Sunday, September 29, 2013

The empowering birth of Grace Adele

From the first day we were aware of this pregnancy, I firmly declared that this birth would be different. I knew that I would do everything in my power to make it that way and it was. 

In the weeks leading up to my estimated due date, we anticipated that I would likely deliver sometime during or around week 38. That is the week that both of my previous deliveries had taken place in, so we were prepared for the same sort of pattern. However, my primary midwife, M, was scheduled to be out of town, so we hoped that baby would wait for her, even though we had a backup that each of us fully trusted. Soon, M came home and week 39 began. Everyone was poised and ready for the show to begin. I began having prodromal labor, which was exhausting and just plain frustrating. A couple of times I began to wonder if it was true labor, then it would stop. Such is the frustrating nature of prodromal labor. Week 39 drew to a close and I entered week 40. How exhilarating to meet my edd! I had never done that before! Wow! A full day past! Two...three...this wasn't so fun anymore. I found myself vacillating between exhilaration and the desire to just have my baby. It was a strange place to be. On Wednesday morning, at 40+5, I woke up to large amounts of bloody show, which continued all day. I called T, our backup midwife. See...M was out of town again. The second of two trips that she warned us about when we hired her. But we never expected that I would reach or surpass my edd! All day Wednesday and nothing happened. So much for that. 

At one am on Thursday the 26th, I woke up to a contraction. Hmm...that kind of hurt. I decided that it was probably just a Braxton Hicks contraction and went back to sleep. Ouch. Another one. Hmm...that's just been ten minutes. Okay. On and on it went, contractions every ten minutes. I had to breathe through them, vocalizing through some. I sent my friend Sara a text. She was my long distance doula. Together, we decided that this definitely sounded like early labor, so I kept trying to rest. Oddly, the contractions only happened whenI was  laying down. Very unusual. Around eight am, I knew that Ryan could not go to work that day. Nope. He sent his boss a text and we mentally prepared for contractions stopped. Stopped. We wondered if he should go on to work, but I was afraid that labor would kick in hard and I would be alone with the girls until he got back from work. I was so confused and frustrated.  I called my chiropractor and rescheduled my usual Friday appointment for just after lunch, hoping that being adjusted would help start things back up again. No one in my chiropractor's office could believe that I had come during labor, stalled or not, but I assured them that it should help. Ryan and I took the girls to Burger King afterward to let them run off some energy in the play place, which was nice and empty. I waited and waited for contractions to begin. Nothing. Ryan cracked a joke that I had better go into labor since he had called into work. I was so emotional that I began to cry...for the fourth time that day. The poor guy felt so bad! We stopped and got the girls a movie at the RedBox, anything to keep our minds off of labor. We sat down to watch it and I fell asleep on the couch. I woke up around six and started having contractions again! Ten minutes apart, increasing in intensity. I decided to take a bath to calm my emotions and relax my body. At some point during my bath, I began to vocalize through the contractions, so I alerted Sara. We texted back and forth a bit, she was ever encouraging. I heard noises from the living area...Ryan was telling the girls to help him clean some because the baby was coming soon. Oh wow...this was it! I began to text with T, our backup midwife. She felt like my physical and emotional changes were enough for her to come, even though I still felt like it would be a while. She had a two hour drive ahead of her, so she wanted to leave with plenty of time. Kirsten began to get nervous because I was so vocal, so we sent the girls on to my parents' house. They were sleepy and a little anxious. Our friend and birth attendant Amanda arrived before the girls left, much to their delight. T arrived about 9:30...but the bath had slowed my contractions. My dad left with the girls, Norah having already fallen asleep on Amanda's lap, and Ryan made me some beef Ramen noodle. Healthy, huh? Haha! I ate and laid down on the couch, hoping to relax enough for contractions to kick back in. Amanda rubbed my legs and feet...and they sure did kick back in! An almost instant pattern of contractions spaced ten minutes apart. Everyone would laugh because whenever a particularly intense one was over, I would brightly announce that it was a good one. The intensity was growing and it wasn't long before the only way I could manage was to quickly stand up as one began and slump into Ryan's chest. He swayed with me and rubbed my back as I labored. The entire time, he just knew instinctively what I needed. I am still amazed by this incredible man that God has blessed me with. He is the most perfect birth partner, in addition to being the most perfect life partner. Our marriage is so blessed! I think around 3:30 or 4:00 am, the intensity was such that I said I would like to get into the pool soon, but that I was afraid to get in too soon. I had another contraction and announced that I would be getting in soon. Another contraction about four minutes after that and declared that I wanted the pool NOW. It was already inflated, so Ryan hooked up the hose to the shower head and drained the hot water heater while Amanda put water on the stove to heat. I changed into my swimsuit bottoms and climbed in as soon as there were a few inches of water in the pool. It felt amazing on my perenium! As the water level climbed, I could feel a difference in my pain level. After a while, I could tell that the baby's head was working its way down the birth canal, but I wasn't sure how long that would take. I also couldn't tell you what time this was to save my life. Between contractions, I was still fun-loving and smiling. Soon after that, I could tell that I was nearing transition. I became more withdrawn, less aware of my surroundings. 

During each contraction, I threw myself over the side of the pool and clung to Ryan as he applied counter pressure to my tailbone. It was the only way I felt that I could cope with my contractions at that point. I was very vocal (it seemed so loud to me) and several times I heard my vocalizations begin to take on a higher pitch, but was able to remember to bring them down to a low register. During a contraction, I thought that the baby was quite low, so I checked myself internally while I was still leaned over after the contraction had finished. The baby's head was low enough that I could feel it with ease. For several contractions, I had experienced relief while bearing down slightly, it was accomplishing much! I asked T to check me (I didn't tell them that I had checked myself, but I wanted confirmation that I had indeed felt what I thought I had. Everyone was shocked because I had not wanted to have any exams at all during pregnancy or labor. T got M on speakerphone, as this was her first solo birth and she wanted the security of being coached through checking me. We feel so honored to be her first solo birth!! It was great to hear M's voice all the way from Delaware! T confirmed exactly what I had felt, baby's head was almost a full finger deep. She didn't reveal how many cm she felt I was dilated, but her description to M sounded to me like I was nearly complete with a lip. Awesome! A few minutes later, I decided to get out and go to the bathroom. I felt like I needed to...lose something...but quickly realized that the change in my position was helping baby move further down, hence the sensation I was feeling. I bore down a little bit in that safe place in case something gross happened (haha!) before deciding to get back in the pool. I practically leapt into the pool at this point, the pain was suddenly too much without the water! My husband had put on some Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald at some point. It was so soothing! We also had ocean waves on. It created a wonderful ambiance. Soon after jumping back into the pool, I was pushing before I really realized what I was doing. After several pushes, I checked my progress again and felt baby's head two knuckles deep. After a few more (loud and powerful, might I add) pushes, I could feel the baby crowning. At this point, I began to support my perenium. I was still on my knees, leaning over the pool and into Ryan's chest. I wanted to say that I could not go on anymore and that they needed to pull the baby out. Then I remembered that that thought meant I was almost done and was thinking crazy. I buckled down and pushed again, the head was almost out and I was experiencing the ring of fire. For a moment I wondered if I would tear, then I decided that I did not care. I looked up and saw the sun brightening the misty gray sky and I drew strength from God's beautiful handiwork. I remember praying and calling on the name of Jesus with every contraction. It was such a holy time! Another mighty push and the head was out! I flipped over so T could check for a cord and we found that the cord was wrapped around the baby's neck, too tightly to release, so I just gave a mighty push and the entire body came out. I caught my baby myself at 7:53 am! The cord was wrapped around the neck and back around the chest, but not ONCE did baby's heart rate decel. In fact, it did not drop below 136 the entire course of labor--nuchal cords are NORMAL, people! Forty percent of babies are born easily and healthfully with a nuchal cord of some kind. I brought baby to my chest after T unwrapped the cord and baby pinked up almost instantly. It took a few moments to get a cry and first breath, but we weren't worried, the cord was still intact and baby had no need for oxygen while the cord was still pumping. Baby was lifting its head to listen to mommy and daddy speaking, very alert. I reached between the legs for a second--girl! But in the bliss of the moment...I didn't think to say anything. I still had some intense contractions as the placenta began to release and I wanted to get out of the pool. Amanda put chux pads on the couch and Ryan and T helped me out and onto the couch to finish getting the sample of the cord blood, as I am rh- and we chose to test baby so I could receive the rhogam shot if baby was positive. The placenta took less than 20 minutes to appear after birth. T said it was the largest placenta she had ever personally examined. Baby nursed very well and Ryan stepped outside to call the girls. My mom had been out of the house, so someone called her on her cell phone and she called back immediately. I told her to wait a bit before bringing the girls over so I could be cleaned up. Almost immediately, my grandmother called to see how things were progressing (apparently my mother had told her the night before that I was in labor). Ryan told her that she had called just in time! She was so thrilled to hear the news. The girls and my mom arrived sooner than we hoped, I was still laying on the couch, not yet cleaned up. We had decided to burn the cord before I got up. It took around ten minutes and was a really incredible experience. (Baby's cord fell off on Monday morning! Wow!) Amanda took the big girls into their room to play for a few minutes while T examined me, finding minor bruising and two skid marks--I hadn't torn after all! I got up and got into the shower. At this point, Ryan and T remembered that no one had checked the gender and I told them that I had and forgot to tell them. We got a good laugh as we double checked. Ryan took the baby and snuggled her as T helped me in the shower. It felt soooo good! I dressed and laid back down, snacking and drinking some water as the newborn exam was performed. The girls loved watching their new sister be weighed and measured and all that the exam includes. Baby weighed 6.12 lbs and was 21 inches long! The same weight as Kirsten and more than 2 inches longer than both sisters! (18.5 and 18.75 inches) She had nursed well during our time on the couch and promptly fell asleep after her exhausting exam. It's so hard to be a bebรจ!

It took us until Sunday night to name her, we chose the name Grace Adele. Grace's meaning is obvious, but Adele means "noble". We feel that her name suits her perfectly!

This birth was truly different. It was empowering, it was holy, it was beautiful. It was a birth without fear. My God is so good!!!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Birth Lodge Entry 1 (No, the baby is not coming anytime soon!)

Some friends in a local birth group inspired me to write a birth lodge as a way to commemorate the last few weeks of my pregnancy. This is week 36...

The weeks leading up to week 36 have been tumultuous for me emotionally. During week 35 my mom and I made a hasty drive from Kentucky to North Carolina to say goodbye to my grandfather as he prepared to pass from this world to the heavenly realm all Christians look forward to. I truly feel very happy for him and very little sorrow, but there is a certain amount of emotional trauma when you watch someone go through the dying process. I had never witnessed anything like that before and am still working through it, but I am very glad that I went. He died about forty minutes before my birthday, so that added to the trauma for me. I spent my birthday making funeral arrangements with my mother and grandmother, and traveling back and forth from one place to another. It was rather dismal, not to mention that I relish spending my birthday with my husband and daughters, so there were a lot of tears as I got ready for bed that night. Plus, late third trimester hormones are a total b****. I came home after five days to attempt to get my disheveled house back in order and just found myself exhausted and emotional. Sometimes the drama just doesn't stop. Sometimes it gets worse, but we won't go there. I just hold my husband's hand and we know that everything is alright when we are together. <3

Physically I am starting to feel very pregnant. My hips hurt a great deal, my seasonal allergies are kicking my butt, I'm hot all the time, and having a difficult time getting from point A to point B. But that's all normal, so it's not a big deal. :) I can feel that baby has dropped a lot, so that is always good when you are in the last few weeks. I am in no hurry to get this baby out at all. In fact, I'm in denial that its arrival is this close. Truly! I have everything prepped for our home birth, all of our supplies, etc. We need to do a practice run with our birth pool, but that is something we keep putting off for some reason or another. Have I mentioned that we seem to be in denial? Haha! I suppose we should fill the pool this weekend, but MAN are we busy! 

A week from today, the girls and I will drive to Lexington for our cat's appointment at their local spay and neuter clinic. They charge less than half of our local clinic and include all shots, as well as pain medication--our local clinic charges extra for all of that. HELLO!! That saves us money even with the drive up there.

Here's a little funny for you: Kirsten just asked me if the baby will be here on Monday. Ummm, no. Why would she think that? Her reply was that Monday is Labor Day. I think we need to teach her what Labor Day is about, but BOY did I ever laugh!! Also, I was in the tub the other night and Norah followed me in for a chat. Of course. She instructed me to push the baby out because if I was in the tub (the bathtub, mind you) then I was surely having the baby. Kids are hilarious!!

On that note, I've decided that I'm going to make myself a birthday cake today. Maybe it will make me feel better about my effed-up birthday. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Is it naptime yet?!

Our week feels like it has been crazy. But then again--I think every week is crazy-busy. Our house is almost fully ready for baby, which is good because our home visit with our midwife is tomorrow! Baby clothes are organized and put into a small chest of drawers, diapers and covers are all prepped and sorted, almost all of the birth supplies are in the birth box, I installed the carseat this evening--which feels super early, but we were tripping over it, so it needed to go someplace! The bassinet is ready, as you have seen previously...that's about it! The birth pool has been inflated once, but we are going to water test it this weekend or next. I wish I could just leave it inflated where we plan to use it, but with two kids and two cats...yeah. I'd have a busted pool faster than I could shake my fist at the offender. I want to crochet something else for baby, but I'm not sure what. I'd want it to be a clothing item. Maybe just one more pair of longies since the weather has been surprisingly cool. I need some scrumdiddlyumptious wool!

Tomorrow is my super busy day of the week: take Ryan to work, visit the chiropractor, run some errands, come home and put finishing touches on the house, pick Ryan up from work, feed my family and stick an apple pie in the oven before our home visit. Oh my word. I'm exhausted already. LOL

Friday, August 9, 2013

Bassinet Up-cycle

I mentioned yesterday that I was cleaning out our bassinet. As I removed the bunting for washing, I noted that it was getting rather old and tired looking, so when I saw the sides for the first time in three years, I realized that the cardboard would be perfect to adhere scrapbook paper to! MOD PODGE!!! Have I ever mentioned how much I LOVE Mod Podge?! I have had a piece of scrapbook paper on hand for a few months. I purchased it with a project in mind and never--um--completed said project. *shifty eyes*
Anywaaayyy...I really loved that paper and decided that it would be PERFECT for this project! Here is the bassinet stripped bare and ready for transformation. 

I only had one sheet of the afore-mentioned paper, but I got too excited waiting for Ryan to come home with more and put that one on ahead of time. :)

Eeeekkkk!!!!! Isn't it adorable?! Want to see a close up of the paper? You know you do. ;) 

It's navy and cream: soooo sophisticated for either gender.

Ryan came home with the rest of the paper and I could barely force myself to prepare supper and feed my family (and myself) before fully delving into this project. It took surprisingly little time (but it DID take a good third bottle of Mod Podge) and the pattern is a bit off in some places, but it looks AMAZING! LOOKIT!

I had a leetle bit of leftover fabric from a project I began earlier this year that I knew would go perfectly with this gorgeous paper. I wanted to make an actual fitted sheet, but just barely ran short, so it's more like a mattress sleeve/cover-thing. I'm going to put some elastic "belts" on the back to help it stay in place like a sheet. It's too cute not to utilize, really. :) 

See what I mean? Adorable!!! I should find some fabric to re-cover the shade that goes on those little pegs, but I've honestly never used the darn thing. It annoys me and I feel like I can't see baby well enough when it's on. 

So there's my super easy bassinet up-cycle! I'm so pleased with it and I can't wait to put baby in it!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Baby prep! Could this be nesting?

As of tomorrow, there are only six weeks left until my EDD. WHOAH. That isn't much. I realized that I have more than just cleaning the house to do. Baby clothes are just sitting in piles in a corner of our living room, the bassinet has yet to be prepped, I need to make sheets for the bassinet since we don't have any anymore, I need to make mama get it. Plus, my house is just not ready. At. All. Lol I need to get stuff deep cleaned, organize, steam clean the carpets, clean the couch cushions with alcohol and get it. Haha! Now who wants to come do regular cleaning every day so I can do this stuff? ;) 

Today I scrubbed my kitchen floor by hand and organized *part* of the kitchen. What can I say? I suck at keeping house and my blood pressure hates activity. Not much gets done at once before I feel the sensation that I may faint. Haha! 

Guess what I get to treat myself to tonight? I'm refinishing the bassinet!! Yep! The fabric bunting was just looking old and tired, so when I stripped it off for routine washing, I realized that I could give it a fresh new look by Mod Podging some super cute scrapbook paper onto it! I will post my results tomorrow. :)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Ukulele Challenges

My little Kirsten turned six last week. SIX!!! Where has the time gone?! One moment we are here:
 (Isn't that the most perfect little face?!)

And the next moment we are here:
(Still perfect! ๐Ÿ’–)

Her daddy and I gave her an ukulele for her birthday. We are homeschooling this year--first grade already!--and we would love for her to become musical. She is working so hard and really loves playing an instrument. But let me tell you...keeping an instrument tuned around here is easier said than done. The first time *I* tuned them (we have an old plastic one for Norah that plays surprisingly well) it took me an hour. I am not kidding. This mama is NOT musically inclined. By God's grace, I found a free app that listens to the notes and shows me on a scale how close I am. A few days later, that hour has now reduced to a few minutes. PRAISE THE LORD! Since I'm doing this multiple times per day--little fingers, you know--this simplifies my life and reduces my level of tears greatly. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I even love it so much that I think I am going to take up the ukulele myself, getting one of my own for my birthday. Don't judge, I'm actually doing pretty well and I do NOT play instruments. Haha! My husband thinks it's HILARIOUS that I can't hear a note and replicate it, especially where tuning is concerned. He's also been the recipient of a few hand gestures for laughing at me. Don't worry, the kids aren't around! ๐Ÿ˜‰

All in all, back-to-school has been a fun success. We actually started a few weeks early because we will surely take time off when the baby gets here next month. OHMYGOSH. NEXT MONTH!!! Here is the wreath the girls and I made. I finally assembled the wreath a couple of weeks ago after having had the supplies for a full year. Again, don't judge. ๐Ÿ˜‰ The apples were their craft for school today. Granted it is still August, but since it already says "fall", I won't have to change it out for quite a while! Haha!

Happy August! (Can you believe it's already here?)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The High Calling of Birth

I preface this with the statement that I am a Christian, very firmly rooted in my belief in God and His constant presence in our lives. I believe that a relationship with Him means we can and do speak openly with Him, and He with us. That being said...

Recently, our church experienced one of those great services where praise and worship just doesn't stop and the sermon never happens. Love those so much!! As the majority of our congregation delved deep into worship and God's amazing presence, I began to hear Him speaking to me about birth, my job as a doula, and the amazing act of worship that birth is. 

He began to reveal to me that birth is a woman's ultimate act of worship. Our bodies are designed and intended to bring life into the world, we should honor Him in that task. At some point, I looked around and saw a few people who just were not "into" praise and worship that morning. You know the type: arms crossed, ugly expression on their face, etc. I wondered how they could stand there so distant when God's presence was so heavy and tangible in the room. Why they would medicate their worship and keep from experiencing what He had for them. God answered me with this question: "If you wouldn't medicate your worship, why would you medicate your birth?" 


Wait a minute. Back that truck up. Oh.snap.

I'm guilty of it. Most women in America these days are. But I had never thought of it that way before. Whoa. I had to repent. In that act of repentance, I asked Him to show me more. What else were we unintentionally doing in birth that grieved Him? The answer came swiftly and was even more shocking:
God began to talk to me about the birth process. Everyone calls babies a miracle, right? How many times have you heard, "each baby is a miracle!"? A lot, right? Me too. I've said it. You've probably said it. We all say it. It's part of our birth culture. But why do we say it? I have always assumed that I say it because God so delicately designs each one of us inside our Mother's wombs. Life itself is miraculous! However, God gave me a new and amazing perspective that morning: we call each baby a miracle because He is present when that baby is born. Our labor is worship, we are preparing the way for Him to come, whether we know it or not. When that baby, that tiny, innocent baby, comes Earthside, they are coming directly from constant communication with Him and bringing His presence with them. In my mind's eye, I saw a hospital room in the first few moments after a birth. The parents are gasping in awe of the child that is laying on its mother's chest, the nurse is rubbing the baby down with a fresh receiving blanket, and over by the door is the King of all things. If the President of the United States or the Queen of England walked into that room, people would roll out the red carpet faster than anything. But the Creator is there...and everyone is ignoring Him. We forget to thank God for the gifts He has given us, and for His presence in our lives. We expect it. Take it for granted. In that moment, I realized that His heart is so grieved by that. We spend hours, sometimes days in preparation for His arrival, but He goes unheralded. I literally got on my face and wept with remorse. How had I never realized that I grieved the heart of my Father when my daughters were born? Just because our sin is unintentional, doesn't mean that it isn't sin. We are still responsible to repent for it when we are aware of it. 

On our way home from church, I recounted all of this to Ryan. He was amazed and asked me what I planned to do differently this time. 

This time, I plan to recognize my worship for what it is as labor begins. To tell God that I am preparing the way for His presence and ask Him to sustain me. Along the way, I hope to remember to continue to do that very thing. When the baby arrives, we intend to take a few moments to thank God for His presence, to welcome Him as He fills the room. 

This may seem crazy and over religious to some of you reading right now. But I encourage you to pray about it yourself and see what God has to say to you. I want to remember to welcome the King when I give birth. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Summer Lovin'

Happy First Day of Summer!!! 

What have you done to celebrate summer today? The girls and I made some juice slushies in the freezer and lazed around quite a bit. Today also marks my twenty seventh week of pregnancy and the entrance into my third trimester. I'm still not sure how I feel about it. I'm almost reluctant to let this pregnancy go, but I may feel differently when my edd rolls around. ;) Norah was born one day shy of the First Day of Spring, perhaps this baby will make its appearance on The First Day of Autumn? That could be really fun!!

I was talking with a friend today about how EXHAUSTED I am this pregnancy, but that it is almost as bad right now as the first trimester was. You know, when you can't keep your eyes open and jerk awake because you have slumped sideways in your chair? I'm so thankful that it is the weekend and my kids can have both parents home, but we also have some deep cleaning scheduled, so thinking about that makes me REALLY tired already. The girls go to bed at 8:30pm tonight, so I may just go to sleep as soon as they do. ;)

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Overcoming My Fear

This birth will be different. 
This birth will be different. 
This birth will be different. 

After Norah's birth, I immersed myself even more deeply into self-education on the subject of childbirth. So much so, that my husband told me that I should become a doula. Really? Should I do that? Ryan told me that my passion would help other parents experience birth as it SHOULD BE, not as we experienced it. He is so wise and encouraging. ❤ It felt like a pipe dream, but I knew that it would happen someday, so I kept learning everything I could. I read everything I could get my hands on (still do!) and excitedly told Ryan about what I was discovering. Poor man, he gets so bored listening to me prattle on, but he listens anyway. Have I mentioned yet how wonderful he is? ❤ We didn't plan on having any other children ourselves, but I knew that I would do things a specific way if we ever changed our minds. 

Then came January 2013.
Whoa. We did NOT see that one coming! I actually took this test in the maternity ward of the local hospital. *snort* My cycle had been off by eleven days the month before, so I wasn't concerned that I was late again. I figured my body was just trying to find its balance again. Kirsten and Norah had recently had a 24/hr flu bug, so I assumed that I caught it as well...until Ryan asked me how many days late I was the morning that I threw up while brushing my teeth. Oh sh**. Sixteen days late. That was a lot. Well, being upset about two lines wasn't going to make us feel better, so we decided to be happy about it on purpose! It was a new life, right? We kept our news a secret for several weeks, despite me being the sickest I've ever been and actually losing weight this time around. That's never happened to me before. 
Right away, we knew what our plan was:
1. Hire a midwife and birth at home
2. Purchase a pool to birth in
3. Follow our instincts, trust God, and do it *our way*

Our midwife (whom we will call 'M' in respect for her privacy) is an amazing woman who didn't just set us at ease in the interview, she made us feel like we were family members. She plays with our girls and is enthusiastic about our birth. She and I also love to talk birthy research, etc. together. She wholeheartedly supports our decision to deny any sort of testing or interventions beyond the 20 week anatomy scan. We had that done just to ensure that baby's health was as it should be and we would not be putting baby at risk by home birthing, should baby have any sort of deformities/special conditions. We knew in our hearts that baby was fine, but we felt that it was an important decision for us to double check. (Disclaimer: there are times when the ultrasound does not correctly diagnose problems, so each set of parents must make their own decision and accept full responsibility.)

At this point of my pregnancy, I would normally be going for the glucose tolerance test with an OB's office. I can't express to you how relieved I am that I won't be doing that this time! I didn't realize with my first two pregnancies that I had the option to deny testing. I'm not at risk, so tests are not pertinent. As far as gestational diabetes goes, there are MUCH more reliable ways to confirm if a woman has GD than the GTT. 

At our most recent visit, M asked about our previous birth experiences. We shared important points and answered her questions in detail. She confirmed what we felt all along: that there was no reason for our babies to be held for "observation", that skin to skin and being cared for solely by Ryan and myself would have avoided the hospitalizations they experienced. I even read a study about three years ago that focused on newborns who were taken away from their mothers in the first hour without being permitted to Breastfeed or have skin to skin time. Most of these newborns went into some form of physical shock, most screaming inconsolably and a large number experiencing respiratory arrest! SOUND FAMILIAR?! I wish I could remember where I read this study. *grump* But I digress...

We often get people who try to scare us into going to a hospital, playing the dead baby/dead mother card. At this point, very little could scare us into going to a hospital. M is a very capable and educated midwife whom we trust with my life and our baby's life. My education tells me that there are few things that can't or shouldn't be handled at home and that those are very typically detected before they become an emergency. In the event of an emergency, M and her attendant, along with my amazing husband will take quick action. I do not foresee an emergency whatsoever, but I trust them in the event that one arises. 

Ways that this birth will be different:
1. We will be in the comfort of our own home. No rush. No pressure. Things happen at their own pace. 
2. Our kids can do whatever they want, should they prefer to remain with us. 
3. No sneaking of food and drink--we can both eat and drink what we want, when we want from our kitchen!
4. At the end of the day, we can sleep together in our own bed! This is something I am so excited about! I hated watching Ryan sleep in that awful fold-out chair while I was trapped in the hospital bed. 

These are just a few of the ways that this birth will be different. Natural. As God intended. Not in a cold, germ-ridden hospital where we are treated as if we don't matter. Care. Real care. Surrounded by love and trust. 

As our birth gets nearer and nearer, I feel trepidation, as I mentioned in my first post in this series. I am processing all of my feelings surrounding my first two births and seeking the Lord's comfort and reassurance for this upcoming birth. He is faithful and I find my trepidation passing slowly like a ship in the night. I envision myself standing on a rock as I watch it sail away. The water is as smooth as glass in its wake and I am strong. I will get birth as it should be and my journey will be peaceful. My journey will encourage and empower others as I become a doula and I will be able to help other families have beautiful births, as well. I eagerly anticipate attending births and my husband is excited for me, as well. 

This birth will be different. I will birth without fear. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Facing My Fears II

As I mentioned in my pervious post, I feel the need to share my birth journey with the world, in the event that it may touch and encourage someone else. I will continue today with the birth of my second daughter. 

Before we decided when we would have our second child, I started studying natural childbirth and evidence based studies. I was determined to have a better birth! We decided to cloth diaper and be more natural in our parenting style than we previously knew how. In July of 2010, we found out that we were expecting baby #2! We chose to find care in a city sixty miles away in order to receive more humane and personalized care. We liked my new OB, as far as OBs go. ;) She recognized that I knew what I was talking about and was eager to learn more and to take an active role in my gestation and birthing process. We wanted a water birth, but the hospital had only one labor tub, so we kept our fingers crossed. 

I'd had an intuition all along that I would go into labor on St Patrick's Day--and I did! I assumed for many hours that it was just prodromal labor, but transitioned from early to active labor that evening. Kirsten went to my parents' house that evening and we labored at home for a bit. I had an appointment scheduled for 9am the next morning anyway, so this was good timing. I was 37+6 wks. After a while, my contractions were pretty intense and moved to about 2.5 minutes apart, so we departed for the hospital. Ryan and I were in good spirits! We arrived at the hospital sometime around 11 and I was taken to a room for monitoring. I was asked to lay on my back in the bed and allow them to monitor my contractions. This felt too familiar. They checked me for dilation and I was only dilated 2cm and the baby was no longer engaged, she was in my ribs! What was going on with my birth? We were released around 4am (?), despite begging to stay since we had an appointment so early and lived almost 1.5 hrs away. We drove home and my contractions continued. Ryan slept just a little bit and I labored in the tub. We were only home about an hour before it was time to leave again. This ride wasn't as pleasant as the first. My body was definitely in labor and we had to stop every little bit so I could use the restroom. Looking back, I know that my labor was lengthened by the obstacles we had to overcome. You know, sphincter reflex and all. We arrived at the office and I'm sure I scared a family of small children sitting behind me in the waiting room every time I had a contraction. We saw the doctor and she checked me...dilated to 3cm. Oh my. So far to go. She told us that she felt I was definitely in labor and recommended that we find something good to eat before we headed to the hospital. We went to Panera Bread and I was too uncomfortable to labor without privacy at this point. At the hospital, I was told that I was the sixth woman to check in in fifteen minutes. I labored on my back, hooked up to monitors for over two hours in c-section recovery before I was given a room. Remember that episode of Friends when the woman was wheeled into Rachel's room, before being wheeled *right* back out and delivering her baby in the hallway? Yep. Happened to me. I was finally given a private room--not the one with the labor tub. I moved around a LOT, spending a lot of time on my hands and knees. Dilation was incredibly slow. Around 45 hours in, I started to absolutely lose it. I was panicking and the nurse proclaimed me a 6. I started begging for the epidural. I had been in labor for almost two days, awake longer. I was exhausted and could no longer manage the pain. My amazing husband and sweet nurse worked me through a few contractions, but in the end, I received an epidural. The anesthesiologist and nurses saw how hard I had worked and how much I wanted to go 100% natural, so they administered a walking epi without me even requesting it. I will be forever thankful for that kindness, as it made a WORLD of difference in my emotions about the epidural. I was allowed to sit and move about as much as I physically could this time, they let me do whatever I wanted!! The epi never took full effect in the left side of my abdomen, so I didn't rest, it merely served as a way for me to manage the pain while still feeling every contraction--some that I still had to breathe and concentrate very hard to get through! :) In just a little while, I told Ryan that I needed the nurse because I could feel the baby in my birth canal, there was tremendous pressure. I buzzed her in and she delightedly proclaimed that the baby was crowning and started playing with her very dark hair! Ryan went down to look and was amazed! She asked me to do a trial push while the dr was on her way and made me stop--I was too eager to get baby earth side and she wanted the dr in the room. She allowed me to do "mini" pushes until the dr arrived, then I pushed twice and Norah came out all at once! She was perfect and made her anger at entering a cold world known! Just like her big sister, she became very calm when her daddy talked to her. They still do that today. ❤ She nursed immediately and for 30 minutes! Our wishes to allow the cord to stop pulsating before clamping were honored this time, and my placenta delivered on its own! Everything was as it should have been. We all went to the recovery room together and Norah later went to the nursery...that was where our nightmare began. 

When the nursery nurse brought Norah back from her bath, they told us that they wanted her wrapped up the entire time because her termperature had dropped a little and they wanted her to stay warm. I still hadn't slept, but was on a birth high, so I just complied without thinking. In reality, I should have unwrapped her and done skin to skin, but it didn't cross my mind. A while later, they took her to the nursery again for a little while to check her temperature. They brought her back, saying that it was better, but they still wanted to watch her. Ryan and I finally fell asleep and when we woke up, she was gone and a neonatologist was in our room. He informed us that he felt her temperature was too low (it had hovered in the 97* range) and he sent her to the NICU--without our consent. He informed us that it was a 4-5 day *INVOLUNTARY* stay. He left the room and I began to cry. My dreams of a "normal" hospital day were shattered. I immediately marched down to the NICU, Ryan hot on my heels and demanded to know specifics. The only specifics we were given were that she was going to be contained in a heated isolette until she could hold a satisfactory temperature on her own, but that the "testing of the waters" would take at least three days. We would not be allowed to hold her except during feeding times, which were every three hours, and we would not be allowed to stay in the NICU when it was not a feeding time. I was bullied for feeding her as long as she latched because they said that it was "interfering" with their feeding schedule. We had to stay at the Ronald McDonald house and I got caught in traffic one day, making me three minutes late for her feeding. I called to tell them that I was in the parking lot and told them not to give her formula. When I got to the NICU, they were feeding her formula!! She proceeded to throw up every little bit of it and I cried as I Breastfed my hungry newborn. 

After a four day NICU stay, they told us that she held a satisfactory temperature and could be released. They took each of our temperatures and found that both Kirsten and I had low temperatures. The nurse said that it must be hereditary. Hmmm...imagine that. A NICU stay for nothing at all. All of that stress for no reason. 

I say all of this to encourage anyone who may have a story similar to one of mine, as well as to hope that me sharing my painful past may make parents aware that it doesn't have to be this way. I could have signed an AMA and taken Norah out of the NICU, following my instincts. She would have been perfectly fine, as she was never even given medicine or treatment of any kind. The ONLY thing they did for her was monitor her temperature. We wouldn't have been bullied by the nurse system and we could have taken our healthy, term baby home. She was born at 38+1wks. While many babies do have good reason for being put in the NICU, ours did not. Every day when the doctors made their rounds, we were told that she would be held longer for "observation". Several nurses told us that they had no idea why Norah was being held, that they never would have admitted her to the NICU had they been the ones examining and not the neonatologist. 

This birth will be different. Stay tuned.