May 14, 2013

The Birth of The Twins

I was barely 18 when I discovered I was expecting. Living in motels and a car my boyfriend and I had bought together so we’d have somewhere to stay when we had no money, to say I was unable to handle much more is an incredible understatement. I bounced from job to job, not able or willing to hold down a steady job because I was an immature kid. My boyfriend had been at the same job for 4 years and took an additional one to help, but it was still not nearly enough to help us afford a place and the car payment.

Upon discovery of our impending arrival, I was scheduled to have an u/s since we had no idea how far along I was. A friend drove me to the hospital and we arrived a few minutes late and my boyfriend met us there. My friend left and my boyfriend and I entered the room and I was told to lie down on the table and lift my shirt. I remember the u/s screen, what looked like a weird computer, was up behind my head so that I had to angle my head and neck just right to see but not turn so much that the technician couldn’t see the baby.

The next exchange changed my life more than I ever could have imagined.

“Oh look at that! There’s two,” said the ultrasound technician in a monotone voice that was not worthy of what she’d just said.

I flipped around so I could see better, “You’re joking right?!”

“No, no. See..” she said as she pointed out two beating hearts. “One, two.”

My heart sank. Two. Not one. The technician looked at me quizzically and I tried to feign happiness. I shot a glance at my boyfriend who nervously eyed the ground. “Oh God,” I thought, “He’s going to leave me for sure now.”

Somehow I made it through those first few months of pregnancy. I held on the best I could to my sanity and managed to alienate my boyfriend at the same time. I look back now and think I was doing it on purpose. I was protecting myself and giving him the pass to go if he wanted. I am nobody’s obligation.

During my 4th month of pregnancy, my boyfriend finally worked up the courage to tell me he’d joined the military. And he was leaving for boot camp the following day. He was not leaving ME, he insisted. After finding out I was pregnant, I finagled us both into my dad’s house. It was temporary. Very temporary. But S, my boyfriend, felt he wouldn’t kick me out if he left. He felt sure of it. And he felt positive he could not raise two babies on his meager income.

I was angry and felt betrayed. Feeling broken and full of rage, I spit venom filled words at him and then begged him with my whole heart to stay. I willed him to stay with everything in me, but the next morning he kissed me goodbye and drove away. He said it was for the best.

A few weeks later, at my appointment with my perinatologist (specialized doctor in high risk pregnancies), I discovered that my cervix was not doing it’s job. It’s was very short and ready to begin dilation. I was approaching 5 months pregnant and it was way too early to deliver the babies safely. I was placed on strict bedrest, had to quit my job, and was only allowed to sit up to eat or go to the bathroom. I was also told baby B had short limbs and may be a little person. The terror I felt upon realization that I was pregnant with twins could never compare to how devastated I felt about the possibility of losing my babies or one having some sort of developmental problem.

So I laid around watching television and reading books for the next 4 months. I watched a lot of A Baby Story and Birth Day from TLC and Discovery. My view of what a “normal” birth was was terribly skewed. At the time I was also living with my step-mom. She is a NICU charge nurse and has been for many years. I remember bringing up home birth once because a water birth (something I’d seen in a rare, HAPPY home birth show on Discovery) made me interested and she replied with something like, “People that have babies at home are stupid. They are risking their babies lives!” I never asked about it again. And I began to believe the same.

Throughout my pregnancy, I was prepared for the possibility of a cesarean. I was scared of one, but not because I was concerned about risks to the babies or myself. I had no idea. I blindly believed it was just as safe, if not safer than a vaginal delivery. I just didn’t like the idea of being cut open.

At my last doctor’s appointment, I was told my blood pressure was high (how high? I can’t answer that. I never asked.) and that there was protein in my urine. I was so swollen there was a stretch mark on one of my ankles and I had developed this weird, hanging belly underneath my pregnant belly. I remember being totally grossed out by it. My doctor offered to induce the same day, but I remember thinking I needed to prepare myself (like, shave) and asked to wait a day. She agreed and told me to arrive at 7am the following morning.

I don’t think I slept at all that night. The next morning we were on the road at 6am. The hospital was 45 minutes away. I was so nervous and yet so excited to just get them OUT! I was miserable and angry that I’d had to lay in bed for all that time. I was so selfish. I remember starving, but not eating anything. I assumed I could eat at the hospital.

We arrived right on time and they got me changed into one of those awful gowns and with no back. I climbed into the bed and they inserted an IV right away. The nurse who inserted it apparently did not know what she was doing and when she tried to place the needle, blood shot out of my wrist and onto her and me. She flipped out, dropped my hand and nearly ran away, but my step-mom was there and she stepped forward and the nurse regained composure and corrected her mistake. Cold fluids went into my arm and all I couild think was how badly it burned. I hated that stupid IV. More than a few times I thought about trying to take it out, but I knew I couldn’t accomplish it without someone noticing. Just as I got used to the fluids they were pushing, they added pitocin to the mix. Magnesium sulfate, pitocin, and saline.

Aside from the coldness flowing into my arm, I felt fine. They said I was having regular contractions, but I don’t recall really feeling them. I remember feeling like I needed to poop, but that was it. No pain.

When I was 4 centimeters, the nurse mentioned whenever I wanted the epidural I could have it. I hadn’t given much thought to this. What kind of brave soul has a baby without an epidural!?? I wasn’t feeling any pain and I thought I really didn’t want to so I opted for the epidural immediately. About 45 minutes later, still feeling no pain, the anesthesiologist arrived to place the epidural. They had me sit up, turn to the side of the bed with my feet hanging down and put my head down. I remember him telling me to be very still. He said it like 8 times. Then he said if I wasn’t, he could really injure me. I began to rethink my decision, but it felt too late to say anything. As he placed the catheter, I burst into tears. Sobbing uncontrollably into my step-mom’s shoulder, I remember thinking how sad it was that my boyfriend was not there for the birth of his children. I also remember saying aloud, “I don’t even know why I’m crying,” and feeling so embarrassed.

The epidural did it’s job mostly, but I remember feeling some in my bottom. I could feel the contractions down there, but no where else. I remember feeling a lot of pressure. It was so boring, laying there with nothing to do and waiting to be dilated enough to push the babies out. It was not at all like you see in the movies or on TV. It was not chaos and screaming, but nor was it calm and peaceful. I felt so anxious. I hated the whole experience and I wanted it to end.

Finally I was complete. My doctor and a team of nurses and technicians wheeled me into the OR, just in case. I remembered seeing a birth on TV where the mother pushed one baby out vaginally, but then had a cesarean for the other baby. I was so scared of the same happening to me.

Once in the OR, they placed another IV in my hand, just in case. Everyone got into scrubs and face masks, just in case. They got out all the equipment and the scalpel tray, just in case. The placed an oxygen mask, just in case. My doctor began instructing me to push and I did just as I was asked. She sounded so proud of me, “Great job! You can do it! Keep going!” and so I did. I could sort of feel things, but not completely so I only had her count and timing to guide me.

My first baby slid out, a baby boy, C. He was shown to me for a millisecond and then whisked away to be cleaned up and wrapped like a burrito. My doctor instructed me not to push in what sounded like a worried tone and then said quietly to someone else,”She’s bleeding way too much.” She explained that I’d torn “a little bit” and that I needed to stop pushing and wait for her to stich me up. Baby B up until this point had been breech, but quickly flipped around once her brother was safely out.

With stiching over for now, I was told to begin pushing again. I did and just a few pushes later D was born, a little girl. Once again they showed her to me and then whisked her off for the same treatment her brother had received. My doctor exclaimed, “Well that was the perfect twin birth,” looking very pleased with herself.

They placed both babies on my chest, but laying flat on my back, legs spread eagle getting stiched again, and beyond exhausted and numb from the waist down I barely mustered the strength to lift my head and stroke their heads. We were moved to Mother and Baby.

My step-mom wanted to be the first to bathe them and I honestly didn’t care. I kind of wanted them to take the babies and let me sleep. They tried to get me to breastfeed, but I and both babies were so out of it it wasn’t successful. They finally left and I was allowed to sleep.

C weighed 6lbs 10oz and was 20inches long. D weighed 5lbs 15oz and was 19 inches long. Both perfect.

I am sure there is much more I don’t recall. At the end of it all, the only thing I clearly remember was wanting sleep and a willingness to do anything to get it. I regret that induction so much. I regret not asking more questions, not spending those months on bedrest learning about pregnancy and childbirth with forms of information that weren’t medically slanted. Once I was fully alert and felt back to myself again, I knew with every part of my being that I NEVER wanted to do birth that way ever again.

Their father finally met them when they were 2.5 months old, after successfully completing boot camp. We married shortly after and have been together ever since.

March 27, 2013

Meeting My Daughter A.K.A. Squishy Girl

I don’t really know how to begin writing the birth story of Squishy Girl. Every time I’ve tried to write it, my instinct is to get it all out as fast as possible – like word vomit – without having to feel any of it. As you can guess, this makes for a very plain version of her story and that isn’t how I want to remember the birth of my little girl. And it’s exactly why I haven’t shared her story until now. Even now, I’m not sure how this will turn out, but I really feel like I need to write it. I’ve felt it since she was born. I just didn’t know how to do it without cutting out a lot of information. So, I warn you now – this will be long! I apologize in advance, but I simply don’t know how else to write it without sharing all of it.

If you follow my blog or my Facebook page, you know that throughout Squish’s pregnancy, I struggled. I struggled with emotions – wanting a baby, not wanting a baby, pregnancy-induced depression and so on, and so forth. This struggle led to worry. A lot of worry. Worry I could not decipher. Was I worrying because there was really a problem with baby and/or me or, was I worrying because I was so completely unsure of my feelings and making them into a “problem?” I didn’t know the answer and that made me worry more.

I started feeling better about myself around 20 weeks and really connecting with the life growing within me. I began to want a baby again (like I had before getting pregnant) and I began to fall in love with my wee one. Except now, I was terrified my worrying, sadness, stress, and unhealthy habits had caused harm to my baby. I hadn’t done anything like drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes, but to me, the food we put into our bodies during pregnancy is of utmost importance and can contribute to or even cause many problems for us and our babies. And no matter what I did, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had done something to my baby. What I needed at the time was a calm voice of reason to go over everything with me and bring forth my true sense of what was happening; but there was no one. My husband tried, of course he did, but Del simply couldn’t convince me that everything was okay. I spoke to the midwife I was hoping to use and, sadly, she couldn’t (or maybe wouldn’t) quell my fears either. Granted, she didn’t know me that well, so I don’t really blame her. I wish so much she would have just seen me, though. I think I could have avoided a lot of the negative that I encountered. But, alas, it was not meant to be. Instead, she referred me to her obstetrician. I didn’t want to see him. I didn’t want to go back to the medical world for my pregnancy, but I felt like I needed someone “professional” to look me over, check on baby, and tell me everything was okay. I needed someone that I thought would know better than me to give me clarity. How silly I feel now typing that out.

I scheduled an appointment with the OB around 28 weeks. I’d only seen one doctor throughout the pregnancy and that was an ER visit at 20 weeks because I’d been feeling faint and just all around awful. They did a quick sonogram to ensure baby was alive and well, but otherwise no information was divulged. I felt I needed more and so I went to see Dr. K.

Just like the story of my little boy being circumcised, this story leaves me with my head in my hands and unable to move through the emotions of it. I look back now and think, “You stupid woman. Why after everything you went through with the medical community would you run back to it for something unnecessary?” But at the time, I could not figure out what was reality and what wasn’t. I didn’t truly believe something was wrong with me or baby, but I could not convince myself that I was right. I was struggling mentally trying to decide what exactly it was I needed and how to go about getting it. In the end, I decided to be seen for the peace of mind that I just wasn’t able to get from myself. I wish I had been able to. So much drama and further uncertainty would have been avoided.

I remember feeling trapped as soon as I entered that exam room and immediately I wanted to leave. I knew this was a bad idea as soon as the door shut, but it felt too late. It felt like I was stuck now, like I’d thrown most of my choices out the window and now my baby and I were at the mercy of someone I didn’t even know.

I consented to doing a pee test, weight check, and blood pressure. I was doing all of those things at home anyhow and they did not bother me. Anything more than those few things felt intrusive and unnecessary.

After meeting with Dr. K, I felt better. He was nice enough and didn’t push the vaginal exam or any other tests. He said over and over again that it was completely my choice and he sat across the room from me so that I felt safer. I cried retelling my other birth stories, especially the birth of my 3rd son, and he gave me tissues. I have an extremely hard time opening up to others and showing my emotions publicly so that was incredibly difficult for me. He seemed so understanding, so very different from my first OB. I sat in the chair they provide in those exam rooms and I never once got on the table during that visit. He seemed hesitant about several tests I wanted to forego, but we did agree to me testing my sugars for a week at home to be sure I did not have gestational diabetes. I was at my biggest weight ever and that was really messing with my head. Since the possibility of having gestational diabetes was the biggest worrying factor for me, but I didn’t want to do the glucose test, I believed testing at home to be a great compromise. I had no idea it would end up how it did.

A week or so after that initial appointment I had an appointment with a dietician to get set up to test my sugars at home. Apparently, there is no distinction made between someone testing to see if they have gestational diabetes (also known as GD) and those who actually have GD. They treated me as if I had gestational diabetes, despite my several reminders that there was currently no proof that I had GD, and that I have not ever had it in my previous three pregnancies. No one cared. My weight was all they saw. My insistence about the issue went unheard and I stopped trying. They tested my A1C and it was great. They tell me it’s pretty irrelevant and I wonder if that’s so true, what is the point in doing it at all? I wish I had been stronger. I wish I had been braver. I wish I had fought back against a lot of what I instead agreed to because I didn’t feel like I was making the choices any longer. I felt like someone else was making the decisions for me and I was going along because I was too scared someone would insist I birth in the hospital if I didn’t. I wasn’t sure I was strong enough to fight back if that happened and I didn’t want to chance it. I know how ridiculous it sounds now, but when you’re pregnant and hormonal and scared, fear tends to rule you. It’s exactly why I chose to birth unassisted in the first place, so fear would not be the ruler over my body and baby.

I tested my sugars for about 10 days at home before returning for a follow up visit. Aside from one or two high numbers, my numbers looked great. The dietician was very happy, but acted like I was to continue testing at home, as if I had GD. I felt confused and asked about it, but she insisted it was no big deal and that they just wanted to be sure. They then returned to treating me like I had GD. They had me speak with a perinatologist, whom we will call Dr. D, but I mostly ignored what he had to say. He is a doctor who only sees the bad and I refused to let more of that into my headspace.

Another few weeks went by and I was still testing my sugars at home, 4 times a day. I was still getting great numbers and I kept telling my husband, “I’m sure at this appointment, this will all be done.” Except it wasn’t. They had me speak with a perinatalogist again. First, he insisted I have gestational diabetes, despite all proof to the contrary. He then requested that I return for an ultrasound. This I didn’t want. But my husband wanted to know the gender of the baby and since I’d had a difficult time connecting, I felt like maybe that wasn’t the worst idea ever. I also thought maybe the u/s would bring me some more peace of mind. I was hesitant, though, because I knew any discrepancy picked up on that u/s would be cause for more intervention. I knew it, but I ignored myself. Again.

My husband and I returned in a few weeks for the u/s and another GD appointment. Surely, I thought, they would finally see how great my numbers were and that I clearly didn’t have GD, and would release me from the program. Well, of course that didn’t happen. It was a pretty normal appointment aside from Dr. D pushing metformin on me to control my supposed diabetes!! I reminded them I did not have GD and then declined the metformin. Then they looked at me like I was crazy when I mentioned that I wanted no more testing. “Whatever,” I thought. “I’ll stop it next time. I’m just excited to see the baby.” The u/s appointment was directly after the GD appointment and in the same office, so we were moved to an exam room to wait. Finally we were taken to another room, the big 4D ultrasound room, and I laid down on the table. My husband sat in the chair next to the table.

The ultrasound was one of those lengthy, let’s measure every single tiny part of the baby and uterus ones, so we were in there for a while. The perinatologist doing the u/s was a nice guy and made small talk. We’ll call him Dr. C. He asked if we wanted to find out the sex and I hesitated, because originally I wanted to wait until the birth to discover what we were having. My husband just looked at me. He had already told me he wanted to know without a doubt. I felt a little guilty and said, “Yes.” We had to wait a few more minutes for the doc to measure a couple of parts and then he rolled over the nether regions of the baby and said, “It’s a girl,” very unceremoniously. It’s not at all how I imagined finding out I was having another girl (after 2 boys) and I cried from the joy of knowing the baby was a girl and the sadness over the moment I’d envisioned being lost. Dr. C told us everything looked great and we finished up the u/s. We were then moved back to the exam room to speak Dr. D. Again.

Dr. D very matter-of-factly asked me when we would do the next ultrasound. I told him, very matter-of-factly, that we weren’t doing another ultrasound. His eyes bulged, he stammered a little, and asked, “But… how will you know how big the baby is?” I replied that we wouldn’t and that that was okay. He then seemed flustered and said, “But… how will your doctor know how to deliver you??!?” I smiled and replied, “I birth at home.” Dr. D almost fell over, his jaw gaping. It was pretty funny, remembering it now. He sort of threw his hands up, sighed and said, “Well, whatever.” Then he got up and left the room. That was the last time I saw him.

I received a phone call a couple of days after the ultrasound and Dr. K (my OB) explained wanting to go over the u/s results. He said Dr. D, who reviewed the u/s, was worried about excessive amniotic fluid and that I needed to think about having more testing done to ensure my baby’s safety. “Excessive” fluid doesn’t worry me all by itself as most of my babies have had “excessive” amniotic fluid and it hasn’t ever been an issue for any of us. Dr. K then says, “Well, the fluid combined with the gestational diabetes….”and I was forced to remind him once again that I did not have gestational diabetes!!! He quickly replied, “Ohhh… that’s right…,” but doesn’t seem convinced. I rolled my eyes hard as he continued speaking. He seemed concerned and was feeling the need to do something. He made it known that he was worried and if it were his baby… and then he trailed off. Basically this phone call was to tell me I should give in to whatever they wanted me to do. He didn’t say those exact words, that I should do whatever they say, but he kept going back to the, “Well, it’s your choice. I’m just here to help,” kind of talk, but it doesn’t feel like he’s leaving the choice up to me. By this point, I have had it up to here with the fear and I was angry and frustrated and tired of being told I was doing it wrong and that my baby would die if I kept it up. So, instead of allowing fear to rule me this time, I asked him for facts. “Give me statistics, numbers, risks, factual information I can use to make an educated decision here.” So he said he would speak to the perinatologist and call me back. This annoyed me. Why the heck didn’t he know off hand why this is a big deal if he was so damn concerned?

Dr. K called me back within minutes and said that Dr. D didn’t have the exact information I was looking for at that exact moment, but “Wikipedia says a normal range is under 20.” My fluid level was at a 22. I mentioned that I was 33 weeks pregnant and my fluid levels were not likely to rise much more, if at all. I then asked again about risks and statistics and he said the risk is increased slightly and could “ultimately end up with your baby dying.” This statement made me want to reach through the phone and rip his tongue out. Why, why, oh why do doctors think this is the best way to convince a pregnant woman to make a good decision? If I hadn’t had my wits about me in that moment, I may have agreed to just about anything. Thankfully, I am not ignorant and I knew this game. I confronted him angrily, but kept my temper in check. He knew he’d just hit a raw nerve by my response and tried to step around what he’d just said. I confronted him about the use of Wiki and the dead baby card. He back-stepped and said, again, that it was up to me what we did, but he’d prefer I come in for NST monitoring every few days for the duration of the pregnancy. I explained that there was very little possibility of me actually agreeing to that, but that I’d do NSTs at my regular appointments  (which were about 2 to 4 weeks apart at that point, whenever I felt like obliging and going in.) He seemed frustrated by my inability to just roll over, and I understood that from his point of view since the NSTs would basically mean nothing being that far apart.  He said in the end it was my decision and we hung up.

I was fuming over that conversation and fuming that I’d allowed myself to get into the whole mess to begin with. How did I get to this point??

Another few weeks went by and I went in for another GD (from this point on GD can be interchangeable with gestational diabetes and the “other meaning”) appointment. I’d told myself this was the last one, no matter what. I would be walking out of there without having to test anymore. I had no idea that it would be my last appointment, no matter what I had to say. Around 36 weeks, they let you go from having to test your sugars when you have gestational diabetes since you are so close to giving birth. This annoyed me, but I was happy to be done. I did not see either of the male perinatologists that time; I saw a female. She was very nice, went over everything that had transpired and said, “I really don’t understand why they kept making you come back.” I sensed the frustration on her end and it was nice to know I was not totally crazy. I was surrounded by people treating me like my desire to have my baby peacefully at home, not wall-to-wall with machines and people in white coats, was the crazy idea and I was starting to question everything. It was no small thing that she gifted me that day. At least I knew I wasn’t alone in my agitation with the whole system. I couldn’t imagine working in it.

From the ultrasound to giving birth, I had a total of 2 NSTs. It wasn’t what they wanted. Dr. K was visibly annoyed, but he always brought it back to “It’s up to you.” I appreciated that, but I really think now he was doing it to save his own ass and not because he really thought I deserved such a choice. Should something have gone wrong, I imagine he would have said “Well, I always told her…” Luckily for him, I’m not that kind of person. I chose to birth at home without an attendant because I wanted to be the one making the choices about how my body and baby would be affected during pregnancy, labor and birth. I wanted to be the one choosing what was best for me and my baby, seeing as it is my body and my baby. How could anyone else possibly understand us better than me?

On March 16, when I was 39 weeks pregnant, I went for what would be my final appointment with Dr. K. For the first time I allowed him to palpate my belly and check on baby. I also consented to the final NST. It was great, of course. She was always doing perfectly, which I always knew. When the appointment was done, I went and made an appointment for 10 days later. The woman behind the counter raised an eyebrow and said, “I’m sorry, how far along are you??” I told her 39 weeks, today. She said, “Well then you need to be back in a week.” I told her that no, I would not do that. I would be back in 10 days, at the earliest. I’d prefer 2 weeks. She called Dr. K, asked if it was alright, and then found the closest time on the schedule for 10 days out and wrote it down for me. I had to laugh about it. I took the appt. card and went on my way.

While driving home, I noticed I was having timeable contractions. I started watching the clock as I drove and they were every 6 to 8 minutes, without fail. I started to get a little bit excited. Maybe I wouldn’t have to go to 42 weeks! I’d been a bit miserable since week 32 or so, so having a baby a little ahead of schedule did not seem like such a bad idea… as long as it wasn’t forced. About 25 minutes into my drive, I called my husband. Clearly, this was very, very early if it was the “real thing” and I told him I was heading to the store to pick up a few things. When I got to Albertson’s, the contractions were continuing and I really started to think maybe it was labor. I walked through the store quickly and decisively, wanting to be in my own space as soon as possible. As I drove home, I kept checking to see if they were still coming. They were. The contractions continued, on time, until around midnight when I realized nothing was happening. No progression, no intensity, nothing. I gave up and went to bed.

I went through the same “false labor” scenario for days. It would start and stop, sometimes lasting up to two days, sometimes only a few hours. I got to the point where I ignored everything. I decided until my water broke, I wasn’t paying any attention. The false labor combined with some serious SPD and I was endlessly waiting for baby to come. Hours turned into days turned into weeks.. I couldn’t wait. I couldn’t think. I was so overwhelmed that everything felt difficult and painful. Mentally, physically, and emotionally I was completely beaten down and exhausted.

My EDD was March 21, 2012. My husband was scheduled to be away from the 21st to the 24th for work. Del was worried I’d go into labor, but I told him not to worry. It appeared little Squish wasn’t interested in coming any time soon. She was posterior, my first ever posterior baby, so I made several efforts to encourage her to turn. I am pretty sure I got her to turn about a week before she was born, but she turned back.

The day before Del came home, I had a small amount of bloody show. Not gobs. Not tons. But it was something tangible for me. For me, bloody show means a baby will be in my arms within 48 hours. (Disclaimer: It does not mean this for everyone!)

BirthofSG0

On the 25th of March, I woke up at 4am with contractions. Legit ones. They were uncomfortable, even painful, but not too bad. I decided to try and sleep. Around 7am, just as Del was leaving for work, I texted him, “Are you still home? Don’t leave.” He walked into the room a few minutes later and asked me what was up. I told him I’d been having contractions since 4am and was having trouble sleeping through. It felt legitimate and he needed to call in sick to work. As soon as he did that, I felt like I was on a timer. Catch 22.

I chose to stay in the bedroom for a little while longer while Del did everything around the house that needed to be done. Around 10am, I got out of bed and took a bath and a shower. I bounced on my birth ball, I rocked in our green rocking chair, I walked, I sat, I tried to watch TV, and I tried to Facebook and play games on my phone. The contractions came no matter what and as happy as I was to be in labor, it had also gotten pretty painful and I found myself worn out very quickly. Around 3pm, I went to pick up The Twins from school. I decided to make things move faster (because I needed it to go faster) I would walk and pick them up. It is only about a mile, round trip, but it was hard. I had to stop and work through contractions down the walking path several times. I was worried someone driving by would freak out and try to take me to the hospital. Thankfully, it was relatively empty when I was walking and if I just stood and kind of rocked (which I am known to do, baby or not, since it’s basically habit now), no one would notice.

No one did.

We came home and I decided to eat something. I remember being very hungry at one point and terribly annoyed by it because I was also in pain simultaneously. I kept thinking, “If we can just get to bedtime, she’ll come. If we can just get to bedtime, she’ll come.” If only it had been that easy! It was not. I labored through the night, exhausted and in pain. The contractions ripped through my abdomen, down my hips, buttocks and thighs. Every. Time. Positions didn’t matter. Water didn’t matter. I was in and out of the tub at least three times during the night. I remember feeling like a whale in that tiny tub though, and asking my husband to fill the pool. Turns out he’d purchased the wrong hose and couldn’t fill it. At all. Unless I wanted him to run and exchange it. I told him to forget it. I couldn’t imagine trying to rally four kids while in this much pain. “Put the pool away,” I told him.

I really think I had just “given up” at some point and that was the worst thing I could have done. I wasn’t in a place to be super self-aware at the time, so I could not convince myself that I was making things worse. I could only think, “If it hurts this much, maybe something’s wrong.” Gah. I knew, knew, knew nothing was “wrong,” but when things would get difficult, it would cross my mind. I really think the entire pregnancy and fear- mongering played a big part in my birth, much larger than I realized it would when I made the decision to see a medical professional during my pregnancy.

Dawn came and my little girl still had not made her appearance. I decided to try lying down and sleeping. Occasionally someone from my husband’s job would call and ask how things were going. I hated that. I wished they would stop. Pressure, pressure, pressure. I felt extremely pressured to just get on with it already. I felt like I was in a pressure cooker and everyone was just waiting on me. As if being a woman in labor (painful freaking labor) isn’t enough, we also take on the guilt for “letting down” those around us.

This was my list of thoughts on repeat once the sun rose:

“Why isn’t she here yet?”

“Why is this hurting so much?”

“Why won’t she just drop already?”

“What’s the hold up?”

“Is something wrong?”

“Is my baby okay?”

Now, I was checking on her throughout labor because I was not in the best space mentally and needed reassurance that she was well. I didn’t feel like there was something wrong with her, but my mind was playing so many tricks on me that I needed something that I could focus on to keep me sure that she was okay. Her HR was great, even through contractions. She was doing just fine. It was me who was having a hell of a time getting through.

In the bedroom, I rolled from one bed to the other, trying to sleep, trying to escape the pain, trying to figure out how the heck I was going to get the courage to give birth to my baby. It hurt so much! If I only I could just get a little sleep, if only these contractions would let up just a little, if only, if only, if only… I had trouble remembering to relax so of course everything was worse from tensing up. I finally gave up on trying to sleep and escape. Kind of. And I started feeling pressure – real pressure – down low and knew something was in the works, but I wasn’t ready to face it. I laid on the bed for at least 30 minutes, denying that I had to go push at some point. I simply did not want to. I was irrational by now and no one could get through to me. Eventually I decided to go to the toilet and see if that would help her descend. I needed to open up my pelvis and encourage her out. I wasn’t ready, but I knew it had to be done. I told myself if I could just move to the toilet, it would get better.

It didn’t, but I made the journey anyhow. I struggled through several contractions on the toilet until Ina May popped into my head and I heard her say, “Open mouth, open vagina.” And I clung to that for all it was worth. I repeated in my head over and over. I hung my jaw low, mouth agape, hoping some magical force would recognize my mouth was now relaxed and thus so my vagina would be too. I tried anyway. Eventually moaning began to seem like the thing to do. I wanted to scream. I wanted to cuss. I wanted to rip someone’s eyes out. Instead, I moaned. I moaned through every achy, painful contraction. I begged my little girl to please come out and meet me. While moaning and begging, I felt her drop down and turn anterior. It was an incredible sensation and if I hadn’t been in so much pain, I probably would have enjoyed it much more. The memory of it stays with me though and I will forever cherish it.

My husband was in and out throughout all of this, but for the most part I labored alone. He was there when I needed him and he was a wonderful support, but when given the opportunity when in labor, I am better off on my own. I remember at one point, while still in the bedroom, asking him if he thought we should go to the hospital (mostly because I had never labored so hard for so long and it was scaring me), He was such a voice of reason. He made me think about all the reasons we stayed home and how that would be affected if we went. He asked me if I really felt like she was in danger. I didn’t and it didn’t make sense to go to the hospital just because I was in pain. I knew that. He knew that and he helped me see that this was just another way of me trying to escape the pain – having the need to do something instead of just waiting. He was my rock throughout this birth and I cannot thank him enough for being there and letting me fall apart several times leading up to Squishy Girl’s birth. He was always there for me and always knew how to get me back on track.

Del came in just as I felt Squishy turn and drop and I told him I needed to move into a better position. He asked if he could help or if I needed something and I asked him not to leave. It took me roughly 20 minutes to convince myself to get up off that toilet and onto the floor to birth my baby. I knew it had to be done, but it is so damn hard to convince yourself of anything when you are in that place mentally. When you are struggling physically and emotionally and you are so desperate – you reach almost another world, somewhere I’m not sure exists here on Earth. It isn’t Heaven or something like that, but it is a place that will challenge every inch of your being and you have no choice but to succeed, to finish. It is such a world to be in and yet, still be here on Earth, still dealing with all the normal, routine things that happen every day. It is why I believe being in a calm, peaceful environment is so, so important during birth.

At some point, obviously, I got off the toilet and onto the ground. I was in between transition contractions, as they were one on top of the other, and I nearly fell while trying to maneuver myself. On hands and knees, on the bathroom floor, with my head resting on the side of the bath tub, my husband grabbed a towel and placed it under me. I waited to push, remembering to let the head ease out first, before actively pushing. I panted and panted. Oh God, I panted! I could not keep it up though. My body wanted to push. I wanted to push. And I hate pushing! So on the next contraction, I pushed. I wanted to push as hard and as fast as I could and just get it over with, but it was not that simple. For every little bit she moved down, I had to push five times. It was the longest pushing phase I’d ever experienced and I remember grabbing at my vagina after several pushes and feeling nothing!! All of that hard work, for what? That’s how it felt of course, not how it actually was. Progress was being made and within another ten minutes or so, her head began to emerge. I really feel for women who have to push for hours and hours! You are amazing!!

But then my husband asked me to stop pushing.

“Why do I need to stop???” I asked.

“You pooped… just hang on a second,” he declared, and wiped away any remnants.

I was embarrassed and at the same time, completely and totally did not give a crap! “Let’s get this show on the road,” I thought. “Wipe and go, man! Wipe and GO!”

I wished so much that I was a contortionist so I could see what the heck was going on! Or that I could not be in pain for just a minute so I could squat and see better. I was not a contortionist, nor did I have time to flip around, so hands and knees is where I stayed. I settled for yelling at Del instead.

“Whyyyyy woooooon’t shhhhhhhheeeee cooooooommmmmme oooouuuuuuuutttttt!!!???!!!” It was more a statement than a question, but within seconds of saying that, out slipped her head. I was raring to push again when my husband told me stop. Again. I questioned him, unsure of why he could possibly say this now and suddenly I became concerned. “Why??!????”

“The cord’s around her neck, just hang on,” he said, sort of urgent, but still calm – he is fantastic in what most consider stressful situations.

I waited through a couple of contractions as he gently and slowly slipped the cord off of her neck. It was pretty quick, but it was wrapped tightly so it took a little longer than what it might have if it had been looser.

Pushing recommenced and within one or two contractions, she slid out and made her grand entrance. Del caught her as I maneuvered around her cord to take her. She was so slippery!!! I don’t remember that with any of my other babies. She was greyish in color, sort of floppy, and had meconium on her body. I gently held her slanted down and then swiped inside of her mouth to be sure her airway was open and slid my thumb and forefinger down the sides of her nose to be sure her nostrils were clear of any mucus. Her cord remained intact and I put her on my chest, skin to skin, as I knew this was the best course of action for her. I rubbed her back gently and firmly. It seemed like forever, but within a minute or two, she pinked up and began to cry.

I wrapped a towel over us and tried to sit back and relax for a minute. I could not sit back. Hemorrhoids. Fucking hell. All of that work and now I couldn’t even sit down? This is the problem with my face in the picture immediately following her birth. I was sitting on a hard surface with a very painful bottom. Not too long after, a gentle urge to push came and out plopped the placenta. We left it attached to Squish until it stopped pulsing and turned white and then Del cut it and put it into a plastic bowl and stuck it into the freezer. I encapsulated it a month later, which I wrote about here.

BirthofSG

Soon our four children entered the bathroom to meet her. The tiny room felt stifling with now 7 people in there. It also got extremely loud very fast. They all said hi, cooed and awed over her and then I asked to shower and they retreated to the den to watch some television while I went to breastfeed the baby and get some rest. I showered quickly and then was off to the bedroom to cuddle and bond with my little girl. Del cleaned up our mess and I was thankful. We climbed into bed and took a few more pictures. I was basically a zombie at this point and did not at all experience a birth high this go around (at least not until the following day or two). We slept for three or four hours and then I announced her birth on Facebook. We weighed and measured her. Adorable Squishy Girl weighed in at 9lbs even and measured 21 and ¼ inches long, born on March 27, 2012 at around 1:15-1:20pm (we’re not exactly sure about her birth time – whoops). My in-laws came to see her that day and my mom and step-dad came the following day. It was such a nice, peaceful time.

BirthofSG

I would not trade that time after the birth for anything. There were no hourly checks of blood pressure or someone repeatedly asking me to pee in a cup. No questions about my bowels at all. I was allowed to feed and care for my baby however I saw fit and no one was there to correct me and treat me like an imbecile. There was no poking and prodding of my baby, no one taking her from me or trying to slip her formula while I was sleeping. No weird food that doesn’t really feel, taste, or smell like real food. The whole baby moon following Squish’s birth was perfection. If you can birth at home, and feel it is in your & your child’s best interest, I strongly recommend it.

BirthofSG2

For days after her birth, I would cry when I would think about my “failed” birth. So I stopped thinking about it. I was afraid the sadness I felt over her birth not being the “perfect” birth would impede my bonding with her and I could not interrupt that process. I could work through her birth later. I could not bond with her later. To ensure our success, I set the experience aside in favor of falling in love with my little girl. It worked somehow, and I have no problem feeling love and closeness with her as a result.

I sit here a year later and cannot feel the same fear I felt during her pregnancy or birth. I am sure hormones played a huge part in all of that. I remember it as a good thing, a beautiful experience and once again, I am grateful for that. Some may say I’m not being true to her birth story, but this is how I remember it. I know I was extremely confused, but I will always believe her birth was exactly how it was supposed to be. Some may question whether I wish we’d been in the hospital for her birth. My answer would be a resounding, “NO!” In the hospital, she would have likely had her cord cut when they noticed it around her neck, she may have suffered because of the meconium due to the early clamping and cutting of the cord. Maybe not. But I have a very strong feeling that we were exactly where she needed us to be. Even with the raw sadness I had for not getting to experience another “perfect” birth immediately following her arrival, I knew her best start to life was here at home. And the time our family spent connecting with her and welcoming her into our family can never be replaced and it never would have happened in a hospital.

She is one-year-old today. She is no longer a tiny baby. She is spunky and cheeky and stubborn and… exactly like me. She is going to challenge me for the rest of my life, I am sure of it. She had to make sure I was ready for her starting with her birth.

BirthofSG4

March 17, 2013

Whole or Circumcised; Does It Really Matter?

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I was 18 when I discovered I was pregnant with twins in 2002. I had only been sexually active for 6 weeks. 6 weeks!!! I was in shock, I was terrified, and not once did the question of whether or not I would circumcise (if I was blessed with one – or two - boys) enter my thoughts. For me, this was a given. In the complete and total haze that surrounded me during those months of trying to wrap my brain around the fact that I would soon be a mother to not just one, but two little babies, whether or not to circumcise did not cross my mind. It was not confusing. It was not difficult. It did not weigh on me. I did not feel heavy in my chest when I thought about it. In fact, I did not think about it before the arrival of The Twins much at all. Like I said, it was a given. Of course I would circumcise any son of mine. Why wouldn’t I?

My husband has told me that just before the birth of the twins, we briefly discussed whether or not to circumcise our son. We were also expecting a daughter. He says I became angry when he broached the subject and that I couldn’t understand why he would even question the decision. He recalls it was a big enough reaction for him to let it go. I do not recall this exchange, but remembering the person I was back then, I certainly can’t say it isn’t true.

Oh, how I wish it weren’t true.

The Twins were born just 1 week, 1 day shy of 40 weeks. I developed pre-eclampsia and was induced. It took me a couple of days to fall in love with my babies, but once I did I was hit hard with a fierce love like I’d never known before. They were instantly my reason for existing and I immediately knew my life would never be the same.

When we took them for their 1 week check up, I knew it was also circumcision time. We were informed at the appointment that my state insurance would not cover circumcision since it is cosmetic and that I would need to pay out of pocket if I still wanted my son to have the surgery. I hesitated, but only because I did not have 100 dollars to spend on something like circumcision. My step-mom offered to pay for the procedure, as long as we paid her back. I agreed and she paid the woman behind the counter.

I sat nervously in the waiting room, but the nerves were more about the car ride home since we lived almost an hour away from the doctor’s office and The Twins did not like riding in the car. I had no idea what was about to happen to my little boy, despite knowing that circumcision involved cutting off some skin from the head of the penis. I knew they would cut him, I knew it could hurt, but I also thought I knew that it was numbed, that he wouldn’t feel much, if any pain, that it was easier on him now than when he was an adult, that this was in his best interest for a healthy future, and that he would definitely be made fun of if we did not do this for him.

A medical assistant came out to get us and we were guided through the halls to a room. The twins were undressed and weighed, measured from head to toe and the pediatrician looked each of them over. They fussed a little bit, but nothing traumatic. Both were gaining weight well and seemed happy. I was allowed to dress my daughter, but they took my little boy to get him ready for his surgery. I blurted out a question about anesthesia, and they assured me they would numb him first. I began to feel a huge pit in my stomach. I started seeing silver utensils and blue sheets and suddenly I needed to leave the room. I said I couldn’t stay, but did not want to leave him. My step-mom stepped up again, offering to stay with him. I was unsure, but took her offer since I needed to feed my little girl.

I am going to stop right here and say, you should all know as I write this I keep having to pause and breathe and try to take in the experience all over again without completely falling apart. I hate remembering. My palms are sweaty, my heart is racing, and I am hot all over. I am back in that waiting room. I am sitting there, knowing they are about to hurt my little boy and feeling like I really need to go get him, but also trapped in this sort of …power struggle within myself. Do I go and get him and let him keep that “disgusting flap of skin” or do I let them hurt him, knowing I am making a “painful, but necessary” decision? I decide to feed my daughter.

I am looking into my little girls eyes and a lump in my throat starts to rise. The tears are coming, but I am fighting them back. Suddenly I hear a scream of alarming proportions rush down the hall right to me. It is my little boy. It is my new baby. He is screaming in pain, screaming for help, and now my tears fall. They fall hard. Again I am overcome with the strong desire to go save him, go help him, go stop them, but I cannot will myself to do it.

“It’s already happening,” I think. “If I go back there now, I’ll just make it worse. Surely it’s almost over.”

His screams roar on for what feels like an eternity. I feel like I am trapped in a soundproofed room and only I can hear him. Everyone around me moves normally, like nothing is going on, like this is completely and totally okay. Like this happens every day. Like it isn’t new, it isn’t alarming, it’s .. no big deal.

Finally. Finally my little boy is brought out to me. He is wrapped up and covered and he looks like a peaceful, sleeping baby. He looks nothing like the little boy I just heard screaming across the office. And for a second, I question whether it was him at all. But deep within I know it was. I know it was. I’m sick, but looking at his peaceful face it’s hard to believe it was anything but easy.

The days following are difficult. I am instructed to put silver nitrate on his penis and globs of Vaseline to help his penis keep from sticking to anything it touches. Diaper changes are nightmares. He screams just like he did when I wasn’t there to comfort him. No matter what I put on his penis, it still sticks to the diaper. He cries ferociously every time he urinates and I find myself changing him much more frequently, worried some feces or urine will cause an infection. He sleeps a lot, which is not normal for him, and he eats minimally. Within 10 days, it is healed completely and it’s like it never happened.

Fast forward 4 years and I am pregnant again. We are expecting another little boy, The Monkey, and 20 weeks into this pregnancy the topic of circumcision pops up on my pregnancy board. Lots of people are doing it, some are not, some think that’s weird, others don’t know what to think and suddenly it hits me that I am going to have to make this decision again. I am going to have to go through that again. I am going to have to put my baby through it again.

Oh God. What now??

This is where it all changes. I hear what a couple of mothers I trust have to say about it and suddenly, circumcision doesn’t feel so cut and dry. It feels like I have a choice, like I am not doomed to feel pushed into that same corner and unable to protect my child. This time, it feels like maybe I don’t have to hurt my baby at all.

I ask my husband what he thinks about not circumcising our son, and this time he is the one who gets defensive. I explain to him where I’m coming from – that a foreskin is much more than a flap of skin, that it really, really hurts the baby and I know because I lived through it the first time (he was away at military training) and so did our first born son. I explain that it was traumatizing for us both and if we can avoid it, and it seems like several moms are starting to, maybe we should. I feel confused and start to question keeping our little guy whole. What about our firstborn son? Will he feel weird because he is circumcised and our second son isn’t? How is that “fair?” Within days I realize that way of thinking is completely ridiculous. I cannot allow the guilt I feel over circumcising my first son, C, push me into circumcising our second son to prevent questions and having to be honest about what I chose for him. We decide not to circumcise.

When The Monkey is born and they ask if we want him circumcised for the 3rd time, we keep saying no. I hesitate once because I am a worrier and I worry about things I have not lived through, but in the end we leave the hospital with our son intact. I, nor any of my future sons, will ever have to encounter the anguish and upset C and I were faced with previously. A huge weight feels lifted and I am so happy with our decision.

When we got pregnant with Doodle, it was a no brainer. Obviously, he would remain whole as well. Isn’t it amazing the complete 180 we did from just 7 years previously when we had The Twins? Doodle and The Monkey are whole and our eldest son, C, is not. I regret it every day.

I recently discussed the choice I made for C with him. He is 10 and the conversation was inadvertently brought up. I couldn’t lie.. so I had to tell him the truth. It was a pretty brief discussion because within a few minutes C looked horrified and asked me to stop talking. It was heartbreaking. I had thought about how we’d discuss it a million times. How maybe he’d forgive me, maybe he’d realize I didn’t know what I was taking from him. Maybe he would be okay and it wouldn’t be that big of a deal, like so many men claim it’s not. I had no idea it would go the way it went and I was not at all prepared for his reaction.

The reality of what circumcision is, is scary. It is heartbreaking. It is unnecessary and should not be a decision made lightly by people who it will not affect in the future. It should be thoroughly thought through before the choice is made for someone else and you should consider how your child will react 10, 15, or 20 years from now when you have to explain why you did what you did.

This is the age of the internet, of information at your fingertips in less than 2 seconds, and everyone – everyone - has the ability to fully research these choices we are making for our children. Especially one as prominent as circumcision. I don’t care where you live, you have to be aware now that circumcision is controversial and there are tons of studies and theories and ideas out there. This decision is not an easy one to make unless you let yourself be guided by someone else. Do the research. Read. Talk to people. Talk to mothers, talk to men, talk to anyone who is willing to chat. Circumcision may not have seemed like a big deal 10 years ago, but today it has become a very big issue – and with good reason! So don’t do something you may regret without being sure you can and will take responsibility for whatever outcome.

We research car seats, cribs, blankets, diapers, hospitals, doctors, formula, all in the name of keeping our babies as safe as possible, but when it comes to a procedure that can kill our children, and does kill at least 100 babies every year, we don’t give it a second thought. It is social conditioning and we have become numb to the horror of circumcision.

Maybe you totally disagree with me. Maybe you prefer cut men. Maybe you yourself prefer your cut penis. Maybe you are worried your child will be made fun of, should look like Daddy, could get penile cancer, be more likely to get STDs, HIV, etc all from not getting circumcised so you still think circumcision is best. And you know what? That’s not my business. All I am asking of you, to try and help you avoid the pain my son and I have been through, is look into it. Wouldn’t it be nice to not feel offended by my stance on this topic because you feel confident in yours? The only way to get that is to become educated on the subject and then make a decision.

You can start here:

Whole or circumcised, does it really matter? I think it does. Do you?

August 5, 2012

Latch On NYC Forces You To Breastfeed!

Mayor Bloomberg of New York City has recently asked local hospitals to participate in a new initiative to support breastfeeding called, “Latch On NYC.” This means that hospitals will no longer give away “goodie bags” filled with formula samples and coupons for more. Formula and formula information will no longer be placed throughout the patient’s rooms. If a mother comes in intending to breastfeed, the nurses and doctors will fully support her decision and help in every way possible to be sure that she succeeds. Formula won’t be offered or ‘pushed’ and the medical staff will abide by the mother’s wishes on how to feed her child. Finally.

If a mother goes into the hospital expecting to feed her baby formula, all she has to do is tell her medical team. The doctors and nurses will abide by her choice, too. They will give the mother accurate information regarding the differences between formula and breastmilk, but they will not push her either way. They will simply offer the health information and move on. If the mother wants to formula feed, the nurse will provide her with formula to feed her baby.

Does this really sound so bad? Does it sound like the “crazy lactivists” have taken over the hospital? Does it?? Because reading and hearing comments about this initiative and campaign recently have nearly sent me to the looney bin.

True story.

Here are just a few of the real comments I’ve heard and/or read in recent days:

“As a mother who didn’t breastfeed, it is no one’s business how we feed our children as long as they are healthy!”

“all the way to the top with no legal recourse..get your gun, take him out of office..its the only way while still time..”

“wow….yet another male dictating what women should do with their bodies. I’m glad I don’t live in NYC, I don’t believe in breastfeeding.”

“I read these comments and I hate my gender more and more. Women are more obsessed with feeding their kids breastmilk than seeing how being a good mom has nothing to do with it. No wonder we constantly hit our heads on glass ceilings. Stay home and breastfeed, but don’t hold back the rest of us. And all of you are too stupid to not see this is more about women’s rights than feeding your baby, we’ve failed as American women.”

“I think moms should decide for themselves and everyone else should mind their own business.”

“Nazi America.”

These comments aren’t even the worst ones. These are more ‘middle of the road.’ Sure, I read some positive and even supportive comments. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of encouraging comments on some particular news sites, but most were similar to the comments I’ve shown here. I was left stunned nearly every time. Did most of these commenters even read the initiative?

The way most people are discussing it, you would believe breastfeeders have united with Mayor Bloomberg and are planning a coup to steal all the formula in NYC and dump it into the Hudson River! It just isn’t so!

If you want to give your baby formula, you are still free to do so! No one will take away your choice and no one wants to! You can even bring your own formula in before your child’s birth and no one will bat an eye. You haven’t lost your choice. Nothing negative is happening here. Nothing.

This campaign will prevent nurses from sneaking formula into babies when their mothers have expressly spoken against it. It will prevent mothers who are too tired to care, but may regret later, from reaching over and giving a pre-made formula bottle to baby. Or grandma. Or daddy while mommy naps. It will give new mothers the support and encouragement so many desperately need nowadays and simply aren’t getting for an array of complex reasons that I won’t go into right now.

There are countless women I speak to daily who feel guilt and sadness for not breastfeeding their baby longer, or at all. And so many mamas who did not fully understand the range of benefits breastfeeding brings to both mother and child.

I am one of them. And I regret it every day. I don’t dwell. I’ve moved forward. It saddens me to know I gave my children less than I wanted to give without knowing what I was losing though. This kind of program might have changed that for them .. and me.

My experience and the thousands who ‘gave in’ to formula during their hospital stay is what this initiative is trying to prevent. They (nor I) are out to prevent you from feeding your baby however you choose. You are still the mom and it’s still your choice. But isn’t it nice to know now all new mothers will get the information necessary to make the best decision for their life and their child’s? There is nothing worse for me as a mother than to look back on my choices and know I made a bad decision based on false information. The goal here is to make sure the information you get is accurate and shows you the whole picture, not just one piece.

In regards to the government stepping in where it “doesn’t belong,” I am not sure I want to comment on that. We all have our own ideas about what the government should be or what it can do. I get it. But I genuinely think this exact thing that Mayor Bloomberg has opted to do for the city is his job! It’s what he was hired to do! It is his job to encourage citizens to make the best choices they can. And if they choose not to, so be it! He’s not going to force you and neither is anyone else!

I implore you, if you are against this move, read the facts. There is a lot of misinformation flying around out there and so much of it is incorrect. This really is a good move!

Lastly, I want to speak to all the formula feeding mothers out there who insist this is bad, wrong, and butting into your business. Can I ask you how it effects you?

Every time you turn on the TV, you see support for your choice to formula feed. Every time you walk downtown or read a magazine, you likely pass by more support for your choice to formula feed. A lot of your friends likely formula feed or supplement. Your mother may have. Maybe your grandma, too. They may have encouraged you to do so. Your significant other might have said something about milk in breasts being gross and not wanting to share your body with the baby. Maybe you yourself feel that breastfeeding is gross and that only enforces your idea to formula feed and be comfortable with it. When you feed in public, women and maybe even some men walk up to the baby and smile and coo. You feel supported because your choice is accepted by most. Even if you know some friends/family/strangers that disagree with your choice to formula feed, the majority don’t mind that you do and would never dream of telling you not to.

As a breastfeeding mother, I have been called a pervert for allowing my child to wean when he was ready, instead of forcing him because he was “too old.” I have been given dirty looks for breastfeeding my child in my car, not even in ‘public.’ I have had friends walk up while discreetly feeding my child and jump back when they realize what I am doing as if we will infect them with some deadly disease. I have been told to quit. I have been told it wasn’t worth it. I have been told formula is “just as good.” Over and over and over again.

As if the social stigma associated with breastfeeding isn’t enough, there’s also the fact that in the beginning breastfeeding can be hard. Crazy hard. When you are postpartum and feeling an unbelievable range of emotions and new experiences, and you are faced with yet something else to overcome it can be difficult to proceed. Painful, cracked nipples, incorrect latch, screaming baby, engorged breasts, too little sleep, and there is a simple solution that would fix it all. How do you continue when you can stop it all with one simple change in choice? It is so much easier to grab a bottle and go, to hand baby off to daddy or a close friend so you can get some necessary rest. I understand the temptation because I have been there 5 times! I understand women who do it and are happy with their decision, but I also understand women who do it and feel regret soon after.

This initiative and campaign is for those women. The ones who want to succeed, no matter what it takes.

Many, many women like myself have to fight the stigma that exists regarding breasts and sexuality and initiatives and campaigns like the one in NYC (and Massachusetts) are meant to help women like me succeed at doing something we desperately want to do for our child. It is not meant to hurt you. It isn’t even meant to effect you really. Unless you happen to change your mind about how you want to feed your child, in which case these actions will help you too.

May 9, 2012

Why I Chose To Encapsulate My Placenta.. And How I Did It!

My history during the postpartum period hasn’t been the best. After the twins I spiraled into a pretty severe depressive state due to many factors. It took a lot of work and a lot of time to move past it. With Monkey, having the time we needed to bond after birth and finding a way to make our breastfeeding relationship successful made a big difference. Anxiety and depression still came, but it was easier to work through and move past. Doodle’s almost perfect birth, bonding, and breastfeeding relationship really helped improve the postpartum period for me. The anxiety still came, but it was relatively mild and disappeared without much work on my end. This time, having had depression during the pregnancy and knowing that increased my chances of having PPD, I knew I wanted (and possibly needed) to consume my placenta.

I actually planned to encapsulate my placenta with Doodle baby in 2009. Unfortunately due to his surprise unassisted birth and my unplanned stay overnight in the hospital, it was left out on the counter top. When I returned home the following evening, I had to dump it. I was so sad!! I thought at the time we would never have another baby, but if we did I knew I would make sure that did not happen again.

When I discovered I was pregnant last July, I knew I would be encapsulating the placenta. If I knew nothing else in all the chaos and excitement of another baby, I knew that! I was so excited to get another shot! After reading all the information regarding what our placentas are capable of giving back to us, I had to try it.

A major consensus regarding any scientific evidence about the benefits of placenta consumption is still out, but some studies claim it can lessen the likelihood of PPD and the baby blues, offer an easier recovery from birth, increase milk supply, replenish iron, increase energy, lessen bleeding, and give you an overall happier postpartum period and recovery. And all the anecdotal evidence had me believing it may really work. I have read so many testimonials about women’s experiences and knew this was a good choice for me.

Immediately following the birth of Adda, my husband placed the placenta into an airtight container and placed it into the freezer. Originally I wanted to hire someone to encapsulate it for me, but I am a control freak and I really wanted to be involved in the process. I decided to wait and do it myself when I felt up to it.

With family visiting and a bit of readjusting to life with 5 kids, we were suddenly at 4 weeks postpartum when I realized I was losing my temper and feeling overly emotional for no real reason. My anxiety levels were starting to creep up, too. I found myself worrying needlessly over everyone in the family. I began imagining terrible events that were very unlikely to actually occur. I needed to do something.

Enter the placenta.

I remembered it and pulled it from the freezer to defrost over the course of two days in the fridge. When it was finally defrosted, I set out to encapsulate it. I bleached all areas I planned to use and thoroughly rewashed every dish, utensil, and pan that I needed for the process.

My supplies included

1 large knife

1 large pan and a steam plate

1 large strainer

1 large plastic bowl

Gallon size Ziploc bags

Lemon and lime, sliced

1 or 2 Large cookie sheets

Empty gelatin capsules (I used these)

1 fresh (or defrosted) placenta

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And I set my oven to it’s lowest setting which was 170 degrees.

I placed the placenta into the strainer in the sink and rinsed it thoroughly being sure to remove any blood clots.

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I cut the cord at the base and removed the sac. I would have left the sac and wrapped it around the placenta, but mine was simply too thin and would tear any time I stretched it even a little. You can choose to keep it attached and simply ball the placenta into the sac and remove it after steaming. I  pierced the placenta a few times with a metal skewer and I bled the placenta as much as possible, continuing to rinse it. I added water under the steam plate and boiled it. Then I placed lemon and lime slices on top of the steam plate and the placenta on top of those. Once I added the placenta,  I covered it.

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I steamed it for 15 minutes per side. This was by far the grossest part for me lol. It just looked so .. weird. And smelled a bit like liver.. eek!!

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Once it had been flipped and steamed, I moved it to a cutting board and allowed it to cool. Then I sliced it as thin as I could and placed the slices flat on a large cookie sheet. The thinner the slices, the faster it dries out. I discovered this the hard way! Haha

 I placed the cookie sheet in the oven and let the strips dry for 30 minutes. Then I removed them, flipped every piece over, and returned it to the oven for 30 minutes. I repeated this process several times, until the strips were dry and almost brittle. I think I did it for 7 hours.

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I then placed each piece in a ziploc bag and left in the refrigerator overnight so I could get some sleep.

Unfortunately, in my fog-filled mind the following day I forgot to take a picture of the dried strips  before turning them into dust. Whoops! I wish I had gotten a picture as I think it would have been one of the most useful ones for someone looking at placenta encapsulation for the first time. However, this guy has some great pictures of dried strips if you are interested.

So back to turning the strips to dust. I took the strips and broke them into smaller pieces to give my poor blender a break. I decided to use the blender first.. and break out the food processor only if necessary. It wasn’t!

Then I broke open the bag of size “3″ gel caps (only size I could find locally, most prefer size “00″) and began filling them with placenta powder.

Placenta pills complete!

I ended up with roughly 300 capsules. My placenta was actually quite small compared to Doodle’s though. The very small size “3″ gel caps that I used are about half the size of the capsules that most use for encapsulation of the placenta. I started taking 3 pills twice a day on April 30 and noticed a total difference in my mood and ability to handle life by May 2nd. Just 3 days. My rapid mood swings and my high levels of anxiety completely disappeared within 5 days. It is May 9 today and I feel normal and back to myself. I even feel confident enough now to drop down to just 2 pills, once a day.

I never would have really believed the benefits of placenta encapsulation if I hadn’t experienced them myself. I would recommend this to anyone worried about milk supply, PPD, mood swings, painful postpartum, heavy bleeding, fatigue and any other ailments mothers may experience in the postpartum period. If this is something you are considering, please don’t let the “ick” factor deter you. It is absolutely worth it. And if you can’t afford a placenta encapsulation specialist to do it for you, you can do it yourself!

November 10, 2011

Why is Everything So Controversial?

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As I watched (and stayed out of) the conversations on several birthing communities yesterday about The Duggars, I came to the realization that nothing will ever be perfect for everyone. It’s impossible. And that’s okay. But I also realized that we are an incredibly judgmental people even when we claim to be open minded.

You may well be open minded about some things. You may stray from the beaten path over things you feel make you totally progressive, but we all still have our hang ups. We still judge when we face something we cannot wrap our brains around. We still get up in arms when we don’t understand someone else’s choices.

When I originally learned about The Duggars, I was shocked. Dare I say it, a little bit disgusted. Yes, disgusted. I thought about overpopulation, their carbon footprint, why have that many children, what is she doing to her body, how do the kids cope with all that chaos, how can they possibly give each child what he or she needs, how are they helping them each grow individually, WHY would they choose this???? I had so many questions. I had zero answers. And I had zero understanding.

Typically when I don’t understand someone’s choices, if it is not harming anyone, I try to accept it. With The Duggars constantly in the media though, I could not just accept and move on. They were there all the time, flaunting their giant family, showing off their perfect children, announcing yet another pregnancy and I became annoyed.

Then they became pregnant with #19, Josie. This pregnancy Michelle became pre-eclamptic with, the innocent baby was born at 25 weeks, the family spent months in the NICU with Josie, praying over her and hoping she’d survive.

They had to be done now. Right? Her body was clearly saying it was done. God was obviously showing her she needed to stop. He was telling them both it was time to move forward in life, focus on their 19 children, and enjoy watching them grow and have their own families. Surely after such a traumatic time and obviously very blessed, they would finally stop having children.

And then they didn’t. Yesterday they announced the pregnancy of what will be their 20th child. Mothers everywhere went crazy.

For the first time, I didn’t join in on the conversation. How could I? Instead of pointing fingers and being outraged over someone else’s choices and life, I instead looked at my own. I thought about what it feels like when I tell people we are expecting our 5th child. How it felt when we were expecting our 4th. We were really, really excited, but our excitement was met with silence and eyes to the floor when we spilled the news. It hurt. Even perfect strangers reactions hurt. It hurts a little now looking back.

We see on television and in movies everyone is always overjoyed at the announcement of a pregnancy, a baby, a new life. How wonderful! Everybody is so happy. They smile from ear to ear, gasp with joyful surprise and yelp with excitement. Their eyes light up.

I’ve never gotten a truly joyful reaction to one of my pregnancies. Ever. I’ve always gotten sad eyes, pursed lips, silence, and disappointment. And it always felt like I wasn’t allowed to be happy because everyone else was so down about it. I know why. Our happy surprises were also always met with bad timing. We never had a pregnancy when things were settled. With The Twins we were teenagers and homeless. With The Monkey, my husband had just made a huge job transition and things were very uncertain for us. With Doodle, we were still dealing with the uncertainty of that transition. And this time, well..I guess this being baby #5 is reason enough for people to dislike it.

I know what it’s like to be judged. I know how shitty it feels to experience others upset for my choices. I know what it feels like to have someone I love glare at me and say rude things for doing something they don’t agree with.

I bet you do too. Please remember that the next time you want to jump on someone for their decisions and their life. Remember the hurt and shock of people judging you for living your life the way you feel is best. We all share so much in common, but we will never be the same. I think that is a beautiful part of God’s amazing creation and we are lesser for questioning it, judging it, and fearing it.

I have had some of the best conversations with people whose perspective is the complete opposite of mine. When I allow myself to accept and wonder about their choices, I open myself up to an entirely new way of thinking. Often times, this does not change my personal preference on the subject, but it is so magnificent to look a person in the eye who I disagree with and know we somehow understand and respect one another despite our differences.

We can all have this about all subjects, but we have to be open to it. You do not lose part of yourself by letting other opinions and thoughts in. In fact, I believe over the years doing this has only strengthened my resolve in some of my beliefs and made me more interested in learning further about other thoughts and ideas that I have. It has only been a good thing.

Let us embrace our differences, enjoy our uniqueness, and love one another regardless of what we believe is best for our own lives. We may not always understand another’s decision, but we can do ourselves, our friends, and even perfect strangers a favor by accepting that it’s not our choice to make.

November 1, 2011

I Needed to UC

This is the first guest post I’ve had on this blog. I am honored that Elizabeth McKeown agreed to write about her experiences with birth and how she ultimately figured out what she needed to do to have her perfect birth.

I gain so much insight from others experiences and that is why I wanted to share her story with you. I hope you can take something from it as I have.

As always, I need to clarify that I am not advocating unassisted childbirth. Part of this story is about unassisted childbirth, but that in no way means that is the point of Elizabeth’s story. What one woman chooses for herself should not dictate what you choose for yourself.

Thank you again, Elizabeth for writing for us.

When I got pregnant with my first, I was so excited. I read everything I could find on pregnancy and birth. I knew I wanted a natural birth, but at the young and naive age of 20, to me that simply meant no drugs. I got an OB/GYN (I still didn’t really think any other options legitimately existed, and I *knew* that to be safe, one *must* give birth in the hospital, just in case) who was very nice, and ended up getting an induction, followed by an epidural (which I gave into), and felt like a failure. The baby and I also had health issues surrounding the birth, although we were alive and mostly healthy. This was not at all what I envisioned. I concluded that labor is just really hard for me for some reason, because I knew I had a high pain tolerance so it wasn’t just that I was a wuss. I figured that maybe the induction (even though I said NO to Pitocin) must have made labor harder to deal with.

When I got pregnant with my second child several years later, I wanted to take a very different approach. With renewed faith in myself, feeling as though I were older, wiser, and maybe stronger, I tried for something much more natural. I hired home birth midwives, and thought it was so cool and forward thinking of me to do so. I knew that hospitals were over-medicalized now, and I *knew* that home birth midwives would uphold only the most natural and woman-respecting beliefs for me and my birth. Prone to going past my due dates and bound by legal standards for care, I was pressured into either getting an induction or being completely without care. Luckily, my body beat their ultimatum and I went into labor myself. Unluckily, it led to the worst day of my life– a traumatic afternoon of excruciating labor with meconium tainted waters and a nice ambulance ride after which I swiftly delivered in an emergency room. The midwives had to transfer me because of the color of that fluid, but it turned out that the baby was fine, after all. The pain and torment of this labor was indescribable.

How could I have been such a fool? How could I really think that I could give birth naturally? Didn’t I learn anything from the first birth? Who were all these other smug bitches who were doing it, and making it look easy? Why am I not the earth mother goddesses that they were? I was the most maternal hippie I knew! Why did my midwives never post about my birth, but bragged on all the other moms? Why had I been so different, and what had I done that was so wrong? Surely they were all lying, these people, and their peaceful empowering birth stories. Birth was torture, birth was pain. How could I ever give birth again? No, no women should ever give birth again. Next time– if there is a next time– I need to get into the hospital ASAP and get that epidural and just ride it out and be thankful the drugs take effect on me.

Some time passed before I considered getting pregnant again. When I finally discovered I was expecting again, the overwhelming feeling was not joy as it should have been– it was worry over how I was going to do this labor. I bounced back and forth from extremes. I wanted midwives for care, and maybe a home attempt at delivery. But this time, they needed to leave me alone. Why, why was that urge so strong? Then of course I considered that I just needed to be in the hospital and get as doped up as possible. At prenatal visits I would ask my midwives about pre-registering at the hospital of my choice, which was further away from the much worse emergency hospital. They had puzzled looks on their faces and wondered why I was interested in this. I explained that maybe just for recovery, it would be nice. They seemed confused. Well, I was, too.

So instead of staying scared and confused and angry, I had to find out why. I dove into research. I wanted to know everything about honest to God, scientific, natural labor– how the body reacts, ways to avoid fear and pain, how to handle emergencies, you name it. Why were my urges to be alone so strong, why had my previous labors gone the way they had but other women had a great time, WHY? So out of this curiosity I learned more and more about UC (unassisted childbirth). The more I learned, the more everything clicked. I felt major epiphanies occur, and it was an eye opener for me to say the least. Almost everything I thought I knew about birth and pregnancy seemed to be false. From the science and data and anecdotes of Grantly Dick-Read and Michel Odent, to the empowering experiences, sources, and facts of Laura Shanley, Lynn Griesemer, and Laurie Annis Morgan… I finally understood. This was fascinating and liberating– and healing. I read Emergency Childbirth by Gregory J. White and was amazed that even with that simple text, I better understood the dynamics of what had occurred to me in previous labors. I knew all the “errors” that had been done to me in the past. I saw clearly where everyone went wrong. I finally knew what I needed with the intellect… what my instinct and body had known all along. I needed to UC.

I had my baby this past March, I published my book “In Search of the Perfect Birth” in April, and I’ve been running the Facebook page In Search of the Perfect Birth since.

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October 3, 2011

Depression in Pregnancy?

Pregnant and depressed sounds weird to me. It just doesn’t seem “right.”

Previously, I assumed pregnancy was always the happiest time in a woman’s life. It had always been in mine. I truly had no idea depression in pregnancy was a real thing until I began to experience it myself. I wrongly thought anyone who was depressed during pregnancy was either already depressed before falling pregnant or the mom really didn’t want the baby. That’s so harsh and I realize it now, but I didn’t understand that a pregnancy could in fact cause depression.

After writing this post yesterday, I realized how little I knew about what I was experiencing and how much I needed to know more. So I started searching, Googling, looking for others who were or had experienced what I am. To my surprise, I discovered it’s not that uncommon.

Shockingly (at least to me), it is more common than postpartum depression. Anywhere from 5-25% of women will experience prenatal depression. How had I not heard of this before? With all of my researching, reading, and discussing with fellow mamas, this is a topic I am not sure I have ever been faced with until now. How? More importantly, why???

I found this in one study I read, “We were surprised by the paucity of such evidence in this area. If one assumes that perinatal depression is a significant mental health and public health problem, then larger scale studies are needed that involve each of these domains. The small number and small size of relevant studies are not adequate to guide national policy.”

Turns out, similar to PPD, many mamas are simply too embarrassed or ashamed to discuss being depressed during pregnancy. Pregnancy is supposed to be a happy time, right? Women going through it often feel alone and afraid and do not want to acknowledge what they are experiencing. Some believe it is a regular part of pregnancy since the symptoms of pregnancy and prenatal depression can be very similar. Others do mention it, but their doctors blow it off as being “normal pregnancy symptoms.”

I am pretty sure I am experiencing prenatal depression and I don’t really understand why. I have had unexpected pregnancies before. Only one of my children was “planned.” I don’t recall ever feeling this low. Yes, I had my moments in each pregnancy and the planned one was by far the happiest, but I don’t remember feeling so hopeless and lost.

Here is a list of possible reasons for prenatal depression to occur:

• A woman who has a history of depression
• Substance abuse
• A family history of mental illness
• Little support from family and friends
• Sudden change in life ( a move, separation from spouse, etc.)
• Anxiety about the fetus
• Problems with a previous pregnancy or birth
• Giving birth at a young age
• Marital or financial problems

It is said that prenatal depression is more likely to occur during the first and third trimester as that is when hormones fluctuate the most. However, that is not the case for all women. I have been experiencing it since the first trimester, but it didn’t magically go away when I reached the second trimester like I thought (really, really hoped) it would. It almost seems like it has gotten worse. For some it continues throughout their entire pregnancy. This can be very scary as depression that occurs during pregnancy is associated with a threefold increase in the risk of postpartum depression.

For me, the symptoms of depression have been problems sleeping, disinterest in my normal activities, and an overall inability to just be happy…about anything. I also don’t feel attached to this baby at all, which is killing me and no doubt making things worse.

General symptoms of prenatal depression are:

• Feeling very sad, anxious or cranky
• Frequent crying
• Not feeling up to doing daily tasks
• Not feeling hungry, or eating when not hungry
• Not wanting to take care of yourself (dress, shower, fix hair)
• Trouble sleeping when tired, or sleeping too much
• Things don’t seem fun or interesting anymore
• Trouble concentrating
• Feeling hopeless
• Trouble making decisions
• Worrying too much about the baby or not caring about the baby

If you are experiencing this or you know someone who is, you probably don’t care about causes or symptoms. You probably just want to know how to make it stop, how to help someone feel better, or how to go back to feeling like yourself.

Unfortunately, there is no definative answer. Therapy can be a great help, being able to express yourself without judgement and getting positive feedback can have a large hand in helping you feel better. Adding supplements, changing your diet, changing prenatals, and/or starting an exercise regimen can help too. Sometimes doing everything “right” cannot help entirely and medication is prescribed. Many women are uncomfortable with this and understandably so, so be sure to address any concerns you may have with your healthcare provider.

Whatever treatment you decide is best for you, it is most important that you seek help. If your provider is unresponsive or tells you it is normal, do not let them make you feel you are wrong about your own feelings. You know yourself better than any body else and no matter how difficult it is to confront your doctor or midwife, be sure you are heard. If you still feel you are being ignored, seek a second opinion. Studies show stress and anxiety in pregnancy can significantly effect your baby and with the risks associated with prenatal depression and postpartum, it is best not to think you can deal with it on your own. Remember, you are not alone. Reach out, there is always someone waiting to help. 

Here are some informative and useful links:

Breaking The Silence On Prenatal Depression

Prenatal Depression Info

Baby Blues Connection

I Battled Prenatal Depression

Please feel free to e-mail me if you would like someone to talk to. I am happy to help however I can, although I cannot promise I can do more right now than understand. ChooseYourBirth@yahoo.com

October 1, 2011

One Mama, Three Birth Stories

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I was sent these stories from a woman named Cassandra. She wanted to share them with us. She also asked that I include a picture of each baby, they are in order . I am happy she chose to share and excited to announce her plans to TTC a 4th baby with her fiancee in 2013. They are planning a home water birth. Way to find your own path, Cass and really Choose Your Birth.
~Candice

The Birth Of Our First Baby

It was May 17th 2007. Just two weeks shy of my due date. I woke up around 6am in the morning to a sharp period cramp. I did not think anything of it because I had two weeks to go and had a lot of hospital trips throughout my pregnancy due to being a first time, paranoid mum.

I fell back to sleep until about 10am. I got ready to head off to the hospital at noon to deliver a urine sample. The doctor thought I had a UTI so I had to get that checked. My mum dropped me off at the hospital with my dad to deliver the sample. I asked the nurse if I could also get my headache checked out because it had been bothering me and had gotten worse. So they hooked me up to some machines and it turned out that my blood pressure was high. It was something along the lines of 160/110. Not sure of the exact numbers. The nurse called in the doctor and they said they would need to induce me because my blood pressure was dangerously high.

I was scared, mainly because the dad was a three hour drive away doing some house renovations with his dad. We quickly contacted my boyfriend (the dad), and let him know that I was going to be induced and to come ASAP. My boyfriend sped to the hospital with his dad and was stopped three times by police for speeding. They ended up escorting him to the hospital so he would not get stopped again. He made it just in time for my waters to be broken. As soon as my waters were broken my contractions came faster. And boy were they painful. My father called my mum (she wanted to be in the delivery room with us) to come to the hospital. At first she did not believe that I was going to be having our baby boy that day because of the amount of hospital false alarm visits we made throughout the pregnancy. I told her that if she wants to miss the birth then take her time. It sounded a bit rude, but I was in quite a bit of pain and did not want to deal with any arguments. 

So my mum arrives and my dad is in the waiting the room the entire time. Me, my boyfriend, and my mum are off to the birthing room to receive my epidural which ended up not working. It only froze half my body and then completely wore off before I was ready to push. One of the nurses on call was very rude. She grabbed my face and told me to suck it up and deal with it while I was having a hard time pushing.

After 8hrs and 56 minutes of labor with a failed epidural and my blood pressure so high I could not see two feet in front of me, our beautiful baby boy Logan William Christopher Wright was born on May 17th 2007 at 8:56pm weighing in at 6lbs 5oz. Two weeks early. I stayed in the hospital for a good three days after birth due to my blood pressure not wanting to go down.

The Birth Of Our Second Baby

It was May 2nd at around 10:30pm. I decided to head to bed early because I was quite exhausted and a bit crampy. Only to wake up to contractions at midnight coming every 5-6 minutes apart. I could not sleep nor get comfortable. I tried waking up the hubby but he is a very heavy sleeper so that was a lost cause. I waited it out until morning to go to the hospital because our babysitter (my mother in law) could not make it until morning.

At around 6:30am on May 3rd I could not “try” and sleep anymore so I decided to give up and give my mom a call to talk to someone while I was contracting. I sat on the toilet feeling like i needed to pee when all of a sudden a big plop went into the toilet. My mucus plug went. Boy was it disgusting. A big red blob. Thats the only way i could describe it.

I knew that it was time to get my bags and head out. I got off the phone with my mum letting her know I’d keep in touch and woke up my hubby. My mother in law came over to watch our son while we called our OB and headed off to the hospital.

We reached the hospital at around 9-930am. We got hooked up the the monitors and checked, I was at 5-6 cm dilated. We got sent to our birthing room to be admitted where I received an epidural that WORKED. Boy was I in heaven. Until they had to give me pitocin to speed up my labor because my daughter’s heart rate dropped because of the epidural.  :( Our baby was forced out with forceps, with her umbilical cord wrapped around her neck making her a light shade of blue. Perfect yet small, Our beautiful baby girl was born on May 3rd 2010 at 1:47pm weighing in at 5lbs 10oz. One week early.

My placenta did not want to come out so the doctor had to yank it out piece by piece and give me medicine to make sure I did not contract an infection. We stayed in the hospital for three days until our daughter’s jaundice levels went down and she gained a bit more weight.

The Birth Of Our Third Baby

On April 1st (friday), we joked on Facebook that we were in labor. We told everyone in the end that it was just a poorly told joke. I felt so bad afterwards. At midnight on that day, I lost my mucus plug. There was a bit more blood then I remembered from my previous birth so I called my midwife and she told me to call an ambulance to head into the hospital to check. Turns out it was all normal and that there was no change to my cervix at all. So I headed back home a bit disappointed. I was achy and we had a very complicated pregnancy, and I just wanted our baby here.

Sunday came, and the rest of my mucus plug went. By Tuesday morning my contractions began coming 10-15 minutes apart. My midwife checked my contractions and blood pressure and our baby’s heart while she was over that morning for our weekly checkup. She told me that I would most likely not make it until Friday and to keep the phone nearby to reach her.

That afternoon my contractions picked up to 6-7 minutes apart but very easy to handle. We called our babysitter (a friend) to keep nearby because we might need her. By 2am on April 6th (Wednesday) my contractions picked up to 4-5 minutes apart and I could barely handle them. I could not get comfortable enough to sleep. The bath only helped so much.

By 830-9am, I could not handle them anymore so while our babysitter watched our two children, my hubby and I headed out to the hospital to meet our midwife for 10. She checked to see if I made any progress. I was 5-6 cm dilated and my contractions were coming every 4-5 minutes.

Our doula came to be with us, and we went off to our birthing room where I labored in the jacuzzi for as long as I could but I just could not get comfortable. The midwife had to break my water bag because my water was way too thick and strong. I ended up giving birth in the hospital, drug free.

Our second baby boy was born at 3:09pm in the afternoon on April 6th 2011, 13 days early. He weighed 8lbs, 8oz. Just 4.5 hours later we went home to our other two amazing children.

October 1, 2011

Talk it Out

When my kids do something that is less than desirable, my main goal is to find out why they did it and how to stop it. We talk it out. Yes, even with the two year old. He may not be able to verbally express himself like his nine year old sister, but he can communicate. If he can learn that communication works he may stop with the hitting and just start talking. We’ll see..

Now that I am dealing with a lot of mixed emotions about this pregnancy and feeling a little (a lot!) all over the map, I finally came to the realization that I need to talk it out or I am going to possibly have a nervous breakdown. So here we go.

This pregnancy has brought with it joy, excitement, and some certainty. The kids are on pins and needles waiting to find out if this baby is a girl or another boy. My parents took the news surprisingly well, which was unexpected. My husband is excited, which truthfully was unexpected too. And I am positive I am really, really done having children. It is like something turned off inside of me, I have no desire for more now.

Unfortunately this pregnancy has also brought with it so much confusion for me. First of all, it was a complete shock. We had recently decided that we were done having children. We had been going back and forth for at least a year on the topic of more. Being unsure brought us to the conclusion that we should just quit while we were ahead. After almost five years of off and on struggle financially and finally making some real head way in that area, it felt like we should continue to focus on that and the four children we already had. My husband scheduled a consult with our primary doctor and we prepared for that door to shut. Del’s appointment was pushed due to the doctor’s schedule and then he had to go out of the area for two weeks for work. While Del was gone, I found out I was unexpectedly expecting.

At first I felt it to be very surreal, that there was no way it was happening. As the days passed and the second line continued to darken an almost dread began to build within me. What now? With my husband away and no one to confide it, I started feeling a bit lost. Del obviously knows now as do most of our friends and family, but I am still stuck with this feeling of uncertainty. It seems like everyone I expected to be unhappy about this pregnancy is actually the opposite, and the only person I thought would be happy if I got pregnant again, isn’t.

I feel so guilty. I wish I could change my feelings, but I can’t. I try every day to be happy and upbeat, but by the day’s end I feel out of control and an overall feeling of sadness. Why do I feel this way? Why can’t I make it go away? How did I even get here?

I have been taking my vitamins every day. I am trying to exercise daily even when I don’t feel like it. I am really struggling to keep a good diet going, but that doesn’t mean I am not trying. Unfortunately for baby and I, I am an emotional eater and my emotions have run away with me.

I want to cry, but I won’t allow it. I don’t feel I deserve the tears. Those belong to mothers who have lost their babies, their pregnancies. Tears belong to women that can’t conceive, not to a woman with a relatively good life, four beautiful children who look up to me and with one on the way, and a husband who is a great man and father. I should be shouting from the rooftops how happy I am, how excited I am to have another opportunity to birth a child, to better myself, to enrich my family and our life, but instead I am wallowing in self pity. I am angry at myself for doing so and yet still stuck in it all the same.

Unlike some years ago, I have no doubt I can overcome this. This will not be my life forever. I can and will get better. The problem I face right now is how and getting passed the guilt I have for inflicting these emotions and uncertain feelings on my unborn child.

I feel very alone, but I know from experience this is rarely the truth. That is why I chose to share this very personal information so publicly. Maybe it can help someone out there. Maybe, hopefully, just getting it out can help alleviate a bit of it for me. Either way, typing it out has helped slightly for now. So thanks.

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