, I'm really proud of myself for never once considering giving up and going the way of induction. I trusted that my body was going to do what it had already proven to me three times that it was capable of doing. It was exactly the birth I wanted. And that's how it should be for every woman. Whether it's in a hospital or a birth center or at home, as long as a woman is birthing in the way that makes her feel safe and secure and comfortable, that's how it should be. Period.

And probably the coolest part of this whole post is this video. With my first two births, we didn't do pictures. I regretted it in hindsight. I'm such a birth junkie and so much was lost from my memory over the years. With Landon, my amazing friend Lizz gifted us her photography skills and captured that birth on camera, which was so precious and priceless for me. Since we've moved and no longer had her talent, but knew how important that aspect was for me, I hired a birth photographer who also specializes in birth films. So the fourth time around, we have both photos and video documentation, and we'll likely never forget one detail of this little spitfire's birth. ;)

This isn't very graphic, but it is still birth. I'm a "normalize birth" person so I don't mind sharing this with the world, but don't watch it if you're not into that sort of stuff. Password is: sunrise


The Birth Story of Ella from Jen Conway Photography on Vimeo.
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You can find Jen's blog post about our birth here. She has a few more pictures not seen here, too. 'Cause there aren't enough pictures on this post, obviously. ;)

My other births documented on the ole blog-a-roo: