That Time I Had a Baby in a Tub: Eden’s Birth Story

woman holding baby girl wearing pink flower headband

It’s hard to believe it, but it has officially been 6 weeks since I gave birth to my third tiny human. As if to solidify this reality, we drove my mom back to the airport this weekend. It’s always such a blessed relief when she comes to stay with us, and a steep learning curve when she heads back home.

As I ease back into my routine, I’m reflecting on the first 6 weeks of Eden’s life. The first 6 weeks with your baby is a slow-moving, sleepy time. The days drag, and you feel like you’re not getting anything done (aside from ticking seven Netflix shows off your must-watch list). But then you blink, and it’s been 6 weeks, and suddenly it’s time to get off the couch.

Before I officially get off the couch, I want to share my birth story. This is mostly for me, so that I can remember the wild and amazing experience that was bringing my third baby into the world. But I also want to share it for anyone who wants to know what it’s like to have a baby at a birthing center. This was my first birth that wasn’t in Labor and Delivery, and it was such an empowering experience for me. Here we go!

False Alarm

My contractions started in the middle of the night Sunday the 15th – three days after my estimated due date. They were mild, but coming 5-7 minutes apart, and I couldn’t sleep through them. So I got up and went into the spare room to wait for them to progress. I was up until about 4 a.m. Monday morning, when I finally fell asleep from exhaustion. I called my doula a few hours later. She told me to try to get some rest, so I went to sleep for a couple of hours.

The contractions continued during the day, so I got everything ready for the hospital and packed up the car. My mom and I then went to walk around the mall to see if it would move things along. But sometime early in the afternoon, the contractions fizzled out.

The Mental Tug of War of Prodromal Labor

I was so disappointed—I didn’t even realize you could have contractions with that kind of regularity and not go into labor. When it happened again the next night, I did a little research. Apparently prodromal labor is quite common, especially for women who’ve had multiple pregnancies. According to the American Pregnancy Association, “Prodromal labor consists of contractions that can be fairly regular (between 5-10 minutes apart) and can be painful like active labor contractions, more so than Braxton Hicks contractions. Typically each contraction will last just shy of one minute.”

I spoke with my doula, who assured me that this was quite normal, and encouraged me to try to keep my mind off the contractions by going about my routine, going out on dates, and trying to relax. I did the best I could, but when the prodromal labor continued for days and days, I couldn’t help feeling pretty defeated.

At my 41-week appointment, I passed the non-stress test and the midwife told me I was 2 cm dilated and 50% effaced. If Eden didn’t come by herself in the next 5 days, I would have to be induced. That was really not what I wanted, and it’s what I’d feared ever since I decided to have a natural birth at the Midwifery Center. Induction would mean I would have to give birth at Labor & Delivery instead of the center. It wasn’t the end of the world, but it also wasn’t the experience I’d been hoping and preparing for.

Over the next few days, I tried everything under the sun to try to get labor going. We made labor cookies (delicious; will definitely make you poop if you eat 20 of them in one sitting). I ate spicy food, pineapple cores, eggplant parmesan. I took Evening Primrose Oil, tried nipple stimulation (OW!), and of course did the act that got me into this whole pregnancy ordeal in the first place. NOTHING was working. The prodromal labor continued. I started to accept that I would need to be induced.

Desperate Measures: My 11th Hour Castor Oil Experience

But there was still one thing I hadn’t tried (out of fear from all the horror stories I’d heard), and by Sunday I was ready to do it. I sent my mom out for a bottle of castor oil. According to What to Expect, “In multiple studies of women at term, more than half of those who took a dose of castor oil went into labor within 24 hours—that’s compared to only 4 percent of those who didn’t glug it at all.” 

I figured those were decent odds for someone 10 days overdue. I took two doses of 1 tablespoon mixed in orange juice, with about 4 hours between each dose. It was a little gross, but certainly not as bad as what all the Mommy forums made it out to be. My contractions intensified and carried on throughout the night, but they didn’t get closer together, and I was able to sleep through them that night. By about 11 a.m. Monday, they had fizzled out again.

I was so upset at this point, I lost it a little. It was officially 11 days past my estimated due date, and I was SO done. I took the same dose of castor oil again—a last ditch effort before accepting my fate. The contractions started again. I did the Miles Circuit, which I had done a few times over the past few days on my doula’s recommendation. The contractions intensified. I started to time them, and realized they were now coming closer to 3 minutes apart.

Because of all the prodromal labor, I was a little hesitant to go into the birthing center. I called the nurse and explained the situation. A few minutes later, the midwife on duty called me back and recommended that I come in. In the short time between getting off the phone with Jake picking me up, the contractions had become intense enough that I needed to concentrate through them—and I was finally confident that this was the start of real labor.

Finally in Labor

Jake and I arrived at the Midwifery Center just after 4 p.m. I was 4 cm dilated. The midwife recommended an enema to see if it might speed things along for me. It didn’t sound like the most fun thing in the world, but at this point I was willing to do pretty much anything to avoid induction measures. So I went ahead with that, and then my doula arrived. I labored on the birth ball for a bit, and then she recommended that we walk the halls.

After probably an hour of walking, with contractions coming every 2-3 minutes, the midwife checked me again. I was still 4 cm, so she recommended breaking my water. Since I was 11 days past my due date, only a small amount of water actually came out. But it definitely helped kick my labor into high gear. We walked the halls again. The contractions were now very painful, and Jake and my doula took turns helping me through them with counter pressure on my lower back. My doula continuously reminded me to relax and breathe through the contractions, and to soften my shoulders and bend my knees. I can’t overestimate how helpful those reminders were—despite the pain, I felt in control the whole time.

Afterwards, I was pretty exhausted from all the walking. I desperately wanted a break, so I had Jake help me onto the bed. What followed was the most horrible contraction I’d had so far, and I immediately begged him to get me out of the bed. As painful as the contractions had been when I was upright, that pain was nothing compared to how it felt lying down. With that comparison, it’s no wonder to me why it’s so difficult for women confined to hospital beds to go through labor unmedicated (myself included—I had an epidural during my first two births).

After the horrible bed contraction, my doula recommended I labor in the shower for a bit. She set me up in the shower with a birth ball. I went in on my hands and knees and labored over the birth ball, with the shower aimed at my low back. The contractions were extremely intense now, but the hot water helped to dull the sensation. I stayed in there for a little over an hour as the contractions strengthened.

Okay, Here We Go—The Part Where I Have the Baby in a Tub

When I got out of the shower, I began to feel pressure along with my contractions. I knew the feeling from my previous births, so I asked to be checked again. The midwife came in and checked me, and I was measuring 8 cm. Immediately after the cervical exam, I had a powerful contraction accompanied by extreme pressure. At this point, I was no longer able to control my reaction, and I yelled. This is probably the point Jake started to associate the birth with “something you’d see on Animal Planet.” My midwife and doula suggested I get into the tub and I agreed. 

As they began getting the tub ready, I had another huge contraction, and I knew the baby was crowning. I panicked and yelled something like “I can’t hold her in!” Jake and my doula helped me into the tub quickly. With the next contraction I grasped the doula’s hand and yelled again, “I’m scared! I can’t keep her in anymore!” She assured me I didn’t need to, that it was time to have the baby. She and the midwife helped position me on my hands and knees, and during the next contraction I pushed. I was gearing up to push again when Jake told me to turn around—she was already out.

The midwife placed Eden in my arms, and she started to cry. She was purple and soaking wet and perfect! They wrapped a big fluffy towel around us and gave us a few minutes to rest in the tub. It truly felt like a miraculous moment. After that, everyone helped the baby and me get out of the tub and onto the bed. We had a wonderful hour relaxing with her before the nurses did the whole cleaning up and measuring her bit, and the rest of the family arrived to see her.

There you have it! After a less-than-easy pregnancy, waiting that last 11 days was so tough. But I would do it all again to have the amazing birth experience at the Midwifery Center. Honestly, I’m still blown away by how capable and empowered I felt throughout my labor. The female body is so strong, and the process of birth is truly miraculous.

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How to Create a High-Converting Content Marketing Strategy for Your Business

woman creating a content marketing strategy on her laptop

If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ve undoubtedly heard the term “content marketing” tossed around a few times. It’s become something of an industry buzzword in recent years. But what exactly IS content marketing, and how is it important to your business strategy?

Content marketing is the creation and distribution of valuable, relevant content to your audience. The purpose of this content isn’t necessarily to sell your audience something. Rather, by providing valuable information and tools to help them solve problems, you’re building trust with your audience and establishing your brand as an authority in your field.

Why is that so important? Well, in today’s market, customers don’t really want to be advertised to. Just think about how quickly you hit the “Skip Ad” button when you’re watching a YouTube video. According to Stratabeat, “80 percent of business decision-makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles, versus an advertisement.” And Content Marketing Institute reports that more than 70% of consumers surveyed would rather learn about a product or service through content than advertising.

Here’s the great part for you as a business owner: according to Demand Metric, content marketing costs 62% LESS than traditional marketing, and generates approximately 3 times as many leads per dollar spent. In other words, content marketing can yield some pretty big bang for your buck—if you do it right.

Is your strategy converting?

Ultimately, your content marketing should result in more conversions, increased sales and higher profits. But you won’t achieve those results by haphazardly throwing content pieces at your audience to see what sticks. If you really want results, you need to build a content marketing strategy that reaches your target audience, provides them value that is different than what your competition offers, and encourages them to become loyal customers.

So, how do you build a winning content marketing strategy? 

Set goals.

As with any marketing strategy, you want to create a plan that clearly defines your goals and outlines the steps you will take to reach those goals. Goals for your content marketing plan might include increasing your social media following, driving more traffic to your website, adding subscribers to your newsletter, and increasing leads. Whatever those goals are, make sure you write them down, and then—and this is super important!—track them. It does you no good to set goals for your content marketing strategy and then never measure them to see whether your strategy is actually working for you.

Know your audience.

I can’t stress this enough. Dig into your audience. Understand what they’re like, how they like to consume their content and what type of information appeals to them. Get a strong grasp on the problems they face that your business helps to solve. Then you can start to create content that directly addresses your target audience and offers them value.

Map out your content marketing strategy.

Instead of just jumping right into creating the content, map out your strategy first. Decide what topics you’re going to cover—and when. For instance, if you’re a life coach and you want to talk about the benefits of setting goals, that’s a message that might be best received around the beginning of the year. Being intentional about your content increases the probability of it having the desired effect for your business.

Optimize your content and share it where it counts.

You don’t want to spend the time and effort creating great content no one is going to see, so don’t neglect SEO. Do your keyword research and optimize your blog posts and website pages for search. Then be sure to share your content on the platforms that make the most sense for your business. Notice I’m not saying you should post your content everywhere. If you’re a small business owner with limited time and resources, being active on every social media platform is probably not the best use of your time. Instead, share your content in the places where you know your audience is active and engaged. And don’t worry about having to be everywhere.

Content marketing can work wonders for your business if you do it effectively. Just remember that it is a long-term strategy that will take time to implement and to test for ROI. And once you do have the data to determine your strategy’s effectiveness, you might have to make some tweaks. It’ll be worth it when you’re able to create content your audience loves—and then see that translate into better conversion rates and higher profits.

Need some help with your business’s content marketing strategy? Drop me a message in the comments or contact me to see how I can help.

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10 Ways to Bring More Peace into Your Life

woman standing on a calm pier

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”

Colossians 3:15

I don’t think anyone wakes up and says, “Man, I hope today is chaotic.” But all too often, our lives seem to succumb to chaos, don’t they? Maybe it’s because of our job, our kids, our extended families. Maybe it’s—gasp—the consequences of our own actions. Whatever the reason, when the chaos kicks in, it tends to take over. Suddenly, peace seems completely unattainable, and it’s taking everything you have not to completely lose your cool.

Sound familiar? Well, you’re not alone. According to the American Psychological Association, 73% of Americans regularly experience psychological symptoms caused by stress. And 77% of them regularly experience physical symptoms as a result of stress. Nearly half of Americans say stress negatively impacts their personal and professional life, and 30% say they are often or always under stress at work.

Peace Isn’t Dependent on Your Circumstances

Whew. It would seem we are a stressed out bunch. If this is what we’re up against these days, it’s hard to see how we can hope to find peace in our lives.

But here’s the thing: true inner peace isn’t dependent on your circumstances. Sometimes life is wonderful and peace is easy to come by. Other times, life seems like a series of one terrible event after another. But you can learn to cultivate peace despite the situations life throws your way. That’s true peace, because it lasts regardless of circumstance.

“Each one has to find his peace from within. And peace to be real must be unaffected by outside circumstances.”

Mahatma Gandhi

Try These 10 Things to Bring More Peace into Your Life:

1. Meditate.

Spending just a few minutes each day in meditation can greatly reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Meditation is simply a mental exercise in which you quiet the mind and focus on one thing—often breathing, or a simple mantra. Meditation helps cultivate awareness, improve focus and increase calm. It has dozens of proven medical and psychological benefits—from reducing your heart rate and blood pressure, to increasing emotional stability and intelligence. There are tons of blogs, podcasts and apps available to help you start a meditation practice, and it really only requires a few minutes of your time each day.

2. Start a gratitude practice.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”

Melodie Beattie

Cultivating gratitude in your life is simple, free, and it can make a monumental difference in the way you view the world around you. Studies have shown that grateful people are healthier both physically and mentally. People who practice gratitude are also more empathetic and less aggressive, have higher self esteem, and are more mentally resilient. Practicing gratitude can be as simple as jotting down the things you’re grateful for in a journal, or in a note on your phone. You might even want to create a gratitude board with some of the major things you’re grateful for, which can serve as a reminder when you’re having a particular tough day.

Focusing on gratitude helps you hone in on what really matters in life, and offers perspective when you feel like things aren’t going well (for instance, did you really have a BAD day, or just one bad experience on an otherwise good day?).

3. Fill your brain with goodness.

There’s a lot happening in the world to be stressed about. Some days the news seems like an endless cycle of terrible events. And while it’s important to remain informed about what’s happening in the world, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by bad news, and that can lead to feeling hopeless. If you start to feel that way, take a little break from the news cycle. Put on a motivating podcast or some uplifting music instead. Check out good news media, like the Goodnewspaper, where they celebrate the good happening in the world. Getting in touch with the good things happening, instead of constantly focusing on what’s going wrong, is a great way to shift your perspective and feel more at peace.

4. Declutter your space.

Your physical space can have a profound effect on how you feel. A cluttered and disorganized space can leave you feeling overwhelmed and can take away from your inner peace. I highly suggest the KonMari method if you’re ready to dive into the deep end. If you just want a quick and easy place to start, grab some trash bags or boxes and start separating out things that you can donate or throw away. You’ll be surprised how quickly you can declutter and how much better you’ll feel once you start.

5. Let go of the urge to compare.

“Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.”

Galatians 6:4-5, NLT

It’s so tempting to compare our lives with the lives of those around us. But there’s a reason the Bible urges us to focus on our own work and quit comparing. For one, we are usually comparing our real lives with our assumption of what someone else’s life is like. And very often that is quite different from their reality. Comparison can also cause us to feel jealous of people, which can taint our relationships and stop us from seeing the good in our own lives. If, instead of feeling envy for what another person has, we can feel genuine happiness for them, we’ll feel much more at peace.

6. Get outside.

Spending even a few minutes outdoors has the power to uplift you and have you feeling more at peace. You can go for a walk or run, or simply stand outside and let the Vitamin D work its magic. No matter how busy you are, making a point to get outside for a little bit everyday will make a huge difference in how you feel.

7. Establish healthy boundaries.

Often, the difficult people in our lives seem like a roadblock to peace. Spending a lot of time around people who are unsafe or toxic can make our lives less peaceful. That’s why it’s so important to establish healthy boundaries that protect our peace and limit the influence these people have on us.

8. Don’t dwell on the past.

Ever meet someone who can recount every bad thing that’s ever happened to them, but can’t seem to find anything positive to say? Don’t be that person! Dwelling on the past, ruminating over ancient history, and holding grudges will do absolutely NOTHING to further your life or help you find inner peace. That doesn’t mean you allow people who’ve really hurt you to continue to do so. But it does mean you let go of the past and instead focus your energy on the present.

9. Turn off your notifications.

Our “always on” society certainly has its advantages. But being constantly subject to notifications from your devices can also make you feel less at peace. Most likely, the world will not stop turning if you take a few hours to disconnect from the constant chatter. You’ll also be amazed at how much more you can get done when you aren’t a slave to your notifications.

10. Stop worrying about what other people think of you.

Care about people’s approval, and you will always be their prisoner.

Lao Tzu

You could be the most incredible person who ever lived, and there would still be people who criticized you. You simply can’t find peace if you’re constantly trying to live up to other people’s standards. Remember that your values won’t always align with everyone else’s, and that’s okay. Be confident in yourself and in your decisions, and don’t let the opinions of others disrupt your inner peace.

Peacemaking in Practice

Most of these suggestions are very simple things you can start doing right away. You might be surprised how quickly you see a difference in the way you feel and in your interactions with others. If you’ve already put some of these into practice in your own life, I’d love to hear about your experience! What methods of peacemaking have been the most effective for you? 

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