Thursday, October 28, 2010

J2's Birth Story

Last week I shared some of the details of our first baby's birth. A year and a half later when we got pregnant with our second baby, we knew we wanted to do things differently. 

Since I had had a c-section the first time, I knew I didn't have many options. The most obvious would be to have a repeat c-section. Although it would have meant another surgery, which I dreaded, I was willing to do it if that's what it took. But since the reason for the first c-section wasn't that legitimate, in my book, and because I had wanted so badly to give birth naturally, I didn't rush to sign up at the nearest OBGYN's office. 

Instead, I spent the first couple of months of the pregnancy researching. I did most of my work online, and while that's not always the most reliable source, I did try to keep to mainstream sites and techniques I was familiar with. One of those was the Bradley Method, a training course expecting couples take to help them know how to cope with labor and delivery. Doctor Bradley is a huge proponent of natural labor, including VBACs (vaginal birth after cesarean). Read more about the Bradley Method here.

I also learned through my research that the average gestational age for natural onset of labor (which I never experienced the first time) was at 41 weeks, 2 days. I was induced at 41 weeks exactly. I felt that if my body had been given more time, I would have gone into labor naturally, could have avoided the drugs and subsequent failure of the induction, and resulting c-section.

Armed with that information, I called the nearest Bradley instructor. She had great information for me, including a class my husband and I could take that would help us with the birth process. I spoke with her about attempting a VBAC and asked if she knew of a clinic that would support my choice. The Bradley instructor also recommended her midwife to me.

My husband was excited about the midwife. Just out of curiosity while we were expecting our first baby, he had asked a lady at his work about her midwife/homebirth experience. She gave glowing reviews--and in fact had had a VBAC! Come to find out, it was the same midwife the Bradley instructor had recommended. 

It took me awhile before I really warmed up to the midwife idea, but as we thought more about it, it seemed to be the best choice for us. I have a huge amount of respect for the medical community, but I felt that in my situation with the outcome I was looking for, it wasn't a medical doctor who I wanted for my prenatal care and delivery. See, even if a doctor supports his patient's decision to attempt a VBAC, the woman has to be monitored--the IV, the infant heartrate monitor, the works. She is also under pressure to have the baby in a certain amount of time because the hospital is required to have a surgical team standing by incase of emergency cesarean. I knew that if I was going to labor and deliver naturally, med-free, and successfully, I didn't want to be in that kind of setting.

That's how I got to the point of calling the midwife. I was nervous about the first visit, but Kathy was so personable and friendly that I soon forgot about my nerves. She is a registered nurse-midwife with the state of Iowa and has many years of service under her belt, both in the hospital and with her own midwife practice. Kathy also explained to me that it's very typical for women with longer cycles to carry their babies longer--as in up to 43 weeks. Huge sigh of relief there!

Kathy and I met regularly, at first in her home and then at mine. She measured and listened, did the typical urine tests, let us listen to baby's heartbeat every time... Love that! She gave us a list of supplies we needed to make the home birth go smoothly, and though I was still a little apprehensive, I was grateful to not be planning a hospital stay!

I felt huge with this second baby! I also had lots of Braxton-Hicks (practice) contractions, though I hadn't had many at all with my first. Kathy explained it was because my muscles had been stretched out once already. 

We chose to be surprised with our baby's gender, mostly because we didn't want to pay out of pocket for an ultrasound. On a fluke, our insurance didn't cover midwifery, even though Kathy had other clients whose insurance did cover her services. In the end, it was fun to be surprised and I highly recommend it!

The big day finally came! My unofficial due date was April 24 and I went into labor on May 4. (I think it was 41 1/2 weeks.) At first I was just uncomfortable and couldn't sleep. Then it started to hurt! My husband drew me a bath at about 4:30 AM and started making phone calls. Once the midwife and doula (bonus! I loved the doula!!!) were on their way, he called the person who was to take care of our son and got that ball rolling too. I was pretty much out of it. 

It was a loooooong, hard day. The labor pains were intense and nearly constant. I've never worked so hard and been so tired in all my life! I was so thankful to be home and only have three other people there--including my husband who left my side only long enough to eat. Before, I had been a huge proponent of drug-free labors, but now, I get it!!! 

The midwife and doula would do periodic checks and were always available to help or answer questions, but for the most part, they just let nature do it's thing. The midwife did break the waters sometime in the early afternoon. Not long after that, I wanted to push. However, I wasn't fully dilated and was advised not to do so. That was the hardest thing ever!!! I nearly hyperventilated with the effort of trying not to. It was horrible. And it lasted for hours! Not only was I in constant pain with no position offering relief, I couldn't do the one thing I felt like doing! Thankfully the doula and my exhausted husband were there to help me.

Finally, they let me push that baby out. I had no idea it was taking that long, but it took 45 minutes. It was so much better than NOT pushing that I didn't care. And finally something was happening! Over 12 hours of extreme pain, exhausted to the point of tears... And at last I was being productive.

Our second son was born at 5:45 PM on May 4th, 2009. He weighed 9 lbs, 12 oz and was 21 1/2 inches long. Yes, he was nearly 10 pounds! Immediately after his birth, he was placed on my chest and it was the sweetest thing! My first baby had been cleaned and swaddled before I saw him for a moment, then he was whisked away. My second never left my sight. 

The midwife and doula cleaned, weighed and measured the baby. He had some troubles with breathing at first and we did a lot of praying while the midwife suctioned out his nose. That was the first time he really cried, which she encouraged for his circulation and respiration. Thankfully, the effort worked and we avoided a trip to the NICU. 

The midwife also cleaned everything up, if you know what I mean, and helped us get changed and comfortable. She stayed until she knew the baby was nursing ok, then left us on our own. Our older son was returned to us about 9 PM. He immediately fell in love with his baby brother!

The midwife returned the first day and after 1 week. The doula came for a separate visit and also left her cell number in case I needed help--she was also a breastfeeding advocate and I did call her at one point. I was so thankful to be home to recover! I can't say it's much easier than a c-section though! I mean, sure, there was no huge scar on my tummy, but I was very, ahem, tender for more than 2 weeks! 

So, there you have it. I know our decision is not mainstream, nor the right decision for everyone, but it certainly was for us! I'm so thankful to have been able to give birth naturally. My midwife swears it'll be easier next time! I think her words were, "It'll never be this hard again." I sure hope so!

I need to call her--today is 11 weeks!    

On the Banks of Squaw Creek

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Free Children's Art

My MIL recently picked up this picture and frame for me. She said, "I know it'll look much different next time I see it." She was right.

I needed a frame for a picture I drew for my son's room.

First I cleaned up the frame from my MIL, then took it apart.

I painted it a yummy tomato red, one of the accent colors in my son's bedroom.

I couldn't find any paper to use as a background. Everything I had was too small and I didn't want seams showing. I thought of using wrapping paper, but I didn't have any in the color I wanted. Then I thought of painting the paper! Sure, why not?

I watered down some blue watercolor paint...

...and quickly brushed it on in one direction.

Then I blotted it with a paper towel.

Exactly what I wanted!

After everything dried, I loaded it all back up; glass, picture I drew, watercolor background paper, and cardboard.

Free art for my son's room!

(It's not in his room yet--the best time for a project is when he's sleeping!)

I'm linking up to:


A Little Knick Knack

Thursday, October 21, 2010

J's Birth Story

Let me start off by saying that real true, graphic, detailed birth stories give me the willies. Sorry if that's your thing, but it's just TMI, dude! While expecting my first baby I would make myself read birth stories and books on birthing and things of that sort. I would freak out! The free birth class at the hospital was extremely difficult for me, as was the workbook on preparation and stages of labor that someone loaned me. Even when expecting our second baby, I closed my eyes during the actual birth part of the birthing-class video. Not fun. 

SO this is not one of those stories! 

But I do want to share, if only as a way of explaining some of the choices we have made since then.

Alrighty, here goes!

We had only been married about 6 weeks when we learned we had a baby on the way. We don't like to say he was an accident, cuz we knew we wanted to have babies; he was certainly a surprise though! Remember that just a couple months before getting pregnant, I was a single, home-owning, world-traveling teacher with a Master's Degree, living in Las Vegas. I suddenly found myself married (to the man of my dreams, thank you, I'm not complaining!), living in Iowa and teaching half-time at a preschool. A pregnant newlywed. Not exactly what I had imagined!

The first couple of months were exciting and intimidating. I felt fine in the mornings and could teach just fine, but by the time I got home after lunch, I just wanted to sleep! Some days, that's all I did. I had strange food-aversions and fights with bouts of nausea and would often skip supper. Thankfully, that all just disappeared one day at 12 weeks and I had an amazing experience for the rest of my pregnancy.

We chose to go the standard route with an OBGYN. My husband came to the first appointment and the two other times we had ultrasounds. We really liked the doctor because he seemed genuinely interested. For instance, if I had a question or concern, he would put down his notepad or whatever he was working on and look at me while I spoke. I found that very reassuring.

I chose to keep working until the Friday before my due date-- April 30. My replacement (now one of my best friends!) was already on-staff by then, so no one was too worried about what would happen to my class should I go into labor early.

I needn't have worried. 

The doc said at my 36-week appointment that the baby was full-term now and IT could happen at any time. 

Tick tock tick tock....

Absolutely nothing happened! I went in for my 40-week appointment on Monday with no signs of impending labor. Even after my exam (yes, THAT exam) which showed no dilation and little effacing, the doctor looked at me and said, "How would you like to have a baby on Thursday?" 


I begged him to give me until the following Monday, 41 weeks, before trying the induction. He reluctantly agreed.

I went home terrified and my husband and I spent the next week praying and crying (ok, that was just me) and trying every trick in the book to go into spontaneous labor. 

Nothing happened. 

I remembered calling my family the night before and telling them what was happening (as in, NOTHING, as far as my body was concerned, but we were evicting the baby the next day) and just sobbing! I completely felt that it was not the right choice for us. I'm, well, rather granola, as the term goes. I like to do things naturally. We eat simple, natural things, we don't have a complicated life-style, we're health-conscious, organic-supporting, NATURAL kind of people. The only meds I took were for headaches, and I didn't even like taking those. I was terrified of hospitals, hated 'helpful' medical personnel (sorry, not trying to offend, just sayin') and about passed out the time on the hospital tour when they showed us the surgery room where C-sections were done. It was one of my life goals to NEVER have surgery. Seriously. 

I know what you're thinking: Get over it! Just go have your baby and get on with life! Right?

Well, we did. Sort of. We bravely checked-in that evening and promptly things got worse. I had to have an IV, my husband had to sleep on a cot, I felt terrible and didn't sleep well and the little technique they, ahem, administer the night before they start the pitocin-drip was completely useless. So I started the false, medicine-induced labor already feeling like my birth plan had been sacrificed. We walked the halls, we chatted, we breathed, my husband was amazing.

And nothing happened. 

Seriously. Nothing. Absolutely ZERO results after 12 hours of false labor and false hopes. 

That baby was NOT coming out that day or night! 

As to the rest of our experience that day, some nurses were more helpful than others, my doctor popped in a couple times and seemed annoyed that nothing was happening, and I had my unmentionables checked about 1000 times too many!!! About every 2-3 hours, someone had to check if I was dilating. Not only was it uncomfortable and invasive, every time the answer was NO. 

They stopped the drip that night so I could sleep. HA! Right. See, the doctor said he wasn't on duty the next day and we had a choice to make. We could either continue with the meds that weren't working, go home still pregnant, or have a c-section in the morning with another doctor from the same clinic. 

It was a long night. We fully expected to be cuddling our baby by then, but instead the day had been a failure, we were emotionally and physically exhausted and had a no-win decision to make. 

We chose the c-section. I was so disappointed in myself, in my body, in the doctors and nurses,  cuz somehow in my brain it was their fault... My almost-worst nightmare was happening. (The worst involved a less-than-healthy baby, and so far all signs said that he was golden.) Being wheeled to the OR was the scariest thing I have ever done. My husband was getting dressed in his scrubs and wasn't with me when they gave me the epidural and I remember someone saying oh-so helpfully, "Someone needs to get this girl to calm down!" Thanks! I'm trying! But see, YOU are my worst fear right now!

I've never felt so vulnerable as when my body went numb from the chest down. I'll never forget the sensation of the cutting and tugging. So weird. 

And then there was a baby's cry! My baby! They briefly showed him to me, then whisked him away to clean, weigh, measure, poke and prod. But he was so perfect and so beautiful!

None of the rest of the stuff that happened to me was fun. Not the stitching-up, not the being by myself in the OR cuz G went with the baby. Not the catheter and certainly not the leg-massaging or incision check-ups. I tried to walk that night and promptly lost my lunch. I was still tied up to machines with needles in my arm, but at least that night I HAD MY BABY!

It was an amazing love-at-first sight experience. I was not expecting it, nor the mother-bear attitude that overwhelmed me immediately. I'd been intimidated by breast-feeding, and though it was tricky and hurt at first--especially trying to hold the baby with a sore tummy in the way--it came quite naturally. From the moment I saw J for the first time, it was no longer about me.

There's more, of course. So many stories to tell of my first-born! But those are for another time. It was a traumatic experience and the exact opposite of what we wanted it to be, but in the end we had our perfect little bundle of joy and we were ok with that!

On the Banks of Squaw Creek

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Thank You!

A few weeks ago I won a giveaway from Little E and Company. She gave away a lovely sign of my choice from Sew Saucy Stitches.

This is what I chose.

"It doesn't matter
where you go in life
what you do
or how much you have
it's who you have
beside you."

The quote is on Kodak 8X10 photo paper and came in a clear plastic sleeve next to a cardboard insert. I appreciate such care and quality!

I used a frame I already had and mounted the photo paper onto a large piece of scrapbook paper that I ripped. Here it is framed:

I love it! So does my husband.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fall at the Park

I'm sure I'm the only mom out there who has one of those days, right? You know, the ones where everyone including yourself is grumpy and bored and frustrated and crying... and it's only 9 AM. 

It's a goal of mine to be more proactive instead of being reactive. So when things got a little touchy last week, my boys and I headed to the park. I'm so glad we did! We all needed the fresh air and exercise, not to mention just to get out of the house!

AND... I remembered my camera! 

Here are some of my favorites. Will you tell me which you think are the best? I'd like to do something with a few of the shots for Christmas gifts, but I'm having trouble choosing!


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