Archive for the ‘ Preparing for labor and delivery ’ Category

Finley’s Birth Story

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

We all have stories to tell. Within each story, there are smaller stories, the details as we remember them and felt them. I firmly believe in the sharing of stories. Some parts of our stories we share. Some parts of our stories we keep sacred. Whatever we decide to share, the stories we tell are evidence of the moments we are blessed to live. Some moments are trying. Some moments are humbling. And some moments are ones where our hearts nearly burst with love.

Finely’s birth was all of those moments.

Below are the stories within in the story that comprise Finley’s birth. These are the moments from her birth that I hold in my heart.  I’ll tell her these stories little by little, unfolding each detail, each fabric in the tapestry of her tale, when she asks me to tell her about the day she was born.

I’ll tell her how her sister awoke the day of her birth with eyes only for my belly. Instead of asking for her typical morning show, she wanted to hug my belly, smother it in kisses, and continually ask when “sissy boo” was coming. In a sweet exchange, we cuddled and talked, the three of us, unbeknownst to me, the last time “the three of us” would still mean one was in my belly. It’s as if in the language reserved only for sisters, they both knew, today was different. Today was important.

I’ll tell her how I’d planned a “pregnant lady day out.” A day that started with a routine doctor appointment and was supposed to be followed by a manicure, pedicure, and shopping. I’ll tell her how I drove away from the house that day with the bed unmade, dishes in the sink, and the vacuum out for some cleaning. I naively thought I’d be back shortly.

I’ll tell her how the nurse began with her usual check of my blood pressure and promptly noted it was too high. As I sat on the cold, thin paper of the exam table, it didn’t even register that this could be a problem. As the nurse checked and rechecked my blood pressure, leaving the room quickly, I heard the quiet whispers between doctor and nurse exchanged just outside the door.

I’ll tell her how the doctor came in and said my blood pressure would not come down and I needed to go to the hospital. I’ll tell her how I called her dad and delivered the news a bit too flippantly, certain it was only a blip in the day’s plans. He immediately began to make plans to meet me at the hospital at which I protested, again, convinced it would clear up soon.

I’ll tell her how her dad, the most caring man I know said, “but what if it doesn’t get better? I need to be there.”

I’ll tell her how the nurses in the ER were the first to use the word, “preeclampsia.” In all honesty, I didn’t know the exact harm of preeclampsia and when they replied, “seizures,”  it suddenly registered that this was more than a blip in the day’s plans.

I’ll tell her how the doctor came in to confirm the preeclampsia and that while we were all healthy and only 6 days away from my due date, she wanted me to deliver that day.

I’ll tell her how the tears of worry poured from my eyes but despite that worry, her dad told me that as scared as we were, we were going to meet our beautiful baby that day.

I’ll tell her how they started me on anti-seizure medication, magnesium sulfate, and it gave me an instant headache, as if someone had placed the fuzziest of clouds around my head from which I could not surface.

I’ll tell her how they started the induction and I asked the nurses to turn down my medication because I wanted to be more present, more alert, more in the moment when she was born. They obliged.

I’ll tell her how at 6:45pm we were on the phone with Grandma, laughing, waiting, distracting, and guessing the baby would probably be born around midnight.

I’ll tell her how at 7:00pm I grimaced in intolerable pain and told her dad, “I think I want to push.”

I’ll tell her how her dad ran into the hall to find a nurse and suddenly, their hurried voices declared me ready to deliver. I remember asking the nurse, “you mean I’m ready to push?” She confirmed, but told me not to because I needed to wait for the doctor.

I’ll tell her how the next 30 minutes were the most painful and excruciating of my life as I tried not to push. I know I only survived those minutes because her dad grounded me. He looked into my soul in a way that only childbirth allows and cheered me and coached me out of a place I thought I couldn’t overcome. We were a team, more than we’ve ever been before. I needed him not only because I love him, but because I could not do it without him. His courage, his optimism, his support carried me through. And when it was over, and he tenderly kissed my forehead and told me I was incredible, I told him we were incredible.

I’ll tell her how  the doctor finally came and said I could push.

I’ll tell her how she must have flow furiously from heaven because with four pushes she was placed on my chest at 7:59pm.

I’ll tell her how her dad kept saying how beautiful she was and how I kept crying because she was here, safe, healthy, and the sweetest sounds of angry first cries.

I’ll tell her how there is nothing comparable to the first moment when the baby one carried for nine months enters the world. It is a hallowed experience, a moment so rare and precious I hold it deep in my heart as one of the best moments I was blessed to live.

I’ll tell her how her dad and I cried happy tears and excitedly shared her stats as I lay IV ridden in the birthing bed.

I’ll tell her how she nursed like a veteran, a happy and welcome blessing considering the other complications I was facing.

I’ll tell her how the news spread rapidly that she was already here and family came to visit and hold her hours old bundle of sweet self.

I’ll tell her how famished I was post delivery and promptly devoured a sandwich, cheeseburger and fries, the only food still available. I’ll tell her how for the first time in history, someone likened hospital food to the nectar of the gods.

I’ll her how after all the visitors cleared, her dad gently rocked her to sleep and she looked so peaceful in his arms, ones she’d only recently met, but so clearly fallen in love with. We both tried to get some sleep but I stayed awake that night as she lay sleeping at the foot of my bed.

I’ll tell her how I stared and stared and loved her with the matchless love of a mother who just met her new babe.

I’ll tell her how my arms ached for her, but because of the preeclampsia and the sulfate, I wasn’t able to continually hold her. I cried because it wasn’t supposed to be like that and after the adrenaline of her triumphant birth, the letdown of my limitations and illness were crushing.

I’ll tell her how I cried giant, hot, frustrated tears to her dad and he listened to my disappointment, but wisely calmed me as he told me, “I can’t lose you. And neither can our girls.” He gave me perspective. I knew I needed to do what was required to get better.

I’ll tell her how in the wee hours of the morning, I asked her dad to bring her to me, and as I held her in my arms, warm and soft and tiny sounds of contentment, the light slowly, quietly brightened to morning. I snuggled her and whispered to her the dreams in my heart for her life.

I’ll tell her how that quiet moment between mother and daughter got me through many lonely and painful moments as the hospital stay, bed rest, and medications dragged on.

I’ll tell her how I was afraid that the moment I had been waiting forever for, the first meeting with her sister, being together as a family of four, would be too clouded by medication.

I’ll tell her how as drained, medicated, and swollen as I was, despite my worries, their meeting, that moment, was one of my favorite moments on earth so far. Her sister came in, a slew of questions, “Why are you in the bed mommy?” “Is that her baby?” (referring to a friend in the room), excitedly announcing, “I brought baby Finley a present!” And even though presents, the thrill of the hospital, and me being in the hospital bed competed for her attention, as I held my two girls, I felt my heart expand with love and gratitude for the two tiny souls I’d been entrusted to raise. Her big sister tenderly examined her with curiosity, declaring her eyes to be her favorite part of her new baby sister.

I’ll tell her how in a moment of blessed clarity, I felt more complete, more love as our expanded family interacted for the first time.

There are so many stories to tell Finley from that day and birth stories are some of the most important stories to tell. They encapsulate so much love.

As she ages, and perhaps as the stories get a little less clear, I hope that she remembers how we told her of the instantaneous love of her father, the curiosity and tenderness of her sister, and the humble gratitude of her mother.

I hope she remembers that we needed her that day, we needed her in that unpredictable delivery to bind us with more love and courage than we have ever known. Her calm little soul brought so much love to our family and continues to do so every day.

We deeply wanted our sweet Finley, but until she came, we didn’t know just how much we needed our Finley too.

 

 

Images: Courtesy of my friend Jana

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Let’s Get it Started, Let’s get it Started in Here…

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

I cried a pile of pregnant hormonal tears the other night as I realized I might just have to go gangbusters on this uterus. Baby girl just seems wayyyyyy too comfortable in there. I realized I’d done lost my mind when in a bout of pregnant insomnia, I googled “ways to go into labor” at the unfathomable hour of 4 am.

When ladies tell me their birth stories of how their “water just broke,” not to mention it was “two weeks early,” I tune out. It seems fictitious to me.  Really, people, the water just breaks? I wouldn’t know a thing about it.

I want to tell the ladies, “I get it, your uterus knows how to party, mine is apparently an introvert who needs to be delicately coaxed to the middle of the dance floor.”

Lucky for me, I discovered there are all sorts of ways to “naturally induce labor” and in “15 easy steps” I can go into labor. I know I’m getting a little impatient. There’s still about a week before I really have to panic about how to get this baby out of here

Although, for this indecisive lady who can barely choose a dish off the overwhelming novella that is the Cheesecake Factory menu, deciding when and how to have a baby strikes fear in my heart. Just do this thing body.

As I perused the list of ways to go into labor, I thought, “where’s the justice?” I mean most of my internet searches left me thinking I’d try .02 of the techniques.

Where are all the women attesting to eating their weight in donuts as a sure fire way to have a baby? Why isn’t a 4-hour massage at the top of the natural labor induction list?

Castor oil, why you so nasty? And on every list? I vomit in your general direction.

Am I not desperate enough yet if I won’t jump on a trampoline, gallop like a horse, or shine a flashlight on my business as my searches suggested?

For the sake of my dignity, I just can’t go around my hood galloping like a horse. I’ve worked too hard to get some sort of street cred and while many people understand pregnant ladies are totally crazy at the end, the galloping, the flashlight wielding is just too much. I have standards.

Before I have to make any real decisions, there’s a very short list of things I’m willing to try to get this baby outta here:

1. Walking. “Now walk it out” is my personal mantra and we are clocking the mileage daily. Don’t worry, we be walking it out all over the West side, South side, East side, and North Side. We’re doing you proud Dj UNK.

2. Sexy time. My mother reads this blog. I’m well aware of this technique and the fact that it made the short list already tells you more than you need to know.

3. Dancing. I am not above the pole at this point if people can give me legitimate proof it will work.

4. Spicy food. I’ll trade a night of heartburn for a baby any day of the week.

5. Squats. I do approximately 57 unintentional squats a day when I pick up my toddler. After realizing they were a labor starter, I’ve been dropping it like it’s a night club in here, hoping the universe will throw me a bone.

6. Food and beverage. There are a myriad of foods people suggest to evict a baby: pineapple, raspberry leaf tea, moon pie, oregano to name a few. As long as it doesn’t have adverse side effects, see castor oil above, I’ll try it. Sorry eggplant, even though many people suggest you, we were not made for each other.

7. Yoga. I’m all over tree pose, eagle pose, and resting and napping pose. Namaste.

Are there any tried and true techniques I’m missing? Patience you say? What’s that?

Please, only enjoyable natural induction techniques need apply.

As much as I believe you that taking a bumpy car ride while standing on your head, balancing a birthing ball between your feet, taking shots of quinine, and having your membranes stripped all at once totally worked…it’s just not for me.

If your technique involves napping, cheeseburgers, or pedicures, please share away!

Image: A bun on my head and a bun in the oven.

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What Time is It? Baby Time!

Monday, February 4th, 2013

39 weeks/9 months

Let’s all do Rockette style pregnant lady leg kicks (we pause from our regularly scheduled post to let me catch my winded pregnant lady breath) because it’s BABY month! It’s here! I will not make it through this glorious month without having a babe. I’m a ticking time bomb.

There have been a myriad of beautiful signs that it’s about to be go time:

My doc asked if I wanted to be induced (I declined).

My pregnancy app tracker tells me I’m carrying a pumpkin, aka my belly is like whoa.

All the people scheduled to have babies before me have popped them out.

I am on deck people.

Really, we should change the title of this blog to “diary of an impatient lady who won’t talk about anything but how many days until her baby comes.” Rolls off the ol’ tongue doesn’t it?

What else can you expect though? I’m your baby lady, and soon, I’ll meet my lady baby.

The anticipation is off the Richter. The inquiring texts are rolling in like clockwork. A tiny part of me is very tempted to go off the map and see what that does to everyone. A few days of unanswered texts would drive the baby watchers mad. Oh to toy with emotions. I’d justify my game play as a fun distraction for the last two weeks of pregnancy, which some days feels longer than the entire pregnancy.

Really, for your sake, I’m hoping that you won’t have to listen to me ramble on for more than a week about how there are X number of days until our little Valentine appears.

I’m especially hoping this doesn’t take an Arrested Development turn where I have to explain her extreme attachment to me because she “spent 11 months in the womb and the doctor said there were claw marks on the walls of [my] uterus.” I wish that on no one. I’d go gangbusters on this uterus first.

Really, it feels like a great week to have a baby. Don’t you think?

Let the games begin!

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What Should I Pack for the Hospital?

Friday, February 1st, 2013

As I lay in bed the other night, husband out of town for work, contractions at level pathetic, I had the sudden thought, what if, what IF these don’t stop? My “worst case scenario” mind ran rampant. I envisioned my husband unable to get a flight while I, the mayor of pregnant-ville, drove to the hospital in my chonies, toddler in tow, because I didn’t have the presence of mind to pack a few bags and make a few calls before the big L.

It would make a good story…

I don’t really remember a lot of what I packed the first time. I mean, I’ve got the baby in my belly and my lady bits are always packed so what else does a girl need?

Since I couldn’t sleep, I decided to google the necessities of  a “hospital bag” because I am a vision of forgetfulness and lack of preparation these days. After reviewing a slew of suggestions, I decided to create a one-stop-shop here for all your hospital bag quandaries.

For the record, I still have not packed my bag. At least I know what I want to put in it? Any points for that? No? Tough crowd.

Whatever, apparently, I like to live life on the edge and I’m not above chonies at the hospital. Let’s be honest, that’s much more covered and straight up nunning it compared to the booty flashing that is birth. I digress.

Pack it up, pack it in, let me begin…

1. A giant, empty bag. Say what? You heard me, bring an extra bag for all of the paraphernalia you are going to acquire, demand, and/or steal from the hospital. This second go round I know my priority numero uno is to load up on all the newborn diapers, mesh panties, nipple cream, nipple shields, and thunder down under maxi pad diapers they give you. Do not leave the hospital without a bag of fresh goodies. Do not stand for a half empty pack of diapers. Get those lovely nurses to load you up. If you don’t need a cart and an extra set of hands to take all of your stuff to your car, you’re doing it wrong.

2. Camera, memory card, charger. You’re going to want to remember that baby in all of his/her newborn, adorable, old man wrinkly glory. If ever there was a moment to document this is it. Don’t fail yourself now by forgetting the batteries, charger, memory card.

3. Cell phone and charger. The people are going to want to see that baby. Bring it. Charge it. Snap it. Send those picture texts and post regularly to let social media do what it does best, ogle a fresh little baby.

4. Makeup. Pictures are going to happen. Be in them. Maybe makeup is vain, but if vanity is not wanting to look like the puffiest, under-eyed baggiest, corpsiest person that lived to tell their birth tale, I’m okay with that. Heck, the other night I was wearing the fattiest, fakest, diamond earrings and I told the husband, “I want to give birth in these earrings.” Apparently, my vanity runs deep.

5. Toiletries. Brush, toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo, deodorant, contact lens solution (for us blind folk), chapstick, whatever you’d pack for an overnight stay at a hotel. It’s nice to feel like a human being with some of the comforts of home. Also, post birth is a bit gnarly. Don’t let your BO and stanky breathe add to the gnarly.

6. Comfy clothes. I packed a going home outfit for myself the first go round and it sat, tags attached, in my bag until I unpacked it at back at home. While the hospital gown is convenient, I got tired of my full moon being constantly on display.  This go round I’m bringing my coziest (outside of just chonies), prettiest, don’t mind if they get a little post-birthified pajamas and lounge wear.

7. Nursing bras and panties. I tend to go sans bra when first nursing, but sometimes the girls have a mind of their own and they need a little support and reminder to not leak every ten seconds. I added panties to the list because some women are not a fan of the mesh tighties supplied by the hospital. Just remember you’ll be wearing a diaper post birth so packing dem thongs is not in your best interest.

8. Treats. My motto is treats all around! Treats for you, treats for the husband, treats for your toddler, treats for guests. Birth makes you ravenous and in case you can’t get that hospital food fast enough, it’s always nice to have something stowed away to avoid getting hangry.

9. Footwear (slippers, socks, sandals). Pack whatever footwear you fancy but keep in mind that if there were ever a fashion moment that permitted shower sandals or aqua socks, this is probably it. This ain’t NY fashion week. It’s a hospital. Keep those feet germ free.

10. I.D. and insurance. They maybe just kind of want you to prove that you’re indeed who you say you are and that somebody is bankrolling this baby.

12. Baby clothes. Whether it be a going home outfit, receiving blanket, or a hair bow the size of the kid’s face, it’s sweet to have a little something something to “ooh and ahh” and bawl over when you’re feeling nostalgic. And because baby clothes are teeny tiny, pack a spare set in case your teeny tiny decides to pee all over their formerly adorable coming home outfit.

13. A “thank you.” I didn’t do this with my first baby, but I heard through the grapevine that it’s nice to give a little thank you treat to the nurses. When I think of the bed sheets I peed, the blood they mopped up, and the bathroom trips they cheered me through like a potty training toddler, I’d say a thank you is in order.

14. First meal. Okay, okay, I know I can’t really pack a first meal but I daydream about my first meal post labor. Maybe I’ve already perused the hospital menu. Maybe I’ve made my post labor meal known. Panda Express. I know it’s disgusting but it’s all I’ve wanted this entire pregnancy. At least I’m waiting until the baby has left the building before stuffing my face with crap? Mother of the year. The only push present I care about is food and I am looking forward to some serious chowing down. I have a strict, “if you want to see the baby, I’m going to need a treat first” policy. Bring on the treats, visitors. Bring on the treats!

Is there anything I’m missing?

Image: Lady packing a hospital bag via salpics32/Shutterstock.com

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Should Men Experience “Labor”?

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

For a week or so now, there’s been a video floating around the interwebs put out by a Dutch television program where two men “experience labor” (Warning: some strong language).

Maybe I’ve been avoiding this video because as I watched them writhe in pain, I had the distinct recollection of exactly what labor is like. It ain’t pretty. A few nerves were cued as it hit me that the ol’ labor is certainly on my to-do list sometime in the next two weeks. As excited as I am to meet our daughter, their squirms, screams, and swears brought me to the reality of what I have to do to meet her.

Curiosity got the best of me though and I wondered how, just how will they simulate labor and how will these men folk react?

To simulate labor, they hooked the men up to an electro stimulation device that caused their muscles to contract while putting pressure on their stomachs and creating “immense pain” for two hours.

A midwife was in attendance to help them try different pain management techniques just like she would with laboring women.

As the physiotherapist ended her explanation of how they’ll recreate labor, one of the men stated, “briefly said, you’re electrocuting us for two hours.” My first thought was, “I don’t think anyone would describe labor that way.” My second, “I would never agree to that.”

As I watched them laugh and joke and clench their buttocks through the discomfort, it actually felt very similar to my initial moments spent in labor. When uncomfortable, I am the type to word vomit, make inappropriate jokes, or just laugh awkwardly. Oh, and clench my buttocks.

They called the contractions “annoying, like a barbed wire being pushed into your stomach in 36 places.”  These were only the initial contractions. “Three percent,” the physiotherapist declares, “of the pain you’d actually feel in labor.” This is greenhorn status my young grasshoppers.

Next, the midwife and physiotherapist decided that if they are laughing, they were not in enough pain. Oh shoot. It just got real. (For it to get really real, there would have to be a way for men to experience the six week postpartum blood bath, granny panties, thunder pads, and swollen lady parts too.)

The midwife told the men to accept the pain to make it easier. Acceptance is a big part of labor. It seems far fetched however, for the men who are voluntarily being shocked. There is no great end goal they are reaching. They do not have the reward that each contraction brings them closer to unbelievable love.

This is the major problem with the experience. These men are shown a minutiae of the actual pregnancy and birthing experience. To isolate only the pain of labor cheapens the experience of pregnancy. It is a small part of the package deal. To focus on the pain alone is problematic because along with the fear, there is an excitement and joy that cannot be recreated.

A little over an hour into the two hours, one of the men declares he can’t do it anymore, and the electrodes are removed.

While the video may have captured some of the emotions of labor, the fear, the nerves, and even some of the dread, the fact that he can quit makes the experience unrealistic.

I think there is a very real moment in labor when many women wonder if they can do it. Or they don’t want to do it anymore. But unlike this man, women do not get to quit. He cannot accept the pain because he never really has to. Women endure so much during labor because they know it is not in vain.

As the last man standing completed “labor” and they handed him a fake baby, I felt sorry for him. He underwent massive amounts of pain for really, nothing. That is not labor. That is not pregnancy.

He did not understand the feeling of enduring a grueling experience to welcome the indescribable love of the baby he carried and labored.  That is the purpose of labor. That is the purpose of the pain.

It is unfair to men and the pregnancy experience to equate two hours of electrocution to labor. The only way to be fair is to give men the sweet experience of carrying life. They need the previous nine months, with the phenomenon of movement, to be ready to do whatever is asked to meet the baby that made them laugh and cry when bony knees and tiny bottoms pressed against their tummy.

That can never be simulated and it feels cruel, worthy of a witchy cackle to simply say, “here, endure incredible pain for no reason.”

The man who did not endure the entire two hours reflects at the end that he doesn’t know now if he can put his wife through this pain.

I think his comment shows how isolating the pain of labor misses the whole purpose. He doesn’t understand that the pain means something.

While it seems tempting to ask men to see if they can “hack it” when it comes to labor, it will never be an equivalent comparison. You can bet your bottom dollar I wouldn’t do it for any other reason than to meet a fresh baby from heaven. Without that incentive, it loses authenticity. It’s just an endurance test then. Almost game show/reality show-esque. Fear Factor enthusiasts apply now. Or masochists.

All is not fair in love and labor and we should stop expecting it to be.

Unfortunately, men will never know what it is like to carry life. That is truly unfair because while difficult at times, it is ridiculously wonderful.

If pain is the only way to depict and capture pregnancy, men should not “experience labor.”

Instead, I’m happy to experience all aspects of pregnancy. I’ll do the laboring and push it real good if you keep the jokes and ice chips coming, boo.

Image: Woman giving birth via Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock.com

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