Home » BLOG » Archives for Jody - Where The Coconuts Grow

Author: Jody - Where The Coconuts Grow

Jody lives compactly aboard a 42' sailboat with her husband Peter, baby boy Brig, and their furry four-legged little girl, Betsy. She traded in the corporate conundrum for a life less ordinary and is now island-hopping around the Caribbean. Between a quirky obsession with organizing, capturing pretty pictures, diving with turtles and burying her toes in the sand, she feeds a passion for writing by blogging about their adventures in search of surf, sun, sand and serenity Where The Coconuts Grow.

Hurricane Irma

So, Hurricane Irma has been barreling across the Atlantic during the last few days and she’s headed right for us. Though the forecast doesn’t show her as a direct hit, all bets are off with a major (Cat3 and above) hurricane. The most reliable model is the Euro and that has it coming straight for us. The less reliable GFS model shows it going further North of us. The two models still don’t agree and we are anywhere from 4-5 days out. The direction and strength can change so fast despite what the forecast models show so we pretty much have to prepare for the worst.

It’s really difficult to wrap my brain around this, especially after the recent flooding we had here on Tortola and all the destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey in Texas. I mean, I know it’s peak hurricane season here in the Caribbean but you just never think it’s gonna happen to you. I’m really good at being in denial about stuff like this. It’s our fourth hurricane season and really the first time we’ve ever had to “expect” a named storm on our doorstep.

I’m actually pretty emotional about the whole thing. Granted, I have all these postpartum hormones making it worse, but Peter and I made a decision to have me fly off island with Brig. It’s just not worth risking our safety with something this big and this strong coming so close.

It wasn’t until just two days ago that this was even an option. Technically, he cannot enter the U.S. without a passport. Since he was born in BVI and does not qualify for a BVI passport, we technically have to wait until the US Consulate in Barbados comes to visit here in BVI to apply for his US passport.  Well, given our circumstances with an impending life threatening storm headed for us, the US Customs and Boarder Protection agency at the St Thomas airport has granted me special permission to let us travel with just a birth certificate for him instead of a passport.  The moment they told me that, I of course started to cry with relief. I don’t want to have to go anywhere but it really is the best thing.

Peter is going to stay here and continue to secure our boat for as long as it’s safe before taking shelter somewhere nearby. He’ll have Betsy to care for but at least he won’t have the added stress of making sure Brig and I are safe too. I’m going to take a ferry from Tortola to St Thomas and catch a flight out on Monday. I will be going up to stay with my family in Washington State far away from the Caribbean and the East Coast.

Its a decision we wouldn’t have made if we didn’t have Brig. I would’ve just stayed here and helped Peter with the safeguarding of our home. Everyone knows that when you have kids, your life changes. Your priorities change. You make different decisions. You do what’s best for your children no matter what.

A round trip ticket cost me $1400 two days ago with one three hour layover via American Airlines. Now there are no more American flights, and tickets are $1500 only available with Jet Blue with two layovers including one for 10 hours. ($2200 with United). I pretty much got one of the last decent flights available to fly out Monday. Let’s hope they didn’t overbook it.

Our boat is in the best possible location it could be in. Literally, the best spot inside this hurricane hole. The boat really shouldn’t see any waves at all and should feel reduced wind. Peter will do everything he can to make sure our home is safe.

I’m just sick about leaving my husband, my dog and my home in the path of a hurricane. Everything could be totally fine and then again it could be really bad. I pray they will be safe and that I will have a home to come back to. Everything we own is on that boat. It’s insured of course and it’s just stuff, but I can’t imagine losing everything I own in a natural disaster.

It happens all over the world. The west coast gets earthquakes and is due for “the big one”. The midwest gets tornadoes. We get hurricanes. I suppose we should be grateful we have so much warning.

I’m sure the cell towers will be down for quite some time so I may not be able to hear from Peter. I’m going to be worried sick. Power will be off island wide and he’ll be relying on the water and food supply we have stocked up. If the boat fares well, he’ll be able to stay aboard after the storm. If not, one person has offered their home to us so atleast Peter and Betsy will have a place to go either after the storm or before if things get too crazy.  Before I made my flight reservation we really didn’t have anywhere on land to go, so it wasn’t even a question of whether or not I should leave.

If you pray, please pray for us and for everyone in Irma’s path. We need all the positive vibes we can get…

I may not get a chance to post an update to our website as the storm approaches, but I will definitely be updating our Facebook page as I have more info. Even if you don’t have a Facebook account you can still see updates by clicking HERE

To all my friends and family in WA… now’s your chance to meet Brig! Send me a message <3

A New View

It’s Hurricane Season here in the Caribbean and we’ve got a new backyard view! We’ve actually been here since just days after Brig was born but it’s been hard to find time to keep up on the blog during these first newborn weeks ;)

It’s a time of year where anxiety can make you sick to your stomach. When your home is floating in the path of a potential named storm, all kinds of thoughts start racing through your head.

We spent our first two hurricane seasons down in Grenada, which is statistically in a zone that gets less hurricanes, luckily without any action.  Last year we hauled out in BVI and this year we are staying aboard in BVI. So far we have not experienced any named storms (knock on wood!) but we are always making sure we’re prepared.

This year has already been fairly active and there were a few systems that looked like they were coming our way but either dissipated or redirected before reaching the Virgins. Peter and I have spent countless hours discussing what we would do in the event of a named storm.

While we trust our mooring ball (that we’ve spent the last two years on) in heavy weather, we don’t necessarily trust it in a named storm especially because now we have Brig. For the duration of Hurricane Season this year we decided to move our boat into a marina that is tucked way inside a designated hurricane hole here on Tortola just so we don’t have to worry about moving it if something comes up. Also, since we have to wait until the end of September to get Brig a passport, we can’t just haul our boat out of the water and fly back to the states to wait out the rest of the season there like we did last year. Not to mention, it’s incredibly expensive for us to do that. Aside from sitting on a mooring, hauling out, or moving to a dock, the fourth option would be to anchor out and hope for the best. We know a few people that have literally been the last boat floating while being anchored in a major storm.

Unfortunately, there are very few spots in BVI to anchor your boat – let alone considering if they would be safe. There are so many mooring balls installed for the charter boats that it leaves very few places left to drop the hook. Given our options here in BVI, we are pretty happy with our current situation from a safety standpoint. We will make every effort to secure our boat the best we can in a named storm, but when it really comes down to it, we’re insured. In fact, I’ve been finalizing our renewal this week. It’s definitely a relief to know we are completely covered for crazy things like hurricanes.

While I ABSOLUTELY despise being tied to the dock, it does have a few perks. For one, the Virgin Islands are H-O-T this time of year so being plugged into shore power allows us to use the air conditioning 24/7. Well, it actually requires us to run the A/C 24/7 because if we didn’t we would roast. Its even hotter tucked away inside this hurricane hole than it would be back on our mooring in West End. There are also a ton of mosquitoes when you’re close to shore so that’s another reason we have to keep the boat all closed up. Even though I’m not pregnant anymore, I’m still concerned about Zika. I must admit it’s also nice to have air conditioning when I’ve got a fussy baby though. Secondly, it makes it much easier to take Betsy for a walk. She can practically take herself potty – something she can’t do from our mooring.

Then of course there’s the fact that we can park our car right next to the boat, there is laundry, a gym, our favorite restaurant, and a little grocery market all within a very short walk. Sure it’s convenient, but it’s just not the same as floating out on the water away from everyone else. I look at dock life like being in an apartment complex and our mooring as more like a neighborhood with big spacious lots :)

I cannot wait to get back to our beautiful home in West End!! Yes, I’ll probably miss the air conditioning, but I sure do love when the fresh Caribbean breeze blows through our hatches to cool us down.

First Beach Day

While my dad and Stacy were here, we decided to take Brig down to the beach just outside their condo at Long Bay. It was an absolutely gorgeous day with a perfect, picturesque view all around us. A nice big palm tree cast a perfect shadow on the sand with lots of space to keep us out of the hot sun.  His little skin is so fragile so we are careful to keep him shaded if we do have to go into the sun with him.

I set up the little shade tent that dad and Stacy got for us and gave it a whirl. It sets up in an instant, provides plenty of shade and is big enough for me to sit in there with him. The only bummer part about it was that the wind had started to pick up a little and sand was blowing every which way. I was worried about sand getting in Brig’s eyes so we didn’t stay down at the beach very long but it was still fun for his first time!

While we sat up in the shade, we watched Nana and Grandma Stacy float around in the crystal blue water. Peter had to work that day so we decided to wait for daddy before letting Brig go in the ocean for the first time ;) Even though I didn’t go swimming, I still loved every second of being down by the water. Next time, Brig and I will be out there too! Before I know it, he’ll be a little fish just like his daddy so I wasn’t too bummed about missing out on the cool waves.

Sometimes I look at the pictures I take here in BVI and I can’t believe how gorgeous it all is.  We’re so lucky to be able to call this place home…

Brig’s First Sail

For the first seven weeks of Brig’s life we had a constant stream of visiting Grandparents. My mom arrived the day after he was born and stayed for just over a month.  Then my dad and stepmom arrived, then Peter’s dad and his aunt were here. We got a little bit of overlap in each visit and it was so much fun.

It was such a special time for us so we decided to take Brig for his first sail! He had already been in the dinghy a few times but he was ready to actually go sailing. Since we had moved our boat to the dock and secured her for the remainder of hurricane season it was much easier to take Aristocat instead. There were no charters scheduled that day so it worked out perfect. Jen and Mike from Three Sheets came with us and brought their friend Shakti. Mike has been running Aristocat since Brig was born so he and Peter took care of all the sailing. It was nice for me to be back on board but it was even nicer that all I had to do was take care of Brig ;)

This was the first time Dad and Stacy could see what we had been up to for nearly two years aboard Aristocat. The last time they had visited us in the islands was before we started working so this was pretty exciting for them. They had heard so much about what we did everyday and they finally got to experience it first hand!

Mom couldn’t be happier. We were headed to her favorite place in the entire world. AND, she was taking her grandson there! She was glowing the whole way!

We sailed over to White Bay, Jost Van Dyke for the day. Brig is still too young to wear sunscreen so I kept him in the shade with me on the boat while everyone else swam to shore and had fun on the beach.

We even took an afternoon nap on the boat while everyone else was having fun on shore. I think Brig, Betsy and Peter got more sleep than I did but I did manage to doze a tiny bit.

Jen, Shakti, dad, Mike, and mom… Stacy was behind the camera. They were clearly enjoying a few Painkillers at the Soggy Dollar Bar!

I think the most memorable part of the whole day was sharing Brig’s first sail experience with both my mom and my dad. I can’t even remember when I was last around them both at the same time. Babies have a way of bringing everyone together! Brig sure is loved by a lot of people <3

 

When My Birth Plan Fell Apart

**Disclaimer: The following contains the details of Brig’s birth story so if that doesn’t interest you, I suggest you skip this post.

 

I’ve always been a planner. It’s a way to organize my thoughts and I feel much more productive if I can follow a plan for everything I do. Even if I change my plans and wing it, I quickly come up with a new plan once I know the direction I’m headed.

My pregnancy was no exception. During the beginning of my third trimester I discovered a childbirth program called Hypnobabies. It’s what all the other natural childbirth methods have evolved into these days. From Lamaze to the Bradley Method, to Hypnobirthing… but it’s important to note that Hypnobabies is a completely different program than Hypnobirthing.

I was first introduced to the Mongan Method of Hypnobirthing, a program highly recommended by my good friends Eben and Genevieve. I read the book after they sparked my interest but that program is better absorbed if you can take a local class in person. Here in BVI, childbirth education is severely lacking and I definitely didn’t have access to the kind of class I wanted to take. There was a generic childbirth class available at the local hospital but based on my experiences with the medical professionals here so far, I felt like I could learn more from Google. So, I did what I always do in situations like this… I started to research.

It turns out there are several different Hypnobirthing philosophies, one of which is Hypnobabies. Hypnobabies was developed by someone who used to be a Bradley and Hypnobirthing instructor but also found those programs to be lacking the techniques that women really needed to achieve a deep level of hypnosis during the entire birth.

The cost was about $170 – enough to discourage me from even considering it. As I continued to research more and more, I decided I’d bite the bullet and just order it. I mean, if I actually wanted to do any other class I’d be spending money on that anyway. With this one, I would have the freedom to go at my own speed at home and potentially have an amazing outcome. The Hypnobabies Home Study Course is a complete childbirth education program which comes with a binder of info and a ton of audio tracks to download. While I could’ve purchased a used older version for slightly less money, I decided to get the newest edition as some of the info and tracks had been supplemented.

After the first of 6 weeks into the course I was completely hooked. It requires daily practice and I got to the point of nearly being obsessed with listening to my audio tracks and practicing the techniques. I was totally in love with everything I was learning and it truly prepared me mentally for everything that could happen during the birth of my baby. I knew it would take practice and conditioning. I knew there was a chance I could have a completely pain free, easy, comfortable, drug free natural childbirth. I also knew there was a chance that everything could fall apart.

I created a birth preferences sheet for the birth process as well as a baby-care preferences sheet for everything related to the baby. During my hospital tour I met the OB that would be on call during the birth, as well as the midwives that pretty much run the maternity ward. I explained that there is language used in the Hypnobabies program that replaces harsh terms for softer ones such as Pressure instead of Pain, Pressure Waves instead of Contractions, birthing instead of labor etc.  I even printed out articles to give to the doctor and midwives explaining the evidence based items they didn’t understand. For the most part they were all very receptive and curious about my program, but there was still an underlying skepticism laced with regimented routine. I had learned so much and felt so educated and empowered and I was very proud to be able to go into the birth with knowledge about what I wanted done and what interventions I was going to refuse. I felt confident I would be able to take charge of the birth process when the time came, even if the nursing staff wasn’t familiar with my plan.

***

For some reason, I had it stuck in my head that my baby would arrive a week after his guess date (due date). I really thought I had so much time. At 38 weeks on June 13th, my water released at 6:30 am. I had been sleeping and woke to feel a small gush. I snuck out of bed, careful to not wake Peter so early. This is when my denial really took hold. I was in such denial that when Peter woke up to get ready for work I almost thought it would be okay for him to go! I thought for sure it would take me all day and possibly all night to be ready to give birth. I was still trying to convince myself that this was really happening.

Luckily we decided it would be best for Peter to stay home from work and have Scott drive down and take the charter out for him. I had started timing my pressure waves (contractions) and they were averaging 4 minutes apart, but there were some gaps of 10 minutes in between. So here I was thinking they weren’t regular enough for the 5-1-1 rule. I was waiting for them to be 5 minutes apart for 1 minute duration – consistently for one hour. Well, they were all less than 5 minutes apart but with such a thick skin of denial over me, I kept telling myself and Peter that we had plenty of time. Poor Peter kept asking if it was time yet, and what we needed to do. I kept telling him to relax and that there was nothing we needed to do. That’s when he pulled an All Is Lost moment… he started to shave! I mean, what else is a guy to do when anxiety is overwhelming him yet there’s nothing that can be done? That scene seemed so stupid in the movie but it actually makes sense to us now :)

All morning my mind was so focused on timing my waves and figuring out if it was really time. I slowly gathered my hospital bag and helped Peter decide what else we needed to take with us. I had started listening to the first track I needed to play on my birthing day. It wasn’t a deep hypnosis track but it was part of my plan. I was pretty anxious myself and of course still in denial so where I really screwed up was by not putting myself in a deep hypnosis right then and there. My only job was to just do what I had practiced. I failed. My mind was so preoccupied that I wasn’t focusing on what was really happening.

Around noon I still hadn’t gotten into my hypnosis yet. I was feeling great, no pain at all. I was actually enjoying the pressure waves, remembering that my body was made to do this. Peter finally insisted that it was time for him to take Betsy over to Jen on Three Sheets and head to the hospital. I agreed but still just wanted to relax and progress at home as long as possible. I was actually kind of irritated that he was making me go just then. That’s when I should’ve known it was time.

We got in the dinghy and I needed a little help getting back out. That’s when things started getting painful. I had told myself I’d start the deep hypnosis tracks once I got in the car, but the walk to the car put me in a totally different place. I couldn’t speak through my pressure waves. Oh how I wish they were still just pressure waves! But by this point lets just call them what they were – contractions. I attempted to sit in the front seat but that was just not going to happen. Peter cleared out the back seat for me and I climbed in, laying on my side. I immediately put my earbuds in and tried to get relaxed again with one of the deepening tracks but it just wasn’t working. My contractions were coming every 2-3 minutes. We had about a 25 minute drive to the hospital along a bumpy road. Needless to say, I was never able to relax again from that point on.

Starting to realize that our little boy was coming NOW, I told Peter to park the car and help me walk in from the parking lot, instead of dropping me off at the entrance. I timed my waves and walked from the car past the front desk while I barely mumbled to the ladies that I was already checked in and that I was going to the 4th floor. I didn’t want to sit so I refused their wheelchair and they looked at me like I was crazy. It’s a good thing they followed us though because there were several security swipes that were needed to open all the doors. By the time I got to the maternity ward I was in tears. I was an emotional mess as I realized then in that moment that this was really happening whether I was ready or not. It wasn’t going the way I had planned at all. I didn’t feel the happiness I thought I would feel as I walked in. I knew where I was going but I felt so lost. Everything I had planned had gone out the window hours before.

My birth preferences were still flashing through my brain despite the chaos and pain. I knew I had planned on minimal checks but upon arrival they wanted to see how dilated I was, as expected, and I didn’t have the energy to refuse. Turns out I was at 6 cm when we arrived at 12:45pm. Here’s where they started going against everything in my birth preferences. Peter was trying so hard to be supportive and he tried to enforce my preferences but the midwives were very demanding. Keep in mind, at my earlier hospital tour everyone agreed that I could move about as I wished, be in any position I wanted to, and that basically they could not force me to do anything. Well, here I was in the worst pain I had known my entire life and the damn lady would not let me lay the way I was most comfortable. They wanted me in a position that was convenient for them. Things started to escalate so with a defeated whimper I asked what my options were for pain management, should I change my mind. They told me there was nothing they could give me if I was past 7 cm so they would have to check me again to be sure. I agreed. By the time the midwife came back in to check me, maybe 20 minutes had passed by and I was at 9 cm.

My plan for having this baby without drugs was happening, except I was missing the part that would’ve prevented the pain. Without being in hypnosis from the beginning I felt like there was no way I could ever achieve it at this point. The worst moments of it all were when they took several unwanted steps to hurry the process instead of letting my body go at the speed it wanted. They forced me to lay on my back with my legs in stirrups and it was the most uncomfortable position I could be in. This was just one of many instances that they insisted on something that was more convenient for them, not for me. They insisted on an episiotomy, something the doctor was advocating from before the birth which tells me it’s a routine procedure for them. He told me it’s easier for them to stitch an episiotomy than to chance a natural tear. Even though I did not want them to do it, they told me horrible things to convince me to agree.

Just 2 hours after arriving at the hospital, Brig was born. I was still in shock after everything had spiraled out of control so fast, but once the pain was gone I was finally able to take charge of the rest of the procedures. They weren’t very happy about it and I was probably a terrible patient in their eyes but I didn’t care. I couldn’t wait for my hour of uninterrupted time with my baby and my husband. We were required to stay at the hospital for 48 hours. By the end of those two days I was more than ready to go home.

My poor mom missed the birth by one day and arrived the day after he was born. Although she was sad, we agreed that it was probably best she wasn’t there for how they were treating me during the birth. It was an experience that Peter and I were supposed to go through together and we made it.

***

Looking back, I SO wish I could have had the amazing Hypnobabies birth that I wanted and that I was prepared for. I know there are a lot of you that are thinking to yourself… “I told you so” or “that stuff doesn’t really work” but I really do think I could have had a better experience if I had just done what I was supposed to do earlier.  Everything happened so fast and so much earlier than we expected. He was born two weeks early, and really three weeks before I thought he would. I think all my practice allowed me to stay so calm and relaxed that whole morning without even needing to put myself in a deep hypnosis, and I didn’t even realize it at the time.  I could look at it like the program didn’t work for me, but I know that’s not true. If we have another baby in the future, I will ABSOLUTELY be using Hypnobabies again. I will do my best to not be in denial and I’ll embrace my birthing day without fear. Most importantly, I will NOT give birth in BVI ever again. They are too set in their ways and they did not support me like they said they would. I think I can absolutely have a different experience next time.

If you’re interested in learning more about Hypnobabies please send me a message and I’d be happy to talk more about it. There are so many beautiful birth stories from other hypnomamas and that is what inspired me to try the program. Just because my birth story didn’t turn out like theirs doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. I am still so grateful for all the knowledge I learned from the study materials and it truly helped me feel confident throughout the rest of my pregnancy. I recommend doing your own research as I did, but if you decide to try the Hypnobabies program, please consider using my link as I do get a small commission if you purchase anything on their website by first clicking my link HERE.