Thursday, August 7, 2014

Our 4th Baby Birth Story- a planned home-birth with a surprise ending!

This is the birth story of our 4th baby boy, Malachi, born July 19, 2014. He was a planned home-birth with a surprise ending! 
Our very first baby in 2006 was a natural, un-medicated hospital birth.
Our next two babies were home-water births attended by a midwife in 2008 and 2010. I thought I'd mention these details just to add broader understanding to our experience.

*For those who get squeamish with birth details, feel free to scroll through and look at the pictures. For those who love reading birth stories, read on and enjoy!

Labor started Saturday morning July 19th at about 6am, with short contractions happening every 30 minutes or so. I was also starting to lose some blood, as my cervix lining was thinning out. This was a good sign, (as I was assured from our midwife. It had been 4 years since I’d gone into labor, and my memory was pretty fuzzy about what was normal.) At around 12:pm I sent Micah to a nearby Thai restaurant to get me a bowl of red coconut curry and rice. I wanted to eat something yummy before the real work began, and this was the only thing that sounded good!
While he was gone my contractions were getting stronger and longer, about 3-4 minutes apart and 1 minute long. As soon as he got home we called our midwife and Micah started filling the birth tub in our bedroom. Our boys were bouncing off the walls with excitement when we told them that it was finally time for baby to come today.
 Next I tied a sarong loosely around me, so I could walk and labor comfortably around the house. I began to walk up and down the halls of our home, stopping periodically to sound and breathe through each contraction, and also stopping to drink sips of red hot curry.
Our midwife and assistants arrived at about 1:30pm. I continued to labor at home as planned. It was very peaceful and cozy in my bedroom. 
Micah came into the birth pool with me and supported me, as I needed him. It was a very special experience to have him in the tub with me. He was a strong support for me throughout this entire experience. He even made me laugh at moments when I should’ve been focusing on breathing. 
It felt so nice to have confident, supportive friends in the room with us also. Our birth team was made up of my midwife Dyanna, and her two apprentices Gina and Paige. My friend Jillian came to take pictures. Her energy was peaceful and calming, as well. We listened to the labor music CD I had made, and talked when moved to do so. I got a little emotional during the labor just because birth has never been easy for me. I was scared for the pushing part because that has always been my biggest challenge in birth-(to push through the pain and exhaustion at the very end when all I want is to give up.) But, I worked through my tears, breathed through the hard contractions, and was overall eager to get to the end of this. Everything was going in a positive direction as the hours ticked away, and as baby Malachi worked harder and harder to get here.

When I felt the urge to start pushing (at about 5:30pm), at first the baby wouldn’t budge because of an anterior lip, as well as the giant, bulging bag of waters, which he couldn’t get past. Over the next several minutes I switched positions in the tub, pushed really hard, and popped the bag of waters. My midwife was going to help by moving the anterior lip over as he emerged. He was trying so hard to come out! I pushed and pushed and pushed through several more contractions. Our midwife could feel his head, and his little patch of hair. He was so close- so very, very close to coming out!

As I started pushing through a final contraction, I was suddenly overcome with excruciating pain all through my left thigh and abdomen.  His head had tilted ever so slightly, putting pressure on a nerve. It felt like someone stabbing my side and abdomen over and over with a knife, putting me through the worst torture imaginable. It seemed that I was no longer participating in normal labor as I was now in a crazy, alternate universe of debilitating pain. I remember yelling over and over,” I can’t do this! All I feel is pain. All I feel is pain!” I started hyperventilating and I couldn’t calm myself down.
My midwife had me get out of the birth tub at this point to try pushing on land because I couldn’t push in the pool any longer. So, my husband held me up under my armpits as I used his bent knees to support my bottom weight underneath me on the carpet. I tried pushing through a few more contractions but crumbled over in exhaustion in the end. The nerve pain was just too much for me to bear. I insisted that they take me to the hospital, give me drugs, and put me out of my misery. In fact, I begged for everyone to take me to the hospital, give me drugs, and put me out of my misery. I was done pushing, done breathing, and done being in such horrific pain.
At this point our midwife gave me two options:
1. Lie down on the bed, try to calm myself down, and push when I was ready again. 2. Go to the hospital, get drugged, put myself out of my misery, and then push.
I didn’t need to think this over very long.  I couldn’t possibly see #1 happening without being put through hell and back so I chose #2. I needed immediate intervention and this was my answer.

The next part of being in labor is an absolute blur. I’ve heard that when people are in such excruciating pain they don’t remember details. I sort of remember my midwife and husband trying to get me to walk up the stairs to the carport, and me being confused about what we were doing. I even remember refusing to go. I remember crying and screaming a lot. Then I vaguely remember getting in the back of our car while Micah sped me over to the hospital, which is just a few blocks away (thank goodness). I remember being hunched over the back seat of the car wearing a wet sports bra and a giant diaper, and yelling in pain. I also remember being hysterical in the parking lot of the hospital while I waited for a wheel chair to push me inside, while hanging onto Micah and Jillian’s shoulders. I recall trying to differentiate between nerve pain and labor contractions and not knowing which was which anymore. Then I remember being wheeled into a room in Labor and Delivery and being placed onto a bed, totally naked. I remember holding onto the rails of the bed, whaling and crying, and begging everyone in the room to help me. There were nurses coming in and out, hooking me up with an IV, putting me on a fetal monitor, taking blood for labs, and checking my cervix while they were at it. It felt like pure chaos to me--not at all what we had planned.
My husband was right there next to me the whole time, as well as Dyanna and Gina and our friend Jillian who had been taking pictures the entire time. Their presence brought me great comfort, within the chaos. The next thing I remember is sitting up on the side of the bed while a needle was inserted into my spine. Then within 15 minutes this amazing feeling of relief and happiness come over my entire being. It felt like big, fat, magical, Pixie Dust got sprinkled over the entire lower half of my body, taking the pain completely away. Not only did the anesthesiologist give me an epidural, but he also gave me localized anesthesia for the nerve pain. I could no longer feel my labor contractions, or my lower extremities.
 A huge smile spread over my face. I could suddenly breathe again, think again, talk again, laugh again, and exist in the moment. Yes, I was still having our baby!! Just not under such hellish circumstances!

For the next couple of hours I was able to rest and relax on my little hospital bed of relief before it was time to push again. Only this time I had a doctor in front of me telling me when to push, and a fetal monitor keeping track of my contractions. The epidural made me itchy and shaky, but it was 1000x better than the debilitating nerve pain, by far. In fact, I decided right then and there that I was blissfully in love with my epidural and would never birth naturally again. (Euphoria)
My feet were up in stirrups at this point, with a nurse on one side, and my midwife on the other side, both getting ready to pull my legs back towards my head when it was time to push.  The sensation was starting to come back to my legs and toes at this point. I could also feel mild contractions in my uterus every few minutes. I started to get worried that the nerve pain would come back, too, so I wanted to hurry and push out the baby ASAP. It was 8:40pm when the doctor told me to push hard with the next contraction, so I did. Then he told me to slow down a bit, so I did. Apparently he had to move that pesky anterior lip of my cervix over, since it was still blocking the passageway. Then he told me to push hard again, so I did. But, as I was pushing this time, I could feel a bulging pressure slide through me. It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever felt in my entire life! It wasn’t painful, but instead It was a tiny, squishy baby body passing through my body, and I loved being able to feel that little miracle.

I looked down to see Malachi’s little body curled up in the doctor’s gloved hands. Then the doctor put him immediately on my chest. I cried out with happiness, relief, and pure joy.He was darkish purple and covered in blood, vernix, and meconium. I loved him immediately. Our baby Malachi was here safe and sound, and I could finally relax and enjoy him.

This whole experience was really surreal, if not altogether CRAZY. I always wondered what it would be like to give birth under these circumstances, and suddenly there I was, pushing my baby out under anesthesia in the hospital. By the time I got home from the hospital Sunday evening, I was completely exhausted and wiped out. It felt as if someone had run me over with a truck, then left me with a baby to take care of. I laid in bed all day the next day, not only in immense physical pain from the strain of my labor and birth, but also in deep, emotional pain from the intense trauma from the pain I had gone through.
As I looked around our bedroom at what was left of our peaceful, planned homebirth, I cried at the loss of what could have been. I was so close-- so very, very close to pushing our baby out in that birth tub, until that nasty nerve pain started. I was so close to having the peaceful, gentle homebirth we had planned. I was so close to holding my baby in my arms without going through all that pain. I could still smell the raw, powerful fragrance of natural birth, lingering in our bedroom. I could still feel the intensity of the moments as if they were still happening all around me. It was almost too intense for me to be back in our bedroom so soon. The birth kit supplies were still scattered about the room. Towels and sheets lay bunched up on the bed. As I looked around our room I couldn’t hold back my big, sad, broken tears every time I thought about my difficult birth experience.
“Don’t think about it, Sally,” I told myself over and over. “You have a big, beautiful, healthy baby boy in front of you, and that’s all you need to focus on right now. What’s done is done and now it’s time to move on.”
So I would try hard not to think about it and redirect my focus back to my beautiful baby Malachi, with his adorable, little, newborn face, his tiny, fuzzy ears, and those big baby lips puckered up for nursing.
If memories of the hardness of my birth started to surface and break my heart, focusing on his little face mended it all back together again.
Throughout that first day at home my family brought more happiness into my heart. My little 3-year-old Jonah brought me apricots in bed, fresh from our backyard tree. My 6 year old, Odin, wanted to kiss and snuggle the baby anytime I wasn’t holding him. His genuine enthusiasm for his new baby brother melted my heart. And my 8-year-old Zadok’s eyes lit up right when I got home. He would constantly ask me throughout the day if I were okay, which was very touching to me.
Throughout the next few days my thoughtful and caring husband held me tightly every time I needed to cry it out and be held. He would calm down my outbursts of confusion and sadness, and assure me it would all get better in time. Soon enough I would forget the pain, forget the trauma, and only be able to remember the awesome parts.  And of course, getting to snuggle in bed with a beautiful, perfect, delicious smelling newborn baby, was the most healing of all. These sweet and tender moments with my family helped me to eventually get over it and move on from feeling bad about my experience.

In fact, as I’m writing this story 3 weeks later, I can see clearly the blessings and meanings in all of it! I can see how God’s hand had led me through this experience the entire time, and how it has changed me for the better! What we experience during birth has a powerful impact on how we see ourselves and the world around us, and can influence our feelings for good or for bad. I feel like this experience gave me a new perspective on the reality of birth trauma, and has allowed me to be even more empathetic with other’s hard experiences. It has enabled me to better serve those around me who may need my understanding and help. It has also allowed me to be more positive and trusting in our local hospital community, as they were so friendly and respectful, and helped me immensely in my time of need.
I had a fairly negative experience at a hospital with our first child, which prompted us to have the next two at home. However, this experience seemed to heal me of that. (I kinda wasn’t kidding when I said I loved my epidural…)
I also realized that we can’t always control what we have planned, and that’s okay. I know that God has bigger plans for us than we can see for ourselves, and often what we learn from an experience is more important than the experience itself.

Now, when anyone asks me how the birth went, I tell them it was awesome! And I really mean it! There were so many awesome things about this birth experience, that the hard things have just melted away! Here’s a few awesome things about the birth of baby Malachi:
*It was awesome when I got to labor in the birth tub with my husband. *It was awesome when he made me laugh. *It was awesome having my boys in the bedroom with us, their sweet faces so close by. *It was awesome having such a caring and competent midwife and her two wonderful apprentices in my home. *It was awesome when I was able to feel all those pains go away at the hospital. *It was awesome when I pushed our baby out and felt his body slide through me. *It was awesome when I held him for the first time and felt his squishy baby and kissed his squishy face. *It was awesome seeing the proud look on my husband’s face as he admired our new baby boy. *It was awesome when baby started suckling right away. *It was awesome that the doctors and nurses at the hospital were so friendly and helpful. *It was awesome when the nurses cleaned everything up and made sure I was comfy cozy in my recovery room. *It was awesome when I got to rest all night with my baby next to me in our own hospital bed. *It was awesome when I got to order food from this huge restaurant-style menu the next morning and stuff my face because I was starving! (French toast, blueberry capote, fresh fruit, cranberry juice, and chocolate pudding! MMMmmmmmm)
*It was awesome when my boys came to visit me the next day and held the baby for the first time. *It was awesome that my friend Jillian captured everything on camera. *It was awesome to receive so many blessings of comfort from my husband when I needed them. (Before the birth, during the transition to the hospital, and several days postpartum.)
***It was especially awesome that baby Malachi weighed 10 pounds and one ounce of awesomeness, and continues to grow bigger and healthier every day. I am extremely blessed to be his mama! I love you my squishy Mal-mal.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Malachi is here

Malachi arrived July 19, 2014 at 8:42 pm
10 lbs, 1 oz
21 inches long
He's a big, healthy, chubby baby and we love him!
 These were taken at 2 days old.  My friend Jillian took photos of the actual labor and birth, which I'm sure I will share in the near future (the censored versions of course) and tell my birth story. But for now, I have a beautiful baby boy to nurse and snuggle with. He's taking up all my time, and I'm perfectly okay with that. :)


Friday, July 18, 2014

40 weeks Informed

 Today marks 40 weeks of being pregnant with this little one. I am sooooooo ready, and hoping and praying that my uterus will start contracting soon and he'll start making his way into the world. (tonight would be lovely....)
According to evidence-based maternity research, it's normal to have a due date that's off by 2 weeks. Unfortunately, It's also normal to go 2 weeks past your due date and go crazy! 
I'm hoping I don't have to wait too much longer, for the sake of my sanity, not so much for the baby, because I know that he's happily bobbing around in there sucking on his thumb and putting magnificent amounts of pressure on my well as growing strong and healthy brains and lungs.
But really, I feel peaceful at the moment. I have so many positive, supportive, and optimistic people in my life that are here to encourage me if I start to doubt myself. I appreciate the people in my life who take the time to educate themselves and trust the body's natural process of pregnancy and birth. There's so much misinformation and un-truth out there about birth that it gets uncomfortable to carry conversations with others I don't know well. I get a lot of people asking me when I am due. Then when I tell them I am 39/40 weeks along, I get,"Oh wow, my doctor never let me go that long." or ,"Oh wow, aren't you worried about having a big baby?" or, "Oh wow, I never wanted to go past 38 weeks so I opted to induce." 
 I don't personally get down about other's people's choices, or start to compare myself to them, but I do like my own voice to be heard. I want people to know why I make the choices I do--- Why I am standing here at 40 weeks pregnant without a doctor telling me what to do, allowing my baby to grow bigger and bigger, all whilst choosing not to induce.
Contrary to popular opinion, it's not just because it's the natural, organic choice of child-birth, but because it's actually been scientifically, evidence-based and proven to be safer, healthier, and overall better for mom and baby.  (I'm not a hippie!)

There's a great website called Improving Birth that talks all about evidence-based maternity care. According to the website, "Evidence-based care means practices that have been shown by the highest quality, most current medical evidence to be most beneficial to mothers and babies (reducing incidences of injuries, complications, and death)"
I think this is such a great resource for people looking for articles and facts about receiving optimal care in pregnancy and birth. The main message here is that women should be informed of the risks, benefits, and alternatives to whatever choices she has in her maternity care and/or labor and delivery, according to the most current medical research.

There are too many unfortunate stories of women being forced to do things they weren't informed of, and without their consent, and too often without their own knowledge and education. In an ideal world, pregnant and birthing mothers would receive evidence-based information from their doctors and the opportunity to make the best choices for themselves and their babies. We wouldn't have so much,"My doctor wouldn't let me do that,"and more,"I chose to do this because I knew it was right."
Women are taking the power back by educating themselves and choosing the best choices for the best outcomes, with or without their doctor's consent. 
I personally choose not to get induced because I know that it increases the risk of complications in birth, can cause fetal distress on baby and physical distress for me, and increases my chances of C-section. All of these things and more can be read on this sight here.
I was reminded of last year in Hilo when a friend of mine organized an Improving Birth rally outside of the Hilo hospital. It was a friendly, open opportunity to let the community know that they have options, plus encourage the hospital to make those options available to women. Moms who desire a VBAC in a hospital on this island have to fly to another island (Oahu) because of the lack of doctors who will 'let' mothers do VBACS. Yet, the complication rate is still very high causing many mothers and newborns to have to fly to Oahu anyways for incidences due to artificial induction! Talk about uninformed choice-the irony kills me! (You can see me hanging out back there under the canopy supporting the cause.)

So anyways, the point is that we have choices, or at least we should have choices, which is the whole idea behind fighting for them. One of the greatest choices I've been able to make is to birth my babies at home. I am so grateful for the freedom I've have to make this choice, and for the power to educate myself for optimal outcomes. I fully trust my body to do what it needs to do to bring this baby safely into the world. I think about the upcoming birth every single day and envision this little baby boy sliding right out of the birth canal. Well, first I envision him crowning his huge noggin up against my opening cervix while I cringe in pain, then I envision him sliding right out of the birth canal. (I never said home-birth was pain-free or easy, just that I prefer it over everything else. haha)
 The mommy friends I know of who have had complications arise during their homebirths, resulting in transfers to a hospital, are still grateful for the opportunities they each had to make that original choice to be able to labor according to their own evidence-based knowledge. Even though the experience wasn't ideal, the emotional outcomes were still positive because of the power of informed choice. (Not everything goes exactly how we want it to sometimes, but in the end the choices are still available, which is empowering in itself.) 

So here's to being 40 weeks pregnant, keeping positive, and believing in the power of the natural birth process. These are the things that are keeping me afloat right now as we wait for baby boy's arrival. 
(As I sit here I am having Braxton Hicks after Braxton Hicks, contracting, and loosening, over, and over. Please come soon!)

Til next time.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The grocery bagger that pissed me off today

This afternoon I stopped by one of our small-town grocery stores for some milk and bread and other food necessities. I was in a good mood, considering my uterus felt like it was touching the floor, and I was ready for my 3'oclock nap!

However, as we were checking out, the grocery bagger behind me was making small talk with a patron, as he was bagging her groceries. He was an elderly, white, American in his early seventies. 
The subject of cell phones came up, because the lady was holding two cell phones, and I could overhear their conversation because I was right there.
The bagger said, "You know, there were some Saudi Arabia students in here awhile ago and one of them had four cell phones on him!"
So the lady responds casually,"Oh yeah, that's a lot of phone bills."
Then the bagger says with a chuckle,"I was going to ask him which one ACTIVATES the bombs? hahahaha."

And that's when I turned around, pissed and ready to blow his head off (metaphorically). Because I don't think jokes discriminating against certain ethnic groups are funny. Or appropriate. Ever.
I yelled over, "Sir, you'd better check yourself because telling jokes that are racial and discriminating against groups of people different than you is NOT okay. I don't want to hear it and these people don't want to hear it."
I got one nod from a bystander across the aisle, but most everyone in the lines next to me  kept their eyes down.
He immediately tried to excuse himself by saying, "Well, I am a Veteran of 23 years, so maybe I deserve a little credit!"
"Nope," I said back to him, "You deserve absolutely no credit for being racist and discriminating towards the Saudis that live here. It's wrong and it's not okay. If I were you I'd check yourself before telling stupid jokes like that again."

He turned his back to me and didn't say another word. As I walked out to the car I couldn't  believe how pissed I was, and how forcibly I spoke to him, but otherwise, I felt completely justified. 
I suppose I finally got sick of all the small-town racism and ignorance we have here (in small-town Utah and America). I hear about ignorant comments like this all the time and still can't believe how blind people are. 

Just the other day a friend in my neighborhood was saying that a lady complained because she was flying an Israeli flag in her front yard. The lady was walking by with her dog and said something along the lines of, "What's with the flags? I don't like that you are flying Islamic flags."
The friend explained to her that her husband serves in the military all over the world and they like to fly the flags of the countries he's served in. The elderly lady felt that my neighbor was representing terrorism or something, which is so completely ridiculous, it makes my insides hurt.
My husband had another incident when we first got here where an elderly man at the auto store was complaining about all the Muslims here and how we need to be more careful who we associated with. My husband tried to keep his cool as he explained to the guy that Muslims are actually followers of the Islam religion, not a group of people that are out to get him. But the dude didn't get it and kept on with his ignorant rant. Finally my husband just ignored him, because what can you do? 

And that's the point I was trying to make to veteran bagger today, because Saudi Arabia is a country in the middle east, not a group of people walking around with cell phone bombs.
And flag lady, Islam is a religion, not a group of terrorists out to get you. 
I say, please stop stereotyping people, and discriminating against people, based on their country or religion of origin. (It only makes you look stupid and spreads hate and fear.) 

God Bless America and the melting pot of races and cultures that live here! I, for one, am super stoked on the Saudi Arabian population that has started coming to our small town. The people are not only very nice and gracious, but we finally have a small middle-eastern store that sells spices and freshly made Nan!

Peace, Love, and Aloha.

Somewhat related story:
Welcome to America, Immigrants!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Keeping busy, Keeping happy, waiting, waiting, waiting.

Painting my upstairs bathroom is just one of the many projects I've set out to get done before this baby comes out. Projects keep me busy and not so focused on waiting for a baby to come out, which is, after all, what I've been doing for the past 9 months! I try to live in the moment, and be happy in the moment, and focus on the moment, but let's face it-- the baby coming out is the best part of being pregnant. And I can't wait! Hence, the projects.

I feel pretty proud and accomplished with all the things I've been able to do these past couple months. So here I listed them so I will never forget what a busy time, an exciting time, and a productive time pregnancy can be, in addition to playing the waiting game...

1. I painted my bathroom teal. 
All by myself. Then I painted the lower bathroom cupboard and photo frame in Bold Sangria. I love my bathroom. It was  yellowish and old looking before, and now it's--beautiful. From the Eric Carle-style shower curtain my mom sent me, to the pretty peacock feathers my friend Jillian got me at the farm she volunteers at, I am really happy with the way it turned out.

2. I organized donated baby goods and made $$ for my non-profit.
A friend of mine came over with a truckload of baby stuff that a friend of hers was getting rid of. Everything had been in storage and was a little dusty and dirty, but still useful! I spent several days cleaning, organizing, deciding what I wanted to keep, then getting donations for the rest. All the proceeds from my sales went into my non-profit account for LLL, so I could pay annual dues, etc. 

3. I cooked a ton of food for my own baby shower.
My dear friend Ruby hosted  a marvelous baby shower for us a couple of weeks ago. It was held at the park, tropical-Hawaii themed, and so sweet of her to do! However, I couldn't sit back and not cook some of my favorite island-themed foods to share. I spent almost an entire day killing my feet standing up in the kitchen, while cooking chili and rice, baking Panipopo, and putting together spam musubis (Micah helped with those). At one point, when I slightly burnt the huge pot of chili to feed 15-20 people, I almost cried and said," forget it, we'll just eat rice!" But in the end, it all turned out so ono! (Did you know that if you add enough peanut butter to burnt chili it just tastes like peanut butter-chili?) Ruby made sweet pork wraps and fruit salad,  Malia friend made a Tongan drink called Otai, and another friend, Maranda, brought lots of watermelon to eat!
I feel so blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful friends, old and new, to help us celebrate the soon-arrival of our baby boy. I wish I would've taken a picture of all the food and all the friends, but I got a few good ones along the way:

Ruby also made rainbow-colored popcorn!
Me and Micah opening the cutest and most functional baby gifts. (diapers, and blankies, and rattles, and teethers, and toys, and clothes, yay!)
Yes, this is a wooden teether of the Hawaiian island chain made by Little Sappling Toys. They have the cutest little family and the cutest stuff-go check them out! I was honored to receive the first one they ever made!
Little baby boy claiming his favorite snack
37 weeks pregnant with the full-moon-watermelon belly.

An elephant riding a motorcycle of diapers:
My friend Lori made the ultimate creative PINTEREST baby gift. Seriously so awesome. 
more fun friends.
We set up the king-sized water blob for all the kids to roll around on. There were 17 kids on here at one point. 

4. I've managed to find everything I need for the baby on craigslist, online blog shops, and yard sales, and have saved lots of money!

I scored one of the best joggers on the market for cheap!
There were just a few things I really wanted this time around but didn't want to buy brand new. So, I put it out into the Universe and waited. (It's the law of frugality) First, I wanted a changing table because I never had one before and I think it would greatly reduce the pain in my back from bending over. Second, I wanted a baby monitor because we now live in a 2 story house and not a tiny apartment, and I think it it would be nice to hear the baby wake up from the other side of the house. Third, I really needed a new jogging stroller because...I don't have one and post-pardum exercise is super important to me. Last, I really wanted a bouncy chair or swing for baby because those are just dang handy. Anyways, the point is I waited patiently until all these things were presented into my life at the right opportunities,  and for the right prices. It's a little more hard work to do it this way, but I am pleased to say it paid off, because I got everything I needed, and more! 

5. I've organized a few fun events for our LLL group.
At the beginning of June we did a summer splash potluck in our backyard. Then today we met at a Yogurt shop for a Breastfeeding Caf'e meetup. These are in addition to the monthly breastfeeding meetings I run. I love planning things and bringing people together.
6. Micah and I have been  going on dates together. 
We were able to go to the temple last month, then we were able to go on some fun dinner dates, and just yesterday we went to our pre-natal appointment and then Costco for a little outing by ourselves. It's really nice to be able to spend some time with the man I love, especially before this next little one comes. Our children are currently at ages where they are more independent and really good at self-entertaining. They even love having the babysitter come over! I'm happy to say we've taken this opportunity to get some alone time together, and I love it. Of course, we don't have a picture of us together, but here's a fun flashback picture from the last time I was pregnant in 2010: 
And one more belly photo, just for fun, 2010.

7. I've been playing outside and having fun with my boys, as much as I can.
I'm an active mom, so It's important for me to be able to get outside and play with my kids. Granted I can't do as much as I'd like right now, but I do what I can do! In fact, one of the hardest things for me about being big and pregnant is feeling like I'm missing out on all the fun things with my kids. I really miss wrestling them, chasing them around, riding bikes with them, and roughing it outside; all the stuff I love to do! 
Instead, we've been able to them up to the lake for swimming and sand-castle building. I sit in my camping chair and soak in the sunshine, then go swim around with Z and O. Little J plays happily onshore, digging in the sand for hours. 
Sometimes we stop for Shave Ice around town! Today we found a place that boasts "Authentic Hawaiian Shave-ice." It was pretty good for Utah shave ice, although nothing compares to Matsumotos! 
Another fun thing I've been doing is taking Odin around the collect "Brag Badges." It's part of a community summer fun challenge, where you get to pick up badges from various locations after you participate in an outdoor, creative, recreational, or family activity. Whenever I have special-alone time with Odin we go knock out a few more of these activities and collect the badges. He is really excited about it and loves that he has 26 of them hanging on his lanyard. A few that he's done is camping, attending a Green Show, swimming at the lake, flying a kite, having a water fight, reading books, and playing at a park. I love to see his cute little eyes light up every time he earns another badge. (Z opted not to participate, and J could care less.)

8. I made a birth and labor CD for if I feel like listening to music while I'm in labor. You just never know. I picked a variety of songs ranging from Hawaiian reggae, to Kundalini yoga mantras, to folk rock, to new world, etc... Everything on my list had to inspire happy, fuzzy feelings and also have the power to relax me, too.  
Here's my playlist:

Sally's Birth and Labor Music
1.Happy (/ Pharrell Williams.. 3:53 
2.Long Time Sun / Sarah Hawker 3:18
3.Aad Guray Nameh / Jai-Jagdeesh 7:02 
4.Caribbean Blue / Enya 4:00 
5.Keep On Moving / Bob Marley 3:07 
6.Love and Honesty / Hawaiian Style Band 4:08 
7.Wahine 'Ilikea / Ka'au Crater Boys 4:19 
8.Mehndi / Madhorama Pencha / Unknown 3:27 
9.All For Love / Sean Hayes 3:55 
10. The Sea / Morcheeba 5:51 
11. Bryan Adams 3:48 
12. Morning Has Broken / Cat Stevens 3:21 
13. He Hears Me / Hilary Weeks 4:07 
14. There She Goes / Bob Marley 2:33 
15. Sun Is Shining / Bob Marley 2:14 
16. Put It On / Bob Marley 3:05 
17. Rhythm Of The Rain / Ka'au Crater Boys 3:04 
18. I Hear Music a.k.a. Mr. Reggae / Ka'au Cra... 3:20

9. I've been reading the Chronicles of Narnia books by C.S. Lewis alongside my 8 year old . They're a lot of fun to read and I've enjoyed having book discussions with my son.
It all started when he began taking a Narnia class on his homeschool Minecraft server Skrafty.  Taking the class inspired him to read the books, and thus inspired me to read the books. 

10. I've been writing memoirs.
My Dad sent me this book a couple weeks ago: Writing the Hawai'i Memoir.   It has inspired me to take the time to sit down and write my life memoirs of growing up in Hawai'i. It seems I have so many stories that I don't want to forget, and sooner or later the memories will fade. This book has really helped me to feel excited again about writing. My Dad must have been truly inspired to send this book to me! 
Thanks, Dad!

Well, that's it for now! Just keeping busy, and keeping happy til this sweet baby boy comes. Then I'll be busy and happy in entirely new ways!