Thursday, March 27, 2008

Birth Reflections

It has already been a week since Elly was born. I've spent the vast majority of that week on the couch in my living room, just taking it easy and bonding with my sweet little girl. Not having to worry about laundry, cleaning, and cooking has given me a lot of time to think about Elly's birth, and how it has changed me. Some of those feelings, I really can't put into words. I realized when I had Kaylee three years ago that low-intervention, un-medicated birth is a powerful experience. I had a wonderful midwife who made it possible for us to have a great birth experience in a hospital setting. Kaylee's birth was very empowering, and very healing for me. After she was born, I knew that if I had any more children, I wanted them to be born at home. I had already done a lot of research during Kaylee's pregnancy, and part of me wanted to have her at home, but our family at the time wasn't quite ready. But there was no doubt in my mind about where I wanted future children to join our family. Dave and I had many discussions on the topic, and we agreed that our 4th child should be born at home. A couple of years passed, and I got pregnant with Elly. I was somewhat shocked, but excited at the same time. I was excited about the prospect of finding a midwife, and planning a birth at home. Then I started bleeding. A lot. I thought for sure I was going to lose this baby. At 7 weeks, I decided to go back to one of the CNM's I had seen during Kaylee's pregnancy. She did a quick ultrasound to see what was going on, and to my relief found a little bean with a good strong heartbeat. The ultrasound showed, however, that the placenta was partially covering my cervix, and that there was a bloodclot under the placenta. She also saw what she thought may be a fibroid. I had a range of emotions that day, being happy about the baby being alive, but beginning to mourn what I thought was the loss of my option to birth at home. I went for a follow-up ultrasound two weeks later, and the placenta was still covering my cervix, the blood clot was still there. I knew it was still early, and that things could change, but I started to slowly get used to the idea of another hospital birth. Possibly even a c-section, if my placenta ended up being stubborn and staying on top of my cervix. I continued going to my appointments, and seeing my CNM. Then, at the end of October, the hospital's new Women's Center opened. I decided to go to the open house, and going into how I felt walking through this brand new building would take another post altogether. Let's just say I came out feeling that no way on earth did I want to be there to give birth to my child. The whole place screamed intervention and managed labor. When I asked about rooms with a jacuzzi, I was told that there was just one bathroom in the hallway that had one, since the majority of women wanted epidurals, anyway, so there was no need for big tubs. At the end of the tour, people were standing in line for free formula samples. Everything inside of me just wanted to scream and run out of the place. I came home wanting to cry. Of course, I would do whatever I had to do to make sure the baby could be born safely, but deep inside I just had this feeling of wanting to run. A few days later, we had our 19 week ultrasound. I was so nervous going into it. And I made sure to ask the technician all the important questions. The placenta had moved off my cervix, and was just where it should be. There was no blood clot. There wasn't a fibroid anywhere in sight. Check, check, check. I was so excited! I knew I wouldn't be keeping my next appointment with the CNM there. Instead, I called Chris and asked to meet with her. She came up a couple weeks later, and spent an hour (at least, maybe more) talking with Dave and I. We made the decision to hire her as our midwife, and never looked back. The next few months just flew by, and the pregnancy progressed without any problems at all. As the day of Elly's birth drew closer, I started getting more and more excited. People would ask me if I was nervous about giving birth soon, or getting anxious, but I had none of those feelings. I was really looking forward to the day of her birth. When that day finally came, I felt so calm and peaceful inside. It was such an incredible experience to just be me. To do what my body told me to do. To follow my instincts. There was nobody wanting to strap me to a bed so they could monitor my labor. Instead, Chris just quietly checked Elly's heartbeat with the doppler every so often. Nobody told me what to do. Everyone who was at the birth just waited with me. They kept me entertained between contractions, and just left me alone and let me do what I needed to do to cope when the waves were coming stronger. It was amazing to be able to follow my body's lead. As labor progressed, I realized that things had a tendency to slow down if I stayed in the same position for too long. So whenever that happened, I moved. I stood up, I walked around, I leaned on the washer, I leaned on the couch, I leaned on the kitchen counter. I sat on my birthing ball, and I spent quite a bit of time kneeling on the floor, with my upper body draped over the ball. I even spent some time hanging onto the door frame, which felt surprisingly good. :o) I moaned and groaned through contractions, which was a wonderful way to release tension. And when transition hit, my birth partners were there to support me. They recognized when I truly needed them, and helped direct my focus on the task ahead. They knew how to help a woman roaring while pushing a baby out. There was no panic, just quiet support. And when Elly was born, and I felt so much relief, everyone watched quietly as I exclaimed, over and over, "I did it!" There was no hustle and bustle, no instant cord cutting, no rubbing down the baby, no pokes. We all were able to just be. It was beautiful, serene. We all marveled over the miracle that had just occurred. And I felt so in touch with myself, and with Elly. It all was so natural. It was intense, powerful, and yes, even painful for a little while. But I would do it all over again. Having such an intensely physical and emotional experience really made me realize why women choose to birth at home. Birth is such a raw, physical process that can happen in many settings. But it's also an extremely emotional process, and being at home really accommodated that aspect. I have come to believe that while, in the end, it's a healthy baby that matters, the way we give birth is extremely important, as well. And for me, personally, having the option of giving birth at home has really enabled me to get in touch with myself in a way that I have never experienced before. There is an aspect of respect for the body, of dignity, that all too often gets lost in a hospital setting. You're not a patient, but a mom giving birth to a miracle. You're not a number, hooked up to a monitor to be watched, but a human being going through a process that will forever change who you are. Instead of frequent cervical checks, the midwife just watches the woman to see where she's at. There is no coached pushing, the mom just follows her body's lead. You get to fully experience what your body is capable of doing, and you're in charge. You have people patiently watching over you, making sure you and your baby are safe, without intruding in a process that is so intricate and intense. I think that's what I loved about having Elly at home. I felt safe, protected, watched over - without being interfered with. I was able to do what I needed to do to bring her into this world - in an environment that was physically and emotionally safe for both of us.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Yesterday was Bryan's 5th birthday. Wow, what a crazy week we had! I can't believe the little guy is 5 already, and starting Kindergarten this year. He's such a fun little boy, and continues to amaze me with all of his gymnastics talent. Don't be surprised if you see him at the Olympics a few years down the road! ;o) Here's some pictures. And no, I did not make the cake. I think I had a pretty good excuse for getting a store bought one. :p

Elly's Birth Slide Show

Here's a slide show of Elly's birth. It does have a couple of pictures of the actual birth, so don't watch if you don't think you want to see my undressed legs (no, there are no direct, graphic shots, but thought I'd warn you). :o)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Little Elly

Here's a couple more pictures. :o)

She's here!

Elly Christina was born 3/19/08, at 11:14 p.m., weighing 7 lbs. 10 oz. and 21 inches long. :o)

On the 18th, just before I went to bed, I started noticing some early labor signs. I knew Elly would be born soon, probably in the next couple of days. That night, I tried to sleep, but wasn't all too successful. I was excited to finally be having this baby, and I was having contractions just strong enough and frequently enough to not really be able to sleep. Wednesday morning, the contractions started getting more regular, about 7-10 minutes apart. I called my midwife, Chris, and told her I hoped she had gotten some good rest, because we were likely going to be having a baby sometime Wednesday night. Unfortunately, as the morning went on, my contractions started getting further apart. By noon, they had all but stopped. That was a bit frustrating. I ended up taking my birthing ball outside with me and sat on it all afternoon while the kids all played (and I chatted with my friends). By 4ish, contractions started picking up again. Nice and strong, and about 5-7 minutes apart. I called Chris a little after 6:30 p.m., and told her this was definitely it. She arrived at our apartment around 8 p.m. I asked her to check me, just to get an idea of where I was at. I had initially planned on not having any exams, but I felt the need to know. As I had suspected, I was about 4-5 cm, and Elly was still pretty high up (no surprises there). So I got moving. I spent some time sitting on the birthing ball, some time leaning over it, some time walking around the kitchen, all in hopes of getting that little girl to start moving down. The contractions were definitely getting more intense, and I had to really focus to get through them. I did get nice breaks between, though, during which Chris, Dave and I just chatted. Around 9:30 p.m., things started picking up more. I started feeling lots of pressure during contractions, and started getting quite vocal (though not loud yet). Around 9:45 p.m., my friend Karin arrived. The four of us hung out for another hour or so, and things were getting increasingly more intense. I started experiencing some contractions with double peaks, which took a lot of effort to get through. Fortunately, I did still get some breaks, too. I don't know how I would have coped otherwise. During this whole time, I started feeling more and more "pushy", especially during the peaks of the contractions. I could tell we were getting close. We had the bedroom all set up and ready, but I was not moving out of the living room. By 11ish, I was draped over my birthing ball, hanging on for dear life. I could feel Elly starting to move down, and contractions came right on top of each other. I could tell I needed to start pushing, but something inside of me just kind of panicked. I declared that I was done, I was not pushing this baby out, and I was leaving! Kind of funny, thinking about it now. Chris encouraged me to lean back into contractions, instead of trying to run away from them. It took everything I could give to resist my urge to escape, and keep working with my body. But I did it! I made a conscious effort to try and focus my pushing. I could tell Elly was getting very close to being born, and started getting that lovely burning sensation. At some point, my water broke, and her head started emerging. I reached down to feel it, since I remembered that had helped a ton during Kaylee's birth. It was amazing to feel her coming out, before I knew it her head was all the way there. Just a few seconds later, her body started sliding out, and I brought her up on my belly. I loved the immediate relief of all the pressure! I just sat there in awe, looking at little Elly, and in total disbelief that I had just birthed this miracle. Overall, it really only was the last 15 minutes or so that were really intense, and where I got to the point where I just wanted to quit. It sure seemed like an eternity. But it was all so worth it! After Elly was born, I got to hold her, and she was so awake and alert. We waited for the placenta to come out, which didn't take long at all. Then Dave went to take Kaylee back to bed (she had woken up just before Elly was born), and I attempted to cut the cord. Chris had to finish it for me, since left handed cord cutting was apparently challenging for me. :p Tyler, who had also woken up just before the birth, and had decided to watch it, hung out next to me for a little while, and he was so excited about his new sister! I eventually sent him back to bed, too. During this time, I had also managed to let Elly latch on, and she was nursing beautifully. After some time, Chris took her to do the newborn exam, which Elly passed perfectly. Then she nursed some more. Dave eventually came back out of the kids' bedroom, and I handed Elly over to him so I could get in the shower. Sometime between 1:30 and 2 a.m., Elly and I were all settled in bed, and Chris and Karin left. We even got some sleep that night, which was nice. After the kids woke up the next morning, they came in to see us, and we all hung out for a while. They all just totally adore their new little sister. Kaylee was hesitant at first, but now she can't get enough of her. Hopefully it'll stay that way. I've been just amazed at what an alert baby Elly is. She was awake for a couple of hours after birth, and then a couple of hours this morning, just looking around and taking in the world. She loves to nurse, and is a real natural at it. We're all completely in love! :o)

My three March babies!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Here we go!

6:30 p.m. - after fairly regular contractions this morning (7-10 min. apart), things kind of came to a stop around noon. I went outside with the kids around 2:30ish, and took my birthing ball out with me. I spent all afternoon sitting on the ball, and contractions started picking up again around 4 or so. They are now getting to the point where I have to start focusing/breathing through them. Called my midwife, and she should be here within the next hour. Hopefully things will keep progressing from here on out...

Looks like Melissa's guess on the baby poll is going to be closest, at least as far as date of birth is concerned. We should find out the rest of the stats sometime later today, tonight, or tomorrow at the very latest. :D

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Three years ago today, Kaylee joined our family. Her birth was a very special event for us in many ways. Raising this little girl sure has been an adventure! And she was oh so excited to celebrate her special pink birthday today. She got a pink bike, a pink helmet, pink balloons, and a pink birthday cake. Exciting times! :o)

Some friends had us over for dinner, so we had cake and ice cream at their house.

A close-up of the cake. Each year I swear I'm never making another cake, but then I always give in to their wishes. :p The cake itself was pink, too...

Friday, March 14, 2008

Baby Poll - just for fun!

This is my third post for the day, haha. Can you tell my husband is out of town? :p Okay, so just for fun, here's a little baby poll. Just post in the comments section! Winner gets a cookie, ha! :D

1. When is the baby going to be born?
2. Is it really going to be a girl?
3. How much is the baby going to weigh?
4. How many inches?
5. Hair or no hair? Color?

Just fyi, my official "due date" is 3/26. Now come out and play, and think about your guesses before reading everyone else's. :p

This bump brought to you by...

...38 weeks and 2 days gestation. Isn't it weird to think that just 38 weeks ago, the content was just a teeny little cell, beginning to ripen on one of my ovaries? Am I the only one who thinks about strange things like that? Haha!

Practice runs!

So, I experienced my first "practice run" with this pregnancy last night. Nice, regular contractions for a couple of hours. They, of course, went away at some point during the night. Since I experienced lots of "practice runs" with Kaylee's pregnancy, I knew what I was dealing with. I remember the first time this happened with Kaylee, I put in a call to my midwife at 1 a.m. She told me to go back to bed, haha. I think I put in 3 or 4 of those middle-of-the-night calls when I was pregnant with Kaylee. I had never dealt with prodromal labor before, so what did I know? Of course, the "go back to bed" phrase worked every single time. I know better now. And I'm fully prepared for a few more "practice runs" before the real thing. After all, when you're in real labor, going to bed won't make it go away. :p

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Feeling content

During the last few weeks, I had this really impatient feeling. I was so sick and tired of being pregnant, and it was driving me crazy not knowing when this baby might come. Maybe being sick on top of everything else intensified those feelings, I don't know. All I know is, I'm feeling so much better! I'm content being pregnant, and not knowing when this baby will make her appearance. All day, I've been feeling so calm about everything. I know that at some point in the next couple of weeks, this little girl is going to release a chemical, which is going to travel to my brain. Once it gets there, it's going to tell my body that the little booger is ready to come out. My brain is then going to kick oxytocin production into high gear. My uterus is going to start contracting more regularly, more frequently, and increasingly stronger. In response to the increasing intensity (and probably discomfort) I'm going to be feeling, my brain is also going to release huge amounts of endorphins, which are going to help me relax and deal with the intensity of the contractions. Ultimately, my body is going to be ready to push the baby out. A new little being is going to be born into this world. I'm very much looking forward to holding and nursing that little one, and enjoying those first few days - you know, the ones before sleep deprivation and utter exhaustion set in. :p I'm really looking forward to going through this whole process, to going into "labor land", to working with my body in giving birth to a little person. And while not knowing just when the moment will come does drive me crazy from time to time, in a way I also find the anticipation exciting and fun. And the process just plain amazing. :o)

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Random updates

  • Yes, I am STILL pregnant. I'm pretty sure I'm going to remain in that state for at least 2 more weeks. For some reason, I keep thinking the baby is going to come March 23rd. Maybe it's "momtuition", but more likely it's because that's Bryan's birthday, and Easter Sunday, so that would just make the day even more exciting. :p
  • Remember the beginnings of a cold a few days ago? Well, it turned into quite the doozy. By Friday, I was convinced it was turning into bronchitis, or even pneumonia. I finally broke down that afternoon, went to the store, and got some Robitussin. My new best friend. It did a wonderful job at thinning out the congestion in my chest. I could finally breathe! Of course, I still have a cough, and it's not pretty, but at least I'm quite certain it's not bronchitis or pneumonia.
  • Naturally, while I was feeling miserable and like I really just wanted to spend all day in bed, Dave was out of town. Second time in two months that has happened now. Wonderful timing...
  • Dave's trip to Houston was good. He thought that if we felt like it was the place for us to go, we would be perfectly happy there. The only thing he's hesitant about is that the company isn't entirely sure what they're going to want him to work on. Essentially, they're really eager to hire him, at a big price tag for them, they just don't know what for yet. That's a bit of a worry, so we're still up in the air.
  • We are expecting 4-5 job offers to come in, all before 3/21 (which is when we need to let the Houston company know whether we accept the job). Is that crazy, or what? Dave is actually going to be gone again for a few days this week. Just to add a little spice and excitement to our life, hehe.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

37 weeks!

Yes, I'm getting rather excited. :o) Had an appointment with my midwife yesterday. I got my birth kit, so now all we have to do is pick up the bedroom and clear off the dresser so we can have somewhere to keep the birth supplies easily accessible. Baby is doing great, growing big, and has moved into position. Any time now! Of course, with our crazy schedules these days, we had better wait at least until after March 15th. Dave is leaving town tomorrow morning to go to Houston, coming home Saturday evening. He may potentially be going to two more interviews next week, so could leave as early as Tuesday and come back as late as Saturday. Now, I'm not too worried that the baby is going to come that soon, since all of the others came right around their due dates. But knowing my luck, this will be the one time I have an early baby. Anyone wanna come over and be my birth partner in case Dave is gone? :p

In other news, I'm finally starting to feel a bit better. Just got a nasty cough, but that still beats the body aches... Hopefully this is going to be our last sickness for a while, I've about had it.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Just because...

...I'm not already miserable enough, I'm now coming down with yet another cold. Woke up at 4 a.m. with an achy body, and couldn't go back to sleep. So now I'm tired, achy, my throat is a little sore, and I just know the lovely cough and runny nose are soon to follow. Why me? Why now? Can I go cry? Guess I'll be spending my day on the couch, with my hot rice pack on my lower back. Hopefully I can sneak in a couple of little naps (so who cares if the kids watch TV and play on the computer all day, right?)...

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Who needs sleep, anyway?

Recording this for future "this is why we're not having any more kids" reminders. :p This is what my nights look like now. I "suffer" from a combination of any or all of these, every night.
  • wake up to go pee, 2-3 times usually
  • wake up because of heartburn
  • wake up because I rolled on my back and my hips hurt
  • wake up to hip and/or stabbing ligament pain caused by an attempt to roll over
  • wake up to baby practicing pilates/yoga - this is the only fun part of waking up :p
  • move into a state of insomnia by 4 a.m.
Sounds like fun, huh? I'm to the point where I'm actually looking forward to "sleepless" nights with a newborn. While interrupted, the sleep I do get will at least be restful and painless. Ha! Not sure how I'm going to survive three more weeks of this. In my delusional 4 a.m. state of mind, I sometimes think switching back to a doctor and asking for an induction at 38 weeks doesn't sound so bad. Not that I would, really. A refreshing shower in the morning usually gets rid of such crazy thoughts. But you know...