Entries from January 2014

The Birth Story of Fox

January 31, 2014

FoxSleep FoxFeet

So about a week before I went into labor Jeremy showed me a photo of a sheep giving birth. This sheep was casually laying on its side with a baby sheep head just hanging out of its vag. I thought “That’s how I’m going to rock it.” So, for the first few pushes I was in a fetal position on my side, holding the image of that sheep in mind and trying not to puke. But it turns out humans are not sheep and to be productive at pushing the baby down and out I needed to open my legs – which I was very resistant to doing. Truth be told … I was scared. Warrior Mamas aren’t supposed to be scared. Warrior Mamas are squatting in a corner and birthing babies without fear. But here I am flat on my back, with Jeremy holding one leg by the knee and foot, saying “You guys… I don’t think I can do this.” But I did. This is our story.

A HOME BIRTH
Towards the beginning of my third trimester I found that my favorite midwife was planning to resign from the hospital I was receiving care at on January 1 to do home births. With the support of Jeremy and the encouragement of my doula and my family, I decided a home birth would be ideal. It’s not for everyone, but it was what I wanted and this serendipitous turn of events put it within reach.

THE BEGINNING
On Sunday, January 19th, 2014 at 2AM, a week after my due date, my water broke while I was sleeping. It wasn’t a dramatic gush like you see in the movies and it wasn’t paired with anything stronger than Braxton Hicks “practice” contractions. In fact, it was a bit confusing and left me wondering if I had just peed the bed. I decided to sleep through the rest of the night. Though, I felt like a kid on Christmas Eve just waiting for morning to arrive. I woke up around 7:30AM Sunday morning, still not in labor, and called my midwife, Dawn, to let her know my status. Because I had tested GBS+ (Group B Strep) she came to my house around 10:30AM to give me a shot of antibiotics to keep the baby safe. After your water breaks you really only have about 24 hours for labor to start, otherwise you risk infection. So, I was a little concerned that labor didn’t seem to be progressing. My mind was filled with all the variables and scenarios that could go down from there. Dawn recommended getting as much rest as possible and we would reassess at 2PM.

KICKSTARTING LABOR
I didn’t rest, of course. Instead Jeremy and I started doing what we could to get labor going (heh, heh). Then we went for a two mile walk around the park – I tried walking with one foot on the curb and one on the ground, alternating sides. Then we decided to go get some Indian buffet. At 2PM I texted my midwife to let her know that nothing had changed and she said to hang tight and keep her updated. Around 3:30PM the baby’s movement had slowed and my mind was racing with anxiety over not going into active labor. So I called Dawn and my doula, Brandy, to come over to check in on the baby. Everything checked out fine – but I was still on edge.

Labor Acupressure
Top Left: 10:30AM / getting an antibiotic shot in the booty. Top Right: 12:30PM / 2-mile walk around the park
Bottom: 4:30PM / Acupressure from my doula Brandy

I said “I just don’t want to transfer to the hospital” out loud, but Dawn and Brandy, together and matter-of-factly, said “Oh, that’s not happening! You’re going to go into labor. We’ve got ways.” It was reassuring to hear after a day of worrying about “failure to progress” and from there we started discussing more aggressive induction techniques. Brandy offered to do some acupressure. She busted out some Clary Sage essential oil and did a number on my feet – it was intense. And I have to admit, I didn’t truly believe it would work. Brandy and Dawn went to grab dinner and left me with a bottle of herbal extracts  to take in an hour if nothing had changed. But within 5 minutes, around 4:30PM, the contractions got for real. I was so excited.

INTERMISSION
In the meantime, my brother sent me this video for encouragement.

LABOR FOR REALS
My contractions quickly went from just a tightening of my abdomen and mild cramps to more serious, period-like cramps – the kind that take your breath away and make you double over. I wouldn’t call it painful but it was intense. I welcomed them with all their might and invited them to stay for a while. After having about 15 contractions in the span of an hour I had Jeremy text Dawn and Brandy to come back over. They finished dinner and got to my house around 6PM. They brought in lots of supplies (for emergencies) and started getting things ready. Jeremy filled the birthing tub and got the bed prepped (we kept our sheets on the bed, put a plastic drop cloth on top of those, then put another throw-away fitted sheet on top of that). Meanwhile, I walked around the house and had contractions in various places. Things started getting more and more intense – at 7:30PM my contractions were 1-2 minutes apart. My doula invited me to get into the birthing tub we had set up next to the bed in our bedroom. I labored in there for about an hour listening to my Casa Jaguar playlist on repeat – the lights were dim and through my entire labor and delivery voices never rose above a whisper. Jeremy sat at the edge of the tub and offered me support when I needed it.

Around 8:00PM I got out of the tub to go to the bathroom and on my way back contracted so hard that I just crawled onto the bed. I labored on my hands and knees on the bed for about an hour and at this point things were getting progressively more intense. I started shaking and shivering. I’m pretty sure this was the “transition” phase of labor because things started getting really intense. My body was contracting but at the same time felt like it was being pried open. I decided to get back into the tub – hoping to birth my little Aquarius in water. However, I found myself feeling ungrounded in the water – I lacked the gravity and resistance I needed to productively labor the baby down. So, I made my way back into the bed. Brandy invited me to bear down a little with one of my contractions and that’s when a big gush of amniotic fluid followed. It took me by surprise and I looked to Brandy for reassurance that that was normal (it is). A few contractions later Brandy told Jeremy that she was going to go tell Dawn to scrub up – I knew this meant it was probably push time.

PUSHING THE BABY OUT
During the course of my entire pregnancy and labor I never had one cervical check – meaning I never knew how dilated or effaced I was. This was partly to minimize the possibility of exacerbating the GBS, but I also felt comfortable with just doing whatever my body told me. Around 9PM my body was ready to push … but mentally I wasn’t there yet. Brandy encouraged me to bear down a little with my next contraction (which were now just a minute or less apart) – so I did, and from there my body took over. I pushed for an hour and a half at my own pace. Nobody was counting to ten or yelling at me to push. Sometimes the contractions would come one right after another … and sometimes, just when I needed it most, my body would grant me a few minutes to rest between pushes. Brandy would occasionally ask me “where’s your baby?” and I could feel him still kicking in my ribs, which made me feel like he wasn’t making his way down. She was also checking the baby’s heart rate with my contractions and he held steady with a good beat the entire time.

So here I was flat on my back. I kept thinking about moving to my hands and knees or at least a more upright reclined position but I felt paralyzed. So I just stayed put and kept pushing. And as crass as it may be, I can only compare pushing to involuntary dry heaving … but out of your uterus instead of stomach. Yes, it was painful and yes, I was afraid. I tried to visualize the ocean. I tried to transform into a sheep or gorilla or whatever kind of animal that has no problem pushing a baby out. When that didn’t work I tried to irrationally find a way out of my body. Like a weird trip or strange dream I tried to mentally coordinate a way to have someone else push for me. At one point I considered the logistics of transferring to the hospital and not asking for an epidural but instead asking for a medically-induced coma – but I didn’t even have it in me to sit up much less sit in the car and deal with hospital admissions. I had to accept the reality of the situation and embrace that it was me, my body, and my baby – and there was no turning back.

Brandy gave me some super helpful tips – like to curl into and around the contraction and bring my chin to my chest – these instructions almost helped me reframe pushing as an exercise or sport. Meanwhile, Dawn gently directed my attention to exactly where I needed to focus my effort with her fingers which was super helpful. Jeremy was still pulling my leg back by the knee with each contraction and would look down to watch the very top of the baby’s head poke out just a little further with each push. Dawn and Brandy encouraged me to feel the baby’s head – so I reached down and felt nothing but a hot mess. I remember at one point saying “I just want to be done.” And Brandy said “Then you need to push this baby out.”

When I finally accepted that I was going to have to put in the work and give it my all the baby crowned. With that, there was no relief between contractions and I could feel intense stretching in places I didn’t expect. At that point I had accepted that I would be in labor on my bed for the rest of my life. So I was beyond surprised when with the next push the baby came out. And just like that there was no pain. First, I was relieved. Relieved that I was done and that the baby was okay. Then there was pride. I’ve never been more proud of myself – and I was now a very proud momma to my little baby Fox. Then there was love. Just an incredible amount of love.

A NEW BEGINNING
So I did it. I didn’t go into pregnancy, labor, and delivery without fear. But I came out of it transformed into the Warrior Momma I intend to be. I told our baby how perfect he was (at least a dozen times) as he squirmed all naked, wet and warm on my belly. He cried just enough to tell us his own version of the story of his birth. After a few hours of clean up and blissed out bonding, Brandy and Dawn left our little nest – but not before I asked “Okay. Literally, what do I do next?” Because I really didn’t know. It turns out instinct is pretty powerful and what felt right was to watch my naked baby sleep on my man’s chest in our own bed all. night. long.

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THE DREAM TEAM
Jeremy: Everyone asks Jeremy if he was ever afraid or doubtful during the home birth. He wasn’t – not even for a second. In fact, he confessed to me that he felt silly giving me words of encouragement while I was in labor. It felt like lip service to him – because he knew I had it in me to do what needed to be done, and I knew that he knew. He never once doubted my strength. But the truth is I couldn’t have done it without his calm confidence. Thank you, Jeremy. We’ve had quite a few adventures – from our scandalous get-together to Mt. Everest. But I think this may be our greatest adventure yet.

Brandy Harris / Willow Birth Services: The best decision I made early on in my pregnancy was hiring Brandy to be my doula. We met over coffee and I shared with her my fears and when I apologetically shared my birthing preferences she called bullshit and encouraged me to own my desire for an unmedicated & intervention-free delivery. She gave both Jeremy and me the confidence to have a voice in our pregnancy, labor, and delivery experience. You might expect a birth doula to be a crunchy hippie but Brandy tells it like it is and never takes herself (or anyone else) too seriously – but then when you need it the most she’ll compassionately put a cold wash cloth to your head and tell you you aren’t pooping the bed when you totally are. Brandy, thank you. It’s amazing to think of all the courses my labor & delivery could have taken. You guided me down what could have been a scary path with a light so bright there were no shadows to be afraid of. 

Dawn Karlin / Moments of Bliss: Dawn was one my midwives at OU Physicians. I heard she had a reputation of being the closest you can get to a home birth experience in the hospital so I had my fingers crossed that I would go into labor during her shift. But then when she quit her day job to follow her dream of opening a birthing center and doing home births I decided to take the leap with her. I’ve never put so much trust in another person as I put in Dawn – and she delivered (heh). She quietly stayed back while I labored but then came in like the efficient pro she is when it came to push time. I remember at one point desperately looking at her between contractions and the calm but serious focus on her face told me that it wasn’t going to be easy but that I could do it. And I did. Thank you, Dawn. You made me feel so safe in what was the most vulnerable and powerful experience of my life. I will be forever grateful for you. 

And finally, thank you to all of my friends, family, blog readers, and Instagram followers who supported and rooted for me along the way. I truly believe all your thoughts, prayers, and good vibes gave me the strength to have the birth experience I desired.

Thieves

January 29, 2014

Thieves

First it was crystals & minerals. Now it’s essential oils. While I love the idea of the healing properties in crystals, it still feels a little bit like a make-believe-just-for-fun kind of indulgence. A very pretty indulgence. But essential oils…  I think it’s legit. I was first introduced to essential oils as a teenager when a friend of mine gifted me with a small bottle of lavender and told me that rubbing a few drops on my temples before bed would send me into the most blissful slumber. Fortunately, I’ve been blessed with the slumber that is blissful as soon as my head hits the pillow every night. And then there was the Patchouli … I know some people hate it but I’ve always loved wearing it as a perfume. It’s just so earthy and exotic. I love it. I know, I know. Just look at me. It’s not lost on me that I’m a total cliche of myself at times (let’s all agree not to take ourselves too seriously, eh?).

So fast forward to present-day. My ever-growing tribe of talented friends started preaching the healing powers of essential oils. Around this time last year I started to feel like I was coming down with a cold before going to a conference. My friend Claire, whom I also refer to as my witch doctor, brought over a bottle of Thieves essential oil. She instructed me to place two drops under my tongue (INTENSE) and rub two drops into the bottoms of my feet. Sure enough, I never got full-blown sick as I was expecting.

And then just a couple weeks ago Jeremy came down with a pretty disgusting cold. Now armed with my own bottle of Thieves I included a drop on my toothbrush (again, intense – it made my mouth go numb) and rubbed it into the soles of my feet twice a day to avoid catching what he had – especially around the due date of my little one. My momma friend Greer also arms her kiddos with Thieves during the sick season to keep them healthy. I also recently picked up a bottle of lavender again to add to my baths – but apparently it’s a pretty powerful anti-bacterial great for burns, cuts, and bug bites.

Here’s the creepy / cool part about Thieves: Thieves® was created based on research about four thieves in France who protected themselves with cloves, rosemary, and other aromatics while robbing plague victims. This proprietary blend was university tested and found to be highly effective in supporting the immune system and good health. (via Young Living)

I’ve learned that quality is important when it comes to essential oils – apparently Young Living has a great reputation. But it can be expensive! So I’m slowly building my collection.

Do you use essential oils? What are some of your favorites and why? 

Coaching for Creatives | Truth in Opposites

January 27, 2014

CreativeCoaching_Opposites

I’m a pretty opinionated person and with that comes the ability to be pretty judgmental at times. It’s a great trait to have when I need to make quick and important decisions in business and life, but it’s not so great when it makes me irritable, snarky, or anything less than compassionate towards myself and others. I’ve found that my thoughts can quickly become a “truth” that I’ve got a firm grip on. So today I want to talk about dissolving negative thoughts (about self and others) by exploring when the opposite is true.

One of the most valuable things I learned in my Martha Beck coaching training is the practice of finding truth in opposites. It’s now something I practice daily as negative thoughts or judgments arise. Here’s how it works:

• Identify a thought you believe to be true about yourself.
This could be something you always say about yourself like “I’m unlucky.” or “I’m so impatient.” or “I’m not ______ enough.” Now imagine this thought as a tennis ball you’ve got a super tight grip on.

• Now state the exact opposite of the thought. 
This is really hard for my one-on-one clients because they always try and make it more complicated than it is. So if your statement is “I’m unlucky” then the opposite would be “I’m lucky”. If your statement is “I’m not ________ enough” it is now “I’m ________ enough.”

• Then find three genuine examples of when the opposite is just as true, if not more true than the original negative thought. 
The idea isn’t to invalidate the original negative thought. It’s just to loosen your grip around it (imagine the tennis ball in your hand) so you can create space for new, positive thoughts to form. So you can create new truths. So a good way to find examples is to say “I’m lucky because ______” or “I’m ____ enough when _______.”

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You can also find when the opposite is true when you make judgments or negative thoughts about other people by turning those statements on yourself. So for example, let’s say you’re dealing with a tricky client. One of the things you might say is “The client doesn’t trust or listen to me.” Try flipping that statement on yourself and say “I don’t trust or listen to my client.” It will instantly allow you to approach the relationship with more compassion and willingness to understand. It also holds up a mirror and makes you accountable for the things you say and think about others – because maybe you’re really just saying them about yourself.

Again, the idea isn’t to make your original belief untrue. You may still believe that you’re unlucky or not enough. But the idea is to create space for a shift in perspective by finding alternate truths at the same time.

One of the more recent examples of when I put this into practice is when I received a few comments on my “Why I Quite Google Analytics” post that challenged my truth and experience in the matter. I recognized that these contrary opinions being expressed in rebuttal to my own could be just as true as my own at the same time. Instead of feeling defensive and wrong I was able to come to the conversation with an open mind and good attitude.

I was taught this technique of questioning and thought-dissolving in my life coaching training by Martha Beck who adapted it from The Work of Byron Katie

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Hello, baby.

January 23, 2014

FoxElliott

I’ll write a proper birth story post soon enough but just wanted to pop in to say that our little boy was born at home Sunday evening and hasn’t stopped chowing down on some boobie ever since.

Fox Elliott
Born January 19, 2014 at 10:23PM
7lbs 5oz / 20″ tall

I will continue to share little bits of life with baby over on my Instagram. I have a few scheduled posts over the next few weeks, but things may be a little quiet around here for a bit otherwise.

Playing Small

January 22, 2014

PlayingSmall

There are days when I feel like shutting it all down. I have this romantic vision of selling all my things, living in an Airstream, and essentially falling off the face of the earth while I travel the world and become a textile artist – and even *gasp* NOT blog about it. This fantasy, as wonderful as it sounds, is usually spurred when I feel the need to escape The Critics and The Gremlins, both external and internal, in work and life. I “go there” when I’m afraid to show up and be seen. So, I came across this quote by Marianne Williamson the other day and it resonated big time. I’m not 100% on board with the “God” phrasing, personally, but the core message rang loud and true:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson

Okay, so it’s still very possible that one day I may ditch all of my worldly belongings to become a gypsy and a fine artist, but I don’t think I’ll ever have it in me to stop living out loud along the way.

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