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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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so glad to report that my blood work came back normal!

i’m relieved.

but i’m also taking this scare seriously and sticking with my protein plan.  [for more info on steering clear of preeclampsia see nina planck’s real food for mother and baby, the brewer diet, and the weston price foundation.]  no more slacking off for me and forgetting to eat or eating simple carbs just because they go down easy and require little effort or planning. 

must.stay.committed.

we’re in the home stretch now!

i’m in the throws of contemplating whether or not to do the glucose tolerance test.  i have the juice and the directions on what to do prior to my next appt, should i decide to do the test.  but i can’t decide.  i just keep going back and forth. 

presently, i’m thinking this: i will take the test simply because if i don’t take the test and i go into pre-term labor, i will blame myself for not taking the test.  quite frankly, i don’t need one more thing to guilt myself about in this life….so the more i can cut back on providing myself the opportunity to do just that, the better.

but i can guarantee you that tomorrow i will have another idea about what i should do regarding that stupid test…thank you midwives for giving me the choice…that really uncomplicates my life; i’m so grateful…i’m being sarcastic to a point…most of the time i truly am grateful for the freedom they give me to make this pregnancy my own and to be in charge of what happens to my body.

either way, i will have to get poked at my next check.  i’m not looking forward to another blood draw, although i must say i’ve only been poked one other time so far during this pregnancy, which is less than i have been in any given six month stretch for a while now.  this is something to be grateful for, let me assure you!  anyway, they are going to test my vitamin d levels, as my naturopath let me know there is some research to suggest (this does not mean there is an absolute direct correlation) that vitamin d deficiancy in pregnancy may be linked to autism.  i don’t care whether or not this is true, i don’t want to take any chances and i was already low in vitamin d prior to this pregnancy, so to me it’s worth getting stuck with a needle for that.

all in all, i’m 27wks1d and happy for it.  i can’t believe how quickly time is flying.  and every little kick is like a dream come true…except the kicks to the cervix….now that is just downright uncomfortable!

well, today we finally made it to our 20 wk anatomy scan.  boy, are they ever detailed at those appointments!!  the tech just got right down to business as soon as i got up on the table.

 

“there’s the head…there’s the this…”

 

30 seconds into the scan, i interrupted her saying, “do you think it’s alive?”

 

she turned from all business/gruff to sweet and gentle.  she said, “oh honey, of course it’s alive.  back up here….see?  there’s the beating heart.  do you see it?”

 

yes, i could see it and then she squeezed my arm to let me know it was going to be okay. 

 

naturally i felt nervous with every new body part they were checking out.  kidneys?  check.  bladder?  yep, bladder’s good.  diaphram? there it is.  let’s check out the spinal column…everything’s great.  what about that little bitty brain?  check, check.  now let’s take forever to check out the heart…………..still checking………….still……………okay, that looks great, too.  well, now that all that was over she said, “i suppose you want to know the gender if i can tell?”

 

UM, YES!  that’s the whole reason i was at the appointment in the first place!

 

so she took her time to get a nice clear view.  i wasn’t sure what in the world we were looking at and then just before she said it out loud i thought i could tell…

 

drum roll please…………………………………………………………..

 

it’s

 

a

 

GIRL!

 

and we are delighted.

i’m 19wks today.  our next scan is scheduled for friday in the late afternoon….and let me tell you, i am counting down the minutes until then.

 

will it be a boy or a girl?!?  this question makes me feel so excited, which is kind of funny b/c i began this pregnancy thinking i wouldn’t want to know until it’s born.  ha!  i never would have made it.  never.

 

i’m also afraid about friday’s scan.  afraid there will be bad news.  i actually know of several stories of friends or friends of friends who’ve lost their babies at 19wks….just make it through 19wks, make it through, make it through…

 

i’m grateful my huz will be there with me and also a dear friend…i’m so looking forward to sharing this experience with our friend (as long as it’s good news!). 🙂

 

so, here i am…three days, 6 1/2 hours until our appt.  i’ll keep you all posted as to the results!  (by the way, i’m thinking boy.)

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?

baby bearhere’s our little baby bear measuring 13w3d…unbelievable!

i know u/s pics are more exciting and incredible to the mom and dad than to anyone else…i don’t blame you if you can’t make heads or tails of the pic…it’s just fun for me to finally have a picture of my very own baby.  i really wondered if it would ever happen for us and we don’t take any part of this experience for granted.

 

no matter how the next six months play out (or the rest of my life, for that matter)…….i will always, always have this moment in time…the first time i saw a baby in my very own womb kicking and flailing around.  i’m still in awe.

well, i thought the u/s at 6w2d was amazing…and it was.

but today’s was something beyond words.  and a much, much, much better experience than working with the previous technician and clinic.  for that i am grateful.

our baby bear (we are the bear family, after all—huzzy bear, schweetie bear…) is measuring big…giving us a new, earlier due date!  i thought i was 12w0d today; turns out i’m actually measuring 13w3d today…..i leapt right into the beginning of my second trimester and didn’t even know it!

the tech reported that all the measurements were looking great and we scheduled our next scan for early november.  i can’t believe we get to see our little bear again (we hope)!

and now, for the first time ever, we get to have u/s pics on our refrigerater….i wish this experience, plus more, on you all!!!!!!

and i’m sad that it’s not a given for any of us, including me even as i’m in the beginning of my second trimester…i’m sad that life is so uncertain and fragile and sometimes exceedingly painful.

and i’m thankful that some days are fabulous days–no matter the outcome…nothing can take today’s memory away, not even death.

my ultrasound appt was yesterday morning…very early.  i couldn’t sleep past 4:45a.  i was anxious and scared and feeling very young.

 

the medical imaging clinic dr. naturo referred me to did not allow partners to go into the exam rooms until the end.  when they told me this on the phone, i thought i was fine with that.  until i put the gown on and got up on the table, that is.  then the panic set in. 

 

i felt alone and naked.  on top of this, i was sure my bladder was going to burst any minute.  i’ve never heard of them using the stomach ultrasound tool (i have no idea what the heck to call it) for a pregnancy that’s 6 weeks along.  each time she pressed on my bladder i thought i would pee on the table.  luckily, i was able to use the restroom before the transvaginal u/s.

 

the tech should become a professional poker player…her poker face kept me on pins and needles for 50 mins while she poked and prodded.  i literally had no idea what she was seeing or not seeing.  this not-knowing was really beginning to take its toll on me…at one point i sighed heavily while tears were streaming down the sides of my face and she asked me if i was okay.  i said, “i’m just anxious to hear the results.”  “oh, the doctor will tell you.”

 

what?

 

in my previous two experiences with ultrasounds, the doctor is brought in to deliver the bad news (and even in those two cases, the tech told me what she was not seeing as she was not seeing it).  well, then the tears really started to flow.  i was in a panic and feeling desperate to get off that table to find my huzzy.  i was mentally planning the phone calls i needed to make to rearrange the rest of my day…i was envisioning myself holed up in my room for the coming week.

 

i was in a panic.

 

then she called the dr to come in.  oh my.

 

he said, “well, you’re obiously pregnant.  what are we looking at here?  6 weeks?”

 

tech replied, “yep, 6w2d.”

 

and then the dr started giving her instructions on showing him my ovaries and such, making her sound like a total idiot and i felt bad for her while simultaneously trying to make sense of whether he’d just delivered good news or bad news to me.  he was so matter of fact.  so dry.  so not excited.

 

just before he turned to walk out he said, “well, everything looks good so far.  congratulations.”

 

i was thinking, “really?  well, how come you’re not showing me anything?”  so i asked the tech if she would let me see (can you believe i had to ask if i could see?!).  the dr heard and gave his approval for her to show me.

 

and that was when i saw our little baby, right inside of me with a tiny little dash of a heartbeat.  i’ve never seen anything like it inside of me.  i’ve never been able to see the baby or a fetal pole or anything…it’s always been darkness.

 

but yesterday there was light.  a tiny little spark of life with the most beautiful little heartbeat. 

 

and while we all know anything can happen…….i am in awe and am thrilled to announce a first for me: yesterday i saw a baby and a heartbeat!!

thanks to all who responded to my plea for help in making this decision.

 

 thankyouthankyouthankyou.

 

i took it all in and, of course, over-thought it…(i totally resonated with your comments, kate and jeanine.)

 

and i’m nervous to announce that—for better or worse—i have made my decision.

 

i realized that while initially it was helpful not to be poked and prodded, it is currently driving me crazy to not know whether this pregnancy is viable.  i need to know.  i really resonated with many of your comments re: this and especially when MEG.said she wouldn’t want to be surprised by a miscarriage on a vacation…that clicked with me.  (by the way, do you mind that i always type your name as “MEG.”?  i like it, but wondered the other day if you find it annoying…if so, i’ll stop…just say the word.)

 

so……………..i called dr. naturo on monday morning and told her i was ready for the referrals for an ultrasound.  by monday evening, i’d made the appointment.  then i read gabby’s comment about “trying on” a decision to see how it feels…and while i’d already actually gone ahead with my decision to make the appointment, it was really helpful for me to pause for a moment to check in with myself on how i’m feeling.

 

and i’m feeling anxious.  which is why i’m up in the middle of the night right now. 

 

i’ve never had a positive outcome to an ultrasound.  maybe this week will be a first.  maybe not.

 

but i’m as ready as i’ll ever be to find out what’s happening…at least, what’s happening at this point…sadly, many of us know that things can change…even after an ultrasound.

 

once again, thank you all for your kind wishes and support.  putting it out there and hearing from you really helped me get connected with what i want and need right now.

 

thank you.