Wednesday, April 17, 2013

All about David

Two years ago today I made the best decision of my life- I married David. I think anniversaries are so fun because they are a time where you get to intentionally look back and remember all the memories you’ve made together. This year David and I decided to skip the gifts because after Christmas, Valentine’s, his birthday, and my birthday gift giving starts to become exhausting. Today we are going to give each other the gift of quality time but I couldn't help but create this post as an extra little surprise for him.  Hopefully you’ll enjoy it too. I always like when bloggers I follow get a little personal once in awhile...

We've packed so, so, so much into these first two years of marriage! They are probably the most exciting, eventful, happy, emotional, stretching years of both our lives. About a month after getting married we went on a whirlwind honeymoon to Europe, a month after that we got pregnant with little Henri, went to Mexico, traveled to Monterrey and found out we were pregnant while we were there, a couple months later traveled to Europe again, I took a trip to North Carolina, we both took a trip to North Carolina, a month after that I had Henri at home, we became parents, David broke his back, David’s brother got married, my sister and best friend both got engaged, my grandfather passed away, some very good friends of ours were hit by a drunk driver while taking a walk, a few months after that David made a HUGE career change and now here we are. Did I miss anything honey? So much LIFE happened within those events. We learned new things about each other. We laughed together, we cried together, and sometimes even fought. After two crazy years all I can think is, “I am so blessed and honored to be married to this man” Here are just some of the reasons you rock my world, David:

1. You are the hardest worker I have ever met.
It’s really so true. Your work ethic is so admirable. Even on days when Henri kept us up half the night, when your alarm goes off in the morning you spring out of bed (okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration) ready to start a new day. This year has been particularly difficult with all the changes but instead of getting down and out you just got more motivated.

2. You are the best father in the world.
Just ask Henri! He’ll tell everyone all about his Daaaa DAA! When Dada leaves he cries, when Dada gets home he squeals with joy. I think you might understand Henri better than I do. You know how to make him laugh better than anybody and it makes my heart swell.

3. You stop to smell the roses
I didn't realize until I met you, but I’ve never been one to stop and smell the roses. You have taught me to be like this in all parts of life and I’m so thankful. Always telling me to, “Come to the window and see the beautiful sunset” or to notice the beauty of the view as we drive somewhere. You notice the beauty in nature and I love it.

4. You make me laugh and even when you don’t you make yourself laugh
Most of your jokes are funny but even when they aren’t you give yourself a good chuckle, which, in turn, gives me a good chuckle.  

5. You tell me when I’m wrong
While this isn’t always fun (okay, it’s never fun) I’m so thankful to be married to a man who isn’t afraid to set me straight.

Before this gets terribly mushy, I love you David and I can’t wait to spend the next 80 years together. And here are some pictures of all those happy memories....
Henri at 6 months

San Marino

Rimini, Italy 





San Marino 

Venice, San Marco Sq

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


I first discovered banana soft serve at a local vegan restaurant that David and I like to go to for date night. No, no we definitely are not vegan but we enjoy the food because it’s delicious and more health conscious than most restaurants. I’ve been amazed how creamy, cold and delicious banana soft serve is since it’s only ingredient is frozen banana. One day I was sitting wondering what other frozen fruit I could throw into my food processor and yield the same amazing result. I scrolled through my lists of fruit looking for one most similar to banana. GOT IT! MANGOES!  And that’s how mango soft serve was born. I tried out a little concoction later that evening handed a bowl to david and he said “wow! You’ve got to put this on the blog.” So here it is! As you will see in the recipe I added heavy cream because it seriously takes the flavor over the top. You feel like you are eating a giant bowl of decadent ice cream. If you are dairy intolerant you can sub the cream out for coconut milk or cream for the same idea (I tested it out and it’s equally delicious).

Mango Soft Serve (yields 2-3 servings)

  • 1 food processor (a vitamix or high speed blender would probably work too)
  • 2 cups of frozen mango (I buy mine from traders joes)
  • 2-4 Tablespoons of Organic Heavy Cream or Full Fat Coconut Milk
  • 10 drops of liquid stevia (optional)

Add the mango to the food processor and let it go until it reaches a creamy consistency. Slowly add the heavy cream and continue to let it whip. I usually scrape the side once to push the mango back down towards the blade. And you are done! Scoop into bowls and enjoy! I like to sprinkle a little homemade granola or fresh strawberries on top.

I also tried adding lemon extract which was also delicious so play around with it. There are endless possibilities!

Thursday, March 28, 2013


8 1/2 months pregnant 

Are you thinking about getting pregnant for the first time, pregnant already, or thinking of having another baby? Now that Henri is one the whole world seem to be asking us:

When are you guys going to have another baby?

I’m never sure how to answer this question because we seem to go back and forth all the time. Life slows down for a couple weeks and i’m just SURE I want another baby as soon as possible and then BAM things get crazy and the thought of being in charge of another human makes my head spin. I also just read this article about child spacing and it makes me want to wait a little longer. If you want to read it you can click here.
But I am here to admit I have been thinking about pregnancy and childbirth A LOT lately. It’s something I feel passionate about. I’ve been thinking of all the ways I will help myself have a more comfortable healthy pregnancy this next time around. Don’t get me wrong I was pretty darn healthy besides that time I ordered David to take me to Taco Bell. I know, I know! Horrible, right? I just couldn’t resist the craving.
ANYWAY! So my pregnancy was for the most part very healthy yet I did have horrible back pain particularly in the last 4 months. I would wake up several times a night in terrible pain. I tried everything, even that giant pregnancy pillow called the snoogle. It helped a little but the pain was still pretty unbearable. I remember some nights lying awake thinking I would rather be awake caring for a newborn than awake feeling so uncomfortable. A couple weeks later I gave birth to Henri.
I’m one of those women that a lot of women probably hate because my body bounced back from pregnancy pretty easily. Within 2 weeks of having Henri I slipped on my pre-pregnancy jeans and BOOM they fit! Now, I don’t think this was completely by accident, I stayed active while pregnant and ate a nutrient dense diet without gorging myself. One thing that had changed about my body however was my stomach. It was a hot mess. Literally. If I sat down my stomach flapped over my jeans and if I layed down my stomach glooped over to one side. Not only was it unflattering but my back pain still lingered. I suspected it was all part of having a weak core but in those first months of having a baby it was on the back burner. I knew I needed to do something to heal my stomach and weak back but it was just too overwhelming to think about.
One night David, Henri and I were out on a walk and I mentioned to David that my back and stomach were still bothering me (when I went on a light walk I would get stomach cramps from the exertion). “ I think yoga might help me”, I said to him. He listened and said, “DO IT.” Within a day I found a studio and we arranged with his mom to watch Henri (thanks Pauline!) and I went to my very first yoga class.
Let me tell you, IT WAS HARD. I realized in that class that I could hardly even hold my body weight in the plank position. I was just too weak. All the teachers were so kind and encouraging to me. They made it easy to keep going back. I am now convinced yoga is something that would benefit all pregnant mamas as well as being one of the best ways to get your pre-pregnancy body back. I didn’t realize I had such a “story” to tell so I’m going to split this topic into segments. So next week I’ll be writing why I think you should practice yoga if you are a pregnant mama followed by doing yoga to get back that pre preggo bod!
What kind of exercises did you do while you were pregnant? How did you get your body back after? Join the conversation in the comments below!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Hazel's Home Birth

Writing and sharing Henri’s birth story was such an amazing experience for me. It was so fun to remember the day of his birth and now I have my birth story written down so that I will never forget it. I think birth is a huge experience in a woman’s life. It is her gateway into motherhood, which is incredibly life altering. Birth is intense, powerful, and unimaginably primal. We live in a society where birth is equated with pain and fear. To me, this is a very sad reality.
I’m going to start sharing other women’s birth stories on the blog because I want to give women a chance to tell their stories. I hope that in telling our stories we can help more women see the beauty in birth rather than the fear.

I’d like to introduce you to our first brave Mama! Her name is Kat and she had a very exciting homebirth!  It was fast, intense, so real, and beautiful. I so relate to her story because when I planned my birth I imagined I would be quiet and peaceful and was surprised at how not peaceful or quiet I was! I asked Kat a couple questions about her birth and I just loved what she had to say! I’m going to include our little email interview below her story so you can enjoy her answers. Before I give away anymore details here is her story and a couple lovely photos


Hazel's Birth Story By Kat Huston

I admit I was not prepared for labor and some language may be offensive to some. Sorry in advance. Oh and I know I have forgotten a lot of details.
My husband and I had been trying for a child since early 2010. Every month without fail my period would be late (that's even with recalculating my cycle). So every month I would end up peeing on a stick just to see if it was positive. It was always negative and the day after I would take the test my period would begin. By 2012 we just got in a habit of checking with or without him home. Well on March 24th 2012 my husband was away for drill with the army. I woke up in the middle of the night with the urge to pee, so since I was late I decided to take the test. It was POSITIVE! So I sent him a picture message of the test and eagerly awaited a response, mind you the text was sent at 3:59am.
Our sweet little one was due on November 24th 2012.
I was at my 37 week appointment on November 5th 2012, I was measuring normal and my little ones heartbeat was strong. We started talking about what to expect during labor but I didn't want to hear it. I wanted to think it would be peaceful and beautiful. My midwives said I need to start thinking about it since I only had a few weeks left. They told us I probably had another week before my belly dropped and a week beyond that before my water would break. We left there excited and ready for what was to come in the following weeks.
That same night I woke up with a great urge to pee and tried to fight it. I stayed in bed for another 20 minutes before I knew I had to get up. Thinking back to it I let out a lot of water in that bathroom break, we think this is when my water broke. I tried to go back to bed but woke up every so often with a strong pain in my back.
I started to think I was just getting sick. So in the morning I called in to work and told them I was going to stay home sick and get some sleep. My mom called me shortly after and I told her about my back being in pain and she immediately told me “you are in back labor, call your midwife now”. Well I listened and called my midwife telling her I didn't think I was in labor and I would keep in contact with them. Well after all the calls were made my husband woke up and asked why I was still home, I told him I wasn't feeling well and called in sick. We started talking and he figured he should go grocery shopping just in case. The midwives kept in contact with him through out the day asking if he thought I was in labor. His response was something along the lines of 'I don't know, that's why we pay you to tell us if she is'. My sister in law came over while my husband was out to help clean up the house, while he was gone my pain started to worsen. I felt like I had a horrible ovarian cyst! She started to apply pressure where my pain was and that helped a little. Well my midwife arrived around noon to make sure I didn't have an infection. All I remember of her arrival is she kept saying 'do you want me to check you?' I didn't want to answer, I wasn't ready to be in labor. Well she decided it was time to check me and all she said was “You’re really far along”. Well being as I was so early the birth tub had not been dropped off at my house yet, so they filled the bath tub in hopes I could labor in there.
My husband and I went to the bathroom and I got in the tub trying to relax and I just couldn't I kept feeling like I had to poo. So I asked everyone to leave the room so I could try. Well at some point I took my glasses off so everything I saw was a giant blur. As I was sitting on the toilet I saw some strange stuff in the tub but ignored it. Then I felt something down there and looked. All I saw was a bloody mess. I started yelling for anyone to come tell me what I couldn't really see. Well they said it was time and I needed to move off the toilet and to the bedroom. They laid me on the bed and all I remember was I was in the worst pain in my life while I was on my back. I stopped progressing while I was on my back and my midwife thought we should try sitting on the toilet again in hopes it would get things going again. I took two steps toward the bathroom and stopped with the intense urge to start pushing. I remember I kept saying 'shit' over and over again. That is not how I wanted to birth but it happened. I was crouched at the end of my bed holding my husbands legs as I would push with each contraction. I remember asking if I had to push 3 times for each contraction and them telling me I did. I don't remember getting oxygen but my husband told me they gave it to me. I remember hearing at some point that the babies heart rate was dropping but I can't remember at what point they said this. My husband was then asked if he wanted to catch the baby and he moved from in front of me to behind me so he could catch. One of my midwives took his place in front of me so I could hold on to her arms. The next thing I know I was being handed my little girl and moved to the bed. I couldn't believe it was over so fast. My little girl arrived at 2:16pm on November 6th 2012, she was 5lb 13oz and 18in. I felt like everything was so surreal for the following few weeks. It all started to feel real around Christmas was life started calming down a little.

1) What led you to choose a home birth?
My husband and I do not agree with the way hospitals treat pregnancy, we are not sick! There is no medical need to force a baby out of the womb just because it doesn't fit the hospitals time schedule. I also did not want a bunch of people I didn't know walking around looking at me. I wanted a private affair for my daughters birth, just my husband, my midwives and me.

2) What and how did you feel when you first held you baby?
When my daughter was born and my husband handed her to me I was still in a state of denial. I kept thinking this isn't real, I'm dreaming and I'm still pregnant. But I loved her, I loved everything about her she was so small and sweet. She was and is perfect in my eyes. I don't think reality hit me that she was really here until Christmas time. That is when I looked at my daughter and was just in 'ah' and there was my little girl. She was really here, I wasn't dreaming,
3) Was labor as horrible and painful as the media or the general population makes it out to be?
My labor was nothing like media portrays, while my contractions were painful I honestly thought I just had an infection. It was an amazing experience for me overall. In fact the labor was my favorite part of my pregnancy, I can't wait for number two just for that moment.

4) Anything else you would like to share about yourself?
Most everyone around us disapproved of our decision to have a home birth, but we did not let it scare us. This is what we wanted for our daughter, I wanted my daughter to enter this world as peacefully as possible.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Shopping for REAL food at the Grocery store

So you’ve purchased as much as you can locally, but you still have to fill in some gaps to make a meal, right? That’s completely normal! I make a weekly trip to the local grocery store too!

Shopping at a grocery store can be tough because processed junk screams at you from every direction (yes, even at the healthiest store like Whole Foods). It’s also confusing to have to choose between 6 different brands of milk or every style and flavor of yogurt you can imagine all claiming to be healthier than the next. It honestly leaves my head spinning.

I have some tips and tricks that have helped me navigate the weekly trek to the grocery store. Alright let’s begin!

Treat the inner aisles of the store like enemy territory!
That’s right! When I go to the grocery store I can usually count on the perimeter of the store having everything I need. Your store might be a little different but my loop usually goes like this:

First Stop: Produce. When I walk through the doors of my grocery store I am greeted by the produce section. Heres what I usually purchase:

*Apples- I try to buy these locally but they are no longer in season in Northern California and we LOVE apples. So if they look good and are priced decently I will buy them. Organic only of course because apples are on “The Dirty Dozen.”

*Carrots-We eat a lot of carrots around here and it’s tough to keep up. I’ll buy the 5 pound bag of organic carrots because whole carrots make a delicious real food snack.

*Sweet Potatoes- We eat sweet potato fries about once a week. We all enjoy them, especially Henri.

*Avocados-I usually buy two or three a week. We love Mexican food around here and avocados are a wonderful healthy fat. I don’t always purchase organic because I don’t think it’s necessary but this week I did because the organic avocados looked so much better!

*Bananas-David and I both eat a banana daily. They make a great snack for Henri too. I usually buy 12 to 14 bananas a week. If they are starting to look a little brown, I peel and slice them and stick them in a freezer bag. Perfect for a smoothie!

So that’s what I tend to buy in the produce section but of course I have more fruits and veggies I purchase from the farmers market too!

Next Stop is the MEAT COUNTER:
I usually don’t have a lot to buy here. We already have a freezer full of grass-fed beef (actually our parents freezer-thanks for helping us store it Paul and Pauline!) so I don’t buy any beef from the grocery. I also try and purchase my chicken from the Farmer’s Market but in a pinch I will buy a whole, organic chicken from the grocery store. So what do I buy on a regular basis?

* Salmon: If the wild caught Alaskan Salmon is on sale I will purchase a couple pounds and take it home and freeze it.

Shrimp: Every once in awhile, as a treat, we eat some kind of shrimp dish.

Halibut: This week Alaskan Halibut was on sale so we bought some. David loves halibut. I’ve never cooked it at home before so i’m looking forward to trying it.

After the meat counter I move on the the DAIRY SECTION where I buy:

* Organic Plain Whole Milk Yogurt-David eats yogurt with homemade granola almost every morning for breakfast. I buy Straus Family Creamery  yogurt. I chose this brand because they are local and they allow their cows to graze on pastures instead of keeping them confined indoors all day. We purchase whole milk yogurt because the fat helps you absorb Vitamins A&D in the milk, as well as the calcium. It is also more satisfying and filling. We can eat less and feel full longer.

* Milk: We used to purchase milk from the grocery store but we now purchase it from a local farmer. If I were to buy milk from the grocery store I would either buy Straus Family Creamery, Organic Valley grass-milk(this is different than regular Organic Valley), or Supernatural Kalona. With all of these brands I purchase the full fat variety. If these brands are not options for you I would choose milk based on the diet of the cows and the pasteurization style. Try and stay away from milk that is ultra-pasteurized because that’s just code for ultra dead. Low temperature grass fed milk is going to be your best choice.

*Cheese: We have a seller at the farmers market who sells wonderful, raw, grass-fed cheese but it’s pricey. Because we eat SOOO much cheese we also purchase cheese from Whole Foods and Traders Joe’s. My favorite cheese is the Organic New Zealand Grass Fed Cheddar from Trader Joe’s. It’s around $4.99 a block, which is a steal. I’ll also purchase Rumiano’s Grass Fed Cheddar from Whole foods and Kerrygold Grass Fed Cheddar from Whole Foods.

And after the dairy section I turn the corner and land in the BULK SECTION of my store. Here I buy:

*Nuts: I like to purchase a variety of nuts so we have an easy healthy snack. We usually opt for almonds, but sometimes we get walnuts or pecans.

*Rice: I buy Organic Brown Rice in bulk. I cook it as a side at least once a week. I cook it in our homemade bone broth to add extra flavor (more to come on homemade broth!).

*Oats: I used to buy granola in the bulk section, but I started looking carefully at the ingredients and noticed it contained lots of sugar and bad oils (vegetable, canola or soy) I didn’t want our family eating. I’ve since started making our own granola and it is super simple! Recipe to come...

*Maple Syrup: I purchase Grade B organic maple syrup because it contains more minerals and nutrients than Grade A maple syrup.

Of course there are other items I purchase when I need them for a specific recipe like dried beans or quinoa but this list is my “usual” buys.

I also stop and grab some:

* Salsa- We love salsa as a side on everything! I’m hoping to can my own salsa from our summer harvest of tomatoes but for now it’s a weekly purchase.

* Tortillas: We buy the Ezekial Sprouted Grain Tortillas. Unlike most tortillas they don’t contain any gross vegetables oils and because they are sprouted they are much more digestible. Plus they are much higher in protein than traditional tortillas.

Alright, at this point I have gone around the entire perimeter of my grocery store and I’ve purchased everything I need for a week of REAL food eating. There are some things I will quickly go into enemy territory (the aisles) for such as organic spaghetti sauce or a new box of peppermint tea, but for the most part the aisles are nothing but trouble...they are just too tempting for me.

Do these tips help? Did I miss anything? Leave your comments below!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Henri's Birth Story

Happy 1st Birthday Henri Streicher Lenser!

A gentle flowing stream, running smoothly along and then out of nowhere comes a long rushing, WILD waterfall.
In our first birth class our instructor asked us to illustrate how we felt about pregnancy and childbirth. That’s what I drew, a waterfall. Little did I know on February 28th at 2 AM, a week before my “guess” date, my water would break like a surging waterfall. I was peacefully sleeping and POP-GUSH! I hopped to the bathroom trying stop the raging amniotic fluid from getting all over our bed and carpet. Too late.
Of course, in excitement, I woke up my David. “Honey! Honey! my water broke! The baby is coming!”. Then I began running around like a mad woman. I simply  lost my mind. Not in a bad way. I just began waddling around barking orders at David to set up the bedroom for the birth. I was running circles around him. He finally ordered me to stand in one spot on a towel because I was still losing water, turning our house into a pond- the hallway, the nursery, our bedroom floor...ok just about everywhere. Poor David.
We finally got all the proper covers and sheets on the bed, I showered, oh and we re-booked our doulas flight from North Carolina (that is a story all on it’s own-just imagine me on the phone with a United Airline agent at 2 AM telling her I was in labor). David reminded me that our midwives had strictly instructed us to go back to bed if I went into labor in the middle of the night. OOOOOOK. We texted the midwives to give them a heads up and then David fell back asleep almost instantly. I sneakily downloaded a contraction app on my phone. Well, trying to time my contractions worked better than counting sheep(nothing really happening) and I was out until morning.
David’s alarm went off around 6:30 and he tried to turn it off and go back to bed. I rolled over and woke him back up. “Sorry honey but I don’t feel much of anything you better go to work.” He looked at me in disappointment but got up to start getting ready. Jennifer, one of our wonderful midwives called at 7:00 to check on us. We chatted for a bit and she said she was going to come by at 8:00. David stayed home with me until she came by. It was extremely reassuring to have her come over. She offered me some herbs to help speed labor up since my water had broken but said she thought I would be just fine without them. I decided to let me body do what is was going to do and passed on the herbs. I’m so glad I did.
I texted everyone I wanted to tell (maybe everyone I know?) that my water had broken. They were all super excited and everyone wanted to know when I was going to have the baby. Ummm? My sweet mom offered to come over and hang out with me for the day which I gladly accepted. I informed her that I had a busy day planned and would love her help. She was a bit surprised when I told her I needed to go to Target and the grocery store but thankfully just went with it. My contractions (yes, I had been having contractions!) went from “is that a contraction?” to “Uh yeah I think that is a contraction”. Honestly, I still wasn’t really sure if I was experiencing labor or if my mind was just playing tricks on me. We spent the morning at Target getting baking supplies and toiletry supplies for Kellay; our doula and good friend who was coming to stay with us for the birth and a couple weeks after. Next we went to Raley’s (a local grocery store). I’m not sure what I bought besides some lunch meat for David. The delicatessen told me that her belly button popped out when she was pregnant too. I laughed and looked down at my protruding belly button.  She said a British man told her she was going to have a boy pointing at her belly button and saying, “...because I can see his tallywacker (the belly button)”. I blushed and chuckled telling her that we didn’t know the gender of our little one but would find out soon. I forgot to mention the fact that I was currently in labor!
We went home to meet David for lunch. I made tuna. Just a tidbit of wisdom for my fellow mommies: Don’t eat tuna while you are in the early stages of labor, alright? It might sound appetizing but you’ll regret it later. Trust me.
After lunch David headed back to work telling me to keep him posted. My mom asked if she could paint my toenails YES! It became clear that things had really picked up because I went on my hands and knees through a contraction at one point and completely ruined a couple of freshly painted toenails.
After my nails had dried we decided to take a little stroll around the neighborhood. I began stopping during contractions on the walk but at this point we weren’t really timing anything. This really helped me to just go with it and let each contraction come and go without any stress or worry. I still thought there would be hope that the baby might not come until our doula flew in the next morning so I was perfectly content in labor (for the time being). I know that sounds CRAZY but using the techniques I learned in hypnobirthing helped me tremendously. At some point I tried to take a nap but that didn’t work for me. I wanted to stay MOVING. My body knew that movement was going to help the baby come down faster. Moving also felt best.
I decided to start making cookies. My birth instructor, Anita had instructed us to make cookies in labor to give us something to do. She also recommended taking these bake goods to the hospital to get the nurses on our side for a natural birth. This part didn’t apply to me but I still liked the idea of keeping busy. I was really intensely laboring and intensely making cookies. It went like this. “1 cup of flour-MOOOM hit the contraction timer!!!” Then I marched around the living room a couple times. “OOOK! It’s over! Now ¾ cup of sugar”.  The cookies never got finished, the partially made dough sat in the kitchen aid until a kind soul cleaned it out days later. At some point during the baking process, around 5 o’clock, I called David telling him, “Come home NOW!!!!! But not before you go buy some more sugar- I’m all out and I have to finish my cookies.” Poor guy was getting mixed messages.  
I had several conversations with our midwives Jennifer and Tuesday (yes, that’s her real name) throughout the day, they would listen to me experience a contraction over the phone and at some point, probably 5:30, they said they were on there way. I remember at one point talking to Tuesday and she said I wasn’t “out of breath enough” for her to come over but apparently at some point we chatted and she thought it was time. She couldn’t have been more right.
I think at this point I finally realized our doula, Kellay was going to miss the birth! Thankfully she stayed with us in spirit and had several conversations with David throughout the evening which helped us so much in getting through the birth. If you want to read about David’s birth experience click here ( and scroll down a little bit).

So David arrived at home with the brown sugar that we never used and Tuesday instructed us to eat some dinner.  My last meal before I was a MOM! My mom made us quesadillas but i’m not sure that I ate but a couple bites. Things were really intensifying for me. I started to feel strong back labor and instructed David to pound on my back during contractions. I used our staircase to kneel as he punched my back. I remember saying “David! Harder!”.
Ding dong! The midwives were here! Even though things were intense I turned to them and smiled. They had become old friends. We had spent countless hours in their office over the past 9 months and here they were!
Mentally I was in a great place. I was excited! My hypnobirthing relaxation CD was on repeat annoying the daylights out of everyone else but helping me immensely. The CD had soft music playing with birth affirmations (phrases of encouragement) like “I am happy my baby is finally coming to me” and “with each surge of my body my baby moves down” or “my body knows exactly what it is doing”.

Alright I feel compelled to share this next part because no one told about this part of labor. Between my amazing doula, wonderful midwives, my mother, my mother-in-law, all the birth books, videos, and blogs, and every other person who has ever given birth I didn’t hear that throwing up was a very normal part of labor. Apparently throwing up usually means you have hit transition and you are getting closer to meeting your baby. So it is a good thing! Well in my head I thought it meant something was terribly wrong. I remember saying to David as I pulled my face out of a barf bowl. “David, do the midwives know I’m throwing up??” He said he would make sure they knew. Jennifer walked through the room and he turned to tell her and I remember her saying “Oh that’s great!” UM WHAT?? Remember how I mentioned tuna was probably a bad lunch choice? Now you know why.

Time became a blur but at probably 7PM I got into the birth tub with David. I had originally told David I thought it would be weird to have him in the tub with me, but when the time came I wanted him as close as possible. He continued to help relieve my back labor with pressure through every contraction. All of the birth videos I watched showed women peacefully floating in the tub. Well let me just tell you, that was not my experience. The time in the tub was a very intense couple of hours. My body had taken over and all I could do was let it. As the contractions grew in strength and length I began to panic a little. I never thought “I can’t do this” or “ I want an epidural.” Instead I wanted to escape the process completely. David said through a couple contractions I looked like I was trying to escape my body, like I was going to jump out of my skin. And then I let out one blood curdling scream. That didn’t help either. Tuesday my midwife very sternly said “Stop it! You are scaring yourself!!”. That pulled me out of my moment of darkness. Jennifer then sprayed some herbal potion in my mouth and David’s mouth too. We all laughed about that later as we couldn’t figure out why the foul tasting spray was given to David as well. It was pretty gross but I got my concentration back and instead of fighting the contractions I worked with them. The midwives told me after that they just loved how verbally encouraging I was for myself. It makes me wish I had videotaped the birth because I talked our baby and I through the entire experience. The same way an experienced climber helps a novice up a mountain. I told our baby (ok maybe I yelled to him) that he was totally safe and that it was okay to move down the birth canal. I told him I couldn’t wait to meet him. I told myself that each contraction brought me closer to meeting him.
I also remember asking Jennifer and Tuesday, “When is the baby coming out?” They both calmly smiled at me and said, “Soon”. Not what I meant you guys! I wanted a time estimate. Are we talking 15 minutes soon or 2 hours soon? In the back of my mind I was wondering if our baby would come before or after Leap Day. I wanted him to come before because who wants to be in labor any longer than necessary but before labor began I was secretly hoping for a Leap Year little one! I asked several times what time is was and always shocked how quickly time was passing. What felt like 5 minutes was usually more like an hour. I’ll take it.
It’s funny, I’ve never seen a live birth...the only birth I’ve been to has been my own so I have nothing to compare it to. At some point I started pushing. No one told me it was time but my body did. It was so instinctual and I couldn’t stop myself. At some point during this phase Tuesday told me to reach down and feel my babies head. I did and immediately said “No, no! It doesn’t feel like a head.” Honestly I thought I might be giving birth to an alien at that point. They said, “Yes it is.” FINE.
The pushing segment of my labor didn’t seem like it lasted long at all. Before I knew it I was experiencing that “ring of fire” you hear about. Yep, it burned. But I was actually so much more comfortable because my contractions were less intense through the pushing and it felt like a break. Not to mention we were about to meet our child for the first time! Afterwards the midwives informed me that the pushing lasted about 30 minutes. So much longer than it felt at the time! Before I knew it the midwives told me his head was all the way out and with one more big push I felt the rest of him shoot out of my body. It really felt like he flew out of me!
I reached down and Tuesday helped me pull him straight to my chest. It was the most incredible moment of my life, even better than marrying the man of my dreams. I felt such a rush of love for the little being on my chest, someone I had never seen in my life. He let out one little cry and it was such a sweet, sweet sound to know he was breathing! Perfect in every way.
We didn’t know what our little man was at the time. David admitted to seeing that he was a boy as he was pulled up to my chest but I didn’t notice. It took me at least 5 or 10 minutes to even ask myself if he was a boy or a girl. I opened one of his itty bitty legs and shouted “It’s a BOY!” Just as I had thought all along. My little man! He was born at 10:48 PM, just two hours before leap year.
I’m not sure how long we adored him in the birthing tub but we all started getting cold once the adrenaline of the birth started to slow down. I stood up with Henri in my arms and delivered the placenta and then we moved to the bed. At some point (30 minutes later?) David cut the umbilical cord and Henri latched on for the first time. It was so exhilarating to see him nurse like a pro.
All of his grandparents showed up to adore him. I held him close smiling with pride! The midwives performed the newborn evaluation at this point.  They checked him from head to toe to make sure everything was right. 6 pounds 8 ounces of perfection. They finished and gave him back to me. I wasn’t quite ready to share him yet. I had waited 9 months to meet him and we had a lot of catching up to do.

So now our little Henri is 1 today and it seems like just last week he was born. He has brought us more joy than we could have ever imagined. He lives life with such enthusiasm and glee. He’s such a character with so much spunk. He’s adventurous, curious, and sometimes, if i’m lucky, a little snuggle bug. He smiles so big that his eyes disappear into his face. I had no idea my love for him could be so big but I’m crazy about him. When he goes to bed at night David and I sit on the couch and laugh about his cuteness. So here comes a photo bomb of my baby. Happy birthday Henri!

birth announcement photo

These two are the best of friends. Seeing how happy they make each other melts my heart. 

picnic with mom 
Just "hanging" out with dada

Henri and his beautiful doula! 
Bath time

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He hated swimming in Cabo. Maybe this year?
How do you say no to that smile?

Hanging out with King in Cabo 

Soaking up the sun in CABO
Henri in a box! 

Looking snappy in his puppy hat.

We love our morning walks 

This is just another day of awesome nap hair. 

Christmas 2012 Picture wearing his Uncles Johnny's baby outfit. C-U-T-E

Looking good in some overalls

8 months old!

Couldn't be any cuter if he tried!

The Lenser circus act!

Just rubbing breakfast in my hair! No big deal!

Gotta love those baby blues!

One week away from the big 1