Nate’s Birth Story

I had gone a few days past my due date and while I wasn’t growing anxious about the situation, I was beginning to wonder if things would start happening soon. I kept the house tidy, went walking with my husband each morning and evening, and basically tried to relax as I waited for my life to change forever.

April 19th, 2011 – Sometime in the wee hours of the morning, on one of my many trips to the bathroom, I noticed a little more fluid than usual. I was instantly sure that my water had started leaking, but I went back to bed without waking Christopher because (as all of the birth class instructors will tell you) if you can sleep, sleep. In the morning, Christopher and I went for a nice long walk to see if things would start moving along. I hadn’t had any contractions yet.

Half way through the walk my water really, really broke, really. So we hurried home and I showered up. We called the midwife, Simona and she told us to come in so she could check things out. I called my parents at this point to let them know that they should get on the road, since there was no turning back now.

The midwives confirmed the water breakage (duh), and said they didn’t want to check to see if I was dilated because it could introduce infection. Since I wasn’t having contractions yet, they told me to head home and walk around until things started happening. Simona also told me that if I didn’t start having contractions by the evening to take some Castor Oil, gag.

We took care of a few things at the office, and then headed to the mall to walk. My parents arrived and we headed to dinner. Still no contractions. During dinner, a small twinge, maybe a contraction? After dinner we walked around Target, still no contractions. Before bed, I took the dreaded Castor Oil, disgusting.

Everyone was in bed and I was just dozing off to sleep and I felt a cramp. Ugh. Ok, well that was nothing, I can get some sleep before it gets worse. About 12 minutes later another cramp. Oof. That’s cool, I can catnap in 10 minute bursts. Then they started coming 8 minutes apart and lasting about a minute long. I started timing them with my contraction timing app on my phone. After about 10 contractions, the app told me that I needed to upgrade to the paid version…HELLO?? Is this not the worst time in the freaking world to try to upsell me??? Let me just say that after everything was over I wrote a scathing review of that app.

By this point, I had woken Christopher with my moaning, so he got up to help me. The next 10 hours are something of a blur so here is what I do remember (in no particular order): The contractions were about 6 minutes apart and a minute long for most of my labor. While the contractions began in my abdomen, at some point I started to have back labor. I tried to several positions to get comfortable for my contractions, but what worked the best for me was standing and swaying, or leaning forward on the bed or table. My hypnobabies techniques actually did work very well for about an hour sometime in the middle that I was able to concentrate on my relaxation. I wished I would have practiced a lot more. I think my mom and Christopher took shifts caring for me. We called Simona and she told me to come in at 9 a.m. I ran down the water heater twice in the glorious shower, which was the best part of labor. At some point, I ended up in the back yard. I basically wandered around moaning and breathing deeply for what seemed like days. I think they put on the movie “Up” while we were getting ready to go to the birth center in the morning.

In the car, I surrounded myself with pillows, put the seat back and tried to relax. Time enters another dimension when you are in labor. Sometimes the seconds drag on, other times you look up and hours have passed. Simona was wonderfully supportive, she coached me through a few contractions and told me how well I was doing. When she checked me for dilation, I was still at one centimeter. One. 10 hours of labor and I hadn’t dilated any more than I had been the week before. I was quite disappointed. This was exactly what I had feared would happen.

Simona told me to go relax in the birthing suite, but to try to stay active and she would check me again in an hour. This was when I really started to notice the back pain. I couldn’t get comfortable sitting. So I wandered around the birthing suite for an hour and a half and she checked me again. No change. She told us to go home and come back at 4 in the afternoon.

We went home, I tried to rest in between contractions, but it was really no use, they were still 6 minutes apart and 1 minute long. I was really getting tired. At 4pm, we headed back to the birth center and Simona checked me again. No change. I asked her what we should do. She said since I wasn’t progressing and it had been more than 24 hours since my water broke, we should probably go to the hospital and try a little Pitocin. I asked her if she thought that was the best thing to do. She said (you have to imagine her awesome Romanian accent), “You have been laboring for a while and not dilating and this is not a small baby.” I was shocked by that last part. She smiled and pointed to my belly, “No more water in there, that’s all baby.” So off we went to the hospital.

Simona met us in the E.R. and we quickly went back to a desk where I signed my name just once and then I was in a room. Everyone seemed to know the drill with Simona and they all sprang into action when we got there. Since they were starting the Pitocin, I had to be on a monitor, which meant I had to lay down. On my back. My contracting back. Oi. I took one look at the bed and knew that I was not going to be able to manage the contractions laying down. I had been standing for nearly every contraction for the past 20 hours. At that point, I understood the true challenge of labor was not the pain but the ability to endure through the exhaustion that overtakes a long labor. I asked for some pain relief.

Simona suggested a shot of Nubain, which took the edge off enough that I could lay in the bed, but it made me very dizzy. Once I got the meds, she told me she was going to go home to eat dinner and come back in a couple of hours and that she would be there for the night.

I kept my eyes closed most of the time and tried to relax. Christopher and my Mom took turns feeding me ice chips, which I wanted endlessly. There were not enough ice chips in the world. I also kept asking Christopher to put chapstick on my lips. After a couple of hours, the Nubain started to wear off and I noticed that the contractions were stronger, longer and much closer together. They were upping the Pitocin every half hour and things were getting intense.

I reached a crisis point when I realized the contractions were coming every 2-3 minutes and were the strongest I had experienced yet. “That was another one, wasn’t’ it?? That was 2 within 5 minutes!!” Pitocin was not my friend. I began to question the nurses.

“Can I have another shot of Nubain?”

“No, we don’t think that would be a good idea.”

“Can we turn the Pitocin down?”

“No, that would make you lose any progress we’ve made.”

“Can you check me and see if we’ve made any progress?”

“No, we need to wait for Simona.”

“When is Simona coming back?”

“We’ll find out.”

After some very intense waiting, Simona showed up and checked me for progress. Two centimeters. Two. Two? “Maybe two and a half”, she conceded. I told her that the Pitocin was too much and I couldn’t handle the contractions so close together when I still had so long to go. I asked if I could have an epidural and was told the anesthesiologist was in a crash C-section and wouldn’t be out for at least half an hour, and I knew it would take at least another half an hour to start getting relief. I knew I was going to have to make a key decision about how to go forward, but with so little time between contractions and my mounting exhaustion, I could barely come up with two brain cells to rub together. I asked Simona, “Can we please stop the Pitocin??” She reiterated that we might lose the progress we had made. But I was adamant, “Look, I need you to turn it off so I can think and talk to you about what we are going to do.” They obliged and my contractions quickly spaced back out to 6 minutes apart, what a relief!

Simona laid out my options. I could continue to labor on the Pitocin, but since my water had been broken for nearly 40 hours, they would start getting concerned about infection and fetal distress. Or I could have a c-section. I really didn’t want a c-section, but Simona pointed out that right now the baby was still doing fine and it might be better to do it now before we put the baby through additional stress of augmented labor. I also knew that refusing a c-section now might mean that I just had one later and possibly an emergency c-section. I talked it all through aloud, just to make sure what I was thinking made sense. My mom was nodding vigorously, I know she knew exactly what I was going through. I took a few minutes to make sure this was the right thing to do. I didn’t want to ever look back on this moment and think I was pressured into it. And then I said yes. I labored, I did well, I wanted to see my baby.

At that moment, 3 nurses swarmed on me to get me prepped for surgery in record time. This was the worst. I was flat on my back getting poked and prodded very which way and they made me drink something really nasty. Finally, I was being wheeled along to the O.R.  I was still contracting, but it was much better without the Pitocin.

They took Christopher to get into scrubs and took me in to get prepped. I sat on the table leaning forward onto Simona’s shoulder and another little scrub nurse. They held onto me and patted my shoulders while the anesthesiologist poked around giving me my spinal. He missed once, twice, he apologized and said if he missed again, he could call someone else to try. I reassured him that I was fine. I was the most comfortable I had been since I had gotten to the hospital, sitting upright was wonderful after spending so much time on my back. Third time was the charm and my legs instantly began to tingle. They laid me down and that’s when Christopher showed up again. He sat by my head, camera in hand ready for the big moment. I was quickly numb and quite happy about it. I had trouble staying awake through the whole thing. Finally, on April 20th, 2011 at 11:55pm, my little boy was born. Christopher followed the baby and took some photos. He showed me some on the camera while they were closing me back up. “Aww” I said, “He looks like me.” We laughed. They brought him over to me and I fell in love. Our baby. Our little family. I haven’t stopped falling yet.

Choosing Natural Childbirth

Well, here is the part where I explain why I chose to try and have a natural childbirth. First of all, let me say that this is a very personal decision and I don’t for a moment think that everyone should do what I did. As was explained in my childbirth options class, you need to decide what you are comfortable with and whether that means you want to have your baby in your own bathtub with only candle light or whether you want the epidural in the parking lot of the hospital you should be able to have the birth experience you want.

I have been fascinated by childbirth for years, and even continue to be now. I love (LOVE) reading birth stories, reading birth books, watching birth videos, etc. It is a truly miraculous happening and I am enthralled with the whole process. I found that over the years, I was drawn to the stories of natural childbirth. I loved learning about women’s experiences when they let nature take over. I also enjoyed “The Business of Being Born” and it made a lot of sense to me, even though it is slanted toward a certain perspective.

So once we found out we were expecting, I made an appointment with an OB to check things out. Through the first half of my pregnancy, I started researching my options while still seeing the OB. I knew from the start that I would not stay with this practice since they had stated before I even made my first appointment, “There are several partners in this group and regardless of who you see for your prenatal care, whoever is on duty is who will deliver your baby.” This made no sense to me. Why see one doctor throughout your pregnancy only to roll the dice when it came time to deliver? I may as well walk into an emergency room and tell them I am in labor. No. I wanted someone who had gone through this experience with me to know my preferences even before my first contraction hit. I wanted to know the person advising me through the biggest challenge I would face as a woman.

So I began asking around and researching online to find a new practitioner. I was open to the idea of a doctor or a midwife, as long as I felt this person could respect my preferences and advise me. That didn’t seem like too tall an order, but I suppose I was wrong. At this point, I still wasn’t dead set on a natural childbirth, but I was considering it heavily.

I researched and took the recommendations and basically came down to 2 possibilities an OB and a midwife. Then I gathered some questions from some of my favorite pregnancy/childbirth books and set up “Meet and Greet” interviews. Both were extremely friendly and knowledgeable. When I told the OB I wanted to have a natural childbirth, she sort of chuckled and said, “Well, I think that’s a little crazy. Everyone thinks they want a natural childbirth, even I did, but it hurts more than you think.” While I appreciated her honesty, I was a little disappointed that if this was the path I chose she wouldn’t encourage me. The meeting with the midwife was at her birth center and I just fell in love with her and the facility. Afterward, I did a lot of thinking and came to my decision based on the following:

  • I’ve always wondered if I could have a natural childbirth.
  • We are only planning on having one child, so this could be my only chance.
  • If I wanted to try to have a natural childbirth, it only made sense to go where I would be supported in that decison.
  • I don’t like hopsitals, so if I could have my baby without going to one, that would be great.
  • Natural childbirth was going to be enough of a challenge without having to try to go against the hospital system.
  • I loved the midwife and her experience was considerable.
  • I loved the birth center.
  • There was a hospital right across the street from the birth center in case of emergency.
  • My husband and parents understood where I was coming from and supported whatever decision I made.
  • Childbirth was a natural process that my body was capable of going through without IV’s and medical intervention.

Again, this was my process, everyone has to decide what is best for them.

 

Pregnancy Classes

Times have changed and parents-to-be these days have a lot more options than just the basic Lamaze class. I hadn’t thought about it, but my midwife gave me a brochure and suggested I take some classes. The brochure was from PacifiCord, a local cord blood bank. (Side note: Cord blood banking is an interesting concept and seems to have a lot of utility. It may be something you want to check out. You can follow the link above to find out more about PacifiCord.) The classes were free so I thought I had nothing to lose really.

My preconceived notions were these:

  • It’s a free class how good could it be?
  • It’s sponsored by a business, so it will probably be a huge sales pitch with a little additonal info.
  • We will probably be pressured into buying their services.

I have to say that all of these notions were 100% wrong. The classes (after the first I signed up for another) were fantastic! Lead by labor and delivery nurse, doula, lactation consultant and mother of 3 Wendy Spry, the classes were extremely informative and entertaining. She also emailed everyone her materials after the class, because as you may know pregnancy does a number on your memory. At the end of her 2 hour presentation, she showed a quick video about cord blood banking and explained it briefly (total it was less than 10 minutes). Then she introduced Kevin, who could answer any questions we had and that was it. Class over, no sales pitch at all!

We ended up taking a breastfeeding class and a childbirth options class (going over the process of childbirth, what happens in a hospital, and what you can do to make the experience the best possible outcome). The classes were great and I recommend them to everyone.

Then I faced the challenge of choosing a childbirth methodology and find a class. Since I had chosen to try to have a natural childbirth experience, I explored Bradley, Hypnobirthing (recommended by my midwife) and Hypnobabies. As I mentioned in a previous post, Bradley is very involved and requires 12 classes. If there was a Bradley “Lite” that probably would have been perfect for me. Self-hypnosis did not seem like it was for me at all and I struggled with the recommendation. My midwife assured me that hypnosis was the method that she saw the most success with in her experience (which is considerable). So I tried to be open-minded.

Finding a class proved an even larger challenge. All of the classes I could find were in LA and I didn’t feel like fighting traffic and getting home at midnight. I found a few teachers that were willing to do a private class with my husband and I, but scheduling conflicts ruled out that option. The weeks ticked by and I was finding myself at a deadend. I emailed Wendy Spry and another childbirth educator (Sheridan from Enjoy Birth) and explained my dilemma. What was I going to do?

They both emailed me back and recommended the Hypnobabies Home Study Course. I ordered it immediately and Sheridan offered to do a review with me when I finished it. Finally, I had found an answer! The course materials could be a bit better organized (hint hint Hypnobabies), but all in all I really enjoyed the program. There were some cheesy parts I had to get past, but I found the deep relaxation that comes with self-hypnosis much more powerful than I had imagined. I was very happy that I was able to be open-minded about the process.

Pregnancy Websites

In addition to the many books, I also frequented websites to supplement my pregnancy learning. These are nice because you have the benefit of search and there are usually forums loaded with personal experiences. Some of my faves:

These all have general information and some have those cool emails you can sign up for that tells you what is going on with your baby that week (for both during the pregnancy and after the kid is born).

A couple other sites I like are:

  • momversation.com – Full of videos of moms talking about mom issues, both entertaining and informative.
  • lets-panic.com – This is just for fun, 2 bloggers started this site to poke fun at all of the stuff that moms get told to do and not to do.

Then there are the countless mommy blogs, some of my favorite:

Finally, since I have an iPhone, apps were put to good use during my pregnancy as well:

  • BabyBump – Similar to the websites above, just general information. Weekly updates, daily updates and forums.
  • BMotion – A kick-counter app for when you need to count such things.
  • A Contraction Counter – Read the fine print on this one. I opted for a free version and it only allowed me to time 10 contractions then required that I buy the paid version, which worked TOTALLY differently. This is not something you want to deal with while having contractions.
  • Similac Baby Journal – This is an awesome free app for all of the many things you need to chart once the baby is born.

I’d love to hear about your favorites.

Baby Shower(s)

When my friends asked what I wanted for my baby shower, I paused and said, “I don’t know if I’m going to have one. I’ll just buy whatever I need.” I quickly learned that that was the wrong answer. “Oh, you’re HAVING a shower” they said. I thought of it as a burden to those who would throw it, but I came to find out that my friends were excited to throw a party in my honor. How awesome my friends are! So from that point on I was nothing but grateful, very grateful.

As it turned out, I ended up having 3 awesome baby showers! Work friends (we tried to identify our co-workers from baby photos), friends (a Wizard of Oz themed par-tay), and church friends (awesome mexican food) all gathered to celebrate with me. So thankful for the beautiful people in my life. What a blessing!

Glucose Testing

I had my Glucose Tolerance Screening and it showed that I was at risk for Gestational Diabetes, so I had to have a Glucose Tolerance Test. I was very upset about these results because I knew that Gestational Diabetes would hinder my chances at a natural child birth in the birth center. So I read up on the test and found as much as I could.

Here is how the screening test goes. You do not have to fast for this test. They give you a bottle of solution, mine was orange flavored. It tasted like orange soda without the fizz. You drink it fairly quickly, then they take your blood and measure your glucose. If it is over a certain amount (it can vary a bit), they will have you take the Glucose Tolerance Test.

For the GTT, you will need to fast for 12 hours before. You will get another solution to drink that will be twice as sweet as the first (yuck!). They will take your blood before you drink the solution, then at 2 or 3 intervals afterward. It takes a couple hours. You are not allowed to eat during the test, you might be allowed to take small sips of water. They will measure your body’s response to the big hit of sugar and determine whether or not you have Gestational Diabetes.

Some things to note:

  • Do not eat a low carb/sugar diet in the days before the GTT. It will cause your insulin levels to lower and cause a larger blood sugar reaction when you take the test.
  • Taking some grapefruit juice the night before (before the fast begins) may help to stabalize your blood sugar for the next 24 hours.
  • If you are allowed to sip water throughout the test, do it. It can help you feel better and dilute the sugar in your tummy. Just don’t break the rules and negate the test. You don’t want to have to take it again.
  •  Finally, if they will let you, walk around during the test. It may help you feel better.

My test went well and I passed. No Gestational Diabetes! Yes!

If you do have it, don’t worry too much. You can try to control your sugar with diet, oral medications and if all else fails insulin. The doctors will tell you that you are at risk for having a large (macrosomic) baby, but if you can control your weight gain and the baby is on track for growth, you should be fine. Note: I am not a doctor, just a fellow Mom.

Baby Registry

Turns out you need a lot of stuff for a baby, but everyone has a slightly different opinion of what you need. I started researching the basic baby registry items necessary for a newborn. We have a small house and I wasn’t about to store tricycles and high chairs for months or years to come. I went through my pregnancy books, searched the web and came up with what I thought was a pretty good list of baby items. Note: Babies R Us will give you a “list” of needed items, but it is more like a catalog of what’s in the store and is complete overkill.

You will get clothes from everyone, so don’t register for them. My list doesn’t include decorations or toys as I am a “necessities-only” kinda chick. :

  • Boppy – Don’t get “My Brest Friend” other moms have said it’s lame. Might want to get a cover too.
  • Swing – Not a “must-have” unless your baby is fussy.
  • Pack & Play/Sheets – This is what my baby sleeps in until he is ready for a crib. No need for a bassinett. I also recommend getting one with the changing apparatus.
  • Diaper Genie – Or other diaper pail for when they start solids or formula. Exclusive breastfeeders don’t make smelly diapers, yay!
  • Butt Paste – Works great, but my baby did have one rash it didn’t work for so we bought the Aveeno one and that did it. Trial and error.
  • Pacifiers – We bought Nuk, but he hates them. Loves the Mam brand. Again, trial and error.
  • Receiving Blankets
  • Baby Towels – I haven’t found a need for more than 2.
  • Cloth Diapers (for spit-up, etc.) – Need about 20 of these 🙂 Also, some have a thick strip down the middle, those
    are not as useful.
  • Swaddling Blankets – A must for when they get larger. We have 3, that’s plenty.
  • Car Seat – The law 🙂
  • Onsies – I didn’t need nearly as many of these as I thought. I would say just register for 1 pack, you can get more if needed before D-day.
  • Kimono Shirts – The idea here is not to have to pull shirts over baby’s new little head and until the umbilical cord falls off, you might want shirts instead of onsies.
  • Caps – Babies need hats. They sleep in them at first cause they lose heat fast.
  • Mittens – Pretty much useless. Just make sure you have some onsies with the mitts at the end of long sleeves.
  • Socks – It’s hard to find tiny ones.
  • Dreft – Or other baby- friendly detergent.
  • Stroller – I love the stroller frame that you put the car seat on. Simple, light, cheap and he can graduate to something else when he is larger. The travel systems with car seat that snaps onto the stroller are heavy and expensive.
  • Rearview mirror – Love this, even if you are the passenger, it just helps to see what’s going on back there.
  • Bottle Warmer – Tried it once, haven’t used it since. I would recommend getting one that you can control the time. Ours thinks it knows what’s best and I hate that. Plus it beeps loud.
  • Front Carrier – So far the Baby Bjorn is a hit.
  • Changing Pad – Need one for on the go and maybe one for the house.
  • Diaper Bag – We love ours, but it is overkill for a quick trip, so we have a MUCH smaller one that just has essentials.
  • Breast Pump – I’m still using a manual on rare occasions. Haven’t ponied up for an electric.
  • Bath Tub – This one is tough because everyone had a different opinion, here are the 3 recommendations we got: small and manageable, maybe try the “Comfort Bather” it folds up; OR one of those sponge inserts in the kitchen sink; OR the Euro bath, a large molded tub that holds the baby in place when young and later when he can sit up.
  • Crib/Mattress/Sheets – Not an immediate necessity. Baby should sleep in a bassinet or the Pack N Play in your room until he is about 4 months. For the mattress, get organic, since the baby will spend a large amount of time with their face pressed against it.
  • Glider/Rocker
  • Bottles – If you are doing formula, just go with whatever pacifier brand he likes. For breastfeeding, I just use the Medela ones that go with the pump.
  • Pacifier Clips – Good to have.
  • Bottle Brush
  • Wipes – COSTCO brand unscented. Love.
  • Diapers – My favorite so far have been the Target brand, no joke. They are rad and cheap.
  • Washcloths – Again, don’t need more than 3
  • Baby Tylenol – Good to have on hand in case you get a middle of the night fever.
  • Nail Clippers – A must. Nails grow like crazy.
  • Baby Shampoo/Wash
  • Baby Lotion
  • Bouncer
  • Milk Storage Bags/Bottles (Breastfeeding)
  • Shopping Cart Cover – Not using it yet, but I had to have this. Don’t like cooties.
  • Nursing Pads – I am using the disposables, but have some (3 pair) cloth ones in case I run out. These are a total necessity. Leaking is not sexy 🙂
  • Nursing Bra – You will need to wear a bra 24/7 if you are nursing. I have 2 stretchy sports-type bras to sleep in and I started with a stretchy daytime one until you get a feel for what size you will be. You need at least one before you come home from the hospital.
  • Nursing Cover – Rad for nursing in public. Unless you are the exhibitionist type 🙂
  • Night Light – You will need to see at night, but not want to turn on huge lights and wake baby. We also made great use of a clip-on book light here.
  • Neck Donut – The thing that goes around his head in the car seat, I just bought the “Boppy Noggin Nest” which has a hole in the back to prevent flat spots.
  • Bulb Syringe – You should get a rad one from the hospital.
  • Drawstring Nightgowns – I couldn’t find these, but I think they would be good for night time changing.
  • Monitor – We got the Avent one that doesn’t broadcast, so the neighbors don’t hear you in their monitor (an earlier problem we had with a cheapie model). Also, knowing how I am now, I might get a video one. They are not cheap, but sometimes I think it would be so nice to just look at the monitor and not have to get out of bed to see if he’s ok.
  • Baby thermometer – Get an ear one or forehead scanner, so you don’t have to put anything in his tush.

Movement

After a few weeks of wondering. I’m pretty sure I finally felt the baby move. I wouldn’t describe it as “flutters” like the books do, but more like someone flicking me with their finger gently, but, you know, from inside my belly. Just another little joy to give thanks for on Thanksgiving eve. I have nicknamed him, Baby Kick-Kick.

It’s a Boy!

We did the ring test the night before and then ultrasound confirmed, it’s a boy! I couldn’t believe it! I thought it was a girl, but we are honestly so happy! I think I actually said to the tech, “Really? Are you sure?”This was a very pleasant surprise, mostly because a boy will allow a blood relative to carry on the family name. Also, we are rock solid on our boy’s name, Nathaniel Anthony. So bring out the blue!!

Boy or Girl

We may know the answer to this question in just few short days. It seems weird that we will finally know. Everyone has guesses. I have mine too, but truly I will be happy with either. I actually really like the fact that this was something we had no control over. I suppose once we know then we can start planning a little more and buying stuff. Sometimes I think about how big a change this is going to be and it freaks me out a little, but I think it will be good. 🙂