Clarke and Cheryl+Liam and Zuri

Clarke and Cheryl+Liam and Zuri

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Birth of Zuri James

Zuri James Holdaway was born on Sunday, September 6 2015, at 11:46 AM.

My guess date was September 1 and at my midwife appointment on that day, I was 2 cm dilated and 50% effaced. I was already planning on her coming past her due date so I wasn't particularly disappointed or in a hurry. I  spent that week going on little dates with Liam- to the zoo, to get ice cream, to pick out a present for the baby... Just soaking up my one on one time with my little buddy. It was the perfect way to pass the time.
On Friday I was having some pretty awful back pain. Liam was posterior and it caused some major back pain during labor and I was very scared of having to deal with that again. I called my (awesome) doula, Rachelle, and she gave me some guidance for positions to try to get baby in the ideal position and alleviate the back pain. I spent all afternoon doing rebozo, on my knees, walking around, and napping. By evening the back pain was gone! She had gone back into the ideal position. I was so relieved.
The next morning (Saturday) I woke up feeling crampy. Like a bad period. By 10 AM, I could tell that this was early labor. I wasn't convinced that it was really going to progress into the real thing yet. I took a nap and woke up at 1 PM to a much stronger wave than I had been experiencing. I started timing the waves and they were coming consistently about 10 minutes apart. I gave Rachelle a heads up that this was maybe it. I was still unconvinced though. 

By late afternoon I was pretty sure it was happening slowly but surely so we had a friend pick up Liam. Then we wasted some time cleaning, taking a walk, and...ya know.. doing it (That's right we did IT while I was in labor. We just had to take a little break for contractions), all in an effort to get those contractions to pick up. 

Around 10 PM, my doula, Rachelle, arrived and helped me get relaxed and comfortable. We did a sage burning, she gave me a relaxing massage, and we decided on a plan. I decided to try and get some rest so Clarke and I went into our room and laid down. I put on my hypnobirthing track and fell right asleep. I would half wake and breathe through waves ever 10 or so minutes but I was able to stay so deeply relaxed that I drifted right back to a deep sleep. I am so glad that I put in the time to practice my hypnobirthing because as soon as Lauralyn's (hypno instructor) soothing voice came on, I was able to relax so completely. 

I woke up to a much stronger wave and felt the need to move around at about 2 AM. I woke up Clarke and Rachelle and these stronger waves were about 4-5 minutes apart. We decided to head to the hospital. When we arrived I was checked and was almost 5 cm. They wanted to hook me up to a monitor for a bit so that limited my movement which I hated. My body was telling me to squat and sway and dance and MOVE. So I was very happy when the monitor came off and the tub was ready! I got in that beautiful, warm water and was in my happy place. Birthing in the water is THE BEST. So relaxing... maybe too relaxing... we noticed that my waves had slowed down to about 10 mins. apart again. At this point it was around 7 AM and I was TIRED.

Rachelle suggested I try taking a nap and eating some food, so I got out of the tub and into bed and turned on another hypnobirthing track while Clarke and Rachelle went to get some breakfast. My amazing midwife, Lindsay, stayed with me, applying counter pressure and helping me breathe through the waves that brought me out of my deep sleep into that hazy halfway sleep every 10 or so minutes. I slept though! And woke up feeling refreshed and ready to go. 

I ate some yogurt and juice and Clarke and I decided to get things going already! We started walking the halls. This helped get the waves closer together and stronger. At about 10 AM, we decided to have Lindsay check me again. I WAS STILL AT 5 CM! I was shocked. And slightly dismayed. But then she said I was so stretchy and soft that if I could just get baby's head down to put pressure on my cervix, she was sure I'd progress really fast. She offered to break my water but I said I wanted to try a few things first. 

I got on my birthing ball and, feeling so determined to move that head down and break that water and get things to pick up, I DANCED and SWAYED and BOUNCED and SPIRALED through that next wave with all my energy and might. Clarke was steadfastly applying counter pressure to my hips through these waves and he thought I was finished with this one before I was. He held a cup of water out to me and I accidentally knocked it out of his hand and all over me! It was ice cold and so shocking and not a second later, my water broke! As Clarke apologized profusely for spilling cold water on me, I yelled excitedly, "It's fine! MY WATER BROKE!" Well, he didn't believe me at first cause he thought I was confusing my water with the water he spilled on me. (*Rolls eyes*) Trust me, when your water breaks, you know it. 

Lindsay, Rachelle and the nurses came back in and I got back in the tub. Well, Lindsay was definitely right! As soon as my water broke (around 10:30 or so) things went FAST. The waves were stronger and I moved intuitively through them, swaying my hips. The water helped relieve a lot of the pressure. I was surrounded by loving hands holding me up, squeezing my hips, massaging my arms, holding my hand. I felt so incredibly loved and supported. I was surrounded by peaceful sounds. I had a hypnobirthing track on that helped me sleep between these powerful waves even when I was nearing transition. Rachelle was drumming quietly, the methodic beating bringing me deeper and deeper into relaxation. 

I was starting to get nauseous so I knew I was getting close. Lindsay asked if I wanted her to check me again and I said yes. I was at 9 cm but there was a forebag of water that hadn't broken. She asked if I wanted her to break it and I practically yelled, "YES!" I was ready to meet my baby after over 24 hours of labor. 

As soon as she broke it I felt the most intense pressure and felt this fight or flight instinct kick in. I launched myself toward the edge of the birthing pool trying to escape somehow. I let out a loud yell. I felt an intense burning. They said, reach down and see if you can feel her head. I did and I could! Her head was part of the way out already and I hadn't pushed or anything! I started asking, "what do I do? Do I push?" My wonderful midwife and doula said, "You don't need to do anything. Just breathe." I breathed through that wave and felt her move down further.

 (This was that moment when I felt her descending and freaked out for a second! I love how Rachelle and the nurse are just smiling like, "This is all ok. It's ok that you're freaking out. That means baby's coming and everything will be fine in just a couple minutes." They're old pros at this, clearly.)

Before the next contraction came I took a moment to feel her head and in my head and heart communicate to her how excited I was to meet her and invite her to gently come out and greet me and her daddy and the world whenever she was ready. The next wave came and I breathed through it just as I had every contraction I'd had so far. I didn't even push! I had my hands on her head still and felt it come out. I couldn't believe it! She was out already! The rest of her body slid out and I lifted her out of the water and up to my chest. I cuddled our sweet baby and looked at Clarke in shock. I couldn't believe how quickly she had come! She was so perfect and beautiful!

They let the cord finish pulsing and then needed to get me out of the tub and get the placenta delivered as I was bleeding a little more than they'd like. Clarke got some skin to skin cuddle time with Zuri while I got settled on the bed and delivered the placenta. Then he laid her on me and she immediately started looking for my breast. I brought her to it and she latched on like it was the easiest thing in the world! This made me so happy as breastfeeding was such a struggle for Liam in the beginning. I nursed her and stared at her beautiful face and kissed Clarke again and again thanking him for this gorgeous baby, while they stitched up the two tiny lacerations I got (way less stitches than I had with Liam!) and gave me a shot of pitocin to stop the bleeding. In a half hour or so me and baby looked good so everyone left and Clarke and me and Zuri got an hour of alone time. She was glued to my breast pretty much that entire time. This girl is a champ at nursing.

Rachelle, my doula, had arranged for our birth to be filmed for a birth documentary about birth workers. So we were lucky enough to have the whole experience professionally filmed and photographed.I am so grateful for these photos and video footage so we can always remember this incredible experience.

I honestly had the birth of my dreams. I had the support and love of my husband, doula, and my whole birth team and that carried me. I felt like I could do anything with all the love and positive energy that was present in that room. It was a really long, tiring labor and then a really, really fast delivery. I am so grateful for Clarke's love and kisses and tireless support and love. He saw me in a new way that day and it allowed me to see myself through his eyes. I saw myself as strong and powerful and vulnerable because that's how he saw me. So grateful for him. So grateful for my doula who helped me through each wave and helped me relax and rest between them for over 12 hours! So grateful for my midwife who supported me and Zuri by taking care of us medically but also being an amazing emotional support. I had an incredibly supported, empowering, gentle birth.

Clarke and I didn't have her name completely decided on until about an hour after she was born. We knew the middle name would be James (which I know is unconventional "for a girl" but it's Clarke's dad's name and Clarke's middle name and we love it :) but were still deciding from a list of 3 names. Clarke read my mind and said, "I think it's Zuri." I was about to say that!

So Zuri James Holdaway entered our lives and made us indescribably happy.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Liam's Birth Story

It's long, but I wanted to share Liam's birth story!

Liam Carter Holdaway’s Birth Story

We were so blessed to welcome little Liam into this world on July 24, 2012. Our birthing experience was wonderful! Our little family felt so close and there was so much love in that room. I’d been having practice contractions that would last for a couple hours then disappear since around 36 weeks. My estimated due date (July 15) came and went. Clarke and I walked all over farmer’s markets, the mall, and the cemetery and ate some delicious (but ineffective) eggplant parmesan to try and “induce” labor. Babies truly do come when they’re ready. I think natural induction methods really only work if you and baby are totally ready.
Clarke and I went to a midwife appointment on Monday July 23 at noon. I was 41 weeks and 1 day so the midwife asked if I wanted her to check me and see if I was dilated enough to strip my membranes. I was 3 cm and 80% effaced! They stripped my membranes and did a non-stress test (which was perfect) and we went home.
By the time we got home I was already having pressure waves (contractions) about every 15 minutes. They told me to take a nap when we got home so I got in bed and slept until 4 when I woke up with much stronger pressure waves. I still hadn’t said anything to Clarke, not wanting to get his or my hopes up. By 7 pm the pressure waves were every 6-8 minutes and very strong and spreading into my back. I told Clarke that I thought this was probably going to happen in the next day or two (ha!). I’d heard so many stories of first time moms birthing for 24 hours or more so I was preparing myself for a long labor and telling myself to stay at home as long as I could. I decided to get in the tub to see if it slowed down. The tub really helped me relax. Clarke read me some hypnobirthing scripts and really helped me stay calm, happy, and relaxed. By 9 pm the pressure waves were every 3-5 minutes! I finally called the midwife and she said she’d meet us at the birthing center in an hour. During that hour I started having back labor so I spent some time on my hands and knees and Clarke REALLY helped me by applying counter pressure to my back and hips. I was so excited when it was finally time to leave…until I got in the car. Luckily the birthing center is only about 15 minutes away and we arrived at 10 pm.
When we got there our midwife Shemin and two other midwives (Karly and Aundria) were waiting for us. They checked me and I was happy to hear that I was 6 cm and fully effaced! We decided to go outside and walk around for a little while. We were walking for a total of 15 minutes when I felt a really strong wave coming on and my water broke! After that the pressure waves were a lot stronger and even closer together. I decided I wanted to get in the nice big, deep, jetted tub and it was sweet relief! Being in the tub allowed me to change position so much more easily and the water really helped me to relax my muscles and progress more quickly. Clarke stroked my arms and read me some more visualization scripts. He did a great job supporting me and helping me stay calm and relaxed. At about 1 a.m. I told Clarke to get Shemin because I was starting to feel “pushy”. She came in and checked me. I was at 8 cm and in transition. Liam’s heart rate was a little bit high and so they asked me to get out of the tub and into bed because they needed to monitor him for an hour. I really recommend NOT lying in bed during labor. They said that if his heart rate didn’t slow down they’d have to transfer me to the hospital…It seemed impossible to get in the car at this point. I couldn’t imagine how I could handle that so I really started praying that everything would resolve itself quickly and we could stay. I got nauseous at this point and threw up a couple times during that hour. I so appreciated all the support from my wonderful husband and my amazing midwives Shemin, Karly, and Aundria. I discovered that I am a clingy, touchy person during childbirth. I was always wanting someone to hold my hands, stroke my hair, apply counter pressure to my hips, etc. and I was so grateful for all the support I had. I started feeling a lot of pressure in my hips as the baby descended and continued to feel the urge to push. I pushed through several of the contractions during transition and while I think it wore me out a little bit, I also think it helped Liam descend faster. After monitoring Liam’s heart rate for an hour it was normal again! This was such wonderful news! I really started wanting to push so they checked me again and said I was complete! That urge to push really is uncontrollable! When you gotta push, you gotta push. I got back in the tub and started pushing at about 2:30 a.m. Shemin massaged my perineum with oil and helped me stretch and Clarke was there washing my face with a cold wet cloth and holding my hand. My focal point was Aundria who I felt such a wonderful connection with. I would look into her eyes as I pushed and she would tell me “you’re so strong, so strong.” I can’t tell you how much that helped me. The support I felt from Clarke, these women, and my Heavenly Father was so amazing and I’m so grateful to them all.
Soon after I began pushing Shemin told me to reach down and feel the baby’s head! It felt so soft that I couldn’t believe it was his head, but it gave me the motivation to keep going. Soon I heard Clarke say, “Look at that hair!” They could see his head! I felt like I was so close! I felt like I just needed to do one more push to get him out…but unfortunately he was pretty stuck at this point. Clarke said with each push he’d come down a little more and then go back up a bit. I knew this was the “ring of fire” I’d heard so much about. The pressure was very strong and there definitely was a burning feeling. At this point I was loudly vocalizing with each push. I was SO loud! In between contractions I’d say, “I’m sorry! I’m so loud!” And they’d laugh and say it’s fine and normal. I remember asking Shemin, “He’s coming out with this push right?? He has to!” And Shemin would calmly reassure me that he might but he might not and it’s ok. That it would be soon.
The pressure kept getting stronger and stronger with each push and then during one I heard Shemin and Clarke say, “This is it! Big push and he’s out!” I was SO determined to get him out with that push so I bore down with all my strength. Suddenly the pressure and burning was gone! His head was out and the rest of him just slipped out. The relief was instant! They placed my beautiful baby boy on my chest and I felt the most love and peace that I have ever experienced. Liam was so calm that he didn’t even cry for a few seconds. Then he started quietly whimpering. His eyes were wide open and he was so calm and alert. I looked at Clarke and we both had tears in our eyes. We were a family and we couldn’t believe Liam was finally here! We let the cord pulsate for a few minutes before Clarke cut it and took Liam. He was so sweet holding his little boy for the first time, just staring at him in awe and quietly talking to him and calming him.
My midwives helped me get out of the tub and into bed to deliver the placenta. The placenta was much easier to get out than the baby, but I was so tired that it took me a few pushes to get it out. I had some labial tearing so Karly stitched me up while they checked out Liam. My parents came by and we spent a couple hours talking and staring at and cuddling baby L. It was wonderful! My parents left after a couple hours and we had some family cuddle time and some breakfast. At 9 we decided we were ready to get ready and head home. We got Liam dressed and put him in his car seat. He looked so tiny in there! We went home and enjoyed the day resting and enjoying our sweet beautiful baby boy.

Liam Carter Holdaway was born July 24 2012 at 4:05 AM at Bella Natal Birthing Suites in Orem, UT. He weighed 7lbs 5oz and was 20 inches long. I was in active labor for 12 hours, transition for about 2, and pushed for 1.5 hours.

We had an amazing natural, spiritual, birth. It was the most wonderful way to begin our lives together as a family. Daddy, mama, and baby Liam couldn’t be happier. :)

 Our room at the birthing center

Loved that tub!
 Meeting Liam!

 Beautiful baby boy

 Proud daddy!

 Grandma and Grandpa

So in love with him...

Happy Family :)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Liam Carter Holdaway

Liam Carter Holdaway is here and we are so in love with him! He's adorable and extremely sweet and cuddly! He was born on Tuesday July 24 at 4 am at Bella Natal Birthing Center. Everything went great and we had an amazing experience! I'll write up my birth story when I have more time. Baby boy's waking up and is hungry. Here are some pictures for you to ooh and ahh over. He's adorable. I know. :)

First family photo! We were so tired, but so happy!

Liam Carter Holdaway. We are so in love with this cute little boy!

He has the most amazing hair! I'm obsessed with it!

Sunday, July 15, 2012


I've told myself this entire pregnancy NOT to get hung up on my due date. It is after all an estimate and something like only 5% deliver on their estimated due date. But no matter what you tell yourself once they give you a date it sticks in your mind and without even meaning to you've already began considering it as something of a holiday or special occasion. And so last night I over reacted to every contraction hoping that July 15 would indeed be our little guy's birthday. Then with disappointment I woke up feeling comfortable and contraction free this morning. We got up and cleaned L's room and got all his clothes into his dresser which we finally finished (we refurbished an old old dresser and it looks awesome!! It will have its own post shortly complete with before/after photos)! I organized all his clothes and things, did some laundry, and cleaned up the house. This brought on a whole new wave of contractions which lasted a couple hours fairly consistently and then disappeared (again...unfortunately). Hopefully one of these times the contractions will decide to stay and we can get this baby born. I anticipated delivering later than my guess date, but having July 15 come and go is making me really want to meet my little guy.
I was being a teary sentimental mommy while putting away all his itty bitty adorable clothes...picturing my sweet baby in each little outfit. We love him so much already and can't wait to have him in our arms. Whenever you're ready baby boy!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Pregnancy journal: full term

As of today I am 37 weeks and considered full term. This means I can officially go into labor and they'll let me deliver at the birthing center! Two weeks ago we had a little false alarm and my midwife had to send us to the hospital to deliver. Luckily everything resolved itself and we were able to go home. We were grateful for the hospital and the doctors and equipment that could help in case of an emergency (since he would have been 2 weeks early), but sad thinking that we wouldn't have the birth we had planned (at our birth center with my midwife). We are very grateful that our baby has now reached full term.

I've had a lot of inconsistent contractions and back pain for the last two weeks, but nothing too bad. Then last night I was having constant painful contractions and cramping for about 3 hours and then they calmed down and I had them every few minutes along with back pain for the rest of the night. I was able to fall asleep at some point and when I woke up I was sore and have had a few little ones, but nothing consistent. Last night we thought it might be the real deal. Changing positions, drinking water, bath, laying down...nothing made them go away so I tried to prepare myself for possibly having my baby soon. It was very painful, but on the bright side it was great practice for using my breathing and relaxation techniques. It was good practice for Clarke too in helping me relax and remain calm.

All this "false labor" (I don't really like this term because I'm thinking and hoping that these contractions have been productive in helping my body prepare for birth...let's call it "practice labor") has made me feel like I need to be ready at any moment. At the same time all these "false alarms" (I don't like this term either...oh well...) are having me feel like it's NEVER going to be real! I'm trying to stay open to any possibilities. It's possible that last night was the beginning and I could go into active labor in the next few days or I could just have prodromal labor for weeks and finally deliver at 43 weeks or something (this is an please come before 43 weeks!)...just trying to accept that I have no idea what my body's telling me for now. Also trying to trust that my body is just doing what it needs to to prepare and that real labor will start at the right time for us whether that's earlier or later than I may expect.

P.S. I know this was a pretty boring post and probably TMI, but I use this blog as a journal for pregnancy. The point is to document this experience not to complain or unload on others. :) I just wanted to say that cause reading through this I sound a little complain-y. Sorry about that and know that I am a very happy pregnant mama! :)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Week 35 & 36

How far along: 36 weeks 4 days!

Total weight gain: 30 lbs.

Stretch marks? Ah! Little ones right around my belly button showed up the other day! Nothing major though.

Sleep: Week 35 was rough. I kept thinking I might be going into labor cause of all the back pain and tons of contractions. I'd wake up and with intense pain in my hip and back and cramping in the front with irregular contractions. But when I'd stretch and drink water they'd ease up and eventually they'd always stop. Then on Monday (the beginning of week 36) I woke up feeling GREAT! No more ouchy contractions or back pain. And I've actually had tons of energy this week and have been sleeping great!

 Best moment this week: We thought I was in labor on Monday (at 35 weeks 1 day) and were so nervous and scared. That wasn't the best moment. The best moment was seeing baby on the ultrasound and being told everything was ok and he was going to be able to "cook" a little longer! We were so relieved!
Other best moment: My baby shower! It was so much fun! Thank you Alishia and everyone who came!

Movement: Lots of it! Which is reassuring to me since last weeks scare.

 Food cravings: Water! And sweets (Dang it!)...

 Symptoms: Back pain, braxton hicks, contractions (I now know the difference between braxton hicks and real contractions), SWOLLEN! I swelled up so much this week. My feet and ankles and fingers are huge! And then this sudden burst of energy the last few days...nesting? I think so. I'm getting so much done! I love it!

 Belly Button in or out? Still in. Think it always will be.

Wedding rings on or off? They've been off for a couple weeks. I'm usually a size 4. I tried on my friend's ring (size 7) and it fits perfectly! Size 4 to a 7! Can you believe that?!

Looking forward to: Being full term so that I can feel safe and deliver at my birthing center even if baby did decide to come before 40 weeks. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Week 32

I thought this would be an easy and fun way to chronicle where I'm at in my pregnancy as of now. :) Got this from my friend Aubrey's blog (Thanks Aubrey!)

How far along: 32 weeks+3 days or just starting month 7!

Total weight gain: 22 lbs.

 Maternity clothes? I only have 1 pair of leggings that are actually technically maternity. I wear them a lot. Haha. Or I wear regular leggings and my regular jeans unzipped with a belly band. :)

Stretch marks? Not yet! (knock on wood)

Sleep: Ah yes. Sleep. We have a complicated relationship. Between the acid reflux, being way too hot and sweaty, having to pee too much, and the occasional braxtons hicks and round ligament pain, sleeping through the night has become unrealistic. It usually takes me about 2 hours to get to sleep. Then I'll wake up around 2 or 3, am up for about an hour or 2, sleep again til about 6 or 7, up for another hour or 2 and then I am able to go back to sleep til about 9. I'm soo glad I don't have to be up for anything early. I sleep much better during the day for whatever reason so naps are definitely my friend.

 Best moment this week: Baby's been really fun this week. He totally stays to my right side and actually bulges out a ton on the right. It's so funny! Best moment this week was laying in bed with Clarke watching my whole abdomen move and shift around and feeling and seeing baby kicking and punching like crazy in there. We love talking to him too. Especially daddy. It's precious. <3

Miss Anything? Being able to stretch and work out my abs. But that's ok cause I love being pregnant and baby L.

Movement: It's been almost completely on my right side. His butt or knee bulges out on that side especially when I sit down. He kicks a lot on that side too. Usually he's pretty still during the afternoon, but at night or in the early morning when I'm trying to sleep he goes crazy!

 Food cravings: Hmmmm...smoothies, ice, cold water, cold juice. I'm so hot and thirsty all the time so I want lots of cold liquids!

 Symptoms: Some back pain, braxton hicks occasionally, acid reflux to the max, HOT, and my fingers are getting swollen.

 Belly Button in or out? In. I don't know if it will ever really go out all the way cause I'm such an innie.

Wedding rings on or off? On...for now...but I just tried to take them off and they're quite tight I gotta admit. They might be coming off soon. Or at least one of them cause they get more stuck when they're both on together.

Happy or Moody most of the time: Happy of course! Especially when I do my hypnobirthing practice, yoga, and walks. Sometimes it's hard to get motivated to just do it, but it does give me a lot more energy.

Looking forward to: All I can think of right now is... HAVING MY BABY of course!