All articles written by: Heather

Happy Six Months Birthday, Abigail!

{This is very belated, as I wrote it but didn’t get around to posting it until now!}

Abigail turned six months old last weekend. I can’t believe we’re already halfway to one year!

Abi is still wearing some size 9 months clothes, and she also wears some things that are size 12 months. She weighs 18 lbs, and is tall for her age (or I guess you would say “long” at this stage since she’s not standing.)

She doesn’t sit up on her own yet or crawl. She still mostly likes to get around by rolling, or by us carrying her. She does travel pretty far by rolling and wiggling, so maybe she doesn’t feel too motivated to try anything more just yet. She doesn’t like to lay on her back, and always rolls to her side or belly when we put her down. Diaper changes are a struggle because she fights to be on her belly!

The biggest change this month has been her desire to explore things with her hands. She is no longer content to just watch the action, she wants to grab it for herself! She loves to grab, shake, taste, and slam anything she can get her hands on. Anything we are doing while holding her will be targeted. Because of that, we can’t really do much else while holding her any more. No computer, paper books, or cooking. She also tends to wriggle around a lot while she’s being held, which makes it more of a two-arm job. And unfortunately, our easy baby has disappeared, as she now demands to be held for a majority of the day. I still wouldn’t consider her high-need, because in other ways she really isn’t, but I also wouldn’t call her “easy” any more.

Because of how heavy she is, I’ve found wearing her to be a bit uncomfortable and hard on my back. So I don’t typically spend a lot of time with her in the carrier, but it’s definitely still useful for outings, and Cory still wears her for hours each day. Personally, I prefer to hold her in my arms, which I find to be easier on my back. She also seems more content that way, because I can shift her position and try different things to keep her entertained.

She did her first reach to be held this month, something I always find cute. She reaches for both me and her dad, though she does have a preference for me sometimes. She’s had a couple of episodes of separation anxiety from me, but she’s also accepted other caregivers easily. We even went out on a date, and left her with a babysitter!

Abigail has always seemed to eyeball our food, so when our pediatrician said we could start trying to feed her baby food, I thought, “why not?” And as it turns out, she is a great eater! It’s such a new experience for me to spoon feed a baby food and have her actually swallow it and open her mouth for more. So far, we’ve tried sweet potatoes, pears, peas, bananas, carrots, and cereal. She’s liked all of them except for the pears and cereal, and she wasn’t as enthusiastic about the peas as she was with the others. But she really seems to love sweet potatoes, bananas, and carrots. It’s exciting to see her accepting fruits and veggies already, and it gives me hope that she will be a good eater as she grows up.

Of course for now, she’s still so young that I’m not looking to make solid foods a big part of her diet. I still believe breastmilk is best for the first year. I typically feed her just half of a jar of stage one baby food (which is a tiny jar to begin with), then finish it off the next day and wait a few days before feeding her another one. I like the idea of introducing a variety of foods to her, but as I said, nothing beats breastmilk for baby nutrition!

Speaking of which, she’s still a great nurser and my supply is great as usual. She nurses about every 3 hours or so, and typically two to three times during the night. She sleeps with us in our family bed, and we all go to bed at about 10 PM (although Abigail frequently falls asleep before that). Cory gets up with the kids, usually sometime between 6:30 and 7:30. Occasionally, Abigail and/or Cody will stay asleep with me until I get up at 8. That means generally, Abi sleeps for nine to eleven hours per night.

She takes two naps at fairly predictable times now. Her first nap is in the late morning, around 10:30 or so, and her second nap is usually in the mid afternoon, around 3:30 or so. It can vary by a couple of hours some days, but that’s the most common. Her naps are about an hour long on average, but they can also be longer. When teething is bothering her, she has trouble staying asleep for naps and is restless at night.

As for her eczema and diaper rash: we finally beat it! The eczema could flare up again without warning at any time, of course, but for now her skin is clear. We bathe her in just water (no soap) every other day, and follow that with a full-body lotioning. The diaper rash was finally cured when we got a prescription for a steroid cream. It took about two weeks for it to fully go away using that, but it’s finally gone. Unfortunately, ever since we stopped the steroid cream, the rash keeps trying to come back. We put a light layer of Aquaphor on her at every change, but we still notice redness appearing every few days. When we see it, we put on more steroid cream for a day or two, and that takes care of it. It’s frustrating to have to keep using that, though, because I know it’s not recommended to use it long-term. Her skin is just so darn sensitive, and doesn’t respond to anything else! But at least for now, it seems to be under control, and she’s not uncomfortable any more. Thank God!

So that’s about it! Abi is a happy, healthy baby, and just the sweetest little nugget. Those chunky cheeks and big blue eyes, and her adorable smile… they get me every time. <3

Recipe of the Month – Instant Pot Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo

This meal is both easy and decadent. It does take a good amount of time, mostly because I cook my chicken from frozen (in the deep freezer), but it’s a fairly hands-off cooking process. It’s not something we cook more than once per month in my family, but reserve as a special treat because it is very high in fat. That being said, it is of course delicious and my new favorite meal, ever since I learned to make it last month. This month, I perfected the recipe and altered it to use my new favorite appliance, the Instant Pot. Now it’s even easier, and more delicious, and I just had to share it!

Servings: 4
Total Time: 45 minutes

½ lb uncooked fettuccine pasta
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp Better Than Bouillon chicken base, or 1 cup chicken broth
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
2 cups whipping cream
1 1/2 cups Italian blend of cheeses (such as parmesan, romano, and mozzarella)

Place chicken breasts directly in the inner cooking pot of the instant pot. Add chicken base with 1 cup water, or 1 cup of chicken broth. Add garlic for additional flavor, if desired. Hint: I’ve recently added a garlic press to my kitchen arsenal, and I can’t believe I didn’t buy one sooner. It makes adding garlic to my dishes SO much faster and easier.

Close the lid and move the vent to sealing, then cook on manual (high pressure) for 15 minutes, for deeply frozen chicken; 10 minutes for normally frozen chicken; or 8 minutes for fresh chicken. After cooking, allow pressure to release naturally for 15 minutes before opening. Check the temperature of the chicken, ensuring it has reached at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. If necessary, cook for an additional 5 minutes and do a quick release.

While chicken is cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta, and cook according to package directions. Strain, and toss with butter. Hint: Take a small slice of butter from the stick you will be using for the sauce. Also, I recommend leaving the pasta in the strainer, so you can re-use the pot to cook the sauce.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Whisk in the cream and season with salt and pepper. Bring the sauce to a simmer, then cook for 2 minutes. Lower the heat, and whisk in the cheese. Don’t worry if sauce seems thin while it’s cooking. It will thicken by the end!

After the chicken has cooked, cut it into bite-sized pieces.

Add the chicken and cooked pasta to the sauce, and mix well before serving. Hint: a pasta ladle is extremely useful for this.

Serve with steamed green beans or a fresh salad to complete the meal, and enjoy!

Happy Five Months Birthday, Abigail!

Abigail is now five months old! She weighs 16.8 lbs and is almost 26” long. She is in the 78th percentile for weight, and 72nd for height. She wears 6-9 month size clothes, but some of her footsie pajamas are 12 month size. Her eyes are still the same shade of blue, and it seems likely they will remain blue at this point. Her hair seems to be more and more sparse, since she hasn’t grown any more that I can tell since being born.

She wakes up on average three times per night to nurse. She tends to be a somewhat restless sleeper, but I think that is because of her recent flare-up of eczema, which is making her itchy. The eczema appeared suddenly almost two weeks ago, starting on her cheeks and then spreading to the rest of her body. We started giving her daily baths and lotioning her afterward, which is apparently the most important thing to do for treating eczema. We also moisturize the most affected areas of her body a few times during the day. After about a week, it has mostly cleared up, but not completely. I’m not too concerned about it, but it is an annoyance.

We also have been fighting a diaper rash with her for over a month now. We’ve tried everything including coconut oil, traditional zinc oxide diaper rash creams, petrolatum ointment, anti-fungals, cortizone, and airing it out. She also wears “natural” diapers (without chemicals, dyes, or fragrances) and we use “natural” wipes (which contain mostly water and gentle, plant-based cleaners). The most successful treatment has been the petrolatum (Aquaphor) and a special healing ointment we bought called “Bee Magic” which contains honey, bee pollen, and other bee-related substances. Using those with every diaper change, she has almost completely healed several times, but then the rash will flare up again for no apparent reason. As of right now, it is “manageable,” meaning not getting any worse, and not severe enough to be very concerning. Like her eczema, it is more of an annoyance than anything. Diaper changes are a hassle because she tries to scratch herself, so we have to put mittens on her hands and try to pin down all of her limbs while smearing two types of ointment on her. As you can imagine, it’s basically an olympic sport. Rinse and repeat every two hours!

Anyway. She loves to sleep on her side now, and usually sucks on her thumb while sleeping. She tends to have a mid-morning nap and an early afternoon nap, each lasting one to three hours. I can usually tell when she’s tired because she will start to act grumpy. She’s so easy to put down; I close the curtains, put the white noise on, and then rock her. It takes just a few minutes for her to fall asleep. She doesn’t wake up when I put her down in bed, either. Easy peasy!

She doesn’t like her swing, so we haven’t used it in weeks. She prefers her bouncy seat, floor seat, play mat, high chair, or playpen. Of course her favorite option is being held, and she also loves to be worn in the carrier. This week, I was able to take her on a walk in the stroller, and she sat happily in the upper seat (it’s a double stroller). She also went in the baby swing at the park and loved it.

She loves grabbing things, including skin, hair, and faces. But toys will also suffice. She likes sucking on tags, soft toys, and teething toys. She will almost always roll to her belly when she’s laid down to play, and she can now push up high on her arms (push-up style). She also is starting to push her bottom up by bringing her knees under her. It’s a small step towards crawling, which is exciting. Abigail cannot sit up on her own yet, but she’s getting close. She can roll easily from back to belly and vice versa. She actually can move pretty far just by rolling and wiggling.

Generally, she’s very smiley, giggly, and a content observer. She laughs at people when they burp or blow raspberries, and she still finds peek-a-boo hilarious. Cody likes to snuggle her and try to make her laugh.

This month we will offer her some solid food for the first time. She seems interested in our food when we eat, so we’ll see what happens. We’re going to start off with some simple pureed baby food and baby cereals mixed with breastmilk. I’m excited to see how she does.

My sweet baby girl is growing so fast. I love this stage!

Recipe of the Month – Chicken Ramen

This recipe is probably my husband’s favorite dinner, and one of mine as well. It’s one of those meals that we have to force ourselves to stop eating when we’re full, because we want to keep chowing down on it! It’s a bit higher effort than most of my go-to dinners, but it’s still an easy and relatively quick meal.

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

2 boneless skinless chicken thighs
32 oz carton chicken broth
1 tbsp chicken bouillon or “Better Than Bouillon”
2 heads baby bok choy, rinsed thoroughly
½ cup shredded carrots
1 bunch green onion (scallions), rinsed thoroughly
2 eggs
Ramen noodles (thin Asian noodles), about 1/3 lb

Cut up the chicken first. Cut it into small chunks, about what would fit into a ¼ tsp measuring spoon. Place it in a large pot with the chicken broth and bouillon. Set it to medium-high with lid on, to boil.

While the broth is heating, cut up the baby bok choy and scallions. Use the green leafy part of the baby bok choy and a small amount of the white stem, and cut it into thin strips. Cut off the ends (both white and green ends) of scallions and peel away any dry outer skin before slicing it into thin circles.
Once the broth has started to boil, add the carrots, baby bok choy, and scallions. Reduce the heat to medium. Continue to cook, uncovered, for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, set a medium pot of water to boil. Cook the noodles following the package instructions. My preferred noodles take only about 2 minutes to cook. After the noodles are cooked, drain them and set them aside.

In a small bowl, crack eggs and scramble them with a fork. Then pour them into the soup, stirring immediately. Reduce the heat to low and cook for another 5 minutes.

Add the noodles to the soup, stir well, and serve. Delicious!

Looking Back at 2017

This post is coming a little bit late, but such is the life of a mom. Writing and posting happen in stolen snippets of time! 😉

This year has been a big one for our family!

In January, we sold our travel trailer, which we had discovered was more work than it was worth for us. We also sold our truck later, and bought a small car for Cory to drive to work. I am still a proud minivan driver.

In February, Cory and I celebrated our ninth anniversary of being a couple. We have grown so much in the time we have been together! Since we were so young when we met, it really does seem like a lifetime ago. Becoming adults together has been a great adventure.

In March, we bought our first house and moved. In the process of moving, we had a terrible accident in which two of our dogs killed our three guinea pigs, Penelope, Clementine, and Amelia. While moving into our new house was exciting, this loss was a heavy shadow over that time.

In April, I completed my Hypnobabies Instructor training. Later that month, we adopted our cat, Luna.

In May, I graduated from the Christian Coach Institute as a Professional Christian Life Coach. This was a major goal of mine since before Cody was born, and I was very excited to reach it.

In July, I received my Hypnobabies Instructor Certification, and turned 25 years old. In August, Cory and I celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary, and Cory turned 26 years old.

In September, our daughter Abigail was born. We had a wonderful planned home birth. We have decided that she will be our last biological child, and we will wait at least three years but possibly longer until we pursue adoption.

In October, Cody turned three years old, and we celebrated with a small family gathering. At three, Cody is much more independent. He was weaned this year, and has started to eat more food slowly but surely. He can do many things on his own and doesn’t need constant direct supervision. He talks non-stop and is very active. He is small for his age, which makes sense because I am also quite small and Cory is thin. He is not yet potty trained, but we will get there when he’s ready.

In December, we adopted our puppy, Macy, who is now just under three months old. She is our fourth dog, and our last for now. Marley is approaching 13 years old, but in great health overall with the exception of his heart murmur. Sky is now seven years old, and Lila is going to be two soon, and both of them are in excellent health.
Anyway, financially this year has been tough. Buying and improving our home, our pregnancy and baby expenses, my career trainings, and the increasing healthcare expenses of an older dog (Marley) have all been expensive. Nevertheless, we have been incredibly blessed by God’s miraculous provision. As this year comes to a close, we have now paid off about half of our debt and we have a comfortable monthly budget.

Overall, this year has been wonderful. In 2018, my main task will be to continue to live this beautiful life I have been blessed with, serving the Lord as best I can in my daily life. I am excited to see what’s ahead for me and my family in the coming year!

Happy 4 Months Birthday, Abigail!

Abigail is now four months old! How the time is flying… 🙁

She weighs 16.2 lbs, and is still wearing her 3-6 month size clothes, but I am planning to move her up to 6-9 months soon because her pants are all pretty tight and short. She still has beautiful blue eyes. She hasn’t grown any more hair since being born, and in fact she has lost some! She has a little bald patch on the back of her head, which is common for babies with hair.

She does not sleep through the night anymore, even though she did for a short time when she was younger. Now she wakes up about three to four times per night to nurse. She’s also become a pretty wiggly sleeper, which is somewhat annoying, but I wouldn’t give up snuggling with her at night for anything! She loves to sleep on her belly, and will almost always roll over to that position while sleeping, if she fell asleep on her back. She still loves sucking her thumb, and sometimes her whole hand.

She isn’t on a nap schedule yet, but she tends to take one or two long naps each day (a couple of hours), along with several more short ones (10 to 20 minutes).

She’s becoming more aware of her surroundings and showing interest in grabbing objects she sees. She’s a notorious hair-and-skin-grabber. She wants to be held a lot more often now, but she still has times where she’s content to just sit in her bouncy seat or lay in her playpen or on her playmat. She can really bounce herself in that bouncy seat, and seems to love it! She is generally content, easy to please, and easy to make smile and giggle. She giggles the most at Cody. He can make her laugh by doing nothing at all, just looking at her or sometimes just making a silly noise. They seem to love each other very much, which is the sweetest thing ever.

At four months, Abigail is able to roll over onto her belly, though she never rolls back. Whether that’s because she doesn’t want to or hasn’t figured it out yet is uncertain. She’s more stable when we hold her in a supported sitting position or a standing position, but she still has a ways to go until she’ll be sitting up on her own.

She’s a great nurser still, of course, and I suspect she might be a better food-eater than Cody was when the time comes because she always seems to stare at our food. But we’ll see! So far she doesn’t have any of her teeth yet, but she seems to be teething still on and off. Right now, we’re battling a diaper rash, an issue we never had with Cody. It’s funny how different these two are!

So that’s pretty much it. Not much has changed with her in the last month, but she’s still growing steadily and she’s a happy, healthy girl.

Happy 3 Months Birthday, Abigail!

On Monday, Abigail turned three months old. Here’s what’s new with her in the past month:

Abigail now weighs 15 lbs. She is still wearing 3-6 month size clothing. She nurses more frequently now, I suspect due to teething pain. For several weeks, she was sleeping through the night, but recently has been waking up two times per night to nurse. I discovered that she sleeps better when she has her own bed, so I moved myself out of the twin bed we were sharing, and I’ve been sleeping with Cory and Cody in our king bed instead (the beds are pushed up next to each other, so she’s still close by).

She doesn’t have a nap schedule yet, but she takes one to three long naps during the day. On bad teething days, her naps are short and she mostly wants to sleep while nursing. In general, she has a lot of awake time now, and spends it contently laying in her playpen, sitting in her high chair or floor seat, laying on her playmat or on the couch next to us, or of course being held. She prefers to be held facing out, just like Cody did, and we wear her facing out in the ergobaby carrier frequently.

We haven’t tried giving her a bottle since she was a newborn, but she never really took to it then. The same goes for pacifiers. She loves to suck on her thumb, or sometimes her other fingers or her whole hand.

She cries more often now, but usually only when she wants to be held or nursed. Rarely, we are unable to calm her for a few minutes, but generally she’s easy to calm. When teething isn’t bothering her, she’s a very content and happy girl. She smiles often and giggles at us, Cody, and the dogs. She loves peek-a-boo, and when Cody “plays” with her. Speaking of which, Cody is so great with her! He’s very sweet and loves to give her attention. Abigail is very vocal and makes a lot of cooing noises when she’s happy. Oh, and she loves music!

Abigail can hold her head up very high and seemingly indefinitely while on her tummy. She props herself up on her elbows a bit, too. She is able to roll from her back to her tummy now, but hasn’t quite figured out how to get her arm out from under her. She is able to wiggle around enough to rotate 180 degrees or more while on her back.

I would consider her to be an easy baby still, though teething has made her more “normal” in terms of being more demanding. Because we decided to get a puppy last week, this is fairly bad timing, and day-to-day life is less peaceful than it was. Still, puppyhood doesn’t last forever and neither does teething! And most days, there are still several of peaceful times when baby and puppy are both sleeping (like right now, allowing me to write this post!)


Do You Believe In Magic?

For the past few months, Cory and I have been struggling with Cody’s behavior and figuring out how to best discipline him. I’ve discovered that three year olds, AKA threenagers, are a whole other level of challenging. Forget “terrible twos,” it’s the threes that really get you! At least, that has been my experience so far.

Anyway, I started reading more parenting books, re-reading some of my old ones, and doing research on discipline methods. As an attachment parent, my first instinct has always been to try using “positive discipline” methods which do not include punishment. I’ve read books that have taught discipline methods such as simply staying calm, using specific ways of speaking, or relying on a toolbox of tricks. Some of them were helpful some of the time, but I struggled with not having a more streamlined, consistent, and most importantly effective way of disciplining. When my attempts at applying what I’ve learned failed, I would resort to anger, which wasn’t effective either and left me feeling guilty. (In other words, I’m the “bulldog” parent. Cory, on the other hand, tends to be the “pushover” parent.)

Finally, I found a resource that started to help. I found a website,, which provides a lot of realistic, practical, and evidence-based advice about a variety of parenting challenges. It helped me to better understand the developmental stage that Cody is in, and it also opened the door for me to accept that punishment, in the form of gentle consequences, does have a very important place in parenting. I highly recommend parents check it out to educate themselves and improve their parenting skills!

Still, even after my research, I was having a hard time applying a lot of what I learned to real-life situations with Cody. That’s when I came across a book called 1-2-3 Magic. I believe that this program is an answer to my prayers about how to handle Cody’s discipline! The ebook popped up as a suggestion for me when I was looking for a book to read on my tablet; I bought it and devoured it in two days. Since then, I have already seen excellent results, and I have felt very empowered and calm as a parent.

The 1-2-3 Magic system is simple, gentle, and effective. It involves cutting out unhelpful parental behaviors like nagging, yelling, lecturing, and spanking. Instead, discipline comes in the form of time-outs, or other consequences, which are enforced with very few words. There are also a handful of tools in the program for encouraging positive behavior. Most importantly, the program focuses on strengthening the parent-child bond, which is irreplaceable not only for disciplining effectively, but for enjoying our children!

We have been using 1-2-3 Magic for a week now, and of course we are still not perfect and never will be. But when we use it right, I am able to stay completely calm and still gain Cody’s compliance. It has honestly been a game-changer for me, even in this short amount of time. I was at the point where I admitted sadly to Cory that I wasn’t enjoying Cody anymore because of the constant struggles with his behavior. Now, I feel like a new parent, and I’ve been enjoying my son again because discipline is calm and quick. It is really a wonderful thing!

You can find out more about 1-2-3 Magic here. The book is available on every major ebook platform, or in physical form through many retailers. If it wasn’t clear already, I highly recommend this book for all parents!


There are no affiliate links in this post. I am simply a fan and I want to share my discovery!

Also note that 1-2-3 Magic is for children over the age of about 18 months to two years. “Discipline” for babies should consist mainly of prevention, redirection, and distraction. Consequences aren’t appropriate for these little ones, because they can’t understand at this age! 😉

Happy Two Months Birthday, Abigail!

On Saturday, Abigail turned two months old. It has really flown by even faster this time around! That’s probably because Cody is still keeping me busy. 😉

Abby has been an easy baby so far. She sleeps a lot, and in long stretches. I would estimate she sleeps about 14-16 hours per 24 hour period. At night, she wakes about two times to nurse, and usually a couple of other times just to wiggle around for a few minutes. Getting her to sleep at bedtime has been easy lately; I nurse her in our rocking chair, then bring her into bed and turn on the white noise and nurse her some more if she wants. She’s fallen asleep like that with no problems for the past few weeks.

Unlike Cody when he was a baby, she doesn’t nurse every time I offer. She tends to nurse less frequently than he did in general, and the sessions are also shorter. Still, she’s been gaining weight really well, and currently weighs just over 13 lbs, which is in the 90th percentile. She’s a chunker! In fact, she’s wearing size 3-6 month clothing now, as she grew out of her newborn and 0-3 month clothes very quickly.

Although she spends a lot of her time sleeping, she also has long periods of being awake and alert now. She is becoming quite vocal, and likes to have “cooing conversations” with us. She’s giggled a handful of times, but it’s still rare enough to be exciting when she does it. She smiles frequently, sometimes in reaction to people and other times for secret reasons only babies know.

As for crying, she doesn’t do much of it. She usually gives us many warnings before starting to cry. She will start “shouting” at us, with more frequent and louder noises, until we pick her up. The only times she cries are when we put her in her carseat, and the rare times when she’s truly upset because she wants to be held or nurse. She’s never cried for more than a minute, and usually it’s only for a few seconds. Of course, we spend a lot of time holding her and that helps keep her happy. But she’s also often content to lay in her playpen or her mat on the floor, or sit in her swing, for half an hour or so when we need to get things done.

Cory wears her in the ergobaby often, and she does well with that. She doesn’t like it when I wear her as much, I suspect because being so close to my chest makes her want to nurse. She often starts rooting around and getting fussy when I wear her, unless she’s really tired and falls asleep. But usually I can wear her to take Cody to the park and she’s content for a little while. Around the house, I typically prefer to just hold her and she seems to like that better.

Abigail took a bottle one time, but several other attempts have been rejected. She hasn’t taken to a pacifier either, though we haven’t tried very hard with that. She likes to suck on her hand, so a pacifier seems unnecessary.

She can now hold her head up, and she can push up a bit on her arms when she’s on her tummy. She’s close to rolling, but hasn’t quite gotten there yet. She will use her legs to stand now when we hold her upright, but she still needs a lot of support because she’s pretty floppy.

Cody has done wonderfully with her so far, and the transition has been very smooth. He is great at being gentle with her, and he likes to stroke her arms and head and tell me that he loves her. It’s super sweet! He’s a good big brother. 🙂

That’s about it! Life with two littles has been more challenging, but so far it’s not as hard as I thought. Probably because Abby is such an easy baby! Either way, we’re blessed.

Abigail’s Birth Story

Disclaimer: This is a birth story. It contains details about the birth process and my personal experience, which some people may not be comfortable reading. If this is you, please don’t read it! Otherwise, continue. 🙂

My birthing with Abigail was quite a journey. I expected to have her early, but ended up giving birth at exactly 41 weeks of pregnancy, longer than I went with Cody. The time I spent waiting at the end was very difficult emotionally, and as irrational as it was, I truly felt at times that I’d never have her. Of course, I did have her in God’s timing. Now that she’s here I am overjoyed!

Abigail MarlyAnne Westropp was born on Labor Day, Monday, September 4th, 2017 at 3:16 PM. She was born at home, completely unmedicated. She weighed 7 lbs and 12 oz and was 20 ¼ inches long at birth. Here is how it all happened.

When I was 36 weeks pregnant, I began to experience more frequent warm up pressure waves than I’d previously been having. I also passed a small amount of blood, which seemed to be the beginning of my bloody show. Over the next several weeks, I continued to experience more warm up waves, with some periods of prodromal waves. There were many times I thought my birthing time was beginning, but they all were false alarms. At 38 weeks, I began trying many natural methods of encouraging birthing to begin. I tried walking, sex, certain foods, and hypnosis. At 40 weeks, I began trying some more aggressive natural methods of induction, including nipple stimulation and acupressure.

Finally at 40 weeks and 5 days, on September 2nd, I tried the most aggressive option so far and had my midwife sweep my membranes, which led to my full bloody show. That night, I had a good pressure wave pattern for several hours, and was very hopeful, but then it faded. The next afternoon, I had an appointment with my doula to try more natural induction techniques. I was optimistic, since she’s never had a client who this appointment didn’t work for. We tried many things, but after over 5 hours, we still had not established a good pressure wave pattern, and we decided to call it a night. My doula, Lynsey, left my house around 10:30 PM, and I went to bed with my hypnosis track playing as usual. I felt discouraged and resigned when I went to bed.

At about 1 AM that night, on September 4th, I woke up because of strong waves I was feeling. I began timing them, while listening to a hypnosis track. They continued to be strong, about 40 seconds to a minute long, and between 3 to 7 minutes apart. After an hour, I called my midwife, Alicia, and we decided it was time for her to come over. She arrived around 3 AM, and I continued to listen to my hypnosis tracks and mellow worship music while using my hypnosis tools.

I’d already woken up Cory around 2 to tell him what was going on, and encouraged him to get more sleep. By 4, I was ready for him to start actively supporting me, so I woke him up. I also called Lynsey at this time. Shortly after, I decided that I wanted to move to the bedroom and start using my birth pool, so we tried to move our sleeping son Cody to the guest bedroom. He woke up and wouldn’t go back to sleep, so we called Cory’s mom, Marsha, to come take care of him. While she drove out, we set up the birth pool and I had some time with Cody in the pool. He helped me decorate the pool with submersible orange lights, which I’d chosen to help me envision my Hypnobabies’ orange hypno-anesthesia.

Around 6 AM, Marsha arrived. Although the timing is a blur, I know I spent this active birthing time moving between my pool, the bed, and my chair, while remaining in hypnosis and listening to my tracks out loud, and hearing birth prompts from Cory. At some point, my midwife’s assistant arrived, another midwife I’d met years ago named Jennifer. The midwives offered gentle support and otherwise rested and stayed unobtrusive. Cody was happy and busy with Marsha, and Cory stayed with me almost constantly. I started to have more bloody show during that time.

Around 10 AM, Alicia offered to check my dilation, and I agreed. Lynsey arrived while that was happening. To my great surprise and joy, Alicia said she couldn’t feel any cervix– meaning, I was completely dilated and effaced. I cried happy tears and hugged Cory and Lynsey, because I knew then that Abigail would be coming soon.

Alicia was able to feel that baby was asynclitic, and not quite fully engaged as a result, so we tried some belly sifting. From that point on, I spent time resting between waves on the couch or bed, and trying different positions in the pool. My support team kept me constantly hydrated, nourished me with light snacks, and reminded me to use the bathroom. Of course, they also kept hypnosis tracks playing for me and read birth prompts.

My pressure waves throughout this entire time were strong, and close together. I began to feel some exhaustion after the first few hours, and then began feeling a lot of back discomfort. Hours after being completely dilated, I still had not started to feel any pushing urges, and my emotional state started to struggle to remain peaceful. I began thinking that I couldn’t go on much longer.

Finally at about 2 PM, I broke down. Sitting in my pool, I told my team I couldn’t do it anymore, in tears. They rallied around me. They told me I was doing it, and they were going to help me. They told me it was time to start pushing and get the baby out. I said it hurt too much, and they told me I could do it, and to use my hypnosis. Finally, their encouragement broke through and I felt a sense of resolve, that I could do it and I would. I told Jesus that I needed his help.

On the next wave, I started pushing. At first, it increased the discomfort to be almost unbearable, but after just a second, it lifted. I took as deep of breaths as I could and then pushed while making loud, low, opening sounds. Sometimes I became very loud! Then I tried pushing after taking a deep breath, using the breath to bear down, and pushing several times during each wave. My lower back was in pain during my waves now, so Lynsey massaged it while I pushed. In between waves, I rested and took deep breaths, breathing oxygen to baby while my midwives monitored her heart rate. I moved between several different positions for pushing. Sometimes I squatted and leaned back against the wall of the pool. Other times I leaned forward on the pool wall, or simply went on hands and knees. I also tried Lynsey’s suggestion of squatting and pulling hard on a rebozo (scarf) that Cory held. I stayed in the pool the whole time. Cody and Marsha came in at some point to witness the process.

I pushed for a little over an hour, before I started crowning. I reached down and felt baby’s soft head and her silky hair. My midwives guided me to push more gently at this point, to allow myself to stretch naturally, and I did. I felt some burning, but it didn’t hurt. I told myself to stretch, and I did. Baby’s head came out into my hand, and I held her head, waiting for the rest of her to slip out. After what felt like only a few moments, but was apparently six minutes, suddenly there was some urgency I was vaguely aware of.

Everything snapped into motion as Alicia said she wanted me out of the pool, now, and my team basically lifted and dragged me out, straight to the bed on my hands and knees. Cory told me everything was fine. I was told to stop pushing. In my head, I had one thought, that Abigail needed to be okay. I was maneuvered into a runner’s squat position, and my midwives were doing things I wasn’t aware of, trying to ease baby out. There was no pain, just waiting, until finally they told me to push as hard as I could. I did and Abigail was born, finally, and I flipped onto my back and held her on my chest. She didn’t cry right away, and I rubbed her gently and talked to her until finally, she let out her first tiny cry. Her cord was short, so I couldn’t move her much, but I held her and kissed her warm wet head. She started looking for the breast quickly, and with just a little guidance she latched on like a pro.

Later, I learned that Abigail was having a hard time coming out because she had her hands up under her chin. The midwives had to reach in and push her hands down to allow her to come out. Although that may sound painful, I didn’t feel it. Through all of that, I only had a small tear that barely required two stitches. Although her birth was somewhat traumatic, both she and I came through it easily, thanks to my incredible and competent birth team.

After Abigail was born, we waited a short time for my placenta to be born. Unfortunately, I started to hemorrhage both before and after birthing the placenta, meaning I was bleeding too much. My midwives gave me a shot of pitocin and massaged my uterus, all with me still in hypnosis and using my tools for comfort. I continued to nurse Abigail, which is helpful for controlling bleeding after birth. After a few minutes, my bleeding had slowed but not completely stopped, so I was given another shot of pitocin. Finally, the bleeding stopped, and we rested.

After that final drama, things were calm. Abigail had her newborn exam next to me while Jennifer cleaned me up. Then we nursed some more, and Cory and I were left alone to bond with baby while the house was cleaned up a bit. Cody met his baby sister, a fascinating and strange creature to him. I cried happy tears again, thanking God for our daughter and sitting in awe of how lucky we are to have two beautiful children. Cory held Abigail and we took some photos.

After a little while, we decided it was time to cut the cord. It was still attaching Abigail to the placenta, which was lying wrapped up nearby. We were happy that we’d allowed every possible drop of blood to flow into baby before cutting the cord, but we were ready to have more mobility for Cory to hold her. He clamped and cut the cord himself. Later, I was stitched up while happily nursing Abby, and she got her vitamin K shot while still nursing. She let go to cry a two-second protest before going back to the breast.

After all was settled, my birth team said goodbye and left. I nestled happily in my bed with my baby girl, and my husband and son close by. Could there be anything better?

There are so many things I’m thankful for, looking back at this experience. First and foremost, a happy and healthy baby and mama, which is always the main goal. I’m also thankful for my midwives, who knew exactly what to do in a potentially scary situation. They saved our lives, really. I’m thankful for my doula, who supported me so well both physically and emotionally. She also managed to take photos and videos throughout my entire birthing process, which I can now treasure forever. My amazing husband and birth partner, Cory, was a superhero. He pushed himself physically to support me through his own exhaustion. He stayed calm always, told me frequently how I was doing such a great job, gave me hypnosis cues, and stayed by my side throughout the birth of our child. All together, my team was a formidable force. They held me up in so many ways when I was sure I could not do it. With them, I could. I’m thankful for Hypnobabies, without which I can only imagine the difficulty I would have had giving birth. Some women have easy births, but I apparently do not. And I did not have a painless birth, either, but with Hypnobabies, I was able to have a more easy and comfortable experience, and succeed in my dream of having a natural birth at home.

Most of all, I’m thankful to God. He kept me and Abigail safe. Jesus held me during the hardest parts of my birthing, and without his presence I can’t imagine how I would have coped. He is my savior, not only for eternity, but for my life right now. He enabled me with strength I would not have had on my own. And he blessed me and Cory with such an unbelievable gift, our precious baby girl, not to mention our son almost three years ago. We are so very blessed, for God is good.

I am so very relieved, proud, and satisfied with my birth experience. Knowing that I did this makes me feel empowered to do anything. I feel very lucky to have experienced both a happy hospital birth with Cody and now a completely natural home birth with Abigail. It’s wonderful experience to have as a birth educator as well! How very blessed I’ve been. <3

Welcome to the world, little Abigail. You are so very precious.