Wednesday, July 28, 2010


"Spanking" By Norman Rockwell
   I was one of those first time moms-to-be that read everything under the sun in preparation for life with a baby. I was pretty well-read on techniques to help my baby nap like a champ and sleep through the night. I knew all about the most recommended baths, lotions, diaper rash ointments, mattresses, bottles, teething remedies ... you name it. I learned the early signs of colic, jaundice, fever and allergies.
   And while I think a lot of that reading helped (my baby does nap like a champ and I'm convinced I have the best baby bath around) it took me a few months to learn that the best thing I can do for my baby is trust my own instincts instead of looking to books, google searches and even pediatricians and well-meaning friends and family members for answers.
   I felt a huge wave of relief when I finally decided to make decisions based on what I thought instead of checking with the "experts" or experienced parents who think they have the answers. Babies have unique needs, preferences and personalities, and for the most part, there are no general fix-its that work for every baby. Sometimes it can be frustrating to share a problem with someone and they say, "Oh just do this and it will work out." Sometimes it just doesn't. Don't get me wrong — suggestions and advice from others has helped me immensely, and I will continue to ask for it from time to time. I just wish I had been prepared from the dawn of new-motherhood for how much of it would come my way and how much of it I would have to discard.
   So, all you fellow research/Google-everything new moms out there, give the mouse a rest, put the book down and trust yourself. You'll connect more with your baby and be more in tune with his or her needs that way.


Monday, July 12, 2010

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Birth Day

My husband and I were so excited when we found out we were pregnant with our first baby on the first day of spring. I had an easy, joyful pregnancy, so I hoped the labor and delivery would be the same. Although that wasn't exactly the case, I still think of my daughter's birth day as the best day of my life.

It all started on Monday, Nov. 30th, at 10:30 p.m.

After almost a week of pre-labor contractions that were keeping me up at night, things started getting a little more intense. My contractions were four to five minutes apart and lasted close to a minute long. I labored on my own for a couple hours, using the relaxation techniques I learned in my Hypnobabies classes and breathed through each contraction until I felt like I needed a little extra help to make it through them. I woke up my husband around midnight and he applied pressure to my back and talked me through the contractions.

Around 3 a.m., we decided it was time to call my doula, Melissa. I was thinking this was probably "it," but couldn't quite wrap my mind around it — especially since I was so worried about the contractions just going on for days like they had been. Melissa came over and worked her magic. She helped me through each contraction by applying pressure to just the right spot on my back, sometimes on my hips, and by helping me try lots of different positions to ease the intensity of each contraction. She brought her essential oils (lavender, orange and lemon) and put them in my candle warmer to permeate the air with their calming/energizing smells.

I was already tired at this point from not sleeping much the past week, so I tried to take a little nap. I wasn't really able to take a real nap, but I did doze off for the few minutes in between contractions. When the sun came up, I put on my upbeat music mix. Melissa recommended making a few different playlists for my labor day, so I did. Studies have shown that women who listen to music during labor report feeling less pain.

Melissa made some omelets and fruit salad for breakfast, then we went on a walk. It was such a perfect day outside. Perfect, but pretty hilarious for the standers-by to see a bundled up, exhausted pregnant lady randomly collapse into her husband's arms every few minutes while another lady pressed on her back. We sure got some funny looks, but I didn't really care at this point. The walk actually made my contractions a little easier for some reason. We went back home and had some lunch, I went through more contractions in different positions, (my birthing ball was my best friend during labor!) and the contractions were getting more intense. At 6 p.m., after 19 and 1/2 hours of laboring at home, we all thought it was time to go to the hospital.

And the drama sets in ...

We drove to the hospital in rush hour traffic, and any mother will agree that having contractions in the car is not optimal. We made it to the hospital and I got checked in the triage room. I was completely effaced and dilated at a 3+, but they wouldn't admit me until I was a solid 4. The midwife on call suggested I go walk around Target or something. Love the midwife, hated her suggestion. I could barely stand up at this point! We decided to walk the halls of the hospital for two hours and get checked again. Still a 3+. The midwife gave us 3 options: go home, hang out in the triage room until I could be admitted, or take a shot of morphine so I could get some sleep. But the problem with the morphine, she said, was that it may or may not work for me. It could work for 20 minutes, or up to 6 hours.

Everyone left to give us privacy to think our options over. It was really a moment of despair for my husband and I. We did not want to go home. Not because we were too anxious for our baby girl to come — we knew she was already on her way. The desperation was that I was completely exhausted physically and emotionally. I really didn't know if I could continue. Also, I had always wanted an unmedicated birth, but if things kept going how they were, I knew I wouldn't be able to handle it. The tears came. My sweet husband, who told me later how worried he was about me despite the reassuring smile on his face, asked me what I wanted to do. Then he said one of the most heartfelt, pleading prayers I have ever heard.

Then I told him I wanted that morphine.

It was one of the best decisions I've ever made. Who knew a shot in the butt would ever be an answer to my prayer? The morphine started working immediately. We decided to go to my mom's house because her beds are so comfortable. When we got there, my husband basically carried me to the bed and I zonked out for four hours. Bliss. When it wore off, I woke up at 2:30 a.m. and the contractions picked right up where they left off. I called for my husband and he sent in Melanie, a doula-in-training/angel from heaven who came to help while Melissa went home and rested. Melanie was incredible. So sweet and motherly. She helped me through the contractions for a couple of hours and Melissa came back. I labored at home until 8:30 a.m., when my sister brought her chubby little baby Kate to show me the end product I was going towards — it was good motivation.

When I started feeling slight urges to push during contractions, we thought it would be a good idea to head to the hospital again, crossing our fingers that I was far enough along this time.

We hit rush hour traffic again. When we finally got to the hospital and went into the triage room, I heard some serious screaming and moaning down the hall. I tried to convince myself it was just a fussy kid that sounded like a woman in labor. Then the nurse said, "Oh, that lady is doing an unmedicated birth — thus the screams!" I hoped I wouldn't be screaming like that because it sounded just plain painful. When the nurse checked me, I was dilated 8 centimeters — and I was SO happy.

I was admitted to a room, got into the tub, and things moved really quickly. I was at a 9 1/2 then a 10 in under 2 hours. I was surprised at how little I cared about privacy at this point. Yes, I brought a modest little sports bra to wear in the tub, but it stayed in the bag. I figured the delivery staff had seen plenty of nakedness. The only thing I cared about was remaining calm during my contractions and getting my baby out! The pushing urges started getting stronger, so I went to the bed and got into a side-lying position, and started seriously pushing. I was excited to be at the pushing stage because I knew I was so close to the end and would meet our baby girl so soon. It was nice to get kind of a break from contractions and do something "more productive." I compare the pushing to when you are violently ill with the stomach flu and your whole body tenses up as you can't help but throw up. I didn't feel any nausea or anything ... but the urge to push was really strong and draining. The midwife didn't do any coaching — she just let me push when I felt like I wanted to, which I liked.

The midwife asked me if I wanted her to break my water. But I remembered seeing the hook they use to break water in my Hypnobabies class — it looks like an extra long knitting needle. The thought of having that thing inside me was anything but pleasant. But the thought of speeding things along was tempting. Before I had a chance to answer my midwife, another pushing urge came and my water broke like a balloon. Everyone said they heard it! I just felt it.

Now it was time to get down to business. I had my husband put on my upbeat music mix. I was just pushing along when everyone excitedly said they could see my baby's head. My mom said, "She has dark curly hair just like you had!" That little sneak peek gave me some extra motivation to push. I got her head out, and then the rest of her body slipped out like a jellyfish — all to the tune of Weezer's "Holiday."

The first thing I said when my baby came out was "I did it!" I felt SO relieved. And ecstatic — both that my baby girl was here and that I actually made it through the undmedicated childbirth I had wanted so badly. My midwife handed my new daughter to me right away. I tore a little and bled a lot, so there were stitches and shots to be reckoned with, but they didn't phase me much because I felt like I could do anything at that point. I was completely awake and energized the entire day. The fact that the little brown-haired baby I was finally holding in my arms was mine and that my body knew how to get her here on its was an absolute miracle.

One thing I learned that day is that I can do anything. And when it comes to giving birth, women are so much stronger than they give themselves credit for.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

beck's arrival

The day before Beck was born (two weeks before my due date), I started noticing that the swelling in my huge cankles wasn't going down, like it normally did, when I put my feet up. I remembered reading somewhere that this could be a symptom of pre-clampsia, so I had one of the Physical Therapists at my work take my blood pressure for me. Sure enough, reading said high. I had him take it several times throughout the morning and it just kept on getting higher and higher. My BP had stayed well below normal my entire pregnancy so I called my nurse, just in case. She wanted me to come in that afternoon so they could check things out.

Deep down I think I knew that this was the end- that the Dr. was going say that it was safer to have my baby now than keep him in there with threats of pre-clampsia looming. But I was in total denial, and even told my husband he didn't need to come to the Dr. with me, it was "no big deal."

Luckily, my husband insisted, and even went home to get our hospital bags before he met me at the Dr. Good thing he did, because when my BP continued to skyrocket, I was told I was having my baby and was admitted right then!

Since I wasn't dilated or effaced at all, they started me on a pill to "soften" things up a bit the entire night. At 6 a.m. they got the pitocin going and at 8 a.m. my water was broken. This (in conjunction with upping the pitocin) produced some intense contractions, and by 10 a.m., I was begging for the anesthesiologist. The epidural was wonderful! For me, it was perfect because I could still feel the contractions, it just didn't hurt. Glorious!

{Insert 6 long, boring hours of absolutely nothing}

I was checked every hour, and every time I would get my hopes up just to be disappointed with a "Still at a 2." I was having frequent, strong contractions, but my body was not making any progress. One time I even got a "Well I'll give you a 2+", but I'm pretty sure he just wanted to make me feel good. At 3:30, the Dr. came in to up the pitocin one last time and said that if I didn't start to progress, we were going to have to start talking C-section (Beck's heart rate was showing signs of distress with some of the contractions). I did not want to go the C-section route, so I was praying my little heart out.

At 4:00 p.m., I started to feel some major pressure. I honestly felt like I had to poo and was terrified because the thought of having a bowl movement during birth was mortifying to me. The pressure got worse and worse with each contraction and so I mentioned something to my nurse when she came in to check on me. She said, "oh good, maybe your starting to progress now." During the couple contractions that she was there, I suddenly had the involuntary urge to push. I knew she probably thought I was a "crazy, first time mom," but I asked her if she could check me because I really thought I needed to push. She (almost reluctantly) agreed and we were all shocked when she yelled out, "Oh my gosh, your a 10, and his head is right there!" Yep, I went from a 2 to a 10 in half an hour!

She called the Dr. right down, did a couple practice pushes with me, I pushed a couple times once the Dr. arrived, and little Beck was born!

There are honestly no words to describe my emotions as he was placed on my chest for the first time. My breath was literally taken away as I looked at this perfect, tiny, little boy that was mine. All mine.