Thursday, May 19, 2011

Daniel's Birth Story

        Daniel was due November 17th, 2010. About a couple of weeks before his due date, people were already driving me crazy asking when he would come. I knew that as a first time mother, I would be more likely to deliver late than early and had been told I should remain as calm as possible, not worry too much about when the birth would be, and just let my baby and my body do the work. So that's exactly what I did. My mom even commented on how calm I was and said she couldn't wait to give birth at that point in her pregnancies. I continued to take my red raspberry leaf tea faithfully, began taking evening primrose oil capsules a week before my due date and simply tried to relax and enjoy my last few weeks being pregnant.

        On November 13th, the Saturday before Daniel was due, I went to my little sister's soccer game as I had been doing every Saturday morning for the past month or so. As I sat on my birth ball, as I usually did, I started having some crazy back pain. The pain continued on throughout the day. That night, we decided to go walk around The Shoppes at Wiregrass, a cool mall I'd never been to, and the pain made it sort of hard to walk. Since we figured Daniel would be coming soon, we stopped at the supermarket on the way home to buy everything we needed to bake and decorate the birth-day cake. Once at home, my husband, Dan,  tried to time contractions but all I had were Braxton-Hicks and constant back pain. Dan was worried and had me text my Bradley instructor, who said labor contractions would have a definite beginning and end, unlike my back pain, but that something was definitely going on and my labor would probably start soon.

        On Monday, November 15th, I had a midwife appointment at the birth center. I still had some back pain and I told the midwife about it. She said I could possibly be in very early labor or it could just be my body getting prepared for labor. She said to relax and not think about it too much unless I had definite contractions for it could be a couple of weeks before true labor began and that Dan and I should just go for walks together and enjoy our last few days or weeks as a twosome. She also suggested that I continue taking the evening primrose oil capsules orally but also add one as a vaginal suppository at night to ripen my cervix. If I didn't go into labor by my due date, I would be sent to the OB doctor who collaborated with the midwives for a non-stress test  and the doctor would then decide if I should be induced early or be allowed to continue waiting for spontaneous labor. I did as the midwife asked and patiently waited for my baby to come.

        At 10:23 am on Thursday, November 18th, I woke up, went to the bathroom, and found that my mucus plug had come out. I had read that it can take up to two days after this for labor to start so I decided not to get too excited and went on with my day as normal. At around 5:30 or so, I went to check my mail and realized I was having trouble walking due to the back pain. That night, I decided to cook a lasagna for dinner and then cook an extra one and some taco meat to freeze for after the baby was born. While cooking, I realized that I was having to stop what I was doing and bend over a chair for a bit somewhat regularly. When my husband asked if we should time contractions, I said we should eat dinner first. During dinner, my husband's friend, whom I don't particularly like, decided he wanted to stop by for a visit. I got extremely mad at Dan for not telling him not to come over and went in my bedroom and shut the door. I laid down on the bed and started timing contractions to see if I was in labor. To my surprise, the contractions were about 8-10 minutes apart! I sent Dan a text saying that I was really in labor and how far apart the contractions were and how mad I was that his friend was here. His friend left and Dan came over to apologize. He didn't realize I was really in labor this time since I had been having the back pain since Saturday.

        At that point, my husband took over timing the contractions. I decided to take a shower, wash my hair, style my hair nicely and get to work on Daniel's birth-day cake. I baked the cake and made a filling. then I put the cake in the freezer to cool off so it would be ready to decorate when my parents and little sister came over since I had promised her she could help. We also called my Bradley instructor and doula to alert them and they both said I should be resting but I had too many things to do. I made an extra strong brew of red raspberry leaf tea and drank it and proceeded to brew more strong tea and make myself a smoothie to take to the birth center. Dan made sure the bags were packed and that we had all the food and drinks we needed with us. He also called the midwife on call, Andrea, who said we should call her again when my contractions were about 4 minutes apart.
        At around 1:30 am, my contractions were 5-6 minutes apart so Dan called my parents and asked them to come over since they live half an hour away. They arrived at about 3 am, at which point my contractions were very strong and I really needed to stop and relax through them. It was about 4am when I  asked my mom to help my sister decorate the birth-day cake since I really wasn't in the mood to anymore. However, the cake crumbled when they tried to put the icing on. By this time, my contractions were 2-4 minutes apart and my husband called the midwife. She said we should meet her at the birth center at 5:30 am. We decided to skip the cake and head to the birth center. When we arrived, at around 5:30 am, Andrea checked me and said I was 4-5 centimeters dilated. She told my parents to rest in another room and tried to get me to lay down and rest as well. I tried but couldn't stay laying down. The contractions were very strong and felt even stronger while laying down. I had to move around to deal with them. So I just walked around the room while Dan laid down to rest and everyone else slept in the other rooms.  

       I'm not sure what time my doula, Nancy, arrived but it was her who eventually asked if I wanted to go in the water and asked Andrea, my midwife, to fill up the tub. Once the tub was full I went in and enjoyed the relaxation the warm water brought. The water felt so good and helped me relax deeply through each contraction. I think it was around 10:30 or 11 am or so that Andrea checked me again and said I was somewhere between 9 and 10 centimeters dilated. I went back in the water and soon, felt the urge to push. My husband got in the water with me and massaged my back and held me through contractions.I remember starting to push a little and that I totally lost track of time. At some point, Andrea had me get out of tub so she could break my water and try to get things moving along. After she broke my water, I never went back in the tub. I was definitely out of it at this point and had no idea whatsoever how much time was passing by. I was pushing with each contraction and Andrea had me try different positions but I was making no progress.  
  At some point, Andrea got in my face and told me to look at her. She told me that she would give me ten minutes to make some progress or she would have to call an ambulance and have me transferred to the hospital for intervention. The thought of going to the hospital, where I'd probably end up with a c-section, freaked me out and I told her I did not want to go to the hospital. This sort of woke me up and I began pushing as hard as I possibly could. Andrea was doing some sort of manipulation of my pelvis, which was really uncomfortable and felt like she was ripping my insides apart. Eventually, Bea, the midwife who is the birth center director, also came to help Andrea. They were both manipulating my pelvis and had me lay flat on the floor. All this time my husband was behind me, holding me, and putting a wet wash cloth on my forehead and I was hooked up to an oxygen tank.  My doula prayed with me at one point, which gave me strength. My mom was also in the room, holding my hand. My little sister, Val, got scared and kept walking in and out of the room and my dad was in the other room on a conference call with some pastors friends of his, praying for me. Honestly, I have no idea how many hours I was pushing. My husband says 5 and I'm sure it was at least 3. I remember all the women telling me I was making progress and even showing me the  baby's head in a mirror but I barely saw some hair and I remember saying " But he's not coming out!".

        Eventually, I felt a burning sensation and Andrea told me that was the baby crowning and asked me not to push for a bit, which was really hard. Then, after a few pushes, at 4:54 pm on November 19th, 2011, my precious baby boy, Daniel, was born with his hand by his head! The way he had his arm had caused him to get stuck in my pelvis, which was why it took me so long to push him out.  Andrea placed him on my tummy but I couldn't see him well so I asked her to move him up closer on my chest and she did. I was overcome with emotion and was totally in love with my baby. All the effort was worth it once I saw my beautiful, healthy, baby boy! Shortly afterward, I delivered the placenta and Andrea checked me and said I had a tear. Once the cord stopped pulsing, Dan was able to cut it. My birth assistant, Karla, helped me get up and get in bed and Nancy helped me get Daniel latched on. After Daniel ate, Andrea was going to stitch me up and found that I had ended up with a third degree which reached into my anal sphincter. Since she is not allowed by law to stitch it up, she would have to send us to the hospital. During this time, Karla weighed Daniel and found that he was 8 pounds and 6 ounces!

        My little sister has pizza at school every Friday so her and Karla had previously joked on Facebook that  if Daniel was born on Friday we would just have a pizza party at the birth center to celebrate his birth. Since he was,Dan ordered a pizza from pizza hut and we all ate and celebrated. We also drank the sparkling grape juice I had brought to go with the cake that, unfortunately, was ruined. After this, Karla helped me get to the bathroom to pee. I had to do this before they could let me go. Once I did, we were on our way to the hospital and my mom and sister stayed with Daniel at the birth center. Since the usual doctor they work with was not on call, I ended up going to a hospital the midwives had never worked with before. At the hospital, I was seen by a nice nurse and the ER doctor but was told the OB doctor would have to come and stitch me up. The OB doctor was not so nice and seemed to be against the birth center and even called Andrea and yelled at her for not having someone to stitch me up on location. Once, she was done, I was very glad to go back to the calm, peaceful birth center to be with my baby.

         Back at the birth center, I was able to once again hold and nurse my baby, although he didn't seem very interested in nursing. Andrea had done the newborn exam. Daniel was perfectly healthy, was 21 inches long and had a 14 1/4 centimeter head circumference. He had also gotten his vitamin K shot and antibiotic eye ointment and taken a long nap while I was at the hospital and was now very alert and ready to interact with me. We received our discharge instructions, made sure Daniel nursed and the car seat was installed properly and then we headed to my parents house, where we stayed for 2 weeks so they could help us. After two weeks, we were glad to be home as a family and  we attempted to make a "Welcome Home Daniel"  cake but that one crumbled too. Then my mother in law came for a week to help out some more. Daniel was a joy to have. He was such an alert and active baby since day one and didn't sleep very much day or night. He has since settled down to sleeping at night but being awake most of the day. We had some trouble with nursing in the beginning but now our nursing relationship is great.I am truly blessed with an active, alert, intelligent, and healthy baby boy and I have discovered that I love Daniel more than I ever thought possible!


Saturday, May 14, 2011

How I Became a Natural Mom

     My journey into the natural world began when I first got married. I was still in college so I went on birth control pills in order to prevent a pregnancy. Then I developed all the side effects in the book! I hated the pill and all my doctor did was switch me to a new pill every time I went in to the office and complained. And with each new pill came a new side effect. I began to do research online and found many other women with the same issues I had and many who turned to natural forms of birth control. As I delved deeper into this form of birth control, I began to find posts about herbs and alternative medicine. That was enough to pique my interest. Then my husband started having stomach problems and I got herbal books and found natural treatments for him. I went completely off birth control at the beginning of 2009 and began taking red raspberry leaf and chastetree berry for reproductive health. By this point, I had learned to do thorough research before taking any medication. I was also diagnosed with eczema around this time and learned to avoid parabens and other harmful chemicals in soaps and lotions.

     Now fast forward to March 2010. This is when I found out I was pregnant. The first thing I did was call my regular OB/Gyn and schedule and appointment. I went along with all the initial tests and was ready to have my baby at the hospital and probably with an epidural like everyone else. At my first appointment, I remembered that my old primary care doctor had told me not to worry about my scoliosis, which was discovered when I was 16, until I was pregnant or hit menopause. So I asked my OB about this and she said it wouldn't affect my pregnancy. however, the pregnancy could cause my spine to curve further and whether or not I would be able to have an epidural would be determined by what type of curve I have, how curved my spine is, and what the experience of the anesthesiologist on call was. That was enough to get me thinking about what would happen if I showed up to the hospital in labor, ready to get an epidural, only to be told I couldn't have one. I then decided it would be best to be prepared for a natural birth in case I wasn't able to have an epidural. I began doing research online about scoliosis and epidurals and came across a wealth of information on the risks and side effects of epidurals. I was horrified to find out some of these side effects and decided that I wanted a natural birth. I told my husband about my findings and my desire to have a natural birth and, at first, he thought I was crazy. When he told his aunt and other women, they all told him I was crazy and all the women we knew said they couldn't have done it without an epidural. However, once we got more information and found out that tons of women have natural births, my husband realized this was normal and that, if all these women could do it, of course I could do it too.

     In order to be better prepared, I began to do research on natural birth online and checked out some books from the library. In my research, I came across the Bradley method of natural childbirth and decided a Bradley class would be the best way to get prepared for my natural birth. At this point, my husband was on board with my decision and said he would do anything that would help me achieve my goal. I also discovered that our local birth center, Labor of Love Birth Center, accepted Medicaid. I was on Medicaid due to having lost my job and had never dreamed I could birth anywhere besides a hospital. In my research I found that a birth center would be the best place for me to birth. As first time parents, we did not feel comfortable with a home birth. However, we were now unhappy with my regular OB office and wanted to find a new one and I've always hated hospitals and could not imagine having to be in one when the baby was born. We toured both the birth center and the hospital my OB was affiliated with and the decision was clear. At Labor of Love I would have more support and education geared towards helping me accomplish a natural birth. In July, at 21 weeks, I had my first appointment at the birth center and, in August, we began Bradley classes. We learned so much during this time and I also decided that I wanted to breastfeed since it was the best for my baby.

     Sometime during my pregnancy I came across an ad for Bum Genius and another ad for Bummis cloth diapers in Pregnancy magazine. I was cloth diapered as a baby but my parents had the old fashioned flats with pins and plastic pants which they had to wash by hand. These new diapers with wraps and velcro seemed interesting to me and so I did some research online. That's when I realized there are hundreds of options out there. It took me many hours of research but after seeing the benefits, I decided I wanted to cloth diaper my baby as well. When I told my husband it was better for the baby's skin and how much money we would save, he was all for it and we decided we would start with pocket diapers, specifically with Bum Genius. Unfortunately, he lost his job unexpectedly  towards the end of my pregnancy and we almost gave up on the cloth since we couldn't afford the initial investment. I was soooooBummis/Tots Bots Easy fit she won on a blog giveaway!

     On November 19th, our baby boy, Daniel was finally born! I had the natural birth I had been striving for. I was able to breastfeed Daniel right away, although not without challenges. The one size cloth diapers didn't fit right away so we used disposables until he was about 1 1/2 months old. We never planned on co-sleeping but ended up doing it when we found ourselves exhausted in the middle of the night with a cranky baby who ate non-stop and we all ended up sleeping better that way. During my pregnancy I had also decided I wanted to be a baby wearing mom and right around this time I ordered my Moby Wrap. Daniel loved riding in it since day one and it has been a lifesaver at times!

     I have grown a lot and my way of thinking has changed so much on this journey and now I am proud to be a natural birthing, breastfeeding, co-sleeping, baby wearing mom! I am also on a mission to find safer, more natural options for my family when it comes to food, cleaning, and personal care, as well as looking into alternative medical treatments. It is my goal to slowly eliminate harmful chemicals from our lives and move towards a much healthier lifestyle. I will be posting on here about our journey to better health as well as any information I find that I feel will be beneficial to others. I hope you enjoy reading my blog and that you find  the information I post on here helpful in making decisions on what is best for you and your families.