Arden's Home Birth

May 19, 2019

I never dreamed of having a home birth. It was not something that was ever on my radar. In fact, I didn't think I was the kind of mom who would do the whole home birth thing. I've had multiple people say "you're so brave" when they found out we decided to have Arden at home, but now I truly believe any low-risk mom is not only capable of it, but would love the experience!

Our decision started as a financial choice; our original provider required 100% payment by 36 weeks and was unwilling to work with us on a payment plan. With a high deductible to hit, there was just no way we could swing it without putting in on a credit card (not an ideal scenario). We started looking at other options and since I had Haven and Abel naturally and was low risk, we thought "what about a home birth?" I'm SO GLAD we did!

Halfway through my pregnancy when we started considering a home birth, my doula suggested we meet with midwives, including Carrie of Hatched to ask questions and get a feel for what making the change would be like. Clarence and I talked afterwards and decided to go for it. Here are a few things, for us, that make a home birth totally worth it:
  • More personal care. I was not just a number in an office. I met with Carrie personally for each of my prenatal appointments and was never rushed in and out. She took time to get to know me and chat about life. Not only that, I knew she would be the one there to deliver my baby. It would not be a guessing game when it was time to deliver. Additionally, I have her phone number and am encouraged to text or call any time I had a question or concern!
  • Being in your own home is so nice! I did not have to pack a hospital bag, endure a painful ride in the car to a hospital, stress about being sent back home to labor longer, get hooked up to multiple tubes/IV's, experience pressure to intervene if things weren't moving at a certain pace, etc. I loved the benefit of everyone coming to me! I was comfortable at home, had anything I wanted at my fingertips and could roam about the house in whatever way felt best during labor.
  • I had a small group of people there supporting me and my birth. They weren't there dictating what I needed to do, but allowed me to labor and then assisted me whenever I needed it. It felt so intimate and personal.
  • I got to move right to my bed after Arden was born and start right in on those newborn snuggles. Walking a few feet is way nicer than getting in the car and driving 30 min home. 
  • Statistically, home births for low-risk women have lower rates of cesareans (5.2% as opposed to 31%) without an increase of adverse outcomes for mothers or babies.
Ok, let me get off my home birth soap box and actually tell you about Arden's birth!

Like all of my kids, #3 took her own sweet time coming. Though at 8 days past the due date, she was still the earliest! I went into labor around 3am on Sunday, April 28th. I'd had some contractions off and on over the past week or so, including Braxton Hicks, but these were falling into a regular pattern and I knew it was time. I was going to have a baby today! I texted my birth team to let them know and continued to time the contractions. Around 6am, I was starting to feel some fear and anxiety. The baby is coming....oh crap, I have to do this again. There's literally no turning back. There's only one way she's coming out. I asked Clarence to wake up (he's lucky I let him sleep that long 😉) and told my doula I was ready for her to come and help support me too. 

I walked around, swayed, and worked through the contractions for a little over an hour. Shortly after my doula arrived, my friend Tiffany came to pick up my kids. She had so graciously offered to take them to her house whenever I went into labor. Her kids are my kid's best friends, so I knew they would have a blast and were in good hands. I definitely didn't want them around so I had to hear "mommy, mommy, mommy" constantly while I was trying to labor. Not to mention, I didn't want to scar Haven, my sensitive child, for life. 😂

Around 7:30am, my midwife arrived and checked to see how far I was dilated. She didn't say anything right away and I walked back out of the room with whispers behind me. I told Clarence, "She's probably telling them I'm a zero". Come to find out, when she first checked, I was only dilated to 1cm, but as soon as she touched my cervix, I opened up to 5cm! 

The next few hours are mostly a blur. I spent a lot of time in the birth tub, moaning through contractions and trying to stay relaxed.

I got out a few times to go to the bathroom or lay in my bed, trying to find the most comfortable position.

Around 10:30am, I was standing and swaying when I felt a tremendous amount of pressure and a huge push. I yelled "she's coming" but then things backed off again right after I got back in the tub.

I spent the next few hours laboring in about the same way, in and out of the tub. Around 12:20pm, I got back in the tub and leaned forward into Clarence for support.

During a big contraction I felt a "pop" and knew my water had finally broken, which was followed immediately by a lot of pain as Arden quickly descended into position. I just remember gripping Clarence's arms and screaming as my body took over. My birth team later said they were very surprised at how quickly it happened at the end, because I wasn't showing any signs of going through transition, but as soon as my water broke, her head was crowning. 

There was a small break before another contraction came and I screamed as her head was delivered. Thank goodness for that small sense of relief for being done with the head portion! There was another short break and I remember asking what to do because when Abel's head was born, I was told to stand up immediately so the rest of him could be delivered. I'm not sure why that was, but was almost expecting the same during this labor. Carrie, our midwife, told me to just wait for the next contraction and then push. That's exactly what I did, and to the sound of my lion roaring screams at 12:28pm on April 28th, Arden Le En Wong was born! Her Chinese middle name means "Joyful Grace". (Fun fact: Arden was born on what would've been her great-grandmother's 100th birthday. This is the same grandmother I got my middle name from)

It's hard to even explain the rush of emotions that come over you. My baby! She's here! I did it! It's over! I never have to go through that again! haha. There is so much joy and pride and strength. 

Despite Arden being super active while inside me, she had a super short cord. Since I delivered on my knees in the birthing tub, she was behind me. I had to climb over the cord so I could sit down and hold my baby for the first time.

She had so much hair, and hearing those little cries made every second of pain absolutely worth it! We sat in the tub together while we waited for the cord to stop pulsing and then Clarence cut the cord and took Arden so I could move to our bed.

We were able to have a special time of prayer over her and thank God for a healthy delivery.

I had a second degree tear (same as with my first two as well. I found that it's not that uncommon to tear in the same place as before since scar tissue doesn't stretch) and after delivering the placenta, being sewed up, cared for, and the house cleaned, our birth team headed out. (Oh, let me not forget the torture of having my uterus massaged!! 😳😩) I had some bleeding that seemed to have stopped, but my midwife told me to keep her updated if it continued. Over the next few hours, I was continuing to pass a lot of blood clots. By around 5:30pm, my midwife suggested we go to the hospital because she was not comfortable with how much I was still bleeding so long after delivery. While Clarence was helping me to the car, I felt super light-headed and remembered Carrie saying that if I felt feverish or like I might faint, to call for an ambulance. Clarence helped me get seated while he called for one. I still felt fine (once seated) and was not overly concerned, but knew it was better to be safe than sorry. 

Clarence followed the ambulance with Arden in our car, while super-friend Tiffany picked our older kids back up and took them to her house again. Once at the hospital, it was believed that I had a vaginal hematoma which burst my original stitches and was causing the bleeding/clotting. They sewed me up (again!) which was a real treat and then strongly suggested I have a blood transfusion of two bags because I had lost a decent amount of blood. We agreed and after a horrible night of sleep, headed home at 7am the next morning. 

Though I would've preferred to stay at my house and not make a trip to the hospital, I'm thankful that we took the precaution and went and got everything fixed. The multiple needle pokes, second suturing, and extended recovery time were not easy, but are much preferred to the alternative and I'm thankful to those who helped me get well. I think the 5 days of bedrest and unexpected weakness were the hardest things for me. I was used to bouncing back pretty quickly after the other two births, and this was definitely not the same experience. I'm so thankful for a husband who took such good care of me and the rest of the family! He even took all three kids out by himself multiple times that first week! #rockstar

I am so glad we had a home birth and it was a great experience! My bleeding afterward had nothing to do with being at home and I would absolutely do it again (but I won't because we are DONE). I believe birth can absolutely be a positive, natural, empowering thing and that home births should not be feared. 

So that is the novel of Arden's birth. We are so thankful that our family is now complete! 

Arden's Nursery Reveal

May 08, 2019

Have you seen this meme? It's one of my husband's favorites.

As much as it makes me laugh, and is so true in regards to various situations with multiple children, it's not true for nurseries in our house. I just can't help myself, I love decorating for each new baby's room.

We decided to move Abel and Haven in together temporarily and let Arden have Abel's room during her baby/waking in the night months. We wanted to spend as little as possible switching the boy room into a girl room so I needed to be a little creative. We decided to keep the walls navy blue and I found a beautiful floral wallpaper from Spoonflower that had navy it in. That was our only splurge in the room and we just applied it to one wall. 

This was our first time working with wallpaper and it was a bit of a challenge. Mostly dealing with the window. You were not supposed to trim it until it was applied, but the paper was thick, so getting it to lay flat around the window without trimming it was next to impossible. It is definitely not perfect, but thankfully the pattern is busy enough that it covers our mistakes. #smallvictories

We were able to reuse multiple items in the room. The glider we bought from Walmart before Haven was born, so we've definitely gotten our money worth out of it! The small pink side table was in Haven's room, but is a better fit in here for now. We are also reusing the crib and it has held up well since we bought it for Haven's nursery more than 5 years ago. We bought the rug from Rugs USA back when we were decorating for Abel's room, so that was another reuse. 

The curtains we bought from Walmart and I love the ruffle that adds a sweet feminine detail. The drum light I found on Facebook marketplace for $25! It is Pillowfort from Target and never used. It goes perfectly in here! I was so glad to finally get rid of the ugly ceiling fan that was there. Sayonara! 

The framed art was also pulled out of Haven's room and was a serendipitous match to the wallpaper! There are various Bible verses that I love to display to remind my little ones who God says they are. 

I found the lamp base at the thrift store, and grabbed an inexpensive frame from Target to finish it off. 

I also decided to reuse the crib skirt I made for Abel. Waste not, want not :)

I had my heart set on buying her a name sign to hang above the crib where the name is cut out of wood and has a 3D effect to it, but after seeing the cost, I decided to make something myself. It doesn't have the 3D effect, but we saved a bunch of $$! We bought a large, raw wood round from Home Depot for $11, painted it white, and then added the name with help from my Silhouette. All in, it probably cost me around $15...instead of $100 plus. I was also able to add her Chinese name on the sign which is an added bonus. Don't mind the anchor holes we have yet to fill in from the sign that we hung there for Abel...

The book ledges were also a "reuse". Clarence made them for Haven's nursery and they've actually been in a closet for years since we moved to South Carolina. They are perfect in this space and I hope it will instill a love for reading in her. The little floor pouf I made for Haven's nursery. I actually haven't resewn the top closed...I should prob get on that. The little laundry hamper is from Aldi. 

The dresser was given (!) to me by a friend who didn't need it anymore. We painted the drawer fronts pink ombre colors for Haven's nursery (you can go back and find that reveal to see how it looked). When we were expecting Abel, we sanded them down and stained them and bought new hardware. We decided to just keep it the same for Arden's room. Why make more work for us then we need to? The mirror above the dresser is from Target, as are the two little planters. Dollar Spot FTW! The alphabet art was also pulled over from Haven's room.

That's it! I'm really happy with how it turned out with just a little money spent. Clarence also built a closet organizer with a center tower and we were able to put a strip of leftover wallpaper in the back for a fun pop of color. We will probably move the two girls in here when Arden is bigger so we can enjoy the beautiful wallpaper for longer.

Now on to the next room! (Don't tell Clarence)

Wallpaper: Spoonflower 
Curtains: Walmart (now on sale for $10!!!)
Pom pom pillow cover: Amazon
Pink polka dot crib sheet: Crate & Barrel (no longer for sale)
Round mirror: Target (was $39.99 when we bought it)
Drumshade: FB marketplace (similar)

Weekly Meal Plan for 8/20/18

August 20, 2018

Sorry I never got around to sharing our meal plan last week. It was just a crazy week and I didn't get around to blogging about our meals. I'm sure all two of you were devastated! Here are some of the meals we ate:

Sweet Potato and Sausage Cheesy Egg Bake with fruit
White Chicken Enchiladas with green beans
Spinach Lasagna Roll Ups with salad and garlic bread

This is a pretty easy week; here is what we're eating!

Monday: Baseball Game
Clarence works at Fluor which sponsors our local baseball team. The work departments rotate sitting in the Fluor box and we scored some tickets for tonight! They will have food, so we'll eat dinner there.
Tuesday: Out
I will be leading a MOPS Table Leader Training this night and will just grab some food for me and the kids on the way over there. Clarence is going to Haven's preschool for a parent/teacher meeting and will grab his own dinner and pick up the kids after he's done. Hopefully they will be entertained by a movie on the ipad while I lead the meeting. #parentprobs
Wednesday: Ranch Chicken, Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Brussel Sprouts. Total for meal: FREE
This was actually a meal we were supposed to eat on Saturday, but we forgot about a friend's birthday party, so we saved it for this week. The chicken has been frozen from the week before and I'm praying the brussel sprouts hold out! 
I'm also taking dinner to a friend of mine who had a baby recently. We're making this Fried Rice recipe and adding diced, cooked chicken.
Thursday: Crock Pot Chicken, Roasted Carrots and Broccoli, Mashed Potatoes. Total for meal:  $6.09
Full chickens were on sale at Aldi for .79 a pound so I grabbed one and will cook it in the crock pot. It's a decent size so there should be plenty leftover to use in other meals. I knew my price was lower this week so I splurged on a Bob Evans refrigerated mashed potato package 🙈I'm splitting the broccoli and carrots with another meal.
Friday: Ground Turkey and Cabbage Stir Fry. Total for meal:  $3.78

Saturday Lunch: Out
We are going hiking with friends and will probably grab lunch afterwards.
Saturday Dinner: Teriyaki Chicken w/ Veggies and Rice. Total for meal: $3.20

Sunday Lunch: Leftovers

Sunday Dinner: Small Group

Total at the store this week: $36.96

Also bought:  mixed veggies, hot dogs, two boxes of fruit pouches, two containers of fruit cups, kefir, strawberries, bread, "healthy" ice cream (like Halo Top) I wanted to try, honey graham bears (the kids have been asking for months, so I finally said yes).

Weekly Meal Plan for 8/6/18

August 06, 2018

Another week, another round of meals! For some reason, this week came together pretty easily. There are definitely other weeks that I spend what feels like hours trying to come up with a plan. I much prefer the easy weeks 😉

Monday: Bacon and Spinach Quiche, Salad. Total for meal: $2.64
Using pie crust and spinach from last week. I have some eggs, but had to buy more. Aldi was out of the bacon I usually buy, so I had to get a more expensive one. Not cool, Aldi.
TuesdayGarlic Butter Chicken Thighs, Parmesan Zucchini and Corn. Total for meal: $1.31
Finishing up the chicken thighs I bought last week. We used half of the package and threw the rest in the freezer to use this week. 
Wednesday: Black Bean and Corn Quesadillas, Spanish Rice. Total for meal: $2.59
This is a delicious meat-less meal if you're trying to bring your monthly food budget down!
Thursday: Date Night!
Kids will be eating chicken nuggets (I had some already), mac and cheese, and mixed veggies. Cost for meal: $.62!
This weekend I'm headed out of town to Hilton Head Island for the leadership training for our MOPS group. I'm so excited to spend a few days away with these ladies as we prepare for our new year starting in Sept! Here's what Clarence and the kids are having:

Friday: Chicken Fried Rice, Fruit. Total for meal: $1.30
We like the fried rice recipe in the link above, but will dice up some chicken (which we had leftover from last week and is in the freezer) and add it to the dish. I also already had onion and soy sauce. Red grapes were on sale for $.89 a pound so I grabbed some and they'll have that on the side.
Saturday Lunch: Leftovers

Saturday Dinner: Bangers and Mash and Broccoli. Total for meal: $5.38
Bought a package of brats and the refrigerated/microwavable Bob Evans Mashed Potatoes. We had a package of frozen broccoli leftover, so he can heat that up as well. Super easy!
Sunday Lunch: Leftovers

Sunday Dinner: Bacon Chicken Bake and Asparagus. Total for meal: $7.34
I'll hopefully be back to share this with the fam, cause it sounds delicious. I bought chicken breasts on sale for $1.49 a pound this week and have a ton leftover to use for the next few weeks. 
I'm going to make my own alfredo sauce, omitted the mushrooms cause I don't like them (sorry everyone else in the fam), and will dice and cook some of the chicken I bought on sale. We'll have plenty for Monday lunch leftovers!
Total at the store this week: $59.51

Also bought: 3 boxes of tissues, apple juice, granola, an adorable preschool workbook for Haven, croutons, cereal bars, milk, rice, garlic salt, avocado, ranch dressing, flour, tub of yogurt, kefir, bananas, cantaloupe, and bread. I also got Haven a few things on her list for preschool: disinfecting wipes, gallon ziplock bags, and a box of tissues.

Even though I was over this week, there were a lot of extras, so I'm completely fine with the total!

So that's what we've got going on this week. What about you??

Weekly Meal Plan for 7/30/18

July 30, 2018

I'm taking food to a couple friends this week, but was still able to stay right on budget, thanks to Aldi!

Monday: Homemade Shepard's Pie. Total for meal: $6.23
I'm making extra of this meal and taking some to a friend who recently had surgery.
Tuesday: Chicken Cordon Bleu and Zucchini. Total for meal: $0
We had family movie night Friday night and I just didn't feel like cooking, so we ate Arby's instead. #truelife. Since we didn't eat this dish last week, we'll eat it tonight.
Wednesday: Chicken and Rice Soup and Rolls. Total for meal: $6.30
I'm doubling this and taking it to a friend of mine who recently had a baby. 
Thursday: Pork Chops, Rice, Green Beans. Total for meal: $.38
I'm going with some MOPS friends to the Rachel Hollis "Made for More" documentary and having dinner ahead of time. We had some leftover pork chops from this past week, so Clarence will whip those up with some rice and green beans for him and the kids. 
Friday: One Pan Chicken & Potato w/ Garlic Parmesan Spinach Cream Sauce, Salad. Total for meal: $7.39
Whenever Aldi has chicken thighs on sale for .79 a pound, I grab it! I splurged for the baby potatoes which are more expensive, but I have some leftover heavy cream in the fridge I didn't have to buy, so that evens out, RIGHT??
Saturday Lunch: Out!

Saturday Dinner: Spaghetti, Broccoli, Garlic Biscuits. Total for meal: $4.62

Sunday Lunch: Leftovers

Sunday Dinner: We are going to the local baseball game with some MOPS families so we'll eat there. Nothing like eating out twice in a weekend....😊

Total at the store this week: $49.71

Also bought: a package of chicken nuggets, cereal, bag of frozen hash browns, hot dogs, peas, tub of yogurt, apple juice, bananas, strawberries, bread, and a couple disposable containers for my friends food.

Weekly Meal Plan for 7/23/18

July 23, 2018

We had a great time with family this weekend! I'm one of 5 kids, so when we're all together with our kids, it is loud and crazy and I love every minute :) Can you tell which of the five of us are siblings??

Now that we're back, I guess I have to make sure we have food to eat. Dang it. Here's our meal plan for this week.

Monday: One Pot Beef & Broccoli. Total for meal: $5.88
I have a frozen bag of riced cauliflower I'm going to use for this dish. I'm also splitting the broccoli with Thursday's meal. We subbed ground turkey for beef. This is the first time we've made this meal so we'll see how it is...
Tuesday: Chicken Spinach Bake with Garlic Biscuits. Total for meal: $3.80
I'll use some chicken leftover from last week to bring down the cost of this meal.
3 chicken breasts cooked and cut into pieces
8 oz penne pasta
8 oz chive and onion cream cheese
Frozen spinach (as much as you would like, thawed and drained well)
15 oz can of Italian Style tomatoes (basil, oregano, and garlic, I believe)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Cook noodles and chicken. Mix together, pasta, chicken, spinach, cream cheese, tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Top with cheese and bake for about 30 minutes.
Wednesday: Ham and Bean Soup. Total for meal: $4.32

Thursday: Broccoli, Onion, and Goat Cheese Quiche with Fruit. Total for meal: $4.00
I'm going to need to buy a pie crust because Aldi doesn't carry it except for during holiday season. I got this recipe from my friend Louisa and put it below. She actually sent me a recipe for the crust, but I'm lazy so I'm just going to buy one ;)
1 onion, cut into half rings
Olive oil
5 eggs
About 1/3 of a carton of whipping cream
S and P
About half a head of broccoli cut into small florets
1 4oz/125g package goat cheese 
 To make the filling:
1. Place the oil in a pan and heat gently, add the onions and cook gently until they are browned. This may take about 30 minutes. Set aside to cool
2. In a bowl mix the eggs, cream, S and P
To assemble to quiche:
1. Preheat the oven to 400F
2. Roll out the pastry in a 8" quiche pan, taking care to fit all the corners
3. Place the caramelized onions in the bottom, then place the broccoli pieces evenly around, and in between dot large knobs of goat cheese
4. Carefully pour over the egg mixture and sprinkle the top with cheese (if wanted)
5. Bake for about 25-30 minutes until slightly browned and puffy
Friday: Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole and Zucchini. Total for meal: $4.36
Using the last of the chicken from last week to cut down on cost. 
Saturday Lunch: Leftovers
Haven and I are going to a friend's baby shower today, so we'll leave the boys home to eat leftovers for lunch :)
Saturday Dinner: Garlic Herb Pork Chops, Wild Rice, Edamame. Total for meal: $5.61
Just bought the pork chops and pack of wild rice. I already had edamame in the freezer. 
Sunday Lunch: Leftovers

Sunday Dinner: Out

Total at the store this week: $50.50

Also bought: Fruit pouches, 6 yogurts, Kefir, eggs, strawberries, peaches, juice bowls, raisins, mac and cheese, bananas, bread.

Weekly Meal Plan for 7/16/18

July 16, 2018

This is a short week for us because we'll be spending time with my entire side of the family for the weekend, but here's what we have for the days we'll be home. Three meals for a little over $6. Boom!

Monday: 20 Minutes Skillet Chicken and Spinach Parmesan, Mashed Potatoes, Mixed Veggies. Total for meal:  $2.50
This is called "use what is in the fridge/cabinets". I had a little bit of mozzarella, spaghetti sauce, and spinach, so just bought chicken for the main dish. I bought a family package for $5.70 and used part for this meal, part for tomorrow, and will have more for next week. I also had three potatoes I used to make mashed potatoes and finished off the mixed veggies from last week.
Tuesday: One-Pan Cheesy Chicken Broccoli and Rice, Fruit, Crescent Rolls. Total for meal:  $3.50
Bought broccoli and chicken, everything else I had on hand. 
Wednesday: Date Night! Grilled Cheese, Pretzels, and Fruit for the kids. Total for meal: $.20 for the amount of bread I'll use.

We leave Thursday to spend time with family and will come back Sunday. We'll help with meals and also eat out some, so a smaller total at the store is great!

Total this week: $25.73

Also bought: apple juice, 2 kefirs, tub of yogurt, strawberries, milk, avocado, bananas, bag of apples, edamame, goldfish


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