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…

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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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Pregnancy & Baby Reading List

When I get interested in a topic, I like to read pretty much everything there is out there about it. That way I have a library of information and a variety of opinions from which to create my own philosophies. As much as I hate to admit it to the many people who want to impart their knowledge and advice, including my husband, I don’t believe what people tell me until I’ve read the same thing from several reputable sources. There are just so many opinions out there, and I feel the need to figure out what I believe in my own way!

When it comes to pregnancy, childbirth, and raising children, there are tons and tons of opinions. It can be tough to sort through and figure out what is right or wrong, what makes sense to you, and what you can see as a part of your lifestyle once the baby arrives. I don’t believe anyone when they tell me I will feel any certain way once I am in labor, or once I actually have this baby in my arms.

For now I am smiling and nodding, and in my spare time reading and researching. In the future I am sure I will talk about a lot of decisions I’ve made (and later, how those decisions are working out for me!) but for now, I’ll go through a few of the books that have been fantastic resources.

  1. Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth: This book is really great… the first half is filled with inspiring stories of natural childbirth, then it goes on to discuss the state of childbirth and how to give yourself the best opportunity to have the birth you want.
  2. The Diaper-Free Baby: As an environmentalist and penny-pincher, I have always hated the idea of using disposable diapers. They seemed like a lot of work, but I figured I’d use cloth diapers because I assumed there was no other way, until I read Beyond the Sling by Mayim Bialik (Blossom) and discovered the concept of elimination communication (EC). I promptly ordered a couple books on the subject (I haven’t read the other one yet) and am in love with the idea!
  3. Vaccinations: A Thoughtful Parent’s Guide: The crunchy community seems to be dead set against vaccines, whereas the conventional community shoves them in your face. I am neither, and don’t see why I have to be… I have linked to a number of articles about vaccination and understand that while some vaccines are effective with minimal side-effects, there are others that are ineffective or even dangerous. I think it’s crazy that babies receive so many vaccines in the first year of their lives, so I am researching and sorting through to figure out which we will allow our baby to receive, and which we will decline. This book provides a well-balanced perspective with a lot of research to back it up, and although I am looking at other sources as well, it is a great help in helping me understand  each decision.

 

Sick in the Sinus

This weekend Luke and I headed for a wedding in Vero Beach, Florida. Everything was wonderful and it was a great mini-vacation, but with a hitch. We flew into Orlando, and we were on a flight jam packed full of kids headed to Disney. I don’t mind the chatty ones, it’s the screaming and singing that gets me. It was an early flight and I wasn’t able to sleep much, and I think  caught something. I felt okay for most of the day, but Saturday night my throat started hurting.

Sunday it was killing me, and by the wedding Sunday night, I was feeling so yucky that I dipped out of the reception to curl up in bed with a book and ice water to hopefully numb my throat. Luke was able to get Advil from a lady who was attending the wedding, and that maybe helped a little bit. My throat was a little sore the next day, but my nose began running like a faucet and has been running ever since. I felt bad for the lady sitting next to me on the plane ride home… luckily I was in the window seat and would turn my head when I needed to blow my nose.

Work was pretty miserable today. My sinuses were full of pressure and I was blowing my nose constantly. I have never liked taking meds for basic colds like this, and I especially don’t want to take lots of meds now because I am trying to keep my body as clean as possible for my future baby, so here is my strategy…

  1. Hydrate – lots of water and tea!
  2. Neti pot – clear out the sinuses a couple times a day so they don’t get all clogged up
  3. Lots of tissues – I like Puffs with lotion 🙂
  4. Home-made soup – I made a big batch of bone broth last week, so I just sautéed some onions and chicken breast in Kerrygold butter, dumped in the broth, added carrots, one big chopped yam, spinach, and a little bit of seaweed just for fun, plus a chili pepper and ginger for flavor and to help clear out the sinuses, and some salt. Delicious, filling, healthy, and great for a cold!

Chat With Mom

Yesterday I went on a house cleaning spree. I took the lazy day approach and did a few things at a time, broken up by a phone call or an episode of 30 Rock. During one of these breaks, I called my mom- after trying to reach my parents a few times this week and just getting voicemail, I was pleased to actually get through. We talked about a bunch of different things, but obviously the most relevant here was that we talked about her birth experiences.

I’ve had some weird dreams lately and I told my mom about a dream I had the other day. In the dream I was heavily pregnant and instead of contractions I had gas, and I gave birth in about 20 minutes and it barely hurt at all… I just kind of pooped the baby out 😉

My mom responded, “That’s like how you were born!” Of course I was intrigued and asked for more details. She said that she woke up in the middle of the night with some contractions and thought, I guess I better wake up Tedd! (my dad). She said I was lucky I wasn’t born in the car, because they got to the hospital, she hopped up on the bed, a couple pushes and I was out. I am wondering if she just progressed through a bunch of her labor while she was still asleep!

With all three of us kids (I have an older sister and a younger brother) my mom gave birth vaginally without the use of any drugs or interventions. She was attended by a doctor for both my sister and my birth, then midwives with my brother.

My brother was a big baby- he was 9 1/2 lbs. when he was born. On top of that, he was in a posterior position, making the birth more difficult. The midwives had my mom walk around a lot to keep the labor progressing, and when it came time to give birth, she did so in a squatting position. With his size and fetal position, birthing my brother was likened to giving birth to a 12.5 lb. baby! My mother was able to birth without complications, probably thanks to caring and knowledgable midwives helping her along.

It makes me wonder how a similar difficult birth would be handled in a hospital nowadays? My friend had a normal, albeit long labor, her baby was small, and it was in the anterior position. It should have been a straight-forward birth, but in the hospital she was strapped down, poked and prodded, and consequently her labor progression slowed down. The doctor told her that the baby’s head was slightly to the side, and no matter how hard she pushed, she would never be able to get the baby out… she was then basically forced to give birth by Caesarean.

It makes me wonder what would have happened if the doctor had allowed her to move around during labor, maybe sit on a ball or get in water? If the baby truly was off to the side a little bit like they said, it could have easily slipped back to the correct position for birthing if she was allowed to move around and let gravity do its job of moving the baby down the birth canal. Oh, and she was already 8cm dilated when they told her she would need a c-section.

I’ve read all these stories about how simple and beautiful birth can be and how medicalization has destroyed the natural process, but there’s nothing like hearing the experiences of people close to you.

FEARS: Ceasarean Birth

I have two friends who have given birth in the past few months. They both planned natural births, but in a hospital. Both were induced, and both ended up giving birth by Ceasarean. Why?

It seems that at the slightest complication, hospitals tell women that they have no choice but surgery. Of course I don’t know all the details, and perhaps it was really medically necessary in both cases, but I find that hard to believe. Obstetricians are surgeons, and to deliver a baby by Ceasarean is easier and more straight forward for them than dealing with a difficult labor and birth. Apparently there are legal troubles doctors can get into as well when there are complications. Not really sure what that’s all about, but I am just under the impression that in hospitals, OBs jump at the chance to recommend a C-section.

It’s so sad to me that so many women are robbed of the chance to have a natural birth experience. I have heard that after giving birth by Ceasarean, many hospitals don’t allow a woman to give birth vaginally for their next child, so they may never be able to.

Both of my friends went to the same hospital, one that has a beautiful maternity ward and good reputation- they even allow water births. It is the hospital that through my midwife, I will be transferred to if I suffer complications during labor. I know that I need to accept all possibilities because labor and birth are not predictable, but am afraid of going to the hospital. I am afraid that if I were transferred there, then I would lose my voice. That they would tell me that I am incapable of birthing my child, and for my baby’s safety, I would need drugs and surgery.

I want to cry for all the women this has happened to. I know that what is most important is that mother and baby are safe and healthy, and in some cases a Ceasarean is necessary, but in so many cases it really is not…

Exploring Birth Options

Back in December, Luke got a bit miffed at me because he thought I was just procrastinating about having kids and said that after Dave and Karen’s wedding, I would just come up with another excuse. That definitely was not the case, so the next day I started researching midwives in the area.

I know that hospital births with obstetricians are the norm, but I could never really see myself doing that… being strapped down in a bed wearing a paper nightgown, attached to machines, while medical professionals hovered around ready to give me shots of epidural and pitocin. It wasn’t that I had anything against it – I could even understand why women would want that – I just couldn’t see myself doing it. I much preferred the idea of going through labor and birth in my home, where I could lay in my bed or watch movies, be supported by my husband and maybe my mom, and with an experienced midwife with whom I’ve formed a relationship.

The midwife that I was most interested in is Judy Hagan of Babycatcher Midwifery. Luke and I met her in mid-January, and we both loved her. She is a certified nurse midwife who has been in business since the 1980s. The fact that she has medical qualifications and experience was attractive to Luke, and her general philosophies on childbirth were so great to me. She was even approving of my grain-free paleo diet. We left her home feeling confident and excited, with a short list of things to do.

I immediately went off “the pill,” started taking a b-complex,  and ordered a couple of the books she recommended on her website. I also watched a couple great documentaries that completely validated my decision to pursue a natural pregnancy and childbirth: Pregnant in America and The Business of Being Born.

I am currently reading and learning as much as possible so as to be ready at my “deadline”!