The Natural Bud

Blossoming into a Healthier Lifestyle


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From Home Birth to High Risk

After much research, prayer, and discussion with our medical caregivers, we decided to deliver our first baby at home.  God provided for my aunt (an experienced midwife) to catch the baby and on April 16, 2010, our son was born surrounded by a few close family members.

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Someone asked me later if I planned to deliver all of our babies at home. After thinking about it, I had to say no.  Jonathan’s birth was the best I could have imagined and giving birth at home would be ideal, but I don’t know how every pregnancy will go.

When I answered the question, it was only hypothetical.

Now I’m 36 weeks pregnant with our second baby boy.  On our first sonogram, a couple of concerns appeared but the doctor didn’t seem alarmed. They could easily be mistaken and they wanted to do another sonogram.

It wasn’t long before we determined that we should deliver at the hospital. Our midwife would still be there – the same midwife who did all our prenatal /postpartum care with Jonathan.

God is good and gracious in everything He does. Sometimes He allows trials to happen suddenly, and He provides grace and comfort through it. I’m glad He allowed us to learn a little bit at a time.

After the many tests and changes (including a 3D sonogram and a fetal MRI), here is some of what we know… Our baby will need immediate medical attention to save his life.

Last month we were transferred to a high risk hospital in Manhattan.

3D Sonogram

Our second son has an esophageal atrasia and a fistula.  Basically, he will need surgery soon after birth, both to prevent him from choking and to enable him to swallow.  He will be in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at least a few weeks, possibly 2-3 months depending on the severity of the blockage.

We appreciate prayers as we continue to prepare mentally, spiritually and logistically.

Many of our ideals for birth will be impossible this time, but God is still good.  He continues to remind us how truly blessed we are here.  We’re in a place with some of the best medical care possible for a situation like this.  God has provided so much support through friends, family and medical caregivers.  .. And we still have a living, active baby inside my womb.

Psalm 139:14 "I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are your works, and that my soul knows very well."  photocredit: iamannekehn.blogspot.com

photocredit: iamannekehn.blogspot.com

“I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.” Psalm 139:14

*I had considered starting an entirely new blog for this journey, but it seemed appropriate to share here… showing the partnership between natural alternatives/nutritional support and necessary medical intervention.*

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Birth Story: A Few Reflections

In my birth story there wasn’t space to share the resources that helped us to prepare mentally, physically and spiritually for this marathon!  So I thought I’d share those here.

1) Bradley Class- the Bradley class was one of the biggest influences on us in deciding what birth we wanted.  (I appreciate that our instructor, Regina Paleau, knows the balance as her first baby was born naturally and the second required a C-section).  Just knowing how my body works really helped mentally during labor.  It was also a tremendous blessing as my husband had learned ways that he could be more helpful.

2) Dancing for Birth- Physically this was a huge help.  I took the first class because it sounded like fun, a great way to meet new ladies, and it was free.  I developed a friendship with the dance instructor, Dana Caulkins, and she was a great help, teaching why certain positions are more effective, the importance of exercise during pregnancy, etc.  However, during labor, I was surprised how much those dance moves really helped to ease the pain of contractions!

3) Essential Oils – I had been using essential oils before I became pregnant, and when I first became pregnant, I stopped everything because I didn’t know what was safe.  However, I was very excited to learn that there were several that I could use.  I have a book called Essential Oils for Pregnancy, Birth, & Babies by midwife Stefanie Fritz.  She outlines several of the ways she uses essential oils in her practice and shares testimonials from many of her patients.  Of course, I recommend that every woman does her own research, uses caution and talks to her medical caregiver with concerns.

By far, my faith was the biggest help during labor.  The freedom to call out to God and know that He hears and helps me, as well as comforting passages from Scripture, were a huge help.  My family and those supportive people around me were another tremendous blessing.  I’m so thankful for how God has blessed me with such supportive and encouraging people.


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The Best (and most fun) Toilet Bowl Cleaner I’ve Used

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Also a great way to get your older kids to help clean 🙂

Chemical cleaners were a huge contributing factor to the health problems I developed in college.  (My job at the time was cleaning bathrooms.)  I’m so excited now to see how many natural and DIY Cleaners are out there!

I found this toilet cleaner recipe in an essential oil magazine.  It’s so much fun!  I look forward to cleaning the toilet now!

1/2 C Baking Soda

1/4 C Vinegar

10 Drops Essential Oil

Sprinkle the baking soda around inside of toilet.  Add 10 drops of essential oil.  (I chose grapefruit and lime because they are antibacterial but I also love the aroma.  Grapefruit and wild orange together are also great.)  Add Vinegar and scrub while the combination fizzes up!  It’s so much fun and leaves the bathroom smelling amazing!


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Home Birth Part 3: Baby Arrives

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Stage 4: Push

Eventually I asked them when it was okay to push – Aunt Joan said push whenever I felt like it. She also said if I wanted to, I could try to feel for the head. I felt something – round and rubbery – “that’s not the head, is it?” (I thought it would feel harder; I guess it felt soft because the amniotic sac was still around it.) “Yes, it probably is.” So Aunt Joan came to check, and said it was the head.

Contractions were getting more painful and I was ready to push. I had already started pushing during contractions because they had become more intense and it relieved the pain a little. But at this point they were actively coaching and helping me with pushing. Jason and my mom got on each side of me, and Aunt Joan was in front of me to see the progress of the baby moving down. Whenever a contraction would start, they would encourage me, “Push.” I was standing up and squatting, with my hands on my knees. (The position with most pressure on thighs – apparently a lot on your arm muscles, too, as I found out in the next few days 🙂 Jason and my mom were also supporting me from each side.

I was groaning loudly as I pushed, which I thought helped. Aunt Joan said, “Push.” They were all telling me that I really needed to push during contractions. I felt so frustrated – “I thought I was pushing!”

“It’s okay, you can do it.” Aunt Joan explained that instead of letting the air out in a groan, I should keep the air in and use it to help me push. (She explained later that a lot of women do that during pushing – let air out in a shallow groan – where they expend energy that doesn’t help.)  My mom was saying to use the air to push down.

Soon I started holding my breath so I could push better – then my mom was saying “breathe,” but I was thinking, I have to hold my breath to push the right way. If I took the time to breathe I would just be groaning – which they told me wasn’t actually pushing. I did breathe after the contraction though.

“You’re doing good. That’s it.” Eventually, Aunt Joan said I could look down and see the head if I wanted.

Jason: “There’s the head. I see the head. I see the head!” (so cute)

It gave hope to see his head. I could only see part of his head, so it looked like his head was really small – too small for a body; it occurred to me – that is definitely not his whole head. We must’ve pushed for at least 30 minutes that way, because Aunt Joan said I pushed 30-45 minutes. Finally, Aunt Joan said to squat down (what she called the “high squat”? in her letter to Aunt Laurie). I knew I’d be more likely to tear if I delivered from that position, but I had also practiced that squat a lot during pregnancy. I knew I could stay in that position more easily… and I really wanted the baby to come out! It had started to feel like he would never come out (especially at the point where they were all telling me to push when I thought I WAS pushing). So I squatted down and pushed. Aunt Joan said, “You’re doing good. Just two more pushes.” That gave me hope!

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A few more contractions/pushing, and Jonathan slid right out. I know Aunt Joan was holding and maneuvering him before she set him on the floor, but I didn’t notice any of that. All I remember is this baby suddenly in front of me, lying on his back, flailing his arms and screaming. I immediately noticed that his lip quivers when he cries. Among my numb first thoughts was, Please help him to get cuter. But I knew we’d have to love and take care of him anyway; and we would love him – he was ours. As it turns out, besides being all wet, he was just puffy from birth!

I stared at him, not sure what I was supposed to do. Then I guessed I should pick him up, so I reached for him. Aunt Joan: “Careful with the cord.” Oh yeah, he was still attached to the placenta. I held him against me. I tried to nurse him, but he was screaming too much and didn’t care about nursing then. His lip was quivering; I thought he was cold. Someone covered us both with a towel (his lip was still quivering).

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After I held him a little, Aunt Joan had me set him back down so she could cut the cord. She asked Jason, “Do you want to cut the cord?” It was curly and a really pale shade of yellow, with some deep blue lines through it (looked kind of like an old-fashioned telephone cord). I only vaguely remember seeing Jason cut it – I remember hearing everything more than seeing it. Maybe I leaned back and closed my eyes for that part. Then Aunt Joan sat on the side of the tub, and gave Jonathan his first bath 🙂 Someone video taped it. After that, everyone left with the baby, except Aunt Joan.  She coached me how to deliver the placenta.

Eventually Jason and Aunt Joan helped me get to the bed.  I had a small tear so they brought Jonathan to distract me while Aunt Joan sewed me up.  He was upset so it helped to focus on comforting my new baby.  I finally could eat some soup and then slept.  It was only two hours before Jonathan needed to nurse but it was the best two hours of sleep I’ve ever had!

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Home Birth Part 2: Active Labor & Transition

Stage 2: Active Labor

By around 1 p.m., Aunt Joan stayed in the bathroom most of the time. At one point, I asked if they wanted to watch a movie (thinking it would help distract me), but then when Jason went to look for a movie on his phone I didn’t feel like watching anything. During active labor, Jason was using his “contraction app” on his iphone, and he would ask if my contraction had started – when I started groaning. Finally after one contraction, I said (nicely :), “If I’m groaning, I’m having a contraction.” Aunt Joan laughed, and reminded him that when I don’t want to talk/joke anymore, it’s getting into active labor (although at that point I still was able to laugh about it – between contractions).

My mom was in and out for a while – bringing me food and water, and doing whatever was needed. I got in and out of the tub – some of the time I would get out and do more sway/dance moves, then get back in. After one contraction, I felt nauseous again and actually did vomit. It was a relief. I prayed for strength and told God I didn’t think I could handle contractions back to back, I was so tired. He was so gracious. For a long time, I was able to sleep in the 7 minutes between contractions. Even though I was groaning and yelling, and in pain, throughout the labor I thought it didn’t seem bad for a first labor – progressing quickly, able to sleep in between contractions, etc.

Stage 3: Transition

Finally around 4-5 p.m., I started saying, “I can’t do this anymore.” Aunt Joan said, “this is good.” I knew it meant I should be getting close.
Some of the comments I made during/after contractions: “let’s adopt the rest.”
As I got toward transition, I kept saying… “I can’t do this anymore.”
Jason: “Yes you can, your body was made for this.”
Me: “Pray for me.”
Mom: “We’ve been praying for you, but we’ll pray out loud.” At this point I was out of the tub, leaning against her, doing some of the dance/sway moves. She prayed out loud for me.
Me: “God, help me.” (or just “help me.”) “How can I do this?”
Jason: “Your body was made for this”
Me: “I don’t know how I can do this.”
Aunt Joan: “I know this spot, this is a rough spot.”
Mom: “It’s okay, the baby’s coming soon”

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Since I was apparently in transition, we decided to get Lois on FaceTime (my younger sister, who was in the Philippines studying midwifery). (My cousins Ruth & Hannah were watching, too, but they stayed out of the screen most of the time); Lois muted her phone because she didn’t want us to be distracted by their commentary. (I was kind of curious to hear them though!) Once in a while I would look at her and smile (not during contractions). She only unmated it to say I was doing a good job. 🙂
I was in the tub most of the time (kept getting in and out). They had said near the end you can’t get comfortable. Anyway, the hot water and dance moves helped. I completely forgot about Bradley visualizations and quoting Scripture (I’m sure that would’ve helped!). I tried to help Jason remember how to massage my muscles (big strokes). Anyway, he was sweet – doing everything he knew to help and encourage me. He told us later that he felt bad because he was saying, “You can do it!” and in his mind he was wondering, can she do it? is this deceptive? But he knew they needed to bump up the cheerleading.


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Makeup-Stained Sink

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My husband kindly observed that ever since I replenished my makeup supply and started using foundation again, the inside of our sink is never quite clean. I rinse the sink and try to rub it clean but even with soap, it still leaves that residue.

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Well I found this recipe for DIY soft scrub that worked great at removing grime from our stove; so I thought I’d try it and voila! Clean sink, happy husband 🙂

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(found recipe in a doTERRA Living Magazine spring edition)

3/4 c baking soda 

1/4 c liquid Castile soap

2 T water

5-10 drops each of orange & grapefruit essential oils (email me for info on how to buy)

Mix together to form a paste. Scoop out the amount you need to scrub sink, stove, or shower tiles.


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Blossoming into a Healthier Lifestyle

I’m embarrassed when I remember my diet in high school – and even in the beginning of our marriage … but if you’re struggling to live a healthier lifestyle, then this should give you hope :).

My sister reminded me not long ago that I used to come home from school and grab a piece of white bread to eat. I responded, “Oh that’s gross.” I had completely forgotten! I do remember that if there were Twinkies available (which wasn’t very often in our house), I would go straight for them and eat way too many. In the first few months of our marriage, hamburger helper and Ramen noodles were our staples. (You’d be surprised how many different ways you can cook Ramen noodles!)

It won’t surprise you that I had a lot of health problems during college. More on that later, but my health problems were the catalyst to revamping our lifestyle choices.

Now our two favorite “grocery stores” on Staten Island are Trader Joe’s and Costco. Our staples are fresh fruit/vegetables, coconut milk, smoothies etc. We’re excited about the expanding organic section in Costco!

— Laurelyn Rose