Thursday, March 1, 2018

Happy Birth Day Ande Joy...and Reese!

Documenting this third labor and delivery experience has been challenging because I'm not quite sure how to give it usual markers of time compared to my first two. For nearly 3 weeks before Ande was born, I had been experiencing prodromal labor. This isn't braxton hicks where you have 'fake' contractions, these are real contractions that hurt and feel exactly like labor, but then they die off. There were 3 different evenings where I woke up in the middle of the night because of the strength of the contractions, looked at the clock and noticed the intervals of 5-10minutes apart, and then after a couple hours I would get up and they just stopped. The first time that happened it was pretty disappointing because you mentally prepare yourself for the whole labor and deliver experience to be coming that day, and then nothing happens.

I've learned that this is a fairly common experience with third babies. They don't have as clear of an onset of labor marker. So after the first go-round of thinking I was going to deliver a baby that day, I decided to reset my mind to 42 weeks of gestation and ignore any labor signs until I couldn't. So Ande's 40 week prenatal check up came and went and everything continued to report back healthy for her and me. My mom had flown into town that day- February 2nd, and 6 days later we were wondering if she would have to fly back to California before Ande was even born. Plenty of people around me felt restless about this idea of a 'past due' baby, but I remained steadfast in my belief that babies come when they are ready and the longest record of pregnancy is in fact, not forever!

So Reese's birthday, Thursday February 8th came and we were thankful to have Oma here to help celebrate! We opened some gifts that morning at breakfast. Jonathan, Oma and I were able to join her at preschool that morning to share a special birthday snack that she and Oma had made together that week, crafting the flower spoons and making the pudding and crushing cookies for dirt cake. Reese really enjoyed being the helper at snack time and getting to pass out her creations to her friends.

That afternoon I continued to have contractions, nothing new from the previous month, so I generally ignored them until 3pm. I called J and asked if he could work from home for the rest of the day so I didn't have to factor in when I needed to call him home IF this did turn into labor moving to delivery of baby. When he came home at 3:15p we went for a walk in the neighborhood and the contractions remained strong. Our plan was to take Reese out to a birthday dinner- her request was spaghetti and broccoli! By 5pm I thought sitting at a restaurant sounded like a terrible idea so we made a plan B for Oma to take the kids to a special dinner and we would do birthday cake together at home when they got back. I didn't get a slice of birthday cake until 2 days later.

J went and picked up some Thai takeout for us to eat at home. I went to the bathroom about 6pm and my water broke- a first experience for me to have that come 'early' (but not really, because, prodromal labor for a month). The contractions after that definitely stepped up in their intensity and by the time I finished my chicken pad Thai I knew we needed to head to the hospital. I had the midwife on call paged and Sharon called me back quickly. I was in between contractions and was able to talk to her cheerfully about my day and the progress. I was grateful that she said she would meet us at the hospital and believed me since I hung up after only talking for 3 minutes and probably didn't 'sound like I was in labor.'

We arrived to the hospital at 7pm and had to check in through the Emergency Room since it was after hours. They said we were the 3rd patient for labor and delivery in the past hour. I went from talking easily between contractions, to not communicating much at all. The check in process was relatively quick, but we had to wait for someone from LandD to come down and get us and that was another 20 minutes. I went from standing in front of the window rocking as I stood, to sitting down on a chair and crossing my legs wishing labor to slow down. By the time a nurse came down, it took another couple of contractions for us to walk a short distance then pause to eventually get through the elevator and up to a room.

When we got to LandD my midwife Sharon was there and asked about my thoughts on the plan. I told her I really wanted to get into the tub, but wasn't sure that I would last long enough for it to be set up and filled with water. She said lets just start getting it ready and if we make it, we make it and if not, we will adjust. I asked for an exercise ball and stayed sitting on that until the tub was ready, about 8pm.

Getting into the warm water felt good. Ande's heart rate had been monitored on the ball and was handling contractions well. In the water they intermittently checked on her and it continued to hold strong. Pretty quickly after getting into the water I felt a shift in labor pains that I recognized as transition. I felt hot and overwhelmed and complained of not wanting to do this anymore. I knew this was a sign that she was coming soon. Sharon asked me if I felt like pushing and I said not yet. The on call nurse helped tie my hair up out of my face with a rubber glove. Sharon offered some hip squeezes as counter pressure, but after a couple it didn't feel good to me.

Then I knew it was time to push. I told Sharon 'little push, little push' and noted how I had so many thoughts in my mind but could barely get out that little phrase to tell anyone else what was going on. She nodded and said something encouraging like 'you've got this.' I pushed with the next two contractions and they monitored Ande's heart. After the second push, Sharon said we are going to push this baby out on the next contraction ok? I thought, that's quick- but great if I don't have to push for much longer. The third contraction felt like a dud, it wasn't as strong and did not help me bear down much to get a strong push. After it let up, Sharon said ok I need you to push again, we aren't waiting for another contraction. So I pushed and she told me to stand up, I did, and felt Ande come the rest of the way out, caught by Sharon and handed directly to my chest back in the water. 8:47pm Ande cried and cried. I cried. Jonathan held us from the outside of the tub. After soaking each other in for a bit, I birthed the placenta in the tub. After a little bit longer, Sharon asked if I felt comfortable to get out and onto the bed so they could check my bleeding, she was concerned about how much blood I was loosing but it was harder to tell in the water. So Jonathan had skin to skin time with Ande (he quickly obliged when I directed him to take his shirt off before I handed her over) and I was helped out and onto the bed.

I did have a lot of blood loss and was given some options of how to approach with a mouth dissolving dose of Cytotec, a shot of pitocin in my leg, or a manual sweep for blood clots. We started with the Cytotec and when  I continued to loose blood we did the sweep for clots. Painful. The nurse held my hand. It was the right decision as there were a lot of blood clots Sharon was able to get out and that ultimately slowed the bleeding down. She told me I had lost enough that she was categorizing it as a postpartum hemorrhage. She explained to me that her urgency for having me push Ande out quickly was because her heart rate dropped and was not rebounding. She was concerned that the cord was likely wrapped and if it was short, she wouldn't be able to untangle it in the water and still hand her to me, so that's why she asked me to stand up. What she discovered was that Ande had a double nuchal (the umbilical cord was wrapped twice around her neck), but that it was also very long and she had no trouble unwrapping her and then handing her to me. I told her I trusted what she was telling me in the moment because she got her 'midwife voice' on and I just followed. (Sidenote- Sharon is the senior member of the 4 CNM team and she founded the practice alongside the OBs two decades ago).
Our first picture 9:08pm
Ande came back to my chest and snuggled more, latched again and we all had some very sweet time together. Probably an hour had passed since she came out and the nursing staff was doing a great job of giving us space- something I had concerns about after the beauty of Reese's home birth experience. We asked if we could have her weighed now because we were kind of curious how big she was. I knew she was larger than Heath (8, 4o) and Reese (8, 14o). I guessed closer to 9 and a half, and she came in on the scale at 9lbs 10 ounces. She measured 21", same as her sister.

I am so grateful that we were with a competent provider who knew exactly how to respond to Ande's drop in heart rate as well as my postpartum hemorrhaging. There were some things to navigate with a hospital stay this time that were a little challenging, but overall we soaked in the pampering provisions of having extra help and our big kids safely cared for at home with Oma. They all came to visit us the next morning and meet Ande.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Merry Christmas Card 2017!

This is our 8th year of creating a musical family-caroling Christmas card as we look back on our year in photos! Every year we get to involve the kids more and Jonathan learns something new on Garage Band as do I on iMovie. We collectively choose the carol we all want to sing and play it around the house for awhile so the kids are familiar. Reese had been singing the chorus to The First Noel and was excited to record, but when we got to the basement's makeshift studio, all she wanted to do was shout "Noel!" into the mic. What we've learned in nearly 8 years of parenting now is that for everyone's sanity and maximum enjoyment, it is best to just go with it! So J weaved her Noel shouts nicely into the mix and Heath helped carry the chorus!

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Simple Pursuit

Earlier this winter, I posted a question on social media asking my friends if they would be interested in learning more about minimalism if I organized some communications with resources and kicked it off in the new year. I wrote about it on the blog too here. I was thinking if there were at least a handful (6-8?) of my friends interested, it would be something that I could do and enjoy. Well 30+ friends commented about their enthusiastic interest and that was certainly enough to grow my excitement.

In January, 27 friends joined me for a 6 week conversation learning about minimalism and taking on challenges to declutter their homes and reflect on their values. I was so excited to see the breadth of friends and former colleagues and peers that participated from Oregon, Texas, Arkansas, Virginia and Indiana (time for my CA peeps to join next!). What began as an idea to share resources that have helped me to savor what I have in life, really shaped into a rhythm, similar to my writing curriculum. Based on feedback that participants were sharing with me about their learning and questions, I directed our emails into a 6 week course.

After the overwhelmingly positive feedback from my initial post, I thought I better get myself organized in case this grows quicker than I am envisioning. So I reflected on a name to label the emails with, and drafted a logo. I didn't think much of it, until a local friend participating talked to me in person and started referencing "the simple pursuit emails" and "the simple pursuit challenge last week." So then I created a gmail account.

For me, the pursuit of simple is to embrace that which is most important and basic. When we remove the busyness and life clutter, then we have room to savor those most important and basic values. Savor is a favorite word in our house!

My January cohort was made up of folks who had heard of minimalism but had not tried it, as well as those who were practicing minimalism habits already. I solicited their evaluation after our 6 weeks and was able to build on their insights for the direction of what future communications could look like, expanding beyond the twice weekly emails to also include webchat offerings. We had been using a secret Facebook group to post updates and dialogue through the 6 week process, and one adjustment I am making there is to let that serve as the graduation gift to those who learn the basics in Simple Pursuit, and want to keep trekking! So here is the rundown I have shared with those who are inquiring, feel free to pass along!

What is Simple Pursuit?
A 6 week online journey for those who are interested in the pursuit of simple. The principles of minimalism will be shared for you to reflect upon and determine what pieces you want to integrate. It is an investment in yourself to evaluate what you are prioritizing and how you can remove that which is not important from being a distraction.

In return for your investment you will receive:
6 weeks of resources to introduce or enhance your knowledge of minimalism
Twice-weekly emails with reflection homework and action items
A one hour group webchat half way through to ask questions and hear ideas from others
An optional 1:1 webchat time scheduled with me any time during the 6 weeks, up to 1 hour, to discuss and troubleshoot any decluttering barriers
After the 6 weeks, you will be invited into a secret Facebook group of class participants should you want to continue the conversation and resource sharing

(Friends and Family take an additional 25% Discount at registration...that is $33.75)

How to register:
Email with your preferred email address to receive weekly communications beginning the first week of April. Once your spot is confirmed, you will receive an email regarding payment steps.

In order to preserve the personal attention afforded, there will be a cap at 20 participants. (At this time of posting I have spots for 10 more)

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

#thisoldhouse #bathroomremodel

It was a 6 week undertaking of labor, mostly performed by our contractor and his plumber. I posted on social media to tag the daily changing look of our upstairs main bathroom as work was accomplished. What I realized more than half way through is that I should have been tagging it #bathroomrenovation not remodel, because we went down to the studs replacing the subfloor and leveling out floor joists. This was not just a wallpaper removal and painting job! I wanted to chart the start to finish here to document the process:

Pre-December 19th BEFORE

December 19th - Day 1
December 20th- Day 2

December 21st- Day 3

December 22nd- Day 4

December 23rd- Day 5

January 3rd- Day 11 (holiday break and work while we were out)

January 4th- Day 12

January 5th- Day 13

January 6th- Day 14

January 9th- Day 15

January 10th- Day 16

January 11th- Day 17
January 12th- Day 18

January 16th- Day 19

January 17th pre-painting- Day 20

January 17th post-painting- Day 20

January 18th- Day 21
January 19th- Day 22

January 20th- Day 23

January 23rd- Day 24

January 24th- Day 25

January 27th- Day 28
February 1st- Day 29
One more look at that before...
Pre-December 19th BEFORE
When the weather warms up outdoors again, our contractor will be back to remove the storm window from the enclosed shower wall and work on the outside siding so it is weather resistant. When that happens we will no longer have the mid-line in the shower window and that will be the final contractor-related work for this bathroom! We are still deciding on bathroom rugs/floor mats and where we should place the toilet paper holder and towel bar, but we have time to live into those decisions. The space we have recaptured by redesigning the placement of our bath pieces has been amazing. The shift from a 360 degree shower curtain to a traditional curtain with tiled wall has been fantastic! I am so grateful we cheated the shower head up higher and the curtain rod out wider- I no longer feel like a giant taking a shower in here. Having all four of us in this space at once happens daily- it was worth making the investment to a more user friendly space that doesn't require us to use a wrench whilst turning on the shower faucet, nor have a leaking toilet into our kitchen below!

And for anyone local to the Greater Lafayette Indiana area, I highly recommend Miller Construction. Loren was fantastic to communicate with and share space alongside for 6 weeks. Thank you!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Life in Revision

Yesterday my fantastic wife gave me (Jonathan) a framed copy of the Theodore Roosevelt quote that inspired Daring Greatly.  This past semester my staff and I have been reading the book and discussing how it can impact us.  A little over a week ago I participated in Virginia Tech’s commencement ceremony and was formally “hooded” and received my degree.  I figured it is time to write one more piece on my doctoral journey.  To get caught up to this point, check out this postthis post, and this post.  In summary, I took some really important exams, failed them, worked through that failure and ultimately passed them, but it was messy. 

I love the Advent/Christmas season and its accompanying soundtrack.  I love some of the classic hymns such as “O Holy Night.”  And while contemporary songs seem to struggle to catch some of the depth and meaning of the season, I’m drawn to a rather recent Christmas song called “Snow” by Sleeping at Last.  It is not your usual celebratory, uplifting Christmas song.  While I can’t say what the songwriter’s impetus was for writing the song, personally I hear it as a song of struggle and growth.  Of pain and taking steps for moving forward.  One of my favorite lines is “life without revision will silence our souls.” 

Who are we if we don’t take time to examine our lives and make edit?.  We can’t go back and change choices we made, but we can let those choices inform our future.  I had no intentions of failing my prelims, but a few years later I can see how that experience provided me with a need sense of resiliency.  It demonstrated the importance of my system of support led by my wife and enhanced by my kids, parents, in-laws, colleagues at VT, my Blacksburg community and church, and eventually my Lafayette community and church. 

Just over a year ago, I struggled mightily in my dissertation proposal exam.  Thankfully I did pass it, but it wasn’t pretty.  It was another humbling experience; I had to seek outside help on my writing and even more expanded time on my dissertation.  That led to a fantastic final dissertation defense in June.  My committee was very impressed with my work and that was capped off last week as I got to walk the stage and be hooded by one of the most important people in my story, Frank Shushok.  As we were sitting, waiting for our turn to go on stage, we reflected on my journey.  And he reminded me that despite the hurdles along the way, I’m still the first to graduate from my cohort of five.  His comment was not made in a competitive nature, but rather a reminder of the perils and challenges of a PhD journey.

So I have the title of “Dr.” and three beautiful velvet stripes on my academic regalia.  However, they are both symbols (important symbols nonetheless), of a transformative journey.  Not necessarily the path I would have drawn up in August 2011 when I started the journey, but the journey I needed to take.  A journey of revision after revision.  Because as the refrain of “Snow” states:

Like the petals in our pockets
May we remember who we are
Unconditionally cared for
By those who share our broken hearts

Note:  Sleeping At Last's Christmas Collection, which includes "Snow," can be downloaded for free at  

Merry Christmas!

This year's Christmas card highlights the kids on the chorus, with Reese finally piping in at the final round more loudly. May you and yours find warm snuggles this season and blessings in the new year! Merry Christmas! Love, the Manz fam

Friday, December 9, 2016

Embracing Minimalism, a community journey

Over the past 4 years I've had an increasing interest in minimalism. My excitement to learn more and read about others' experiences has left a digital crumb trail behind me as I've reposted articles, shared quotes, and reflected in online forums as my own personal journal. I did not set out to start a revolution, just document for my own sake of reference. Well in that documentation process, I gained some interest from friends and what moved from "likes" on my FB posts, grew to interactive comments and questions, then direct emails to ask me for direction on simplifying and in person conversations with folks I didn't even know were paying attention! 

My friend Mel planted an idea with me this fall that perhaps I have a minimalism prowess to share and that others would be interested in hearing my experiences and thoughts. So I've been chewing on that idea for a bit on what kind of platform I could share about living simply. There is a huge part of me that has been reluctant because of self-doubt. I look at my home and think not all of my spaces are photo worthy of a minimalist-how-to. And I wonder, do I actually have anything of greater value to share than what is already out there? But what I do have are friends that trust and know me, and so maybe serving as a curator of all the minimalism tips and resources out there can be valuable. And what I also strive to be great at is authenticity. So maybe sharing some real life pics helps to emphasize what I truly believe, that minimalism is a unique journey and looks different for everyone. 

So if you want to join me on a new year adventure, I will be gathering a cohort of friends to communicate with for the month of January 2017. I will email you every 2-3 days and share stories, encouragement, tips and resources on creating your own minimalism- which could be decluttering your stuff, your schedule, or your mind. What I know to be true about minimalism is that it is counter-cultural and therefore best lived in the support of community. If you want to be part of that community in January, send me a note, email, comment, post, direct message, etc!