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My Birth Story

by Shalice Noel

 

 

You never know the time of day your baby will actually arrive unless you have it scheduled. So after talking to my doctor, we decided to induce Monday, October 9 at 6 pm. Because we don’t have family in the area, planning the induction was the best way to get the older 4 kids organized safely. This was a great way to avoid stress. Thankfully, Levi was already getting ready to come out. One of my prayers! But for the rest of the story, read on…

4 pm: I dropped off the kids at our friends from church’s house. I’ll admit I cried a little. I hate leaving them overnight!

5 pm: We headed to the hospital, but I realized I was hungry and that I’d probably need energy to labor all night.

5:30 pm: I ordered a veggie bowl with extra guacamole at Chipotle. Kudos to Reid for finding a parking spot off of Sunset Blvd. One of my pregnancy cravings was this bowl! So yummy and no regrets getting it. It indeed gave me energy for the night.

6 pm: We checked into the hospital for the scheduled induction. The nurses who admitted us to our room said I looked like Natalie Portman. This helped some of my nerves. So nervous!

6-8 pm: The doctors and nurses monitored the baby’s heartbeat, my contractions and checked me. I was at 5cm. I was VERY excited to hear I came in halfway.

8:30 pm: They gave me pitocin and my pain tolerance was at a 5. This is when I started listening to Sara Bareilles.

9:30 pm: The pain increased. I started to pull Reid’s arm. This helped a little.

10:30 pm: The doctor checked me. I was still at 5cm. This was very discouraging so the nurses up the pitocin dosage. Yikes!!

12:30 am: The doctor broke my water and the pain increased. I realize I’m at transition and admit to Reid I can’t do this. A definitive sign that I’m in transition. No meds at this point but about to break.

12:30-2 am: I was in active labor all during this time. I changed positions and used a peanut ball lying on my side per my doctor’s advice to move baby’s head position. Reid was a huge help telling me I’m doing awesome and allowing me to pull his arm at every contraction.

1:45 am: I was going to the bathroom a lot and was coming back from a trip, only to squat on the hospital bed and yell out, “I feel his head!” I indeed felt his head crowning. The nurse yelled down the hall to the doctor.

1:57 am: I pushed 3x with ALL my might.

2:02 am: He’s here! I got to cut the cord after we kept him on for 1 minute. He was immediately alert and amazing. The doctor put him on my chest and let me know I did great and didn’t tear. Of course this was a huge relief, but it was just such a blessing to carry my miracle baby.

A couple things that made labor better:

Lavender to sniff
Chapstick – I used Mario Badescu
Ice water – I hate temp water during labor
Peanut ball to switch baby’s position, if necessary
Warm fuzzy socks or slippers

And recovery:

Gum
Mothers milk tinctures
Tea
I should’ve brought more snacks (aka bad hospital food)

So many happy emotions and SO incredibly grateful LEVI DANIEL came into the world. Thanking God!

The Texas Sheet Cake we make EVERY birthday is finally on the blog! I originally got this recipe from a guy in my Poetry Class at Wheaton College. No joke! He made it for the last class kick off party and I told him I HAD to have this recipe. He quickly wrote it on a napkin, and from there its history. I’ve since shared it with my family, friends and YOU! Let me know what you think!

Chocolate Sheet Cake

Yields 1 9 x 13 cake

2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 325F, mix in a large bowl.

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup water
Bring the butter oil, powder and water to a boil in a sauce pan. Slowly add to the flour mix and mix well.

Two eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk*
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

*When I don’t have buttermilk, here’s the substitute: for each cup of buttermilk, I add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice. Stir than let stand for about 5 minutes.

Blend till smooth and add to cocoa flour mix. Pour into a 9 x 13 greased and floured pan. Bake till toothpick comes out clean. Let cook at least 5 minutes before icing. Bake at 325 F, for approximately 25 minutes.

CAKE ICING

1/2 cup butter
3 T. cocoa
6 T. Milk
1 t. vanilla (add to cocoa mixture)
1 16 oz box of powdered sugar

Melt butter and cocoa together in a sauce pan- make sure not to burn it. Add milk to butter mixture. Add powdered sugar to cocoa and milk and mix till there are no lumps.

Pour over warm (not hot) cake and spread smooth

Let me know what you think. This is our favorite birthday cake ever!

Enjoy and let me know how you like it in the comments!

Happy Friday! How are these weeks flying by? See the top 7 of my week below:


Just discovered these silk pjs. I’m wearing them as I write this.

Dog food that comes to your door, use code SHALICE

Kamut Flour that’s good for you. I think I lose weight eating it because it fills me up! (it also has extra protein)

My favorite collagen (lean body system, Lemon is my fave) is on sale plus you get collagen foam and a gold spoon FREE.

This crop tee looks KILLER with flares.

Your room just may be missing an olive tree. Here’s a dupe of the one I have.

Read Levi’s birth story here. I can’t believe he will be 3 years old in a couple weeks.

Hi there! My name is Gabby and my husband Donny and I are celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary later this month!

About 14 years ago, after having an “irregular” cycle my whole life, I was diagnosed with Premature Ovarian Failure…which basically means that for unknown reasons, I went through menopause early. After looking at my blood work, I believe my doctor’s exact words were, “you’re absolutely never getting pregnant.” As a 17 year old, it was heavy information to process. But looking back now, I’m thankful that I had so much time to come to terms with my infertility. The finality of it was a “death” of sorts, that I could grieve and process, and then heal from. When I was dating my future husband, we were able to talk about what this would mean for our family and processed the realization we wouldn’t be bringing biological children into the world together. We agreed that we wanted children, and knew that adoption would be in our future. 

A few years into marriage we got “the baby bug” and started researching adoption more seriously. There’s so much information out there! International, domestic, domestic private, foster-to-adopt and more! We were overwhelmed by the many pros and cons of each method…as well as the staggering costs associated with many routes. We eventually discovered the organization, Nightlight Christian Adoptions…and their extension, “Snowflake Embryo Adoptions.” 

When someone goes through in vitro fertilization (IVF) to grow their family, it often (hopefully) results in several viable embryos. Usually a doctor will transfer a fresh embryo or two to a woman’s uterus, and freeze the rest for potential future use. After a few years, when someone is done growing their family, they sometimes have frozen embryos remaining that they don’t intend to transfer. (this is often for a variety of reasons – dangerous pregnancies, several successful pregnancies so adding more children isn’t practical, cost, etc.). What to do with these frozen embryos is a huge dilemma many families face. Snowflakes matches families who have remaining embryos that would like to place them for adoption with families hoping to adopt. 

Because my infertility stems from my ovaries, my uterus could (theoretically) still carry a pregnancy. The idea is similar to surrogacy where a woman carries a baby for someone else…but in this case, I’d be carrying my adopted-non-biological child! Embryo adoption was appealing to me and my husband for a variety of reasons… the costs associated are typically much lower than domestic or international adoption, there are hundreds, if not, thousands, of frozen embryos currently awaiting adoption, and being able to experience pregnancy and childbirth was a joy I’d never even imagined I could have!

We embarked on our Snowflakes Embryo Adoption journey in 2014. It started with many applications, forms, background checks, and meetings – all the usual steps required in a traditional adoption.  Early in 2015 we received our first match! We adopted 8 embryos and started prepping my body for our first embryo transfer! It involved pills, shots, and many, MANY doctors visits. Then in April, in an overnight shipping container, our precious embryos made the journey from Florida to our clinic in Pasadena. Our doctor thawed 3 embryos and 2 were viable for transfer. It was heartbreaking to hear we’d already lost one precious life, but we were hopeful we’d get the news we were pregnant with twins! 

It takes about 2 weeks after a frozen embryo transfer to get a successful positive pregnancy test – so we did our best to wait patiently. The day I got the call from my doctor’s office that I was not pregnant, was one of the hardest moments of my life. I felt like my body had failed and that I’d let these children and my husband down. Statistically…only 1 in 3 transfers are successful, so we knew there was a good chance it wouldn’t work on our first try,  but it was still a deep loss we had to grieve.

We let my body heal for a few months, and tried again with our 4 remaining embryos. Once again, one of them did not survive thawing, and my doctor felt it was wise to transfer the remaining 3. “Triplets!” We imagined to ourselves, “What an adventure!”

Two weeks later, once again, the nurse’s sad voice over the phone, and again we had to process a huge loss.  We had started the process so hopeful! “8 healthy embryos! What luck!” we thought. The idea that we had ushered 8 souls into heaven was both beautiful and heart wrenching. It was time to step back and evaluate everything.

I couldn’t imagine putting my body through the meds, the lead up, the transfer and the loss AGAIN . . so we needed time to regroup.

We would also have to match with a new family and start that entire process again. But we decided, the “odds were in our favor” if 1 in 3 is truly successful, so we felt comfortable giving it one more final go. Snowflakes came back with a unique matching offer – 2 separate families that each had 1 embryo to transfer. They asked if we would be interested in taking both. So once again, embryos were shipped to our home clinic, one from D.C. and one from Chicago. 

We imagined the great stories of a twin pregnancy where the twins weren’t biologically related to us, nor each other… and this time when the phone rang, the nurse’s voice was joyful – we were pregnant! Words I’d never heard before! We still had a long journey ahead, since it was very early in a high risk pregnancy, but at that moment, I was pregnant!

At our first ultrasound there was one steady heartbeat – it was bittersweet. A healthy growing baby, and one more loss. All in total…we’d adopted 10 embryos and 1 made it to pregnancy. But what immense joy in the 1! By the end of my first trimester, my body had fully “kicked in” and took over the pregnancy. No more meds! No more trips to the fertility clinic! The day of my last visit to my clinic they sent me off with a baby blanket and a graduation certificate. I’d officially been transferred to a regular OBGYN for a regular pregnancy! It was wonderful and surreal! Since Embryo Adoption is not a technical “adoption” in the legal sense of the word, the embryos were our personal possessions up until transfer, which means there was no finalizing the adoption, and it would be my husband’s and my name on the birth certificate.

I was just a regular (albeit hugely swollen) pregnant woman! And at my 37 week doctor visit, my blood pressure had skyrocketed, so my doctor swiftly scheduled a c-section for later that week. 

On December 22, 2017 at 37.5 weeks pregnant, my son Deacon was born at a whopping 9 pounds, 12 ounces! 

So far we’ve had very little contact with his biological family. We know they live in Washington D.C. and he has a big sister from the same batch of embryos he came from. I know that deciding to place their final remaining embryo with our family was a gut wrenching decision for his biological parents, and I don’t take their gift lightly. We often talk to Deacon about his wonderful family in D.C. who loved him so much they let me be his mama! As he gets older, we want him to understand his history, and allow him as much or as little relationship with them as he wants.

Today, it’s hard to remember life without Deacon! His head of crazy blonde curls, his precocious personality and his love of all things green have brought Donny and me more joy than I could have ever imagined! We grieved those early losses so deeply, but know that it was preparing us to parent this incredible child, and I wouldn’t change things for the world! 

 

Last weekend, L’Occitane hosted a beautiful southern France inspired brunch here in LA. If you remember, I posted about the L’Occitruck arriving in LA, well this was their kick off brunch with LA influencers like myself. While I wasn’t able to attend personally since just giving birth to Levi, I sent Liz who captured the event here for you to see!

The smell of lavender was in the air, samples of tried of true customer favorites like Shea Butter Lotion was out to sample, and every color of macaroon available for your delight. It was indeed a lovely spread fit with a blue and yellow flower wall to kick it off. How enchanting!

Lavender Lemonade Mimosa from Food and Wine
Fill a pitcher two-thirds full with ice. Add the lemon juice and Lavender Tea Syrup. Stir briskly for 30 seconds to chill, then strain into 8 chilled flutes. Top each drink with 4 ounces of Prosecco. Garnish with sprigs of lavender.

 

Below, shop some of my favorites!

 

It’s funny how events come at perfectly unpredictable times.  Reid and I recently had the opportunity to take surf lessons at Manhattan Beach.  This was perfect.  Reid’s birthday was just around the corner and as a land locked kid growing up in Nebraska, Baywatch episodes conjured up dreams of hitting the surf.  Look at us now, living the California lifestyle we literally dreamed about as kids.

 

With 10 years of marriage under our sheets 😉 I want to express the importance of doing things with your mate that they enjoy.  It’s a simple concept really.  Something we teach our kids every day.  You do what your mate enjoys and they’ll do what you enjoy.  It really does keep the spark ignited!

Surfing was an opportune moment to share something with Reid that he has always wanted to do.  I on the other hand, was dreading ruining my recent blow out.  However, I sucked it up and gave it my all.

 

Honest to say, this day was the first day I ever stepped into the Pacific Ocean.  Reid and I learned something new together, shared in our vulnerability, expressed a little friendly competition and most of all showed each other that we are in love and a good team.  Even though I’ve never intended to learn how to surf, I relish in the memories this day made in the story of our marriage.

 

What does your mate enjoy doing?