Archive for the ‘Infertility Baggage’ Category

Insomnia Crazies

I’m gonna throw some quick math at you:
-May 17th. Seedling is 4.5 months old. First/only time Hubster and I have sex since her birth.
-Approximately 1 month ago is when emotions went all wonky crazy. I suggest taking a pregnancy test – not actually expecting anything, mostly to put my crazy mind at ease. Hubster agrees I’m most likely crazy, but why not? I get busy, and convince myself I’m crazy, don’t ever take it.
-Approximately 1-2 weeks ago I start having uterine twinges. I assume it must be impending first cycle. I start staring at toilet paper waiting for my big fat CD1 to appear. But I’m also heavily distracted by life, figure it will show up any day.
-Tonight is now 6 weeks post coitus. Having uterine twinges. It feels … “Busy”. When I lay on my tummy on the bed my lower abdomen feels “full”.

I’m totally crazy. I know. But what if? WHAT IF?!?! Bahhhh!!!! Now that the thought has entered my brain I. CAN. NOT. SLEEP!!! (Ive been trying for 3+ hours) I want to POAS so baaaad! Just so it can say “No, hello, you are crazy! Not pregnant! Get yo ass in bed and sleep!” (Because pee sticks say stuff like that)

I want to wake Hubster up and send him to a 24 hour drugstore. RIGHT NOW. But I know he would NOT be amused and would not comply.

But WHAAAAAT IIIIIIFFFF???? Would that explain all these crazy intense moods and insane hunger? Oh man, but if I am… I’ve totally dropped the ball on taking vitamins. I’ve taken occasional insomnia meds (apparently I should have TONIGHT!). I went in a FREAKING PLANE!!! Do you realize the radiation exposure??? Uggghhhh!

I wish there was some home-remedy-test. Like pee on baking soda while you stand on your head or something… But if course if there WAS such a thing, no one in the ALI community would be shelling out paychecks on tiny plastic-y paper strips, now would they? (Also, that would take some insane skillz to pee on baking soda WHILE standing in your head. Where do I come up with this stuff???)

*whimper* I’m so tired and I’m so crazy.

Infertility Awareness

It’s infertility awareness week. I knew it was coming. And planned a nice, long, informational post. In my head. But Seedling is sick (just runny nose/cough/low grade fever) and so her sleeping and eating is all wonky. And now I’m getting sick (so proud of my girl for wanting to share! 😛 ) so this will be brief.

Yes, we miraculously and unexpectedly got pregnant. But we still had 2 and a half years of trying, tests, interventions and a baby lost. I have no idea what our future holds for more kids. I know I want them. God willing.

I don’t hide our history. But I also try to not bring it up at times it doesn’t fit. If the topic comes up, I tell the truth. I don’t have feelings of shame or embarrassment. I having sad feelings. Feelings of loss and feeling lost. Feelings of camaraderie from the lifeline this online community has been.

My infertility journey has changed me. My faith, my marriage, my life. There were some intensely dark times… Giving in to the dark times is easy. Looking for a few rats of sunshine, a silver lining, some semblance of hope – it’s hard. I’m so thankful for the therapists, the support of special family and friends.

Infertility is a part of me, of my past. And it may be ahead of me in my future. But I know it isn’t my entirety. And on that note, I’m going to snuggle my daughter. She may be sick and cranky, but she’s my daughter, a little person I spent countless hours praying, hoping, wishing for. Who I love immensely.

Oh Bloody Hell

You guys, I had such plans. SUCH PLANS! It was supposed to go like this:

1-Baby Seedling is born.
2-breastfeed Seedling, causing delayed menses.
3-when menses returns approximately 6 months post partum, start TTC baby #2.
4-conceive baby #2 in summer of ’13, with EDD in spring of ’14.

Why so soon to try again? Well, a few reasons.
1-it took 2.5 yeas to conceive Seedling, and that was unexplainable. If it takes another two years, better to start trying sooner rather than later, especially since…
2-my brother and I are 4 years apart. So that means once he entered junior high, we never went to the same school. We had different interest, different personalities… And while we’ve never had any sort of major “falling out”, we aren’t close either. Not that children close in age guarantees anything, but my observations of other families show a correlation.
3-Hubster and I would like a medium family. 3 to 4 kids. And nobody is getting any younger … Especially with a history of IF!
4-there is a general knowledge that women are particularly fertile right around when they begin menstruating again. Why miss a good window of opportunity?!

But here’s the thing. I didn’t want to get pregnant any sooner than 6 months after Seedling was born.
1-I wanted time to focus on learning the ropes of being a mom.
2-I wanted time to focus on getting my body to a healthy place. I hadn’t met my goal of under 200lbs when I got pregnant before. Since I was so careful about my weight gain with Seedling I’m only about 5-10 lbs heavier than my starting weight. 6 months seems like a healthy, reasonable time frame to lose about 20 lbs.
3- a part of me thinks its weird when kids are less than a year apart, that at a certain window of time they can both say “I’m 4 years old!”. I don’t care if you want that, it just feels weird to me.

If anything I knew my 6-month-idea was a long shot. Lots of breastfeeding women take more than a year to begin ovulation.

But I never expected to start my period right away! The first time I thought maybe it was just a delayed bit of post-delivery bleeding. But now I’m on my second time. My second period.

Say whaaAAAaat?!

So… Nope. I won’t be trying “as soon as my period starts”. I won’t be taking advantage of the “peak” in fertility. I hope I’m not missing out on a crucial window of opportunity… But I’m not ready. We, as a family, are not ready.

I’m trusting the God has this all figured out. Or, I’m trying to trust. Dang me trying to over plan my life, lol! At the very least, I know Hubster and I can go back to considering adoption. There is a lot to think about in that… But I just have to remind myself there is more than one way to build our family. And to stop over thinking, and let it rest until this summer. Easier said than done… *sigh*

It’s Gonna be a Rough Day

Hubster sent me to bed, determined to let me catch som e sleep son e I return to work today. And the man tried, he really did. I can only assume Seedling is having one helluva growth spurt. It started a few days back, being fussy in the evenings. But it’s slowly
progressed. Tonight it was inconsolable screaming. As in “the zombies are eating my brains, WTF aren’t you people going anything to stop this torture?!?!”

So 3am Hubster came and got me. I hadn’t slept much, hard to ignore those kinds of sounds coming from your child. He looked like he’d been through hell. I sent him to bed and was able to finally console her with nursing. (Which lately nursing had been pissing her off – she’s been preferring the infinitely easier to eat bottle. But this morning? It is apparently the magical love of get life. Whatever works! Right?)

Crying alone I can take – but I can’t shake this anxiety that its more than the “6 week growth spurt”. What if something is wrong? Really wrong? What if there is some underlying health problem, that could prove fatal?

What if I gave birth just to lose another child?

…..

Later today I will return to work. When I think about it as just this one day… It’s not so bad. My mom is going to come over and watch Seedling on Fridays. My mom – for all our issues and drama – has been amazing. She has come and helped me, sometimes at a moments notice, driving out in heavy traffic and heavier rain. I don’t know how we would have survived without her. So long story short – I know Seedling will be in great hands. I don’t worry that something bad will happen. I worry that something good, significant will happen, and I will miss it. That I will miss out on smiles, on her grabbing my finger, on her coos and cuddles. What if I miss her first rolling over, or her first real crawl? What if I miss her first really big, hearty laugh? It’s selfish, is what it boils down to.

So I’m crazy, right? As in, clinically insane. I’m struggling with a child who is displaying and more signs of colic every day, a child who is physically and emotionally exhausting myself and Hubster – yet the thought of being gone brings me to tears.

The hard parts… They are so very hard. But the good parts? Pure fairy magic. I wouldn’t miss out on the good stuff for anything.

But it’s going to be a rough day. Seedling is currently sleeping, drifting off from nursing, nuzzled to my left bosom. She’s one overtired infant. With a penchant for waking up inconsolable. Hubsters plans to give me sleep have failed. Hello sleep deprived mommy. Add on the emotions of returning to work. And, of course, my job isn’t exactly all sunshine and roses – there will be the dick clients that feel the need to take out their issues on me.

And then I get to get up and do it again on Saturday. Because, of course, I’m not just returning to work for one day and calling it quits.

So I get on WordPress. I pour out my worries, my stress, my exhaustion. I rock my now-sleeping babe. I pray for strength and forgiveness. Because its all I know how to do in times like this.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy in me, a sinner.

The Birth Story

Well, my big plans to sit at my laptop and write this has flopped. Between feedings, changings, trying to get enough food and sleep myself, AND get in moments of quality time with Hubster, there is no opportunity to chill with my laptop. So what that means is I will be pecking it out on my phone during nursing time, and the occasional nap time. And that means expect typos, weird auto-correct issues, and that it probably won’t flow well. But I need to get it down before it all fades away as birth memories tend to. Already it feels like it was ages ago and has a hazy quality to it…

I had been having Braxton hicks for a few days before Friday, December 28th 2012, and at times they seemed to have some regularity although not very close together. Thursday night showed some good consistency (and some intense discomfort!) and I was intrigued to find out what my cervix was doing Friday morning at my appointment with Dr. B. I went in at 8:45am to learn I was 4 cm dilated! The doctor wanted to rupture my membranes but I really wanted for them to break on their own. I was sent home with instructions to “walk vigorously” and come back for a recheck at 1:30.

I got home and after speaking with Doula P decided not to rush anything, but to try and rest. I tried but contractions were slowly coming closer and closer together and I could not sleep through them so I decided to take a shower, thinking it might help me to relax, the contractions to ease, so I could sleep. Instead they started coming more frequently! At this point Hubster arrived home after leaving work and swinging by the store for some last minute items. I called Doula P back explaining contractions were averaging 1:40 apart and strong enough I couldn’t sleep through them. She offered to come to our apartment, we could meet at her class space or go to the hospital. I was worried about my bag breaking (and I needed antibiotics due to the Strep B I had) and with the contractions so close together I thought for sure the baby would be coming sooner rather than later. (Haha!) So Hubster and I rounded up our bags, sent out texts and Facebook posts, and headed to the hospital.

The ride to the hospital was… Uncomfortable. Having contractions while forced to sit, unable to move or hip rock was tough. Then Hubster got confused as to where exactly the entrance we needed was, and turned one turn too early… turned around…. then missed the entrance we needed and turned one entrance too late… if it had been a movie it would have been hilarious. So I just tried to laugh.

We checked in at the hospital and I realized I had forgotten my purse! Thankfully they took me at my word that I was who I said I was, and I had pre-registered so they had all my info in the computer system. Then they insisted I be wheeled up instead if letting me walk… I wasn’t walking fast but I was still able to walk! Sheesh…

About 1:00 -1:15pm we got up to the correct floor and go into a “triage room”, meant to be where I would be assessed before being formerly admitted. However a nurse came in and said they need that room for something else and they are going to move me over one room… Which turned out to be one of the tub rooms!!! I was totally thrilled. It seemed like everything was going “according to plan”. I have to admit, I went into this labor a little elitist. I had done my research, I had a plan, I had the determination and will power. No way was I going to give in to interventions. No way was I going to “wimp out”. I wouldn’t be like all those women who can’t handle the pain – If countless women in history and in third world countries could deliver naturally, so could I… Of course, “Pride cometh before the fall”… In all seriousness, my first lesson as a parent is the importance of humility. It is amazing how in the two weeks since she has been born, I have done several things I always swore I would never do simply because I couldn’t understand the perspective until I was in the midst of it.

So we are in the tub room. Doula P and her amazing assistant L arrive, followed shortly by Jewel (who had so very kindly ran by the apartment and retrieved my purse!) and I was hooked up for my “20 minutes of monitoring”. The contractions had slowed and eased off a little, but I felt confident they would pick up soon, and it was just the car ride that had caused me to tense up and thus cause labor to slow. The hospitalist Dr.GrumpyPants came in (since Dr.B wasn’t there yet) to determine if I should formerly be admitted. He checked me – 4cm dilated. Fully effaced. Bag bulging. Baby at -3 station (still pretty high). I was disappointed I wasn’t any more dilated, but wasn’t overly concerned. Doula P suggested I try bouncing on a yoga peanut-ball so I was game. And then doing side lunges… It felt good to be “doing something”, but it wasn’t causing any super-fast changes. So then I elected to start walking, to see if I could get my labor back to where it was when I was home.

Dr.GrumpyPants did another check… maybe 4.5 cm? I could tell he wasn’t happy with that. By this time Dr.B showed up, and so Dr.GrumpyPants had him check me, to see if there was much change from my appointment with him that morning. There was a LOT of talk about something needing to change… Dr.GrumpyPants basically wanted me to either get Pitocin, or go home because I “wasn’t really in labor” – because apparently I was smiling too much. (I’m a happy person, I was excited, what can I say?) I wasn’t really happy about either option. I felt so strongly against unnecessary medical intervention, and I really believed that Pitocin was unnecessary at that point. I didn’t really want to go home because I dreaded having to sit in the car through contractions, and was worried we would lose the beloved tub room. (There are only 2 tub rooms, and it’s on a first-come first-serve basis) I was so committed to a water birth, and I wasn’t going to let it go!

Dr.B goes to do his check, and determines that I’m 5cm… and while doing his check he “accidentally” broke my water. At the time, I really thought it was an accident (he played it so well!) but in hindsight he must have done it intentionally, knowing it would be the card I needed to keep me in the hospital. Of course, to do it with just his finger the membrane must have been pretty ready to break anyway. My big fear of having my water broken prematurely was that it would cause contractions to unnaturally intensify, and that was why I kept putting it off. I wanted it to break when it was ready (I also had a teeny tiny hope it wouldn’t break and Seedling would be born in the caul, just because that sounded so cool) Well, any fears I had about it causing sudden-intense labor turned out to be unnecessary, because it didn’t do that. What it did do was cause me to finally be formerly admitted to the hospital! And get me started on IV antibiotics. But first we had to move to the other tub room… not sure why we had to move, but that space was even more beautiful than the first room, and it still had a tub, so I was fine with it. It took 3 tries to get my IV placed… dang my tiny veins! They actually had to call in the Charge Nurse to do it. So I got my IV set, and went back to walking… walking… walking… lunging, bouncing on the ball, lunging, more lunging… All without much change in my contractions. They would start to come more frequently and more intensely and then fade off.

It was frustrating, and I started to get more emotional that it didn’t seem like anything I was doing was helping. But Hubster, Doula P, L and Jewel were so amazing. They never seemed discouraged, they just kept encouraging me, getting me to laugh, suggesting new movements, giving me counter-pressure on my lower back during a contraction (WHAT A DIFFERENCE THAT MADE in the pain!). They made sure I was getting water and eating (The hospital provided 3 meals a day to me… and I think in the course of the 2 days we were there I ate 3 pieces of cheesecake… because, hello, CHEESECAKE! Mmmmm… But I promise I also ate other things.) I cannot imagine what my labor would have been like without those amazing people by my side.

Hubster was my rock, never far from my side, endlessly loving and patient. I could not have endured without him. Doula P was my guide through a road I had never traveled before, I would have been lost without her. L was quiet confidence, to keep up the journey. And my dear Jewel was a ray of sunshine, keeping my spirits up when times felt dark.

Doula P suggested I try some squats, to see if we could bring Seedling’s head down more. If we could get her to drop, then there would be more pressure on the cervix, and then we would hopefully see more dilation. So I started squat after squat… I wanted to make my body cooperate. After all these years of my body not working, the infertility struggles, the baby we lost… couldn’t my body finally do what it was supposed to? Reviewing “the worst pain” – the pain of wanting a child and unable to achieve it. That the pain of contractions wasn’t anything compared the the broken heart I had carried all those years. I kept thinking about all the women who had given birth without medical interventions and how much I wanted the best for Seedling. I wanted to do a good job, do everything I could. (Of course, the uterus is on the autonomic nervous system… much like you can’t consciously control when your heart beats, you can’t control when, or how strongly, the uterus contracts. Believe me, I tried.) I know at one point in the squatting tears came to my eyes, just feeling so frustrating and worried.

It was suggested I try getting in the shower. I’m so grateful for this – Not only do I just love the water, but it was a good change of pace (I was able to squat in there because they had handicap bars on the walls) and the water felt really good running down my back during a contraction, and down my tummy when the contraction was over. It was also the only laboring in water I ended up doing, and again I’m so thankful I got to spend some part of my labor in water of some kind. I also had some really great contractions, they felt closer together and stronger in the shower. But I was also starting to feel how tired I was… After 40 minutes I headed out of the shower, I can’t remember if I chose to get out or if the nurse prompted me because she needed to check me? But I do remember that I was checked… and keep in mind it was now well into the evening. (Sorry, brain way to fuzzy to offer an exact time.) I had been in the hospital for hours and hours. And the nurse found… No change.

No. Change.

I felt so at a loss. All my work hadn’t done anything. Doula P was so kind, but she pointed out that with how much time had passed, we needed to bring on some extra help. I felt crushed. I knew she was right, I knew I had been giving it my all and my all wasn’t working. But I couldn’t help but think about how much I had wanted to do this, I had wanted my body to work, I didn’t want to have to face my friends and family and admit that I hadn’t been able to have an unmedicated birth. I worried that Pitocin would be too much pain to handle. I worried that Pitocin would push Seedling into distress. And the thought of doing anything to harm Seedling made me nauseated with grief.

Doula P and Hubster sat and comforted me. I never felt forced to make the decision to get help, they were so kind and patient, allowing me to grieve and process the loss of a piece of my dream birth. It still felt like it was my call, my decision to make. We talked about that maybe the Pitocin would help kick-start the labor, and eventually we would be able to turn it down or turn it off and I could still do a water birth. I finally took a deep breath and agreed, to the lowest dose of “one”. (I’m still not sure if that is 1ml or 1mg or what…) Of course, by agreeing to Pitocin that meant constant monitoring, and Seedling had an unfortunate habit of “falling off” the monitor if I moved too much, so I was relegated to the bed. The “one” level really wasn’t too bad. I would feel a contraction coming, and someone would put pressure on my lower back, I would do my breathing exercises… and when it was over I would attempt to shut my eyes and rest until the next one came. However, after a while, the contractions were one on top of the other, with no relief between them. The pain and exhaustion were catching up with me – and my support team. Poor Hubster, he never complained, never made a peep, but afterwards he admitted to being exhausted, especially when he realized there wasn’t a break between contractions and I needed the pressure on my back for some semblance of relief. It turns out my nurse had slowly been upping the Pitocin without anyone realizing! I was at a “five”! Doula P got them to turn it down so we could discuss where to go from here. I’m pretty sure they did another check at this time… no real change. I think Seedling had dropped a centimeter, so was at -2 station, (I might have also been declared 6cm dilated at this point… like I said, it’s all a little fuzzy at points) but that wasn’t a very significant change considering how much time had passed.

Doula P suggested it was time to consider the epidural. I felt like such a failure. I wanted to say “No, I can keep going, turn the Pitocin back up, I can tough it out, I can be strong enough!” but she pointed out that we had a long way yet to go, and I was exhausted. I needed to get some rest so I would have the energy to actually push Seedling out. All I saw was that my body was failing me once again. That an epidural was the final pull of the rug out from underneath my dreams of a calm and peaceful waterbirth. I saw the tub in the corner and it was so close yet so far. All I saw was that the epidural would inevitably lead to a cesarean section. Once again Hubster and Doula P were so patient with me. I knew in my heart that Doula P was not a big advocate of intervention. So I trusted that if she was suggesting an intervention, then it really must be needed. (After the fact, Hubster admitted that he had really wanted me to get the epidural, but he knew that he couldn’t push, it had to be my decision. But he saw how exhausted I was, and he was so exhausted. As committed as he was to minimal interventions he saw how great a need there was for some relief.) Finally I agreed to the epidural, and tried to focus on the fact that there was still hope for a vaginal delivery.

The anesthesiologist came in. He was rather upbeat for a man about to puncture my dreams, but I’d rather take that than more of Dr.GrumpyPants. They prepped my back and explained what would happen. First the local anesthetic (yes, on par with a bee sting) and then he placed the epidural… and oh my did that HURT. All my friends who had gotten epidurals always raved about the relief they offered, no one prepared me for the fact that this would hurt. I think he must have tweaked a nerve because I could feel twinging running down the right side of my spine from where the catheter was being placed. But then the numbing started to take effect… (Just a heads up, when you lose control of your lower extremities, that includes your bladder. Yes folks, I voided my bladder in bed. Thank goodness I was very comfortable with the folks I had chosen to have in the room with me.) I had to lay on my back for a while because the drug works by gravity, and that ensured it was distributed evenly, and then it was a game of laying on one side, only to switch the other side a while later. I finally gave in to the exhaustion and started to drift to sleep. I could hear Doula P, L, Hubster and Jewel quietly talking about what was ahead, including the possibility of a cesarean section tomorrow, and what to expect if that happened. Of course I was 75% asleep so it had a dream-like-quality to it. I just remember hearing bits and pieces. Then Doula P came over to let me know she and L were heading home to try and get refreshed before the morning. Hubster and Jewel bedded down in the room with me. (Talk about commitment, Jewel slept on the floor! Hubster on a sad excuse for a roll-away-bed.)

Friday morning dawned. The nurse came in to remind me to roll over, and to check me. Still at 6cm. Although Seedling had dropped a bit. While feeling physically refreshed, my spirits were really taking a toll. I looked at the nurse and just said “That’s not enough, is it? If we are going to go in for a c-section, I just want to get it over with.” I just couldn’t handle any more waffling of “Maybe we will, maybe we won’t.” I didn’t want a c-section, but I felt it was inevitable. And if it was inevitable, let’s just “rip the band-aid off”. But the nurse said that Dr.B wanted to have an internal monitor placed to confirm how strong my contractions were. This is done by placing a small plastic tubing into the cervix, it doesn’t hurt the baby. A small part of me just sighed and rolled my eyes at one more delay of the inevitable, but figured it couldn’t hurt. However, Seedling was so low that getting the tubing placed was proving difficult, and my nurse had to call in another nurse to help place it. In some ways that was a good thing (the baby was really low!)! They finally got the tubing placed, and realized that even with the Pitocin, my contractions were not in fact strong enough to cause dilation! Suddenly there was some light at the end of the tunnel, because it was simply a matter of increasing the Pitocin! Back to napping and changing from side to side.

Sometime Saturday morning I remember Hubster coming over to the bed, with the icons and cross and prayer book and saying morning prayers. I tried to mumble along as best as my sleepy mind could… but it really touched me that he would initiate that, re-centering the entire experience on our faith. I still believe our pregnancy was a miraculous unexplainable gift from God, and it is only right to thank Him for the largest blessing of my life.

The nurses had a shift change, and the new nurse went to do a check… 8cm!!!! That was so exciting and uplifting to hear. Some real change! But I suddenly realized that I could feel my hands on my legs… was my epidural wearing off? With how high the Pitocin was running, I was terrified of feeling it, and kept repeating to the nurse that I thought something had happened to the epidural, I was starting to have feeling in my legs (Yes, nurse, both legs) and that the bolus-button did not seem to be making a difference. Could all my turning have pulled the epidural out? After much insisting they finally brought in an anesthesiologist to check. Yes, the epidural was still placed, and she put in an injection of super-special extra-strong meds… and my legs back went to being numb. Then another check, and in the course of the nurse checking she felt it stretch from 8 to 9cm! I asked her how the head was positioned… and she suddenly asked “Are we sure she is head down? I think I feel a butt.” Ummm… suddenly there was a flurry to get in an ultrasound machine… and the doctor that accompanied it was Dr. GrumpyPants. Oh joy. However, they determined that she was in fact head down. Whoo, crisis averted! But while we were waiting for the determination, Hubster had called Doula P to let her know there was a question as to the baby’s position, and she headed back in.

Then I started to feel some pressure on my cervix and rectum. It didn’t hurt, it just felt like I had to go to the bathroom. I tried to let people know what I was feeling. It was hard not to push. But I was also starting to have intense sharp pain between my should blades. All those rotations from side to side, when I had to use my arms to pull and push myself, had caught up with me. In hindsight I think I must have pulled those muscles. But the pain was consuming, taking over my ability to focus on the changes in my labor. Dr.B came in and determined I was 10cm and should start really pushing hard. But part of pushing is leaning forward, curling yourself into a ball. With my shoulder muscles in agony, that wasn’t really a movement I was inclined to do. He left, and Doula P encouraged me to just “labor down” – gently push during the contractions, but not so much that I was killing myself. That I really liked. But eventually Dr.B came back and said we had to start moving things along. He talked about using a vacuum or forceps, which I was not excited about. I didn’t want anything squishing or mushing my baby’s head! I may have had to give up most of my birth plan, but if it was possible, I was going to push Seedling out. All by myself. So I started pushing. Suddenly I heard heavy metal being played on the playlist. WTF?! Earlier Hubster and I had joked that if Hubster were in labor, he would want metal playing. But I have no idea how that joke turned into reality. However, I was so internally focused on the sensation of pushing, and the sensation of sharp pain in my shoulders to properly verbalize my opinion on the music. Hubster was listing off various metal artists and for some reason in my brain I thought I had to listen to metal, and so I threw out a band name… only to realize when they came on that I absolutely did not want to listen to that band, but I felt like I would inconveniencing someone if I complained so I decided to do my best to ignore the music. I didn’t like the music, I didn’t want to listen to the music, I didn’t want my precious baby girl born to such obnoxious, offensive music. But for some reason I had come to the conclusion I didn’t have a choice.

Of course, Hubster ever the supportive man, kept trying to encourage me and would ask “are you listening to the music?” to which my brain would think “I’m doing my get to ignore it!” but I couldn’t get those words out. (Hubster has since profusely apologized, he thought the driving beat would help. Ah, men!) Eventually the music stopped playing on its own, and nobody bothered to restart it… thank goodness. (Note to self, next time make sure to put together a playlist for the pushing stage of music I like! We had done so well with the laboring playlist I had put together…)

Most of my memory of the pushing stage is about hating the music, searing pain in my shoulders, nurses telling me to push harder (and me thinking “I am pushing as hard I can! Stop telling me to push harder!”) and Dr.B saying “Get angry” (and me thinking “I am angry!”) The pushing wasn’t actually that painful or difficult, (thank you epidural) it was my shoulder muscles that felt like someone was stabbing them over and over with a knife, that hurt. And every push someone would try to lift my head or shoulders, intensifying the shoulder pain, and that just made me angrier! And the tub was over in the corner mocking me. Suddenly someone exclaimed “I can see the head! There’s so much hair!” And they wheeled in a giant mirror so I could see – that was bizarre. It was hard to believe the view in the mirror was ME. (Because, let’s be honest, how often do you see that side of yourself?) But the next push I could see a little sliver of baby head and suddenly tears filled my eyes. More pushing and pushing… so many comments about her hair, one nurse said “the next push I could braid her hair!”. (According to Jewel, as she was descending, and the contraction would end and her head would slip back a little, her hair would continue to be sticking out. So, as Jewel put it, “She was born hair first!”)

At one point someone said “Her head is out!” and I remember there wasn’t any noise so I exclaimed “Why isn’t she crying???” and someone clarified that she was almost out.

I remember Doula P encouraging me to open my eyes and look in the mirror, or reach down and feel her head, but all I could focus on was the pushing and the pain in my shoulders.

There was a moment where I felt a flash of pain and I realized Dr.B had cut an episiotomy, and I yelled out “What’s going on?!” – we hadn’t discussed an episiotomy, but apparently I was starting to tear, and the doctor knew that if he hadn’t made a small cut, I would have had a significant tear. While it startled me, it’s another example of why I am so thankful for the great team I had, who was looking out for me when I was so vulnerable and in a state where I couldn’t be clear and rational.

Suddenly I felt a release of pressure, and I opened my eyes to see the doctor holding a baby, bum up, (she came out with meconium, so he was being careful she didn’t get any in her lungs) and then she was placed on my chest, warm and wet and slightly purple – and so incredibly perfect and beautiful.

There was more pressure, as Dr.B delivered the placenta.

I looked at the beautiful tiny face, and I found myself saying “Where did you come from?”. I couldn’t believe this was the same little being that had been in my tummy. “Surreal” doesn’t even being to cover it. But even as I wondered how this could be one in the same, how after everything I had been through I had somehow find myself at this inestimable moment, I knew that I loved this little girl. The word “love” doesn’t even cover it. The feeling I felt – and still feel – is primal. It is consuming. Complete, overwhelming adoration and protectiveness of this person. Delicious obsession. The desire to know everything, every curve of her face, every dimple in her fingers, to see her grow, to learn about what she loves.

I know it took 2 weeks for me to get this post out. What can I say – it’s hard to type when you find yourself lost in looking at a face for hours. But I hope to do a slightly better job of writing posts, in order to cherish these memories later. She is growing and changing so fast! Some favorite photos from that first day… taken by Doula P (all rights given to her, please feel free to check out her website!)

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***update*** I just want to clarify: although it didn’t go according to my “plan”, I have nothing but warm, fuzzy nostalgia for my birth experience. I wish I could return to that room, that time, that experience. I felt so loved, cared for, and safe. I feel so lucky, blessed and grateful for my experience. It was filled with much fun and laughter, even though it also had moments of difficulty and tears. Sometimes the most rewarding experiences have highs and lows, because we grow so much through both emotions.

The Birth Class

Trying to gather my thoughts… and I know that no matter what I write, it will not and can not encompass this last weekend.  Just a heads up: This WILL be a long post.  Sorry, no way to do this succinctly.

We signed up for this birth class at the recommendation of our midwife.  I went on the website, and to be honest, it’s not super specific on what to expect.  (But in hind sight, there is not way to!)  But I figured that if it was what my midwife has recommended, it’s what we should do.  To be honest, I was a little unsure if it would be too hippy-dippy-mother-earth-spiritualism for me.  But we did it.  From all the reviews I could find and read, about the class or the woman who taught it (who is something of a big deal in the doula community) everything was glowing and raving.

This is the doula (Doula P) I had contacted early on in my pregnancy when I was hoping to hire a doula, but Hubster looked at the cost and his fiscally responsible side won out, thinking we really didn’t need one.  And so I had dropped it (Disappointed, but it’s hard to argue with the cold hard truth of working in an already tight budget).

Saturday arrives, and we head to the address with water bottle, snacks, lunch, pillows, blankets, yoga mat, comfy clothes…  And arrive to this wonderfully cozy room.  We meet the other couples (total of 5 couples in our class), fill out a little survey, go around and introduce ourselves.  The initial survey, both Hubster and I completed separately and then compared answers.  It was encouraging to see how similar we were on our answers (there was not “right” or “wrong”, just our opinions on the birth process).  Doula P walked us through some of the basics of a baby’s descent, and how important head position is for determining ease or difficulty of labor.  This lead to various movements and exercises we could do to try and encourage the baby to turn or adjust, as well as pain relief options such as counter-pressure, aromatherapy, touch etc.  It was surprising to me that my tall, strong husband was usually too gentle!  I felt bad having to say “You can press harder there!” but I’m also sure he didn’t want to hurt me or the baby.  It was very sweet and tender.  Then Doula P had us working on intentional relaxation, where we laid down and focused on relaxing individual muscle groups.  This lead into time for the two of us to just lay with our arms around each other, looking into the other’s eyes.  (Keeping in mind that this ENTIRE time, she is weaving in stories from her own experience and her student’s experiences!)  Two stories that really stood out to me:

-When discussing the pain of childbirth, she made the statement that labor and birth is not the worst pain.  She asked for us to guess what was.  People would throw out things like “broken bones” etc, and finally she told the story of a previous apprentice who had waited until her husband and she had “all their ducks in a row” – the house, the car, the careers.  Only to find out she had very aggressive breast cancer.  She will never have children, and has very limited time left.  It was a particularly powerful story for me because of my past and because I know SO MANY women still struggling with infertility.  That would give anything, pay anything, do anything to be pregnant and experience labor.  No matter the physical pain, it doesn’t compare to the emotional and psychological pain of desiring children and not being able to have them.  I can’t express how poignant it was to me to have her acknowledge those who are child free NOT by their own choice.

-A couple who came to her to be their doula because the husband was in the military, and he would be deployed when the baby was due.  The day after they took the birth class with her, he shipped out.  A few days before the baby was due, the wife answered the door to his officers and chaplain.  He would never come home (oh man, I’m crying just trying to write this out) and again – to think that he would give anything to see his child, and she would have given anything for him to come home.  Their last weekend was spent focusing on the love they had for each other and for their unborn child.  Even though Hubster is no longer serving a fire department, the fact is there could be an accident; you never know when something could possibly happen to make your last goodbye you’re very last.

The common thread throughout the weekend was a very strong recognition of gratitude.  That we have to recognize the amazing blessings we have.  It meant so much to me, because I have all along felt so incredibly grateful for this pregnancy.  Not just the pregnancy, but how healthy it has been!  I just SO deeply resonated with Doula P.

We watched a little video that showed a woman in labor and delivery, along with computer graphics of what is happening inside the uterus, specifically with the cervical effacement and dilation.  It even showed her delivering the placenta.  Sure, it’s not very pretty, but it’s what happens!  (I feel I should mention we did this during lunch lol)

… Even as I write this, and I try to think of what order everything happened in and I can’t!  Everything has been colored by emotions, so that my logical, ordered side of my brain can’t keep track because emotional side of my brain has it organized differently  …

At some point I remember us all sitting around in a circle and Doula P handed out (at random) various birth scenarios (actually, they were previous student’s real birth stories) and basically told us “What if this was the birth card you were handed?” – making us acknowledge that some things are outside of our control no matter how detailed a birth plan we put together.  Of course, the one we got?  Emergency cesarean section.  My worst fear.  But, ok, Hubster and I read through the description and had to figure out how we would handle that.  And you know what?  We actually came up with some game plan ideas.  Because we can’t predict that, we can’t say “For sure and certain, we won’t go there.”  Just like with infertility, we have to find a way to live with whatever we get dealt by my body.  Everyone’s paper was different, so we went around and talked about the various possibilities and how each couple would handle it.  But the amazing thing for me was to realize that if we do end up in the OR, it doesn’t have to be the end of the world.  (Although I’m going to do everything in my power to get this baby out vaginally!)

Then came time for the “Ice Journey”… only it wasn’t us women who went through the labor simulation.  It was the men who donned blindfolds, and had to endure holding ice over and over, longer and longer, with various music/sounds/smells – some meant to bring comfort, some meant to simulate unhelpful staff… It was so eye opening to be the one in the man’s shoes.  To watch him be in pain and know I can’t help.  Doula P would give us direction at times to come and offer comfort (hugging, back massage, breathing with him) and other times have to step back and leave him alone – but the fact is there will be times that there is just nothing Hubster will be able to do to help me (because let’s be honest, ice is just not the same as labor) Each “contraction” Doula P would weave a story, a concept, a thought into it directing both the men and us to the different kind of thoughts and experiences one has in labor.  The easier contractions, the more difficult, the more psychological….

I think the hardest point was watching him as Doula P simulated the more “stereotypical” woman in labor, screaming and crying and angry that her partner isn’t “fixing” the pain.

I kinda lost it.  Oh the tears.  I just felt so guilty – that my husband would have to stand and feel helpless, that his heart would be breaking to see me in pain and not be able to fix it.  And I knew that when the time came – I didn’t want to be that angry, bitchy woman saying mean things to her husband.  Because I know that Hubster will do everything in his power to be there, to help and that he does love me.  And of course – that is the whole point.  We walked a mile in each other’s shoes.  And I KNOW it absolutely changed the way we are going to approach our labor.  Hubster has had a lot to say about his side of the that experience…  At the end we all guessed how long the ice journey had gone on for.  Most people were guessing just shy of an hour.  However it was 2 and a half hours. 

We went home that night just wrung out.  Hubster and I sat on the couch trying to unpack the day.  We went to bed and usually we will lay and talk for a bit before drifting off to sleep, but we really held each other and snuggled through the night.  Very tender and intimate.

Sunday dawned and we headed back for our second day.  I couldn’t imagine how we would top Saturday!  Sunday we started by reviewing movements/positions (and the reasons for each) for labor… and this is when Hubster admitted he was a little scared.  It’s a lot to remember!  And to think he will have to remember and teach Jewel during the labor?

He started pretty seriously rethinking having a doula… because the other thing that had been coming to light (since Doula P has worked with basically EVERYONE in our area, including our midwife, other midwives, hospitals etc…) was that our midwife would be pretty hands-off during my labor.  I know I’ve written before about my concerns that we haven’t really “clicked” with Midwife N, and that I’ve been frustrated with her brief visits, and that when I express concerns she tends to wave them off and tell me “everything will be just fine”, and doesn’t really discuss details of her protocols or our birth plan…  The more I started asking Doula P and the other students, the more Hubster and I realized that midwife N may not really be the best fit…  But so we talked a little bit throughout Sunday about the idea of hiring a Doula.  We got through the exercises, and then Doula P had a friend who does massage speak a little more about using massage techniques to aid in pain relief.

We discussed various medical interventions, why they are performed, their pros and cons.  (there was a video here too, yay lunch time!)  It’s not to say that interventions don’t have a time and place – they certainly do!- but it’s pretty scary what some of the side effects, and even long term effects those interventions can have that doctors don’t really talk about.  Sometimes it’s worth it to have patience with ourselves and make sure we really NEED an intervention before we just casually sign up for something.  Even though I knew I wanted to avoid unnecessary interventions, I still learned quite a bit.

…. I feel like there is stuff I’m forgetting.  I know we spent quite a bit of time talking through questions people still had, touching on water birth, placenta encapsulation (we are the ONLY species that doesn’t consume the placenta, even herbivores eat the placenta, there are a long list of reasons that it is consumed, to help balance hormones, protein boost etc… So since it would be gross to just eat it like a wild animal, there are people out there that will steam/dehydrate/powder it and put it into capsules you can take like vitamins.)

Eventually we got to the women’s turn of the ice journey.  We donned our blindfolds and waited as Doula P spoke with the guys in the hall.  And waited.  And waited.  Because, you know, a big part of labor is waiting!  It was interesting… I have a history of panic attacks.  It usually starts with a little vertigo, then progresses to numb hands, and eventually I’m hyperventilating in the shower (because the shower is the only non-medication I have found to be helpful – and a big part of why having a water birth is SO important to me.)  Anyway, so sitting with a blindfold on, I felt myself having a little bit of vertigo… and then I realized I was about to put my hands in ice which would probably make my hands feel numb… and I realized there was a good possibility I was about to have a panic attack.  And I realized I had two options.
Option one: take the blindfold off and tell them I couldn’t do the labor simulation.
Option two: take a deep breath, put my big girl panties on, and realize that if I have a panic attack while in labor I can’t just “take the blindfold off” and walk away.  I thought of all the people out there that would give anything to be in my shoes, pregnant, at a birth class, preparing for labor.  I thought of my little girl who will need me to be strong for her – not just to deliver her, but for the rest of her life.

I went with option two.  And you know what?  When the simulation started, and we were told to pick up the ice for the first “contraction” and start doing things (sit, stand, walk with guidance/trust walk, do some of the labor movements like a lunge or hip roll) I totally lost the vertigo/panicky sensation.

There was one “contraction” where she simulated the baby being in distress, slamming doors and barking orders of “left side” and “right side” and throwing out dropping heart rates…  And all I could think was “I don’t want to be the reason we lose this baby too” which brought up a huge slop bucket of EMOTIONS.  (Cue  super-intense-snotty-nosed-sobbing)  But in processing it, I realized several things:
1-I had no idea how much the success or failure of this pregnancy was connected to my feelings about the previous pregnancy.  Hurray for self-awareness.
2-It is NOT fair to myself to put that kind of pressure on me.  It is NOT my fault that we miscarried.
3-Having a successful pregnancy and delivery of this child does NOT bring back my first baby.  It only gives me THIS baby.  So this pregnancy and this delivery is about Seedling.  It is not about my Bleeding Tulip.

Some people might have thought that was crossing a line, but I feel it was huge in recognizing a possible real life scenario, but being able to process it in a safe space so that if I find myself in that ACTUAL scenario, I am prepared.  I am prepared to listen to the staff and focus on Seedling.  And yes, probably still cry, but I don’t think it will be as hysterical.

…So many other experiences, Doula P talked about contraction interruptions,  all the women giving birth all over the world, and remote villages in Africa where women labor and give birth completely alone…

For the final “contraction” Doula P had us think of a mantra, something to think and focus on.  Suggesting things like “I believe in my body”, and while I can see how lots of women would click with something like that, the one that came to my mind was “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” – because God is so much bigger than just my faith in my body (as much as I do have a lot of faith in my body).  And plunged both hands into the ice.

As the night before, the whole Ice Journey was 2 and a half hours.  But it felt like time had gone so much faster than that.  Hubster was amazing, so supportive and helpful, loving, tender, encouraging.

The class ended with everyone debriefing (as much as we could!) and I am very excited that we are keeping in touch with a facebook group (huzzah for technology!) and am very much looking forward to our reunion after everyone has their babies.  These are people who I had never met before, but we went through this big, emotional, vulnerable adventure and came out connected.

And before we left the class we pulled Doula P aside to let her know we can’t imagine moving forward with our birth plan without her…  But that, and the following meeting where we went over our birth plan and contract etc etc will be for another post.  Because I am SO THRILLED to have her as our doula, and am so excited about all the decisions we have made about that.

So, “to be continued…”

Hodgepodge

So much to talk about… Maybe I’ll do this post bullet-style:

~(just because “~” is more fun than “-“, see, it has an artistic squiggle!)

~Tuesday Hubster and I went to see the preliminary, unedited photos from our maternity photo shoot.  I was so worried that with the rain and everything that I would look like a drowned rat… but the photographer is amazing and I do not, in fact, look like a drowned rat!  I love the pictures, and we picked the one that will be our Christmas card (she’s going to focus on editing that one first so we can place the order for the cards ASAP) It was funny though, even though I take “bump photos” I don’t really see pictures of myself very often, and certainly not multiple pictures from lots of angles all at once.  I exclaimed “Wow, I look really pregnant!” and both Hubster and Suzy (my friend AND professional photographer) looked at me and said “That’s because you are really pregnant!”  I tried to explain it to Hubster later.  See, I’ve always struggled with my weight.  So, I’ve always had a “big abdomen”.  So as far as how I feel, I don’t feel any different than when I was heavy.  Big abdomen.  I mean, sure, my abdomen feels different in that there is a heaviness/weightiness to it.  My abdomen isn’t squishy, it’s solid.  I can feel a little person moving around inside of it.  But there is this ingrained body image that I’m overweight, that I am generally large, and that I look like I am overweight.  I generally assume that walking down the street, people assume I’m NOT pregnant, but that I am overweight.  So it really was a revelation to realize that while I feel pregnant, I also  look pregnant.

~On a pregnancy-related note: I’ve always had an average amount of baby-fine hair.  Which means I tend to have styling issues.  If I don’t shower every 24 hours, my hair looks really greasy and gross.  If I don’t put hair ties on really tight, they slip off my hair.  If I part my hair wonky, it looks like I’m balding… but since being pregnant causes you to stop shedding hair, I have thicker hair!  And now, I can shower every other day and my hair looks fine!  (Like a normal person!) Hair bands stay in place!  My part doesn’t have to be perfect!  If only it could stay like this forever…

~Work is good.  Monday was a terrible, horrible, no good day because we were slammed, were having power surges which was messing with the computers and then we had a really horrific, bully of a client come in and I had to walk away or I was either going to scream at him, or cry.  In contrast, Wednesday was a GREAT day, very chill and very nice customers.  But through it all, I love that the people I work with are such great people.  They really try to pull their weight and work hard and help me out.

~Wednesday morning I had a midwife appointment.  Things are still coming along nice and normal, nothing really exceptional to report.  Seedling is moving, wiggling, rolling, had a good heartbeat.  My blood pressure is nice and low.  Everyone’s happy!

~Here in the states, yesterday was Thanksgiving.  I made grain free biscuits and stuffing, grain free pie crust, and my infamous family recipe pumpkin pie.  Can I just say… that stuffing recipe is the BEST EVER???  Even if you don’t need to eat grain free, it is delicious!  Hubster is NOT a stuffing fan AT ALL, and even he liked it!  And the pie crust was equally amazing, had great flavor and texture, and if I had not know it was grain free I would not have guessed that it was!  My dad, stepmom and mom all came over.  Hubster was really expecting a terrible time, lots of family awkwardness and that it would be uncomfortably cramped in our small apartment… but somehow it all worked out!  It was actually really amusing to watch my mom and stepmom take over my kitchen and work together and chatter away (mostly about how they think I have organized  X well but really need to improve the organization of Y with the baby coming… lol)  There was just two less than stellar moments:
1.  when my mom started digging into a pity party about how terrible her boss is, and then I just changed the subject much to everyone else’s amusement.
2.  when my stepmom started going off about how I must be so done with being pregnant and how terrible it was for her to be pregnant, but I just stopped her and basically said “I think after infertility, loss, and all my friends who have had really difficult (sick, bed rest, late term miscarriage) pregnancies I don’t have anything to complain about and am trying to enjoy every moment of this that I can.”  And that basically shut her up!
All in all it really was a great visit!  The food was amazing (I’m digging me some Thanksgiving leftovers!) and since everyone had to work nobody stayed too late and I got to go to bed early.
The Thanksgiving table… the tablecloth, china and silverware were my late Maternal Grandmother’s… it was nice to have a piece of her with us on the holiday 🙂

~The day after Thanksgiving here in the States is usually called “Black Friday” because lots of stores have huge sales, trying to clear out inventory etc with Christmas coming.  I’ve never been a big fan, getting up and standing in line at midnight to deal with a bunch of exhausted and cranky people bickering over who grabbed the last box of who-the-hell-cares just to save a few bucks?  Not my cup of tea.  But this year, I had my gift cards and cash gifts from our showers, and I did my shopping online to try and finish up some of the last, important things on our registries.  Of course I couldn’t get everything, but tried to grab all those last-little-things, and left the 3 largest items for the handful of family members that still want to get us things.  (I think it’s easier when someone says “What do you need?” to list 3 things, rather than 20)  I’m very happy I got my fabulous deals with free shipping, no lines, in my jammies and was in bed before midnight.  Anyone wanna read a list of what I got?  Because in my nerdiness, I made one!  (Hurray for lots of discounts and deals!!!)  I am also stupidly excited for packages to show up in my mail lol 🙂

Black Friday Loot
Bedding:
Serta Organic Contour Pad
Changing Pad Cover – brown dots
Changing Pad Cover- yellow dots
Organic Contoured Changing Table Cover
Graco Quilted Pack N Play sheet – ecru
Yellow Crib Rail Cover (1 long)
Yellow Crib Rail Cover (2 short)
Swaddle Blanket – Kiwi Triple Paisley design
Swaddle Blanket – Sterling Sparklers design
Jersey Sheet – Soft Yellow
Jersey Sheet – Yellow Stripe
Safety:
First Years American Red Cross First Aid Kit
Hyland’s Teething tablets
Summer Infant Oral Care Kit
Bottle Drying Rack
Universal Outlet Covers (6)
No Scratch Bottle Brush
Diapers:
OsoCozy 6 pack prefolds
Simple Step Diaper Pail
Rumparooz Pocket – Preppy design
Rumparooz Pocket – Lux design
Rumparooz – Ladder design (Hubster was a firefighter for 6 years, I couldn’t pass up a diaper with a firefighter theme!)
Thirsties Cover – Family Tree design
Thirsties Diaper Pail Liner (2)
Thirsties Hemp Prefold (5)

~Saturday we are meeting up with friends to go and cut our Christmas tree.  I’ve never done the weekend-after-Thanksgiving Christmas Tree thing… a little worried it will be a a mad house but I’m looking forward to seeing this group, especially as some of them live quite a drive away and we see rarely.  Than Jewel is supposed to come down Saturday evening to hang out for a bit.  We haven’t hung out for a while, and I will borrow some much-needed super-small needles from her to get started on a Christmas project.  Sunday has no plans other than church, and by gum, I’m keeping it that way!!!  Looking forward to an afternoon spent on the couch, hopefully getting some serious work done on my pile of Christmas present projects!