Adventures in Breastfeeding

After I had been home for about a week after giving birth to my baby girl, I commented to my mom who was staying with us to help out for a couple weeks, “Everything that I read made breastfeeding sound like it’s so difficult!!” She responded that when things are going well, what’s there to say? I just want to put my experience so far out there – not to brag, but to show that while there may be problems or difficulties, breastfeeding is very simple and natural. You might have to push through some pain or overcome certain obstacles, but breasts were made to nourish babies!

After a very difficult birth, baby Audrey was placed on my chest covered in blood and goo, and she immediately shit meconium all over me. I was flat on my back with my feet up in stirrups while the doctor stitched me up so I couldn’t even really see the baby on my chest, but Luke assured me that she was beautiful, awake, and aware! After a short rest, my midwife Judy moved the little baby on to my breast and helped her latch for the very first time! My memory is pretty fuzzy after all the intensity of childbirth so fast-forward to my recovery room.

We stayed in the recovery room at Morristown Memorial (lucky #39!) for two days, and Audrey spent much of her time with me in bed. We slept together, and she nursed heartily on colostrum for about a half hour at a time, every couple hours. Nurses came in and made sure everything was going well, and one told me that what I was doing was a perfect example of “laid-back breastfeeding.” Nursing this way uses gravity in your favor to minimize strain and keep both mother and baby comfortable. I think I started nursing this way just because I could barely move in the bed! Later a lactation consultant came by to give me her wisdom. Audrey had no trouble latching and eating, but I did learn that with the position she was in, she was actually pulling on my nipple causing some discomfort. I just moved her up a bit and the problem was solved!

There was also the problem of nipple pain. When Audrey latched, she latched HARD…  The nurses called her “Barracuda Baby!” My nipples were also dry and had little scabs, so I was rubbing them with lanolin and breast milk between feedings. They hurt and stuck to my clothes for at least the first week, and whenever Audrey latched I had to take deep calming breaths for a good ten seconds before the initial pain eased up.

My milk came in after a couple days, around the time that we came home from the hospital. When we got back I remembered the LilyPadz I had purchased, which are silicone nursing pads. Unlike a bra or cloth nursing pads, they didn’t stick to my nipples and actually held moisture in! I really recommend these for the early days when your nipples are getting in shape!

When my milk came in, Audrey started nursing for much shorter periods of time but more often, presumably because of the size of her tiny tummy. I guess she got plenty to eat though, because she is gaining a good amount of weight and inches! She is now pretty efficient at eating and gets a lot from her short feeding sessions. The funny thing is she could practically feed without even sucking once the milk drops…

If I hear her milk cry, or sometimes even out of the blue, my boobs will just start tingling and if I don’t have nursing pads in, I know I’m getting wet and soon enough have milk running down my shirt. It just comes out! Then when I am nursing on one side, milk also shoots out the other boob. And if Audrey detaches for a minute, milk will literally spray her all over the face! And if she sleeps for a long time and I don’t pump, my breasts get really full and hard. At night I keep a washcloth by the bed to both catch the milk leaking from my “extra” boob, and to wipe up all the overflow from Audrey’s side that ends up dripping all over me and the bed!

Now that I am mostly recovered from the birth, we’ve been out of the house and I have successfully nursed Audrey in public! I have this Boppy nursing cover that I absolutely love – it’s big enough to cover up everything, and it has a little wire around the neck line that props it out a little bit so you can glance down and check on your baby, or easily see while you adjust her. I am so lucky that everyone in my life has been so supportive of breastfeeding… I’ve heard of people who got judged for it, but so far, I have not received any judgment. If anything, there has been more curiosity and family/friends watching her nurse (which can be a little awkward when she breaks her latch, but whatever haha…) and people ignoring it all together which is fine with me!

It just took a couple weeks for breastfeeding to become painless and the beautiful bonding experience you see in photos. When Audrey latches to my breast, I feel momentarily overcome by emotions and hormones, and I just want to squeeze her and love her and protect her. It is really incredible! In the last couple weeks she has really started making eye contact, so on top of all that, as she is suckling on me she will be looking at my face and in my eye, and I really feel like my little baby is telling me that she loves me. It is such an amazing feeling!!!

There are so many tangents I could take from here but I’ll leave them for another post, including a Link Love dedicated to breastfeeding articles!

Finally an update!

I realize that I have been slacking here, but what can I say? I have a baby who likes to be held constantly, and I have no patience to type with one hand! 😉 For once I have an evening where she is asleep right now with Luke, and I am not quite ready to go to bed, so I can give an update! I want to go over a bunch of things quickly, and hopefully later I can do some more in-depth posts.

MY RECOVERY

This has actually been a long process for me. I know I didn’t get a c-section or anything, but I feel like I might as well have! Because of the physical trauma from the difficult birth, I had trouble walking at all for at least a week and couldn’t sit normally for a couple weeks. There was all the initial bleeding and healing that I was expecting, but there was also throbbing and itching that has gone on and on!! I finally felt good enough to go on a walk for the first time a few days ago and have been trying to do some physical activity every day. I think the exercise is helping, my only problem now is some itching. I don’t know the reason for that, but I have an appointment with Judy this week and with the OB-GYN who attended the birth in a few weeks so hopefully I will be 100% and maybe have answers on these residual symptoms soon!

BABY’S GROWTH

I can’t believe how much Audrey has grown… she will be 6 weeks old on Wednesday and she is now topping 10 pounds. She is getting too long for her newborn clothes, but I figure it’s a good workout for her legs when she pushes against the fabric, right? I am packing away the newborn clothes slowly and have two 0-3 month outfits (what’s the difference?) someone gave us from Gymboree that fit her perfectly, and soon enough she’ll be in her 3-month clothes! At her one-month check-up she was 21.5 inches (75th percentile) and up to the 50th percentile for weight. All that breast milk is doing her good!

BREASTFEEDING

Speaking of breast milk, breastfeeding has been amazing. I was fully prepared for it to take some learning and be tough at first… I read lots of articles about the benefits and challenges so I would be fully prepared. I didn’t realize how natural and simple it could actually be. She was very alert when she was born, and after a short recovery period, my midwife Judy helped her latch on (I was still flat on my back getting stitched up). From then on, it was pretty non-stop!

Audrey was very clear about when she was hungry, and I just had to place her on my breast and she would start suckling. At first she would nurse on the colostrum for about a half hour at a time every couple hours. My milk came in after 2 days- right about the time we came home from the hospital. She started nursing for much shorter periods – five to ten minutes at a time – but much more regularly. She would go on eating binges when she was awake, nursing for five minutes at a time every 15 minutes to a half hour. I am thinking this was due to the size of her belly, that she just couldn’t hold that much!Now I think she has gotten quite efficient with her nursing. She will eat for 5-10 minutes and it will last her a lot longer. She nurses more often when she is awake, every hour or so (she is awake for longer periods now) and sleeps for 2-3 hours at a time.

The thing that surprised me the most was the hormone rush that came with breastfeeding. When she latches on, I actually feel the oxytocin pulsing through my veins. I feel so happy and like I want to cry all at the same time… so full of love and joy. I know that some women can’t breastfeed and some women just don’t want to, but the thought has crossed my mind that I actually feel bad for these women that they never get to feel the emotions and bonding that come with it.

Later I intend to post about it all in a little more detail- about nursing in public, dealing with the initial pain, etc.

MY BODY

I was really surprised at my body… I’ve learned that it’s true- the days after birth, a woman’s body changes the fastest that it ever will. With birth you immediately shed a bunch of pounds from the front in the form of an infant and a whole bunch of fluids. My belly was palpated several times to feel that my uterus was firming up and retreating to its original size and shape. I had a lot of fluids coming out of me for a few days, and I had to keep pads in for a few weeks to deal with the residual bleeding. I thought it was interesting that my belly went back to flat. I barely gained any fat in my abdomen, so it actually looked pretty good, but the funny thing was that my abs were (are) completely destroyed. I always had a small layer of fat on my belly, but it was super firm underneath. Now I attempt to flex and it’s all just mush! One day I’ll be firm again, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be starting from scratch creating these muscles again.

BABY POTTY TRAINING

I had originally intended to begin EC (Elimination Communication, or infant potty training) much sooner, but it took me much longer to sit on my butt, straddle the toilet seat, or really just move than I had anticipated. We started a couple weeks ago when she was a month old, switching from disposable diapers to cloth and a BabyBjorn potty! It is actually going shockingly well. Audrey hates going potty in her pants, and will hold her poo until she feels the cold seat of the toilet against her behind! She hasn’t gained bladder control yet, but she goes pee in the potty regularly as well. I’ll definitely do more in-depth posts on this!

Well, Audrey woke up and I am back to one-handed typing so it’s time to call it a night!

Welcome Audrey Cecilia!

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After almost a month of prodromal labor, I am thrilled to announce that the real thing has finally happened and we now have a little tiny baby girl!!!

On Tuesday my usual contractions (type #3) were a little stronger than usual starting around 4, and by late evening they were hard to ignore. We went to bed around 10:30 and I figured they would go away as usual, but they woke me up just before 2am. I timed them for a bit and my tossing and turning woke Luke up. The contractions weren’t consistent in time between or time per contraction, but they seemed to be getting stronger and closer together. I filled the bathtub while Luke called our doula Teresa and our midwife Judy. Luke had Teresa come and while she was on her way, he ran around packing and I labored in the tub. When she arrived we headed to the hospital for a labor check (so they could confirm I was actually in labor).

When we got there the resident checked me and I was 9cm dilated! Thank goodness, because the contractions were actually painful at that point. Teresa called Judy right away and started filling the birthing tub in our delivery room. I had to wear a fetal monitor and toco for 20 minutes and I was so uncomfortable that all I wanted to do was get in the tub… it was so hard to keep still to give them the readings they needed to make sure I could have a water birth!

Soon enough I was in the tub, Judy was there, lots of nurses (who all happened to be clients of Luke) were in and out, and everything became a blur. Because I was in the hospital the birth was overseen by my midwife’s back-up doctor. I labored in the tub for a while and I was still 9cm, so they had me get up and move around, then get on the bed where they decided (and I allowed them) to pop my water bag. I got back in the tub and it was time to start pushing. I tried a bunch of positions and pushed for about an hour and a half, but just was not making enough progress so Judy had me move to the bed.

I never thought I’d be flat on my back with my feet in stirrups, but it ended up being the only way to get the baby out with how she was positioned in the birth canal! I ended up pushing for a couple more hours on the bed, popping capillaries all over my face (I looked like I had horrible razor burn for days!) and blood vessels in both of my eyeballs (still red, but I think they are just starting to heal). Luke was by my side and Teresa was keeping cold cloths coming for my forehead. There were nurses around me counting as I pushed- we were trying to get three good pushes per contraction at ten seconds each push. When the nurse was counting, I was thinking about Crossfit… those AMRAP workouts where you do as much work as possible in a set amount of time and then relax completely in between rounds. Knowing when my work was done for the time being gave me a goal and focus.

The pushing had been going on so long that they were getting worried I would get worn out before she was born. It was suggested that I hold back and not push for a couple contractions, but I felt strong and simply couldn’t not push. I couldn’t see what was going on of course, but eventually the baby’s head started peeking out. Judy and Doc could see from the way I was stretching that I was sure to be ripped to shreds as she crowned, so they encouraged me to allow an episiotomy. I consented so in between contractions Doc injected a local anesthetic and made a snip- on a scale from 1-4, it was a 2. After that it seemed to happen really fast- I think she crowned during the next contraction (Luke got to touch the head!), and soon after the head started coming all the way out.

I heard, “You’re going to want to see this!” I felt the head come out and although I had already pushed my three times for the contraction, everyone was excited around me so I kept my eyes open as I pushed one more time and felt the whole slippery body slide right out! “It’s a girl!” Audrey Cecilia came out sunny-side-up, facing the world. That was the reason for the start and stop labor over the past month, and for the exceptionally difficult delivery.

She started crying right away, and they placed our little baby girl covered in blood and goo right on my chest. She immediately pooped out meconium all over me! She was cleaned up on top of me while I delivered the placenta and afterbirth. Luke cut the cord which stopped pulsing almost right away, and Doc worked on stitching me up (2 stitches for the episiotomy and one stitch for a tear on the right side). There was also some tearing inside my vagina- it ended up being a very good thing I was in the hospital for the birth. Audrey was so awake and aware, and was able to latch on to my breast almost right away!

I didn’t know this at the time, of course, but Judy filled me in on a few more things when we met on Saturday. She and Doc have an understanding where no interventions will be made unless they are both in agreement that it is necessary. They both agreed I needed to get out of the tub and later that I needed to be snipped- Judy said she almost never performs episiotomies, but in my case even if I had a home birth, she would have given me one. There was something they did not agree on though… I had been pushing at the upside-down baby for hours and Doc just didn’t think there was room for her to fit. He and Judy discussed the C-section, but she didn’t agree that it had to be done. I didn’t know why at the time, but she spent some time checking me out- feeling the passageway and the baby’s head, and she thought the baby could fit. She believed in my body’s ability to birth my baby, when if the birth had been managed only medically, they would have given me a Caesarean much sooner citing that the baby was posterior and would never have fit.

I am so thankful for my staff who believed in me enough to allow me to have a natural, drug-free birth of my baby girl. Labor lasted almost a month, active labor (that I was awake for, anyway!) lasted about 7.5 hours, and I pushed for about 4.5 hours. Judy said that on a scale of 1-10 for level of difficulty, this birth was an 8 or 9. No wonder I felt like I got run over by a truck, and looked like I had taken a beating! Judy told me not to look in the mirror for three days… of course I did, and all I can say is thank goodness I’m not too vain!

Audrey Cecilia made her entrance on Wednesday, January 9 at 9:18am. She weighed 7lbs 3oz and was 20 inches long with a major cone head (the bruise is finally almost gone now!) Luke and I are thrilled and just fall more in love with this eating, sleeping, pooping bundle of joy every day!

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Frustrations & Changes to the Plan

For those of my wonderful followers who I know in real life, please don’t go talking to people about what’s going on with me… I have given you this link because I trust you with knowing all these intimate details. I want to have this in a blog because I want to keep my nearest and dearest informed without having lots of long conversations, and I also love that there is a community of women who are going through pregnancy- it’s awesome to read about each others experiences and give each other messages of support. That said, although it is technically public, most people who know me don’t know about this and I would prefer to keep this kind of stuff off the table as dinner conversation or Facebook chit chat.

The thing about a diary is it’s a place where you can just write down everything you are thinking and feeling, put it into words, then move on. I don’t really like to talk about how I am feeling much and I’m not one to obsess over relationships or personal issues over a martini… I’ve always just liked to sort out my thoughts in writing. My biggest objective at the moment is to not think about what’s going on too much, so I have come to the conclusion that it would be best to just put it down so I can move on!

Compared to so many women, this pregnancy has been so easy. Up until a few weeks ago, that is. I had that preterm labor scare a few weeks ago and have been in prodromal labor with varying but often consistent contractions ever since. I am at the point where I don’t even notice them most of the time anymore, put if I pay attention for a little while I will notice that they are at a consistent 6 minutes apart lasting about 40 seconds each. We figured that this ongoing early labor is because while the baby is ready to come, it’s not quite in the right position so it needs to shift before it can put the proper pressure on my cervix to start active labor. On top of this ongoing early labor, I tested positive for GBS– while it’s not the worst thing in the world, I have to receive antibiotics during labor which isn’t the best thing.

Now I’ve had another hiccup… I lost my mucus plug on Friday morning, then Friday night I started bleeding. At first I thought it was the bloody show that sometimes indicates labor starting within a few days, but it was more blood than it should be. I spoke with my midwife and decided to wait it out, and it was gone by the morning. It started again though on Saturday night, so Judy recommended I go to the hospital so they could determine if something was wrong.  As it turned out, it was a polyp on my cervix (apparently all the estrogen during pregnancy can cause those) that started bleeding with all the cervical changes and pressure from the baby.

Polyps are not a big deal, but there is a tiny chance that there could be a problem during childbirth… When the cervix becomes fully dilated it gets sucked up and kind of absorbed into the uterus. There is a very small possibility that the weakened spot in my cervix could actually tear during childbirth, and need clamping or medical attention of some sort. My midwife can do perineal stitches and most medical stuff like that, but not internal cervical repairs. Being that the polyp has already bled and we are aware that there could be a problem, it would be irresponsible to take a risk of having to go through a transfer. For that reason we have made the decision to give birth in the hospital instead of at home.

Judy was concerned that I would be mad at her if we went to the hospital and then everything ended up being just fine… I said No! Of course not… I will be very happy if everything goes perfectly, and I know that her job as a midwife is to ensure an outcome that is as safe and healthy as possible for both the baby and me. She is highly experienced and I trust her professional opinion completely. I know she is an advocate for home birth and she would not make a rash decision about this.

Of course I am disappointed that I will not have the home birth that I was envisioning, but I will still have my midwife, doula and husband there to support me and advocate for my wishes. We will labor at home until I am about 8cm dilated (or if I start bleeding more than I should, of course) then head to Morristown Memorial Hospital labor & delivery. Judy will still be attending my birth and the staff at Morristown knows her. From what I’ve heard they are very good and respect birth plans for the most part. They even have rooms with birthing tubs which we will request upon arrival… I might still get to do a water birth!

Although not ideal, I am fine with the change of plans. I think I am just getting emotionally and physically worn out… There are tons of hormones coursing through my body, I’ve been in prodromal labor for three weeks, and I recognize the possibility that this could continue on for several weeks yet since I am only 39 weeks 3 days today (I have to imagine that by the time I hit 42 weeks they would induce me). Judy already said I’m a good candidate for induction… I was 100% effaced and 3.5cm dilated when they checked me Saturday night. They also said I was in early labor… what’s new? I thought it was kind of funny when the nurse popped in and looked at the toco readings and asked concernedly, Are you in pain?! I’d say No, I’m fine thanks! Really, I barely notice that I am having contractions at this point… The resident doctor asked if I normally had painful periods (no) and said that contractions just aren’t as painful for some people. If that’s the case, awesome!

I was so excited for childbirth all along, and now I’m just frustrated and over it. I am done venting now though, so if you go to the end, thanks for caring! 🙂

Right Occiput Transverse

Those three words may be the reason I’ve had this start-and-stop labor.

Today I am 38 weeks, 5 days and we had an appointment with our midwife Judy. She assured me that I am not, in fact, crazy, and I’ve definitely had some real, effective labor (like I said, I feel like I’ve been in early labor for two weeks!) The problem is the labor always stops a few hours after it starts, and she thinks it is because of a slight mal-positioning of the baby.

Ideally when you go into labor your baby will be head down and back out- either straight out towards your belly button or back towards the left side of your uterus. My baby is head down, but its back is on the right side, called Right Occiput Transverse. The problem with this positioning is that during labor, “ROT” babies tend to turn to complete posterior making labor and delivery much more difficult and often requiring a C-section if the baby gets wedged in the birth canal during descent.

Now that I know this, it’s time to take action! I am trying to move up my appointment with my chiropractor who specializes in pregnancy and fetal positioning to tomorrow, and can also make additional appointments if need be. I will also be continuing the exercises recommended by my doula in our childbirth classes, and starting Spinning Babies techniques to rotate the little one! I will probably try a lot of the techniques, but will definitely do inversions and pelvic floor releases.

Once the baby is in proper position, labor should be quick- I might already be 5 centimeters dilated (no reason to check, though, if the baby isn’t ready to come out yet!) and Judy guessed the baby weighs about 7.5lbs now, so I may be having an 8-pounder! All of that is guesswork of course, so along with the sex, we’ll just have to wait and see!

Wish me luck flipping this little one, and hopefully labor will be soon and quick and smooth!

All the Different Contractions So Far!

Today I am 38 weeks and counting! The baby may not care about my plans, but I am hoping that I go into labor a week from now! I’ll be 39 weeks, it will be after New Years, I won’t have to use up any maternity leave on short weeks, it will be a week before this baby’s cousin’s birthday so they don’t have to share parties (unless it just works out that way, I guess), and my mom could get a flight out on Friday night or Saturday! Wish me luck getting the baby to come at the perfect time haha…

I have experienced four different types of contractions so far.

  1. Braxton Hicks: I’ve had these for a long time, and didn’t know what they were at first… They happen at random intervals of time and my tummy would just get all hard and I wouldn’t even notice half the time unless I happened to be touching my belly.
  2. Painful post-nookie/early labor contractions: Intense pelvic pressure and lower back pain… belly contractions rock hard and just a few minutes apart lasting for a few hours.
  3. Early labor/rhythmic BH: These feel pretty much like Braxton Hicks contractions, but are at short, rhythmic intervals – when I’ve timed them, they’ve been anywhere between 4 and 7 minutes apart for hours on end.
  4. Stronger early labor: I feel like I’ve been punched in the chest- my heart rate picks up and I start breathing harder, then about ten seconds later my tummy gets all hard. These are actually very distracting- last night I got them right as I was trying to go to sleep and they weren’t letting up, so I actually had to get up, have a glass of wine and read a magazine for a bit before they lessened enough for me to get some sleep.

I can see why so many women would rush to the hospital thinking they are in labor since there are so many different sensations… I have heard from a lot of women that labor contractions feel different and you’ll just know when you’re in labor for real, but I’m not so sure about that. I am slightly concerned that I will be just waiting for it to go away like I usually do, and before I know it, I’ll be so far along that it’s a rush to get my midwife and doula there!

Labor May be Looming

Remember how at our childbirth classes, our doula told us to have regular sex? Well, it seems to be true what they say, that sex can really jumpstart labor. Not long after completing our “assignment” yesterday evening, I started to get an ache in my lower back. Soon enough I started having contractions, and they didn’t ease up when I walked around, laid down, anything… they definitely felt different from the BH contractions I’ve been having.

I figured it was nothing for a while, but they were getting pretty consistent and close together. When they didn’t seem to be going away, I texted our midwife Judy around 10:45p.m. and let her know what had been happening. Luke and I started timing them and they were lasting just under a minute, about 4 minutes apart. Judy gave me some suggestions that might help slow down the contractions, so I had a glass of wine, relaxed and chatted with my parents while Luke ran around packing stuff and installed the baby seat in the car just in case.

On a tangent, I called my mom on FaceTime (she has an iPhone now too – yay!) and the first thing she asked me was, “Are you in labor?” I gave her the rundown of what was happening and how I wanted to put it off for a few more days so I could have my home birth. She told me a bit about her births… My oldest sister, her first child, was due on June 8th but born on May 13 – that’s about where I am now. The baby is due January 11 but the baby seems to want to come and it’s only December 18th!

I was born about a week and a half early, and my mom’s labor was only four hours from start to finish. Then when my mom was pregnant with my brother, she started having so many contractions so early on that the doctor gave her Terbutaline pills to take when she started going into labor. She stopped taking them at 37 weeks, and then my brother did not arrive until 2 days before his due date, her latest baby! And he was 9.5 lbs, so she was thinking she should have let him come early!

Back to my adventure so far…

After a while the intensity eased up a bit, and I took Valerian Root and went to sleep. Before I got out of bed this morning, I had a couple contractions, but they felt much more like the BH contractions I had before. They got stronger and more frequent when I got up to get ready for work though, so after some thought decided to stay home & relax (though I have been doing some work from here- I have a lot of loose ends at the office!!!)

I am still having regular contractions, so Judy recommended I move up my appointment for GBS and have them check to see if I am dialating at all. I got an appointment 3:45 this afternoon so Luke is going to take off work and take me… I guess we’ll bring our bags just in case! I am 36 weeks 4 days now, so hopefully this slows/stops, or at least the baby agrees to hold off until Friday when we can do it at home! Otherwise we might be potentially heading to Morristown Hospital. As long as I am relaxing, the contractions don’t seem to be getting any worse, but they are still consistent and regular.

The baby is awake now and moving around between contractions, so I’m glad to know Shim is doing well in there!

Childbirth Class #1

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35 Weeks Pregnant

I am now 35 weeks! I shot this picture yesterday morning. I think it is funny how my abs still show on the sides- I have such a basketball belly!

Yesterday afternoon we had our first childbirth class with our doula, Teresa. There were three other couples there who were also giving birth with our midwife Judy. One woman is due about a week after me, one at the end of January, and the other in March. Here’s hoping that none of us January girls go into labor at the same time! I am due first, so that must be why Judy has high hopes that I will go early! They are also all expecting boys!

The class was a few hours long, and Teresa teaches in a storytelling fashion. She went through a lot of information, but made her points mostly by telling stories about her experiences, making the class very interesting and conversational. We were the only couple who had met with her previously and had hired her as our doula, so she started off by discussing her background and how she got into being a doula.

We then all introduced ourselves and talked about our biggest fear (tearing) and what we’re most excited about (finding out what the whole labor and birth process is like, finally meeting our baby Shim!). Teresa then spent a good bit of time discussing the father’s role as coach. Her philosophy is that he got us into this, he should help us get out of it! Her role as a doula is not to replace the father, but to support both him and the mother (and the midwives) to make sure they feel comfortable and confident during the process.

Later, we did a simulated “contraction” activity, where we squeezed ice cubes and tried a couple different ways to distract ourselves or deal with the pain. The guys, of course, had to do it too!

At the end, we watched a video that shows all the twists and turns a baby makes on its way out of the womb, kind of like this video.

At one point, I asked about when I should expect to feel Braxton Hicks contractions. Obviously I am getting pretty close, and I didn’t know if I should be nervous that my uterus wasn’t getting ready yet! As it turns out, I’ve been having them for a while now, but didn’t realize what they were… I thought that the baby was just pushing out really hard, but turns out those are actually BH! Every once in a while, my whole tummy will just get hard. It didn’t hurt though, and half the time I’d barely notice… I just assumed it was the baby! I said jokingly, “If this is what contractions are like, then labor will be no problem!” Teresa said that the real thing will be much more powerful…

34 Weeks and… Sex Dreams?

34 Weeks Pregnant!

34 Weeks Pregnant!

I took this picture on Saturday, when I was officially 34 weeks pregnant! I am thankful that this pregnancy has been smooth, healthy and uneventful, but I am still looking forward to finishing with the whole pregnancy thing! My tailbone kills me every day at work, I am tired most of the time, and I am full of random aches and pains… enough with the complaining though!

I know the baby is getting cramped in there, but Shim sure doesn’t act like it… He/she moves around constantly! I’ll be interested to see how much that slows down in the next few weeks- Maybe no slower, but smaller movements since there won’t be as much room? The baby regularly has its butt jammed into the front of my belly- I think it may just like getting butt and back massages. Just like mommy!

WARNING: TMI!

I’ve also had a lot of dreams recently. Most I don’t remember too well, but what seems odd to me is that I’ve been having a lot of sex dreams…? Maybe it’s just the knowledge that once the baby is born, there will be a long period of recovery period and sex won’t be an option. That, and I’ve started perineal stretching/massage to hopefully prevent or minimize tearing during birth, so I am a lot more, ahem, in touch with my lady bits than before.

I also had a dream a few days ago that I remember pretty well… I was in labor, but it was not painful at all and only lasted a short while. I didn’t have my midwife or doula with me, but I suddenly realized that it really was time, and gave birth easily and peacefully alone. I think I know where this dream stemmed from:

When I first started the perineal massages, I started to get more worried than before… how could the tissue possibly stretch out enough to let a whole baby through?! I feel good and confident about most aspects of childbirth and my body’s ability to do them just fine, but I guess my biggest fear is tearing. I know it wouldn’t be the worst thing ever- it happens to women all the time, but it just makes me nervous… I think the dream was trying to let me know that I should just relax, everything will be okay and I can do it!

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“A mother does not become pregnant in order to provide employment to medical people. Giving birth is an ecstatic jubilant adventure not available to males. It is a woman’s crowning creative experience of a lifetime.”
― John Stevenson