Career Change

I’ve been contemplating a career change for a while now.  I love my current job, but the pay is ridiculous – as in your could not support yourself on it, and forget about supporting a family on it.

I feel like I want a unicorn when it comes to a job.  I want to still be able to spend a good deal of my time with my family, not have to take work home with me, and but also have a livable income….J and I are exhausted from living month to month.

One thing I’ve been thinking about it becoming a certified birth doula.  A doula is a woman who advocates and supports a woman during pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum.

I had a doula for both of my births and I found her invaluable.  Not only was she helping me with different positions to labor in to help move my babies out, she was able to help J help me as well.  During Henry’s birth, since it was a LONG one, she and J were able to take turns doing things so that they could each be helpful to me and they didn’t reach the exhaustion point so soon.  She also has her own birthing pools that she rented out to us, so we didn’t have to worry about transporting and or buying one ourselves.  She knows so many of the hospital guidelines and will remind nurses/ midwives/ and OBs of them when they forget or try to skirt things. She makes sure all support staff adhere to birth wishes, and also help remind women of their birth wishes.`

There are doulas who also help with postpartum care, and will help do light cleaning, do cooking and laundry, so that all mom has to worry about is cuddling, bonding and feeding her baby.  I’m not immediately looking to work as a postpartum doula, but if I see a demand for it, I’ll eventually get certified for that as well.

I contacted my local YWCA, which has a doula training program.  In exchange for sending you to the certification classes, they require that you be a doula for 3 births for free for them.  These are usually teens or homeless woman that are going through the YWCA courses.  I’m currently waiting to hear back.

I’m hoping that eventually, I can make enough money doing this that it will be my full time job, and I can essentially go into business for myself.


Benjamin’s Birth Story

Benjamin’s Birth Story

To tell you about the birth of my second child, I have to tell you about the birth of my first child.  With my first pregnancy I had Gestational Diabetes, and Gestational Hypertension and due to mounting concerns from my midwives from my rising blood pressure and heart rate, I was induced at 39 weeks.  My cervix was dilated with a foley balloon, and then my water was broken.  After 10 hours of intense labor, I was hooked up to pitocin which caused back to back, incredibly painful contractions with no break in between.  I quickly became overwhelmed and frightened, and I gave up on my natural birth plan and got an epidural.  Several hours later, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy my husband Josh and I named Henry.  Despite the fact that I had a beautiful and healthy baby, I had this irrational feeling that I had somehow failed at his birth.

Fast forward 4 years to my second pregnancy. This second time around I had several goals so that I would get the birth experience that I wanted.  The first was to go into labor on my own.  The second was to have a natural birth with no interventions (I wanted to stay as far away from pitocin as I could), and the third goal was to have a water birth.  

So to prepare for the natural birth, I tried to cement into my head that I can do anything for one minute.  Meaning, that when those contractions became difficult, painful and/or overwhelming, I could focus on the fact that it would be over in one minute, and then I’d get a break.  I would meditate on that subject, and go to sleep at night thinking about it, building my foundation for this natural birth that I so wanted.

With both of my pregnancies I had Gestational Diabetes, but the second time around I did not have the hypertension that I had in the first; my blood pressure stayed beautiful the whole time.  The main difference between my pregnancies were the false labor (practice labor) contractions that I had.  For the last several weeks of my pregnancy (and by “several weeks” I mean at least 5 weeks) I would have timeable contractions that would start, increase in intensity and then all of a sudden stop.  Starting at 36 weeks we had several false alarms.  Some that even sent us to the Midwife’s office to be assessed, but each time, it turned out to be braxton hicks contractions.  The longer I stayed pregnant the more I felt like a ticking time bomb.  I was more than ready for my baby to decide on its birthday.  Having to relinquish the control and let the baby decide when it wanted to be born was one of the hardest parts of my pregnancy, and I struggled with that aspect almost every day.  

When I hit 40 weeks, I was a bit shocked.  I assumed that since this was a second kiddo that I wouldn’t make it to my due date, but June 12th came and went.  I started to feel like I’d be pregnant forever, and that I’d be enrolling my gigantic belly into kindergarten.  The longer I stayed pregnant the more my brain started to assess every cramp, twinge and pain that I felt, which at 40+ weeks is about every 4.3 seconds.  I felt like I was slowly losing my sanity while waiting for my baby to decide what day it wanted to be born.  This kid wanted to stay put despite all the red raspberry leaf tea I was drinking, all the evening primrose oil I was taking, all the squats that I did, and the daily walks I took.  

On Friday the 17th, at 5 days past my due date, I broke down and called my midwife’s office and asked if I could come in and talk about options.  I was starting to get a bit nervous about going over my due date because of the Gestational Diabetes, as well as just wanting to be done being pregnant.  I’m one of those people who don’t love being pregnant.  I love the end result, but the actual process of growing a human is extremely hard on me.  I had horrible morning sickness the first 20 weeks of my pregnancy, and then had two trips to the hospital in my third trimester because of gallbladder issues, and let’s be honest, GD, although manageable, doesn’t make things easy either.  

Anyway, on June 17th, I was really hoping that I could get my membranes stripped, and that it might propel me into labor.  However, at the appointment one of my midwives informed me that she couldn’t reach my membranes to strip them, so unless I wanted to schedule an induction, I was just to wait.  Josh and I had talked about having an induction, and we were considering it as an option.  However, when the midwife brought it up and described how she would induce me, I firmly decided against it.  Hearing the process she would take for the induction brought back all of the memories of my first birth.  So, we went home a bit sad and discouraged, and resigned ourselves to wait.

I had a few contractions on Friday night after the appointment, some even timeable, but I didn’t think anything of them.  As always, I was disappointed that I was able to go to sleep and that they seemed to have stopped.  On Saturday, the day before I hit 41 weeks, I had some projects to do around the house (making Josh’s Father’s Day gift with Henry), and as the day wore on, I noticed that I had been having contractions for most of the morning.  At some point I texted Josh to tell him that I was having them, but I didn’t know if it would lead to anything, so not to get excited.  He got similar texts to that one for about the last 5 weeks, so he didn’t think much of that text either.  My contractions were irregular in length, and really far apart – 40 minutes or so, and very mild, I could ignore them easily.  To me they still felt like braxton hicks.    

In the afternoon Josh and I took a 2+ mile walk in our neighborhood.  It was great time to spend just the two of us.  We talked about how we wanted labor to go, when we thought the baby would come, and how our first son Henry would do as an older sibling.  We were so excited for this baby to join us!  I was contracting all through the walk, but didn’t think anything of it, those contractions had become so routine.

We had a friends birthday party to attend that night, and I really wanted to go.  So, Josh and I got ready and headed out of the house around 5:30.  We dropped Henry off at the in-laws for him to spend the night (that turned out to be very serendipitous), and drove out to the party downtown.

All through the party I was having contractions, and after a while I was noticing that I needed to zone out while they were happening.  They were still really far apart, and I could still talk through them if I needed to, but they were getting harder and harder to ignore.  They still weren’t painful, but I was starting to have to focus on them and my breathing during them.  

Josh and I had a really great time, and as we walked around downtown I had a lot of people comment on my belly.  Around 9 pm, we stopped at a restaurant and got something to eat.  While eating dinner, I noticed that my contractions were getting closer together, and I was getting more and more uncomfortable.  At one point I got up to go to the bathroom and I had a strong contraction while in there.  It’s at that point that I started to think these contractions might actually lead to something.  A short time later I noticed another contraction that was strong as well.  After 4 strong contractions (at 10:15ish) I told Josh that we probably needed to head home.  So, we paid for our meal, packed up to-go boxes, and said goodbye to our friends.  As we were walking to our car, I heard a guy yell out of his car window “Are you going to have that baby on Elm St?!”  I yelled back “I wish!”

As we were walking to the car I told Josh about the contractions and that we should start timing them as we drive home.  He seemed surprised at that statement, but pulled the app up on the phone to time them.  As Josh had had a few beers that night, I ended up driving home while having contractions that were about 10 minutes apart.  I supposed I should have mentioned the contractions earlier…It’s a good thing that my excitement trumped any kind of pain I was feeling.  The first contraction we timed was at 10:45.  As soon as we got home, we finished packing the go bag and got everything ready in case this was really it.

Once the bag was packed, everything seemed to get more intense fairly quickly.  By midnight my contractions were about 5 minutes apart.  They were starting to get strong, and to get through them, I was leaning over the yoga ball and having Josh do counter pressure on my lower back.  It’s around this time that my back labor started.  My pelvis and lower back were really starting to hurt, but leaning over the ball and firm pressure on my lower back really helped and kept them manageable.

We called our doula to let her know what was happening.  She asked how I was handling everything, and I told her I was ok.  She told us to keep her posted, but because I hadn’t had any bloody show, or lost my mucus plug she wasn’t convinced that this was it, especially with all of the false alarms we’d had.  She told us to call her the moment I saw bloody show, or if I needed help and wanted her to come to the house. I was handling everything well at this point, so I just kept laboring.

Some more time passed and when my contractions hit around 4 minutes apart Josh and I called our midwife to let her know what was up, and she said to head to the hospital at any time.  I wanted to wait as long as possible at home, so we just kept going.  Me leaning over the yoga ball, breathing through contractions, Josh doing counter pressure on my back and The Office streaming from Netflix to distract us between contractions.

By 1:00, my contractions were 3 minutes apart, and I was really having to concentrate to get through them, and had started to vocalize during them.  My mom joined us around this time and was helping to get things ready for us to head out.  I kept waiting for my contractions to become as painful as what I remembered from my first pregnancy, but that never happened.  And because I never reached that pain threshold, I was really unsure about when to head to the hospital.  As long as I was in a position that took the pressure off of my lower back, I was good.    

Still unsure that it was time, Josh, my mom and I left for the hospital at around 1:30.  As we were getting ready to get in the car I  just stood at the car door and had 2 contractions standing there because I didn’t want to sit down.  I was having strong back pain, and I knew sitting would put an unwelcome amount of pressure on my pelvis and would be excruciating…I wasn’t wrong.

That 30 minute trip to the hospital was awful.  I tried to lay on my sides as much as possible to take pressure off of my lower back and pelvis, but I could never find a comfortable position.  I  withered in pain during each contraction (2 minutes apart at this point) and the pain in my back was unbelievable.  Josh was my rock though.  He kept calling out landmarks as we were driving so that I’d know how close we were getting.  As soon as we got to the hospital I was out of that car as fast as I could be.  

While checking in I had several more contractions.  I would sit in the chair to rest while talking and answering questions to the woman behind the counter, and during each contraction I would have to stand up and lean over the counter and moan, this didn’t seem to phase the woman at all.  Once I had a bracelet on my wrist, I was in the waiting room and had to lean on chairs.  My mom applied counter pressure on my back while Josh parked the car.  

At this point in time my contractions were fierce and almost frightening in their intensity.  I was finding it harder and harder to keep my composure.  I kept thinking that I didn’t want to do this and that I wanted an epidural, I even voiced those thoughts to my mom who told me I could have whatever I wanted – sweet words that helped me calm down.  Soon after those thoughts popped in my head, our doula arrived (Josh called her at some point to let her know we were going to the hospital) and was helping me with positions while we waited to be called back, and my thoughts of giving up on a natural birth went away.

I was the only one in the waiting room, and was taken to be assessed fairly quickly.  They checked my blood pressure (which was up) and temp (which was normal).  They then took me straight back to a room – although I hadn’t been admitted yet.  It took some time to get to the room.  I didn’t want to sit in a wheelchair, so I walked.  And, during each contraction I would stop and lean on Josh in the hallway.

I had three nurses that seemed to be moving and buzzing all around me.  Soon after getting into the room a nurse asked me to undress from the waist down so that she could check me.  I dreaded getting on my back, but I managed it.  I was so worried that they were going to tell me that I was only 3 cm and that I needed to go back home.   However, I was relieved to find out that I was at 8 cm dilated and 90% effaced!  No wonder I’d been having thoughts on giving up – I was in transition!!  I remember looking at Josh and smiling, at that point we knew it wouldn’t be long before we got to meet our baby!

For the next little while, I was standing next to the bed, with my head on Josh’s chest, eyes closed, belly hanging down between us and moaning through contractions while a nurse hooked up the belts to my belly.  I had another that was putting an IV in my arm for my GBS, and another that was entering information into the computer.  All through this, my midwife still wasn’t at the hospital, and was on her way.  In all of our haste, we forgot to call her.  The nurses were texting her telling her to hurry.

I remember a nurse saying that my IV was placed at 2:45.  We had planned all along for this to be a water birth, and I was excited for it!  I was more than ready to get in that warm water.  However, I was told that I couldn’t get in the birthing pool until my midwife got there because of paperwork.  And, because my midwife wasn’t there, my doula couldn’t even fill up the tub!  To cut the tension that information caused, Josh tried to distract everyone by taking a poll about the baby’s gender.  Apparently, there had been a streak of girls born at the hospital and all the nurses thought the baby would be a girl.

All this time going by, I was still standing next to the bed with my head on Josh’s chest and eyes closed.  Being in labor is the wildest feeling.  I was conscious, and aware of everything that was going on, but I was also totally in my own head, my brain thinking and whirring the whole time but unable or unwilling to voice most of it.  I was just concentrating on the contractions, trying to remain relaxed and loose, and to rest as much as possible between them.  

The nurses must have pushed my IV fairly quickly, almost as soon as it was placed it was taken out.  They left a heparin lock in, and taped a rubber glove over my arm so that I could get in the tub when the time came.

I’m fuzzy on the times, but I was told that my midwife got to the hospital around 3:10, and it’s at that point that I was finally admitted to the hospital.  I found out later that she had her shirt on inside out because she was in such a hurry to get there.  As soon as she came in she got the paperwork going for the birthing tub to be set up, and then she turned to me and wanted to check me.  I was so over being checked, and I didn’t want to get on my back because of the back labor I was having.  I didn’t want to move, I just wanted to stay exactly as I was, but I finally consented.  

I waited until I had just finished a contraction, and got on the bed.  She checked me fairly quickly and told me that I was now at 9 cm!  But, she then kept me on my back to break my water.  I was irritated at this, because she never asked if she could break it, and I didn’t know it was happening until it was too late to do anything about it.  As my doula was setting up the tub, she didn’t know it was happening until after.  And, then of course I had another contraction while on my back, which caused me to whither and cry out in pain, derailing me from my focus.  Back labor is just awful….

In retrospect, I wish I had declined that final check, but labor is a funky thing.  With both of my births I have found that when someone tells me to do something, I’ve found that I generally just do it without thinking, despite all the plans I had made previously.

I remember looking at the bed after my water had been broken and saw my mucus plug and bloody show on the pad.  Who would have thought that at 9 cm dilated that those two things would still be firmly in place?  My water was clear, so thankfully I’d be allowed to get in the pool.  I was told that if my water had meconium in it I wouldn’t be allowed to labor or deliver in the pool.  I had one contraction after my water was broken, and man they don’t lie when they say that contractions are more intense after your water breaks.

After all of that, the pool was finally ready and I was chomping at the bit to get in it.  The warm water felt amazing, and really helped to take the edge off the contractions.  Almost as soon as I was in the water, my body started to push on its own.  I was kneeling in the pool, hanging over the edge and pushing, and pushing and pushing…..and getting nowhere.  After a while, my midwife checked me while I was in the pool and discovered that I had an anterior lip of cervix caught between my pubic bone and the baby’s head which was now swollen.  So, my midwife had me flip over on my back to push for a few contractions while she tried to move the lip of my cervix out of the way.  #1.  it hurt like hell to be on my back again, #2. it hurt even more when she was messing with my cervix.  I believe I was screaming in pain.

My midwife couldn’t get my cervix to move out of the way while I was in the pool, so she then wanted me to get out of the pool and onto the bed.  The move out of the pool took an immense amount of strength for me.  I did not want to move.  I was in pain, out of focus and just wanted to be left alone.  I remember that I was thinking that I just wanted this to be over, and I wanted a break.  I even had thoughts of wanting a C-section so I could be done.  I never voiced those thoughts, and eventually I did make it onto the bed.   I believe Josh and the nurses had to almost physically haul me out of the tub.   

And, once again I was put on my back while my midwife tried to move my cervix out of the way.  It was more painful than it sounds.  I remember yelling quite fiercely while she was moving it, and begging for her to stop.  She kept telling me that I wouldn’t like her during this, but I would like her afterward, and she was right.  Eventually she got the lip out of the way.  She had me then get on my knees and push on the bed for two contractions, to get the baby’s head below the lip.  That time it worked, and I could get back in the pool.  However, I didn’t want to move.  I remember telling everyone to leave me alone, that I just wanted to relax and have some downtime.  My contractions had spaced out and weren’t as hard as the transition contractions, and I just breathed through them without bearing down, giving myself a little rest.  I was tired, and my energy was draining, and I really just wanted a nap.  My doula was strongly encouraging me to get back in the water before I had the baby on the bed, and eventually I summoned the strength to move again.

As soon as I started pushing in the pool, I could feel the baby moving down.  And, fairly soon the head was right there, ready to come out.  That feeling, freaked me the hell out.  It burned oh so badly.  I felt like I was stretched to the max and was about to tear from stem to stern.  But, Josh, my mom, my midwife and doula helped me get refocused.  Seriously, Josh was amazing the whole time.  He really was my rock and kept me focused and determined.  He was repeating the mantra I’d been saying to myself my whole pregnancy: I can do anything for one minute.  That helped snap me out of my freakout.  I also remember my midwife telling me that I was fine, and that I wasn’t going to tear apart, which was reassuring.  They then helped me widen my knees and when I was pushing I would sit back, almost in a child’s pose, or as close to child’s pose as a pregnant, laboring woman can get.  Seriously, my face was in the water as I was pushing.  After a few more times pushing like that, and out the baby came.  I believe the baby came out in one push.  One of the nurses later told me that the baby ended up doing a flip in the water as he came out.

The next thing I heard was Josh announcing that the baby was a boy!  It took some fancy maneuvering since he came out so fast behind me, but I was able to stand up, step over the cord, sit back down in the water and then he was handed to me.  For the next while I was holding our son to my belly (the cord was too short to reach to my chest) skin to skin in the water and just marveling him.  I just kept thinking how beautiful he was.  He was squishy and plump and perfect in every way.  He cried a few times, and then was just alert and calm, snuggling with me.  Josh was leaning over the pool and I could hear in his voice that he was tearing up.  It was a very beautiful moment.  

Soon enough the cord stopped pulsating and Josh cut the cord.  Not long after, I handed Josh the baby to do skin to skin with while I got out of the tub.  I got up on the bed and I was covered with warm blankets, and then the baby was handed back to me.  He nestled right on my chest, and was just beautiful.  It’s at that point that we decided to name him Benjamin.

I definitely remember still having contractions after Ben was born, which I still had to breathe through, but I didn’t care about them.   Instead, I was irritated at the umbilical cord, because it just kept seeming to get in the way and rub places that it did not feel good to rub against.  Thankfully, not long after getting up on the bed I delivered the placenta, which didn’t hurt at all.  I had a tear (no idea on the degree, I never asked), which required stitches (I have no idea how many).  My midwife gave me a few shots to numb the area, which stung, and then I could feel her stitching me up, feel the thread pulling through skin, but oddly it didn’t hurt.  All while that was happening the nurses were assessing Ben on my chest.  Ben’s APGAR scores were 9 and 9.

We got over an hour of skin to skin time before Ben was taken to be weighed.  It seemed no one in the room could agree on how much they thought he’d weigh.  The nurses all suspected that he’d be around 7 lbs, but we were all surprised when he was 8 lbs, 6 oz.  He was 20.5 inches long, with a head circumference of 14 inches.  

After everything was all said and done, and we had been moved from Labor and Delivery to the Mother/Baby suite, things settled down and I was finally able to really connect with my son.  I’ve read account after account of women getting that natural oxytocin rush immediately after delivery, but that overwhelming feeling of love, comfort and peace didn’t come to me until about 3+ hours after Ben was born.  I believe because those first two hours are so busy, with so many people working on you and assessing the baby, even while you’re holding him, that it’s hard to just sit and relax and bond.  But, once it was just me and my husband alone with Benjamin, that overwhelming feeling of love started to flow.  Even now, over 6 months later, I still get that feeling whenever I look at my boys.  

Benjamin was born at 4:23 in the morning on June 19, 2016 – Father’s Day.  I think that he was the best Father’s Day gift that we could have ask for!

My Uterus is Playing Mind Games With Me 

I believe I’ve mentioned that I’ve been having contractions on and off for just shy of 2 weeks now. While they’re not painful, they’re timeable – coming every 10 minutes or so, and on some days progressing up to every 5 minutes. It’s a lot of false labor (prelabor?) that makes me assess every single twinge, tightening or pain that I feel.
Last night was a little different. I got home from work around 4, snuggled with Henry and then was just puttering around the house when I noticed that I had a contraction that felt different. It was much crampier than what I’ve been feeling. More along the lines of period cramps. Trying not get my hopes up, I kept doing whatever it was I was doing, and then noticed I was having another contraction. They were coming about every 7 minutes or so. So, deciding to take advantage of them, I changed out of my work clothes and into gym clothes and went for a short walk around the neighborhood. Sure enough, that bumped the contractions up to every 5 minutes.

I started thinking “I think this is it.” “I think I might be in labor.” So, I started timing the contractions. I let my mom know what was going on, and called and talked J to let him know. I called my doula to put her on alert.

I continued to have contractions for the next several hours. They were very crampy feeling, they had a peak to them. My back, legs and hips were all starting to feel a good bit of pressure. I was really starting to think that I was in labor, early labor, but still labor…..and then….they slowed down…..and then stopped around 9:30 last night ….

These contractions starting and stopping, starting and stopping and starting and stopping again is really starting to mess with my head. Does this mean that labor will be starting sooner rather than later? Or am I going to be 42 weeks and talking about induction? This waiting game is awful, and the contractions jumping in to syke myself out aren’t helping…

As I’m approaching 35 weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about the internal exams that are done starting at 36 weeks. I’m actually thinking of saying no to them.  
From what I understand, no real information can be gained from seeing how dilated and/or effaced I am unless I’m going to have an induction. At this point in time, I’ve been told that I’m doing great and induction isn’t a consideration (at least not yet). Of course I’d be willing to revisit this if I am headed down the induction path.

Dilation and effacement can’t tell you how soon you are to going to go into labor. You can be 3 centimeters for 3 weeks. Or, zero centimeters one day, and deliver a baby the next. There is no hard and fast rule concerning dilation and effacement.

I also think that I want to limit the number of internal exams I receive while I”m in labor. I don’t want to be checked every few hours to see how I’m progressing. I don’t think I’ll say no to all of them, but I certainly want to limit the amount that are done.

I’ve also started a game plan for pitocin during labor if it’s given. I had it with my last delivery and it was MISERABLE. I had contraction on top of contraction on top of contraction with no break in between. The contractions were also way more intense than they should have been.

This time, if they need to start me on pitocin, I’m going to want to have a conversation about it first. If I feel like my contractions are picking up in intensity, I’m going to ask for more time. I might ask to be hooked up to a breast pump instead to try nipple stimulation, which would produce natural oxytocin. I’m also going to demand that they start pitocin at the lowest setting and that they have to inform me before they turn it up. If at any point, I have back to back contractions, I’m going to tell them to turn it off. My doula has told me that I’m perfectly within my rights with all of this, so I feel confident about it. 

I really want a natural labor this time, and I feel that the more augmentation that’s done will send me toward the epidural route again. I really think that the epidural caused Henry to be lethargic for days after he was born, and that it caused us to have a rough start with nursing. And, I’m really hoping to avoid all of that this time around.

Week 16-17

Dear Baby,

Sorry for combining two weeks.  I’ve been on winter break and I honestly haven’t wanted to touch a piece of technology.  Last week you were the size of an avocado, and this week you’ve grown to the size of an onion.  The amazing transformation that’s happened is that you can hear now!  The tiny bones in your ears are forming and allow you to hear my voice, and perhaps even others as well.  Your hair is growing, and your taste buds are developing.  You’re also finally starting to bulk up by adding some fat to your body.
What’s been up with me the past two weeks?  My bronchitis seems to be finally getting better.  I’m still coughing and sneezing some, but I’ve finished my last round of antibiotics, so I’m hoping I’ll be done with this crud once and for all.  I’ve been having some crazy dreams….really weird ones.  Everything I’ve read says that it’s normal, and fairly common, but it’s still weird that it’s a pregnancy symptom.  I also broke down and bought a body pillow.  I’d been sleeping pretty badly, waking up sore and stiff, and ever since I got it, I’ve been sleeping much better.  It takes up over half the bed….but your dad promises that he doesn’t mind, at least not that much.
We’ve got your nursery pretty much laid out.  It’s going to be cramped and over crowded, but there’s not much we can do about that.  I’ve also got out a bunch of your brothers baby clothes and washed them so that they’ll be ready for you.  I just need to buy some baby hangers so I can hang up a bunch of stuff.  I’m really excited for our ultrasound next week!  I can’t wait to see you on the big screen!
In other news I’ve been doing some reading on how I can prepare for your birth the best that I can.  I’m reading “HypnoBirthing” and one of my coworkers has offered to let me borrow her HypnoBaby scripts when she’s done with them.  I really want a calm, peaceful and natural birth for you.  I tired to have one with your brother, but it didn’t workout quite like I wanted.  We hired the same doula, and I’m going to try for a water birth again.  I’m really excited about doing this all again.  And, I’m so excited about being your mom.
I love you!  Keep growing,

Week 15

Dear Baby

You’re now the size of a navel orange!  According to The Bump, you’re moving a ton, and I’m fairly certain that I feel you at least a couple times a day.  All of your joints and limbs are now moving like they should.  You might also be hiccuping in there, which is just super cute, I can’t wait until I get to feel those too.
I was at the doctor at the beginning of the week (why your post is late) and I was diagnosed with bronchitis made worse by asthma, which is just awesome.  So, I’ve been spending Christmas week on antibiotics and lounging on the sofa, and just basically trying to get better.  I think I’m finally on the mend, though, so there’s the bright side.
My belly is getting bigger and you can tell that it’s a definitely a baby bump.  We also have an appointment on your dad’s birthday for our 18 week ultrasound.  I’m so excited to see you!  We’ve also decided that we’re not going to find out your sex.  I really want to be surprised!
Also, we’ve hired the same doula who helped me all through my pregnancy with your brother.  I’m so excited to have her on board.  She’s a great lady, and I hope you get to meet her one day!
I’m writing this to you on Christmas day, and I couldn’t help but think all day that you’ll be here to help celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah next year.  I’m so looking forward to seeing everything you’re going to add to our family.  You’re so wanted and so loved.  I can hardly wait the next 5 1/2 months to meet you.
Keep growing.  Love,

Henry’s Birth Story

At my 38 week appointment it was decided that I was to be induced on Friday, June 22.  The reasons for the induction were that the baby’s heart rate was increasing at each non-stress test that I had, and my blood pressure and heart rate kept increasing as well.  Therefore, it was decided by all of us (J, myself and the midwives) that I’d be induced before my high blood pressure turned into preeclampsia, and before the baby’s heart rate became too high.  I was put on a beta blocker to help lower my heart rate and blood pressure and therefore lower the baby’s heart rate, and I was given a week for it to get into my system before the induction.  During that week I had two non-stress tests, two ultrasounds and two midwife appointments to make sure that the baby and I stayed healthy.

On Friday, June 22, J and I checked into the Women’s Hospital at 7:00 pm.  Our induction was scheduled for 7:30, but the hospital was incredibly busy and we didn’t make it into a room until 8:30.  It turns out that we actually got the last room that they had – a room that they don’t usually use and that wasn’t stocked very well (our nurses kept having to leave to get things like a stethoscope and thermometer, and the equipment that monitored the baby’s heart rate).

Getting settled in the labor and delivery room.

At around 9 or 9:30 that night my midwife came in to start the induction.  I was given a heparin lock because I was Group B Strep positive and they’d need to run antibiotics throughout the labor to keep the baby safe.  In addition to having Group B Strep, I also had a resistant strain that needed a super strong antibiotic, and since I’m allergic to penicillin, I was to be given vancomycin.  After the heparin lock, my midwife put the balloon in place that would dilate my cervix.  The balloon was filled with saline and was left in overnight.  Putting in the balloon didn’t hurt, but it was pretty uncomfortable, and afterward I had a lot of cramping.  After it was inserted I was offered an Ambien to help me sleep, and I gladly accepted it.  After that, I promptly passed out and slept straight through the night until my midwife woke me up at 5:30 am.

At that time the balloon was removed and my water was broken.  Having my water broken felt extremely weird, like I was peeing myself, but not.  My midwife told me that there was a little bit of meconium in it, but that we weren’t going to worry about that at that point in time.  She then checked my cervix and told me that I was 6 cm dilated and 80% effaced.  Needless to say that I was ecstatic that I only had 4 more centimeters to go before the baby would pop out.  I was sure that things would go pretty quickly from there on out.

Almost immediately after I started contracting on my own.  The contractions weren’t bad at all and I was easily able to handle them without even breaking a sweat.  My doula arrived to our room at around 6:30 or 7:00 and started setting up the birthing pool.

Sometime that morning I was given my first round of vancomycin, and immediately I started having a reaction to it.  My scalp started itching like whoa and I started developing a rash around my hairline.  At first it didn’t hit me that I was uncontrollably raking my nails over my scalp until I could do nothing but scratch my head.  I was then given Benadryl and that put everything back to normal fairly quickly.

A few hours later my contractions started increasing in intensity and my doula suggested that J and I walk the halls to help things progress even more.  So, we walked, and walked and walked.  During contractions I would lean on J, and walk slowly while trying to stay completely relaxed.  It’s around this point in time (around 9 am I think) that I started having lower back pain.  It wasn’t bad, but enough to make me uncomfortable.

At around 10:00 am my contractions had increased even more, but I wouldn’t say that they were painful.  I was still able to relax completely while I was having one and just breathed through them.  My doula kept telling me that I was handling them beautifully and doing exactly what I needed to.  I should mention here that my doula was fantastic and really helped me stay focused.  She also really helped J help me – which I found invaluable, and I’m sure he did too.

Soon after the tub was set up and I was more than ready to climb in – I was actually really excited for it.  The warm water felt amazing, and it helped to take the edge off of the contractions more than I ever thought that it would.  If I ever have another child I’ll definitely be using the tub again.  For the next several hours I was in the water – minus several trips to the bathroom.  Between each contraction J would hand me my water cup so that I would stay hydrated.

Laboring in the tub.

Around 12:00 my midwife wanted to check my cervix to see how things had progressed.  As things had been picking up and increasing in intensity I was thinking that I had progressed and that things were moving right along as they should.  I was wrong.  I was still 6 cm dilated and 80% effaced.  7 hours of labor (going from when my water was broken) and no change at all.  That was completely disheartening to me.

During the vaginal check my midwife told me that the baby’s head was transverse – which means sideways!  The head being sideways is what was causing all of my back labor.  The baby wasn’t completely sunnyside up, but had his head turned just enough so that things were painful and slow to progress.

After checking my cervix my midwife told me that she’d give me a couple more hours to progress on my own, but if things continued to stay the same she wanted to start pitocin – which you all know that I didn’t want that to happen.

For the next two hours things increased and even started to become painful.  The pain was coming from the back labor that I was having – oh my god, that shit was intense!    I was having a harder and harder time relaxing through the contractions, and I was quickly losing my sense of humor that I’d maintained all day.  I was now moaning through the contractions and tensing up during them.  My doula was squeezing my hips while I was in the tub, while my midwife used massage oil that my sister had made to massage my shoulders and back during the contractions.  At some point while I was in the tub I threw up everything that was in my stomach and started thinking that this whole labor thing was too much for me to handle and that I didn’t want to do it anymore.  Needless to say that I wasn’t being reasonable anymore.

My back labor was getting worse and worse and at around 2:00 or 2:30, I wanted out of the tub.  I got out and went to the bathroom and almost started crying while I was on the toilet because of how much my back and hips hurt.  I remember being in the bathroom and looking in the mirror at myself and thinking that I didn’t want to do this anymore.  After I got out of the bathroom I crawled onto the bed and I hung out there for a while, moaning and slowly losing my composure.  While I was on the bed my midwife wanted to check my cervix again, and I was still exactly the same – 6 cm dilated and 80% effaced.  I was started on pitocin at around 2:30.  I don’t remember being hooked up to the stuff.  I was pretty out of it from the pain, but I do remember that the pitocin really made it all worse.

Pitocin is miserable – which is the biggest understatement that I could ever make.  I was completely justified to be afraid of it and not want it.  My back felt like it was being ripped in two before it was started and then it felt even worse – I have no comparison to demonstrate how bad it actually was, you’ll just have to take my word for it.  On top of the back labor, I was also starting to have contractions on top of contractions – as in several in a row with no break in between.  It’s at this point in time that things get a little hazy to me and my memory of events is blurred.  Sometime after the pitocin was administered my midwife checked my cervix once again and I was then dilated to 7 cm and 80% effaced.

After all of those hours of labor and my back feeling like it was being broken in two and then some, and I only had progressed one measly centimeter, I lost all of my motivation and will power to continue on the natural route and I broke down and asked for the epidural.  I actually had to ask for it for over an hour.  At first I was talked into trying nubain instead of the epidural, and I did.  I was given it very quickly and it did help.  I was able to relax and breathe for a little while, but it wore off quickly and I was afraid to ask for more.  After the nubain wore off the contractions were back to being incredibly painful (I should note that the actual contraction wasn’t horrible, it hurt, but it was manageable – it was just the back labor that completely derailed me, at least that’s what I’m telling myself).

I asked for the epidural again, and J and my doula tried to talk me out of it (they were trying to remind me of my birth plan – but I had already given up on that.  I remember withering in pain and snapping out of it long enough to make eye contact with J – glaring at him – and demanding that I NEEDED an epidural and I needed it now.  Apparently that got my point across.  I’m not sure how long it took for the anesthesiologist to get there, but it felt like it took forever, J thinks that I got the epidural around 5:30 (12 hours into labor).

I always assumed that an epidural would get rid of labor pain immediately.  But, that’s not the case at all.  I continued to wither in pain for what felt like an eternity.  And, of course, the epidural only worked on my left side… Once it started to kick in, my doula started taking down the birthing pool and that’s the only time that I got upset about the fact that I had an epidural.

Sleeping after the epidural.

I think that I was given a low dose of the epidural because I never did lose the ability to move my legs.  They were difficult to move, but I could still move them.  My hips also continued to hurt even after it was in place and my left side was definitely more numb than my right.  My midwife had my lay on my right side to help draw the epidural down to that side, which kinda helped.  Eventually I was able to relax, and then I passed out and slept for the next several hours until I woke up feeling tons of pressure.  I was checked again, but wasn’t complete yet – but I wasn’t told how far I had progressed.  I dozed off and on until I was told that it was time to push.

Again, things are kinda hazy for me during this time, but I’m told that I started pushing around 7:30 pm.  I was averaging 3 pushes per contraction.  Because the baby’s head was stilled turned in the wrong direction my midwife would have me move all round during pushing to try and get the baby to turn.  My midwife had me push three times for one contraction and then rest through the next contraction.  After a while of doing that, she had me turn onto one side and push for a few contractions, and then switch sides and push for a few contractions.  I repeated that for quite a while.  Pushing was difficult for me as I couldn’t really feel where to push, so I definitely had a cheering section for when I was doing it correctly and a very stern midwife for when I started to get tired and not push as well.

I was completely oblivious, but apparently everyone else was getting concerned that a C-Section was going to be needed because the baby wasn’t moving down.  I was told later that he got stuck on my pubic bone and my midwife was actually reaching her hands inside me to slowly move the baby into the proper position, thankfully I had an epidural and didn’t feel that at all (the baby also still has a bruise on the back of his head from where he got stuck).  I continued to push and push and push, and at some point they wheeled the mirror over to help see how to push.  I didn’t think I would like it, but it was actually really cool to see the baby’s head move down slowly, and it was actually a very effective tool.

I was finally finished pushing at 9:11 pm when my baby was born.  He came out very chill and calm and didn’t cry at all, but his eyes were opened and he was moving, so the not crying didn’t bother me so much.  My midwife cleaned out his nose and mouth with the bulb syringe before she plopped him on my stomach and I grabbed him and held him skin to skin – marveling at my baby for over an hour.  While holding him, J and I decided to name him Henry.  We were really leaning towards the name Asher before he was born, but the name Henry seemed to fit him so much better.  I can’t even begin to describe how wonderful it is to hold your baby after spending hours and hours in labor – and it is true that you forget all the pain that you were in the moment that they’re born.

While I was holding Henry, I delivered the placenta – which I didn’t even feel come out.  After that my midwife informed me that I had a second degree tear – meaning that the skin and muscles of my perineum tore and had to be stitched up.  It seemed like my midwife spent a long time stitching me up and when I commented on it, she told me that “she’s making it pretty.”  I have no idea how many stitches she put in me, and I don’t wanna know.  All I know is that my lady parts are still sore, but they are getting better.

After an hour or so of holding my son, he was taken to be weighed and given his vitamin K shot.  I was really curious how much he  would weigh because of the gestational diabetes, but he turned out to be a “normal” size of 7 lbs 10 ounces, and he was 19.75 inches long.  A perfect size in my opinion.

Henry being weighed.

A few hours after Henry was born we were moved into the Mother/Baby room and my family of three settled in for our first night together.

Loving on my little man.

I know that this post is incredibly long, but a lot happened in over 16 hours (over 24 if you count from when we checked in).  All in all it was a great experience and something that I will remember all of my life.  I felt completely supported the whole time.  J was wonderful at his job as my labor partner and his sense of humor really kept me going through those tougher times.

I’m completely in love with my family and couldn’t be happier.  I have so much more to post, but I’ll save it for another day.

Settling in at home with my new family.