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Rachel's Diary, 2013


(The newest diary entries are at the top.)


Rachel, December 2012.


November 13, 2013

Hello all,

Emma is three weeks old today. Hard to believe--it feels like three years would be more accurate!


'Beka comes to visit often and is a devoted Auntie!
Emma is one week old.



We're doing pretty well over here; slowly settling into something of a routine. Emma is doing great. The hematoma on her head has healed up quite a bit and I'm hopeful it will be gone by Thanksgiving when we head down to Loda to visit my parents and my in-laws from California. Emma is very vocal and chats with us all the time, including while nursing and sleeping! She is not a sleepy baby, but spends most of the day awake and hanging out with me instead.

I am still healing and far from back to normal. At this point progress is frustratingly slow because of the tearing. My midwife tells me to expect it to take eight weeks to heal completely.




Just hangin' out with Dad!



Things are winding down for Joey as we have just a week left before the quarter is over. For the first time since week 3 we are consistently getting to bed before 1 am, he is coming home when classes are over for the day, and he actually has time to spend with Emma and me. We are all very much enjoying the slightly more relaxed pace as this has been our most grueling quarter yet.

Love,
Rachel


My Dad meeting Emma (three days old) for the first time.





Uncle Caleb, a devoted and proud Uncle!


November 14, 2013

The Birth of Emma Faith

The days leading up to Emma’s birth were crazy. Joey’s school was incredibly intense and time consuming, which meant I saw very little of him. However on the night of October 22, he had just finished a big exam and we decided to take some time off to celebrate how well it had gone. Our definition of ‘time off’ simply meant him finishing for the night at 9:00 pm instead of working into the wee hours of the morning, but as it was the first uninterrupted time we’d had together in weeks, I wasn’t complaining!

Despite how happy I was to have some time with Joey, something felt off. I felt very unsettled and almost upset, but had no idea why. We attempted to have a nice evening together despite my mood and went to bed around 11 pm. Joey quickly dozed off but I still felt very worked up and couldn’t sleep. Eventually I decided to go take a bath to try to relax and calm down.

Joey woke up and came to keep me company. I relaxed in the bath, he lit some candles, and we chatted. I don’t remember much of what we talked about. I do remember telling him how frustrated I was to be a week overdue. Besides two sessions of mildly painful Braxton Hicks type contractions earlier in the week, there were no signs that labor was imminent. Despite my mom predicting that the next time contractions started up it would be the real thing, I was discouraged and frustrated with my body. I was beginning to feel like my body didn’t know what it was doing and would never figure out how to get this show on the road. We talked for an hour as I relaxed in the bath. As we talked about the upcoming birth, I asked Joey how he was doing with everything. He started talking about how unprepared he felt, about the stress of not knowing what to expect with the labor and how worried he was for me, how hard it was knowing that there would be so little he could do to help me. As he was talking I felt a very strange popping sensation and then started to feel like I was leaking. As I was in the bath I doubted this feeling, but as Joey kept talking, the feeling continued. I sat up in the tub and felt a significant gush of fluid leak out. Now there was no denying that something strange was going on! I interrupted my husband in the middle of his description of how unprepared he felt for the labor with the breathless announcement that I thought my water had just broken and that I needed a towel. I caught some of the leaking fluid on the towel and it was a strange light green color.

Standing in the tub I thrust the towel at Joey, practically hyperventilating as I explained what had happened and looked to him in confusion to validate that he was seeing what I was seeing. I knew that if this was indeed my water breaking that there was meconium in the fluid, and I knew that that wasn’t good. I started shaking and completely freaking out.

Joey, watching his wife dissolve into a panicked mess, quickly took charge of the situation. He talked me into stepping out of the tub—for some reason this took great deal of mental effort on my part—and got me a towel to dry off while we discussed what to do. I knew we needed to call somebody to confirm that this was indeed my bag of waters. I’m not sure why but I desperately wanted to call my mom, despite the fact that it was now midnight. Fortunately for her Joey talked me out of it, telling me that I didn’t want to wake her up because then she’d be up all night worrying, and that what we really needed to do was call Kim, our midwife.

Still panicking, I called Kim. She didn’t pick up but called me back right away. I explained what had happened and, being her awesome self, the first thing she did was tell me to take 3 deep breaths so I could stop freaking out long enough to listen to her!

She calmed me down and said that my water had indeed broken and not to worry about the meconium as it wasn’t uncommon with full-term babies. She asked a bunch of questions and then told me to go to bed and get some sleep as I would likely be in active labor within 24 hours. She said that she expected I would wake up in a few hours with the beginning of contractions, and that she would come by first thing in the morning to check on us. After telling me about five more times to GO TO SLEEP, she hung up.

Now that I wasn’t panicking anymore and I knew that labor was imminent, I was so excited! I couldn’t focus on anything. I tried to work towards getting ready for bed but I was so excited and scattered! While I had been talking to Kim I had started having fairly intense cramps, and when they continued I figured they might be contractions. They were happening frequently so I started telling Joey when they were happening and he timed them.

To our complete surprise the contractions were very close together. There was not a consistent pattern but the cramps were coming every 1 to 3 minutes and were about 40 seconds long.

We timed the cramps for an hour or so while we both tried to calm down enough to go to bed. But by that point I was getting a little worried. I knew I was supposed to call Kim when the contractions were 5 minutes apart and 1 minute long. My contractions weren’t that long yet but some were coming within less than a minute of each other.

Around 1:30 am I decide to call Kim again. When she picked up she sounded awake and said she was just about to call me to see how things were going. I told her about the contractions and with a funny note in her voice she said it sound like things were moving faster than she expected. She told us to inflate the birth pool and that I should probably call my sister, who had 4 hour drive to make it to the birth. She said to call her again when I couldn’t talk through the contractions anymore. In disbelief that this moment had finally arrived, I called Beka. When she picked up I said, “Emma says to come on up because she’s ready to meet her Auntie Beka!”

Beka started getting her stuff together and I told her to call me back when she left. While she packed, Joey started setting up the birth pool. I felt really bad for our neighbors as it was now nearly 2 in the morning and we were running a loud air pump. Fortunately it didn’t take long to inflate.

I continued having cramps very frequently, and they began to get more intense. While we waited for Beka to call us back I sat down in our rocking chair and relaxed through several. It was difficult to sit still during them but I was suddenly hit with total exhaustion so I did anyway. Beka called back around 2:30 saying she was on her way. By that point I was in a lot of pain and it wasn’t really going away. I walked around the apartment a little but was so tired. Joey convinced me to try lying down and going to sleep. That lasted about three seconds. The pain was far, far worse in bed.

I started pacing around the apartment and vocalizing through the contractions. I was confused because I wasn’t getting a break between contractions. I would have a contraction, and then the pain would reduce to about half and stay that way for less than a minute before the next contraction would peak. The constant pain completely shattered my ability to relax or focus and I was very confused about the lack of breaks and how it was possible that my labor was already this intense when we were barely 2 hours into it.

Joey tried several times to talk to me or help me but everything he did intensely annoyed me so he got the hint and started cleaning up our apartment to get ready for the birth and stayed out of my way. I kept pacing and vocalizing through contractions. The intensity of the pain kept building and I started getting very worked up. I had expected to be able to relax throughout my early labor and to be completely on top of the pain, but instead I felt like the pain very much had the upper hand! I started to doubt how I could handle the 24-hour labor I was expecting, and told Joey repeatedly that there was no way that I could do this and that I didn’t want to labor naturally after all. I was miserable. After about 15 minutes of extremely intense contractions and me completely freaking out, I insisted that Joey call Kim to update her. I remember telling him to tell her that the contractions were killing me. They spoke very briefly and she said she was going to pack up and head over to us.

I believe it took her about an hour to arrive. In that time the contractions continued to intensify and I got more and more worked up. I felt like such a failure to be just a few hours into what I was expecting to be a long labor and to be handling things so poorly. I had envisioned myself confidently, peacefully handling the vast majority of my labor and yet here I was in early labor completely freaking out and with no ability to do anything but pace and whimper throughout each contraction.

I briefly remembered my sister Jennifer’s birth story of one of her sons that I had read years ago, where she wrote about her very fast, intense labor. She wrote something about how she felt like a wimp because she was having such a hard time with what she thought was early labor, when she was actually very advanced and I believe in transition at that point. I thought that what I was feeling reminded me very much of what I had read about what transition would be like, but for some reason I completely dismissed the idea that I might be laboring similarly to how my sister did. It seemed like forever before Kim finally arrived.

Despite the fact that I felt like I was going to fall asleep on my feet I kept pacing and moaning through contractions as it was the only thing that helped. Joey and Kim started filling the birth pool up with water and I remember asking Kim in surprise if it was time for that already. She replied that things were moving a bit faster than normal but somehow that didn’t register with me.

Kim was setting up all her supplies and I have no idea what Joey was doing. I kept pacing as the pain continued getting worse and I started to have a hard time tracking what was going on. I felt like I was in a mental fog. I believe it was around 4 am when my mom called Joey’s phone. He answered and talked to her briefly. I told him to tell her that I loved her and I wished she was there. Beka and Joey were also in communication several times but I don’t remember when or what was said. At some point Andrea, Kim’s assistant, arrived.

Once she was settled in, they convinced me to sit down long enough to get my blood pressure taken. Then they wanted to take my temperature so they stuck a thermometer under my tongue and I went back to pacing. Having the thermometer in my mouth kept me from being able to vocalize like I had been and I found that incredibly infuriating. I was doing my best to yell very frustrated things at everyone but with the thermometer in my mouth I don’t think anyone understood me. Joey did seem to get the message though when I pretty much threw the thermometer at him when it finally beeped after what seemed like a million years.

The mental fog I was feeling deepened and I felt like I had no control over myself anymore. Instinctively I just kept pacing and vocalizing as it was the only way I could find to cope with the overwhelming, endless pain. At one point I do remember the pain actually going away in between the contractions for the first time in several hours, and I felt slightly more human for those brief one or two minutes. I was able to stop walking and talk to Kim for a few seconds before the pain began again and another giant, endless contraction started up.

Kim started asking to check me. I kept telling her a flat NO as laying down long enough felt like it would require superhuman effort. But she kept asking and eventually came over to me and held me and helped me breathe. I remember she smelled so good, like herb tea.


This is me (Rachel) at two weeks old, in 1994!



As she was holding me she guided me slowly into the bedroom and she and Andrea helped me lay down. Joey held me tight for the few excruciating seconds I had to lay still for the check. Kim happily announced that I was already 7 cm but that didn’t sink into my brain at all. Instead I jumped up and informed everyone that I was in agony and that I wanted to get into the pool now. It was only half filled but Kim said I could get in whenever I wanted.

Joey helped me get in and, oh my, it was amazing. The second I sank into the warm water it was like a miracle. Immediately the pain of the contractions was reduced to half of what I had been feeling seconds before. Even better, all the panic and confusion and misery that I had been experiencing vanished and I felt calm and in control again. But the best part of all was that I now actually had a break in between each contraction with no pain for the first time since very early on. It was amazing!

I felt so good that I was actually able to completely relax and float in the pool through three contractions. My mind was clear and focused enough now to remember all those birth mantras I’d read about and so I started reminding myself of a few of them—“I am opening like a flower for my baby…this isn’t pain, it’s just hard work…” etc. However on the fourth contraction after getting into the pool, the pain and intensity suddenly kicked up to a whole new level and it was impossible to relax through it. I starting rolling into different positions trying to find one that took the edge of the pain and only made one fleeting attempt at reminding myself of the ‘this isn’t pain, it’s just hard work’ birth mantra before clearly thinking, “Who am I kidding?! This is KILLING me!” and giving that up entirely!

I had told Kim before the birth that I wanted a lot of space and privacy while I was laboring, and she and Andrea were wonderful about respecting that. Once they got me settled in the birth pool they turned the lights out and left Joey and I alone in our bedroom. This was wonderful as I was able to completely relax in between contractions and focus my entire attention on coping.

As time went on the contractions got more and more intense until I began to feel like I was splitting in half. Massive pressure began to build and it was harder and harder to get through each contraction. At one point Kim stepped in and said that if I wanted I could try pushing. She said if it felt good than to go with it.

I tried pushing with the next contraction and it definitely did NOT feel ‘good’ but it felt better than just suffering through the contractions so I started pushing. At first I was very loud and vocal while I was pushing but Andrea helped me direct all of that energy into the pushes and from then on I pushed silently. Joey was sitting on an exercise ball by the edge of the pool and with each contraction I would get into a kneel or a squat and push while pulling onto his hands. I didn’t know this until afterwards but he told me he was struggling with each contraction to keep from toppling into the pool as apparently I was pulling rather hard.

Pushing was hard and I hated it, but I had the idea somewhere along the line to see if I could feel the baby. She was high up still but I was able to feel a slimy little head covered in what I thought was a lot of hair and that filled me with excitement and the energy to keep going. I started feeling her head each time I pushed, and that way I could feel her moving down and responding to my efforts. At first she kept moving back up after each contraction but slowly she was inching down and it was amazing to be so connected with her. I remember how greasy my fingers got from the vernix covering her hair.

At some point, I believe around 5:30 am, Beka arrived. Poor girl didn’t get much of a welcome other than a “You barely made it, I’m pushing”. She settled in on the bed in the dark and I continued pushing my girl into the world.

I don’t know how long I pushed but eventually I started feeling her crown, which was definitely the most intense feeling I’d ever experienced. It felt like she crowned for ages but it was probably closer to ten or fifteen minutes.

I largely stopped pushing when she crowned as the burn was so intense that I didn’t want to add to it, but after a while Kim told me that the only way to meet my baby was to push through the burn. So, I told myself that the harder I worked the sooner she’d get there, and gathered my energy for a few good pushes. It was pretty awful and I remember informing everyone several times that I was dying and this was killing me. For several pushes it felt like no progress was being made; her head really didn’t seem to be moving. But then suddenly, all at once, with one last push Emma Faith was born. Her head and body were born together, and she was born so quickly that she shot away from me into the water several feet.

I was completely shocked as I had been expecting a slow, gradual delivery, but I instinctively grabbed her little body out of the water and pulled her up to my chest. And it was over! I sat down against the wall of the birth pool and cuddled her close. She gave two quiet little coughs and then that was it. The room was warm and completely dark but for the light of a flashlight. She looked up at me so alert and awake and peaceful and it was amazing.

Beka and Joey got on either side of me and we just sat and rejoiced and drank her in. She started sucking on her hands and then latched on and started nursing when she was just moments old. She knew exactly what she wanted! We looked at her and marveled at all her hair. Beka checked to make sure we did indeed have a little girl as it had been a worry of mine for months that our ultrasound might have been wrong! Somebody announced the time—it was 6:35 am, a mere six and half hours since it had all begun.

Unfortunately the aftermath of the birth was pretty horrible. That is the single blemish on my beautiful birth. I had several small 1st degree tears and one large tear, and then an internal 2nd degree tear along with a hematoma. The stitching and repair took an hour and was the single worst experience of my life. But I have made the mental effort to separate the birth and the aftermath of it in my mind, as apart from that, this experience was everything I dreamed of.

We had the most excellent care from our midwife. It was wonderful to have consistent care from one provider throughout all of pregnancy and birth. Knowing and trusting Kim going into the labor was such a reassuring thing, especially for Joey. Her intuitive, intelligent, respectful care was a true blessing.

The single best decision I made in regard to this experience was to birth at home, in the water. Despite how fast and intense it was, being at home surrounded by only people I knew and trusted and being allowed to follow my body with no interference made it truly empowering. I was able to push unguided and to catch my baby myself. Laboring and birthing in the water helped me so much to cope. The pain relief and relaxing effect it had were really unbelievable. And I loved how being born into the water shaped Emma’s first experiences.

Watching her in those first moments, seeing how calm, relaxed, and alert she was, is something I’ll never forget. There was no screaming or stress for her, just a quiet transition from one warm, wet space to another. I am so thankful that I was able to have my baby and home and provide her with such a beautiful and gentle welcome to the world.

Love,
Rachel





November 3, 2013

Hello dear ones,

Finally finding a minute to send some more pictures and an update.

Emma is doing great. We can see her changing every day; she already has lost the newborn look. She is gaining weight quickly and thriving. She continues to be very easy and laid back. She does like to keep me up a lot at night, but we're working on that.

This week Emma gave us a bit of a scare by developing a "cephalohematoma", or more simply, swelling on her head. Her pediatrician looked her over and assured us that all is well and the swelling should go down on its own with no interventions within three months. It isn't bothering her at all.

Her pediatrician also noticed that Emma seems to have a small benign cyst on the back of her head near her neck. It isn't growing, isn't bothering her, and isn't interfering with her skull so he has advised us to wait on any scans or tests to identify it for sure. We'll be following up with him in a month and may possibly have some tests done at that point. The doctor expects it to go away on its own in time.





I am healing well and am off bed rest but still have to take it very easy. I can only be up and about for a few minutes at a time but it is enough to keep up with the bare minimum until I am back to normal. We are very grateful for how well my recovery is going as our midwife tells us I am healing about a week faster than she expected.

Joey is extremely busy with school and is finding the heavy school load plus the new level of involvement needed at home to be a lot to juggle. He is a wonderful daddy and it melts my heart to see him cuddling his little girl while he studies. He is taking fantastic care of us despite how stressful it all is.

The addition of our daughter to our lives is definitely stretching us and we have had some challenging days (and nights), but God is faithful and we continue to learn to trust Him and lean on each other to get through. Thanks for listening and caring,
Rachel

October 29, 2013

Hi all,

Emma will be one week old in just a few hours! So hard to believe!

We are doing well. Emma is a very happy, content baby. For the most part she is very easy, which is a huge blessing. I am still on bed rest but seem to be healing well; we have an appointment with our midwife tomorrow so we'll know for sure then. I am really hoping she'll say I can start to be up and around a little.

Thank you for all the love, prayers, and support, dear family!

Love,
Rachel





October 26, 2013

Hello,

Here are a few pictures from the birth. Things went so quickly we didn't take any pictures of the labor and delivery but here are some of afterwards.


Midwife-in-training Andrea helps 'Beka cut the cord.



Emma getting weighed.



We are doing great today. My milk came in yesterday and nursing is going really well. I actually slept last night for the first time since the night before she was born. We had a pediatrician appointment this morning with an excellent doctor our midwife recommended--Emma is healthy and normal. The midwife is coming tonight to check in on us again as well.

Emma is very settled and content now that my milk is in. She loves to cuddle with me all the time...nursing sessions currently seem to be about 10% eating and 90% snuggles. She's not too fond of hanging out with anyone else. 'Beka is currently wearing her in a moby wrap and Emma is doing lots of complaining in her sleep.:)

Love,
Rachel


Skin-to-skin with Daddy.



October 23, 2013

Dear Family & Friends,

It is with great rejoicing that we announce the birth of our daughter, Emma Faith. Our beautiful girl was born today, October 23, 2013, at 6:35 in the morning. She weighs in at 7 pounds 4 ounces and is about 20 inches long. Mother and baby are both doing well and are resting up at home.

We thank the Lord for Emma’s safe arrival and trust He will give us the wisdom to raise this beautiful girl to know His Name.

Thank you all for your love and prayers.

Love,
Rachel





October 09, 2013

Hi ladies!

Had to share the most amazing chocolate frosting recipe that I found yesterday. It is delightful: fluffy, light on the chocolate, and the perfect amount of sweet to top a chocolate cake. Joey, who hates all sweet desserts, ate three cupcakes with this frosting yesterday and told me how much he loved it, which should be proof enough to all of you how awesome this is. Super easy, super delicious, both spreads and pipes really nicely. Try it!







Chocolate Frosting
(Scroll to the bottom of the post for the recipe.)*

Love,
Rachel

P.S. One week to go!

*TMC does not necessarily endorse all content on websites we link to.


October 07, 2013

Hello!

Nothing much to report this week. Things are pretty uneventful in regards to the pregnancy...which is a good thing considering how hectic every other area of our life has been lately!

Our weekly midwife visit was on Saturday. Everything looked great; my blood pressure was still fantastic, the baby's heartbeat was strong, and I'm happy to say that the baby is no longer posterior! Faithfully doing my prescribed baby-turning exercises did the trick Thursday night, much to my relief.

Joey and I did a test set-up of the birth pool on Friday night...which turned out to be a very good thing as the original air pump we had purchased didn't plug into a wall outlet. I was quite happy that this discovery was made now with plenty of time to replace the pump and not when I was in active labor and it was time to fill the pool. We love the birth pool; it is very spacious and comfortable and I am excited to get to use it soon!

We have the entirety of our birth supplies gathered and our midwife team is on call for us, which is hard to believe after all this time. Every day I wake up and wonder if this is the day baby girl will make her appearance, but nothing yet and no signs that labor is imminent. My midwife thinks we have at least another week, so, we'll see.

In other news, things have been beyond hectic and stressful with Joey's school in the last week. Enough unfortunate circumstances combined to make for a very challenging few days. Four nights this week Joey was up to 1 or 2 am finishing assignments, which kept me up as well. He has been studying quite literally non-stop which has been physically and emotionally draining for the both of us.




Almost thirty-nine weeks!


The lack of sleep, high stress levels, and number of hours he is currently putting into school have me looking to the future, wondering how we will incorporate a baby into this chaos. He will not be able to take any time off from school other than for the birth so if she arrives at just the wrong time it could cause some problems. We would appreciate prayers that God would time baby girl's arrival just right to make for the least disruption of Joey's school schedule as possible. Humanly speaking it seems that the best time for her arrival would be over a weekend as it would allow us to at least have one day together as a family before Joey has to be back at school.

Hope you are all well! Keep your phones close by for the big news.

Love,
Rachel

October 05, 2013

Hello all!

I reached thirty-seven weeks on Wednesday which was a big milestone for me as that was the cut-off point for when our midwife is comfortable having us birth at home. Now we are set to go and baby girl can come anytime!

We had our home visit with our midwife today. I'm very excited and thankful to say that my blood pressure was back down completely into the normal ranges for the first time in over two months. Our midwife team was just as excited by the good reading as we were. :) We are very relieved; this is a huge answer to prayer!




Thirty-seven weeks and ready to have a baby!


Baby girl is fairly active and after being in the perfect position for birth for every single check this entire pregnancy, she as of this week decided to flip over so she is now posterior. Our midwife gave me some exercises to do to try to get her moved back around before the birth so we'll be working on that. (Latest news from Helen on the posterior position; Rachel faithfully did her exercises and baby has moved back and is no longer posterior. Yeah!)

I'm doing pretty well; sleeping a lot better with the cooler weather which makes life easier. Things are very busy and stressful with Joey being back in school but we're coping.

Overall we are doing well and counting down the days until this long-awaited little one chooses to make her arrival! Our birth supplies are all assembled and the birth pool kit is in our living room so we are set to go! Our midwife says she doesn't think the birth is imminent yet so looks like we've got a few more weeks of waiting to do.

Hope you are all well.

Love
Rachel


September 02, 2013.

Hi Mom and everyone else,

Here is the water birth (home birth) video I was telling you about. Have a tissue handy!

Water Birth at Home

She does not catch the baby herself but other than that this is very similar to what I am hoping to experience.

Love,
Rachel


'Beka and Rachel, 1995.


August 30, 2013.

Hi ladies,

I came across this absolutely amazing and inspirational birth story today that I wanted to share. This woman carried triplets to 35 weeks, delivered them naturally, and exclusively breastfed all three of them--all with direct opposition from her medical caregivers. She did her research and stood up for what she knew what was best for her babies. A very inspiring story of what our bodies can do if we let nature take its course.

Natural Birth of Triplets!

Love,
Rachel


Rachel eating fresh strawberries,
with older brother, David.
Summer 1997



August 26, 2013.

Hello everyone,

Well this is bit belated as I'm just a day or two away from 33 weeks now, but here's my thirty-two week picture from last week.

Baby girl is continuing to do great and is getting very big! She weighs about four pounds now according to the charts. She is definitely running out of room and I have just recently begun to feel distinct little feet when she moves, which is pretty exciting/crazy.

I am doing pretty well, but am solidly settled into 3rd trimester misery. Sleep has become a thing of the past and it's routinely past 1 am before I am able to doze off for the first time. (A friend at church yesterday told me she slept far better with a newborn than she did during late pregnancy, so I am clinging to that for hope for the future.) I am always overheated and "sleep" with 3 fans while poor Joey freezes under the single sheet that I can tolerate having on the bed. I am constantly hungry but don't have much of an appetite...and generally am just huge, swollen, exhausted, uncomfortable, and very ready to not be pregnant anymore!!

Thank you for all the birthday wishes yesterday! Joey and I had a lovely long weekend at home doing absolutely nothing which was a wonderful way to spend my birthday.

Love,
Rachel





August 7, 2013.

Hello!

Wow, it's been a month since I've gotten around to taking a bump picture and I can't believe how much the baby has grown since 26 weeks! She has also definitely dropped significantly in the last week or so.

Baby girl is doing great. While she is still not very active for the most part, she does have occasional busy times and lately loves kicking me in the ribs when I'm trying to fall asleep. She is measuring right where she should be and her heartbeat is always very strong. She seems to be comfortable head down and we are hoping she stays like that!

She is growing a lot right now which leaves me feeling pretty stretched (literally) and uncomfortable most of the time these days. A good night's sleep has become very rare and I think I am turning my husband into the world's most patient (or maybe just sleep-deprived) man by my constant readjusting, tossing and turning, getting up, and frustrated, exhausted sighs all night long. :)

Love,
Rachel


Thirty Weeks!



August 9, 2013.

Hello ladies,

Wanted to share this very fascinating article about how the US maternal care system handles suspected big babies.

Evidence Based Birth

The site itself is very interesting and well-written and well worth the time to read, especially if you are going to be having a baby anytime soon. :) The author uses research and studies regarding various aspects of US maternal care to write about what the research shows is really best for moms and babies.




That is Rachel with the funny expression on her face!
She was being introduced to the new baby chicks. 1996.



If you don't have time to read the whole article (it is technical and lengthy but very interesting), this is the summary. I have put the point that I found the most interesting in italics.

What is the bottom line? In summary, for non-diabetic moms:

Ultrasounds and care providers are equally inaccurate at predicting whether or not a baby will be big. If an ultrasound or a care provider predicts a big baby, they will be wrong half the time.

If a care provider thinks that you are going to have a big baby, this thought is more harmful than the actual big baby itself.

The suspicion of a big baby leads many care providers to manage a woman’s care in a way that triples her risk of C-section and quadruples the risk of complications.

Because of this “suspicion problem,” ultrasounds to estimate a baby’s weight probably do more harm than good in most women.

Induction for big baby does not lower the risk of shoulder dystocia and may increase the risk of C-section, especially in first-time moms.

A policy of elective C-sections for big babies likely does more harm than good for most women. It would take nearly 3,700 elective C-sections to prevent one permanent case of nerve injury in babies who are suspected of weighing more than 9 pounds 15 ounces.

For every three permanent nerve injuries that are prevented, there will be one maternal death due to the elective C-sections.

Love,
Rachel

July 10, 2013.

Hello!

At 26 weeks I'm now officially starting to look and feel HUGE. Baby girl is gaining about 4 ounces a week right now so I guess the rapid growth on my part is to be expected...but still...! Hard to believe I've got another fourteen weeks of growing ahead of me!

Enjoy the very glamorous photo of a very sweaty me. We took this last night right before we escaped our unbearably hot apartment for a much cooler Lake Michigan. I knew it wasn't going to be any fun being so pregnant during the hottest part of the summer...and I was right.

Baby girl is doing great. She has gotten noticeably stronger over the last few weeks, and the other morning was amusing me while I was trying to nap by pushing and holding up a pillow that was on top of me. She hates anything and everything touching my bump. Seat belts, tight waistbands, laptop--they all receive the same very aggressive and seemingly irritated kicks.

She is cracking us up lately with her latest trick of evading her daddy's hand any time he tries to feel her move. She'll be kicking energetically away, and then as soon as Joey puts his hand on my belly to feel her, there is absolutely no movement for at least a minute. Eventually she'll give a few tentative kicks and jabs, followed by a flurry of squirms and wiggling as she makes her escape to the opposite side of her little home. She repeats this faithfully every time. I find it hilarious. :)

In other news just two more weeks until the third trimester and ten weeks until our home visit from our midwife! It is extremely exciting and utterly petrifying at the same time, how close we are to meeting this little one.

Love,
Rachel


Twenty-six weeks.



June 19, 2013.

Hello ladies!

Getting bigger, slower, and more awkward these days as the baby keeps growing like crazy! Miss Contreras has become way more active in the last week and her kicks and flutters are not only much stronger but also visible from the outside, which has been a lot of fun for Joey. She also had her first hiccups that I could feel this week.

Love,
Rachel


Twenty-three weeks.



June 10, 2013.

Good morning, Mom (and all you other ladies out there!)

Thanks for a lovely weekend, as always. We thoroughly enjoyed the break from our normal pace and were glad it worked out that we could be there to help on such a busy weekend. Thanks for making time for us.

I found this recipe for a strawberry coffee cake during my blog-browsing this morning...thought it looked quick to throw together and might sell well in your store if you wanted something different to try out. If not for the store, it just looks plain good.

Enjoy!
Rachel


Strawberry Coffee Cake



June 5, 2013.

Hi ladies!

Still growing, kicking, squirming around, and avoiding her daddy's hand at 21 weeks!

Rachel


Twenty-one weeks!



Rachel and Beka; best friends in 1996!



Rachel and 'Beka still best friends!
'Beka feeling Rachel's baby kicking, September, 2013.



June 5, 2013.

Hello everyone!

We were thrilled to be told at our ultrasound this afternoon that our baby is a healthy, beautiful girl!!

The pictures we were given weren't the best quality but you can still see her beautiful little face (first photo) and her little hand waving hello in (second photo).

We got to see her extremely well on the screen and she is ADORABLE! We saw her profile and Rachel thinks she looks very much like her daddy. :) Baby girl was head down, face down today (she is welcome to stay that way for the next 4 months if she wants) and enjoying a very relaxed position with her hands behind her head and her legs crossed. It was very fitting with Rachel's feeling that the baby is a very relaxed, calm little one. :)

We can't wait for all of you to meet her!

Love,
Joey, Rachel & Baby Girl (name to be announced at birth) :)




Her face is to the right, face up.



Hi, Grandma!



May 22, 2013.

Hello ladies!

Sharing my nineteen week bump photo! I'm having a rough week with lack of sleep and lots of morning sickness but on the bright side, have gotten to feel my first REAL kicks from the baby yesterday and today. Of course as soon as Joey tries to feel the kicks, all movement entirely ceases for quite a while. We are attributing this to the fact that the baby IS half Aardsma and so naturally has quite the mind of its own.

My bump is a bit bigger than it looks in the photo...I'm wearing a maternity top that's still a bit big for me. But since everything else in my closet is currently woefully small, it had to do for today.

Much love,
Rachel


Almost half way there!



May 16, 2013.

Still growing away and giving me the occasional jab to make sure that he/she isn't forgotten about!

Love,
Rachel


Eighteen weeks along.....



May 08, 2013.

Greetings!

He/She is seventeen weeks along today. Still no regular movement but getting bigger every day.

Love,
Rachel & Baby


Seventeen weeks and counting!



April 13, 2013.

I was a reading a homeschooling blog today and the writer mentioned how she gets cheap milk chocolate to use for baking for their big family. She said instead of buying milk chocolate chips (which as you know are quite expensive), after every major holiday, specifically Easter, she will go around to a few local stores and buy out any milk chocolate candy that is on clearance. She freezes it all, and then takes it out and chops it up or melts it to use in recipes in place of chocolate chips or melted chocolate. She said she does it after Easter and buys the big chocolate bunnies because one is about what she needs per recipe; she stocks up for a whole year after Easter on the incredibly cheap clearance candy.

Rachel











April 04, 2013.

Hello,

And the bump continues with a life of its own...and it seems to have a mind to get VERY large. No wonder this thing is getting in the way when I'm trying to sleep at night. It's like sleeping with a basketball these days!!







I included a full length shot to show you just how huge this "thing" is getting.

Love,
Rachel and "baby bump."


Rachel around three years old, Loda, Illinois.
Rachel still prefers to go barefoot!



April, 2013.

The Great Fridge Saga

Pregnancy: Week Thirteen

Wow…have I ever had writer’s block lately.

I don’t know how many times I’ve stared at a blank document over the last month, trying desperately to write a pregnancy update. For some reason nothing ever came together and I would just end up with a bunch of very boring and unrelated paragraphs that I couldn’t even get through reading.

And then the one time that I actually wrote a cohesive update, it was at the end of a long, very sick weekend. I was so depressed and fed up with being pregnant that my update could have aptly been called “How Getting Pregnant Ruined My Life”.

Since I didn't want to cause a drastic reduction in the birth rate, I spared you all that particular update.

Today, however, I was talking to my mom, and she suggested I write about a funny story I was telling her and see if that would get my writing energies flowing again. So, here goes.

Once upon a time, I was not pregnant.

Let’s all pause for a moment and bask in the glorious memories of that blissful, nausea-free state.

Back in that happy time, I cooked three meals a day like all good, non-pregnant wives do.







I loved to cook, and loved to eat, and my husband and I heartily enjoyed many delicious homemade meals.

This being the case, we went through a fairly decent supply of groceries for two people, and our fridge was well stocked with all the staples.

And then, all of the sudden, I was pregnant.

I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t cook. The smell of our fridge made me sick from five feet away.

Our diet began to consist mostly of Ramen and cereal.

So, my relationship with my fridge became very strained. I either asked my long-suffering husband to get things from it, or simply did not breathe while snatching an item out of the fridge, slamming the door shut as hastily as possible, and then retreating to our safely odor-neutral bedroom.

I lamented that pregnancy made me so sensitive to smells that I couldn’t even open my own fridge door normally anymore.

And then, my husband mentioned that the smell of the fridge was starting to make him sick too.

Since we were fairly certain that he was not suffering from anything similar to pregnancy, it seemed logical that the fridge might be the culprit.

Being the wonderful man that he is, he volunteered, with absolutely no blackmail or bribery on my part, to clean it.

He spent a Sunday evening on the project. And I was amazed.

Joey carted a whole trash bag full of food from our fridge to the dumpster.

He threw out 3-month old lunch meat, withered in the bag. He found lettuce and carrots decomposed to a state that made them nearly unidentifiable. He tossed dehydrated sour cream and jam, soggy cheese, and leftovers so moldy he didn’t even know what they were.

The most amazing thing he found was a whole, untouched casserole that I made for a dinner with some folks from church that we never made it to because, you guessed it, I was miserably sick. For some reason, we never ate it. Despite being covered, the poor casserole withered away in the dark smelly recesses of the fridge for nearly a month. I’m not even sure how Joey managed to scrape it out of the dish.

When I checked out the finished product, I was amazed. Our fridge literally sparkled. And you could tell…because it was empty.

It was so empty and so clean, I had to take a picture.







Now I actually make a point to pause and take a deep breath whenever I need to get something out of the fridge. It smells so good!!

And because I’m still way too sick to do more than make the occasional pot of rice and chicken, I’m pretty sure it’s going to stay that way for a long time.







March 18, 2013.

Hello,

Pregnancy Recap: Week 8

The day my pregnancy turned 8 weeks old was a day I will always remember fondly. It was the first day in weeks that I wasn’t as sick as the proverbial dog.

Week 8 was a lot nicer to me than most of its forerunners. With the exception of two or three days, I felt mostly normal. The morning sickness seems to have backed off enough to let me climb from the valley of nausea and depression that I thought was going to become my permanent residence.

What?? You mean there is truly life after morning sickness?

I am happy to report that, yes, there is.

And I am very sincerely hoping that this is indeed life after morning sickness and not just life in between morning sickness.

I’ve spent this week getting caught up with eating and housework, in that order. (Side note: Never take for granted the ability to eat when you are hungry without suffering horrible side effects.)

This is all not to say that I am back to my normal self. No…there are still plenty of things to remind me that I am still very much pregnant.

Raw meat makes me gag. Touching it, smelling it, looking at it…yuck. Even thinking about it sometimes makes me a bit queasy. (Curiously, thinking about white bread has the same effect…)

The very worst is trying to defrost meat in the microwave. Who knew microwaved meat had such a gut-wrenching smell?

Other things in my life have newly discovered gut-wrenching smells: my fridge, my freezer, my sink, dirty dishes, anything out of my kitchen cupboards, and my laundry hamper.

Actually, I think my laundry hamper smelled pretty gut-wrenching pre-pregnancy too. Hey, we live in an apartment and I don’t enjoy hauling laundry baskets up and down basement steps. Besides that, apartment basements are very creepy. I think I have basement phobia. Mom, did you leave me in a basement when I was a child?

Oh, and not to mention, coin laundry costs about $100 a load. And believe it or not, it is hard to get THAT many quarters without going to the bank for the specific reason of asking for rolls of quarters, and who has time to go to the bank for quarters?? So most of the time when it’s laundry day, I discover we have a grand total of three quarters in the entire apartment, and most of those were found only after a desperate search under the furniture and in the cracks behind the radiators.

Anyway…point being: apartment laundry is obviously a traumatizing experience for me on a number of levels and so our laundry hamper generally sits very full and very ignored for several weeks until either there is not a clean item in the house or we can’t stand the smell anymore.

The other day I was taking a bath (our laundry hamper is in our bathroom) and I actually had to get up and lock the laundry hamper in the bedroom because the smell was making me want to drown myself.

Now that I have thoroughly exhausted the tangent of apartment laundering, we can move on.

Other symptoms this week have been quality time with my constant companion Exhaustion, as well as my new best friend, Enormous Belly.

For the past several weeks I had been fairly convinced that I was growing into the most massive woman on the planet, pregnant or otherwise. I became entirely convinced of this when I whined to my husband that I was getting sooooo HUGE and his response was uncomfortable silence.

When my family saw my eight week bump photo, further evidence to my massiveness was given in the form of gasps and chuckle-accompanied predictions that I am having twins. (For the record: I do not find that idea amusing.)




Nine weeks.



So yes, it does seem that I am officially “showing”. And I am showing early. According to my Google research, most first-time moms don’t have a visible bump until 16 – 20 weeks, so I seem to be getting a little ahead of myself. The thought of 32 more weeks of growing is currently giving me nightmares.

In other news, I used to knit when I was much younger but I have always been a pretty big domestic fail in everything except cooking and washing dishes so I gave it up years ago. Several weeks back in a spirit of recklessness, I went to a craft store and bought some yarn and knitting needles with brave ambitions of knitting a baby blanket.

Surprisingly enough I am actually about 1/3 of the way through this ridiculous project already, and find I enjoy it a little. It makes me feel like a good mom. I sit there and knit and think of all the ammunition this is giving me for when my offspring is no longer attached to my insides and therefore no longer appreciates me.

“What do you mean I’ve not been a good mother to you?? I MADE YOU A BABY BLANKET!!!!!!!!!”

And then I wonder, does knitting a baby blanket for my child no longer make me a good mother if I am already planning to use it to guilt-trip said child?

The jury is still out on that one.

Until next time,

Rachel

March 06, 2013.

My Pregnancy: Weeks 1 – 8

I’m Rachel. I’m a young stay-at-home wife. I have been married for two months to my long-time sweetheart: Joey, a junior mechanical engineering student at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). Since our wedding in December we’ve been busy with adventures in married life, crazy Wisconsin winter weather, life in the city, high-stress college education…and mostly recently, becoming parents.




My husband, Joey.



I found out I was pregnant on January 31, 2013. I’d been excitedly hoping for a baby since the wedding, and got antsy when it took a while. (Well, technically…one month isn’t all that long I guess…) I woke up early that fateful morning and remembered that today was the magical day: the first day I could test to see if I was pregnant.

A few minutes later I was jumping on my poor sleeping, oblivious husband, waving in his face a pregnancy test with a second line so faint it was barely visible.







Four additional pregnancy tests later it was official: we were pregnant.

At that point I was barely 3 weeks into my pregnancy, with our little baby just a week old. [By the way, I’ll be referring to the pregnancy as the 40 week medical model.]

The first weeks of pregnancy were fairly uneventful. I felt pretty normal, but interpreted every cough and twitch as a definite pregnancy symptom in my ecstatic rush to FEEL pregnant. (Let me just say, I was naïve.) Early symptoms consisted of mild cramping, mood swings, and crying spells. Joey began to wonder where his old wife had gone. He was naïve too.

My first real consistent pregnancy symptom was exhaustion. As someone who finds it impossible to nap under normal circumstances, suddenly I found myself falling asleep on the couch while trying to read. Going grocery shopping was now a mammoth task requiring a rest afterwards. Facing the housework every day seemed pretty daunting. Normally I have essentially boundless energy, so I wasn’t quite sure what to do with the total lack of initiative and seemingly endless exhaustion I was dealing with now.

At five weeks of pregnancy I excitedly recorded my very first pregnancy nausea in my brand new pregnancy journal. I’d walked into a grocery store feeling just fine and found that the smells turned my stomach. I came home but felt queasy for several hours. The feeling faded, but I was excited to finally be feeling more pregnant.

Five weeks and 4 days in, “feeling pregnant” was no longer an even remotely exciting idea. Morning sickness hit me with no holds barred. With no warning I found myself constantly faced with major nausea, aversions to everything but gingerale and grapes, smells that made me gag, throwing up about once a day, inability to eat more than a few bites of anything, and, most surprising to this first-time mom, total exhaustion and depression about life in general.

And that’s where I still am today, at 8 weeks.

Despite lots of advice from family members, the internet, and books, I have yet to find anything that actually helps with the morning sickness. I even read a whole book on morning sickness that came down to: there’s nothing you can really do but wait, sorry.

I drink my weight in gingerale, don’t cook since the smells make me throw up, and make my long-suffering husband eat in the bedroom since I can’t stand the sight or smell of the food he eats. But nothing makes it any better really, and I’m discovering that this is probably going to be one of those things I am just going to have to tough out.

I have discovered prenatal vitamins that I’m able to take despite the nausea. I’m taking Wal-Mart gummy vitamins. They taste like chewy candy and don’t make me feel even worse, unlike the prenatal pills I’d stopped taking once the nausea hit. Not to mention it’s slightly more motivating to take your vitamins every day when they taste like candy instead of chalk…just saying…

I’ve passed some of the time spent on the couch sipping gingerale by reading every book in my library’s pregnancy section. I have found some really excellent, eye-opening reading. So far we are planning on a home water birth assisted by a local midwife, provided the pregnancy remains low-risk, and I’ve been able to find lots of good information regarding natural birth. So far the two books I’d recommend most for excellent reading material no matter what your birthing choices are “Your Best Birth” by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein, and “The Doula Guide to Birth” by Amanda Lowe.

So pregnancy thus far has definitely been a bit of a roller coaster and a lot more intense than I was expecting. Joey has been wonderful, providing lots of encouragement, support, and back rubbing while I sprawl on the bathroom floor throwing up.

We both wonder where his old wife has gone.

Rachel




            

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