Link Love

Uh oh… here’s a Link Love that I never published! I had to edit my text a little bit because I talked about after the baby comes haha…

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!

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!

Google Searching

Not that it really makes a difference because vaginal exams are not a good predictor about when a baby will be born, but I can’t help being curious about dilation, effacement, labor and the like. I’ve just had so many contractions, and have read a lot about the difference between false labor and true labor, and I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that I’ve had real early labor contractions a multiple times and that the labor just goes away again. I wonder if I am further along than the 3cm and 70% effacement that I was two weeks ago, and if so, how far along could my cervix possibly be? I did a Google search for how far dilated can you be and not be in labor? and like pretty much everything else pregnancy-related, there are lots of forums about it.

This BabyCenter forum was pretty interesting – people generally seemed to lean towards 6cm as the answer, and many people said that when you start active labor already pretty far dilated and effaced, then the last bit tends to go very quickly. The following post was hearsay, but I thought it was interesting considering my circumstances:

my doula friend said she had a client once who went several weeks with “false starts” where labor would come and go and come and go (no active labor) and was 9 cm when she went into active labor. can you imagine?

This Mothering.com forum is also interesting, and contained this interesting post:

I’ve heard of clients who have been 8cm for days before going into regular, active labor (which is usually quite short, which is why my preceptor doesn’t do VEs before active labor.

We have a client that we know is at least 5cm because she’s called us to her home twice and labor stopped (she’s actually having a couple hours of labor every 3 nights so I’m betting she’s closer to 7cm dilated by now since she’s having a lot of prodromal labor). I sure hope we don’t miss her birth, she’s 2 hours away.

There are also lots of resources on prodromal labor. A lot of articles make it sound like a simple early labor phase like you read about in books or hear about in classes, where you just need to take a shower or a walk, get some rest, etc., and active labor will begin, but that’s not necessarily the case. This article pretty much sums up what I have been going through. It’s all very confusing, when I thought it would be so much simpler… Contractions = Labor is not the case after all!

33-Week Midwife Appointment

We have started 2-per-month appointments with our midwife, and had an appointment yesterday. Everything is still good- my belly measured in at 33cm and BP 100/60. When Judy listened in on the baby’s heart, the baby kicked at her probe! “Active baby!”

She also had a couple extra birthing tubs from births where they didn’t end up using them, so she gave one to us… awesome! That, along with a short to-do-list for the next few weeks.

She reminded us that I was 33 weeks, 5 days pregnant, so in just over 3 weeks I will be full-term and free to give birth at home! It’s totally nuts to me that I could be giving birth so soon, but at least we have all the stuff we need should the baby come early. My guess date is January 11, but the baby could come as early as December 22 and be perfectly fine! I am thinking it will be after the New Year sometime, though maybe early since I sometimes feel the baby trying to dig its way out 😉

Judy also mentioned a couple other things that made me happy… First, she said that she wished more pregnant women ate a diet like me. I don’t stick to it 100% of the time, but most of the time, and for that reason I have not ballooned up and have had a healthy and easy pregnancy so far.

Also, at the beginning of our appointment Luke ran out to move his truck and a couple recycling bins for her, and as soon as he left, Judy started saying how he was such a nice, great guy! Of course I knew that already, but I love it when other people notice how amazing he is… I couldn’t have chosen a better partner in this journey and I am so proud of him.

Link Love

  1. Parenting and technology… Crying babies are given pacifiers, at home kids are sat in front of a TV to distract them, and in public, many parents give their kids phones or iPads to play with. What ever happened to old-fashioned connection to soothe whiny kids?
  2. We all know that food can do many things to your body, but now a new study shows that fast food lowers children’s IQs!
  3. Interested in the primal/paleo way of eating, but reading a lot of conflicting philosophies? Robb Wolf lays out the “7 Shades of Paleo” here- the many different approaches people take to the diet/lifestyle! I am a combination between Primal and 80/20 – I do dairy very well and feel better with than without, so I include high-quality dairy as a part of my regular diet and that puts me more in the Primal camp. I also eat things here and there which are not even close to Paleo, but I figure it’s okay as long as I am eating well the majority of the time! This keeps the whole diet much less stressful.
  4. 8 Ways to determine your baby’s position in the womb! I’ve been curious about this for a while… I’ve been pretty sure that the baby is head-down for a while now by what my midwife said and the way it wedges itself into my pelvis sometimes while still kicking elsewhere. I just had what was very clearly a foot sticking out right under my rib (a common spot for this baby to kick) so I believe that the baby is in the anterior position. I also think this because my belly is nice and round sticking out. I think the baby turns side-to-side regularly, but never really turns around fully or flips upside-down anymore.
  5. This is pretty amazing and super informative… comprehensive timeline of the breastfed baby!

Singing Through Labor?

I have been thinking about singing for several reasons.

  1. I did voice training and participated in choirs and musicals for many years, and as a consequence I always had great posture and breath control. Normally to hold my posture, I tighten my abs back towards my spine and stand on the three corners of my feet… Unfortunately, I am finding that with the weight of my growing belly I am unable to use my abs in this way and my posture is starting to really suffer.
  2. I have been trying to sing regularly in the shower, car, and around the house, so that the baby learns my voice and to enjoy song. Plus, I enjoy it!
  3. I read Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth a while ago, and just stumbled upon a brief discussion of the Sphincter Law. I am wondering if singing may be a good way to help speed early labor?

The last part of her Sphincter Law says that “The state of relaxation of the mouth and jaw is directly correlated to the ability of the cervix, the vagina, and the anus to open to full capacity. A relaxed and open mouth favours a more open vagina and cervix.”

Think of how relaxed you feel singing in the shower. Or sometimes you might be stressed and tight, but a song you know comes on and you start singing along, and you start to feel looser and happier. If you have ever trained in classical singing, you know that the best tone is created by keeping the jaw nice and loose.

Would making a playlist of your favorite sing-alongs and arias help progress you through early labor? Have you ever sang during labor, and do you think it helped?

Random Thoughts & Glucose

Sleeping has been tough for the last few nights. It’s tough to get comfortable with only two options for sleeping positions (left and right side) and needing to extort myself around my completely necessary pregnancy pillow in order to switch positions. I normally toss and turn, but at least I used to have the option of sleeping on my belly or back so I could turn in circles throughout the night without completely waking up. Attempting to sleep has been practically an athletic event- I can never relax completely and wake up tired and sore.

Speaking of sore, I went to the chiropractor on Monday after work and told him about the random pain I was having in my lower back/glute that might have been the sciatic nerve. He did a series of adjustments, and it hasn’t hurt since I left his office! Even if my tailbone never recovers completely during this pregnancy, it will be worth keeping up with my chiropractic appointments so he can take care of any nerve issues like that!

Maybe it’s being so aware of this impending glucose test, but I have suddenly lost my craving for sugar. Eating even a little of it in processed form makes me feel sick. That’s probably a good thing, because now the baby’s brain is really starting to develop so I should be eating plenty of good fats and proteins!

Speaking of the glucose test, I had an appointment at my transfer clinic today to discuss and hopefully get out of the test. As I mentioned before, I have no risk factors for gestational diabetes, so I believe that it is ridiculous that I should subject my body to that kind of nutritional torture. The clinic is a woman-centered practice that is definitely a step up from the hospital, but it is still not what I would consider natural or alternative. Laws require women to jump through some hoops in order to have a home birth, though, and one of those hoops is that the OB-GYN has to sign off and say that I am “low-risk” before they will allow me to give birth in my home.

After some waiting around, I got in the exam room where a nurse checked my weight (first time I’ve been weighed in a few months! Up to 155…) and blood pressure (100/60 – low, but my blood pressure is normally quite low). A little while later the doctor, who has been my midwife’s backup for 14 years, came in. After introducing himself, he checked the baby’s heartbeat and asked me how things were going. I told him everything was good, except that I was having some trouble sleeping. He asked me, “Do you have a mental disorder?”

Um, what?? “No…”

“Well, some people have trouble sleeping because they are manic-depressive and get anxious at night.”

“Uh, ok… I am mostly just physically uncomfortable, and if my brain was excited last night it was because that was an awfully stimulating debate!”

That was a little weird. When we got to talking about the glucose test, he pretty much wouldn’t let me get a word in, talking about how it was important that every pregnant woman is screened. He had never heard of the Paleo diet, and didn’t react at all when I mentioned that I feel sick and experience reactive hypoglycemia when I have too much sugar. He kept on saying, “Hey! I’m not the enemy here…” Not that I was accusing him of being the enemy in any way! I replied, “I understand, I am just trying to find out if there is an alternative.”

We finally made a deal… I am not going to drink the sugar water, but have to eat 50g of carbohydrates an hour before the test. We agreed on jelly beans because they are measurable… I didn’t realize how many jelly beans that was until I got back and looked it up. Considering I never drink sweetened drinks (I even find juice to be repulsive) and don’t make a habit of eating much sugar, 50g is a ton and eating 50 jelly bellies would definitely give me a tummy ache. If anyone asks, I ate the jelly beans…

I looked up the carb content of some fruit and found that if I have an apple and a banana, it will total about 50g of carbs. It is still more fruit than I would ever eat in one sitting, but at least I will get the nutrients and none of the artificial crap.

At the end of the appointment the doctor started talking about how it was safer to give birth in a hospital… I almost started to debate but managed to reign myself in as that would not be helpful to my cause! There are just so many people, doctors especially, that subscribe to the “just in case” philosophy. My philosophy, on the other hand, is “Everything will be fine. If it’s not, we’ll deal with it.”

I texted with my midwife after the appointment and told her about the things he said. I told her, “I like going to your office so much better!!”

She said, “Lol sometimes it actually helps people who are nervous to feel better about their choice… We call him if we need him… He is a great doctor just a fast talker making sure he covers his bases. 14 years backing me and he still asks people why do you want a home birth?” Oh, and she said she has no worries about my mental health, haha!

I am just crossing my fingers that everything will go smoothly so there is no need to transfer. If all goes as planned, I will only have to go to the clinic once more at 36 weeks to be signed off for home birth, and then I am in the clear! After that time, there are only a few reasons women need to be transferred. If the baby is breech, they are required by law to give birth in a hospital (usually by Caesarean section). Also if there are any complications during labor that need medical management, or if the labor doesn’t progress, and gets to be so long and drawn out that the mother needs medical support or a C-section.

Link Love

“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