Archive for the ‘Warm Fuzzies’ Category

Ladybug Fun!

Well it’s 2am and Seedling has decided it’s time to be AWAKE. So while I slowly walk in circles around my tiny apartment trying to rock her back to sleep, I figured the blog was overdue for an update. A few milestones we have hit here recently:
-seedling is 4 1/2 months old
-She is becoming more coordinated at reaching/grabbing/batting/pulling things. We have a dangling toy that plays music when you pull on it. Hubs yet or I have always been the ones to make it go, but this weekend she pulled hard enough to make it go herself!
-she’s generally losing interest in laying in her back to play, but doesn’t have the strength to sit unaided. Even with the boppy, or in her high chair with toys on the food tray, she can only last so long. The cool thing about high chair playtime is that she can watch me get chores done, and during mealtime we can still all be together even though Seedling isn’t eating solids yet.
-Thursday last week was the first time she’s shown interest of food. I had her on my knee while eating lentil soup at a church supper, and she was very much following the spoon!
-she is wearing 6-9 month tops, and 9+ month pants. Have I mentioned she’s always above average on the growth charts in height?
-she’s sucking her thumb. This has been going in for a little while now, but she’s much more coordinated at getting that digit in her mouth and keeping it there. She will chew on her other fingers as well, and drool… I’m just waiting for a tooth to pop up one of these days!
-all over her upper respiratory/eye infection/ear infection as far as I can tell. Yippee!
-much like her mom: hates the heat. We hit upper 80’s/possibly the 90’s today and she was miserable. Had to blot her with a cool damp cloth just so she could nurse. She’s living in just a onesie. We have every fan going and window open. It’s gonna be a long summer…

And now for some adorable ness that is high chair play time with her Eric Carl ladybug!

20130507-030549.jpg

Advertisements

My Morning View

There are lots of reasons I love that we co-sleep.  But the number one?  Waking up with my daughter, and watching her wake up.  Take a peek at what I mean:

So peaceful when she is asleep.

 IMG_1839

She starts with some adorable streeeeetching…

IMG_1840 IMG_1841 IMG_1842 

 

Then she will s-l-o-w-l-y crack her lids open…

 

IMG_1845 IMG_1846

Followed by looking at me as if to say “Who the heck are you, where am I, and how did I wind up here?!” (AKA – waking up in Vegas)

 

IMG_1848 IMG_1851

“Hmm… wait… maybe it’s coming back to me now…”

IMG_1852 IMG_1853 IMG_1855

Then the recognition starts…

IMG_1856

 

The sleep haze is lifting…

 

IMG_1857

“Oh YEAH!!!! You’re my mommy!  Hi mommy!!!”

IMG_1858

Come on, is that not THE. BEST. way to start your day???  *Heart. Melt.*

A little more level headed

Thank you all for the outpouring of support. I can’t tell you all what it means to me!!!!!!!!! I live this community *warm fuzzy*

I will put in another call to LLL today. Yesterday (Sunday) ended up being quite crazy day. We didn’t sleep well, Saturday night, then overslept and rushed out the door to get to church. As this was my first visit back to church since Seedlings birth there was a “Churching” where the priest comes back and says prayers over the newborn in the Narthex (entrance) which was very sweet… After liturgy was over everyone wanted to see the new addition during coffee hour. It was heartwarming to realize how many people have been thinking about us and praying for us ❤

Then home to pump and feed Seedling. Yesterday I didn't try to nurse much – I wanted to compare how much I was producing (about 1ounce per breast per feeding for a rough total of 2 ounces) compared to how much Seedling wanted to eat (about 3 to 4 ounces per feeding… Although at one feeding she readily ate 5 ounces!). So now I know I have a deficit of about 2 ounces.

Then to the grocery store… Needed some basic food items and wanted to see what my formula options were. I had been feeding a free sample of Similac but didn't feel very comfortable with a lot of the ingredients… Found an organic formula at the store to try, I just wish it was milk only without soy, but I couldn't find an organic formula that didn't contain soy! (There are a lot of concerns about what soy does to the estrogen levels…) but at least I can pronounce most of the ingredients in this formula so I don't feel as anxious if she is having it as part if her nutrition.

Then back home… Tried to get some napping in, but Seedling had slept all through church and most of the grocery experience, so I only got a little. But, when we gave in to the fact that she was awake and had play time/tummy time, she reached out and grabbed her toy for the first time!!! She has done some reaching before, but this was the first reach-and-grab, and I’m so glad Hubster got to witness it!

The next amazing thing? She slept from 8:30pm to 3am… I didn’t get up to pump after my 9pm pumping, which hurt my boobs and will impact my supply… But after the serious lack of sleep, stress and emotionalism, MAN did it feel good, great, better than sex to get 6 hours of sleep!

I’m a new woman who can handle anything now!

Picture of Seedling with her links she grabbed 😀

20130128-040039.jpg

Christmas in Review, and more Signs and Symptoms!

So far, still pregnant, so Seedling can at least rest easy she will not have her birthday ON Christmas. Although, signs are looking good for sooner rather than later… (More on that later in the post)

We had a lovely Christmas yesterday. Yes, we are Orthodox and that means we sometimes celebrate Holidays on different days but we still celebrate Christmas on the 25th 🙂 there are some Orthodox that follow the “old calendar” and celebrate Christmas in January, but those are churches mostly in Eastern Europe. To learn a little more about that and the “12 Days of Christmas” check out this link: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twelve_Days_of_Christmas

But back to our lovely day. Although it didn’t start out so lovely. Hubster threw his back out and literally could not get out of bed. Since I’ve seen him push through some pretty intense pains, it breaks my heart to see him so down. Especially on a important, celebratory Holiday! We made the decision that he should just stay home and I would go to my dads for brunch. I knew my emotions were just a bit on overdrive, feeling bad for Hubster home alone, worried my family would be upset/angry that Hubster wasn’t there, very aware of the humbleness of the gifts I was about to give… My family has always made a big deal out if the holidays, but Christmas seems to bring out the extravagant generosity… And usually means quite a bit of money spent in beautiful, wonderful, thoughtful gifts. We just didn’t have the money to reciprocate in quite the same way and I didn’t want anyone to feel that the smallness of the gifts in any way reflected a minimal love or thought… Anyway, I should have known my family would totally understand that things are tight for us right now. And everyone was very sweet and understanding about Hubster. My stepmom was scatter brained about getting brunch together, but that was the biggest hiccup. It was so wonderful to see my brother and his wife and their kids. The son is 3 and their daughter is 13 months, and this was the first time I got to meet my niece! It was just so great to spend time together, catching up and watching my dad play with his grand kids, watch my brother be a wonderful and fun father, watch my brother and his wife get to spend time together. (With my brother in the military, SIL has to function like a single mom a lot of the time.). Everyone got along without unnecessary family drama, everyone gave a lot of love, and a lot of loving, thoughtful gifts. I wish we could be together more often for moments like that.

Dinner was to be done with my mom. When she heard Hubster was out of commission she offered to pack up the entire dinner and presents and being them to our place. But after talking with Hubster some more we decided we should just go to her place. Since Hubster hadn’t moved most of the day he felt somewhat up to the idea of going out, and with his back out and me so pregnant there would be no one to help my mom carry all that stuff up the three flights of stairs to our apartment!

So we got into the car and drove over, all of Hubster’s gifts from my dad and brother still in the car. We got to my moms and between her and me we brought in the gifts and helped Hubster to a comfy spot on her couch. We started with cookies and tea and present opening. Much like my dad and brother she totally outdid herself, we really appreciate all the thoughtfulness and generosity with things we greatly wanted and needed. Dinner was delicious and casual, aside from the gun debate my mom and Hubster had… It was very civilized but they both hold to very opposite opinions and all I could think about was someone taking it too far and it blowing up, but it didn’t. (Just a side note… perhaps someday I will write a post about my feelings on guns, but today is not that day. The issue of guns is an emotional one for both sides and I recognize that all any of use want is to feel we and our families are safe. Please don’t turn the comments section into a place to air your opinions at this time). We had pie and eggnog and watched one of the many movies we reviewed, “My Fe.llow Amer.icans” which is a great satire about politics and makes fun of both parties, and seemed particularly timely after the political discussion over dinner.

Came home and was able to consolidate the mountain of gifts for as few trips as possible. (While at my moms she shared what I can only guess was prescription strength ibuprofen with Hubster so he was feeling quite a bit more mobile and was able to help). We fed the pets and went to bed. Last night was another frequent-trip-to-the-bathroom-night. This time with a little light pink “bloody show”. This morning it was a mix of light pink and a little brown. I’ve been continuing to have sporadic Braxton Hicks “uterine aches” but nothing very concrete. So I called up Doula P just to check in. We had a very nice chat and she said not to worry that contractions weren’t really happening. It could still be a while yet but these are all good signs my body is getting ready for labor. (Plus the softer stools I’ve been having). I had planned to run several errands but with the symptoms and the fact that I’m still working to get over a cold she advised me to stay home and try to nap since my sleep is all messed up. I’m in a weird place of being fidgety and restless but also tired so I have yet to be able to nap. Hoping that by typing this all up my brain will stop buzzing and allow me to sleep!

I hope you all had really wonderful holidays with lots of love with people you hold dear!

A Cheesy Warm’N’Fuzzy Christmas Post

It is Christmas Eve.  My mind flits over the last year, to the Christmas of last year, and the past couple of Christmases…

I am so completely overcome with thankfulness and gratefulness for the life in my tummy.  Things have been pretty tight around here, (all the free time and money has been spent on getting ready for Seedling) so that Hubster and I realized we wouldn’t have time or money to really do any thing for one another.  But we both feel that we’re the luckiest people, and just having a full term, healthy pregnancy is the best gift we could possibly think of.  I think of all those Christmases, thinking I would trade any and every gift under the tree for a child.  I find such joy in every wiggle and roll, reminding me that she’s still in there, and still doing ok.  Tears come to my eyes for all the years of heartache that are now balanced by such overwhelming joy and contentment.

Hubster had to go into work this morning, so I got up with him at 5 this morning and made cinnamon rolls and eggs so that he could at least have a tasty breakfast on Christmas Eve.  We’re hoping he will get off work in time to make it to our church’s Vespers service tonight.  Then tomorrow morning we’re going over to my dads, and having brunch with him, my stepmom, my brother and his wife and kids.  And in the evening we will celebrate with my mom.

So I thought I would put together a little compilation of my bump shots… and include a picture I actually took right before I got pregnant!  I took it as a way of celebrating losing 40 pounds, having no idea that my abdomen would be growing again! (And ya, I’m sucking in my tummy, but I think it still counts to show where I WAS!)

Pre Pregnancy (March 9th 2012), 12 Weeks, 16 Weeks, 20 Weeks, 24 Weeks, 28 Weeks, 30 Weeks, 34 Weeks, 35 Weeks, 36 Weeks, 37 Weeks, 38 Weeks, 39 Weeks (December 23rd 2012)

IMG_050612 Weeks Belly Shot on Fathers Day 2.016 weeks pregnant (2)20 Weeks Bump Shot (3)24 weeks 9-9-12 (3)28 weeks 10-6-1230 weeks 10-21-1234 Weeks35 Weeks36 weeks pregnant37 Weeks 12-9-1238 weeks39 weeks

Hiring Our Doula

So as promised, I will continue where I left off on my previous post.

We had come to the realization during our birth class that our midwife would be very hands-off during the labor, and Hubster was overwhelmed at the idea of trying to remember everything by himself.  So we sat down with Doula P to discuss our hopes and preferences for our birth…

I feel I should also make clear why we had chosen to go with a midwife.  Before I was ever pregnant, I was exposed to the book “You.r Be.st Bi.rth” which lead to watching the documentary “The Busi.ness of Bei.ng Bo.rn” which lead to more research and more documentaries… Hubster even wrote a persuasive essay last semester for his English class about the overwhelming evidence that for a low-risk woman home birth, with a midwife, is safer, with less interventions (and their side effects) then giving birth in a hospital.  All of our research had more or less come to these general conclusions:
-Hospitals have strict protocols, that dictate how the doctor is to treat, (even if the doctor would otherwise be open minded) and how the woman is allowed to labor.  The majority of the time you must labor in bed, on your back – the most painful and unnatural position to labor and give birth in.
-Doctors are trained to look for problems.  They rarely, if ever, see a natural child birth while in school.  This is why they are so quick to intervene with interventions that are often unnecessary.  Every intervention, no matter how small, has pros and cons.  Every intervention has side effects.  There are times they are necessary, but as our Cesarean section rates are increasing we must ask if every intervention these doctors are doing is really necessary.
-Compared to other developed nations (with lower C-section rates) we have some of the highest numbers of infant and maternal mortality.  (Hubster printed out the statistics of every country in the world, it was pretty shocking to see countries that I would think of as “second” or “third world” that had better statistics than the US!)
-Midwives are trained in natural child birth.  They allow and encourage movement, and various positions to labor and deliver in.  They support water birth and other “alternative” and “progressive” birth wishes.  They are more involved in assisting during labor and delivery.
-Midwives take longer with their patients, forming close, trusting relationships.  They are less “clinical” and more personal.  They are more open, respectful and encouraging of the couple’s birth plans/hopes/wishes.

So here we are, with specific expectations and presumptions, based on a LOT of research.  And we knew, that for us, we wanted minimum interventions, no pain medication, and a water birth.  So we sit down with Doula P on Tuesday morning for our consultation.  And since she is friends with Midwife N, she was very kind and judicious, but also very straightforward about what to expect with her.  That N would:
-Not assist in labor coaching/movements/massage/pain relief.  To a certain extent, this has to do with an old injury that makes it really difficult for her to be that physical.
-Insist on breaking the back of waters at 4cm, regardless of how good my progress is.  This is so she can assist in stretching the cervix to cut labor time down.  (Which sounds cool in concept, but is extremely painful… and part of my reasons for wanting to labor without drugs is because I don’t feel that there is anything wrong with working through labor.  It is an experience that I want to experience, not hurry through.)
-Not allow a water birth.  Because bending over/reaching into the tub is physically difficult for her, and because…
-Desire that when it came time to push, N would have me on my back.  Admittedly, this is so that she could utilize some special knowledge to assist in stretching/opening my cervix (OWWW!!!) and then stretching/opening the birth canal and perineum to minimize tearing.  (Which actually sounds cool… but not worth the pain of being on my back in my opinion.)

I could feel this clenching in my chest.  On one hand, I wanted to say “Ok, this is what you’ve got ahead of you, all you can do is prepare for that.” but on the other hand it was so polar opposite of what we had envisioned, I wanted to fight it but I felt… trapped.  I mean, I’m 37 weeks pregnant for goodness sake!  Doula P was so great and calm.  She asked me to reiterate what what really important to us.  And then she suggested the possibility of changing care.  Not that Midwife N is a bad midwife – but just that she may not be the right fit for us.  And let’s be honest, how often have I written about feeling disconnected, and unsettled with her as our midwife?  We’ve never really “hit it off”.  Doula P acknowledged that finding a midwife this late wasn’t very realistic, but she has two doctors that are professional friends at the local hospital, and offered to call them and see what their availability was.

As someone who works in a (veterinary) clinic, I am fully aware of how intensely busy doctors are.  They are constantly running to and from surgery, appointments with patients, trying to get through writing up charts, calling patients with lab results, and a million other types of paperwork.  They are rarely available at the time you call, and it’s always a few hours before they have a free moment to call anyone back.  So I thought perhaps Doula P would speak with their assistants or leave messages and we would find out more later in the week.

She calls up Dr.B, and gets his personal voicemail (I can only assume she has his direct line or cell phone number?) and she leaves him a message that she has a client interested in switching care providers  wants a water birth, and is he available for my due date of Decemeber 30th?  Then she calls up Dr.J – and he answers his phone!  When she says her name he very warmly says “Oh hey!  How are you?” It’s evident that there is a great deal of mutual respect, as for a peer or colleague.  Unfortunately, he is out of town until January, but said that if I was a little late he could be available, and advises she try Dr.B.  As they are talking her phone beeps – it’s Dr.B calling her back!   (Totally unheard of!)  He is very enthusiastic and easy going about the idea of a last-minute patient, and a water birth.  “Anything for you!” was his attitude.  Again – I was blown away by the obvious respect these doctors have for Doula P.  It made me not only feel confident that we had made the right decision to hire her as our doula, but it also gave me the confidence that if we switched to a hospital birth, with a doctor, that we would be respected and our wishes and hopes would be honored as much as possible.  Doula P told us not to feel any pressure to change, but that at least we knew we had options, to go home, sleep on it, and let her know.  But in the span of the 15 minute car ride home, Hubster and I had gone from “considering” to realizing that was what we wanted.

Us.  In a hospital.  With a doctor.

Say what?!?!

But it’s true.  I instantly felt more at ease.  I felt like we had a great team, a great support system.  As ironic as it sounds, we just could not get over the fact that we had more freedom, more options, more chances of our desired birth experience at a hospital with a doctor (and doula!) than we would have had outside of the hospital with a midwife!  At least, in this specific circumstance.  I can’t deny that we live in a pretty liberal, “progressive” area of the country that has doctors and hospitals that welcome changes in the birth industry.  When we lived in Colorado, none of the three hospitals in our proximity allowed water births, period, end of discussion.  And I also think that Midwife N is something of an anomaly of the midwife profession in that she is so set in her ways and does things SO routinely.

I think that what made such a difference was this: Hubster has a saying from being in the fire service.  “A patient doesn’t care home much you know, until they know how much you care.”  With Midwife N, I always knew she had a lot of knowledge, but I never felt that she really connected with me.  Regardless of multiple visits over several months.  But in the course of a 2 day birth class I had absolute conviction that Doula P genuinely CARES about her students/clients.  I felt a connection with her and I felt that she would absolutely stick to keeping our best interests on the forefront.  So that I have a significant amount of trust in her – so much trust that this “die-hard stay-out-of-hospitals” woman has agreed to change to a hospital – and I feel peace about it.  Actually, I feel excited!  I feel like I finally know what to expect, I feel prepared.  Midwife N would never go into specifics on her protocols or preferences… probably a well-intentioned attempt to sooth and calm.  But I would so much rather have it handed to me straight.  And we have that now.

Other amazing points:

We discussed breastfeeding.  Midwife N had just told me to look up the La Leche League for classes, but I’m busy and never got around to it… Doula P grabs her phone and starts making calls and comes up with a list of classes and support groups!  I’ve had some concerns that my right nipple is a little wonky, and may impact my ability to breastfeed.  The woman at the WIC lactation consultation waved away my concern without asking to see the anatomy in question, and said if I had any problems, they would be addressed postpartum with a lactation consultant.  Midwife N basically did the same thing.  Doula P was the FIRST person to say “would it be ok if I looked?” so I whipped ’em out (ok, I actually was tactful and discrete) and she compared right to left, had me do some breast massage to stimulate the nipples, and agreed my right nipple IS in fact a little flat and may need a nipple shield, but that she believes with the right tools and assistance we will be ok.  It was actually nice to feel affirmed that I’m not going crazy or paranoid, and to be validated.  To be taken seriously.

We talked about my history of panic attacks, and how that is why I came to desire a water birth/labor.  We talked about my symptoms of an impending panic attack and how I’ve handled them without medication in the past, and how she and Hubster can help me if I start to feel them coming on during labor.  Since numb hands is a big part of my symptoms, she went over various hand massage/pressure points (Which felt amazing!  Oooo, hand massage…)

We talked about my concerns about my parents being overly zealous about wanting to be there as soon as I’ve delivered, and how to tactfully tell them that I wont know how I will feel, and we will have to see on the day of what all happens.  (Also, at a hospital, they can hang out in the waiting room until I’m feeling ready, and then when I start to feel done, I can utilize the hospital staff to play “bad guy” and direct them out – harder to do if they come to my home after we are all done at a birth center with a midwife.)  I want to honor my parent’s enthusiasm – as I’m on the verge of “official” motherhood, I’m more empathetic of how I would feel if my daughter turned me away.  But I also wont deny that this birth, and the time right afterward, is powerful, emotional bonding time for Hubster, myself and Seedling as a family.  And we genuinely just may not feel “up” for visitors.  (Another perk at the hospital?  They want us to stay overnight – so I get an extra day of recovery before having to come home and handle the dogs and cats etc.)

So after all of that, I had to notify Midwife N that we are transferring care without outing her friend.  I sent her an email, just explaining that the birth class brought a lot of concerns and fears to light, and that Hubster and I realized we would feel better in a hospital setting.  She actually took it really well and sent a very nice reply.  Then I called up Dr.B’s office and made an appointment – next Wednesday at 9:30am!  Oh, and of course I need to tour this hospital I’ve never been to!  Doula P actually leads tours on occasion, and is giving one Tuesday evening at 5pm.  So now I’m just working on getting done with the last of my “check list” stuff… we wrote up a birth preference letter for the day we go into labor, I need to gather/pack a bag… oh, and get the stupid car seat installed!  That was supposed to be on Scott’s plate BUT – this week he started a new job!  It’s in a welding shop, so it’s in his field of study, and will offer some income while I’m on maternity leave, all great and amazing things, but it means he is gone from 5:30am to 10pm between work and school… so I’m thinking it’s up to me, on my days off, to get these last things taken care of.

Oh, and did I mention that last night I *might* have had some braxton hicks?  It wasn’t like my entire abdomen went hard, but I would feel pressure on one said (usually my left) and the it would roll across the front of my abdomen to the other side… it could have just been Seedling running out of room, but all I could think last night was “I’m excited for labor, but we’re not quite ready yet!!!  AHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!  Don’t come, don’t come, don’t come just quite yet Seedling!” and then I woke up at 3:30 this morning just… awake.  I tried to fall back asleep but when Hubster got up for work at 4:30 I figured I might as well too.  So I’ve been up, walked dogs, fed pets, made breakfast, made egg salad, started filling in the baby book, and typed up a long-ass blog post, all before I would normally be awake.  Could  this be the surge of energy/nesting women get right before labor?!?!  Oh, I hope not, I’m so not ready…. I’d like to at least MEET this new doctor before we go into labor!  And the car seat!  Oh, and we need to get Doula P the rest of her payment (since we’re doing this so last minute we were able to make a deposit, but have to pull the rest out of the savings trust and that could take a few days to a week…)  AHHHH, so much to do, and I’m excited and stressed… and now that it’s time for me to be waking up, I’m suddenly exhausted.

 

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…”