Saturday, October 13, 2018

The Birth of F

She turns ONE tomorrow.  And I have not managed to write her birth story.  Part of it is because, well, it's been a really busy hard year.  We moved when she was just a few months old into a house that needed a little work inside and a lot of work outside.  We're talking several days of arborists.  We took down sheds.  Tented the place for termites.  Removed more than 6 tons of debris.  I traveled to tucson and ran a half marathon.  Dan had a close co-worker pass away in a car accident.  He had to travel for work.  I realized my anxiety was no longer manageable and talked with my midwives about it.  I started seeing a psychologist.  We had to replace our entire fence line.  We had ductwork done.  Removed 3 large trees. We had a friend need a place to stay so we gave up our office 4 weeks. We had 4 quotes about our plumbing issues that kept getting more and more expensive until we found someone who told us we didn't need any of that and that he could just flush the pipes and we'd be good to go.  Anxiety ensued. We had a new fridge installed.  We desperately tried to unpack and organize this house.  Raised some new baby chickens.  We took a trip to Utah to celebrate my in laws 50th wedding anniversary.  We had a wall taken down and a fireplace removed as well as demoing part of the laundry room- during the absolute hottest part of the year so we hunkered down in one room- it was AWFUL.  (The remodel is wonderful though)  Anxiety ensued.  We celebrated birthdays, threw parties.  I traveled with the baby back home to visit family.  Our friend again was in need of a place to stay for a couple weeks, those couple weeks turned into a stressful 3 months.  Dan got a vasectomy and had a rougher recovery than expected.  The neighbors dog jumped the fence and killed some of our little chickens, on two separate occasions, and it was seriously traumatizing.  We plugged thousands of holes in the yard to plant grass that will grow in shade.  All the while managing to keep up with two volunteer roles, raising four kids, maintaining a house, driving kids to school and keeping everyone fed and alive.

The other reason I haven't written it down is because, well, it was hard.  It wasn't my favorite and I thought it was going to be different.  But birth doesn't follow rules or plans and I really should know that by now.

The day I went into labor was a boring Friday.  My due date was 2 days away so I was not expecting a baby for at least a week.  My middle daughter was getting ready to go camping with my mom and we drove out to the campsite with the whole family, grandma too.  We hung out and had hot dogs and smores and once it was dark we took the other two kids back home with us and put them to bed.  Dan and I settled down to watch some tv and relax.  I had a few contractions here and there, just like I had been having for the past week.  Around 9:30 pm I got up to go pee, relieved myself, and heard more pee.  Thought 'that's weird'.  The water in the toilet looked a little cloudy but it hadn't clicked in my head yet.  I walked across the house to get a snack and I could feel that my underwear were wet.  I silently panicked.  Was that my waters that broke?  I walked back to the bathroom and sat down and nothing, no more leaking.  I put a pad on some fresh underwear and returned to the living room to message my photographer (who was terribly worried about missing my birth) to warn her something could be happening and that my waters may have broken.  She messaged back right away telling me to go sit on the toilet and press down on the top of my belly, if more water came out then it was most likely broken.  So I did, and it did.
And I was a little mad.  Because this pregnancy I was GBS+ and it would have been real great if my waters could have stayed intact until I was pushing- just like it did the last two times.  I went back to the living room and told Dan all that was happening because I hadn't said anything yet. Laboring moms do weird things like keep secrets about your waters breaking even though you've been sitting in the same room.  Contractions started to happen.  They were about 5 minutes apart, 30-45 seconds long and getting more intense.  I messaged a friend who lived close by to see if she could come over until Dans parents arrived.  His parents live 30 minutes away and we didn't want to wait for them just in case things went crazy fast.  My friend showed up in less than ten minutes and we took off. On the drive to the hospital the familiar feeling of adrenaline started.  Contractions got stronger.

we're having a baby selfie!
Once we got to the hospital they checked me and said I was about 4 cm dilated. They brought someone in to check the fluid to see if it was my amniotic fluid. In the meantime I was leaking everywhere.  It was so annoying.  I should have asked for another pad but it was a busy night and I wasn't in the mood to track someone down.  There was someone else in triage too that was not having a good time.  She was panicking and only spoke spanish.  I'm assuming she understood some english because they kept talking to her in english. They told her that she shouldn't have driven to this hospital because she wasn't far enough along in her pregnancy to safely deliver there.  That because she didn't have prenatal care she was putting her baby at risk. They also mentioned a complication that I would have guessed to be placenta accreta- because they talked about it like it was some serious business.  ANYHOW, I felt terrible for her and was struggling to keep myself in a positive space while we waited for a room.

cool henna still intact!
The nurse came in a checked the fluid.  She said that if it was amniotic fluid it would look like a fern under the microscope.  That was the name I was sold on and it convinced me even more that this baby was a 'Fern'.  I labored and things picked up a bit despite all the distractions.  I signed paperwork in between contractions and could not wait to get into a room.  After being there more than an hour they finally started the antibiotics for the GBS.  I was annoyed it took so long because my last labor was less than 2 1/2 hours and I wanted to get a full dose in.  My photographer was in the waiting room napping until we got our own space.

doula dan
After midnight we finally got our own room.  Our photographer came in and started snapping pictures and providing comforting words.  Shortly after she showed up I started feeling pushy when I tried to pee.  I 100% thought I was at ten centimeters.  Things were so intense and I couldn't get on top of things.  My midwife came in to check me and said I was only 6 cm.  I was pissed. Everyone kept reassuring me telling me that I was progressing quickly even if it didn't feel like it and to just try to labor without pushing.  And in my head I was thinking "shut the fuck up, that doesn't help me now.  This isn't fast enough and your words of encouragement are garbage".  But I was too busy laboring to yell at everyone.  I kept noticing small side conversations and all the hospital noises.  It started to make me think that something was going wrong.  I could only labor leaning over the bed or tray table at this point.  And I wasn't really handling it well, or at least it didn't feel like it.  I finally asked if something was wrong and everyone said "things are going perfectly, you don't need to worry".

laboring is hard work!
breathing in between contractions
I really could not get comfortable.  All I could feel was the baby's head pushing on bones and I was struggling to control the urge to push.  This was the first time in three labors that I had thought about getting an epidural.  I knew she was OP (face up instead of face down) and the back labor was no joke.  My photographer (who is also an amazing doula, I just didn't hire her for that too, even though I probably should have) must have noticed my internal struggles because she told me "this is as bad as it gets.  You're already in the hard part and you're doing great.  It doesn't get worse than this."  This was the reminder I needed.  Labor sucks, its really, really hard and we can do really hard things.  I started to get pushier and really hoped that I was complete so that we could get this over with.

hate. this. part.
I wasn't.  I was at 8 cm.  It was around 2 am at this point- not that I had any idea.  So I angrily labored on.  I went from one contraction being ok to screaming through the next one.  More people had filed in the room as I labored in the bed.  I had flipped over and had my back to the raised part of the bed and was kind of in a squat position.  I hadn't noticed that my midwife put on her delivery gown.  At some point I did and said "wait, can I push now?!"  and she told me to go for it.  That little squat must have changed things.  So I started pushing, and screaming, and pushing and screaming.  I hate the pushing part.  It's so incredibly painful and feels impossible.  After 12 hours of pushing, I mean minutes- it just felt like hours- out she came!  She was crying and pink and perfect.  She had the shortest little cord so I couldn't pull her up past my belly.  Its also probably the reason she didn't rotate much until I was pushing her out.  The cord didn't take long to stop pulsing so we cut it and I could hold her in my arms.

short cord
My midwife said "I know you have on your birth plan that you don't want pitocin, but you're bleeding is on the heavier side, it's up to you".  I told her that my birth plan was what I wanted in my wildest dreams and up for changes if it meant I wouldn't die.  I asked for pain meds because those postpartum contractions are terrible.  The placenta came out quickly and without complication thankfully.  We spent some time together while the nurse checked on me and waited until we were ready for her to be cleaned up and weighed.  She was 8lbs 5oz and was born at 2:43 am.  And the kicker- she was born BEFORE HER DUE DATE!  One whole glorious day before her due date.  My only baby to be born 'early'.

Leading up to her birth I was most anxious about the postpartum care.  With my 3rd daughter they came in and said 'we're here to take your baby to the nursery to put her under the lights' and it threw me off guard.  I wasn't prepared for that then.  This time I was.  My husband and I have the A-B-O blood incompatibility issue. So I was ready to advocate for myself and fight to leave the hospital like last time.  And F ended up having my blood type!  I was also concerned that they would want to keep her longer because we only got one dose of antibiotics in before she was born.  But the pediatrician was amazing and said she looked great and to just keep an eye on her.  I couldn't believe how smooth everything went postpartum.  I wish my husband could have stayed at the hospital longer but we couldn't get anyone to watch the kids full time.  And only my mom came to visit.  So it was a lonely stay.  I'm thankful she was so easy going, it made it easier to enjoy the quiet.

So there it is, my least favorite birth story.  A story that took me a while to feel proud of and want to actually write down.  Not every story is about being a warrior.  Sometimes the story is a beginning.  I didn't realize it at the time but her birth was the preface.  The start of seeing my inner strength, and my families strength.  I certainly haven't loved every minute of this last year just like I didn't love every minute of her birth.  But I am proud of it. 

It's nearly the time that my waters broke.  A whole year ago.  She's been the most chill baby who has slept the best and screamed the least.  There's been a whole lot of trials and challenges this year.  This sweet baby though, she's been such a ray of sunshine in it all.  Happy birthday baby girl.

***photos are by the amazing Alyssa with Cherry Blossom Doula Services***

so happy to have her in my arms!
one year old

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

37 Weeks!

Now, don't get all excited.  People hear 37 weeks and they think "oh wow, a baby at any moment!" Which is just not true for most women.  I've done a great job of mentally preparing myself that I could very well have 5 weeks left.  The only problem is that my body is very much 9 months pregnant and the aches and pains and discomforts are catching up with me.  Why do kids leave everything on the floor?  One of these days I'm going to count how many times I bend over in one day.  Oye.

And now for the pregnancy update!  So far I've only gained about 15 lbs, which is half of what I gained the past 2 times.  (I gained about 70 with my first)  Baby is doing great and measured at 6 1/2lbs at my 36 week ultrasound where we checked to make sure she was head down.  I swear this baby has a round booty because normally I'm pretty good at telling baby positioning.  My blood pressure remains normal.  I pulled/strained a stomach muscle last week that kicked my butt.  It happened twice.  It went away as mysteriously as it came.  I called my provider and talked to one of the midwives and took Tylenol, drank water, rested, and iced the sore muscle.  After a few hours I felt fine again.  I've been using kinesiology tape and its been helping.  It also removed some skin in one area when I removed it, ouch!  The worst part about the muscle is that it has triggered my anxiety.  I'm working on that the best I can.

This weekend my friend is hosting a small blessingway for this sweet baby and next weekend I'm getting henna done by the wonderful woman who did my henna last time.  It feels good to slow down and celebrate this miracle.  I hope to share pictures from both!

I have crossed most things off my to do list:

write out a birth plan for this baby- DONE

chat with birth photographer- DONE

write a postpartum plan

meal prep for that postpartum time- I honestly think a costco run is the only thing thats going to happen. 

mentally prepare for actually having to birth another baby- Somewhat done

pack hospital bag- DONE

I can't wait to add that beautiful henna to this belly!  

Thursday, August 17, 2017

30 week update

Most recent photo- 30ish weeks
I figured I better get an update in before I have the baby, because life is just crazy.  2 weeks ago I had another ultrasound and my placenta has moved into a safe zone for delivery.  Yay!  Baby girl is measuring right on track and looks healthy.  She's really stepped up the movement the past few weeks, which I am thankful for, it makes me feel better.  I think I've gained around 10 lbs but I'm not really sure.  Feeling pretty good overall, so much better even in my 3rd trimester than I felt the ENTIRE pregnancy last time.  I'm pretty exhausted by the end of the day but honestly who isn't when its 110 degrees outside.  I also had to stop my power yoga classes which I mourned for 3 weeks before trying out an amazing prenatal class!  I'm so happy I did and today my almost 3 year old and I went to a mommy and me class that was wonderful.

I just finished reading Ancient Map for Modern Birth, the new book by Pam England, and I have a few exercises in it that I want to do in preparation for this baby.  I hope to write a whole post reviewing the book but I can't make any promises because I don't want to break them.  But I will do my best!

My hypothetical to do list:

write out a birth plan for this baby

chat with birth photographer

write a postpartum plan

meal prep for that postpartum time

mentally prepare for actually having to birth another baby

pack hospital bag

I think thats all for now, hopefully I'll be writing soon.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Baby Girl #4 on the way!

 Baby Girl #4
Well here I am more than halfway through my pregnancy and I haven't even blogged about it!  I'm 'due' in October.  I keep telling myself I'll have a baby by Halloween, so if its not Halloween, don't ask "have you had the baby yet?"  I'm feeling so much better than I did last pregnancy and I am very thankful for that.  I've been able to work out still (I started Buti yoga classes more than a year ago, its a killer workout, you should try it.  Think cardio mixed with music and yoga poses.) and I'm just now busting out of my clothes.  I'm still dealing with horrible heartburn and food aversions but I'll take it! Because compared to the crippling exhausting, constant nausea and antepartum depression that I had last time, its a walk in the park!

We found out a few weeks ago that this is baby is a girl!  My older ones are so excited and I've been splurging on cute outfits.  Mostly second hand, but it still counts.  Luckily a friend is filling in the sizes that I don't have.  There's something about a 6 month old baby that makes me decide that I am done having kids and that I should get rid of all my baby belongings.  Every. Time.
The ultrasound went mostly ok.  This is the first time I've had any thing that warranted a second ultrasound. First, there was a cyst on the babies brain.  Second, my placenta is too low.  Not low enough to be placenta previa, but too low for a vaginal delivery at this point.  I went back 2 weeks after the original ultrasound and thankfully the cyst is gone!  My placenta has not moved yet but it has plenty of time.  We're going to re-check in 6 weeks or so.
Buti Glow party!

Now I haven't had any depression this round, but I have had bouts of anxiety.  Mostly about random things with my kids.  Sometimes I swear this baby doesn't move and that gets me worried.  She hangs out in the weirdest places and seems to be calmer than any of my other babies.  So far.  I also keep worrying about my hospital stay post delivery.  I don't think I wrote much about it, but after my 3rd was born I was pushed around by a hospital pediatrician and we almost had to leave AMA.  A night nurse also gave her formula even though there was pumped colostrum sitting out.  It was stressful and unwarranted.  I'm sure we'll have another jaundice baby and I am trying to calm those fears.  We have a plan this time around, and the hospital has the bililights in the room now if needed.
Half way!

Well, that is all for now!  I will try to update before this baby is born, but I'm also trying not to commit to much since we have a busy summer, we need to buy 2 'new' cars, my husband has some work trips and I have 2 kids starting a new school this year.  So, we'll see.  I'm making sure this year is focused on family and saying 'no' when its in my best interest. I also need to spend some time focusing on this new baby and blogging about her helps me do that.  I'm about halfway through Pam Englands new book Ancient Map for Modern Birth and it has a lot of exercises I plan on utilizing! Here's some pics of the growing girl!

Monday, November 30, 2015

I've been busy with anxiety

Anxiety and Depression doesn't always look like it.
I've been meaning to post about postpartum anxiety.  But I've been busy with kids and dealing with anxiety so I just haven't had time.  My anxiety had been amplifying over the past 6 months, and this past month it hit a new record high.  On Nov 1st we had a small earthquake, in a location that rarely has earthquakes.  It was loud, the bed shook, and my husband and I ran outside to find out what was happening.  It was just the tip of the iceberg.
I already hadn't been sleeping well for a few weeks because the baby is working on molars.  She would be up anywhere from 3-10 times a night.  It never fails that the second I fall asleep, she wakes up.  Every. Single. Time.  Every time I would try to fall asleep I would feel anxiety about being woken up.  Then I couldn't fall asleep.  And inevitably when I would eventually fall asleep from exhaustion, she would wake up. After the earthquake I would feel it while trying to fall asleep.  I KNEW it wasn't happening but I still felt it.  Then fear and panic were keeping me awake.  I went an entire week with a few hours of crappy sleep each night and I knew I was on the verge of a breakdown.
I wanted to try a few natural things first.  I started running a little to help clear my mind. I took a few trips to the store without children.  I did some crafting.  I used my essential oils.  (they usually help curb my anxiety)  All these thing were good for my soul but they weren't helping me sleep.  A friend of mine suggested getting a massage from a wonderful massage therapist that I saw once while I was pregnant with my 3rd.  So I set up an appointment.
I told her about my sleeping and anxiety issues. She talked to me about how my hormones sounded off and about how my tight neck mussels could actually be worsening my anxiety.  She suggested I look into a few herbal supplements.  I felt sore but good leaving the massage.  I picked up some supplements and thankfully I have been sleeping pretty well since. (except for the teething baby wake ups)
Day to day anything is not easy when you are dealing with anxiety or depression.  This is just a PSA to not take things personally.  I don't want to feel the way I do and I certainly don't want to upset the ones I love.  Help me out when I'm going through a rough time, remind me it will be ok, most of all, be patient because some day I'll come out of it.
I am not saying a massage or vitamins will fix everyone's anxiety but its a good start.  If you are feeling depressed/anxious reach out for help.  Know you are not alone and that you are strong enough to get help.
Little teething booger
First photo courtesy of AmberA Photography  

Saturday, June 20, 2015

5 years of guilt

     Five years ago we welcomed our first baby girl into the world.  It was a terrifying experience that left me feeling broken, guilty and depressed.  I loved that baby but I questioned everything about myself in the days that followed.  I questioned my body, my womanhood and my ability to parent. (which was all brand spanking new)
     After the first year or so, which was the beginning of writing this blog, I started to climb out of the depression I was in.  (you can read about that here, The First 6 Weeks )  My head was clear and I was feeling more like my old self.  We decided to expand our family and planned our VBAC.
     After the birth of my second daughter I was ecstatic!  But also tired and overwhelmed and I dealt with a bit of the baby blues.  Honestly the transition from working part time to full time staying home with 2 kids under 2 (with a horrible tear that took forever to heal) was more difficult that I expected.  I didn't have any friends that stayed home with their children and I felt lost.  I had done so much emotional work during my pregnancy that I felt amazing and whole again as a person but I was completely caught off guard by the pressure of parenthood.  We decided we were done having kids, that it was simply too stressful.
     So as life goes, we ended up with a third child.  The pregnancy was awful and I spent the first half of it ashamed for being pregnant, sick and just overall down and depressed.  I received a lot of negative comments about having a 3rd baby.  Mostly threats about how hard life would be with 3.  Half way through the pregnancy I worked on my emotions, dug deep, talked it out, and ended up feeling more upbeat and dare I say, excited.  The birth was wonderful, painful, and I had a great postpartum recovery.  Bonding was a breeze.
     As much as I worked on myself during those years, I never dealt with the GUILT.  And it occasionally catches me off guard.
     Times like tonight when I am rocking my youngest to sleep, I am tired and ready for me time, but I'm also enjoying it.  I don't remember "enjoying" it with my first.  I "enjoyed" more with my second but it was still a trying time.  And then I feel a twinge of guilt.  That I wasn't a better parent from that start.  I feel like I should have done something differently and handled the depression more aggressively.  That I should have found other ways to bond.  A lot of "shoulda woulda coulda" going through my head.
     Today I let go of that guilt knowing that my 5 year old KNOWS she is loved.  And that I did my very best.  That I continue to do my very best for my children.  I no longer need to hold onto guilt over a situation that I didn't have control over.  Every hug, every diaper changed, every bandaid applied, every time I've washed her hair, every art project I've swooned over, every dance party I've attended, every park we've gone to, every joke we've shared, every peanut butter and jelly sandwich I have cut into crazy shapes, every birthday party I've immersed myself in, and every bedtime song sung shows how much love I have for her.
     Happy 5th birthday sweet girl.  Goodbye momma guilt.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Birth Of O

  A little background and insight before I jump into the whole story.  My first daughter was a born via cesarean after a scheduled induction at 41 weeks 1 day.  I made it to 10 centimeters, pushed for 3 hours with a posterior (face up) baby flat on my back with an epidural.  My second child was born at 40 weeks and 3 days after a quick 4 hour epidural free labor.  I certainly expected to have this baby by 40ish weeks, or before!   This baby had been teasing me with contractions for weeks! Contractions would be about ten minutes apart then taper off into nothing.  The most annoying part was I generally only had contractions when I would lay down, so sleep just wasn't happening.  And I was honestly pretty mad I was still pregnant. It wasn't funny anymore, I just wanted to have this baby already.  Tired of people commenting about my size, about the baby not being here yet, and everyday was a battle to not lose my shit.  I was also obsessing over the baby being in a posterior position.  (Face up)  My friends and family had done a great job of keeping me busy with lunches, play dates, etc. but even with the help I was out of patience. I was still having regular bouts of nausea and overall feeling like crap.  A common theme for the past 9 months.

So there I was, 41 weeks pregnant.  7 agonizing days past my estimated due date.  It was just another, crappy, still pregnant day.  I headed out to visit with my sister in law and nieces and nephews.  (My husband was out returning a trencher, after digging up the backyard and accidentally cutting our internet cable.  Why not start a crazy project when your wife is 40+ weeks pregnant?)  The kids were excited to get out of house, something we hadn't been doing much of.  (Who's got energy for that?) I made the drive up to their house, let the kids play, had brunch, and headed home so I could try to nap.  

41 weeks pregnant in early labor
I was woken up by a contraction after sleeping for just 45 minutes, so much for a good nap!  I grumpily got out of bed and loafed around the house.  Dan took the girls out back to work on our mess of a yard.  I sat around reading a book, relaxing, and moping a bit.  (I may have shed a few tears about still being pregnant)  Around 5pm I noticed I was having contractions here and there.  I was still comfortable reading my book, so it wasn't anything to jump for joy over yet.  We had dinner, got the girls ready for bed and I kept reading my book until things got a little uncomfortable.  Mostly antsy, not pained.  I took a belly picture hoping it was the last one I would have a chance to take.   I was super exhausted from being a billion weeks pregnant, so I decided to lay down and try to rest.  I did start timing contractions while I was laying down, and I was basically willing labor to happen.   It was about 7 pm and my contractions were all over the place, 8 minutes, 15, 10, 7, 12 minutes apart.  The plan was to wait until they were about 5 minutes apart, lasting one minute, and consistent for 1 hour.  I did have to get on all 4's for each contraction, which is why I should have known this was the real deal, but I wasn't sold on the fact I was in labor.  I rocked through each contraction, laid back down, and hoped for rest.  

  I decided to give up on sleeping, and I was frustrated that my feet were freezing so I decided to take a shower to warm up.  I leaned on the wall through the contractions, but I wasn't having to vocalize through them, so I still didn't think I was in labor.  (see; Denial:  "refusal to admit the truth or reality")  After I got out of the shower I decided to put on my "labor clothes", but just for cautionary purposes.  I had to lean over the counter in the bathroom for each contraction and I was doing a figure 8 with my hips trying to get baby to turn so my back wouldn't hurt so bad.  (Baby had been face up for weeks and I couldn't get her in the ideal position, I was obsessing over it!)  

Ramping up!
I was finally warm and wasn't really sure what to do with myself, so Dan and I decided to put on a funny show.  Laughing is good for the soul, and good for labor too, if that's whats going on.  After 2 episodes, I was a bit more uncomfortable and I was feeling a constant need to pee.  I asked Dan if he could start pressing on my back to help with the pain.  He sat with me through a couple contractions, and he decided, even though I wasn't convinced, that this was it.  He started packing up stuff and loading the car.  I text a few people to give them a heads up that this *might* be it.  When he was done he came to time some contractions.  The next few contractions progressed quickly.  8 minutes, 7 minutes, 6 minutes, 4 minutes, 3 minutes........

My helpful Husband
Dan said he was calling our friend to come watch the kids so we could leave for the hospital.  I still wasn't convinced.  (I know, I should have been, but no one wants to get sent home for false labor!)  I was so "with it" in between contractions that it just didn't seem like it was time.  The back labor hurt, but I wasn't in labor land yet.  Within minutes, our friend arrived, and even she was skeptical if it was time to head out!  She said we were way too laid back and relaxed.  Irregardless at about 9 pm we took off for the hospital.

6.5 Centimeters and loving it!
Things seemed intense in the car, and I was starting to moan a bit during contractions.  I was also still texting friends and talking to Dan, it was very strange to feel so present! It was during the car ride that I was pretty convinced this was it because I was shaking terribly.  Mostly my legs bouncing and chattering my teeth.  Adrenaline is a crazy thing!  I was just hoping I was more than a 5, and that I wouldn't get sent home to wait longer.  The drive took about 25 minutes and we went to the E.R. to check in.  I stopped to use the bathroom (still having to pee a ton) and waited awkwardly in the waiting room with my shaky legs, my moaning, and my backpack.  They grabbed a wheel chair for me, and another random lady in labor, and whisked us up to triage on the labor and delivery floor.  

We got to triage and the lady who brought us up told me to put on a gown.  I said "no thanks."  She looked at me funny and said bluntly "take it up with your nurse."  Okay lady, calm it down.  Thankfully that was the only negativity I experienced during the entire labor and delivery.  Of course the nurse didn't bat an eye at me rocking my tank top.  My photographer met us in triage and started snapping pictures right away. We laughed and chatted and occasionally I would pause for contractions.  The nurse checked me, and I was happy to hear I was at 6.5 centimeters!  Hooray!  I was ecstatic.  I didn't have to be pregnant much longer, and we were finally going meet this baby.

Laboring in triage
I labored for maybe 15 minutes in triage while they got a room set up for me. This was the only little bit of laboring that I didn't listen to my body and just stand up.  I was worried about moving the monitors and I was a little intimidated by all the cords and hospital gear.

Laughing through labor
We walked to the room at about 10 pm.  I got set up with a heplok and monitors.  My midwife popped in to check on us and see if we needed anything.  I said nothing but water!  (Which she gladly grabbed for me)  Once everything was set up my nurse and midwife took off and dimmed the lights for us.   Dan continued to press on my back for contractions to make them bearable.  He set up the camera in between contractions, and I only had to yell at him once to come help me.  I labored on the bed on my knees, laying over a birth ball for a while, which was totally comfortable until I needed to use the bathroom.  Once I got in there, I felt like I couldn't empty my bladder.  It was very unsatisfying.  I only made it to the edge of the bed before the next contraction came, so I decided to just labor standing and leaning like I had been at home.  It was the only thing that helped the back labor.  In between contractions I still felt coherent, and we kept cracking jokes.  I felt more with it in between contractions than I did last time, but they also hurt like hell, which was different from last time.

Add caption
Right after my water broke!
Just a few minutes later, I felt like I needed to empty my bladder, I sat down and nothing but a trickle came out.  It was very frustrating.  I tried to pee again, and got a little grunty/pushy.  I wondered if I imagined it honestly, hoping it to be time.  I went back to the edge of the bed and with the next contraction I was for sure pushing.  I'm pretty sure I said " Oh thank God."

Our photographer went to grab our midwife.   I remember saying "I hope this doesn't take as long as last time." Because I really couldn't bear the thought of pushing for 1.5 hours again. My midwife came in ready to see if it was go time.  With my next contraction my water broke.  All over the floor, making a loud noise as it hit the ground.  It was such a cool moment!  It could have been straight out of a movie.  Pretty quickly after my water broke, Shit. Got. Real.  I literally felt the babies head move down.  It was probably the strangest sensation I have ever experienced.  The timeline is fuzzy here, but at some point my midwife checked me and I was at a 10, and a +4 station!  Woo hoo!  It was time to get down to business.  

Pushing is hard work

I crawled up on the bed and started out pushing on my hands and knees. The pain was terrible!  Way worse than I remember!  I was screaming like a banshee and I could have cared less who heard me.  Suck it, I'm having a baby here.  But then the babies heart rate stopped coming back up the way it's supposed to after contractions. So I ended up on my back and with oxygen to see if that would help babies heart rate come back up.  I would go from screaming in pain to telling myself "You are only one who could end this".

"come here baby!"
I knew that high pitched screaming was not the most effective way to push a baby out, but I couldn't help it.  I mean, that shit hurts!  Everyone said we were getting close, but it seemed like everyone said that for an hour with my last birth, so I wasn't confident they were accurate with their timeline.  I just kept yelling about how bad it hurt and that I couldn't do it.  But I also knew that I needed to get this baby out since the heart rate was crap.  I was for sure that I was tearing terribly but at that point, what can you do?  Just keep pushing! I reached down and felt the babies head.  Okay, they aren't lying to me, the baby is actually crowning.  I kept trying to put my hands down by the babies head because I wanted to help deliver, but the pain was so intense that I kept pulling my hands back.  It was such an internal battle.  (It mostly went like this "Damn it Jesse, this is your plan, do it!  Interupted by OUCH OUCH OUCH no thoughts here OUCH OUCH OUCH)  My husband kept pulling my hands back down because he knew what I wanted.  (Thanks babe!)  During the last few pushes I heard someone say that the head was out, so I did my damnedest to fulfill my own wish and helped grab onto whatever baby part I could. Apparently it was just that babies head, but thankfully my midwife had a better hold on baby and got baby on my chest! 

Holing baby girl
while still attached
to the umbilical cord
The moment we found out
she was a girl!
11:02 pm.  Baby is thankfully out!  My first words were "Come here baby!"  It was such a relief!  And I was way more emotional and present than I expected.  It took a few moments to remember that we didn't know the babies gender.  We had to move the umbilical cord out of the way, and......... its a girl!  She was perfection.  Tons of dark hair, a little bit of vernix, and she was crying perfectly.  They passed the baby down to Dan, still attached to the umbilical cord by the way, so that I could take my shirt off for some much desired skin to skin time.  (I say "I" but really the nurse did all the work.  All my muscles were jello at that point)  After the cord stopped pulsing Dan got to cut the cord.

The midwife had to take a look to asses the damage, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear that there wasn't any!  Not a stitch was needed.  I honestly couldn't believe it after needing so many stitches last time.  She said that the babies head came out at a bit of an angle, not the ideal position for delivery.  That explained why it hurt so much more than my last delivery, all that bone on bone pressure.  

It was a busy labor and delivery night, so we were left alone to continue skin to skin.  She didn't leave my chest for 2 hours.  I instantly bonded and fell in love!  I can't say I felt this with my other 2 babies.  Not this complete elation.  I think they really have opened my heart so much that letting this new baby in was easy.  She nursed, cried, and eventually calmed down and slept.  Dan and I enjoyed the quiet and basked in the newborn wonder.  Those moments you wish you could bottle forever.  (But unfortunately can't) 

After 2 hours I really had to pee, and the nurse finally came back to help me get up. ( Again, jello legs!)  O had pooped, all over me, and we both needed cleaned up.  I used the bathroom, and Opal was weighed and measured.  8lbs 2 oz, bigger than I thought she would be, but still a perfect size.  Her head measured 14 1/2 inches and she was 20 1/2 inches long.  Her labor was less than 4 hours long and only really active for 2.5 hours.  It was such an empowering experience.  I felt strong for the first time in months.  I had felt so crappy the entire pregnancy, that I hadn't been thinking of myself as "strong".  But I totally rocked this birth.  I rocked the entire thing. 

My recovery has been wonderful.  My only complaint would be having to deal with the nursery at the hospital for 24 hours with jaundice issues.  Dan took 2 weeks off of work and I got to hang out with O, rest, and spend some time with the big sisters.  I only left the house for doctor appointments.  I am so in love with this wonderful baby, and in love with the interactions between siblings!  My 4 year old is always asking to hold the baby, and my 2 year old tells me she loves her and sings Rock a Bye Baby to her.  They are all so sweet together.  I couldn't ask for more.

Riding that adrenaline high!  
Maybe the whole labor/delivery/baby experience has been too good, since I find myself contemplating having another baby already.  I keep thinking "with the next one."  Which just sounds like absolute crazy talk after spending 3/4 of this year feeling like shit.  I'm sure I'll return to my senses soon. For now I will enjoy this babymoon and snuggling this baby.  There it is, the amazing, painful, and wonderful experience that is childbirth.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Pregnancy Update! 32 weeks

I have to say, that I have been feeling better, for nearly 10 days now. WHOOP WHOOP!  (not every day, but I'll take what I can get)  I started taking zantac AND alfalfa tablets, and its has curbed the painful heartburn that has been making me nauseous and keeping me from sleeping.  (It was also messing up my back because I couldn't lay down flat!)  Baby also feels lower, which has to help not squish my stomach, therefore helping heartburn too.  I really don't care whats helping, I'm just glad something is, and I'm not messing it up!
I have gained about 20lbs this pregnancy, which is awesome.  At this point with my first pregnancy I had gained 45-50 lbs.  Everyone tells me I look fabulous, even if I don't feel it.  Of course I'm still dealing with those crazy people that say I look like I'm due tomorrow.  (see picture below)

I feel like we have most everything read for the baby.  Clothes, diapers, room is ready, hospital bag is kind of packed.  We still need burp cloths, a name, we need to install the infant car seat, and you know, gestate for at least another 6 weeks.  
Am I ready for the birth?  I think so?  We have a birth photographer this time, which I am very excited about.  I plan on laboring in the same clothes I did last time, and I have been reading Birthing From Within again to prepare.  
Is it a boy or girl?  I woke up the other day with the mindset that its a boy.  I don't know where that came from, but obviously it can go either way.  Every once in a while it drives me crazy that I don't know, and also that most of my gender "neutral" clothes are boyish, because what else do you buy?!?  I'm still riding on the fact that everyone who has waited to find out says its AH-MAZING.  We'll see.  We'll see.  (I can't imagine baby coming out, and me saying "meh" about the gender, so they might be right)  
Since I only feel decent some of the time, my house is a disaster.  So if anyone wants to come watch kids, clean, mow our lawn, we will not say no.  

Words Hurt

There are some words that bother me to hear when people describe their births.  The first is: "unsuccessful"  I read all the time when someone's birth ends in a repeat cesarean that they had an "unsuccessful VBAC"
Stop and think of all that word implies.

failedineffectivefruitless, profitless, unproductiveabortive
"an unsuccessful attempt"

Its a word we need to use less when describing the birth of our children.  I didn't have an unsuccessful vaginal birth, I had a cesarean birth.

The word "unsuccessful" does not describe the BIRTH of anything.  Birth its self is the emergence of a baby or other young from its mother, the start of life as a physically separate being.  It took me a long time to describe my cesarean as a cesarean birth, don't beat yourself up if you are not there yet either.

The same goes for describing a birth as "successful"  You can have a successful vaginal birth, along with a successful cesarean birth. Success with birth is not defined by a baby exiting your vagina without medication. There are so many components to birth.  So many ways to be proud, to succeed, and to be empowered.

Another word I hate:

A lot of times, when the topic of how you birthed your babies comes up, I'll mention my first was a cesarean. The person I'm talking to will quickly respond "oh, I had all mine natural."

Ugh.  Again, words hurt.

When I think natural, I think organic, untouched.  I do not think of most of the vaginal births you see on tv.  Women with epidurals, synthetic hormones, nurses screaming at them to push while lying flat on their backs.  The definition of "natural" is "existing in or caused by nature; not made or caused by humankind." 

Epidurals are a great tool and option to have.  But they are still an intervention, and not without risk.  They tend to lead to more interventions.  Pitocin is a great tool to have as well.  It is definitely over used, but it does come in handy. 

People are so quick to tell you that cesareans are common and "easy", so how are they more unnatural than the birth I just described?  31.3% of women give birth via cesarean.

I wish that instead of trying to define births, by declaring them "natural or unnatural" or "successful and unsuccessful" that we just support each other in birth.  That we support choices, that we all strive for informed consent, that we help women achieve the empowered birth they deserve instead of tearing women down for making a choice that isn't our #1 choice.  I am also not saying that you need to feel the way I do about these words, just that you know the implications of the words that you use.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

I'm still tired, nauseous, and this isn't really "flying by"

I know, sad Sally over here.  Debby downer.  But the title of this post pretty much answers all the questions that I keep getting asked.  I'm almost into the 3rd trimester, which seems fast, but also incredibly slow at the same time. I feel like I've been stuck in this "feeling like crap fog" (I'm coining that phrase) that won't fade.  I wish I could say that I was feeling great and enjoying every second of what is most likely my last pregnancy.  But in all reality, I am just trying to survive busy days with toddlers, while being pregnant.  I wish I had it in me to put on a better face, and pretend I felt amazing.  I just can't.  Hey- at least I'm showering on a fairly regular basis!  (woop woop)

After taking both kiddos to a prenatal appointment, and not getting a second to focus or think about this baby,  I decided to sign up for the "bump group".  Its group prenatal appointments, lasting 2 hours, where you get to meet other moms due at the same time as you and talk with some awesome midwives.  I figured that this extra time would be well spent focusing on this baby #3, even if it is only a few hours a month. I had my first meeting tonight.  It does feel weird being the only one who isn't a first time mom, but I'm sure my input will be a little helpful.  (or at least humorous!)

I am in a better mental state lately than I was the first half of this pregnancy though.  I'm getting more excited about having a little one again, the nursing, and mentally preparing for another delivery!  G is most excited, and was the first one to feel this baby move. H doesn't seem to care, and is more concerned with her belly, and asks if there is a baby in her belly, when I try to explain that there is a baby in mine.  We are slowly scraping together some names so we don't have to completely wing it when the time comes!

Some pregnancy and baby stats for you:
Baby is about 1 lb 9 oz
I have gained about 10-12 lbs so far
Baby heartbeat was 152 at my last appointment
Belly is measuring 1 week ahead (26 weeks at 25 weeks, no big deal)

If you have still stuck with this whiny post to the end, here's a recent belly picture!
25 weeks with #3

Friday, March 28, 2014

Journey to my second VBAC

Here we go again!  We are happy to announce that we are expecting baby #3!  MB (mystery baby) will be here some time in early October.  And we have decided to not find out the gender.  I'm not sure how I'll
make it the whole time without dying from curiosity, but I'm going to try.

Note- still feeling like crap
So far I feel like shit.  I haven't left the couch in about 6 weeks.  I'm hoping the second trimester will bring some relief to this crippling exhaustion.  I have insane heartburn most of the day, and headaches when I don't have heartburn. So I'll keep this post short and sweet until I have energy to do more.

I just had a baby appointment and so far no weight gain, perfect blood pressure, and I got to hear this little one's heartbeat.  :)

If you want to keep getting updates, follow me on my Facebook page! I promise it will get more exciting.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Dear C-section Doctor

Dear C-section Doctor.

I had a cesarean with you in June 2010 after a failed induction at 41 weeks.  I pushed for 15 minutes before you came in and told me my daughter wasn’t “coming out this way.”  I continued to push for over 2 hours.  I was finally told that my daughter was posterior and that I had made zero progress.  It was time for a cesarean.  I was not given an option for vacuum suction, episiotomy, forceps delivery, or the option to push longer.  I understand there are risks involved with every procedure, but I had no idea how much of a fight I would have ahead of me because of that cesarean.

At my six week follow up, you asked me if I was depressed.  I sat there with tears in my eyes and shook my head, whispering no.  You didn’t even lift your head from your paper as you wrote “no”.  I went through months of depression.

I found the ICAN network (International Cesarean Awareness Network) and started planning my VBAC.  I found a supportive provider despite the fact you used a single layer suture.  I beat PPD by reliving my cesarean over and over and sharing my story.  I found out that there are thousands of women who feel the same way I do.  

I had an epidural free, intervention free VBAC in April 2012.  Her head circumference was just as large as my first daughters.  

I made a lot of mistakes the first time around.  I didn’t watch my weight, I didn’t exercise, I wasn’t educated in general.  But my biggest mistake was going to a practice with a 44% cesarean rate.  You are a surgeon.  Not someone who believes in the birth process.  I think any doctor with that high of a cesarean rate should rethink their career path.  

Did you know the phrase by Edwin Craigin “Once a cesarean, always a cesarean” was to meant to warn doctors against cesareans because one of  the risks of a primary cesarean is that repeat operations may be necessary?  It has been almost 100 years since that article was published and we’ve done nothing but regress.  

I wrote this letter because I’ve wanted to ever since I left your office a broken shell of a woman.  I’m very lucky I have such a supportive network of people that have made me whole again.  Now, almost three years later, I’m grateful for the experience because it has shaped who I am today.  I hope that in the future you remember how important the birth process can be to some women and how much of a vital part you play in that process.  

Jessica Franks
ICAN of Phoenix Co-leader

Friday, September 7, 2012

You don't get a medal for natural birth............

     I keep reading and hearing this phrase "You don't get a medal for natural childbirth."  Well, that's true, but you don't get a medal for running a marathon either. Yet people don't get chastised for wanting to accomplish that!  Can you imagine if you were running a marathon, and everyone on the side lines was yelling "You can't do this, are you crazy?" , "Just stop running already!  You could be done with all this pain if you stopped running." And at every water station they had an option for you to use a vespa for the rest of the race?  Not even just an option, but people telling you that is the only way to do it, and that you are crazy for continuing to run at all.
     Now I understand childbirth and marathons are not the exact same thing.  (But they are darn close!)  For one, saying that getting an epidural is like riding a vespa, I know that's not true, but its certainly makes a difference!  I know some people that say they still felt quite a bit with their epidural, and some people who said they felt nothing.  Also, epidurals do not come without risks, so again, another unfair comparison.  List of epidural risks here  Moms are being pushed to get epidurals, but not informed of all the risks.  I know I was not fully informed with my first daughters birth.
     People won't eat canned tuna while pregnant, lunch meat, sushi, hot dogs, soft cheeses, certain fish, sprouts, unpasteurized juices, and peanuts.  They won't have a sip of wine and religiously take their prenatal vitamins.  They are completely militant for 9 months, but when it comes down to delivery, people are begging for the epidural and taking Pitocin without asking questions.  Yet, I am crazy for wanting to avoid interventions and drugs?
     I don't expect everyone to have a natural birth.  That's like asking someone who has never been for a jog to run a marathon.  I would suggest training for this marathon!  By eating well, walking, taking a birthing class, surrounding yourself with a positive birth team, hiring a doula, and writing out that birth plan!  In mine, I highlighted that I was not to be offered pain relief.  (Like I didn't know it was an option anyhow??)  All I ask is that the next time someone says they want a natural birth, try not to look at them like they have an extra foot growing out of their forehead.  Instead, suggest things that could HELP them accomplish their goal.  Its not like they are on a personal mission to see how much pain they can endure without passing out.  They are just trying to experience all childbirth has to offer,and doing it like people have been since the dawn of time. Minus the squatting over a hole with blankets in it part.  (Although, that doesn't sound too bad to me)
     So no, you don't get a medal for natural childbirth.  You don't need one.  You get the satisfaction of accomplishing your goal and all the glory that goes along with it.  You get the extra rush of endorphins, you get to push in any position you want, you get to birth with little potential for harm or side effects for you or your baby.  I don't feel crazy for having a natural childbirth.  For me, it really wasn't that bad!  I'd do it again in a heartbeat.  Rock on you natural birth mamas, you epidural moms, you cesarean moms. Rock on you moms that know your options and support each other for making your own decisions!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

2 Years and a VBAC later

Today is the 2nd anniversary of my c-section.  It is also my daughters 2nd birthday.  These two events happened at the same time, yet are different.  The first was a life changing traumatic event that I will never be completely "over", that has made me cry, grown as a person, it has made me learn, and reach out to help others.  The second was a life changing blessing that mas made me cry, grow as a person, and has also made me swell with love beyond my wildest dreams.  See, the same, but different.

This year was honestly harder than last year.  Most likely because I was lucky enough to experience all childbirth had to offer, and it really makes me miss those first few moments with my first born, those moments that I can't remember clearly.  I don't really remember the first time I saw her, nursed her, or held her.  Its all quite a blur.

Thinking back on G's birth, reminds me of watching a horror movie.  (and not just because of all the blood)  You see the girl run up the stairs, and you yell at the TV "don't go up there!"  She picks up the phone "of course the call is coming from INSIDE the house"  When I relive the day she was born, my now knowledgeable and informed self yells things!  "Don't go in for an induction, wait for her to pick her birthday" , "Don't let them break your water" , "Get up off that bed and move" , "You CAN do this!"

Several times today I have found myself thinking "If I knew then what I know now.........................."  Well, If I had all that knowledge then, I wouldn't be who I am today.  I wouldn't be passionate about education during pregnancy, about fitness during pregnancy, doulas, drug free childbirth, or passionate about VBAC.  So, even though my day started out with a few tears, I'm ending it knowing that G's birth was supposed to happen exactly as it did.  Because of that, I have a beautiful, stubborn, smart, playful and vibrant little toddler.  And for that, I'm thankful.  

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Birth Preferences (not demands, this is not a hostage situation)

We labeled our birth plan 'birth preferences' because we wanted to show respect to our care providers and nurses that would be assisting in the birth of our baby.  I worded ours very carefully, and highlighted the most important parts.  (We highlighted no pain medication and no pitocin, because pitocin a lot of time is standard procedure after delivery.)  We wished to avoid demanding things that were against hospital policy.  For example, I knew that I would have to have constant fetal monitoring and a heparin lock while laboring in the hospital.  (That is unless you show up pushing, whoops!)  Our hospital also stated they required an ultrasound upon admittance, and we were going to decline the information.  (You can decline knowing your own weight if you want to.)  I have had someone argue with me that going along with policies like this is not informed consent.  She was mistaken.  I have been informed, and am consenting.

I WANTED a hospital birth.  I trust the professionals in an emergency, and feel most comfortable at the hospital.  I am not going to go into the hospital demanding a home birth.  I think everyone should know their hospital policies, their providers policies, and standard protocol before choosing where to birth whether they are having a VBAC or not.  

Other things to keep in mind while writing your 'birth preferences'.  
  • Try to keep it to one page
  • Go over your preferences with your care provider and make sure they have a copy
  • Highlight the preferences MOST important to you 

At the end of the page, we also said "If changes need to be made, we prefer to give verbal consent."  I wanted the hospital staff to know that we weren't opposed to changing the birth plan, if a true emergency did arise, but that we just wanted to be a part of that decision.

Here is a google document link of the outline we used to write our birth preferences that you can also just print out and check what you want.  Birth Options and Preferences

Our Birth Preferences
  • I would like to wear my own clothes
  • Access to fluids and snacks
  • Free mobility
  • Access to birth tub/shower
  • Access to birth ball
  • Dim lighting and music allowed
  • Heparin Lock okay
  • Limited vaginal checks
  • No IV Fluids
  • No pain medications and please do not offer them
  • Mother directed pushing
  • Pictures and video allowed
  • We do not wish to know estimated fetal weight
  • No AROM

Requests for after baby is born
  • Husband to cut cord
  • Baby placed on mothers chest
  • Parents to hold baby for first hour
  • No Pitocin
  • Save placenta
  • Delayed cord clamping

Newborn Care
  • No formula
  • No pacifiers
  • Delayed eye treatment, vitamin K shot, and vaccinations
  • Parents to give first bath

Cesarean Preferences
  • Pictures/video allowed
  • Husband present
  • Wear my glasses to be able to see
  • Lower curtain to see baby
  • Husband to hold baby
  • Skin to skin (husband will hold baby there)
  • Baby to come to recovery room

If changes need to be made, we prefer to give verbal consent