Saturday, October 14, 2017

A note about the birth stories...

A while back I stumbled upon a group of women sharing their birth stories. I was intrigued - natural births, surgical births, planned & unplanned home-births, planned & unplanned unassisted births (I never even knew "planned unassisted" was a thing?!) I shared in the joy when a healthy, new baby was born. I mourned with and prayed for the ones who didn't have happy endings. Each story was unique. Some women felt empowered; others traumatized. It seems where you give birth can affect how you give birth. A few times a story containing a breech birth would appear, and those would strike a nerve. My #5 was breech.

A bit later I found a site with women sharing stories just of breech births, along with a message inviting others to do the same. Could I write about #5 M's birth? Did I want to? I decided to try & it was much longer than anticipated. I was struck by the contrast between her birth and my most recent, #7. Calm vs chaotic. That led me to write #7 L's birth.

Then I paused. I had already written a ton about the adoptions of #4 S and #6 DK. Now I had #5 & #7's stories done. How could I leave out #1, 2, & 3?  So, even though they were years ago, we broke out the baby books, memory boxes, & old photos, and took a trip done memory lane. The kids & I really enjoyed it! 😄 In fact, I'd encourage any mom to do the same!  So if something doesn't make sense, it may be bc I wrote them in the following order: #4, 6, 5, 7, 1, 2, 3.

Fyi, I have no medical background, so don't take these as expert advice. I started out clueless (yet oddly confident), learned bits & pieces along the way, and now I'm slightly-less-clueless. 😜 Seriously, the more I learn, the more I realize I don't know.

Oh, and these are birth stories, meaning you may find some aspects "gross." I attempted to toe the line between authentic & tmi. They could have been much "grosser"! Reader discretion is advised. 😉

Finally, even though I've mentioned it once or twice within these stories, I feel I must reiterate: None of this is meant to be criticism or judgement towards those who've chosen differently. These are just my experiences/opinions.

Thanks for visiting, -Becky

Friday, October 13, 2017

#3 P's Pregnancy & Birth

After two pregnancies that saw sickly beginning, I swore I'd never get pregnant again! I had my boy & my girl. I.WAS.DONE. And then... I caught "baby fever." 👶 It seemed everyone around me was pregnant - friends, family members, co-workers. I wanted another. I told myself, I won't be so sick this time. It's just a matter of willpower. If I'm just stronger, it won't be as bad. Unfortunately, HG doesn't care about my state of mind. However, to my great surprise & relief, this was my easiest pregnancy. Still vomiting & nauseous. Still hating it. Still swearing that I'd NEVER do this again. (I even have the Facebook post to prove it! 😝) But I was able to stay hydrated & maintain my weight.  👍 So this was more of morning sickness than HG. There's hope, ladies!!!

January 13, 2010 - 35 wks. Everything had been progressing normally. My edd was Feb 17, 2010. At my weekly appt, my ob mentioned I was measuring 5 weeks small. He was a very laid-back guy and wasn't concerned at all. He didn't even suggest an ultrasound. Just said I "hide it well." In hindsight, I believe it's because my due date was off. This was the only pregnancy that I couldn't nail down the conception date, the only one that I took multiple tests for, with the first few coming up negative, & the only one I delivered "late." All others came 1 to 2 weeks "early."

February 10, 2010 - 39 wks. With my due date coming up soon, my ob starting taking about induction. I agree to schedule one if I "go over."

February 17, 2010 - 40 wks. It's Ash Wednesday and my Due Date! We went to mass and even had the priest bless my belly 😂, but no baby today.

February 18, 2010 - 40 wks 1 d. We took B to school, A to the sitter, and arrived at the hospital around 8:30 am for an induction. Like last time, it seemed to take foooooorever, but this time I was told why. Apparently it was a packed house that day. In fact, I got the last room! There were also several students interning that day. I was fine with the college kids - they seemed polite and competent. But I gave them a HARD.PASS on having the high school ones in my room. I love that our hs lets kids do this, (can you imagine witnessing a c/s as a teenager?) but I was still teaching at the time. There was no way I was letting one of my former students in there! I didn't need them running back to school, saying, "Hey, guys! Saw Mrs. Martin's vagina today!" 😝😂

It was nearly 10 am when I got all hooked up. They still hadn't started the pitocin drip yet when they commented that I was contracting regularly. "Yep, that's normal," I said, "I have a ton of contractions and in the evenings they get really strong!" Every pregnancy I've had a ton of false labor/braxton hicks/prodromal labor (whatever the right name is...) It would freak me out, I'd tell my dr, he'd tell me to lay down &/or drink some water, I would, & they'd go away.

So they started me on a low dose of pit. I walked, rocked, danced, bounced, and plie-ed (ballet) my way through contractions. Anything to get the ball rolling!  We'd planned on watching music videos like last time, but got distracted by HGTV & ended up watching House Hunters. WE.ARE.LAME. 😂 A little later, my ob came in to check me. I was 4 cm. He broke my water and said I had 24 hours or he was going to "section me." "Challenge accepted," I replied. Good Lord, I had no fear. Of course, that's when things got super intense...


Less than a half hour later, I was on the bed rocking back & forth when I felt his head slide down. "He's coming!" I said quietly but urgently. Thankfully, this time there was no panic. I'd done it before, so I knew I could do it again. I was in "the zone." It was time, & I was ready! 💪 My husband ran out for the dr. The nurse came and didn't believe me, so I flipped off my covers to show her his crowning head. Dr was in asap. One push and out he came! Our precious P! 💙 6 lb 11 oz, 20.5 in, at 1:09 pm with apgar's of 9 & 9 (It's always that skin color that my kids can't score perfect on... 😏) And we had another true knot! That's 3 for 3!! This time I asked to see the it, and it looked exactly like you'd think a true knot would. The placenta, on the other hand, surprised me. I had no idea it was such a complex organ!

While the dr was still in the room, he commented on my fast labors/deliveries, "You make it look easy!" & "You were born to do this!" followed by my husband in the background yelling "DON'T TELL HER THAT!!" 😂 Later the nurse apologized for not believing me, explaining that "you'd just been checked a few minutes ago and you were only a 4?!?!" And as I walked down the hallway to the pp rooms, she commented, "Last one in, first one out!"  I guess we all have our talents, huh? Apparently mine is pushing out babies...

Like last time, the hospital stay was okay.  👍 to being fed breakfast, lunch, & dinner. 👎 to all the strangers in my room, being awoken/poked/prodded at all times of the night, and being treated like my baby wasn't actually my baby and that they were allowing me to hold him. This time when I got to the hospital, I attempted to keep track of everyone coming in & out by writing them all down. By the time I filled up a whole paper, I gave up. I even took issue with the "required" newborn training. Just tired of being treated like an idiot. (Training which I respectfully declined with my last birth.)

And the whole baby-switching drama of births #1 & #2 continued, but in a different way. When I refused to let them take #3 out of the room, and they fought me on this, bringing in the charge nurse who said they had to take him out for tests. I firmly reminded her that this was my child, and we could leave whenever we wanted to. Any tests could be done... a) in my room, b) with me by his side in the nursery, or c) later at his ped's office. The nurse tattled to my ob, who laughed & teased, "That's right, Becky, we're all trying to steal your baby!" I replied, "Hey, once is an accident, TWICE is a pattern!" Later, I shared my baby-switching story at work, thinking it must be just me, and one of my colleagues said the same thing happened to her daughter! 😲 By the time #7 came, the hospital had changed it's policy to encourage rooming in, but still offered to take baby out for tests, which, of course, I declined.

So that's how peaceful P entered the world. We nick-named him "Buddha," because he turned into such a fat, happy baby. In fact, he was so easy, he convinced me to go for more!

Loving on my no-longer-fat-but-still-happy Buddha baby, 💙-Becky

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

#2 A's Pregnancy & Birth

Nearly 7 years separate our first & second kids.  There was a lot I wanted to get done after B's birth: finish college, get a good job, upgrade my car, and buy a house. After we checked all those things off our list, I was ready for baby #2!! It took a while, but eventually we got pregnant with our first girl, A. With #1 I'd had HG, and I naively thought it wouldn't happen again. I convinced myself the reason I was so sick with B was because of my age & the less-than-perfect circumstances surrounding his birth. I was wrong. Fortunately, as soon as the symptoms started I began taking meds, and they worked wonderfully. I thought Zofran was a miracle drug. It's like it went to my brain and shut off the "vomit switch." No er trips or iv's this time! 👍👍👍 The nausea stuck around 'til the end, and I remember adamantly telling my co-workers I was never getting pregnant again! I'd have a boy & a girl, the "perfect family," I thought. Little did I know what the future held... 😏

Like many of my teacher co-workers, I'd aimed for an August/September conception so I could have a May/June baby. But, no luck. This baby was coming in mid-August. In fact, my due date was the second day of school!  For my husband & I, who were both teaching at the time, this was less than ideal. The thought of having to leave school during the first-week-chaos (you teachers know what I'm taking about), was not appealing. So when my dr offered to induce me a week early, I jumped at the chance. I was anxious to meet my daughter, and the idea of scheduling her birth seemed so convenient. I knew nothing about pitocin, or whether inducing at 39 weeks was a good thing or a bad thing. I asked no questions, and just trusted if there were any risks my dr would discuss them with me. Since then, I've definitely become of fan of the natural way.

Thursday, August 10, 2006
We got up early, brought #1 B to his grandparents, & reported to the hospital at 8 am. I thought I'd get hooked up to the meds right away, but it seemed to take fooooooorever! Around 9:30 am, we were ready to go. I had the IV in and the two belts strapped on. My husband & I passed the time by watching music videos on VH1. James Blunt's "Beautiful" and Death Cab for Cutie's "I'll follow you into the dark" will always bring back sweet memories of baby A's birth.

I didn't have a solid plan on pain control. I was taking the wait-and-see approach. With my last birth, I'd taken the better-safe-than-sorry path, getting the epidural before the contractions got too painful. With this one, I wanted to just wait and see how bad it would get.

Contractions were totally fine, until they broke my water. Then, oh my, it was rough. I hadn't yet learned about the best way to deal with the pain and the staff didn't offer any suggestions, so I suffered in bed. (Never again! Now, I've found positions, movements, & breathing that really help.)

Around 12:10 pm, A's head slide down & I yelled for my husband to get the nurse. In between panicking, hyperventilating, and thinking I was going to die from the pain, I breathlessly begged the nurse for pain meds. I honestly thought,  No one can feel this much pain and NOT DIE. 😆😆😆 "It's too late," the nurse said, "Time to push!" and "Do you feel the 'ring of fire'?" This has a name?!?! I thought, followed by, "I can't!" The nurse was encouraging and calm. She reminded me to breath, and the momentary panic subsided. Sh*t, I have to do this, I told myself. So, I regained my composure, pushed twice, got an episiotomy 😣, and out came baby A! Our first baby girl: 6 lb 13 oz, 21.5 in, at 12:25 pm. I did it! Miss A did have a "true knot" in her cord, just like her older brother, but it hadn't affected her health at all. This birth proved to me I could birthe without pain meds, so when I did it again, again, & again, I wasn't afraid. Movement, positions, & breathing really do help. They made my later births much easier. I was calm & got to skip that panicked-omg-please-give-me-pain-meds-I-can't-do-this feeling. 👍😉

My hospital stay was okay. I enjoyed being served breakfast, lunch, & dinner, and taking a break from doing dishes & laundry for a while. But the constant parade of strangers in my room at all hours was annoying.  From check-in to check-out, I probably saw a dozen nurses, a different ob & pediatrician each morning, people from registration, the lab, food services, cleaning staff, etc... This can't possibly be healthy for my baby & me, I thought. The low point, however, was when they brought us the wrong baby, again! (yes, this happened with #1) The nurse wheeled in a baby girl and said, "Here's your daughter!" My husband replied, "She's already in the room with us." Nurse, "sorry..." and quickly wheeled out someone else's baby. Good Lord... Thankfully, all ended fine, and with the next three we just learned not to let them leave the room!

Now a note on the epidural... I got it with #1, but not with the other 4 bio babies. I've been asked, "What's the difference?" and "Why?!?" So here are my thoughts...

 Benefits:
  1. It takes away the pain! 👍
  2. It can also help with after-pains.
 Why I prefer going without:
  1. I'm in control & aware. This is probably the BIGGEST reason for me. With the epidural, I was clueless about what was happening with my body. I was told when I was complete & when to push. Without it, I tell them when I'm fully dilated (I always know bc I feel the head just slide right down), and I push when I want toMuch happier doing it this way!!
  2. Drs are only human, meaning they're fallible. I respect them, but medical mistakes happen. I was point-blank told it's a "blind procedure" and precision is key. Even a great anesthesiologist can screw up. I'd rather not "toss those dice."
  3. I don't like to be "messed with" during labor. I do my thing. I'll call for help when it's time to catch the baby. The fewer people, interventions, & interruptions, the better. Plus, not a fan of staying perfectly still for an epidural placement.
  4. Complications/risks.Yes, they exist. I know women who've suffered from "spinal headaches" and needed a "blood patch." After listening to their experiences, NO.THANK.YOU.
  5. It's hard to advocate for yourself when you're numb from the waist down. It's not like you can get up & walk out. (like one mom had to do...) It's also hard to defend yourself. We'd like to pretend it'd never happen to us, and no one wants to talk about it, but obstetric violence and coercive medicine exist. There are even organizations dedicated to giving women a voice, reporting, & working to prevent this. (See here, here, herehere, here, & here.)
  6. Cost. This wasn't a deciding factor for me, but someone else pointed out the price. You have to pay for the supplies, medicine, and the anesthesiologist. I was warned to ask for an itemized bill & check that I wasn't "accidentally" charged for it. 😒
  7. Overall, it's just not worth it for me. It only gets really painful for me at the end. I can handle a few minutes of crazy pain if it means avoiding the above possible risks/complications/interruptions/annoyances.
Just my take on the epidural decision. To each their own.

So that's the story of how our first daughter came into the world. She is such a great addition to our family. The first of 3 beautiful girls! Thanks for joining me on this trip down memory lane. 💗

Celebrating in the memories of our first girl,  -Becky