Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Holland Grace

    I was walking on the beach at the lake the summer of 2011. Audrey snuggled in the ergo while I walked her around to keep her napping and Bryan played with Noah in the water. Another ergo toting mom spied me and said hello. We chatted for a while and shared all the pertinent details about our babies and our births. She mentioned her newborn daughter's name was Ireland. Wow, Ireland, what a beautiful name ! She explained that she loved all those "place" names, you know, like Paris, Scotland, Holland...


The name stuck with me. Holland. I told Bryan that if we ever had another baby girl, her name would be Holland.  Back story; I'm very Dutch - my grandparents were both immigrants to the US - and Bryan has always liked the name Holly.

Fast forward to Christmas 2013. 
Bryan and I had just lost a baby in a very early miscarriage in the beginning of that month. I couldn't help but be testing way too often and early ... almost as a way to reiterate to myself that I really wasn't pregnant anymore but also with the hope that maybe, I would be again. The faintest second line appeared on a test on Christmas morning; excitement and hope welled up.

Cautiously, we waited. Extreme nausea began and didn't let up until well past my 15th week. At 12 weeks, we finally had a long awaited ultrasound to confirm dates, and that, well, there was a baby growing inside of me.

This pregnancy was my most difficult as far as discomfort goes through the first and second trimesters. The third trimester I felt a lot of discomfort as well but overall, I felt well. I knew intuitively that the baby was healthy and I also felt good, minus the increasingly annoying braxton hicks contractions. Around 36 weeks, I started having bouts of false labor, waking in the night with regular contractions, only to have them disappear after a couple of hours. This, combined with the increasing size of my belly, had me convinced I'd go into labor a bit early, or at LEAST by 40 weeks.

38, 39, 40 weeks came and went. 

Over analyzing each tiny contraction. Googling labor signs (yes, doulas do this too). Rubbing every damn oil I own into acupressure points. Texting Jenny (friend/doula/birth photographer) to whine about my plight. Finally, eventually, giving up completely. and starting all over again with the over thinking every detail of what if, what could be, wait-that-contraction-felt-different.

The weekend before I went into labor (for real) I thought my water broke while casually walking down the stairs. After lots of excitement, we had an optimistic afternoon contracting and watching "Sherlock", just Bryan and I. Nothing progressed and the kids came home after apple picking with their grandparents. Beth (our midwife) came over the next morning to check my fluid and also see where things stood after a few weeks of prodromal labor.

"No, your water didn't break. You are about 1 cm and 30% effaced."

Not exactly what I wanted to hear. Happy that my water actually didn't break, yes. I wasn't "on the clock" waiting for contractions. But frustrated at my apparent lack of progress cervix-wise. Even though every birth-wise friend I knew was reiterating to me, "SARAH, you KNOW those numbers mean NOTHING."

Yes, Doula Sarah knows. She also knows its best to wait for this labor to start on its own and trust my body will birth this baby. (BUT REALLY I JUST AM SO FRIGGAN SICK OF BEING PREGNANT!)

The eve before my official 41 week mark (and by my dates, 10 days past due) I wrote to the baby, letting him or her know that I needed to meet them. That being outside is so much better than being in. That we loved him/her and that his big sister and brother wanted to meet him. (I did this the night before I went into labor with Audrey too).

3:30 am. Woke up to pee. Contraction. waddle to the bathroom. contraction. These felt different but I tried to ignore them because it had been 5 weeks of waking up to contractions. I noticed bloody show in the toilet.    !!!!!    I might have tried to do a dance.

They continued to come. I worked through them and tried to sleep in between. Around 5, I texted Jenny and Beth to let them know what was up.

At 5:30, I woke Bryan up. "It's for real this time, get up, get up get up!" The contractions were strong and steady, about 8-10 minutes apart. Noah went off to school and Audrey went with her grandmother around 11 am. I had previously considered having the kids here for the birth but when the contractions started, I knew I needed them to be out of the house.

I retreated upstairs and Bryan massaged my back through each surge. We started to watch New Girl to pass the time. I felt anxious and sent him to the store to get food for the midwives just in case it was a long birth. He worried about leaving but I was feeling good and figured I still had lots of time.  While he was gone, I had a few contractions that made me see stars. Vocalizing through them, I clung to the shower curtain. When I thought it was over, I tried to move, it started to swell again in intensity.

I called him back to the house and called Beth. She agreed to come over and check in about an hour from then. The contractions were starting to come closer and definitely continuing to grow in strength. Texted Jenny to let her know it would be a good idea to head over around 3.

We tried to watch a show while we waited for the midwife but I couldn't make it through even a few minutes. Emotions boiled up inside of me and I was mumbling about missing Noah while he was at school and how Audrey wouldn't be my baby anymore. How I wasn't ready to be a mother of three children and how worried I was about how the kids would transistion. Bryan rubbed my feet and consoled me, reminding me this was all good stuff. Let it out, let it go. 

Beth arrived. Contractions were coming, hormones pumping. I felt good but tired all of a sudden. I'd been working for 12 hours now and the emotions were starting to play a big part in my ability to cope. 4 minutes apart at this point. Jenny seemed to just appear and I remember thinking it was odd to be with her without six screaming kids surrounding us. I tried to joke between contractions about the pain...I think I was already feeling much more on edge than I was showing at that time. Jenny, Beth and Bryan took turns giving me counter pressure against my back.

We debated about when to fill the tub. The midwife's assistant, Bryn, arrived and I think it was shortly thereafter that I stepped into the tub. I felt pretty ambiguous about it at this point. The contractions had become so intense I imagined nothing could take the edge off.

Ahh... hot water immersion. Okay, yes, it felt better. The hard edges of the contraction were dulled. Not having pressure on my feet and hips significantly reduced the sensation. But then, I seemed to widen and expand with each one and all my energy had to go to vocalizing through them and I tried to focus keeping my body loose around my baby during them. In between, I was either saying something silly or totally matter of fact. I truly lost my filter during this birth. Whatever came to my mind, I said. This turned into begging and pleading for relief, crying out to Jesus and yes, swearing two seconds later. I had been on my hands and knees coping but needed to try something else when I started to get tired. I sat back against the pool.... Bryan behind me, holding me.

A gush of fluid. Oh, I think my water broke! (it didn't...but we didn't know that at the time). Panic set in. Afraid to push, afraid of the next contraction. Beth reassured me that it would be okay, I would have my baby soon, maybe within the next few contractions (I didn't- it appeared I would... but the baby had other plans).

The contractions continued... looking back, I think I was fully dilated this whole time, just laboring the baby down. When inside the contraction, I could literally feel the opening, my hips just completely separating. Sweating, exhausted, I cried. Hot, hot tears. What if I was only 5 centimeters? What if this never ended?! Beth offered to check me but I declined, only because I knew if I didn't hear 10 cm, I would officially lose the rest of whatever shit I hadn't lost at this point.

Beth and Bryn massaged my submerged feet to alleviate my tension, I gripped Bryan and Jenny's hands... Bryan hummed hymns in my ear. I needed them all there, their presence reminding me that there was still something else that existed beyond what I was feeling during those contractions. When I surfaced from the depth of each one, they were still there, smiling, reassuring me that I was going to make it. Cool wash cloths on my forehead and drinks brought to my lips, constant support.

At that point, I started to doubt it. I really truly doubted. Why was this so difficult? Audrey's birth was so easy! I was so calm! I'm acting like a lunatic, oh god, here comes another one. I started to plead, verbally and in my mind. I tried to figure out a way to tell them all, okay, nope, I'm leaving. I need to go to the hospital. Really, I'm all done here now, let's try to figure out a way to get to the hospital and I'll have an epidural please, and thank you. But I couldn't make sense of how that would happen because, I can't move damnit! At some point Beth moved behind me where Bryan had been and tried to give my back and hips pressure to help with the pain.

Continuing to have what I can only describe as contractions from hell, I started to pray and beg. God, please, you need to do something. I'm done, I'm at the end of my rope. I truly can't go on. Please make something change, bring this baby to me. I need to be done. I felt the urge to push but only mildly at the end of each one and started to put some pressure behind it.

Shortly thereafter, my waters broke and fluid seemed to explode into the birth pool. Apparently my water hadn't broken before! I braced myself for what I knew was coming- the baby.

Sure enough, she started crowning. The power of the contraction behind it was incredible and all my energy was just forced down as she moved through. The intensity was so strong but in a different way than previously. Bryn excitedly told us that our baby had lots of hair. It was then I was put back in touch with the fact that, yes, I'm having an actual baby! Ohmygosh I'm going to find out if its a boy or a girl!  It took a couple of contractions to birth her head. Bryn checked for a cord around her neck. Beth asked her which way the baby was rotating. I couldn't hear Bryn's reply. I kind of felt something wasn't normal and I remember Beth going to assist and Bryan coming behind me. She asked me to lift up my bottom off the pool. I remember thinking, I will do whatever you need me to do. I will get out of the pool and walk to the bed if I have to. I had total faith in Beth's care as a midwife at that moment, though, and knew the baby (and I) would be okay. They rotated/pulled the baby with my contraction. one shoulder birthed at a time and then her chest also requiring significant pushing from me as well. Finally, she was here, on my chest. This huge, big baby, a bit stunned, laying on me, her soft skin melting into me. September 16th, 7:55 pm.

I sobbed.

Is it a boy or a girl?! I felt around and said, I think its a girl! Bryan double checked and it sure enough, a baby girl! I sobbed more.

Feeling shell shocked and in love and a million things at once; I cried for the baby I lost, the babies I birthed before and out of pure happiness that I was meeting this amazing little soul who lived inside of me for so long. Thank you, Lord.

Holland Grace.  You were fearfully and wonderfully made. 

All 10 lbs, 21.5 inches of beautiful baby girl.

Thankful for my husband whose love really saw me through this experience meeting our second daughter. Without him there through it all, I couldn't have done it.

Also so thankful for my amazing midwife, Beth. I appreciate her warm, quiet spirit and how beautifully gentle and loving she was to my baby as she helped her into the world and examined her carefully after she was born. and for the way she cared for me through out my entire pregnancy and birth.

Thankful to Bryn, for assisting Beth and for her words of encouragement and the strength I felt from her during my labor.

and last but not least, thankful to my wonderful friend Jenny for capturing Holland's entrance into the world and sitting with me during my most intense birth. For her total acceptance and for her comic relief. and for her patience. I will treasure these photos forever.

Despite the intensity of Holly's birth, I wouldn't change a thing.

Friday, June 20, 2014


Here I am once again. 28.5 weeks pregnant. sitting in the space of distant disbelief that labor (and a child) is coming while feeling the obvious discomfort of 3rd trimester pregnancy.
Yes, we are expecting our third little one. well, really, our fourth.

I think its taken me so long to write here about this pregnancy because it's almost like if I started to write, I would be forgetting the one that came before it. In November, we conceived. I was incredibly thrilled. It was fall, and beautiful. For 4 weeks, we held in our excitement, trying to refrain from telling everyone we knew. This baby felt full of hope and happiness. We just had moved into our new place in southern NH, started to get grounded and it felt like the perfect event to christen our move. I never expected to lose this little one.

Early in the morning on December 3rd (Noah's birthday), I woke up in the dark feeling cramps and warmth. Immediately, my stomach lurched and I ran to the bathroom. Sitting there, watching the redness swirl, tears stinging my cheeks, it wasn't a question. I knew I had lost the baby. The irony of welcoming a baby 5 years prior and losing one the same day felt cruel.

Even though we knew each other for a short time, the grief I felt shook me more than I can explain. The miscarriage was painful. It felt rushed as if it were shoved under the rug. It was Noah's birthday. I couldn't let it out. I cried in the kitchen when the kids weren't looking. Every trip to the bathroom, I wondered if that was the time my baby was flushed down the toilet. I confided in a few friends. Just knowing that others knew helped.  Bryan cried with me when I woke up in the middle of the night reliving the intensity of that two days of "labor". Laboring to let go is something I hadn't stopped to consider before.

As the days went on, the space in my chest felt hollow and numb. I was aching for this little one. Intuitively, the strong sense was there that this baby was a little boy. It's almost as if his presence was hovering over me at night. Wisdom and peace.

Bryan and I didn't talk really about trying again. I googled fertility after miscarriage maybe a hundred times. It wasn't that I wanted to replace the baby. I just realized how much we wanted to add to our family. Somehow I knew instinctively it would happen again soon. During this month, I grew closer to Bryan. Spiritually, I needed his strength. Our day to day lives didn't change, but I clung to him because it felt that he was the only one I knew could empathize with the sense of loss I was experiencing. The baby had been ours.

Christmas morning, I took a pregnancy test. I knew it would be positive. The tiniest, faintest line appeared. I tried to tell Bryan without really telling him...I knew that he would be angry that I had taken a test earlier than my missed period. We were trying to protect ourselves. If we didn't know, we couldn't be hurt when my "period" came. We didn't talk about it until New Year's Eve. Officially, I had missed my cycle, and the tests all showed dark lines. Cautious waiting. Rejoicing didn't quite happen.

This time, morning sickness took hold and didn't let go for 15+ weeks. There were nights where I sobbed because I truly felt like I was dying. The. worst. constant. nausea. I took unisom to sleep at night. There were days where I was throwing up trying to clean up my own vomit. Looking back, I'm not sure how we all withstood it. Bryan and his mother did my dishes, cleaned, fed the kids and generally carried me. We waited until 12 weeks, 3 days (after a dating ultrasound) to tell the kids. It wasn't until I saw my baby on the monitor that I truly believed it was real. The tiny heart beat, arms and legs, spine, everything intact, hiccuping. Me, crying and shaking on the ultrasound table from bittersweet relief.

Monday, April 22, 2013


Many days I'm sitting at home with my kids and I feel like something is missing. I make my coffee, pick up toys, listen to them laugh & play... but I'm craving that heart to heart with other mamas and family.

When Noah was a little baby and Audrey too, we lived on my parents farm. We saw them everyday and I was luck enough to have my grandmother living there too. My grandma would come over each morning. We'd make coffee together and she would snuggle my babes. I'd listen to her stories over and over and soak in her wisdom. Even when her visits were minutes long I cherished feeling her warm smile over me and sharing a hot cup of coffee together.

I'm craving community. And kinship. You know those few women (or men!) that truly "get" you? Whom you can shed tears with and laugh and bare your soul in front of and it results in a filling of your soul. I'm missing my kinfolk. As the spring begins, we are thinking about a move at the end of the summer. I'm hoping and praying the move brings us to a place where we can enjoy renewed community with others.  After spending a weekend with family and friends and returning home (200 miles away from them), this is what it boils down to.

How do you cultivate community where you live? Do you feel connected to others on an almost daily basis? Who are your 'kinfolk'?

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Three : To be or Not to be?

This is a topic I think about literally every day.

Should we have a third baby?  For me, three seems like a great number. Ideally, it feels balanced and nice. Realistically, it sounds chaotic and insane!

me with my first baby, Noah.

I love babies. I love birthing babies, holding babies, breastfeeding babies, smooching babies. Smelling their little fuzzy sweet heads. I adore them. Ahem.

I also dislike rocking babies until my arms feel like they are about to fall off, I dislike feeling so sleep deprived that I put my phone in fridge and look for my coffee in the bathroom. I dislike not having gone out with hubby for a real date in... well, a very long time. I dislike gaining weight and feeling like I have the flu for 9 months.

But, if it were up to me, independent of money and hardships that come along with having kids, I would have a third.

Bryan votes an emphatic YES on this topic, btw.

But, I'm concerned. I'm concerned about money. I'm actually amazed when we are at the end of the month and still have housing and food. We are blessed and always have what we need. I pretty much refuse to put my children in daycare....sooo another 4+ years without a second income could pose a problem. And then there's the issue of school..we would love for them to go to a private school and that costs money.

I'm concerned that a third child would upset this awesome balance we have as a family of four. I LOVE my two little bugs and they are such a great friends. And we have a double stroller....where would the 3rd baby go? We'd need a new car, new apartment/house...a tummy tuck.....

If we were to go for it, I would rather do it soon and get the diapers and sleep deprivation over in one shot. Also I love the spacing of my first two (26 months apart). AND it would be awesome to have a brother or sister for the both of them to adore. A little Campbell tribe sounds appealing.

How did you know you were done? How did you know if you wanted to add another bundle to your family?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Where have I been?! do I recap almost a full year? I'm a terrible blogger. It's true. Also an incredibly busy mother of two, WIC peer breastfeeding counselor, childbirth educator and doula... WOOT! Yup. I'm a doula. It's pretty amazing! I took a CAPPA childbirth ed and doula training last fall and have been on a roll ever since. Birthing women rock. After a birth, I'm on a high for days. Really, truly an awesome experience and I'm so privileged to be a part of it.

So, what's new? ...Nope, I'm not pregnant. (at least...I think I'm not). .. now that I've said that, I should probably take a test. ... jk. Really, I'm not. This summer is going to be fantastic. I'm going to be finally sending in all my certification paperwork instead of slacking on it like I have been and reading a gazillion more books on birth than I already have. Also will be searching for a great, comfy place to teach classes in ..(everywhere I look is either saturated with other birth educators - darn hippie Vermont- or is mad expensive). Hoping to UP my rates in the fall because...really, $500 for a doula's services really isn't enough... I know you are probably thinking, WHAT?!

$500 for a doula to come to my birth? How is that not enough? Well..... the first 250 goes to prenatal/back up. Rachel and I split it. So we get paid about $12 an hour for prenatal appts and $50 for being on call 24 hours a day. The second $250 goes to whoever attends the birth. Considering an average birth is anywhere from 10-20 hrs and then add on about 3 hours postnatally... you are making minimum wage to decent pay for the birth. BUT then factor in childcare, gas costs, parking costs, time away from home and.... you aren't doing so hot. SO hopefully, we can raise our rates a little bit and make some sort of living.

Fortunately, I LOVE doing this work and would do it for free if I could.

The kiddos are AMAZING. I'm convinced that I have the smartest, sweetest, most adorable children in the world. For anyone that follows my facebook page, you've been kept pretty current. If daily photos aren't enough, I'm not sure how I can please you.

Anywho...I'm going to actually go now because my attention span is about as long as goldfish's now that my life is crazy busy. I've got way too much on my plate and I'm not sure this blog will see me for quite some time might turn into a dumping ground for all my photos of the babies and facebook might see some major editing.

Should I take a poll? Should I resurrect this blog?


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Friday, December 9, 2011

Catch a falling star...

Select two pieces of beautiful square paper- any kind will work as long as it's square

Fold into rectangle.

Fold in half again.


Fold into triangle.

Fold again.


Cut half way up each fold on the flat sides.

Fold sides in to make a point.

Glue with glue dots to make a point.

Repeat with other piece of paper.

Glue on top of eachother.

Make a hole for string.


Add a friend or two.