Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Reminiscing

I feel like I never got to say goodbye to pregnancy. I was so ready to go to 41+ weeks, I never gave a thought to giving birth early. I didn't get to have any "this is my last time doing X while pregnant." I left work suddenly, I exercised and ate like normal. No final pre-baby date, dinner out, movie night. No final wearing of my favorite maternity clothes.

The night before D day. All upper arms and belly.

I know if I'd carried D another 2 (or 3 or 4...) weeks, I'd have gotten progressively more tired of pregnancy, but as it stands I am left with only really positive feelings. I loved being pregnant. I loved eating more. I loved the thought that what I was eating was helping my tiny baby grow into a less-tiny baby. I loved the responsibility of growing that little life and being the sole caretaker of my little man. I loved feeling his little movements and feeling like I knew him intimately, my constant companion, without ever seeing his face.

I did not love swollen ankles and heartburn. I did not love growing out of my shoes or feeling sluggish walking up the stairs. But would I do it all again? Absolutely. I know I had a textbook easy pregnancy and I am very fortunate, but I helped make it easy by taking good care of myself. It wasn't always easy to make (mostly) decent food choices and exercise most days, but I am so glad I did it. 

I ALMOST wish I had those extra days or weeks of pregnancy to cherish those final hours when it was just me and D alone, but having him on the outside to snuggle with is just the best feeling. But next time, if I could make it all the way to 40 weeks, that would be ok too. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Oof.

It's been pretty quiet around here. Turns out, caring for a baby is hard work! I'd heard from everyone that around the 2 or 3 week mark you start to hit your stride. That might be true- I feel way more capable of actually caring for D and getting through the day and night- but waking up every 2 or 3 hours to take care of another person... wow. It's tough.

Still, I no longer feel like a zombie, and am actually pretty proud of some of the things I've been able to accomplish (disclaimer: my mom totally just came and washed my floors and cleaned my bathrooms so I am well aware I'm not breaking records for productivity over here). D sleeps like a rock in the Moby wrap (Nick even wore him for a little while! Everyone can appreciate the hands-freeness!) which is wonderful.
I am so creepy.

Sorry, husband, this picture is on the intertubes forever. 


I put him on when he's well-fed and have 2 -3 hours of "me time." I walk on the treadmill (still too cold outside), cook, fold laundry... the list of things that need 2 hands is endless!

Things that can be done with one hand:
- cutting cheese (actual cheese cutting. Not a gas joke)
- eating yogurt
- sorting laundry
- vacuuming
- brushing teeth

Things that cannot be done with one hand:
- grating cheese (why did I buy the huge block of cheese instead of pre-shredded? C'mon, past Laurel)
- peeling an orange
- Screwing together a baby play gym thing... actually anything involving tools probably shouldn't be done while holding a baby
- folding laundry
- scrubbing things
- flossing (I have tried...)

I also attended a babywearing meeting and borrowed an awesome ring sling. This thing holds D like a vise (in a good way!). Since this kid isn't happy if he's not being held, this sling will be my best friend for a while.

I am not complaining one bit, our little guy is awesome! I'll forgo grated cheese and folded laundry if it means I get to snuggle him all day. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

We've known you for 2 weeks

Baby D, you are now 2 weeks old! That means that 2 weeks ago, I was crying and saying how hard labor was, while also getting so, so excited to meet you.


I call you Little Man.


Your dad calls you Nugget.


Kiwi seems unsure what to think but enjoys sniffing you and carrying your tiny clothing around the house.


When you're awake, you're often angry at the world.


And when you're asleep you still do some serious brow furrowing.


This is your wee tiny body in your Valentine's Day diaper. Sorry for putting your nakedness on the Internet so early.

You like: our voices, being held upright, being walked around, the rocking chair, being awake at night.

You dislike: some diaper changes, all clothing changes, not being held.

You have the softest cheeks, the sweetest little nose, the sharpest nails, and the most heart-wrenching cries. You are an "easy" baby (as long as you're being held!) with big old feet and hands. You are so sweet and snuggly and we cherish these early, sometimes challenging days with you. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Homebirth thoughts

I always assumed I'd have a homebirth. To many, this seems weird, but I was raised by a mother who was very pro-homebirth. Because puberty needs to be scarier, my mom  also gave me books about midwifery and homebirth when I was in my early teens. I joke that I was brainwashed, but from the beginning, everything I read about out-of-hospital birth just made sense to me.

Even before I got pregnant, Nick and I had talked about how and where our baby would be born. I was already 99.999% set on homebirth, but he hadn't given it any thought. Because he's a normal 30-something man. We watched a couple documentaries and looked up statistics. Eventually, he became pretty open to the idea of not going to a hospital. Awesome. Now, to find someone who'd deliver our baby in rural-ish Maryland. I asked the couple of "crunchy" moms I knew and they suggested Bay Area Midwifery in Annapolis. It's a hospital affiliated birth center that came highly recommended by a friend. Still, the idea of a hospital-attached birth center didn't sit well with me. It's really too similar to just plain being in a hospital. All the equipment is there, and if something seems awry, interventions are right there. Nope. Not what I wanted.

A coworker recommended BirthCare and Women's Health in Alexandria. It's about 45 minutes from our house, and they have a team of midwives that attend homebirths as well as a freestanding birth center. Sign me up! My coworker gave birth in the birth center and loved it. I called them and made my first appointment. From the very beginning, they gave us warm fuzzies. Despite being "crunchy," they were incredibly professional and strived to keep me and Nick involved in the prenatal care process. They asked about my mental health at appointments and their office was run very well. I loved everything about them (even though I didn't click with a couple of the non-delivering midwives). As an added bonus, they were willing to travel to our house to attend our birth. Even though I would have been willing to go to the birth center (then... now, I'm homebirth fo' lyfe), I really, really wanted a homebirth. Hooray! We'd found our midwives.

As the pregnancy progressed, we took Bradley Method classes (review here). Those classes solidified our desire to pursue an unmedicated homebirth. As my due date drew nearer, my focus was on staying as low risk as possible so the midwives would be willing to have me deliver at home. I didn't have gestational diabetes, my blood pressure stayed low, D wasn't breech. All good signs! My fear toward the end was actually that I'd be overdue and end up with a hospital birth after 42 weeks. Ha!

The actual homebirth was amazing. Our team was so supportive in just the right ways, letting me labor how I needed to while still letting me know they were there for me. They made everything feel so smooth. The postpartum blood situation is pretty freaky but they were old pros and made sure we didn't end up with stained sheets or towels. They even did a load of laundry for us. So awesome. After D came out, it was just a few more minutes while they hung out and did his initial Apgar tests and checked me out, then they left us alone for a couple hours. That was perfect, Getting to snuggle in our own bed as a new family was priceless. Staring into his wee face in the comfort of my own home is an experience I won't ever forget (Ambien haze or not). I cannot imagine how different the experience would have been in a hospital. Just being able to puke in your own bathroom is such a nice feeling, and having Kiwi there to keep me company was also great.

I am so thankful that we got our homebirth experience! If anything had been high risk, of course we'd have gone for the hospital, but for my normal, low risk pregnancy, this was the perfect fit. I walked away (literally) from the birth feeling like everything had gone perfectly, even with the induction. I want to shout it from the rooftops! I am so proud of myself, my body, baby, husband, and birth team for this accomplishment! 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Baby D's Birth Story- Part 2

Warning again- lots of TMI, lots of words. (spoiler alert!) Baby pics if you make it to the end!

When we left off, I was having irregular contractions at the birth center during my NST and first 2 hours of Cervidil and cervical catheter. I was still happy and talking. Things wrapped up with a quick IV of penicillin (turns out I'm not allergic, thank goodness) and a dose of Ambien to help me get some sleep before labor got hot and heavy in the morning. We left the birth center around 3 am to make the 45 minute drive home. I was freezing from the IV and uncomfortable from contractions. About 5 minutes from the house, I suddenly needed to puke... well, there goes the Ambien. Luckily, I had a second one but needed to wait a full hour before I could take it. I knew I wouldn't sleep well without some meds, so I crawled in bed, breathed through contractions, and waited until I could take more medicine. I slept poorly the next few hours, but at least I slept. The catheter came out in the wee hours of the morning, which was great! It meant my cervix was around 4 cm. 40% of the way there. Good job, body! I couldn't really talk through contractions, but they weren't taking over my body, so I knew I wasn't too deep into active labor yet.

I moved down to the couch to try and sleep more. Ambien puts me in a coma, apparently.  I spent the next couple hours there. The midwife, Marsha, arrived around 9 am to give me another dose of antibiotics. I had been timing contractions and they were lasting around 1 minute and as close together as 2 minutes but they weren't progressing. We'd had an hour of that exact same thing. Around 10 am she checked my cervix (5 cm) and offered to rupture my forebag of membranes. So many membranes. I was still a zombie at that point and in a good bit of pain, so I said sure. There was a big gush and an even bigger shift in my body. Very suddenly, things got REAL.

Me on the couch. Oh puffy pregnant face, I do not miss you.

I wanted a shower (because "Who gives birth unshowered?" was an actual thought I had). I wanted to eat. I badly wanted to sleep. Nick, who had been a great, solid, comforting presence all along, now shifted into coach mode. He asked me to get up and move around to help labor get going. Little did we know, it was about to go quite well on its own, but moving around would only help matters. I took a shower but it was just miserable. I kept having to stop and moan through contractions. I barely got our and got dressed. I was STILL in an Ambien haze. Marsha was rushing around trying to get things set up (the birth assistant, Lori, and student midwife, Jennifer, both came later so Marsha had to do a lot on her own). Nick and Marsha were trying to double-make the bed so when the baby came out we could strip off the icky sheets and have nice clean dry ones underneath. Well, we have 2 sets of sheets that are identical except 1 set is full and 1 is king (our bed is a king). They were trying to solve that puzzle and I was helplessly laying on the floor in the other room, listening to their confusion. They asked me a question at one point and I just could not even handle any discussion. That's a good sign! Also, I really, really didn't care which set of sheets were on the bed. Really really really.

This is what transition looks like. Worst picture of me ever, but it's legit.

I was wandering around the house, moaning and dropping to my hands and knees. I felt like I got zero break in contractons. "This is transition, right? This HAS to be transition and I HAVE to almost be done!" I am so thankful for our Bradley classes teaching us labor signs, although Nick said he didn't know how serious it was at that point. He was helping Marsha a lot, which was a-ok with me because I did not want to be bothered. I puked again at some point. Apparently that's my labor thing. Nick had been trying really hard to get food and drink in me all morning. Instead I walked around with a tortilla and took 2 bites of it. Pretty sure Kiwi ate the rest.

Before we get to the good part, let's talk about Kiwi. She was AWESOME during the whole thing. She was sweet and wanted to be close to me (see above) but didn't irritate me. I was really worried she'd be intrusive or get scared, but she was chill. She loved having all the extra people around. She's such a great dog.

So. Transition. That sucked. The ladies were coaching me to lower my voice instead of screaming. That helped a lot but good god, I thought I was being ripped apart. It didn't help (or maybe it did?) that I was STILL in an Ambien haze. At least I think I was. Or mother nature softened reality for me during that time so I was able to relax. Who knows. I felt drugged either way. I started crying and saying things I'd heard in videos about how bad it hurt and how hard it was. I remember being really mindful of wanting to say all sorts of cuss words but not wanting to offend anyone. My brain is silly. 

I spent more time on all fours then got up  to use the bathroom. Have you ever tried to pee when you're contracting every 2 minutes for like 90 seconds each time? It's miserable. I was still crying. I sort of kind of thought I might need to push soon, so out of curiousity I reached down to see what was going on down there HOLY SHIT I THINK THERE'S A HEAD OMG OMG OMG.

I told the midwives and they were pretty psyched. They let me lay down which made me so, so happy. During this whole end part I was super worried about not being in motion and slowing labor down, so I had been forcing myself to keep moving (and had been coached by Nick as well). Laying down was bliss. During the next few contractions, I started pushing! It was amazing! I finally felt like I was doing something. I held onto Nick's hands tightly while the ladies tended to my lady parts. I laid on my side for the first part of pushing. He progressed down pretty quickly but wow, the "ring of fire" is no joke. I screamed when I first felt it (we did 2 steps forward, 1 step back so he'd be pushed down and then slip back up a bit). I just could not imagine pushing through that pain intentionally, even though I knew how close he was. Luckily, this is why you have midwives and a loving labor coach. They knew exactly how to tell me to push (quick grunting pulses along with longer pushes). They coached me through every second of pushing and told me how great I was doing and well everything was stretching (I'm proud of my body, right down to the perineum!). They did warm compresses down there and that helped immensely. 

Once his head started to come out, they saw he had his little right arm trying to come out with it. Ow. They had me switch over onto all fours. With a few more pushes, out he came, all slippery and amazing. He was born at 12:25 pm, after about 11 hours of labor and 20 minutes of pushing. We had a little boy! There he was! We had a baby!!! It was just the most amazing feeling (and I am crying as I type this). I flipped over and they put him on my tummy and rubbed him and he cried those beautiful cries. He had the funniest cone head and tiny perfect body. I held him close and Nick and I just stared at him and cried. The midwives worked on getting my placenta out, which took a little while, but eventually came out just fine. They cut D's cord once it stopped pulsing (which we got to feel- SO COOL). We got tons of snuggly time with our little guy before they did the newborn exam. He was perfect (7 lb 1 oz at 38 weeks- he would have been huge in 2 more weeks!). 

I was super high on endorphins and probably still doped up on Ambien.

As promised, baby pics. This is day 1 or 2 when he's still rocking the alien look. 



And now as he's growing into his perfect little baby face. 


I will be back later with many more thoughts on homebirth and my postpartum experience. Because on day 8 I'm totally an expert!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Baby D's Birth Story- Part 1

This will be long and filled with TMI because I want to capture every little bit of our experience.

I wrote last week's post on Saturday, 2/7 just after all of my drama with the midwife and my not-yet-ruptured membranes. Pretty sure they were actually ruptured then, but that's not important anymore. I scheduled the post to go up on Monday (to maximize pageviews, obvi). And then we went about the rest of our weekend. We went to Annapolis with my parents, did some shopping and went out to dinner for my mom's birthday. It was nice. I continued to leak a little bit but thought nothing of it since I'd been tested just that morning.

Sunday morning I woke up and things felt pretty much the same. We had breakfast at home and got ready to go on a hike. We.debated going out to brunch with friends... it would have been incredibly awesome to have my water break at brunch considering the group we go with is not the most baby-inclined. We headed out to Cedarville State Forest, which is a neat park just 20 minutes from our house. The weather was amazing- we didn't need jackets- and it was just a beautiful day. We went off on a 6+ mile loop of the park. About 3 miles in, I squatted to pee in the wilderness. When I stood up, I was suddenly quite wet. I hadn't had the common problem of peeing myself during pregnancy, so this was pretty surprising. It didn't smell like much (amniotic fluid is supposed to smell "sweet" whatever the hell that means), so I thought it must be super watered down pee. Well, if I'm going to spontaneously pee myself, might as well have it start at the very end of pregnancy, right? We continued to hike and did over 6 miles in just under 2 hours. The leakage continued off and on, with what felt like little gushes coming out as I walked. This CANNOT be pee, I definitely did not feel like I was peeing, but I wasn't having contractions, and shouldn't labor start if my water is broken? Nick and I debated calling the midwives when we got home and talked about what it would mean if I was in labor. But I wasn't- still no contractions! I finally decided to wait until we were home, clean, dry, and could tell what was going on. I was 38 weeks pregnant.

We got home and showered and I was still definitely leaking. Oh well, let's head to the grocery store! I went shopping, had dinner (salad, Quorn "Chicken" picatta over pasta. Followed by ice cream. Carb heavy, good decision!) and finally pulled the trigger on calling the midwives at 9 pm. I partly waited that long because I didn't want the midwife who I'd seen on Saturday to have to talk me off the same ledge the very next day. Instead, I got a different midwife. She said "eh.. probably nothing but let's confirm. Oh, and bring snacks and comfortable clothes because if your membranes are ruptured we'll be inducing." This was the same thing I'd been told on Saturday, but this midwife (Jennifer) seemed a bit more definitive about our future.

We got to the birth center at about 10 pm. I brought brownies and date balls (blueberry coconut!). They did a few tests to see if my water had broken and it had. My lovely amniotic fluid passed the ferning test. Pretty ferns that terrified me- I'm getting induced? I'm having our baby early? This is not how I imagined it. The midwife and her student (also Jennifer!) calmly told us about the pros and cons of induction. Nick and I had been taught in Bradley class that interventions should be avoided at all costs because they're such a slippery slope. Jennifer said that the situation that I was in was the highest hospital transfer rate- about 50%. PROM and GBS+ is not a good combo. We felt so uneasy about our decision, but a quick call to my mom and a reminder that I trusted these women and wanted to do whatever I could to have a safe homebirth, so interventions would have to happen.

We talked about what time my water had broken and I said, certainly, it happened at 3 pm. She kept trying to get me to say a later time (to buy us some wiggle room with the 24 hour ROM clock), but I knew it was 3. That meant that the baby needed to be well on his way to being out by 3 pm the next day, and that I needed my first dose of antibiotics by 3 am.  It was already about midnight. I still wasn't having contractions- not a good sign. Things suddenly started to move very fast.

They gave me and baby a NST for 30 minutes to determine if he was an ok candidate for induction. All looked good, so I got a balloon catheter to mechanically dilate me and Cervidil to soften my cervix. The balloon catheter made me feel oddly full but it wasn't too painful. I was put on the monitors again. We needed 2 hours of his heart rate traces to ensure the Cervidil didn't adversely effect him. To get 2 good hours of data took almost 3 hours. I hung out on their futon and chatted with the ladies. They were so nice and really comforting. Soon, contractions started! This was very exciting and meant my body was receptive to the catheter and Cervidil ! I started to get pretty uncomfortable but the contractions were spaced pretty far apart (6-12ish minutes) so I rolled with them. I texted my friend who'd had her baby a few days prior. I started to get excited and scared. I was still unsure how my body would progress. Would it move along more on its own? Would the interventions do their job, or would they complicate things more?

Nick and I on the futon 

Back of Jennifer's head and the NST machine


To be continued... 

Monday, February 9, 2015

False alarm

Warning: going to try and keep this not-too-TMI but... consider yourself warned. Signs of labor are discussed.

I got to be that pregnant lady. Saturday morning, I was getting ready to go judge the local Science Fair (my two favorite things- science and judging!). when I felt... moisture. I questioned whether my water was breaking and thought it couldn't be. It was too subtle and undramatic. Even in our Bradley classes when water breaking myths were debunked (most labors do NOT start with a gush on the grocery store floor) they mentioned that it's still a fair amount. This wasn't much but I still thought I'd give the midwives a call. I lucked out and got my favorite midwife. I thought she'd say "nope, you're fine, chill out and see you at your weekly appointment" but instead she said "might be amniotic fluid, you need to come in this morning and if it is, we'll be inducing* you today." Whaaaaaaa??? 

This is all happening before 7am on a Saturday. 

I started shaking. There were tears. I was generally being a drama queen. I cannot have a baby yet! I still need to place an Amazon order and redeem my registry completion discount (not dramatizing... that is literally the #1 thing on my to do list)! I don't have any nursing bras! We need to give Kiwi a bath! I'm not done making freezer meals! Is this why I felt like nesting yesterday? Is my vaguely achy lower back actually me having contractions? Is this mild pressure me needing to push? Drama queen me was super hopeful I'd missed all the hard parts of labor and the baby would just slip on out. I Drama queen me has zero logic. I also googled "38 weeks gestation" and the internet told me that our baby will be bad at math and basically never excel. Nooo! I must continue cooking! S/he cannot be an underachiever!

I drove the 45 minutes to the birth center to meet the midwife but she did not have her keys, so we waited for her husband to bring them. It gave us a long while to hang out and chat about birth, which was awesome. She bought me coffee and said she would not judge me for drinking caffeine. Basically, she's my hero. It helped calm me down and get me out of freak out mode. She told me she'd had the exact same kind of visit during her first pregnancy, so she's totally understanding when women do this. She's also a science major. We're BFF now.

As you can probably tell by the title, my water is not actually broken. Still intact, I'm just leaky. Pregnancy is really delightful like that. She said I'll most likely keep on going until my due date and know when actual labor starts because there will be real contractions instead of vague wetness. 

*if you're questioning the logic behind induction when our whole goal is a med-free birth, I was too. Basically, they would want to move labor along with all the low-risk interventions (Cervidil and walking, not Pitocin) and get labor going so I don't end up still leaking fluid but not in labor in 4 or 5 days, a higher risk situation. They'd rather maintain the out-of-hospital experience for me by getting everything chugging along versus letting it languish and maybe getting into a place where the hospital and interventions seemed necessary.