Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Roller Coaster: Seeing Red

This is the second post in a special bi-weekly series.  It's a sequel to The Longest Weekend of My Life series.  Please check back next Saturday for Part 3.

Part 2: Seeing Red

Thursday morning I noticed a slight brown tinge in my underwear when I went to the bathroom. I thought “OK, it could be nothing. Stay calm. Just watch and wait.” I pushed it to the back of my mind and went about my day. Later that afternoon however, I noticed blood, like the start of a period. I said to my husband (who was in the other room) “I'm bleeding” and he said “You're calling the doctor right now!”

I didn't want to call the doctor. In my mind I was telling myself that bleeding in pregnancy can be normal and harmless, and there was no reason to panic. Even as I thought this, my mind was also reminding me that bleeding during pregnancy was NOT normal for me! I had never had a period or any bleeding whatsoever during pregnancy before. I'd had 5 completely normal, uncomplicated pregnancies, with no bleeding! If it had been a stand-alone occurrence, without the events of the previous weekend, I might not have been so worried. However, with the situation I was in I didn't know what to think. I really didn't want to overreact and end up going through pointless tests and procedures for something that could be nothing. I also didn't want to be negligent and think it was nothing, only to have it turn into SOMETHING.

I started to dial my OB's office. My husband said “Are you calling the midwife?” I hung up and said “I don't know”, but I thought it was a good idea. I called my midwife's home and was told she was gone but could be reached on her cell phone. She answered and I explained the situation . She calmly told me that it could be nothing. She said that if it was time for my expected period I could just simply have the period and be fine. She said “You could still be pregnant, and it's safe to assume so unless you have reason to believe otherwise.”  She then said that she was at a prenatal appointment and asked if she could call me back in about an hour. I agreed, thanked her, and said goodbye.

Then I thought “What in the world did THAT mean?” I hoped she would call back and could explain things a little more clearly.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Roller Coaster: Looking Up

This is the first post in a special bi-weekly series.  It's a sequel to The Longest Weekend of My Life series.  Please check back next Wednesday for Part 2.

Part 1: Looking Up

The Tuesday after the Longest Weekend of My Life I decided to call my midwife. After telling her what had happened over the weekend, she told me she thought the immediate suspicion of ectopic pregnancy based on my pain and proof of pregnancy alone was a bit of a leap. She said that with my history and having had absolutely no pregnancy complications and no risk factors, it was unlikely to be an ectopic pregnancy. I told her that I'd made an appointment with the OB for a 10 week ultrasound for my husband's peace of mind, and she told me that her birth suite now has the capability of doing ultrasounds and billing my insurance. I almost jumped for joy! I felt much more comfortable going to her for an ultrasound and canceling the OB appointment altogether. I told my husband, and he was very supportive of my choice.

I called the OB's office on Wednesday to cancel the appointment. The receptionist, who'd been working there for the past 10 years our family had been going to that office, seemed disappointed. She said “So you're not going to go with us?” I said no and explained that since my home birth midwife now offered ultrasound I would be seeing her for all of my prenatal needs. The receptionist, who had asked me about my home birth experience last year, didn't say anything else. I think maybe she didn't know what to say.

I thought about it. I wondered why the receptionist was sad that I wouldn't be going to their office for my pregnancy. After all, home birth is what I felt was safer and more beautiful anyway, and I couldn't have been more thrilled about my plans. I also felt much happier knowing I wouldn't need to have any unnecessary pelvic exams or other tests or interventions for the sake of routine. I hung up the phone feeling very good about my future.

That night I talked with my husband. He told me that his feelings of fear were easing and he was starting to feel a lot better about the situation we had found ourselves in. In fact, he was feeling hopeful, optimistic, and excited about the pregnancy for the first time since we'd discovered it. He had even confided in a close friend about what we were going through. This was great progress, and both of us were feeling like we were now in the clear with smooth sailing ahead.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Mother's Love and Touch Saves Her Tiny Baby

As published on Growing Your Baby

An Australian mom who was told her baby had passed is speaking out about how she brought him back to life by cuddling him skin to skin.

When Jamie and Emily Ogg arrived on March 25 at 27 weeks gestation doctors gave little Jamie no chance of survival even though he weighed just over 2 lbs.

His twin sister Emily had survived but Jamie was declared dead by the doctor who delivered him after 20 minutes battling to get him to breathe.

He was handed to his mother Kate so she and her partner David could grieve and say her goodbyes.

The new mom placed him on her chest and after two hours of being spoken to, touched cuddled and held by his mum he began showing signs of life.

Kate spoke about the night to an Australian talk show... saying,

‘He wasn’t moving at all and we just started talking to him. We told him what his name was and that he had a sister.

‘We told him the things we wanted to do with him throughout his life.’

Jamie occasionally gasped for air, which doctors said was a reflex action.

She added: ‘After just five minutes I felt him move as if he were startled, then he started gasping more and more regularly.

‘I thought, “Oh my God, what’s going on?” A short time later he opened his eyes. It was a miracle.

‘I told my mum, who was there, that he was still alive. Then he held out his hand and grabbed my finger.

‘He opened his eyes and moved his head from side to side.’

‘I gave Jamie some breast milk on my finger, he took it and started regular breathing.

‘At that point the doctor came back. He got a stethoscope, listened to Jamie’s chest and just kept shaking his head.

‘He said, “I don’t believe it, I don’t believe it”.’

Kangaroo care, which is what the mom did, is one of the most significant ways to bond with a premature baby.  The warmth of the moms body paired with the soothing sounds of her heartbeat have been know to reduce anxiety, regulate breathing and help babies grow faster.  In this case Kate’s body acted link an incubator to keep the baby warm, which stabilized his heart rate and helped him to breathe.

Now the tiny baby is home from the hospital and doing well. The doctor who looked after the baby refused to be interviewed by the TV show.

Mom and baby Jamie appeared on Australian television show, Today Tonight.

Here's another publication of the story on Mail Online.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Longest Weekend of My Life: Decisions

This is the seventh and final post in a special bi-weekly series.  Please check back next Saturday for the continuation of the story in the sequel:  The Roller Coaster.

Part 7: Decisions

I talked with my husband about the situation. Although I was feeling fine and no longer worried about possible complications by that time, he wasn't so sure. He was worried about my well-being and concerned that I might make a decision based on fear (not wanting to face my OB's office, for example) and possibly put myself at further risk. He asked me to follow up with the OB to ensure that I wasn't being negligible about my care. I felt his love and concern for me, and I decided to take his advice.

I called my obstetrician's office and told them about the weekend events at Instacare and the hospital. I informed them of everything, including the fact that my pain had disappeared by Saturday night and hadn't returned. The receptionist put me on hold for several minutes while she consulted with the doctor. When she came back she told me that it was so early in the pregnancy that an ultrasound would be useless. I wished the resident at Instacare had known that before ordering a "pointless" ultrasound!  The OB was recommending a “wait and see” approach. Because I never had any bleeding and my pain was gone, they suggested scheduling an ultrasound at 10 weeks gestation, and in the meantime if I were to have any additional symptoms I should call and schedule an earlier appointment.

The receptionist also said that if I intended to see their office for the duration of the pregnancy I would need to come in for paperwork and an “OB Complete” checkup by 10 weeks, which included a pelvic exam, pap smear and blood work. She asked me if I wanted to do this. I told her that I would most likely plan a home birth and didn't feel a need to see the physician for the routine prenatal schedule, as my midwife would be doing that for me. She informed me that if I wanted to see the obstetrician at all I would still need to complete the paperwork and have the first complete checkup, and I hesitantly agreed. I felt I could satisfy my husband's concerns and “cover my bases” so to speak by seeing the obstetrician once or twice, and continue the duration of my prenatal care with my wonderful midwife.

It felt really good to be fully honest about my intentions with the obstetrician's office. In my last pregnancy I was worried about any opposition I might face if I were to be completely open about my plans. This time I wasn't worried. I was sure about what I wanted, and I wasn't afraid to be up-front about it.

Going through this, I initially felt like closing up. I wanted to close in on myself, curl up in a ball and forget about the outside world. I felt it would be too painful to share with anyone else what I was going through. As my mind and spirit have processed things I've realized that closing up won't help me. I've gone through my life bottling up my feelings, only to find that eventually I had to deal with those feelings one way or another. Rather than help me, keeping myself closed off has proven to be more painful in the long run. I've also learned that I process things and deal with my problems much better by talking things through and sharing them with others. I find comfort in connecting with people, especially when they are supportive and compassionate. The hard part is knowing when it's safe to expose myself to someone and put my heart in their hands.

I'm writing as a form of processing and healing, even as I go through this ordeal. I know I'll share this with everyone I know, because I feel that's what I need to do. I only hope that by sharing my experience I can somehow help provide support, peace, and healing to someone else.

This ends the Longest Weekend of My Life, but the story is not yet over. Check back next week for the next series: The Roller Coaster

Monday, September 20, 2010

Help Support Mamas and Babies in Haiti

A group of midwives and a doctor from Utah are making a trip to Haiti to help set up a birth center.  They'll be taking supplies and helping to set up a birth center in an old building that's being renovated.  The conditions there are very bad for women having babies.  Without adequate support and care, many mothers and babies are dying.  You can learn more at about this non-profit effort.

You can help their efforts by donating to the cause.  Donations can be money, supplies, or even sky miles. See what you have at your house that could be use in Haiti.  Cotton balls, gauze pads, medical tape, anything you think of as you look over the list below of problems, that you think might help.

If you are in Utah you can support the effort by attending a pancake breakfast on Saturday, September 25th at:
The back of the birth center and its beautiful
ocean view.

Feels Like Home Birth Suites
90 East 200 South
Pleasant Grove, UT 84062.

Price for the breakfast is $5 per person or $20 per family, and all proceeds will go to the Mama Baby Haiti effort.  Donations may be mailed to the same address.

The group needs as much as they can get in money and supplies by Oct 20th, but they are planning on shipping supplies even after the group leaves.

These are the raw notes taken from talking to 8 village leaders, about 75,000 people represented.  Arry, the group's driver/translator, will fill in the blanks with contact info for the people contacted.  This can help give you an idea of the conditions and needs that exist.  I've also included some photos of the conditions, the beautiful landscape, and of a building that's being renovated for use as a birth center.

Pastor Etienne plaine du Nord
The birth center currently being renovated for the group
to set up and hopefully fill with supplies.
pop10k (closest to birth center, SW)
diseases: DM, Fever/infections, Vision issues, HIV, Malaria, Typhoid, Dengue
Some tuberculosis
Most births at home
Very willing to collaborate with us
Closest hospital 45 min away, births in car on way to hospital
2 doctors, 2 clinics $15 consultation.  Most cannot afford.
Not enough food
Not enough water, no clean water
Vaccines kids up to 9, not all have them
Have some traditional healers
Docs only for people with money, would not be mad if we gave free care

5k (think this is actually Cercaville, W of birth center)
Julesaint Abel
Need medicines, food, clean water
diseases: Malnutrition, fever, malaria, htn, dm, childhood diarrhea
Die from htn/dm, high fever, can't afford meds
TB uncommon, HIV unknown
Not vaccinated. Don't use pesticides
Midwife births at home, hospital far away. Small babies
Have healers, no doctors or clinics
Such a beautiful land!
Wants to know how many we could see each time, guards to establish order, make queue for pts

Camp Louise
>10k, W and N of birth center
Pastor David
Offered use of church & school
No clinics or docs
Similar illnesses, especially lack of access to c-sections and very far from hospital/doctors
40-50 orphans from PAP need food, clothes, books, medicine, pharmacy
(can use school)
Close to ocean

pop 20k, closer to morne rouge
Living conditions.
Contact pastor gaston, very excited
Same illnesses
No doctor
25% of children get secondary school, most primary school
Contact will advertise

fort bourgeois
pop 4500 (mountains NW of Cap Haitien)
Patrick Joseph (not pastor)
Malaria, fever, typhoid, infxn, filiariasis, ha, htn, dm, diarrhea,
bad water (not enough, have to fight for the pump)
Haitian women.
Occasional vaccinations
Eat 1x/day
Can use school or church for clinic
No doctors
Contact will advertise
Need restrooms/sanitation

(on water NW of Cap Haitien, same road as Ft. Bourgeois)
Contact Gary
Htn, dm, reflux
Children sick - fever, diarrhea, worms
1 pump for water, carry by bucket
No doctor, difficult to get to Cap Haitien
Need meds for community to use
Have place we can use for clinic

2-3k (near La Citadelle)
Pastor at-Amour duchange
Htn, dm, eyes, arthritis, scabies, fever, headache, diarrhea, typhoid, malaria
Need clean water and food. Water in buckets. Sanitation/bathrooms needed
No vaccinations
Women don't go to hospital for birth, many babies die
Have hospital but ppl can't afford. Only doctors in the area are in hospital
Can have clinic in church. In past had too many people at one-time clinics, chaotic

Gran prix
20-25k (NE of Milot, on Highway 3)
TB, fever, reflux, HTN, DM
No doctors. Babies vaccinated x3mos
No water or treatment, need a well.  Carry buckets of water from pump.
Births at milot if money, or midwife

Sunday, September 19, 2010

HUGE Cloth Diaper Giveaway!

Diaper Junction is hosting a giveaway for a grand prize of  a $500 gift certificate to Diaper Junction to buy whatever you want!  

1st prize  12 pack Fuzzi Bunz One size diapers in your choice of colors
2nd prize  GroVia “Half Time” Package in your choice of colors.
3rd prize  6 pack bumGenius! 4.0 One size pocket diapers in choice of colors.

This is such a great opportunity for someone to try cloth, grow a part time stash to a full time stash or to win and donate to an organization or family in need.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Longest Weekend of My Life: Writing and Reading

This is the sixth post in a special bi-weekly series.  Please check back next Wednesday for Part 7

Part 6: Writing and Reading

As I was lying in bed Sunday night about to fall asleep my mind was flooded with information and I felt the impression "write". Words were flooding my mind, descriptions of what I'd been going through over the past few days, and I knew I needed to write about it all. I prayed saying I was so tired and asked if I could just sleep, and I fell asleep. Something awoke me at 6:30 Saturday morning and the impression came: "get up and write".

I sat at the computer and typed, and the words flowed effortlessly from my mind to my fingers and onto the computer screen as I wrote this. It was therapeutic, and I felt I should share it with others. The only problem was there was no ending. No resolution.

On Monday I found the card from the hospital lab on the floor with some baby bite marks on the corners, and I decided to call for my initial blood test results. I was pleasantly surprised to find out they also had the results from the second blood test. They told me my hCG level on Saturday was 471, and on Sunday it was 835. I didn't know what the numbers themselves meant, so I decided to call Instacare to get the doctor's interpretation. The nurse told me the doctor hadn't seen the test results yet and would need to call me back after he'd had a chance to look at my file. It was a different doctor than the one I'd seen over the weekend, since the other doctor had been a resident who was filling in for one of the regular doctors.

While waiting for a call back, I decided to do some online research. Since I'd never previously had any reason to do research on hCG levels during early pregnancy I honestly knew nothing about it. I found that in 85% of pregnancies hCG levels will double every 2 to 3 days. Based on the numbers the lab gave me, I became more optimistic than I'd been in 3 days.

I also learned other interesting things like how hCG helps maintain corpus luteum, which is responsible for progesterone production in early pregnancy, which in turn helps keep the lining of the uterus nice and thick for a healthy pregnancy. I remembered the ultrasound technician muttering something about seeing evidence of corpus luteum, but at the time I'd had no idea what that meant. That understanding helped me feel even more optimistic that my pregnancy was in fact healthy.

When the Instacare office called me back, the nurse relayed the doctor's prognosis. She told me that my hormone levels are apparently multiplying at a good rate, but with the inconclusive ultrasound there's no way to completely rule out an ectopic pregnancy. She said the doctor recommended that I follow up with my primary care physician or obstetrician in the next few days.

I was upset. I didn't know whether to call my former obstetrician's office or to try to find a new doctor. My obstetrician was always good to me in the past, but during my last pregnancy I wasn't up-front about my plans for a home birth, and I clashed with the nurse-practitioner when I declined the gestational diabetes screening. I worried about any negative backlash I might face if I were to go back to that same office, and whether or not they would work with me in getting the care I desired.

I didn't know what to do next.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Why So Many C-sections?

Often when I talk with people about the dangers of c-sections they ask me:

"If c-sections are so bad, then why are they so common?"

My response is simple:

If something goes wrong with a vaginal birth and it goes to court, the doctor will be asked "Why didn't you do a c-section?"

If something goes wrong with a cesarean birth, the doctor can say to the court "We did everything we medically could."

It's called liability, and often referred to as "Defensive Medicine".

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Longest Weekend of My Life: Waiting

This is the fifth post in a special bi-weekly series.  Please check back next Saturday for Part 6.

Part 5: Waiting

I was planning to take the kids to church on Sunday. They had all recovered from their stomach troubles and I wanted to stay on a normal schedule. There was nothing I could do about my situation, and I felt it best to provide normalcy for the kids. I had also decided not to say anything to my older children about what I was going through. I'm normally very open with them about everything, but in this case I wanted to have more information before I said anything to anyone. My husband and I had decided to keep it between us. We also didn't want to risk the possibility that one of the kids might say something to someone else.

I woke up Sunday with a horrible sore throat. I couldn't speak without intense pain, and I decided it was best that I stay home from church. My oldest son made a couple of phone calls for me to let the Primary presidency know I wouldn't be able to play the piano that day, and to make arrangements for his grandparents to take him and two of his brothers to church.

We had a relaxing morning at home. I read my book and rested as much as I could. I couldn't talk to my kids but with a whisper, and I found the house was quieter than usual as a result. I was grateful I'd borrowed a couple of books from my sister in-law just 2 days earlier, because those books were helping me stay focused on something other than the potential crisis at hand, and because of the nature of the books it was also providing me with spiritual strength and peace through what could have otherwise been a very difficult waiting period.

I thought about calling the hospital lab for my initial test results, but when I checked my purse the little card the lab tech had given me was nowhere to be found. I did a little bit of online research about ectopic pregnancy to make sure that what I was thinking was accurate. My thoughts were confirmed as I read that termination of the pregnancy is necessary, and the longer it goes undetected the higher the risks are. If the fallopian tube is damaged it can potentially be life-threatening, requiring major abdominal surgery, and that confirmed my suspicions as well. I was comforted to find that surgery isn't always necessary, if the problem is detected and treated early. I was hopeful that if it turned out to be an ectopic pregnancy I had a good chance of a non-invasive treatment and comparatively easy recovery, because it was still quite early.

I also reached out to my small community on Facebook. Without disclosing my personal situation, I asked for experiences from other women who have gone through similar struggles. I found great strength and comfort in their words and in reading about their personal experiences.

Sunday afternoon came, and it was time to go back to Instacare for my next quantitative blood test. By then my pelvic pain was completely gone. I was hopeful for some conclusive information, but as I thought about it I realized the lab work might take some time, and with it being a Sunday I had no idea when I would receive the results and possible diagnosis. I dropped my husband off at an appointment and I drove myself and our 5 children to the Instacare building. One of my kids got a bloody nose on the way, but the oldest was able to help him get the bleeding stopped and cleaned up. The boys were content to stay in the waiting room while I followed the nurse back with my little girl on my hip. The nurse poked my right arm with the needle as I practiced my breathing and looked away. She explained that the sample would be sent by courier to the lab that evening, and the results would likely be in by Monday afternoon.

Part 1: Preface
Part 2: Bittersweet
Part 3: Numb
Part 4: Peace
Part 6: Writing and Reading
Part 7: Decisions

Monday, September 13, 2010

Medical Animation of Vaginal Birth

I love illustrations, and this is a good one. I love how it shows the effacement and dilation of the cervix, and the rotation of the fetus as it descends. It's fascinating to me how our bodies have been designed to do this.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Longest Weekend of My Life: Peace

This is the fourth post in a special bi-weekly series.  Please check back next Wednesday for Part 5.

Part 4: Peace

The ultrasound was disappointing to say the least. The technician couldn't find any evidence of an egg sac or embryo anywhere. He was very thorough, but as he searched he couldn't see anything in the uterus or the tubes. He mentioned some “cystic formations” on one of my ovaries, and at one point he phoned a colleague for confirmation of what he was seeing. They argued, which didn't help matters. He apologized and explained that it could just be too early in the pregnancy to see anything. He phoned my doctor and had her talk to me.

The doctor explained that since the ultrasound was inconclusive she wanted to do a quantitative blood test to check my hormone levels and see if the levels were right for my stage of pregnancy and if they were doubling at the appropriate rate. This meant that I needed to walk over to the hospital lab and have my blood drawn. Then I would need to return to Instacare 24 hours later, on Sunday, to have my blood drawn again. I would have an answer by Sunday evening at the latest, or so I thought.

The ultrasound technician was nice, and he very kindly told me “good luck” at least 3 times as I was leaving. At first I thought he was just being nice, but as I thought about it I wondered “Did he see something I'm not aware of?” I couldn't think about it.

I asked for directions to the lab, and was sent on what felt like a wild goose chase as I went from one end of the hospital to the other, just to be sent back virtually to where I'd been in the first place. The benefit of being at the hospital on a Saturday is that there's no crowd and no waiting. The downside is that most of the doors are locked, and you have to figure out how to get where you need to go. After driving and parking three different times I finally found the right door and got to the lab. The waiting room was empty and I was helped right away. One of the lab technicians checked me in while she and the other tech chatted away with a hospital security guard about their families.

I was taken into a room with chairs and needles and all that fun stuff, and I used my labor breathing techniques as my left arm was poked and my blood was drawn. It wasn't so bad. The technician did a good job and it was mostly painless. I had to breathe just to keep myself calm, and made sure to avert my eyes. For some reason I can watch someone else get poked and prodded, but when it's happening to me I can't watch or I tend to hyperventilate.

It was over quickly and the lab technicians gave me a card with a number to call for my results. I said “my doctor will have that” and she replied that it was still my right to access my lab results personally. I thought that sounded unnecessary and I stuffed the card into my purse thinking I wouldn't need it.

I came home to find that the kids had done surprisingly well in my absence, and my husband had even been able to get out of bed to help the baby. We had a simple dinner of sandwiches and I spent the evening reading and enjoying my family. I felt a sense of peace with me throughout the evening, and I focused on spending time with my kids and husband. I didn't worry about the messy kitchen and house, and just let myself have some down time. At one point the two youngest children were climbing on me, and my husband commented: “And you're ready for another one?” I quipped back: “I never said anything about being ready!” The pelvic pain was also gradually easing.

After the kids were in bed I was lying in my own bed finishing the book I'd been reading off and on for the past day. My husband came in and we talked about the situation. He was worried and didn't know what to think or how to feel about everything. I shared with him the peaceful feeling I had, and how I knew that whatever happened everything would be alright. As I said the words I realized the truth of them, and I realized in that moment that I was being blessed with this veil of peace. As my husband walked out of the room I prayed for him that he would be blessed with peace as well.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Amniotic Sac or "Caul"

Midwife Thinking's Blog has another fantastic post, this time about the amniotic sac:

In defence of the amniotic sac

She explains the form and function of the amniotic sac, or caul.  It's very interesting and educational, and includes a photo and video of a baby being born in an intact sac.  What I love is how an intact sac can help cushion a baby and also aid dilation through labor at the same time.  For me it reinforces the belief that the bag of waters shouldn't be routinely broken.  It also serves as a reminder that it's generally better to leave things alone and let nature take its course.

The photo to the right is from the blog post and shows a newborn who was born "in the caul".  The sac comes off easily after birth.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Longest Weekend of My Life: Numb

Due to reader request, the Saturday series is now a bi-weekly series, published each Wednesday and Saturday. This is the third post the series.  Please check back next Saturday for Part 4.

Part 3: Numb

Wait, back up. What?

I knew what ectopic pregnancy was, and I certainly had never imagined it would ever be something I would experience. I'd never had any reproductive issues in my life, and I'd always been very grateful for that. I'd even felt guilty for that in the past as I'd watched friends and family struggle with infertility problems and pregnancy complications. I don't pretend to understand God's will and purpose for each individual. I just know that each of us has our own struggles, and comparing them with the trials of another person usually only serves to evoke more questions and lead to feelings of discontent.

I felt numb. I didn't want or need to ask any questions, so I just listened to the doctor. She recommended having an ultrasound to check where the embryo had formed, whether it was in the uterus where it should be, or somewhere else like the fallopian tubes or ovaries. Since their office didn't have an ultrasound machine she had her nurse schedule an appointment at the hospital at 4:00 pm. I had enough time to go home and talk with my husband.

I came home to find that the baby had been crying most of the time I'd been gone, and I felt bad that my husband hadn't been able to get out of bed to help him. I was grateful to my oldest son for helping to comfort his little brother, even if it had been between playing levels on a computer game.

I didn't know what to say to my husband. I considered trying to be funny by saying something like “Well, we can have unprotected sex as often as we want to!”... I wasn't feeling very funny.

I walked into our bedroom, closed the door, sat on the bed, and told my husband what had happened and what I'd been told. Neither of us knew what to say, and we both let the feelings of shock and bewilderment settle in. How are you supposed to handle such news? You're pregnant, but you may lose it.

We both felt afraid to be excited about the pregnancy because of the possibility of what we might be going through if it did in fact turn out to be ectopic. My husband asked “If it turns out to be tubal, do we have to... terminate?” I said “I think so”, and we cried together. I only hoped that the ultrasound would show something conclusive so we wouldn't have to wait for confirmation one way or another. I continued to pray in my heart that all would work out, and that the medical professionals who were helping us would be guided to find the right answers for us.

Part 1: Preface
Part 2: Bittersweet
Part 4: Peace

Monday, September 6, 2010

Darcy's Birthday

by Casey

I began my prenatal care with Darcy’s pregnancy at a birth center. I had some issues with “white coat hypertension” meaning my blood pressure would spike when it was time for it to be taken, but was otherwise fine. I was less than pleased with how this was handled, and decided to try and find another midwife for this pregnancy.

I asked Danny to consider a home birth midwife, Kelli, whom I had researched and heard to be great. We went to a consultation and I was immediately confident that this was the direction I wanted to go in. Danny’s worries about home birth were alleviated after the consultation so we made the switch, 6 months into my pregnancy.

We didn’t take the decision lightly at all, but I was and am of the attitude that I’m only going to give birth so many times in my life, and as much as it depended on me, I was going to seek the kind of care any pregnant woman deserves, whether from a midwife or a doctor. I was also going to fight to have the kind of birth I personally wanted as a low-risk pregnant woman – unhindered, allowed to listen to my body, be present mentally and physically, push in whatever position I wanted, etc.. We did not choose to make this decision to switch public beyond family and a few friends.
Amazingly enough, but not at all surprising, my white coat hypertension disappeared under Kelli’s care.

Danny = husband
Olive = daughter, 20 months at the time
Karen = mother-in-law
Courtney = sister.

I woke up on July 30 at 6:15 am. Not normal for me, but I was awake and feeling “off”. I had some contractions, but they were pretty far apart. Olive woke up at 6:45 or so and I made her breakfast and put her in front of the TV so I could figure out what was going on with my body. (I was induced with Olive, so I never got to experience what it was like to go into labor on my own before) The contractions were probably every 10 to 15 minutes apart at this point.

Karen came to get Olive at 8:30 to spend the morning together and I packed some extra stuff, thinking that today might be the day and Olive might be gone for longer than just the morning if I was in labor. I laid back down and my contractions spaced out to every 30 minutes apart, sometimes every 20.

At about 11 or so, Courtney and I decided to go to Panera for lunch. I had a couple contractions while we were gone, but again, they were very far apart and not regular.

On the way home from lunch, I felt like I had been hit by a truck and could think of nothing but sleep. I wanted to listen to my body, and my body was telling me to sleep, so when we got home that is exactly what I did. I took a great nap, had some contractions throughout, but rested really, really well.

We were watching Ellen and at 3:30 I decided it was time to start keeping track of the contractions and timing them, because they were coming more regularly now, even if they were far apart. 

I used to time them. Here is how the times went from when I started keeping track: 17 minutes apart, 10 minutes, 7 minutes, 4 minutes…they picked up fast, obviously. I paced behind the couch while we continued to watch TV and leaned over it during the contractions, doing my deep breathing.

It felt SO good and right to be standing and moving and not in a bed. I told Danny to have his mom come back and get Olive, and moved to the bedroom (after answering a work e-mail from my boss ha, ha!). I was in there for maybe 30 minutes and told Courtney to call the midwife and asked Danny to call the other people who were going to be at the birth: my mom, Danny’s sister Kimberly, and my good friend Jennifer to take pictures.Then I moved to the tub in our 2nd bathroom.

The water felt great. It was around 5:15 and Courtney came in and said she left two messages for Kelli – one at home and one on her cell. I tried not to panic, because I knew that my labor was progressing fast. Kelli called back and said she was going to run home and change into pants and then be right over. She called back a few minutes later and said she was NOT going home and was 10 minutes away. Whew! I kept saying “she better hurry!”. My contractions were very strong and long at this point. I tried to keep my tones low as I breathed through them (which was not too hard for this alto)

My contractions were one on top of the other, seemingly lasting forever. And I was having those typical “I can’t do this” thoughts that occur during those last few centimeters of dilation.

Suddenly at the end of the contractions I was pushing. Well, my body was pushing, I was just letting it do what it wanted to do. Kelli called in to the bathroom “are you pushing?” She came in and I said “I guess I’m dilated, huh?” She said “the body doesn’t lie,” meaning it wouldn’t start moving my baby down and out if I wasn’t. I will always remember that statement. She told me to feel for my baby’s head. So I did. My water was still in tact, so it felt kind of like a water ballon.

During all this everyone else was working to get the bigger tub that Kelli brought set up. We got word it was ready so I waited to get through another contraction and then moved. I think I might have dove in, it looked so inviting because it was so big. I immediately and instinctively got on my knees and held onto the edge of the tub with my arms. I was pushing and, funnily enough, narrating what I was feeling for everyone there. “Burning burning, crowning, crowning…” My water broke mid-push and then Darcy’s head was out and Kelli checked for the cord, telling me what she was doing all along so as not to catch me off guard with her touch, since she was behind me.

She wasn’t doing anything. Darcy was rotating herself to get her shoulders out. I think at that point I called my halfway born daughter a “little missy” for the discomfort her rotating was causing me. But, within seconds and one more push she was out and Kelli pushed her through the water under me and into my arms. 
I played with her and floated her around in the water for about 20 minutes while Kelli took her respirations, heart rate, apgars, all that stuff. Darcy was so peaceful. The cord was not cut until the afterbirth was out (and it was not pulled out, but allowed to detach itself which took 16 minutes).

I was in “hard labor” for about 2 hours. I pushed for 4 minutes (and again, I didn’t really do it, but allowed my body to take over and do it). Darcy weighed in at 8 lb 6oz (a full pound + bigger than Olive, and 1 hour 16 minutes less pushing time!) I think those times are attributed to the comfort and safety I felt throughout my labor – from my environment and the people who surrounded me.

A big lesson I learned from the whole prenatal and birth experience is to not be afraid to fight for and have the care and experience you want. Life is too short to take monumental experiences lightly, and – You deserve it. All along I knew that if things didn’t turn out the way I hoped, at least I didn’t let myself get railroaded, and I was under the care of someone who had MY best interest in mind.