Season Compare: Dead Tree on Chestnut Ridge Trail

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Season Compare! Here’s one from our Bull Run Mountains Conservancy hikes. On the Chestnut Ridge Trail, between the Mountain Trail and the Quarry Trail, there is a dead tree. Here’s that dead tree in September of 2012 and then again November of 2013. Enjoy!

Bull Run Mountain - Trail (Portrait) (By Ryan Somma)
Chestnut Ridge Trail – September 9, 2012

Bull Run Mountain - Dead Tree Season Compare 2
Chestnut Ridge Trail – November 2, 2013

April 16, 2014 at 2:00 pm Leave a comment

Family Outing – Friends of the Occoquan River Cleanup 2014

For the second year in the row, Ryan and I participated in the Friends of the Occoquan River Cleanup. Last year, my mother watched young Sagan at home. Meanwhile, we launched our kayaks from the Lake Ridge Park Marina. Without children, we were hardcore productive and picked up tons and tons and tons of trash.

Occoquan River Cleanup 2013
Flashback to 2013 – Our Collected Trash at Just *One* of Our Stops

Occoquan River Cleanup 2013
Flashback to 2013 – Ryan With a Big Ole Bag Of Trash

Of course, there was a challenge with last year’s cleanup. : )

This year, we didn’t take advantage of the free babysitting. We decided to clean up with the two boys. We stayed land-born, moseyed down to the Town of Occoquan Town Hall, signed in, and picked up a trash bag. Two year old Adela joined us with her Daddy. With two toddlers and an infant, we found ourselves slower… and a lot less productive than last year. Our little group of 2 Daddies, 2 Toddlers, 1 Mommy, and 1 Infant totaled 1 Bag of Trash. But hey, that’s one less bag of trash out there on the banks of the Occoquan. And, boy, it was super cute to watch the kids help. : )

Friends of the Occoquan River Cleanup - Sagan and Adela Look Off Wall
Adela and Sagan Looking for Trash

Friends of the Occoquan River Cleanup - Adela Throws Away Trash
Adela and Her Daddy Throw Away a Bottle

How do you pick up trash with a sleeping infant in the MobyWrap? Squatting. Lots and lots of squatting! My thighs were pleasantly sore the next day. : )

Friends of the Occoquan River Cleanup - Picking Up Trash With a Sleeping Baby (By Ryan Somma)

My favorite shot of the day– an action shot. My husband throws trash uphill.

Friends of the Occoquan River Cleanup - Ryan Throws Trash Uphill
Ryan Hurls Trash

After we turned in our one bag of trash, our crew had a delightful lunch outdoors at the Blue Arbor Café. As much fun as 2013’s River Cleanup was, I do have to say, 2014 just might have been even better. : )

Friends of the Occoquan River Cleanup - Sagan and Ryan At Lunch II
Sagan and Ryan at Blue Arbor Café

More pictures of the Friends of the Occoquan River Cleanup 2014 can be found on my Flickr site.

April 15, 2014 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

Family Hike: White Rocks Overlook at Bull Run Mountain

Living in Occoquan, our family is surrounded by parks– Occoquan Regional Park, Fountainhead Regional Park, Mason Neck State Park, Pohick Bay Regional Park, Occoquan Bay Wildlife Refuge, Veteran’s Park, Julie J. Metz Wetlands Area, Leesylvania State Park, all within striking distance of a family adventure. We even have Prince William Forest National Park just 10 miles south of us. But sometimes… sometimes I miss the mountains. As luck would have it, with a 42 minute drive, we can be at Bull Run Mountains Conservancy. It’s probably my favorite hike in the Northern Virginia area.

All our trips there have been accompanied by children. We’ve hit up the Quarry Trail and the Chestnut Ridge Loop Trail which are pretty in their own right.

Bull Run Mountain - Creek Off Quarry Trail
Creek Off the Quarry Trail

But the cream of the crop is a loop made with the Ridge Loop Trail and the Chestnut Ridge Trail. The top— White Rocks Overlook/High Point, which is just stunning.

Bull Run Mountain - Happy Family at Top
White Rocks Overlook/High Point – September 2012

Bull Run Mountain - Rocks and View at High Point Overlook
White Rocks Overlook/High Point – November 2013

Bull Run Mountain - Evergreen at High Point Overlook
Changing Leaves

Bull Run Mountain - Ryan and Sagan and View
Ryan and Sagan Take in View of Mountains!

For the most part, the trail is well maintained and wide, so great for the little hikers.

Bull Run Mountain - Sagan Runs After Carl
Sagan Hikes

You do climb roughly 800 feet to get to the overlook. If you want an easier grade, I would recommend going up the Chestnut Ridge Trail. The Ridge Loop Trail is steeper (but still do-able– we carried Sagan up that trail in 2012).

There are tons to see on all the trails – mosses, wildflowers, mushrooms.

Bull Run Mountain - Leaves, Rock and Moss (By Ryan Somma)
Moss on the Chestnut Ridge Trail (By Ryan Somma)

Bull Run Mountain - Yellow Wildflower (By Ryan Somma)
Yellow Wildflower

Bull Run Mountain - Mushrooms (By Ryan Somma)
Mushrooms (By Ryan Somma)

One hike I got to see Chestnut Oaks demonstrating their “oak-i-ness” — making acorns!

Bull Run Mountain - Acorns on a Chestnut Oak
Chestnut Oaks Doing What Oaks Do – Making Acorns!

Up near the top, an extra bonus. American Chestnut trees still exhibiting hope and trying to grow.

Bull Run Mountain - American Chestnut - Blighted Bark and New Shoot
The Blighted Bark of a Dead Chestnut and Its New Shoot

We’ve seen the usual squirrels and deer and variety of birds. One time, we got to visually confirm the reptiles are in the mix as well. : )

Bull Run Mountain - Lizard on Tree Bark (By Ryan Somma)
Lizard on Tree Bark (By Ryan Somma)

It may not be as close as some of our other hikes, but the Bull Run Mountains Conservancy hike is one of our favorites.

More photos of our Bull Run Mountain hikes can be found on Flickr here and here.

White Rocks Overlook Via the Chestnut Ridge Trail

Trail Map

Bull Run Mountains Conservancy
17405 Beverley Mill Dr
Broad Run, VA 20137

Length: ~4.2 Round Trip

Elevation Gain: Roughly 800 feet

April 14, 2014 at 2:00 pm 3 comments

Baltimore’s Port Discovery

This past weekend, I had some colleagues coming to Baltimore for a conference. Baltimore is only an hour and fifteen minutes away, so my family and I went up to meet them for lunch. While we were in the area, we checked out Port Discovery– a children’s museum whose tagline is “Play with a Purpose.”

That place was AMAZING! It was pretty much a giant 3-story indoor playground. No, make that play arena! It was huge and had so many different themed play areas. Some of our favorites:

Tot Trails
We spent a majority of the time at Tot Trails. The padded Tidal Pool area was great for 9 month old Dyson. He could practice standing and crawling without hurting himself. Bonus– loved how the pillows were in the shape of maple, paw paw, and gingko leaves.

Port Discovery - Toddler Trails - Dyson Smiles in Trilobite Shirt
Dyson Enjoyed Pulling Up and Standing

I had thought Tot Trails would be of little interest to 2 year old Sagan, but he ended up loving it as well. He was particularly enamored with the wind tunnel that allowed him to catch “butterflies”, riding the turtle, and playing with the flag pole.

Port Discovery - Toddler Trails - Butterfly Hunting
Sagan Loved the Butterflies

Port Discovery - Toddler Trails - Sagan Rides Turtle
Sagan Rides a Turtle

Port Discovery - Toddler Trails - Sagan Hoists a Flag
Sagan Raises a Flag

And whose childhood would not have been happier with a giant Lite-Brite wall? A giant Lite-Brite Wall!!!

Port Discovery - Toddler Trails - Giant LiteBrite
Giant Lite-Bright!

The centerpiece of the museum is a three story tall treehouse, complete with slides and rope bridges. Amazing! On their website, Port Discovery said it was recommended for children five and up, but Ryan and Sagan were able to enjoy the exhibit together.

Port Discovery - KidWorks - Overview

There was an exhibit call Nano that focused on Nanoscience. On paper, it didn’t sound like it would be that interesting to an infant and a toddler, but they both loved it. Their favorite part– playing with carbon atoms in the hands-on carbon chain exhibit. We actually had to drag Sagan away from it.

Port Discovery - NanoTechnology - Dyson Smiles with Carbon Chain
Dyson with Carbon Chain

Port Discovery - NanoTechnology - Sagan Builds Carbon Chain
Sagan with Carbon Chain

Wonders of Water
The big finale of our visit was the Wonders of Water exhibit. It was perfect for Sagan who loves to “splish-splash.” It was also educational for Mommy and Daddy who got to learn about the Archimedes’ Screw. I think Sagan’s favorite part was shooting the musical instruments with a hose to make lots and lots of noise…er.. music!

Port Discovery - Wonder of Water - Sagan Shoots Symbol
Sagan Making Music With a Hose

Port Discovery - Wonder of Water - Achimedes Screw
Archimedes’ Screw!

We had a fabulous trip to Port Discovery and found it well worth the $13.95 admission fee. It was particularly helpful that we were able to leave for lunch and return for more playing. My only regret is we did not discover this before the polar vortex. It would have been a perfect destination on some of those frigid days where you don’t want to play outside.

More pictures of our Port Discovery outing are on my Flickr page.

April 9, 2014 at 1:00 am 3 comments

Baby Steps

Phew, with a toddler and a baby, I find I have to be patient…when it comes to my extracurricular activities.  I definitely don’t complete projects nearly as fast as I used to.  I have to be satisfied with short bursts of progress, baby steps if you will.

This weekend, I managed to get just a tad bit closer with a couple of projects:

3D Printed Breastfeeding Pendant
It took me a couple of months to eke in Blender tutorials and make time to fix non-manifold edges and the like to make my Origami Owl Breastfeeding Charm.  Earlier in March, I ordered a pendant version.  I LOVE it.  A week ago I took pictures…and this past weekend I finally got everything up on Shapeways.  If you covet a breastfeeding pendant, shebam!  You can order one now!  :)

Pallet Vertical Garden
I also aspire to make a vertical garden out of an old pallet I procured in December, following Life on Balcony’s “How to Turn a Pallet into a Garden” post. December through March the pallet just sat next to the driveway, a visible reminder of my inaction. : ) Two weeks ago, I bought potting soil and landscaping fabric.  Last week, I bought the plants.  This week I had hoped to plant everything….but I had to settle for just stapling all the landscaping fabric on the pallet while my children played beside me.  I didn’t even trim the excess fabric off. So this project is now about 14 weeks in the making. : )

Pallet Vertical Garden in Progress
Pallet Garden – Week 13

Photo Wall
A family friend has this amazing wall in his house dedicated to his favorite photos.  I have been wanting to do something similar since December.  Six weeks ago, my husband purchased picture frames for me which have sat in our foyer ever since.  They too are an effective souvenir of my inaction. A guest entered our house last week and announced, “Vicky, these picture frames are still here!” Luckily, I was able to report forward progress. Two weeks ago I picked out 29 “finalists” and ordered 5×7 prints.  One week ago, I figured out who to lay out the frames.  What was my accomplishment this week?  Brace yourself! 

I. Picked. Up. The. Printed. Pictures. 

A remarkable feat, I know.  :)

Photo Wall - Actual Photos
Actual Pictures…. How Long Until They Are On The Wall? : )

My Mom’s Taxes
This one is almost done…really.  Last week, I got the bulk of everything gathered and entered.  Just a couple more items and I can scratch this one off my list.

Staying Fit
This one was a bit easier this week.  The weather warmed up, so it’s easier to merge “time with my sons” with “exercise.”  Long live that jogging stroller!  I got a 5K run in with Dyson during the week, tons and tons of walking with the boys, and I actually made it to the gym for some weight lifting over the weekend.  I’m far cry from a super-athlete, but I am pleased my husband and I have managed to weasel exercise into our schedules.

Write My Friend Meg
I have a friend battling cancer for the second time.  A bunch of people have been sending her letters and cards.  She’s been thrilled to be getting real mail every day when she checks her mailbox.  Anyway, I have a goal to write her once a week.  I am falling short on that.  I’ve only sent her three letters in the past five weeks.  D’oh!

P.S. Meg’s been particularly touched/surprised when she hears from strangers, so if you are interested in mailing her something, let me know!

Uh… yeah. Definitely room for improvement on this one. I have plenty of content ideas. Northern Virginia, family-friendly hikes alone is easily a dozen-plus posts. I just don’t seem to ever get to it. But I got this post in, so maybe one day. : )

Trees on Mars Stories
Finally, I’ve continued work on a collection of short stories about the people involved in the “tree phase” of terraforming Mars (one of which was published at Luna Station Quarterly).  I have about 35,000 words edited and pretty finalized…but I have another 30,000 still needing attention.  This one, progress is probably the slowest.  It is the hardest hobby to do with my children awake, but I’m sneaking in a half hour here and there right before I fall asleep.

Slowly, but Surely.  Slowly, but Surely.  Slowly, but Surely.  When you have a baby, I’ve found they aren’t the only ones making baby steps. : )

April 8, 2014 at 1:00 am 1 comment

Our Second Medication-Free Hospital Birth

Here’s how my husband, Ryan, summed up the birth of our second child.

“Wow. We made that look routine.”

My water broke on an evening where we were both well-rested and well-fed. We had no loose ends at work and it was perfect timing for my mother to watch our older son. We casually labored at home and then moseyed into the hospital right at transition. We got transferred to the delivery room shortly before the urge to push and then nine minutes later, we had our second son. It was a three hour labor. It was so fast, the frozen orange juice we packed to drink after birth was still frozen.

We had a very positive experience. Sickeningly positive? Perhaps. But since there are a lot of birth horror stories out there, I think it is important to share the good stories as well. : )

Possible Factor Genetics
My family has a history of fast labors and smaller babies. According to 23AndMe, Ryan and I both have genes for lower birth weight babies.

23AndMe Confirm We Both Have Tendencies Towards Smaller Birth-Weight Babies

BUT— also according to 23AndMe, I have Increased Sensitivity to Pain. Go figure. (This may support the claim that the pain from child-birth is a different kind of pain than an injury).

23AndMe Says I Have a Higher Sensitivity to Pain

Provider – Physicians and Midwives
With my pregnancy with my first child, our caretakers were the wonderful midwives at BirthCare. However, when my water broke at 35 Weeks 5 Days, we had to be transferred to the hospital. Fate brought us to a midwife and obstetrician from the Physicians and Midwives Collaborative Practice. We found them to be very supportive of our wishes for a natural, unmedicated birth. We had such a positive experience, we selected them for our care this time around. And bonus– there was an office within walking distance to my house. I was able to walk to all of my third trimester appointments with my regular doctors/midwives.


Hospital versus Home Birth
A factor in our decision to use Physician and Midwives came from our desire to have another hospital birth. With our first son, we were weary of hospital births and all the negative stories we had heard. But with this birth, we knew first hand that it was feasible to have an intervention-free, unmedicated birth in the hospital. Ryan liked the idea of hospital staff being around in case there were complications. I, on the other hand, coveted a hospital birth for one reason and one reason only– the bed. With our first labor, I found that maneuverable hospital bed to be oh-so-wonderful with changing positions and getting comfortable. “Wanna get into the sitting squat? Oh here, let me just push a few buttons. Done.”

No Birth Plan
We took Bradley Method classes during my first pregnancy. One evening we did an exercise where each husband shared an aspect about his wife that he felt would be beneficial during birth, stuff like “She wants the best for our baby” and “She doesn’t back down from a challenge.” One husband said, “She trusts me completely.” I remember thinking that was odd and thinking something along the lines of, “Isn’t that more about you than your wife?”

With two births behind me now, I have to say complete trust and confidence in your coach is absolutely a key component.

Although our preferences were the same as last time, we did not write up or distribute an official birth plan this time around. I had complete confidence in my husband, Ryan. We are both on the same page with preferences. I also knew Ryan was well educated on the birth process and the various interventions. I knew if there were complications, he was armed with the knowledge to make the best decisions for our family. And most importantly, I knew Ryan had seen me on hard hikes, he had seen me on tough workouts, and he saw me during my first birth. I knew that he would know the difference between me having self-doubt to me having maternal fatigue and needing an intervention. Because I had so much confidence in Ryan, I was able to defer decision-making to him. I didn’t have to waste energy on decisions and instead I was able to focus my mind where it is needed most — relaxing and letting my body do its work. In the weeks preceding birth, I told people I wasn’t particularly scared of labor, but I was terrified of the notion of labor without Ryan.

Prep – Exercise
Like with my first pregnancy, I remained active. However, I would classify the activity level as more moderate this time around. With my first pregnancy, I was getting to the gym five days a week. Now that I was a parent, my gym time was more limited, so my activity was supplemented by stuff I could do with my son such as walking or mowing our lawn with the manual push mower.

Last labor, I had said the most direct perk I had seen from exercise was with burping during swimming (it prepared me for burping during transition). This time around, I would say the most direct perk was the stationary bike. After the birth of my first son, I had found the pattern of working really hard followed by a “rest” period to be reminiscent of labor. As I approached the due date of my second son, I would emulate that on the stationary bike. I would do 0.75 miles on a base difficulty level and then for the last quarter mile, I would pump that level up really high. I would close my eyes, concentrate on breathing and relaxing the rest of my body as my poor legs burned and did their work. Then I would go back to the base level for another three quarters of mile before repeating. During this labor, as I was experiencing hard contractions, I thought about being on that bike and knowing the rest period was coming up.

Pregnancy Workouts - Week 36 - 2013-06-18 Work Rest on Bike
Blurry, But You Can Get a Sense of How My Bike Workouts Went in Waves

As far as Bradley Method exercises, I did a lot of tailor sitting. I did about 200 kegels a day. I got in 150 pelvic rocks roughly every 3 days.

See Also Our Second Bradley Method Birth Appendix – Third Trimester Exercise.

Prep – Relaxation
Relaxation and breathing exercises I wasn’t as diligent about. I would say I got those in about twice a week. What I tend to do is with my eyes closed, I start by tailor sitting and run through a series of stretches while doing deep breathing. I usually end by getting in a side lie and just doing deep breathing. And with a toddler that tires you out, often I would accidently fall asleep. : )

Prep – Perineal Massage
I also wasn’t as diligent about perineal massage this time around. I only did it twice. However, that was apparently sufficient as I didn’t experience any tearing during labor.

Braxton Hicks and Blissful Ignorance
So anytime the doctors would ask me about Braxton Hicks during this or last pregnancy, I would shrug and tell them that I wasn’t aware of it. I was blissfully ignorant and that is a good place to be. At 36 weeks, I had an appointment at the High Risk Center and they put me on some monitors to do a non-stress test on the baby. They wanted to watch his heartbeat and see that it spiked up over the baseline a certain amount of times in 30 minutes. I didn’t realize it, but they also put a monitor to watch my contractions. So I was going about my business when a nurse came in and asked, “Are you feeling those contractions?” She held up the instrument readouts and started pointing, “You had one there. You had one there. You had one there…. you’re having one right now!”

And I hadn’t noticed…until she SAID something. For the next couple of days, I was quite unnervingly aware of all the contractions. Thanks, technology. Luckily, after a couple of days, my mind became bored at fixating on contractions and focused back over at work and other duties. Via selective attention, I found myself back where I wanted to be– blissfully ignorant.

Labor – Rupture of Membranes
Shortly before 11 PM on June 27th, I was laying on our futon mattress on the floor and felt a very strange and audible “pop” in my belly. It was very unlike a kick, but I didn’t think much of it. Shortly after that, I was aware of liquid, so I alerted Ryan and went into the bathroom and confirmed once again that it is pretty unambiguous when my water breaks.

And I immediately apologized to Ryan. That particular night I couldn’t find my sleeping shorts and I wasn’t very inclined to squat and rummage around for them…so it was a pair of Ryan’s boxers that was unambiguously doused with amniotic fluid. : )

At 11:06 PM, Ryan texted his mother to let her know that my water broke. He also took our sleeping first born son up to a cot in my mother’s room.

Labor – Laboring At Home
I laid down some towels on our futon mattress and we waited for contractions to start to time them. It didn’t take long for the contractions to begin. The fan was on and on my face. I remember it being peaceful, laying with Ryan and listening to the fan.

The early contractions really made me feel like I needed to urinate. I got up and went to the restroom several times. I’m not sure if any urine actually came out, but all the amniotic fluid at least made it SEEM like I was productive.

Sometimes it was unclear when a contraction was starting and Ryan and I noted some patterns– where I would have a longer contraction then a short, light one and then another hard one.

Here’s where trust in your partner came into play. I deferred the decision of when to go to the hospital to Ryan. I didn’t think about it. I just concentrated on relaxing and my body. Finally, Ryan decided it was time for us to go to the hospital. Unbeknownst to us, my mother was relieved, she was getting ready to come down and yell at us for not going to the hospital yet. My family has a history of fast labors and my mother barely made it to the hospital for her second child.

Labor – Trip to the Hospital
Ryan held my hand as we walked down the stairs. The moon was beautiful. We heard evening frogs in the distance.

Ryan calculated that we would only have 3 contractions in the car– it was more than that (I think 7ish). They were manageable, except when we hit a bump on I-95 (which it turns out there are a lot more bumps than you think) and there was twice where I was having a contraction and Ryan accelerated at a light. Bumps and acceleration aren’t pleasant during contractions. I even made use of that little handle on the car ceiling.

Labor – Walking to the Hospital and Check-In
We parked at the closest entrance to Labor and Delivery and I got out of the car to walk. A security guard came up to “save us some steps” and warned us that our usual entrance was closed and that we should go to the emergency entrance. He seemed like he was offering us a ride, but I insisted on walking.

Walking really intensified and sped up the contractions. I had to keep stopping and let contractions pass, at times leaning on the cars of strangers. Midway through our walk, I could admit maybe it wasn’t the best idea, but I knew walking helps position the baby, so we kept going. Sometimes I would start walking as soon as a contraction peaked to get a head start before the next one began, so to an onlooker, it would appear like I was having really short contractions, when really I was just trying to get to my destination faster. The entrance I thought was our revised destination wasn’t… it was pretty much right smack next to the correct entrance but at that moment, it seemed like a great distance.

We made it to the lobby and a security guard offered me a wheelchair. I was hesitant because I couldn’t figure out if sitting or standing was going to be better with the contractions. Finally after the current contraction passed I sat down. As they wheeled me by some people waiting in the lobby, I remembered that I had my legs spread wide and no underwear on, so I pulled my skirt down a bit to shield. I still had some modesty! However, I had more of the onlookers comfort in mind than my own. : )

I experienced three or so contractions during the ride.

We had to sign some paperwork. Ryan did a lot of the answers, though he did not know what LMP meant (Answer: Last Menstrual Period).

At one point Ryan was looking for something in my wallet. I thought he was looking for my ID, so he handed it to me and I looked through it and couldn’t find it. I would find out a couple of days later that he was looking for my insurance card. He already had my ID out and gave it to the nurse (which explains why I couldn’t find it). I think this confusion was a sign that I was already hitting my “trance phase” of labor. I wasn’t paying full attention to what was going on outside my body.

Labor – The Skeptical Triage Nurse
After the paperwork was signed, they took me to a curtain area to put on a gown and answer questions for a triage nurse. This time, I did wait for the curtain to be closed before stripping off my maternity dress and putting on the hospital gown. So I still had more modesty than last time around! : ) I used the restroom before getting in bed. I did have some comfort problems with the fetal monitoring at first. They wanted me on my side and at the time, I wanted to be sitting up, but honestly once I got settled on my side, I was fine. I was just reluctant to move from a position where I knew everything was manageable (sitting upright) to a mystery position.

I’m not very vocal during contractions… and this was very misleading to the Triage Nurse. She seemed to be skeptical that my water even broke. She asked about how much liquid came out at home and kept commenting on how she wasn’t seeing any liquid here.

Dr. Bradley talks about the needs of a laboring woman and one of them is comfort. Well here’s an aspect of comfort. Don’t ask a laboring woman a bazillion #$(*&ing questions during a contraction! : ) This poor triage nurse was trying to fill out all her forms and when contractions came around, I really needed to focus on my body, so I ended up ignoring her. Ryan told me how you’d hear stuff like, “Ma’am, ma’am? Have you ever had herpes? Ma’am? Ma’am?” Ryan said after a while she just started to skip the questions I ignored.

I don’t think I helped with the triage nurse’s perception of how far along my labor was when she asked what my pain level is. “5 or 6″ I said.

Oh and when she asked about epidural, I gave the exact same answer I gave with my first son, “One contraction at a time.”

Enter the midwife from Physicians and Midwives. I had never met her before, but she definitely knows her stuff. She knew instantly that I was much further along than the triage nurse thought.

“She’s the silent strong type.” the midwife noted.

The midwife could see the baby’s heart rate on the monitor and told me “your baby is really responding to your contractions”. By watching the changes in the baby’s heart rate she knew I was contracting hard and often.

The midwife offered to check me and I was in the middle of a contraction, so I told her later. I was also reluctant to get checked because I was worried about getting discouraged if I was a 6 or something. The midwife had a very cheerful and friendly voice and she pointed out that she didn’t need to check me at all that the baby was going to come when it was ready regardless if she checked me or not.

The midwife lobbied for me to get transferred to the delivery room. The triage nurse, still fixated on procedure, asked the midwife, “Did you check her yet?” The midwife said she hadn’t but pointed out that I “was 3 centimeters last week.” Luckily, the midwife got her way and they transferred me and just 29 minutes later Dyson would be born.

Labor – Missed “Self Doubt” Emotional Sign Post
Ryan had been waiting for me to have my Self-Doubt Emotional Sign Post like last time, but it never came. Luckily, Ryan knows me very well and he recognized my trance-like state from last labor and he knew I was ready to go.

Labor – Visualizations
I did use the candle visualization a nurse gave me during my first son’s labor (imagine you are blowing on a candle and making it flicker but not blowing it out). I also found myself thinking about bicycle workouts at the gym during contractions.

Labor – Still Hate to Be Touched
Ryan learned that just like last labor, I didn’t like to be touched during contractions. Unfortunately I don’t think I used the word “Please” when I communicated that to him. I think I just said, “Don’t touch me.” (But hopefully not in a mean voice)

Labor – Coach’s Present Is Important
Knowing I was in my trance-like state like last time, Ryan was less vocal this time around, but I still fed on his mere presence. At one point, I opened my eyes in the triage area and I didn’t see him. I felt just the beginnings of being flustered when I heard his voice behind me. Even if he wasn’t talking, I just needed him there.

I do remember him reminding me this was like ab work at the gym (which is true– the alternation between work and rest on the Ab Bench reminds me very much of labor).

I did send Ryan away once between contractions. We had put watered down grape juice in my Camelbak Nalgene Bottle. I had tasted it before we left home and said, “Perfect!” But in the car ride to the hospital, the grape taste was bothering me. So in between contractions, I asked the midwife to show Ryan where he could dump the juice out and get plain water.

Labor – Transfer to Delivery Room
I was definitely in my trance mode during the transfer. At one point when they were wheeling me, I guess they hit a curtain or something. I heard someone say “Whoops” and then the midwife’s cheerful voice, “She didn’t even notice, she’s in her zone.”

Labor – Loss of Modesty
They got me to my delivery room and they wanted me to roll over to move beds. I opened my eyes and I believe I let out an audible sound of disappointment that I had to move, like an “oh no”, but I complied. As soon as I got in that bed, I immediately ripped off my hospital gown. It had been SOOO hot in that Triage area. Ryan said he knew that was coming. He also amusingly compared me to a scene in “An American Werewolf in London”. When the guy starts to turn into a werewolf, the very first thing he does is strip off all his clothes. That’s me in the delivery room.

Me In The Delivery Room

Labor – Transition
They asked me to lay on my left side, “for your baby” which I did.

Ryan asked if I wanted a wet wash cloth, I did and he said I kept it on for the rest of labor. He said when I got to pushing, when I dipped my head down the wash cloth would plop off on my belly and he would grab it and then put it back on my head when the contraction was done. After a few times of that, he started pulling it off when he saw my pre-push deep breaths coming along. I was actually unaware I still had that wash cloth on during pushing and I was definitely not aware of it falling off on my belly. : )

The midwife asked about checking me again and I said, “I dunno. If I’m not that far along, I’m going to get scared.” (Which is true. If you want to talk about a Self Doubt Emotional Sign Post, I could totally see myself going into full panic mode if I wasn’t that far dilated). But finally I let her check me and it turns out, “Just a tiny lip left. You’re complete.”

Second Stage Labor – Gotta Go Feeling and Pushing Contractions
Maybe 1-2 contractions after she checked me, the contraction ended with the urge to push. I told them I felt the urge and I followed it up with a “Yay.” Ryan confirmed my “Yay” was pretty monotone, but I was genuinely happy.

I wasn’t going to dilly dally this time with pushing. I asked them to put me in the sitting squat. Ryan had asked for a squat bar and they ran around and found it, set it up, but then I opened my eyes, saw it was in the way of me pulling my legs back, so after all that work to find it, I asked them to move it. The midwife had great spirits about this change. “I have a headrest” she said, gently bumping her head on the relocated squat bar.

There was a bit of time between that initial pushing contraction and the rest of them, I mentioned it and the midwife said that was good, “It gives you a little break.”

When it was show time, it was show time. Ryan reported being impressed with how I quickly pulled my legs back and started pushing. “You attacked it like a work out.” I attacked it so hard, in fact, my biceps were STILL sore two days later.

My first labor, I was worried about taking a bowel movement in front of my husband. This time, instead of finding fear or worry in something feeling like a bowel movement, I used that as a guide. “That feels like a dump, go for it!”

And Kudos to the male graphic novel author Brian K. Vaughan for nailing the sensation of Second Stage Labor in the very first frame of his Saga series.

Saga Screenshot
Brian K. Vaughan NAILS it

When I became aware of them moving some tarp-like material under my rear end, I did ask, “Oh no, am I going to the bathroom?” The midwife laughed and said she was just getting ready for my baby.

Pushing contractions felt very different this time, I think because I was pushing with them from the get-go. I didn’t give my body a chance to do it for me (which I don’t advise). I don’t know how I knew they were coming, but I did and I was all over it.

The midwife was awesome about reminding me to breathe and catch my breath between the pushing contractions. Ryan was awesome about reminding me to keep my chin down.

I wasn’t sure I was making great progress, but Ryan and the midwife reported there was. They said there was not that much hair which was encouraging, at least the baby was close enough for them to see a lack of hair.

Second Stage Labor – Ring of Fire
Soon I felt the burning. They told me he was right there and I told them that I could feel the burning already and the midwife pointed out, “So you already know he’s there!” I opened my eyes and saw the top of his head. It looked like he had more to go to crown, so I thought, “Wow if it burns like this now, what is it going to feel like next contraction?” But then I didn’t even notice it the next contraction.

Second Stage Labor – Compound Presentation
The baby’s head got out and they asked me to breath. Then there was some commotion. I wasn’t sure if they wanted me to breathe or push, so I just breathed. They called some reinforcements. It turns out little Dyson had his little hand up by his head and shoulder and it was wrapped in the cord. The midwife cut the cord, untangled his hand and pulled him out. It felt quite nice when she pulled him out.

He was blue and there was stress in everyone’s voices. I didn’t outwardly panic, but I thought he was dead. Ryan reported I didn’t ask, “Is he dead?” (which is what I was thinking) and instead asked, “Is he okay?”

He turned out to be fine. He was just stunned. He had a heartbeat and soon started breathing and crying. His cry was much more vigorous than my first son’s. They were worried about his little right hand which he wasn’t moving at first. The pediatrician checked his clavicle and it wasn’t broken. And soon enough, Dyson started moving his hand around again. All was well. He was 6 pound 13.5 ounces, two pounds bigger than my first son. Even though he was bigger and had a compound presentation, labor was faster and I didn’t tear at all.

I have absolutely no concept of time with labor. With Sagan’s birth, I was surprised that I was pushing for two hours (it felt shorter). With Dyson’s birth, I was surprised that I only pushed for 9-10 minutes (it felt longer).

TMI – Second Stage Labor With Hemorrhoids
Two days before birth, I discovered I had a common pregnancy side-effect– hemorrhoids. It didn’t hurt, but it gave me mental discomfort to think something was there. My first labor during pushing, I held back because I was afraid of taking a bowel movement in front of my husband. I didn’t want any kind of mass in that area to mislead me and hold me back. But two health care professionals reassured me. Women with hemorrhoids push babies out all the time. And when it came down to it, there was so much sensation going on during second stage labor, I never once thought about those hemorrhoids. They did not hold me back or interfere with the process in anyway. After birth, they cleared up on their own (in about a week or so).

Ryan and I are amazed at what just a couple extra weeks in the womb does for a child. Dyson was much more aware and able than Sagan was at birth. Case in point, Dyson started rooting and nursing right there in the delivery room.

Possibly because this time we are nursing right off the breast (and not relying on the breast pump), I did find the uterus cramping during breastfeeding to be significantly more uncomfortable. It’s hilarious. I can get through labor contractions without a peep, but those cramps when the uterus contracts really got to me and had me moaning.

P.S. Circa Day 5, I went for a quick .9 mile walk. After that, the cramping didn’t disturb me anymore.

Coach Tip – Have a Thick Skin
Finally, in addition to my coach tip’s from my last Birth Story post, I have one more additional piece of advice. Coaches— make sure you have a thick skin and don’t take anything personally. Ryan got shot down three times during this labor (grape juice in my CamelBak, touching me during a contraction, and setting up the squat bar). So coaches, don’t let failed notions bother you, just move on to something else. : )

Dyson - Delivery - Family Portrait in Delivery Room
Post Birth – We Look Great!

March 28, 2014 at 1:01 am 6 comments

Our Second Bradley Method Birth Appendix – Third Trimester Exercise

Like last pregnancy, I tried to keep active. With a toddler around, I didn’t make it to the gym as much, so I tried to get creative on the off-days. So you’ll see notes where I was doing pushups or planks at playgrounds. There is also a Flickr set of my various elliptical and bike workouts where you can watch my pace decrease as the pregnancy progressed. :)

Also during this pregnancy, I totally fell in love with BodyPump classes at the gym. LOVED it. Still LOVE it. Highly recommend! They even have a BodyPump Pregnancy Guide brochure with modifications to the exercises for pregnancy.

With exercising during pregnancy, I still recommend listening to your body. You’ll see evidence of that in Week 35. The elliptical was uncomfortable, so I moved to the bike and there were days were I just rested.

Sunday March 24th – Weight Lifting with Ryan!!!
Monday March 25th – 65 minutes on the Elliptical
Tuesday March 26??
Wednesday March 27th – Nothing, business travel
Thursday March 28th – Nothing, business travel
Friday March 29th – Quick Hike Up Lady Slipper at Pandapas Pond
Saturday March 30th – Tinker Cliffs Hike! NO BREAKS!!! w00t

Sunday March 31 – ???
Monday April 1st – BodyPump
Tuesday April 2nd
Wednesday April 3rd – BodyPump
Thursday April 4th
Friday April 5th – Run/Walk with Jogging Stroller – Mount High Street->West Locust, down to Pool and Back
Saturday April 6 – Walk to Car Under Bridge, Mowing Lawn

Sunday April 7 – Fitness Trail/Hike with Sagan
Monday April 8th – 5K Run/Walk with Jogging Strolled — River Ridge Bike Path
Tuesday April 9th – Playing at Occoquan Regional Park with Sagan for about 50 minutes, planks, push ups
Wednesday April 10th – BodyPump
Thursday April 11th – Run/Walk to the Playground on Clipper with Jogging Stroller (25 min), Played with Sagan with lots of ladder climbing (30 mins), Run/Walk Home (25 min)
Friday April 12th – ????
Saturday April 13th – River Cleanup! 4 hours of Kayaking

Sunday April 14th – Mowing, Probably a Walk to the Car
Monday April 15th – Running without jogging stroller. Walked up Mount High Hill, ran to West Locust downhill, walked downhill, Run almost all the way to pool, stretched, ran to Ellicott Street, ran alley and up to almost all the way back home.
Tuesday April 16th – Don’t think I did anything
Wednesday April 17th – BodyPump
Thursday April 18th – ???
Friday April 19th – ????
Saturday April 20th – Tons of errands, walk to car, walk w/Sagan from Jiffy Lube to Bank and back

Sunday April 21st – Tree Planting, Weight Lifting at Gym, Mowing
Monday April 22nd – 40 minutes on Elliptical
Tueday April 23rd – 1 Hour Walk to Grandma’s House and then across bridge with Jogging Stroller
Wednesday April 24th – Walked to OB/GYN appointment with Sagan in Umbroller, BodyPump class
Thursday April 25th – ?????
Friday April 26th – Mowing
Saturday April 27th – Nothing, TJ Hackathon

Sunday April 28th – I don’t think I did anything
Monday April 29th – Walk to Car, 10K in an hour on the elliptical with Hills set to 4.
Tuesday April 30th – Just playing with Sagan inside
Wednesday May 1st – BodyPump- upped tricep and biceps weight.
Thursday May 2nd – Mowing
Friday May 3rd – None, Driving to Blacksburg
Saturday May 4th – None, Blacksburg Visit

Sunday May 5th – Hiking Falls Ridge (carrying Sagan), Lots of Walking and Wagon Pulling at Frontier Museum
Monday May 6th – None (Blogging)
Tuesday May 7th – None (Playing with Sagan, some pushups and planks)
Wednesday May 8th – BodyPump
Thursday May 9th – Family Walk to Pool Playground and Back
Friday May 10th – Mowing with Manual Push Mower
Saturday May 11th – Walk to Grandma’s House with Jogging Stroller and Farmer’s Market, Lots of Sagan Playing

Sunday May 12th – Walk to Grandma’s House with Jogging Stroller, Weight lifting with Ryan, planting pawpaws and transplanting American Chestnut
Monday May 13th – Nothing – Mother’s Day Dinner at Cheesecake Factory
Tuesday May 14th – 65 Minutes Elliptical, 5.5 miles, Hills Set to 5.
Wednesday May 15th – Nothing – Star Trek!!!
Thursday May 16th – 1 hour walk to car and chestnuts with jogging stroller, then ~30 minutes mowing with manual push mower back yard (part with Sagan in BabyErgo)
Friday May 17th – ???
Saturday May 18th – Sick, but did a short walk to Post Office and back.

Sunday May 19th – Sick, nothing
Monday May 20th – 1 Hour Family Walk Looking for Cicadas up McKenzie Drive and Down Stairs
Tuesday May 21st – (Aaron and Meagan over for dinner) 27 minutes of mowing with manual push mower the front yard
Wednesday May 22nd – Walk with Sagan and umbrellor to OB/GYN in Lake Ridge (~30 – 40 min)
Thursday May 23rd – Walk with Sagan on Mount High Street->Locust Loop, Collecting Cicada Shells (took us over an hour to do a mile)
Friday May 24th – Don’t think I did anything
Saturday May 25th – At least four hours of clean-up and pergo piling, Mowing with push mower of back and front yard.

Sunday May 26th – 1 hour weight lifting with Ryan, short multigenerational family walk at Lorton Workhouse, Organizing and moving clothes.
Monday May 27th – Family Hike through the woods in Lake Ridge, 1.5 hour Family Walk at Dusk (from 123 Bridge, across footbridge and back home)
Tuesday May 28th -
Wednesday May 29th – 65 minutes on the elliptical 3.91 miles, 6888 feet, 550 calories burnt
Thursday May 30th – Taking Sagan to Grandma’s House to Fetch Car (did some carrying)
Friday May 31st – Walking to Secret Garden with Brian and Ryan, then up West Locust and Down Mount High Street with Brian
Saturday June 1st – Pergo installation

Sunday June 2nd – Walk down to craft fair (basically Mill House Museum and back)
Monday June 3rd – 50 minutes on elliptical, 438 calories, 3.36 miles, 5565 feet
Tuesday June 4th – Low impact walking with Sagan around neighborhood (Groundhog siting!). Mowing of the side yard.
Wednesday June 5th – 17:27 minutes on elliptical – 148 calories, 1.15 miles, 1791 feet. Then 39:31 minutes on bike (elliptical was uncomfortable) for 7.1 miles and another 203 calories.
Thursday June 6th – Not going to sound like much, but spent about an hour pushing Sagan around in that giant truck-themed shopping cart in Giant. :)
Friday June 7th – Walking alone to OB/GYN in the pleasant, nostalgic drizzle. (About a mile, 25 minutes worth)
Saturday June 8th – Walk to Farmer’s Market and Mailbox and back, Mowing front and back yard. (Very low energy day– slept in and then napped three hours)

Sunday June 9th – Swam 32 laps at the gym (1 mile), Cleaning of basement from cord trim installation.
Monday June 10th – 1 hour on bike – 10.63 miles, more than 2 miles of it at level 20. Calories 300.
Tuesday June 11th – Walk to Grandma’s House and Back to Check on Chestnut– Carried Sagan AND his mower and his popper most of the way.
Wednesday June 12th – Minor walking looking for the McCourt to Occoquan Trail Meeting
Thursday June 13th – None– exhausted :( :( :(
Friday June 14th – Not much, but pushups, squats and lunges, tricep dips while Sagan played on playground.
Saturday June 15th – two hour walk with Sagan to Farmer’s Market, Chestnut tree, and Phelp’s. Afternoon at Doug and Kristina’s

Sunday June 16th – Weight lifting with Ryan
Monday June 17th – Nothing – Man of Steel date with Ryan
Tuesday June 18th- Biking 60 minutes, 10.68 miles, 303 Calories, 2.5 miles Level 20 or greater
Wedneday June 19th – Walking To and From Grandma’s House (carrying Sagan the way home), mowing of front lawn with push mower.
Thursday June 20th – ????
Friday June 21st – Walked to and from OB/GYN appointment (~2 miles), did a family walk to take a picture of the chestnut and then across the bridge (~1.5 miles).
Saturday June 22nd – Walked to Farmer’s Market and back

Sunday June 23rd – 1 hour weight lifting at gym with Ryan, Hike through Tanyard Hill woods with Ryan and Sagan (maybe 1.5 miles)
Monday June 24th – Nothing – Working on Email Issues
Tuesday June 25th – Walking Sagan down to the Pool Playground in the Stroller and then around Occoquan
Wednesday June 26th – Walk Back From Parked Car at Grandma’s house. Small Walk to Construction Site with Ryan and Sagan
Thursday June 27th – Not much – playing with Sagan, Started to Mow Before Thunderstorm
Friday June 28th 1:58 AM – GAVE BIRTH

March 28, 2014 at 1:00 am 1 comment

Older Posts Newer Posts

Flickr Photos

Dyson's Birthday - Playing with Dog Water

Dyson's First Birthday - Happy with new Airplane Toy

Dyson's First Birthday - Smiling with Airplane Gift

Dyson's First Birthday - Squinting at Camera with Chestnut Leaf in Background

Dyson's First Birthday - Sitting by the Chestnut

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