The Birth of Jackson Lynn

leaf ranchctI remember looking over my fertility chart feeling queasy as I wondered… Could I really be pregnant again? It was the first time we had tried to conceive after the last miscarriage just a few months before. I was only 10 days past ovulation, there was no way I could be feeling sick already. I thought, its all in my head, its just not logical to have symptoms this early. But alas I could not wait, a few minutes later I watched a faint pink line stretch across the window, confirming what I had hoped for all along. I was pregnant! Suddenly a pang of terror ran through me. Would this child live? Two others had succumbed to the darkness of my body, denied the breath of life. There was no reason that this one should live either, sadness and woe filled my heart. I clung to the little hope I had left in my heart and I prayed that God would have mercy on me.

Sunday, October 14th, 2012 – 5 days past my estimated due date…

I awakened at what had become my usual time due to the incessant need to urinate and annoying back pain at 4:30 am. I waddled to the bathroom and then returned to bed hoping to sleep for a while before beginning my day. I lay there restless and hungry when I realized I needed to go to the bathroom again. I grumbled to my slumbering husband, “this is ridiculous, I just went pee! I cant believe I have to go again already!” I went to the bathroom again and upon returning to the bedroom, I felt a stirring in my abdomen. It wasn’t the normal violent attack that I had grown accustomed to from my extremely active and seemingly limber son, it was a flurrying of sort. Something inside told me “its time, your baby is coming today”. My first official labor pain was at 5:05 am. Brad, my husband, started tracking them on his phone to measure the duration and elapsed time. I decided to call my long time friend Hannah who had come to town to assist me in labor. I told her that I wasn’t sure if something was happening or not but I wanted to give her a heads up and that I would call her back later. Sure enough my contractions persisted and grew more intense. Hannah arrived sometime around 7:00 am to help me. I breathed deep and waded through my contractions like I was riding stormy ocean waves. They swept down harder and harder but I kept my focus on my baby. Hannah and I talked and laughed between pains and I got in and out of the bath tub a few times. Suddenly I felt overwhelmed and could not rationalize thought… all reason had left my mind. I remembered the great midwife Ina May Gaskin saying in her book “your brains have gone to your bottom” and so they had. My loving husband called the midwife and doula, then relayed to me their advice to rest and stay calm because I probably had a lot longer labor ahead of me being a first time mother. I could not accept what he was saying, I could understand the meaning of the words leaving his mouth but they held no relevance for me. I told Hannah, Brad and Eric (our friend and driver), “NO! This baby is coming soon! You do not understand, I am not doing this 12 HOURS!… We need to go to the birth center now!”

We made the hour long car drive to Lafayette from Baton Rouge where our birth team was waiting for us. They had the birth tub full of hot water and I could not have been more anxious to dive in. The warm water felt strange and almost foreign as every nerve in my body ignited with each rolling wave. I felt light and suspended, as if I could float away.

As my pain grew, I became acutely aware that my sons arrival was approaching. I made my way to the toilet where I regained some control over the pain and myself. At once, a shadow of fear fell over me. I went from total confidence in my body to sheer disbelief. I told my doula, “I don’t know about all this” she asked me what I meant in which I replied, “I’m just not sure, maybe I should be in the hospital.” She looked at me tenderly and said exactly what I needed to hear, “everything you need is right here, everything you wanted to happen is happening right now and your baby is coming soon.” In that moment I realized that unlike those other babies lost, I would soon be holding my very own son in my arms. Not a minute later I felt him push down hard inside me. This was it, no turning back, no room for doubt. This baby was coming out.

I stumbled across the room from the toilet to the bed and asked for the midwife to come in. She came in and asked if I was feeling pushy and with a nod I lowered myself to the bed for her to check me. Laying across that mattress became my personal hell for what seemed like ages as another violent wave crashed down on me. I felt as if my body might dismember itself right then and there. She assured me I was complete and asked if I was ready to push my baby out. “Yes” I cried out. I stood and felt him push down with such force that I felt he would fall out and on to the floor below. I felt a warm gush of liquid flow down my legs and splash at my feet. My bag of amniotic fluid had finally ruptured.

I rushed the 4 feet from the bedside to the birthing tub. I knew that if I didn’t get into the water right then, my dreams of a water birth would not come to fruition. The next and almost final wave brought my sons head down through the canal, the pressure was unbelievably strong. And then I felt it… a searing hot fire leaving my body and I remembered Hannah telling me “when you feel the ring of fire, that’s when the baby’s head is coming out.” Suddenly someone shouted “slow down, pant like a dog!” But I could not pant, I could not even remember what it would be to pant. After all, my brains were in my bottom just like Ina May had said. Yes, something primal took over me, that searing hot fire urged me to dig deeper, push harder and then, he left my body. Almost totally in one fluid motion he passed from womb, to water, to earth. Jackson Lynn Iverson took his first breath and then I heard his first cry. Instead of pain washing over me it was a wave of relief. Total relief and utter bliss flooded my soul. I turned over in the tub and took my living, breathing son in my arms. “Oh my God, I have a baby” I gasped. Surreal is the only appropriate way to describe the moment… He is my rainbow. My beauty & light after the flood of sorrow that could no longer hold a place in my life.

Jackson Lynn Iverson
Total labor 6.5hours
50 mins at birth center prior to birth
9 mins of pushing
8.2lbs and 20.5 inches long

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Earth Mama Angel Baby Review and Giveaway!

37 Weeks Pregnant With Jackson

37 Weeks Pregnant With Jackson

The product I am reviewing today is “A Little Something for Mama-To-Be” by Earth Mama Angel Baby. This is a mini kit of trial sized products for pregnancy including Organic Morning Wellness Tea, Earth Mama Body Butter, Happy Mama Wash, Happy Mama Spray and Natural Stretch Oil.

First of all I would like to say that this company is amazing and I would like for you to read their mission statement:

Earth Mama believes in the natural process of birth, and the healing power of nature. Our mission is to provide safe, herbal alternatives for pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women, and babies of all ages, and to help educate people about traditional plant medicine and safe personal care. We manufacture natural and organic products that work, combining generations of women’s wisdom and traditional plant medicine with the safety and assurances of contemporary evidence based research. If it doesn’t measure up to Mama’s standards, it doesn’t leave the building. That’sMama’s PromiseĀ®.

Read Mamas Promise by clicking here!

When I was pregnant with Jack, I used a variety of of products from Earth Mama Angel Baby and still use some of the baby care line for Jack now. I have tried almost all of the herbal teas from EMAB and they are all delicious. My favorite tea was the Third Trimester Tea. It is super yummy and made me feel relaxed and at ease in my last anxious few weeks. But lets talk about the products in the kit…

Organic Morning Wellness Tea:

This tea is caffeine free, contains ginger and mint so it soothes those rolling waves in the pit of your stomach during those early weeks of pregnancy. It is tasty all on its own but I like to add a tsp of honey to mine. I prefer it hot but when made into iced tea, it becomes a refreshing treat in the hot summer months.

Earth Mama Body Butter:

I hate to feel greasy after applying lotion or any kind of body product. I actually avoid body butters in general because I do not want to feel like a greased pig after a bath. BUT this body butter is like a thin layer of velvet all over your skin. It does not leave a sticky or unpleasant residue and has a light fragrance. The fragrance is a slightly sweet aroma with vanilla and orange. Love it!

Happy Mama Hand to Toe Wash:

This is a foaming wash that is scented with grapefruit and ginger. The one word that came to my mind while using it was ZING! This is an exhilarating fragrance in my opinion, refreshing and yummy. It is a foam wash, lathers well and rinses clean. And since this product is in the citrus family, it wont smell funny when you follow with the Body Butter above.

Happy Mama Spray:

I have to say, this was my favorite product in this kit. I had not tried this one before receiving this sampler and I was surprised when it was my favorite. When I am having a stressful day, I reach for it right away. The bottle says, “Naturally Uplifting Aromatherapy Mist”, and I could not agree more… UPLIFTING is the best word to describe this product. Just like the Butter and the Wash, it has a citrus aroma. All three products smell different but complimentary, so they work well together.

Natural Stretch Oil:

I used this product religiously when I was pregnant with Jack. I cannot say that I have 0 stretch marks but I can say that I did not have any until 38 weeks and I gained 64lbs. I feel like this product definitely helped my skin stretch with my growing baby and it also helped with the itching I had as my skin stretched. This is an oil and again where most will make you feel slippery and greasy, this one absorbs really well. Especially when applied immediately after a hot bath or shower. There is a smell to this product but it is faint. In fact I cannot even tell you what it smells like because it is so mild. Of all of the products in this kit and listed above, this would be my highest recommended during pregnancy.

This kit would be a perfect gift for any expectant mother and if you would like to order one of these or any of the other great products, please visit the Earth Mama website by clicking here.

Of course you could just get one of these “A Little Something for Mama-To-Be” for FREE! That’s right Jacks Crunchy Mama and Earth Mama Angel Baby is doing a GIVE-A-WAY! 1 US or Canadian Winner will recieve “A Little Something for Mama-To-Be”. Drawing will be held August 9th, 2013 at 6PM CST.

To enter the giveaway you must complete the following:

1. Be a follower of Jacks Crunchy Mama. (To follow this blog, look for a small +follow button at the bottom right corner of the screen from a desktop, or include your email in a comment and I will send you a direct link.)

2. Like Earth Mama on Facebook.

3. Comment below confirming that you have done the previous 2 requirements.

Like Earth Mama Angel Baby on Facebook by clicking this LINK!

Follow Earth Mama’s Blog

Follow Earth Mama Angel Baby on Twitter

Not Pregnant? Breastfeeding? Earth Mama has a whole line of nursing friendly products as well.

Earth Mama Angel Baby also offers a free e-book on their webpage “Herbs and Breastfeeding” so make sure and check that out as well.

“Disclaimer: Earth Mama Angel Baby provided this product for my review at no cost.”

Natural Birth Resources in Louisiana

Louisiana natural birth link

Most women think that they do not have many options when it comes to the birth experience but even more commonly than that, women do not even give it a thought at all.

The standard practice in the US is that a woman gets pregnant, schedules an appointment with an obstetrician, goes through a series of vaginal exams, ultrasounds and if she’s lucky escapes with a medicated vaginal birth. I say lucky because 1/3 of the women in the US will give birth via cesarean section. Which is necessary in some few cases. This has become the “normal” birth. But what is/ should be “normal” birth?
That is something that every mother must ask herself.

Do your research, know your options and decide for yourself what you want, are comfortable with and how you will feel about each choice. The only wrong choice is not choosing at all but relinquishing your body to a medical provider that many times does not practice informed consent.

Below is a list of natural birth educators, doulas, midwives and written resources. Most of these women will talk with you free of charge and help you discover what it is that you truly need and want for your birth experience.

Midwives

Emmy Trammell 985-974-2724

Alina Gardner Brmidwife@gmail.com

Sally Acosta 985-259-3557

Sherri Daigle 225-293-5836

Lynette Robinson at Gentle Choices birthing center 337-501-2916

Anne Lastrapes 337-278-4354

Doula/educational services

Lacey Hebert http://tolbirth.com/index.php/about

Nicki Pugh 225-819-7977 or visit her on Facebook at Old River Doula

Nola Nesting 504-655-1819 or visit them online by clicking here.

Jenny Dickerson 985-320-0016

Kira Smith 337-366-0303 http://www.motherbirthla.com/#2755

Rene Johnson Birth Help http://www.birthhelp.com/

My recommended reading list:

Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin
Ina Mays Guide to Childbirth
Active Birth by Janet Balaskas
Baby Catcher by Peggy Vincent
Pushed by Jennifer Block
Your Best Birth by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein

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My Breastfeeding Experience: A Difficult Journey

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My Breastfeeding Experience: A Difficult Journey

I thought that Breastfeeding would come naturally to me. I thought it would be easy because our bodies were created to nourish our offspring. I thought it would be this beautiful bonding experience. Everything I thought, turned out to be wrong.

I read lots of books about pregnancy, labor, birth and breastfeeding while pregnant with Jack. It was not even a question in my mind as to if I would nurse my baby. Of course I would, I was not going to give him an imitation when I had the real thing free and readily available in my very own body. I would never drink baby formula myself or even the first two ingredients – corn syrup & vegetable oil so why would I give that to my baby? So the decision to breastfeed for me was an easy one. What was not so easy, was actually doing it!

I had Jackson on a beautiful warm morning in October. My labor was a short but intense 6.5 hours resulting in a medicine free natural water birth. It seemed so easy and natural and as soon as I took my slippery pink son into my arms, he immediately began to root searching for my breast. I put him to breast before even getting out of the tub. I thought WOW! He’s already nursing like a champ, this is going to be great! We nursed a few more times before leaving the birth center to return home.

That evening it was my husband, myself and our new baby all alone. We had no idea what we were doing, and panic started to set in. Our baby cried all night long, he awakened every 30 minutes to an 1 hour around the clock. I nursed him on demand just like the book had said, and changed sides, just like the book had said. But something was just not working.

The evening of day four, my husband brought me a diaper and said “hey this looks kinda weird”. I looked at the diaper and saw my worst nightmare. A light red rust like substance lay there revealing the hard truth, my son was dehydrated. He wasn’t getting enough colostrum and my milk still had not come in. I felt defeated and totally lost. The next morning Jack had another diaper laced with urinate crystals and I was grief stricken. He was still crying day and night, hungry no doubt and it was all my fault. I contacted my friend Brigid who was nursing her sweet baby girl at that time. I asked her if she would be willing to give me some of her breast milk to feed my son, since I was not able to at that time. She brought milk over right away and even tried to nurse him herself, but he would not latch. We filled a small medicine syringe with breast milk and slowly filled his mouth. His face and whole body relaxed in satisfaction and he instantly fell asleep.

I pondered what I would do next? Would I start formula? Would I try to obtain more donor milk? What was wrong with me? Where was my milk?

Another friend visited me that afternoon to comfort and console me. As we were talking she looked over and asked me, “what is that on your nipple? IS THAT MILK?” Sure enough my milk had come just shy of 5:00pm on the 5th day after birth. What a relief! I could finally feed my son like I needed to. But my problems were far from over.

Over the following weeks, I continued struggling to feed my darling son. I suffered extreme nipple damage. Both sides were bruised, cracked and bloody despite the creams, soothie pads, and air drying, I was in constant pain. I cried every time I fed him, tears would stream down my face. It was so unbearable, I dreaded nursing him and he ate so often. Unknowingly I battled nursing a baby with a thick upper lip tie and light tongue tie. I was made aware of this after reaching out to a lactation consultant at a local hospital. Getting it surgically corrected at that time was out of the question. I was not in a proper emotional state to deal with that, so we waited.

And waited, and waited. I waited for it to get better like the ladies at the La leche league said it would. For the constant shooting pain to go away, and i waited to not HATE feeding my baby whom I loved with all my heart.

For two months straight, I took it day by day & nursing session by nursing session trying to keep our breastfeeding relationship alive. I stayed active on the local la leche league Facebook page and attended meetings for support. Finally around the 3rd month, I felt like things were getting better.

I practiced all the healthy habits to protect my milk supply. I never supplemented with formula to sleep, I drank water like crazy, took fenugreek, and ate a million lactation cookies. I also stopped eating dairy in an effort to help Jacks horrible tummy aches and extreme gas.

Jack is 6 months old now and he’s still nursing. It’s easy now and I don’t have any pain. The only problem I have is the occasional love bite, I say love bite because he’s always smiling when he clamps down on me. I’m proud of myself for enduring the pain and fighting for our nursing relationship. I am so grateful to be able to provide the best nourishment for him.

It’s hard for me to think on my breast feeding journey. I feel angry, robbed and ashamed. I feel angry because I wasn’t prepared like maybe I could have been. Angry because things did not happen like I wanted. Robbed because I did not get the deep intimate bonding that I thought I would have. Robbed of the enjoyment of my newborn son. Precious, unrecoverable time spent exhausted, in pain and constant despair. I had waited so long for him and then could not enjoy him, how sad?! Last of all I feel ashamed. Ashamed that I ignorantly allowed my son to get dehydrated before reaching out to someone for help. Ashamed because I hated nursing my baby, that I didn’t even want to look at him sometimes because of the pain I was in.

I do not have birth trauma, I have nursing trauma. This experience has scarred my heart and makes me question having more children. I hope that my heart will heal over time and that one day I will be able to let go and forgive myself.

If you have trouble with nursing please reach out to other wise women who have nursed children, your local La Leche league and lactation consultants in your local area. Know you aren’t alone in your struggle and you can get through it!

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The Birth of River: A Guest Post

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River’s birth story

I was spending the night at my grandparents’ house on January 16th. It was about 10pm and everyone had gone to bed already. I was laying on the couch when I felt the first contractions.
I started timing them and within two hours, they were 8-10 minutes apart and a minute and a half long (I still have the timer record of it on my phone) and strong. I got excited and called my mom. She came at about 4:30am and they were 5 minutes apart.

At around 6am, the contractions were stronger and 3-4 minutes apart, so I called the birth center (at Ochsner) and let them know I needed one of their tub rooms and would be coming in soon.
The car ride was not fun, but also slowed the contractions down. By the time we arrived, they were back at about 8-10 minutes apart and weaker.
They saw me in triage and I allowed an initial cervical check (I had none throughout pregnancy), and was surprised to be at a 2, 60% effaced. I wasn’t a big fan of the midwife (medwife) who told me “well, if you stay and haven’t progressed within an hour, we’ll end up in a section”.

Needless to say, I went back home (to my grandparents’ house as it was closer). I tried to get some sleep, but the contractions were still coming steadily at 6-7 minutes apart. I had my last midwife appointment scheduled for 1:30 that afternoon, so I decided to go to it anyway.

I asked Bethanie (my midwife) if she would check my cervix as the contractions had gotten stronger. I was at a 4 and 70-80% effaced with a bulging bag.

I knew he was coming soon, but not just yet. I needed to have his car seat installed and I wanted it checked! I messaged Amy (cpst) on Facebook and asked if she would mind checking my install.

She came over and fixed my mistakes for me and we talked about labor and birth all while I breathed through contractions. It felt good to be up and around, even in the cold outside. And I am so very grateful for her advice and help.

Around 5pm, my contractions were stronger and about 4-5 minutes apart. I tried to eat something (grits), but gave up after a few bites. I decided I would bring some snacks with me in case I wanted it later.

At around 6pm, the contractions had gotten even stronger and I knew I wouldn’t want to be in the car if they got any stronger, so we got everything ready to go. I ran in the bathroom (why do we all take pictures in there??) to take one last belly picture before going in. I was 39 weeks and 4 days pregnant and about to meet my prince.

My mom, sister, aunt and I left for Ochsner. I was right about the car. This time, however, the contractions didn’t slow or lessen.

Once there, I allowed the second “initial” and LAST cervical check. I was at a 7 and 90% effaced. I was admitted and went to the room with the huge, wonderful tub. I texted Jade to let her know I was there so she could leave.

The midwife I saw was Bethanie’s student Amy. She was pregnant too. I think that’s what made her so gentle.
I let them do a 15 minute strip of River’s heart tones (he kept running from the monitor as always) and got changed into my dress. We went over my birth plan. I even updated you guys on Facebook for a while. I hooked up my phone to the room’s speakers (awesome) on pandora to listen to music and started filling the tub.
About five minutes after going over my birth plan, an anesthesiologist got lost and knocked on my door offering an epidural.

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I texted Rachael to let her know it was baby time! The contractions came in waves, and were stronger, but still a lot easier than I thought they would be. Letting them roll through me was a little trancing.

Once the tub was full, I got in and immediately was calm. The hot water felt wonderful (I will always be a bath type girl) and I loved the weightless feeling of floating.

I got in and out a few times to try and use the restroom and to keep my contractions from slowing or stalling in the water. At one point, I had to pause halfway in and halfway out of the tub, barely touching the ground for a contraction. That was the worst contraction of them all.

We listened to Norah Jones' station on pandora. I floated and breathed and drank about 4 giant cups of icy water. I had no interest in food. I got so hot in the tub by that point, I had the air down low and was freezing everyone else. I even dumped ice in the tub.

As the time inched closer and closer to midnight, we started wondering if he'd make it on the 17th at all. I had a feeling he wouldn't (I was right).

We talked and laughed and everyone waited as I breathed through contractions to continue the conversation.

Some time around midnight, I started feeling the urge to push. Two contractions after that, it was no longer an urge, but an involuntary thing. After one contraction of pushing on my side (caught me by surprise), I knew I needed to be on my knees.

My mom found a stool or a chair or something (I confess to not paying much attention at that point) and sat by the side of the tub to hold my hand and put cold rags on me (thank you mommy!). Somebody (I think my aunt) went to go find the midwife.

The midwife came in and stood by the tub. I think there was also a nurse there. The contractions were hard and fast and I was zoned in and focused. I think I may have bruised my poor mom's hand.

I vaguely remember someone coming in to ask if I minded Rachael coming into the room. I nodded and don't think I even said hi to her (sorry, Rach!) when she came in.

We were still listening to Norah Jones's station and Etta James' song "At Last" came on. I had been tuning out everything including the music until that point. I listened to it and sang along in my head, feeling excited and nervous and proud, because I could feel his head (through his sac as my water had not broken) and knew he was almost there (at last).

Just a few minutes later, his head was born and with a surprised "oh!" (The only actual word I remember saying while pushing), I turned back off my knees to reach for him.

As I touched his head, I realized my water still had not broken. He was born in the caul, a lucky sweet boy! Another small push and he was out, my angel come to earth at 1:07am on January 18th. I pulled him up to me and Amy reached out to unwrap his cord (triple nuchal).

I pulled him to my chest and was mesmerized instantly. He was so tiny! So perfect. His head was molded and I was surprised to see he had some hair. He stared around with wide eyes and was so silent and calm.

He held my finger as I held him and fell in love. I felt all over him, wanting to memorize each inch. I looked at his tiny fingers and his sweet little eyes. His teeny bum and long legs, his ears (just like mine). I soaked him in and soaked up the rush and happiness of having him the way I wanted to.

I looked around and finally said hi to Rachael. I looked at his cord and felt it (I wish I had at least glanced at it while it was pulsing with blood) and changed out the blankets on us so he wouldn't get cold. Amy commented that his cord was thinner than she'd seen before.

About 45 minutes after he was born, my sister cut his cord (it had stopped pulsing about 10 minutes before). I birthed the placenta a few moments after that.

I let my sister carry him to be weighed and measured quickly while I got out of the tub and got checked (I had a 2nd degree tear that needed stitches). He was 7lbs and 4oz (a full pound less than I was expecting) and 20.5 inches long.
They showed me my placenta, all the veins and the membrane and cord. It was placed in a small bowl with a lid to be taken home with Jade for encapsulation (I HIGHLY recommend it).

His foot prints were done (as well as a second set in his scrap book) and he was brought back to me. Jade helped me latch him and he nursed for the first time and I melted.

Birthing my beautiful little boy was the most amazing day of my life. I am so proud of myself and so blessed to have him. He is everything right in the world and the love of my life. I birthed with love and with strength, without fear.

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Waiting For Baby…

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Waiting For Baby

So it’s your due date and you feel nothing. And by nothing, I mean, no contractions. Sigh… Will my baby ever come???!!

You may be thinking about an induction if you haven’t already scheduled one already at your 39 week appointment. After all, the baby is big enough, and developed enough, why not end your pregnancy and finally hold your baby?

Every mama pondering induction should read the articles below:

http://www.motherfriendly.org/Resources/Documents/CIMS%20Fact%20Sheet-%20Problems%20and%20Hazards%20of%20Induction%20of%20Labor.pdf

So if increased risk of fetal distress and cesarean section were not enough… There’s the effects on Breastfeeding to consider as well.

La Leche League International states in their document on birth:

A woman considering an induction before her due date needs to know that a late preterm baby (37-39 weeks) may have some of the same types of problems breastfeeding as a very early preterm baby (such as weak or uncoordinated suck, and sleepiness at the breast.)

This link provides excellent insight to the effects that the birth experience can have on Breastfeeding.

http://www.llli.org/docs/lad/ChildbirthandBreastfeeding.pdf

Listen, I’ve been there! Jack was born at 40 weeks plus 5 days! I was beginning to think I was just fat and wasn’t actually having a baby at all. I say on my sofa much of the last two weeks inhaling ice cream and watching extreme makeover: weightless edition! It was hard to wait for my baby to come. Babies come out when they are ready. Jack was definitely ready too, only 6.5 hours of labor and 9 mins of pushing was all it took.

He was only 8.2 and 20 inches long even post date. He wasn’t a huge baby and came out relatively easy.

Be patient mamas, that baby growing below your heart will soon enough be in your arms and at your breast.