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i’m learning there are similarities in birth and in death……for instance, the day my mom died my world stopped…life as i knew it would never be the same…i am not the same.  thursday, april 1st 2010, our lives changed forever yet again, time stopped, life as i know it will never be the same…but this time because of life and birth.  and what a wild, beautiful ride it has been since then.

i had no idea when i woke up on weds march 31st that my labor would begin that evening…i just went about my day, wondering how much longer until she made her debut.  all along i’d been thinking she’d be born on the 30th, so when the 30th came and went i was out of guesses.  would we have another whole weekend together, just huz and sweetie?  i really thought we would.

and then that evening at 6:53p i felt the first contraction.  still, we weren’t sure for quite a while whether this would turn out to be another practice session or if this was the real deal.  but as my mucus plug began to release, i knew this was it.

in the beginning, every contraction was pure excitement.  i’d had so many practice rounds that i was prepared for what they felt like and i faithfully listened to my birth affirmations and my relaxation techniques on my ipod as the frequency and intensity increased throughout the night.  when i called my midwife around 9:30p to let her know that i believed we were experiencing the real deal, she said, “have half a glass of red wine, go to bed at your usual time and try to sleep…true labor will not be slowed.  and you’re going to need the rest.”

i didn’t bother with the red wine b/c i don’t generally like the taste…though we do happen to have an unopened bottle in the house, but i just didn’t feel like forcing something down that i didn’t want to drink…so i took a hot shower to relax instead.  then off to bed with my birth affirmations playing  in my ear. 

my goal all along was to labor as long as possible at home before heading to the birth center.  since we’d decided against working with a doula, i wasn’t sure how feasible this was going to be, but still i’d hoped i’d do most of my laboring here.

and boy did i!  all night long i’d doze off only to be woken every 8-7-6-5 mins to another contraction.  they were becoming more intense and finally at 5a i got up to take another shower and to move around in general.  that’s when they started coming 4 mins apart, so after an hour of consistant 4min contractions lasting a min each, i called my midwife again.  we decided i’d call her back when something changed again…as in if my water broke or the contractions became noticeably more intense, closer together, etc.

an hour later, i called again b/c i’d begun feeling shaky, slightly nauseous and the contractions were stronger.  so, we left for the birth center about 20mins later…it’s a 40-45 min drive there and this was during rush hour, so we were hoping we’d not get stuck in any traffic.  gotta love those hov lanes!  the drive was MUCH better than i thought it would be…my contractions were still very intense, but they slowed in frequency while we were on the road…thank you body!  we arrived shortly after 8a.

this is when things started to get really exciting for me…i could not believe we were actually there because our baby was finally coming to us!!  i was so happy and excited and our midwife and the student midwife were both surprised at how “chipper” i was, especially when i agreed that they could check me and found that i was at 7cm already!

well, if i wasn’t chipper and excited before this news, i certainly was after.  my huz and i celebrated my good work with a double high-five and two of our friends arrived at the birth center to support us.  though not in our birthing suite for the birth, they did spend a while with us until i began to feel the need for privacy.  i loved knowing they were in the building, there for us, anticipating with us…so glad we invited them and they were each able to be there on that particular day.

at around 10-10:30ish a.m. i decided to get in the tub to see what i thought of laboring there for a while.  i liked it and decided to stay put for as long as i was comfortable, which turned out to be the whole time.

at some point we decided they would check me again……..and wouldn’t you know it—her head was at +1 already!  that’s when i reached up there and felt her head for the first time…absolutely incredible.  as my water remained intact at that point, we talked about whether i’d like them to break it for me or if i’d like to wait and allow it to release naturally.  

i’d always wanted to wait for my water to release naturally, mainly because once it’s broken, it’s broken…they can’t go back and undo it….which can set a person up for further interventions that i was not interested in having….but since she was definitely–without a doubt–coming (+1 already!!), my huz and i agreed to go ahead and have them break it for us. 

the whole water breaking thing was kind of anti-climatic………at first.

and it was just as my hypnobirthing teacher told me—when my baby and my body were ready, my uterus would begin to contract downward to bring our baby to us…i just needed to focus on directing my breathing downward, rather than breathing up, as i was during the thinning and opening phase of labor. 

well, holy.mother.of.god.

yes, my body did just that………my uterus surged downward…it literally heaved in the most unexpected way—at least, it was unexpected for this first-timer.  and with that massive heaving a huge gush of amniotic fluid was forced from my body.  when the contraction ended i exclaimed, “holy crap!  i feel like i just threw up out of my vagina!”

my midwife started cracking up and said she’d never quite heard it described that way.  well, i ask you, how else could i describe it?  that’s just exactly what it felt like…an out-of-control-heaving while fluid was expelled from me! 

so, for 53 mins the heaving came four minutes apart.  i could tell with each contraction that her head was getting lower and lower through the birth canal.  it was amazing.  

at some point one of the midwives sneezed while i was in the midst of a contraction.  when it finished, i said, “bless you.”  everyone started laughing and that’s when i realized how silly it must have been to have this woman in active labor, in the midst of heavy contractions saying bless you to someone sneezing….but really, that’s just how present i was in the moment.  my senses were hightened.  and i was very aware of not wanting to be left alone.  not that anyone was going anywhere, but i was hyper-aware of my huz’s presence and the student midwife who was doing all the hands on work with me. 

and then she began to crown…she’d come down with the contraction, stretch my tissues and then go back.  down, stretch, back.  down, stretch, back.  my midwives were awesome about letting me know this was natural and good…our baby was stretching my tissues so that her head could comfortably emerge.  well, somewhat more comfortably than if she just rocketed out with that first heave!

and then they told me i could feel her head.

feel her head!

i have tears right now just remembering that precious moment.  the first time i felt her silky hair waving in the water.  her sweet, soft little head.  i never thought to ask if i could see it.  and as far as i know my eyes were closed…all i know is that i wasn’t looking at anything; i was deep inside of myself, visualizing the stretching and unfolding…feeling her head travel down the canal and into our arms.

then i heard our midwife say she could see some cord around her neck.  but that she wasn’t able to get it off until the next contraction.  i remember feeling absolutely panicked when i heard this.  the cord being around her neck was something i’d been fearing (and trying not to fear) for many months.  i was just certain it was going to be that way.  but then i’d fear that my fear was going to make it happen, so i’d try not to fear.  i’d visualize her unwinding before coming down the canal.  but, alas, the cord was around her neck.  they told me this happens 40 percent of the time and that it was okay. 

then at 12:24p, our little bear emerged.  our midwife helped my huz catch her and place her on my chest.  i remember hearing him say that she was slippery.  and she was limp.  and i was freaking out.  there was all this blood in the water and i was scared.  scared she wouldn’t breathe and scared i was dying from hemmoraging.  then i heard our midwife say, “she’s okay.  just talk to her and rub her back.”  so i did just that.  i told her, “mommy’s here.  you’re okay.  you can breathe now.  mommy’s here.”  and i rubbed and i rubbed and i felt panicky and i looked into susanne’s (student midwife) eyes and pleadingly asked her if our baby was going to be okay…and she looked directly back into my eyes with piercing strength and said, “yes.  everything is okay.”  and i believed her.  all of this took seconds? minutes? hours?  i have no idea how long that was.  all i know is that the moment susanne assured me all was well, i breathed.  and so did our little bear.  first a little breathy cough.  and then she wailed.

and i was so happy.  but still scared i was going to bleed out.  i remember pausing to assess my physical sensations and thinking, “well, let’s see.  i don’t feel like i’m dying.  maybe that means i’m going to live.”

and live i did. 

oh, and i forgot to talk about the placenta…that precious, hearty placenta!  what a miraculous thing, i say!

i didn’t know until later that my huz took detailed pictures of it for me (he knows this part of me so well…he knew i’d just love to see it all even after the moment was over).  they also showed it to me, all the parts and the cord.  amazing.  amazing.

and then they took a piece of the art paper i brought and pressed it onto the inside surface (the side baby was against in the womb)…we’d heard the blood vessals make the shape of a tree if you press it to paper…and it sure does!  many have asked me what i plan to do with these papers (they did it more than once before finding the masterpiece!).  well, to that i say………..i have NO idea.  none. but it’s just an amazing image to me…a tree shape on the inside surface of the placenta on which my baby rested and bumped and thrived for so many months…that’s just crazy.  but even crazier was when another student midwife offered to dehydrate the placenta and put it into capsules for me.  i said to susanne, “listen.  i do a lot of crazy shit.  i really do.  but i am not going to eat a placenta.  that’s too crazy, even for me.”  placenta tablets?!  not for me.

all the rest is a whirlwind.  by 4:20p that afternoon we were heading home (just four hours after she was born!)…the three of us in our car for the first time as a family.  we pulled into our garage a little after 5p that day…just like a normal work day….left home at 7:20a and returned just after 5!  all in a day’s work, if i do say so myself.

and this, my friends, is our birth story…together my baby and my body worked to bring about the most amazing miracle ever.

since then, it’s been quite the roller coaster…quite.  i’ve felt every emotion from sheer joy, to grief, to rage, and back to elation.  there is no way to express it all and frankly, i feel ashamed at times for the more negative feelings i experience.  but they’re real, too.  a very real part of the process of coming in to motherhood.

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i received my results from my blood work re: the glucose screen and iron and vit d levels.  my blood glucose levels tested normal, for which i’m very happy (and happy i decided to take the test after all…i have nothing to regret with this decision).

my iron levels made their normal late pregnancy dip, as expected, but nothing to be alarmed about.  this does, however, explain my limited energy and brain power, not to mention my intense steak cravings. 🙂

the not so good part is that my vit d levels are low.  even though i’ve been supplementing for months now.  so, i need to double my supplementation and hope that helps.  i’m bummed that they are low and hoping this does not cause any problems for my little bear. 

over all, i’m so so so grateful that this is the only matter of concern for me in this pregnancy…..that’s is pretty awesome really, considering where we’ve come from along the way.  so, right now i feel mostly grateful and a tiny bit frightened.  better than the reverse, i’d say!

i’m a teensy bit behind in the posting department.  lately, i’ve felt a bit like my brain is a strainer with a billion little holes for important information to slip through into no-mans-land, lost forever.  until i remember them again, that is.  i don’t like being foggy headed or forgetful or unreliable or any of those things that come with—according to my midwives—my doubling blood volume……it seems sometime around the last week or so my volume doubled and it takes a while for my red blood cell count and iron levels to catch up.  this causes foggy brains and forgetfulness, among other things.

so here i am, foggy brain and all, catching you up on what i’ve been up to in my neck of the woods….

first, what i’m most excited about———i just passed 30 weeks.  incredible.  hard to believe.  a little frightening, as in less than one week i will be in the single digits in terms of weeks until delivery (unless i go past 40 wks, that is).  i’m not scared of the delivery (at this point, anyway), but it’s more the after-delivery part that worries me sometimes.  you see, while i have TONS and TONS of childcare experience, i’m most well-versed in the 6 mos and up age range.  newbies are not where my experience lies.  and i’m nervous.  but we’ll manage, i know.

next most exciting thing i’ve been up to———-just began prenatal yoga classes!  this was a christmas gift from my huz and i’m loving it so far. i  just attended my first class last saturday and have been counting down the days till my next class ever since.  loved it.  lovelovelove-d it.  so relaxing.  and soothing.  yet, requiring strength from me…i couldn’t stop smiling when our little baby bear would leap and jump around while i was stretching and moving.  maybe she liked it too.  i also couldn’t stop myself from chuckling when i deeply inhaled and a stitch on my pre-preg yoga pants busted.  and then when another one busted after that.  i guess they were even tighter than i thought.  hard to believe they used to slide off of me.

another excitement—————–we painted our little bear’s room this past weekend.  ever since my fertility hunt began i’d fantasize about pink and brown for a girl’s room.  this is what i always thought i’d want if we ever had a girl-baby.  funny how sometimes things change when it’s actually happening.  we didn’t go with pink.  or brown.  or any for-sure-girl color.  we went with a lovely, calming shade of green.  we’re also painting the trim white (used to be 70’s brown wood—ick).  it looks so nice in there.  i just love it.  sometimes i walk into her room just to take it all in…i look around and think how much i love the way it turned out and how proud i am of our preparing and planning ahead while i still have some energy to be a part of it.  (don’t worry—we use paint that does not have voc in it, so there are no toxic smells to go with the painting that i need to be worrying about!  and by the way, i highly recommend using the paint that’s voc-free…so much more comfortable to deal with–pregnant or not.)

and lastly, we are now into the phase of heading to the midwife every two weeks, rather than every four.  this is another major milestone for us in this pregnancy….and it also makes for an even busier life. 🙂  but i don’t mind juggling another appt because it also means we’ll get to hear her little beating heart more often.  at our last appt, my huz noticed her heartbeat was beginning to sound more “human”, a bit slower and lower rather than “tin-ny” or high-pitched…at least not as much as it had been.  i think i know what he means, but really i was too in awe of hearing her heartbeat again that i didn’t pay much attn to comparing how it sounded the month before….i’m just so damn grateful to hear it again that’s all i can think about!

well peeps, you are now officially caught up on the life and times of this baby-mama and her little bear.  is it time for my yoga class yet?!!

i’m finally writing a new post………please do forgive my silence.  a few days after we arrived home from our fabulous vacation, i came down with a nasty cold which i am still fighting at the moment.  (awesome home remedy: eating raw garlic cloves—eat two of those babies and your nasal congestion will be all but eradicated for a few hours!  thanks t.)

now that i’m back, i’d like to fill you all in on some highlights and lowlights of the past few weeks:

highlight:our trip to maui was awesome.  even with the in-laws.  pretty amazing and i know my mom would never have believed i’d say such a kind thing about my in-laws a few years ago…i guess time changes things sometimes.  that being said, i’m not volunteering to take another trip with them anytime soon—they are still the in-laws; let’s not get crazy.  maui was a wonderful place to be…so calming and warm and lovely….i’m all but obsessed with returning next year with our little baby bear.

lowlight: due to flying and the 60+ degree temp change, i was incredibly swollen and uncomfortable in the hand, foot, leg and ankle regions.  oh my.  thanks to a phone call to my sister, i was equipped with ways to soothe my aching lower half.  the huz expressed concern that i might not be able to wear my rings for the rest of the pregnancy–something i was fearing myself–but alas, a day or so after returning home my body returned to its usual non-puffy/swollen limbed self.  rings are generally not a problem again.  flying was very rough on me and i have no wish to do so again during this pregnancy—even if i won a free trip to maui.  that’s how uncomfortable my body was.

highlight:  a long-awaited, dream-come-true moment happened right there on luscious kaanapali beach.  there i was sporting my adorable bathing suit (tip–forget the icky maternity suits.  buy a regular suit you like in a few sizes up from your pre-pregnancy weight.  i was so so so glad i did) and watching my huz snorkel around (i was too tired and the waves were too big for me to comfortably join him that time).  i was also watching a man play with his son in the water and on the beach.  that kid was fearless.  all of a sudden this happened:

man:  how far along are you?

me: oh!  i feel like i’ve been waiting forever for someone to ask me that.  i thought sure that by now i was looking pregnant, but so far no one’s asked me until now.  thank you!  oh, i’m 5 1/2 months or so.  (i was so happy, i almost forgot to answer the actual question.)

huz: (he was popped up from snorkeling and happened to catch the man’s question to me)  you just made her day.  you have no idea.

i was so so so happy.  to this day, he remains the only person to ask me of his own accord with out a tip off from me or the huz first alluding to our little baby bundle.

lowlight:  i’m sick.  with a nasty cold that really has me knocked down.  last night when i couldn’t breathe and therefore couldn’t sleep i thought i might go crazy.  i was considering drastic measures in the attempt to help myself breathe so i could sleep.  for the record, even as sick as i feel i didn’t follow thru on my plans to shove a hanger up my nose.  even in this state i could see that the risks far exceed the benefits.  but there was a moment, however brief, that the idea sounded quite appealing.  sleep deprivation can make you think/do crazy things.

highlight:  a visit to the midwife last week revealed i’m measuring 26 1/2 weeks.   to which she responded, “perfect.”  that made me happy…almost as happy as hearing her lovely little heartbeat and seeing the huz’s face light up in hearing it, too.

lowlight: we have to wait another month to hear it again.

highlight: she’s bopping around inside of me quite regularly.  it’s exciting to feel her, but sometimes it’s a little surprising or unsettling, too.  like when i’m in a meeting and all of a sudden she gets a real burst of strength and kicks significantly harder than usual.  i can’t exactly blurt out, “OH!  hi baby!”  but it does feel that surprising to me sometimes and for those who know me, you know it’s difficult for me to hold a response in!  i’m doing my best when necessary. 🙂

i suppose that about covers it for now.  these days i’m mostly on the couch or eating raw garlic or blowing my nose or using the netti pot or struggling through grading a paper or two–i simply must get them done, but how with this foggy mind?!

i hope you are all well and i’m slowly but surely catching up on my blog reading….i’ll be back to commenting again soon, i promise!

last night we had our second prenatal exam…our midwife was running late–very late, but i didn’t care.  i just wanted to hear our baby’s heartbeat.

 

as the midwife was coming out to the lobby to get us, i heard her say, “I hope lilly hasn’t left yet.”  are you kidding me?!  i wasn’t going anywhere….not until i heard that whoosh, whoosh, whoosh, no matter how long it took her.

 

it turned out to be a good thing she was running late anyway b/c my huz was stuck in terrible traffic on his way there.  plus, once he met me at the office it was nice for us to have a chance to catch up with each other before heading in to the meeting.

 

anyway, anyway, anyway……….blah, blah, blah.  here’s the long and the short of it: we heard our baby bear’s heartbeat again. YAY!  the baby kept moving around so that we’d briefly hear the whooshing and then–poof!  it was gone.  so funfunfun!

 

now i’m counting down until november 6th for our ultrasound….is it a boy or a girl?!  i have a guess—what do you think?

i met another milestone yesterday when i went to my very first prenatal appointment with my midwives.

 

how do i love thee, midwives?  let me count the ways:

  • i don’t have to get weighed…EVER!
  • i don’t have to have any pap smears/pelvic exams until a month or two after i deliver!
  • they weren’t mad at me when i accidentally peed into the toilet instead of into the cup they just finished instructing me on how to use!
  • and finally, they found our little baby bear’s heartbeat in 30 seconds or less with the doppler!!

 

and the sound of our little one’s heartbeat is truly the sweetest thing.

first, thanks so much to each of you for your kind thoughts and wishes, especially as we embarked on our first trip (of what we hope to be many more) to our midwife.

 

(MEG., i smiled when i read your comment because i was trying to inspire you all to begin singing the wizard of oz theme song in my previous post…..thanks for playing along with me!)

 

so, here’s the deal….when you call to make an appointment and the receptionist uses the term consultation, you should take her seriously.  no matter how desperately you’re hoping for the word consultation to equal exam, i’m here to tell you………they are two separate things.

 

all of this to say, while the appointment was exciting and informative, it was not an exam…so there was no comforting, reassuring news to be had for me in terms of calming my fears about potential complications with my pregnancy, etc.

 

that aside, the birthing center is a warm and cozy space.  the midwife we met was kind, forthcoming and professional.  i am grateful to live in such a progressive city in terms of all the alternative options we have available to us…….i know that not every state is so welcoming of midwifery, homebirths, etc.  and not every family desires an out-of-hospital birth, but since my huz and i do, it’s nice we live in a place where it is a possibility.

 

not that we’re planning for a home birth.  my huz and i tend a little too much toward anxiety to be calm and relaxed and safe-feeling enough to embark on such an endeavor.  i most surely wish i were a more laid back, relaxed individual (for a million different reasons), but i’ve come to terms with the fact that i’m not.  i’m me and i need to take good care of what i need by first accepting what i am and am not capable of at this point….home birthing is out of my league right now.  but i love that it’s an option….a possibility that many women have chosen. 

 

here are some of the things i learned in our consultation last night that i’m most excited about:

 

  • they routinely practice delayed cord clamping
  • my huz is welcome to catch our baby if he’d like to
  • they don’t announce the sex of the baby; we are free to discover this together as a family (i’m still undecided as to whether i want to find out the gender through ultrasound…i go back and forth.  my huz wants to know…maybe he could know and i could not know.  stop laughing at me, those of you who know me in real life and know that would NEVER work for me!)
  • we are welcome to bathe our baby after delivery if we’d like to
  • the tests and shots and things that are routinely administered after birth in the hospital are only performed by our choosing
  • water birth is an option
  • the center offers classes on baby wearing (slings, etc.), hypnobirthing, breastfeeding, etc.

 

i know there’s more, but i can’t think of it right now.  i just liked her a lot.  i hope we like her colleagues equally as much, since we’ll be working with a team of three…any one of whom will be on call when we get to the point of delivery (here is where i cross myself even though i’m not catholic and hope desperately that we get to the point of delivering a healthy, living baby).

 

we also had to make what the midwife referred to as our first parenting decision last night…well, we didn’t have to make it last night, but we did need to make it soon and we both agreed pretty readily on what we wanted to do.  if we’d like to do the combined screening for down’s syndrome and neural tube defects, we need to do it fairly soon, as in next week or so.  this involves a blood draw (of which we all know i’m so fond) and an ultrasound (and i am fond of these—at least, i was after the last one!).  we’ve decided to go ahead with the screening.  it won’t provide any definitive answers, in the sense that if the results come back positive it doesn’t necessarily mean we will have a child with down’s or spina bifida.  it does mean, however, that we’d most likely go on to having the amnio to find out more definitively.

 

on one hand, it could very well cause us much ado about nothing….say, if we get a positive screening and it turns out all is well.  on the other hand, we get another look at the baby to see, hopefully, that s/he is developing normally, etc.

 

well, you know i’m a sucker for another look at this little one.  there’s no way i’m going to wait if i don’t have to.  i do need to check with my insurance to see that they cover this screening.  if not, i suppose it would depend on cost, etc.

 

so, now you are fully in the know.  this is where we are in a nutshell: 10w2d, planning to go ahead with midwives and birthing center option with my first real appointment/exam to be scheduled soon (as in a week or two), and potentially will be doing the combined screening in the next week or two.

 

i need a rest just thinking about everything we’re going to be doing in the next couple of weeks!

well, tonight’s the big night.  we’re off to see the midwife in a couple of hours.  i’m nervous, of course, and thank you blogo-friends for reminding me not to freak out over the whole doppler/heartbeat situation.  i’m not really sure what i’m hoping for or expecting from this appointment in terms of hearing something from her to calm my fears.  i’m not sure there’s much that can be done that would be conclusive apart from another ultrasound, but then what do i know?  i do know i’m hoping for something……anything.

 

i also know that i’ve never even made it to this first appointment before now and that, dear readers, is an accomplishment….or something.  it’s definitly something.

 

so, i will keep you all posted.  until then, i’m off to see the midwife!