How many entries and I going to have to title “Negative?” This will probably be the last one, considering there isn’t much left for me to look for. This was the last name she gave me. This was supposed to be the last one. She swore up and down, it was one of those names. There were absolutely no other possibilities, it had to be one of these names on that tiny yellow sticky note she handed me. It just had to be one of them.
Well, it wasn’t.
And now I’m pretty sure I’m never going to know who my father is, and odds are, whoever he is, he’s never going to know he has a daughter, or three granddaughters and a grandson. It sucks. Her selfishness and lack of responsibility and accountability has robbed not only me of knowing who my father is, but this man of knowing he has a child and even grandchildren. Maybe he’d have no interest in us; David sure didn’t, but even so, he has been denied the opportunity to make that choice for himself. And that? That is wrong.
When my mother gave me those names, I had doubts that they were even real names. For a very long time I doubted their validity. Then I found one. And that one confirmed the other. I started thinking that maybe, just maybe, my mother had told the truth. She was really trying. She was actually trying to be honest with me and help me. When the first test from the list was negative, I was crushed and I was angry, but I gave her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe it was the other man. I can’t get angry if she gave me their names but the first one came up negative. I kept thinking, “Okay. I’ll find them all, and then, if they’re all negative, then I’ll get mad. Then I’ll let her know what I think.”
I am quite literally at the end of my search for my father.
The results are in. I haven’t read them but they are in. I will know in a matter of minutes if David Blanchard is my father or if I will never know who my father is. Regardless of what the results are, this is huge. This is HUGE. People have told me I should be “used” to this rollercoaster by now. Maybe. But this time is different. This time, it’s the end. This is it. If this is negative, there is no plan B. There is no one else to keep looking for.
This is it.
And that scares me.
Several people have asked me what I am going to do if it is positive. What am I going to do if it is negative. The answer is, I really don’t know. Live in the moment. React as it hits me. Either way, I have no idea. I have spent so much time looking that I really never thought much past finding these men, let alone the test results. I don’t know. I really don’t know.
But the results are in.
This is it, kid.
I need to get my thoughts into writing before it’s too late. It can be so easy to get caught up with the daily life (even the not-so-daily life, like everything going on with me right now) and put things off until later. But by putting it off until later, those thoughts become irrelevant. It doesn’t matter how I felt about my impending paternity test results, when I failed to get it out before the results came in. So here I am, getting it out and making an attempt at not becoming irrelevant.
I really don’t know what is going on or how things transpired the way they did. I really don’t. I didn’t expect rainbows or sunshine and I didn’t expect this man to be excited about me, but I did expect curiosity. Instead, I was met with a man who had absolutely no questions about me at all… Except that I not tell his mother that I exist. I didn’t expect a family reunion, but I at least expected he would want to know a little bit about me… Every other man I have tested with did and I have remained friends with most of them. It just… Seems so impersonal.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again. I don’t know what I expected, except that this wasn’t it.
The DNA test results aren’t even in and I’m already struggling with feelings of disappointment. I’m disappointed with how unlucky I seem to be. Why would the universe torture me by letting me meet all of these awesome people and their families for my prior tests, and the last guy (who I am 99.9% sure is my father) is so… distant? I don’t know. I’m not expecting a hug or a heartfelt talk, but when he speaks to me, it’s almost like he’s be asked to order food when he just finished a five-course meal… Bored, disinterested and putting it off. And that? That is extremely disappointing.
I am disappointed because I am almost certain he is my father, and I really wish it had been one of the other men I had tested with. Those men, even though they know we aren’t related, seem to have more interest in me than this guy does.
I am disappointed at how long this process took. I found him in September and he agreed to the test. I had my swab collected right away. He kept telling me he was scheduling his, and then, he just quit telling me anything at all.
I am disappointed at the lack of communication. He may not want to know anything about me or have anything to do with me, but he did agree to the test and I am extremely upset that he made the decision to ignore me for almost six weeks. He ignored me. I asked if he scheduled, told him I hoped all was well, etc. and he didn’t even have the decency to reply. Nothing. It wasn’t until I texted him (I am pretty sure he was unaware I had his number) that he decided to at least let me know what was going on, and even then, I’m not sure I believe him.
I’m disappointed that he hasn’t been honest with me. He said he has just been crazy busy and that’s why he hasn’t gotten in for his swab… Why didn’t he just tell me that? Why couldn’t he have shot me a message or something and said “Hey, sorry! I’ve been so busy, but I really am trying. Thank you for being so patient.” I kind of doubt he didn’t have time to at least let me know that, considering all the quizzes and youtube videos he was posting on his Facebook account. Then, on top of that, he claimed part of the problem was that the collection site was in Orlando, so he needed two days off to get it done… I checked Google Maps. He lives 1 hour and 10 minutes from Orlando. Why does he need two days to make the appointment? Then, at the end of our one and only phone call, he made the comment about how “now that he has my number…” I have given him my number multiple times through Facebook messaging. It’s not like he didn’t have it or didn’t have access to it…
Even though I am disappointed, I am excited.
I am excited that this whole thing is coming to a close. I am excited to know that I will have my answer, one way or another. I will know that David is my father, or I will know that I will never know who my father is.
I still remember the day my mother gave me the list of names. It was on this teeny tiny yellow sticky note… And she wouldn’t talk to me about. She just handed it to me. No questions allowed. No answers given. It was my problem now. And I am excited…. I am proud to know that regardless of the outcome of this test… I did it. I did the impossible. I found these men. I did what even I didn’t think was possible. Just three months ago, I was sitting at a bonfire telling my almost-step-dad how much it hurt, knowing that I would probably never find David, and how he doesn’t even know I exist. And here I am, at the end of that search.
Tomorrow, David gets his swab taken.
Tomorrow, the countdown begins. Results are by the end of the second working day following the test. I will have instant online access to the results. David will not. We will both then be emailed physical copies of the results approximately two weeks later. I could have access to the online results as early as Wednesday and as late as next Monday.
This is it, kid.
In all of the time I have spent searching for my father, and all of the DNA tests I’ve been through, I’ve never really had any expectations. I can’t count all of the people over the years who, assuming if was naive and over-hopeful, told me that I didn’t know what I was getting into and that I was probably better off not knowing. Nothing irritated me more. I had no delusions. I didn’t have some childish fantasy of finally finding my dad and being one big, happy, gushing family full of love, sunshine and rainbows. It was frustrating encountering these people, who seemed to think they knew what was best for me in relation to MY paternity.
Little did they know, the scenarios I imagined over the course of my lifetime were likely much worse than reality. Scratch that. Now that I’ve found the last man, I know for a fact the things I imagined were much worse than reality. Was I the product of molestation or incest? Was that why no one would help me or tell me anything for so long? Was my father in jail and if he was, did he kill someone or rape someone? Was he a wife-beating alcoholic degenerate? Was he a drug dealer? Was he involved in human trafficking? Was he a pervert or child pornographer? Why would no one tell me anything or help me at all for so long? What was so horrifying about my dad that it was hidden from me for so long?what kind of monster was he that I wasn’t even allowed to know his first name for so long? I can’t count (or share) all of the horrifying, stomach-turning, repulsive scenarios that have crossed my mind. I don’t know why I never pictured anything good. Maybe it’s because I had been dealt so much crap in my life that anything “normal” seemed like it would be unlikely, maybe even impossible. Normal, heck, even ordinary seemed out of reach for me. Normal was hoping for too much.
Now I’ve found the last man on the list. I found him. And from what I can tell, none of the above rings true. He seems like a normal guy, living his life, working, spending time with the people he cares about. I didn’t run a background check or anything, but he seems like a decent guy with a normal life. My imagination was worse than reality. I knew it probably was, but it’s hard to put those fears to rest when you don’t have access to what the reality really is.
This whole time, I’ve told people “If he is my dad and the one thing he ever does for me in my life is take that test, then that’s okay. I’d be okay with that.” Dan said I didn’t mean that, and it bothered me that he said that. I insisted I really meant it. He said he knew I didn’t. Maybe he knows me better than I do.
He agreed to take the test, but asked that I not contact his mother (I won’t). He also made it clear he doesn’t want to have any kind of relationship with he kids or I. He doesn’t seem to have any interest in knowing us. I don’t know what I expected, but it wasn’t this. I didn’t expect him to want to meet me, or tell people about me. I didn’t expect him to have much of anything to do I with me, but I guess I did expect him to be curious about me. Maybe ask questions. I don’t know. Something. Even just the teensiest, tiniest bit of interest. If not in me, at least in the kids. I thought that maybe, since he had been so excited about being the “grand dude” when his girlfriends daughter had her baby, that he might be excited for my kids.
I don’t know what I expected, except that it wasn’t this.
I never updated after my last post about my DNA test.
I can’t say I expected any different. It was a long shot that it would be positive anyway, but I just wanted to be sure I wasn’t missing anything or skipping over a known possibility. I didn’t expect it to be positive, but I can’t say I wasn’t hoping.
I also re-did a DNA test with another man recently. Mostly because the DNA test that was originally done was done in 1990 and I don’t think I quite trust the technology back then enough to trust the results as being accurate. This test, again, while I was hoping it would be positive, I wasn’t expecting it to be. And it wasn’t.
There’s this “song” that Dan showed me when we first started seeing each other. It’s not really a song, not really a poem, but more of a speech tied into the two. “Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen” by Baz Luhrmann. If you haven’t heard it, you should. I find myself relating to it and referring to it in so many different situations, sometimes polar opposites, at so many different points in my life. Perhaps there’s just always a piece that’s relevant.
“The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that
never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm
on some idle Tuesday.”
Well, today wasn’t a Tuesday, but I can say that I’ve been blindsided. I periodically search for David Blanchard. Sometimes for a couple hours here and there. Sometimes for a couple days. Sometimes for a couple weeks. Then I stop for a while. Try again. Rinse, lather, repeat. I have yet to find anything promising; until today.
A couple weeks ago when we were getting ready to leave the house, as I was fighting the never-ending battle of getting the kids to get their shoes on (if they can even find them) and not forget their coats, Maddi out of the blue asked me about my dad.
Maddi: Mommy, did you find your daddy yet?
Me: No. Not yet.
Maddi: Oh. That’s sad. When will you find him?
Me: I don’t know. Probably never.
Maddi: That’s even more sad. He should maybe try to find you so you don’t have to try to find him as hard.
Me: I don’t think he knows about me, so he can’t exactly look for me.
Maddi: I can help you look for him if you want. I’m good at finding things.
Then without a word, she dropped it and went outside to the car. She didn’t bring it up again that day. She just left it at that. My seven-year-old daughter just brought this up out of the blue. And it got me thinking (and depressed) that I really never would find him. I had done everything I knew how to do. I had looked everywhere. Hell, I even had a website for a while called “Find David Blanchard” in a desperate attempt to find him. I couldn’t think of anything else to do that I hadn’t already done. I really and truly believed just a week or so ago, that I would never find him. I would never have the opportunity for closure. I would never know if he really was the last possibility, or even more importantly, if he is my father.
I had no hope.
And then today came. I had a rough day, with rowdy, misbehaving kids, too many errands to run, too many chores to do, a baby who wouldn’t stop screaming her head off on the rare occasion I was attempting to buy myself some clothes, and it just felt like nothing was going my way. I got home to an alert in my email (Google Alerts are an amazing thing) and next thing I know, I have David’s information as well as the woman I assume to be his mother’s staring me in the face. It’s all right there. It’s like I said in a previous blog post. Everything stays the way it is. You keep looking. You don’t make any progress. Everything is the same until suddenly it isn’t. And suddenly, you’re face to face with the thing you’ve been searching for so desperately, confronted with all of those fears and emotions that come along with it. All of the implications it carries. All of it. All of it within a single moment, just staring you right in the face.
I found him. I know this is him. I don’t know if he is my dad, but I know this is the right man and I know what I need to do. I need to talk to him. I need to take a test. Even if it is negative, I need it to move on. I need it to close this chapter in my life. To make peace with the situation as it is (and as it will always be from that point on) and find closure within myself, whether he is my father or not.
And now the most agonizing part…
I have had two prior cesareans, one in 2007 and one in 2009, both caused by failed inductions and the dreaded cascade of interventions. Both of these cesareans could have been prevented. In 2011 I had a successful vaginal birth after two prior cesareans (VBA2C) naturally without pain medications in a hospital five hours from home. Unfortunately, in my community, no obstetrician was willing to support my desire for a vaginal birth due to my history of cesarean sections. In order to obtain the care of an obstetrician who supported my decision to attempt a vaginal birth despite my prior cesareans, I had to travel five hours from home and stay in a hotel for three weeks prior to giving birth. That birth was an incredibly healing and empowering experience for me.
With my fourth pregnancy, I had planned to do the same, traveling to the obstetrician who assisted in the delivery of my third child. I had toyed with the idea of an unassisted birth at the hotel I would stay at (that way I would be near the physician I chose, should complications arise), but I wasn’t sure what I wanted and I went back and forth on the decision a great deal. I would have loved a midwife to attend my birth, however, in Alaska midwives cannot legally attend the birth of a woman who has had prior cesareans. I could have hired an unlicensed midwife, but I didn’t feel like that was the right decision for me.
Despite my indecision, I continued making my monthly appointments with my obstetrician so far from home. At my last appointment, he apologized to me and let me know he would be out of the country near my due date and would arrive back in Alaska on the morning of my due date. Initially, I was upset, worried about how this would change my plans and how this would affect my birth. He and his wife reassured me that the new doctor with their practice was equally as amazing, however, I wasn’t entirely comfortable with it. I worried about it a great deal, but then I realized…
This was my sign.
I had already been considering an unassisted birth. This was my sign to do it. I was nervous at first, and I struggled to calm down the ten million “what-if” questions and fears I had. Fortunately, I made the decision early enough in my pregnancy that I still had a great deal of time to research and educate myself and I did just that. I read everything I could. I gathered a small list of supplies and I went into it preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best.
For the most part, my pregnancy was uneventful. I suffered from morning sickness until 22 weeks, and came down with a ridiculous amount of sinus infections, colds, flus and even pertussis. I had two out of the three migraines I have ever experienced during this pregnancy, and some pre-term contractions that left me pretty nervous, but overall, things were relatively mellow. I started getting pretty regular braxton hicks contractions around 36 weeks, some of which made me think it might be time, only to disappear and fizzle out as soon as I attempted to time them. The back pain was the worst part of it all. I practically lived at the chiropractor’s office. I started going once a week at 30 weeks, then twice a week at 35 weeks and by 37 weeks, I was going three times a week.
On December 8, one of my doulas texted me to check in. I told her I was having some contractions, but I was going to time them before I called her and my other doula to come. They both lived almost two hours away and I did not want to call them up for a false alarm! I continued timing them while I was cleaning house and they seemed to be consistent. I decided to lay down and time them to see if my physical activity was causing the contractions. As soon as I laid down they started spacing out. They were still stronger, but the timing made me think it wasn’t the real deal. I texted both of my doulas and let them know that the contractions were subsiding and I would keep them posted.
I watched some television with my husband and by 11pm, I noticed my contractions were picking back up, even when I was leaning back and relaxing. I timed them for a while and they seemed to be picking up again. They started hurting more and were getting pretty uncomfortable. Moving was beginning to hurt and changing positions was painful. By 3am, I was 100% sure I was in labor, but I decided to do my best to sleep while I could. I knew it was only going to get worse and as a doula, I have seen the importance of resting in early labor firsthand, as well as the impact that rest or lack of can have on a woman’s birth. I slept the best I could until 7am, waking up with each contraction.
I got out of bed at 7am, got in the bath tub and texted my sister, my friend and my doulas, letting them know it was time. It wasn’t unbearable yet, but it was hurting and requiring my focus. I knew that by the time my doulas arrived, I would likely need them. My sister texted me back letting me know she was on her way to school but her dad would drop her off. She showed up just in time to get my oldest ready for school (I had completely forgotten she needed to get ready) and to the bus stop while I laid in the tub.
When I got out of the tub, I started cleaning my house, pausing for contractions. Prior to giving birth, I had been very worried about my birth pictures looking awful because of the house being a mess. I had a housekeeper for a while, but she was also pregnant and her doctor told her she needed to stop working for a while due to some problems. Because of this, I was extremely worried about the house and how it would look in the photos. I kept telling everyone that I was almost willing to go to the hospital if it meant the pictures would have a clean background! Fortunately, my sister, Tori, my friend, Chelsea and I were able to get the house in decent shape and my husband took the other two kids to my grandma’s house.
I laid down on our area rug for a while and my sister painted my nails. I didn’t ask her to. She just wanted to and I decided to let her. I’d lay there, relaxing, half-sleeping and she’d work on my nails. I’d feel a contraction coming on and she’d drop my hand and I’d get on all fours, being very careful not to mess up my wet nails, and wait until the contraction was over. Then she would resume painting them. Unfortunately, I managed to mess up the polish on my right index finger several times. Tori had to repaint it more times than I remember. The last time I messed it up, she looked like she wanted to smack me!
I was still laying on the area rug when my doulas, Tammie and Megan, showed up. My friend Danielle (also a doula) was supposed to be there for the birth as well, but she texted me when I had been in the tub that morning telling me she had the flu. My exact word were “Shit. Because I’m definitely in labor.” It ended up being better that she wasn’t there. Tammie and Megan were amazing. When Tammie and Megan first arrived, I wasn’t hurting too terribly. I’d have to interrupt whatever we were talking about and focus on the contraction, but I’d bounce right back. Megan did a lot of counter-massage on my sacrum, which felt amazing. The harder she did it, the better it felt during a contraction. She was so worried she was bruising me (I think she did) but it helped so much that I didn’t care.
At one point, I sent Dan to get a “fluffy towel” and steamed rice. Just like with my third baby, I craved nothing but rice items. Steamed rice. Rice cakes. Rice chex. It didn’t matter. I wanted rice. Plain rice. Dan attempted to argue with me about the towel, telling me that we had plenty of towels and I told him its for the baby once she is born and that it needs to be fluffy. I think he was a bit baffled because I just kept insisting it must be fluffy!
Then came the awesome part. Getting the tub blown up. The air pump ended up breaking part way through filling it so one of my doulas ended up blowing it up (and she was super early in her own pregnancy!) Then even worse, I realized we didn’t have a clean hose to fill it up. Just a hose that had come with the house when we bought it and had been sitting outside for the last five years. So my doulas, my friend Chelsea and my sister were all running from the kitchen sink and the bathtub with pots full of hot water. I felt bad they had to fill my massive deluxe size tub with nothing but pots!
I didn’t want to get into the tub until my water broke. My last labor, it was 13 hours from my water breaking until the actual birth. I knew it was going to get more intense once my water broke, so I wanted to hold off on getting in the pool until then. So, until then, we all hung out, talking and laughing, pausing for contractions where I’d lean over the birth ball and Megan would put pressure on my hips and rub my back.
Megan and Tammie would both remind me to get up and move around. I got a little immature at that point, laying on the ball, I’d exclaim “It’s a trap!!!!” any time they suggested I get up and move around. I knew they were right. They knew that I knew they were right. And we just had a humorous battle of the wills at times. It was fun going, relaxing and easy. I felt like we were just hanging out and in between contractions, I’d sometimes forget I was even in labor!
I made faces all throughout labor. Just being a dork for the camera. Dan called it “The Many Faces of Sammi.”
And yes, I did straighten my hair during labor and I did my makeup! I never wear makeup but I wanted to in labor!
This was by far my easiest, most relaxing, enjoyable birth experience. Dan was working on the computer during the majority of my labor, which I told him to. He had never been to a birth before (not even our three other kids) and I wanted him there but I didn’t want him just sitting around feeling awkward and unsure what to do in labor. I don’t think he wanted to either. A few points, he tried to ask me work-related questions while in labor and I responded “I’m kind of busy here! DO WHAT YOU WANT!”
My 18-year-old sister Sophie showed up while I was in labor, but not intentionally. She was swinging by to drop off some turkey that my grandpa smoked up for me and apparently no one told her I was in labor. She walked in and stopped dead in her tracks, looking at my two doulas, the birth ball and my pool and said “I’m thinking I probably should’t leave…” It was funny because I told her she could be there prior to going into labor and she insisted, quite strongly, that she wanted nothing to do with being at the birth, at all, in no way, no shape, no firm. But when it came down to it and she showed up, she didn’t want to leave.
Things were progressing, but slowly. I checked myself once every six hours. I didn’t want to psych myself out worrying about dilation too much, so I really forced myself to restrict it. My 15-year-old sister had a band recital at 7, so when it got closer, she asked if it was safe for her to go. I didn’t expect to have the baby before she got back so I told her it should be fine and she left. After all, my last birth was thirteen hours from water breaking to birth. I assumed I would have more time to go.
I got to the point where I felt like I had to pee a lot and the final time I went to the bathroom, I sat down and my water burst all over the floor and it was so loud it echoed off the walls. I got wide-eyed, surprised that it was so loud and then Megan calls through the door, “Did you puke or did your water break?” I told her my water broke and that it was clear (my last baby had meconium) and then I hear people laughing outside the door. After I open it, Megan and Tammie helped clean up the water (I tried but didn’t like bending like that) and I got in the pool. Of course, I get in the pool and Dan walks by, talked to me a bit and smiled and I instantly said “Don’t you dare make any whale jokes!” For those who don’t know, we’ve had a running inside joke relating to me being a whale since 2009. We have had some pretty good ones back and forth, but I was hugely pregnant, in labor, in a giant pool in our kitchen. I was just WAITING for the whale joke. My husband burst out laughing and told me he wasn’t going to make one. Yeah, right!
Side note… This is my absolute favorite picture from Vada’s birth, and surprisingly, it was only about an hour before she was born! I love how relaxed and happy and calm I was.
I only spent about two hours in the tub before Vada was finally born. I will admit, I panicked a bit when my water broke. All I could think was that my last baby it was 13 hours from my water breaking to birth. I was tired. I didn’t want to be in labor another thirteen hours. I didn’t think I could do it. Tammie reminded me that this isn’t Ava (my last baby) and this birth is different, this baby is different, this pregnancy is different. I’m in the comfort of my home, with people I care about around me, no hospital, no nurses, nothing to disturb my peace. That pep talk was really helpful and helped me to calm down and enjoy the process.
Then I got a bit worried again. The water had been clear initially but when I got in the tub, it was light green. The baby had passed meconium. Initially, I wasn’t too worried, but then I got a bit concerned. I worried I wasn’t being as attentive as I should be. I doubted my own gut feeling (that I didn’t need to go in) on the sole basis of “what if I’m wrong?” We talked about it a bit and we even got in touch with a friend of one of my doulas who is a midwife who was able to confirm the information I already knew and put my mind at ease. I decided to stay home.
Labor got much more intense, much more quickly. I got much louder than I did with my last baby, partly I think because I was at home where I was more comfortable and more relaxed. I spent a lot of time focusing on deep, long noises and it really seemed to help. I gave birth in December, and the really hot water, with my kitchen door open to let in the freezing Alaska air felt incredible. It was like sitting in a hot tub outside in the dead of winter. It was amazing. It makes me want to only have winter babies from now on.
I had the feeling I was fully dilated but the contractions weren’t changing. They felt different, but they didn’t feel like they were transitioning. I asked everyone “Do you think if I push just a little it might help? I can’t feel her head yet.” I decided to try and gave a super-weak, super-pathetic push and instantly yelped “That was a bad idea!” It all of a sudden double in intensity and hurt like none other. It was at this point that the only comfortable position I could lay in, was over the side of the tub.
This was when it got crazy. Dan came over, without me calling him to. I asked him later how he knew it was time and his response was “You started acting even crazier. Crazy=baby is almost here.” Thanks, Dan, thanks.
Funny thing is, my sister Sophie (in the back smiling in the photo above) and my doula Megan (you can see her legs on the right above) both got hands full of vagina water. I felt so bad. Every time I’m in labor, I get that strange falling sensation, like you’re rolling out of bed, when I have a contraction, unless I’m holding someone’s hands. If I hold onto someone’s hand, I feel fine. I went to check where baby’s head was and instantly contracted and grabbed my sister’s hand. Her eyes just popped wide and she said “I… have vagina all over my hand…” I instantly start apologizing and she tells me “It’s just skin…” Then a few minutes later on the other side of the pool, I do the same thing to Megan. Her response was more laughter filled and less awkward than my sister’s though, as I apologized all upset that I did that to her. (I’m pretty sure the picture above was taken right after I grabbed her hand with vagina water).
You know you’re loved when you can grab someone’s hand covered in vagina water and they’re not mad at you for it.
So then I gave up. I decided I couldn’t do it. It was too hard. It hurt to much. I am pretty sure I told Dan and everyone else that I was dying, at least a few dozen times at this stage. Then I started crying. Full on, ugly-face, tears dropping crying my head off. I told Dan I needed drugs and Dan did something incredible. This man, who had never been to a birth and passes out just talking about needles, asked me “How soon after you asked for drugs was Ava (our previous baby) born?” I answered “Five minutes.” He asked, “Do you still want drugs?” Of course, at this point, I said yes. We could go to the hospital, get me a shot of morphine, sign out against medical advice and come back home. And he countered with “You know you’re going to have the baby before you get to the hospital, right?” I nodded and pouted. “Do you really want to give birth in your new Cadillac?” I shook my head, still pouting. I probably looked ridiculous and child-like at this point.
Sure enough, a few moments later, I felt a strong surge and her head crowned, just as my doulas and my sister and friend started to excitedly exclaim that they could see her head. I pulled every ounce of strength in my body I had to push her out as quickly as I could. I wanted her out. I wanted to see her. I wanted to meet her.
I had been laying over the side of the tub when she was born, but I wanted to deliver her myself. Tammie helped to hold her in place under the water so I could flip over and lift her up myself. That was the most amazing experience of my life. Seeing my brand new baby under the water and being the one to lift her up and bring her into the world. I lifter her slowly, wiping downward on her face (because of the meconium) and slowly pulling her up out of the water.
At first, she didn’t cry. I panicked. I instantly doubted everything I had done and worried I had done something incredibly stupid having her at home, unassisted. All in a matter of moments. I jostled her, patted her, blew in her face and I heard a weird noise come from her.
She was snoring.
No joke. That little turkey was asleep. Her birth was so peaceful and tranquil that she fell asleep during her birth. She slowly stirred and gave out a tiny cry when the cameras started going off and a wave of relief (and slight annoyance!) washed over me. I couldn’t believe she had slept through her own birth! After the adrenaline from the panic subsided I started thinking about how cool it was that Vada had such a peaceful, tranquil birth that she slept right through it.
I immediately put her to the breast and held her and loved on her while we waited for the placenta. The placenta didn’t take long with my last baby (but they used fundal massage on me), so I was surprised when it took so long with Vada. I sat in the pool for about 45 minutes waiting, attempting to push it out, with no results. I put Vada in a towel in Dan’s arms, still attached to me, deciding to get out and see if laying down to push would help, only for the placenta to fall out entirely on its own the second I stood up. We scooped up the placenta and I got out of the pool and sat down in one of the computer chairs, the placenta in a pot next to us. I held Vada while we burned the umbilical cord.
The cord burning took a little longer than I thought it would, but it was pretty cool. It didn’t take too terribly long. I knew the blood gasses would make it pop but I didn’t expect it to be as long as it was! We had to relight the candles and the cord finished burning and sepearated. We then used a 4×4″ folded piece of gauze, wrapped the cord in it and placed it in the top of her diaper.
She nursed the entire time we were burning her cord! Her birth was so incredible, amazing and personal. I won’t lie. I was afraid when I first started considering an unassisted birth. I had a lot of fears. A lot of worries. A lot of “what ifs.” But the closer I got to my due date, the less worried I got. And now, having done it, I couldn’t imagine doing it any other way.
Tomorrow I should have the results from my DNA test. I don’t even know how many this makes… Five? Six? I really don’t know and at this point, I don’t care. It’s been more than one and one is more than enough for anyone to have. These things shouldn’t be so common. These things shouldn’t be the source of so much pain and so many fatherless children. These things just shouldn’t happen. Ever.
I’ve been here before.
I’ve been here before more times than I care to remember or want to remember. It hurts. It hurts more than you can imagine unless you’ve been where I am. It hurts. But no matter how many times I’ve been here, it never changes. The agony of suspense. The anticipation. The fear. The hope. The optimism. The pessimism. Going to be bed knowing that tomorrow, you may have found the answers you’ve been searching for your entire life, or your entire life will be turned upside down and any hope you mustered up after being crushed and torn apart from the inside out each and every time before… It’s hard. It’s like Christmas in reverse. Instead of going bed anxiously awaiting the joy that morning will bring, you go to bed terrified of what morning will bring.
It never changes. It hurts just as much every time. I try to be hopeful, but in the past, that only made it sting worse. I study their pictures trying to find similarities that get my hopes up, only to realize I’ve poured so much of myself into this search I could see similarities between myself and a rock if I wanted to believe it was my father and that this cruel and agonizing wait was over.
Even worse, I don’t know what I’ll do in either outcome. If the results are negative, I guess I’ll do the same thing I’ve done every other time. Work my way through the terminals of grief. But if it’s positive? I don’t know what I’ll do. I’ve had so little hope throughout the years, or perhaps too much hope crushed, that it haven’t thought that far ahead. All of this effort and I don’t even know what I’ll do when I finally find him.
So for now, we wait.
I should be working out right now. Not updating my blog I’ve left locked down and collecting dust for the last two or three years. I realized I still get a great deal of hits on my blog and I still have subscribers. I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe you guys were checking in on me. Maybe you were. Maybe you weren’t. Maybe it was just webcrawlers looking for new pages to index for search engines. Regardless, I’m alive. I’m here.
And a great deal has changed.
To start, Averly does not have cerebral palsy. No one really knows what she has but their best guess is an unidentified metabolic disorder; a combination of missing or defective proteins in the body, non-inherited, present from the moment of conception. Many hospitalizations and tests later, we know her treatment is symptomatic and supportive. We are fortunate she is a happy, healthy, “normal” little girl 95% of the time. The other 5% of the time, she has us terrified. We kept her on donor milk until February of 2014, her third birthday. We didn’t stop because she was too old though, we stopped because she now has a little sister and I am able to pump for her if needed.
Vada Jane was born at home, unassisted, December 9, 2013 with two doulas, my husband, my friend and two of my sisters present for her birth. It was the first birth my husband attended, and was without complication and by far, the best birth experience I have had. I was laughing and smiling and joking just an hour before she was born (and it was a 23 hour labor).
I was hospitalized for seven days five days after I gave birth for complications postpartum, unrelated to the birth. I spent a week on a pain medication drip while fighting off a uterine infection.
I finally launched Intuitive Childbirth; a doula training program I have been working on and developing since before my son was born. It has been a learning process, but as it develops and continues, so do I. There’s only room to improve and if you’re doing that, you’re in good shape. I’ve learned that not everyone is going to like me or what I’m doing, but it doesn’t matter what they think of me, as long as I know what I’m doing is right and I believe in it.
Our herbal supplement business has still continued to grow and thrive. We’ve expanded the http://www.portableacnerd.com/best-portable-air-conditioner/ line to include many new products and intend to keep doing so also .
My oldest finishes Kindergarten this week. I still can’t believe how old she is and how smart she is… Or how creepy she can be. Remind me later to tell you about our discussion about the Bubonic Plague.
I turned her car seat forward facing when she was six years and three months old last fall. It still feels weird to see her forward facing. I turned her brother forward facing last week. Now I have two forward facing and two rear facing car seats in my car. No more of this;
Speaking of cars, my husband bought me my dream car. Used, but new to me and I love it.
I got maternity pictures done with Vada. Something I always regretted not doing with the other kids. This one is my favorite. And yes, I finally decided to give leggings a try. After all of my resistance, I’ve come to discover if you can find a pair that fits nicely, they aren’t so bad… Even if I do feel naked wearing them.
I finally finished remodeling my kitchen. As clean as it is in this picture, it is very difficult to maintain with four kids. Okay… Impossible.
I suffered from serious postpartum anxiety disorder after having Vada. When it got worse, I learned who my real friends were, and who was just using me. It reminded me not to put up with anyone who treats me like a doormat, or to tolerate people who are only there for me when it is convenient for them.
And last but not least, I am waiting on the result of another DNA test. I should know by Tuesday. Here’s to hoping.
And hey! Look! No baby in the picture this time! I’m sure I could have done it again but she was asleep in the car with Dan and Tori. But here’s last time! Baby on a boob.
I designed my own newborn diaper pattern over a year ago. I had tried some of the free patterns available, and even some of the paid ones, but I just didn’t like any of them.
1. Cut your peices
If you plan to do a solid piece of PUL with a printed accent piece, you’ll need to cut the accent piece first. Fold your pattern on the line marked, and cut only that area, as shown in the picture. If you are using printed PUL or want a solid colored diaper, you won’t need an accent peice.
Cut the entire pattern from your PUL.
Cut your inner material from the entire pattern.
2. Accent piece
If you are not using an accent piece, skip this step.
Lay the PUL piece out flat.
Lay the accent piece on top, lining it up with the PUL.
Pull it down, lining up the end of the accent piece at the 1/2 inch mark between two lines on the grid.
Flip the accent piece down as shown, but line it up an inch above where it had been lined up previously.
Pin it with one pin on either side.
Sew it on using a backstitch at the beginning and end, with a 1/4″ seam allowance.
Trim threads when you’ve sewn the accent piece on.
Flip the accent piece up, right side facing out.
Fold down the top part just barely and sew it down with your needle in the right position (1/8″ seam allowance). You want to sew it down as closely as you can. If you have an accent piece, do your best to line up the two layers. Don’t worry if it isn’t even everywhere, just make sure the edges are and sew it. This will prevent fraying around the casing when it is washed later on.
This is how it should look when you fold it over and sew it the first time.
Now you’re going to fold it down again, this time making the top even with the top of the wings. This is where your casing will be. I never pin it to sew it, just use my fingers, but I couldn’t get a photo without pinning it. Sew it with your needle in the left or right position, whichever puts it as close to the edge you just sewed as possible.
You will need to do the same to your inner piece. Fold it over, then sew it down with the needle in the right position, as close to the edge as possible.
Then fold it down again and sew it as close to the edge you just sewed as possible.
Lay your inner and the PUL right sides together and pin them, lining up the edges as you go. Start pinning on either side of the elastic casings you sewed, working evenly, alternating between the left and right, doing just a small section at a time. Once you get to the bottom (the furthest right part of the picture above) the inner layer may be uneven with the PUL. This is okay. Very carefully trim it with scissors to match the PUL and then pin it.
With the PUL facing down, and on the right side of the casing, sew all the way around the diaper until you reach the left side of the casing. DO NOT SEW THE CASING SHUT! Backstitch at the beginning and end and use 1/4″ seam allowance.
As marked on your pattern, tack a 3 1/2″ piece of 1/4″ elastic in the seam allowance on both sides of the diaper. Sew over this several times, back and forth to make sure the elastic is sewn down well.
Push a safety pin through the end of one 8 inch piece of 1/2″ elastic.
Beginning on the PUL side, push the pin through the casing you sewed.
Once you have reached the other side of the casing on the PUL side only, pin the non-safety pin end to the casing to prevent it from being pulled inside of the casing.
Moving the safety pin from the PUL side, push it through to the casing on the inner side and thread it through that casing.
Unpin the elastic on the PUL side of the casing, and remove the safety pin. Pull both ends away from the diaper, giving you room to layer the two ends of elastic and sew them as shown. Be sure to go over this seam several times. Once it’s sewn, pull the part of the elastic where it is sewn into the inner casing to hide the ends.
Your casing now looks like this. This is where you will turn the diaper right side out, and where you will stuff your inserts into the diaper.
6. Turn the diaper right side out
Putting your hand inside of the elastic hole, turn the diaper right side out.
Once the diaper is right side out, you should use something to turn the corners as well as you can. In my experience, a corner turner can puncture the fabrics. I have had better luck using the end of a non-flexible thermometer.
Your diaper is now turned right side out and almost done being sewn!
As you get closer to the elastic, start sewing slightly further to the left, pulling the elastic as tightly along the side as you can, making sure you don’t sew through it. You will want to sew slowly for this part until you get the hang of it, and constantly re-pull and re-check the elastic to make sure it’s lined up with the seam between the PUL and inner than you did before you turned it right side out.
You will see the elastic start to gather as you sew. You should be able to pull the fabric along the elastic when you are done and it move freely in these areas. If you can’t, it means you sewed through the elastic. If you sew through the elastic, the diaper is likely still usable, but may not be as well-fitting in the legs.
Once you’ve reached the end of the first piece of elastic, return to the 1/8″ seam allowance. Continue sewing, following the same procedure as you approach the second piece of elastic, and return as close to the edge as possible for a 1/8″ seam allowance after the elastic ends.
On the left wing, with the PUL side facing you, mark three dots, half an inch between each. On the right wing, mark two, one inch apart. Make sure they are approximately the same distance from the top of the wing.
Apply male snaps to all of the dots you just marked EXCEPT the middle one on the wing with three dots. The male side of the snap should be on the inner of the fabric. Then, apply a female snap to the middle dot on the wing with three marks, making sure the female side of the snap is facing the outside of the diaper.
Using the first seven inches of your ruler, line it up evenly on the front of the diaper. If the diaper extends slightly more than seven inches, make sure about the same amount of fabric extends past the 7 and past the end of your ruler. Mark a dot at 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. Apply a female snap to these dots, with the female side facing out.
Your diaper now has all the snaps it needs.
Now stuff your diapers with the insert of your choice (I recommend premie size indian prefolds for newborn pockets) and you’re ready to go!