Monday, December 19, 2011

Pregnancy Update: 35+ Weeks

I've been TERRIBLE about updating the blog throughout this pregnancy. Life is crazy, as always, but wonderful at the same time.

Here are my stats for 35+ weeks:

  • Fetal Heart Rate: 125-149 BPM (Baby was very active and the heart rate kept going up and down when I was trying to get a reading.)
  • Blood Pressure: 107/58 (It's been nice and low throughout the pregnancy)
  • Pulse: 89 BPM
  • Fundus: 35 cm (Right on)
  • Weight Gain: 34 lbs. (Roughly 1 lb. per week, consistently)
I've had 3 visits with the midwives through the pregnancy so far, as well as one ultrasound around 20 weeks. I haven't had any lab work done, and I haven't had any need to see a doctor. I've consulted my midwives by phone many times, as needed.

When I got to about 28 weeks my midwife was concerned about my low blood pressure and thought perhaps my iron levels were low. I have a history of low iron during pregnancy, and this was the first pregnancy that I hadn't been taking an iron supplement throughout. Sure enough, when we checked my hemoglobin level, it was lower than we wanted it to be. It was about 10, and my midwife wanted to see it above 13 if possible, and to maintain that until the birth. I started taking a multi-vitamin called Hema-Plex twice a day, which has 80 mg of elemental iron per capsule, and I made sure to take a cranberry supplement with it, because the vitamin C would help my body absorb the iron more efficiently. Within 3 weeks my hemoglobin was up over 13, and I've continued taking the iron supplements to help it stay up for the rest of the pregnancy.

I've always had horrible hip and low back pain during pregnancy, but this time it's been a lot better because of some specific things I've done. I've been taking cod liver oil, about 4,000 mg per day, for the omegas and vitamin D, and found that it helped lessen my pain and improved my mood. I also started taking extra calcium and magnesium and a glucosamine complex with chondritin and MSM. All of these supplements combined have improved my muscle and joint function and I've had minimal pain. The magnesium has also helped ease the round ligament pain and Braxton Hicks I was having. It's really amazing to me how a few simple adjustments can make a huge difference. I've also been taking baths with epsom salts regularly, and making sure I drink plenty of water each day. Physically this has been my healthiest pregnancy so far.

At 35 weeks my pain and discomfort is growing, but that's to be expected. I feel better at this point than I remember feeling with any of my previous pregnancies, and I feel better than I did in the first trimester, which amazes me. Sleeping is difficult, but that's normal for this stage, and I've never liked the saying "get the sleep now while you can before the baby comes!" because sleep during the third trimester is an utter joke. You get it whenever you can, whether it's night time or 1 pm. I slip naps in whenever possible, just to keep functioning, much like I do when I have a newborn. I did notice, however, that my energy levels improved drastically when my iron levels came back up. Still, fatigue is just a normal part of pregnancy at this point, and I understand that. 

My body is on its own schedule. No matter what time I go to bed, I wake up at 6 am, before anyone else is awake. I can't seem to get back to sleep, so I've learned to enjoy the quiet time by making and eating a warm breakfast by myself. It's the only meal of the day that I get to eat without kids around me, climbing on me, wanting to eat my food, or asking me to do or get things for them. It's MY time.

My "due date" is January 20, and I'm telling myself the baby will come in early February. I don't want to mentally set myself up for disappointment like I did when I expected my last baby to come before the due date. I want to enjoy the time being pregnant and let my baby come when he is good and ready.

I'm in full nesting mode. I feel the urge to clean the house, despite lacking the energy to do it, and I'm making plans to cook and freeze meals for the immediate postpartum period. I've talked with various people about attending the birth and helping me by taking photos, watching the kids, and helping me after the baby is born. I'm very excited and extremely at peace about planning another home birth. I can't wait!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Pleasurable Birth

There's an explicit content warning on this video. Personally, I find the depictions of typical hospital births disturbing in contrast to the peaceful depictions of pleasurable birth.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Labor Progression

This offers a great explanation and visual of labor progress, dilation, and effacement.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Feeding Baby With a Cup

Even a newborn can feed from a cup, and it doesn't cause nipple confusion like bottles do.

Monday, November 28, 2011


By Teresa Henderson

Just call me a liability,
That’s what they see me as anyway.
One glance at my chart and they recall,
I’m the one who refuses all their protocol.
A court case, a settlement, is what they see,
I’m just a liability.

Just call me a liability,
Refusing things so sternly.
No glucose test, no dopplers,
No peek to see if there’s one, two, or three.
How can they make a guarantee,
I’m just a liability.

Just call me a liability,
They can’t provide prenatal care to me.
Refusing this and this and that,
Right down to that pap.
Why would I refuse they ask?
A liability is that.

Just call me a liability,
The OBs, Nurses, and Medwives agree.
Refuse their life saving devices,
And baby will arrive with many vices.
Their Insurance warns them of me,
That big, old, scary liability.

I’m not a liability,
Informed consent is my priority.
Refusing things I don’t view as necessary,
To avoid their interventionary.
A normal birth is what I desire,
Risk or liability I am neither.

What then is a liability,
For those OBs, Nurses, and Medwives three?
They say, if you want a baby of perfection,
Do as they say without inquisition.
When things go wrong who do parents say hold accountability?
Implying perfection is the true liability.

I found this poem here.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Lucy Lynn's Birth Story

And now finally, for Lucy's birth story...

On Sunday, October 9, 2011 we went to church as usual in the morning.  Afterwards, we went to Jay's parents house as we often do to have lunch.  We had already eaten and were watching TV when I suddenly felt like I *really* wanted to be home.  I just wanted to be in my own home, in my own bed, resting.  The next morning, on my due date, I had my 40 week appointment with Britte.  Jay offered to keep Oliver at home but I really wanted him to go with me.  I knew it could possibly be my last appointment, although I still felt like I had some time left.  (For some reason, I definitely had it in my head that I would go to 41 weeks.)  At the appointment Britte asked if she could check me (I had not had any dilation checks yet) to see where I was at since I had reached my due date.  I was going to ask to be checked anyway, so that was fine.  She checked and discovered I was 3 cm with a bulging water sack.  I was very surprised.  I had been having contractions off and on for weeks, and was thrilled to realize they were actually doing something.  But I also knew that dilation did not indicate when labor would start, so I didn't get my hopes up.  She had me schedule an appointment for that Friday, but said she thought she would see me much sooner.  I hoped she was right, but felt like I was probably still going to be pregnant for that Friday appointment.

After my appointment, Oliver and I went through the drive-thru at Wendy's and got some lunch.  I couldn't eat much of mine; my stomach hadn't felt right all morning. (I had told Britte that, and she said that could be a sign of labor coming on.  Again, I was in denial.) :)  Oliver and I then went to Buckner Park in Fort Wayne, and I followed him all over the playground.  Then I made him walk around the big walking path.  Poor boy, he kept sitting down and saying, "Oliver tired, Mommy."  haha!  We finally headed home and I put Oliver down for a nap and laid down myself.  I hadn't slept much the night before and was pretty tired after our playground fun.

I woke up around 4:30 p.m. to a painful contraction.  I had been having contractions around that time for a couple of weeks, but this one hurt.  I turned over and tried to go back to sleep and had another contraction.  I turned over again, and had another one.  That caught my attention because normally I would only have one contraction and then it would be a long time before another one, and changing positions often stopped them.  I got up and began moving around and the contractions kept coming.  I was sort of timing them at this point, but not very closely.  I was still in denial that I could possibly be in labor on my due date.  I told Jay to go ahead and go to his parents' house with Oliver for dinner as planned and to just keep his phone close.  I sent a text to Amber to give her a heads up what was going on and that Oliver might be there that night, but that I still wasnt sure.

Around 5:45 I text Kristin, my doula and ate some peanut butter toast, fruit, and drank some red raspberry leaf tea.  I called Jay and said he needed to come home to help me time the contractions.  I asked him to stop at the store and get more fruit, some Gatorade, and some peanuts.  I also talked to my mom and had her on alert as I wanted her to come up for the birth.  The contractions were still coming every 6-8 minutes, lasting anywhere from 30 to 60 seconds.  I still wasnt sure that this was "it" and was worried that if Kristin came and my parents drove up that things would fizzle out.  This continued to be my fear until we got to the hospital!  After Jay got home I double-checked that everything was in the hospital bag and contractions became more painful.  I continued to walk around the house, stopping during contractions, and doing some random cleaning. (I decided that our microwave *had* to be cleaned. haha!)

Around 8:00 p.m.  Kristin headed our way. I felt it was time for her to come and help me, and that this was probably real labor.  My contractions were still about 6 minutes apart, but I was having to stop during them and deal with them instead of being able to easily talk through them like I had been earlier.  My parents were also on their way up at this point.  When Kristin arrived around 9:00, I was leaning on Jay and swaying through the contractions.  I felt very calm and in control.  Around 9:20 my parents got there and I was glad to see them. I sat on my birth ball for awhile and snacked and drank as I felt like it.  From 9:40-9:55 my mom, Kristin, and I took a walk around the neighborhood.  It was a beautiful night out.  My contractions were coming about every 3-4 minutes, lasting 30-45 seconds.  They werent as intense while we were on our walk, but I still had to stop during them.

When we got back to the house, I sat on my birth ball, ate some peanuts and drank some Gatorade.  I quickly got tired of sitting and was worried about contractions dying down, so I walked into the kitchen and stayed in there for awhile, and my contractions got stronger. I began to walk up and down the stairs, determined to keep the contractions up.  Looking back, I probably really wore myself out, but I didnt care at the time.  I also spent some time in Lucy's room, and thought of how soon our little girl would be there.  Kristin suggested I hold onto the side of the crib and squat during one of my contractions and wow! that made it intense.  I was starting to get tired, though, and unless I was active the contractions weren't as intense.  It was around 11:00 and I still wasnt totally ready to go to the hospital, even though my contractions had been 4 minutes apart lasting about a minute for about 45 minutes.  I was running out of things to do when Kristin suggested I lay down on my left side in bed with Jay for awhile.  I was hesitant to do so because I didn't want the contractions to stop.  Kristin gently encouraged me to just try it.  So Jay and I laid down for about 15 minutes and surprisingly, laying down made my contractions very strong.  I remember telling Jay, "Ok, time one more and then I need to call Britte."

I called and talked to Britte (I love that I was able to speak directly to her) and told her how my contractions were and that we were heading to the hospital.  She asked if I wanted her to meet me there, and I said yes, definitely.  We headed out around 11:30 or so.  I sat in the backseat while Jay drove.  I text some friends and my brother to let them know we were headed to the hospital.  I received a text from Kristin saying she had heard the song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" on the radio.  How perfect!

I was able to talk to Jay between my contractions but the ride was less than pleasant.  I continued to eat a little bit but was quickly losing my appetite.  We arrived at the hospital around 12:25 a.m.  It was dark and quiet.  The girl at the desk when we walked in asked if I could walk or if I wanted a wheelchair.  By this point, my contractions were much more intense and all I could think was that I wanted to have as few of them in the hallway as possible.  I asked for a wheelchair with the thinking that someone could push me faster than I could walk. Bad idea! I lasted about 2 minutes in that stupid chair before every little bump on the ground was more than I could handle.  We finally got upstairs and into the OB department.  When we walked in I saw Britte right away- how wonderful and reassuring it was to see her.  It seemed to take forever for me to get to my room because I kept having to stop for contractions.  I was surprised by how intense they had gotten since I had gotten out of the car.

I got into my room, and it was quiet, the lights were dimmed, and the Jacuzzi tub was filled.  It was incredibly peaceful- something I did not expect for a hospital room.  I had to be on the fetal monitor for about 15 minutes, which wasnt the most pleasant because I couldn't move around much, but it went by fairly quickly.  Britte said I did not have to have an internal exam unless I wanted one, so I declined.  I felt very nauseous and vomitted twice.  I remember thinking that I was having signs of transition and hoped I wasnt going to be in labor for a whole lot longer.  I got ready to get in the tub, and my dad headed for the waiting room. Its so true when they say you lose your modesty during labor- I didnt know that my dad was gone but I didnt care.  I wanted in that tub!

I got in the tub around 1:000 and labored there with the support of Jay, Kristin, my mom, Britte, and Pam, the nurse.  It felt amazing.  I had on worship music and remember thinking how perfect the song, "The Anthem", was.  "Wake up, child, its your time to shine. You were born for such a time as this."  I prayed during my contractions, asking Jesus to take my pain.  I tried so hard not to tense up during the contractions but I know I did.  It just hurt so much, each contraction seemed to last forever and totally consume me.  I dreaded each upcoming one.  I so badly wanted to escape.  At one point I kept saying, "it hurts, it hurts, I can't do this. I can't." Then I would say "I can. I can. I can."  Kristin also reminded me, "The pain is temporary." That helped a lot.  I couldn't get comfortable in the tub, though, and kept trying to shift positions.  The contractions were so painful I could barely keep my head above the water.  I just wanted to sink down in and disappear. I kept shaking and feeling dizzy.  I felt like I needed something to hold onto, and would lay my head on the side of the tub and grip Jay's hands.

I was really surprised that although the tub was helping (somewhat!) with the pain, it just didn't feel right.  And things didnt seem to be progressing.  I was feeling a little pushy, but not much.  Britte asked me if I was feeling that way, and I told her yes but not strongly.  We were worried the tub may be slowing down my progress, so around 2:45 I got out.  I was exhausted and tired.  The hospital bed looked so good at that point.  I was discouraged and feeling like it was never going to end.  I have so much trust in birth, and the process, but in the middle of it, I wanted to quit.  I never wanted an epidural, surprisingly, but I wanted it to be over.

At 3:00 I wanted to be checked and see how far along I was.  Britte checked and discovered I was 8 cm (I was happy to hear that, yet a bit disappointed I wasn't further), 90%, and at a +2 station.  I was frustrated that the baby hadn't descended any more than that.  I started to wonder what I was doing wrong that was causing my labor to stall like it had.  I really doubted myself.

I continued to labor in various positions and nothing seemed to feel right.  I was laboring on the toilet, facing the wall with Jay behind me, when Britte came in and suggested trying the tub one more time with my sports bra pulled up to see if the jets in the tub would help my contractions along.    So I tried that, and it still didn't feel right.  I was very comfortable with being able to say, "this isn't right. I need to change" and I felt a lot of support anytime I said that.  I felt in control, yet out of control at the same time.  Its a very hard feeling to describe.

At 4:25 I wanted to be checked again, and I was still at 8 cm, 90% effaced (but at 0 station).  I wanted to cry and scream that I hadnt made much progress at all.  I felt so badly that I was keeping everyone awake through the night and nothing was happening (in my mind, nothing was happening).  I felt guilty that I couldn't "make" my body progress.  I decided to have my bag of waters broken.  I was upset to be at that point because I had not wanted to have to have my water broken, but I was exhausted and things were just not moving along like I wanted.  And the fact that it was MY choice to have the water broken, no one else's, made it an empowering decision.  I was scared to break my water because I was already in SO MUCH pain, and I knew it would get worse.  After my water was broken, I started to feel much more pushy.  Around 4:50 I tried the birthing stool (purple and sparkly!) and I was annoyed to find that it too didnt feel right and my contractions didnt seem very effective.  All along I had planned to either be in the tub the entire time or on the birth stool, and neither one of those was working.  From 5:00-6:00 I labored in various positions around the room: standing, leaning on Jay, sitting on the toilet.  I was pushing through every contraction and yet nothing seemed to be working.  I was so, so tired.

At 6:00 Britte checked me and found an anterior cervical lip (basically my cervix was swollen).  She began to hold it back during contractions while I laid in the bed as I pushed over that lip.  Oh my goodness was that painful.  I can't even describe.  I was able to push when I felt the urge without any ridiculous counting.  I knew when I needed to push and everyone was very encouraging.  I switched from laying on one side, then the other, then my back while others held my legs back so that my pelvis was open like in a squat.  Laying down like that was the only position that felt right and kept my contractions intense.  That was a bit frustrating for me because I didn't want to be on that darn bed! But that's ok. I was able to see everything with a mirror which was so cool.  I was very excited when I saw Lucy begin to crown because I knew that most of the time after you have had one baby, the subsequent babies crown and then are born.  (Whereas your first one will crown, go back in, crown again, etc.)  Well, apparently Lucy thought she was a first time baby because she continued to crown, go back in, crown again.  I could not believe it! Every time I could feel her go back in I wanted to curse and scream.  I needed constant reassurance at this point and felt very out of control, although I was told later I seemed in control.  I just wanted to cry when I would feel her go back in.  I was also frustrated because there was no relief between pushing contractions.  I believe she must have been positioned oddly because I could feel constant pain and pressure between every contraction that made it hard to cope. I just wanted my baby!

Finally, Lucy crowned during a contraction and I felt that dreaded ring of fire.  I felt my body immediately start to back away from the pain but I knew I had to keep going.  Britte reminded me to slow down pushing and told me I was stretching beautifully.  After tearing with Oliver, I was glad to hear that.  I had been grunting a lot and moaning during pushing, so she reminded me to do quick short breaths.  Suddenly in one contraction,(and after 2 hours of pushing!) Lucy was born!  Head, shoulders, and body came out in one contraction, surprising everyone at how quickly it happened.  I will always remember the look of shock on Britte's face as she caught Lucy! I was planning on catching her but after crowning so many times no one expected her to be born SO quickly like that.  And because she came out so quickly, I ended up with a second degree tear again.  Darn it! Oh well, I didn't care at all at that point.  I had my baby! She was beautiful and perfect.  She immediately started to cry and everyone laughed because her cry sounded SO "girly".  I wish we had gotten it on video.

 Lucy was immediately put onto my chest, and a blanket was draped over us for some wonderful skin-to-skin time.  I couldnt stop smiling and was so happy.  I asked if she was still a girl and if her feet were ok.  I couldn't believe how pretty she was.  There is nothing more amazing than the first time you see your child.  I couldn't believe this tiny little person had been inside of me and was now out.  She was beautiful and perfect.  She started nursing right away.   After her cord stopped pulsating Britte clamped it and Jay cut it.  Lucy stayed on my chest and nursed while my tear was repaired, and stayed there for nearly an hour.  She pooped all over me and herself, but that's ok. :)  The nurses bagged up my placenta for Kristin to take home to encapsulate for me, and one nurse asks if we are going to eat it.  LOL! Nope, but the look on my mom's face when she saw we were going to take it was priceless.

About an hour later Lucys grandparents got to come in and meet her.  Britte and Kristin head home, and soon after we move next door to another room.  We had Lucy weighed and discovered she was 8 lbs 1 oz and 21 inches long with her head being 14 inches.  The nurse said she measured a bit big for her gestational age (40 weeks 1 day).  I was so happy she was a healthy baby.  And I loved that all the weighing and measurements were delayed until we were ready.  The only time I was away from Lucy at all was when they took her to do her hearing screening.  Jay went with her for that and I decided to lay down for a bit.  The room we moved to had a "real" bed, not a hospital bed, and it was big enough for me, Jay, and Lucy to take a nap in.  I was worried the nurses might frown upon our co-sleeping, but one nurse actually came in and commented on how comfy Lucy looked right next to her mommy. It was awesome. :)  Jay was exhausted and quickly fell asleep, but I was on such a "birth high" that I was wide awake for awhile and ended up only napping for a short time.  Physically, I felt extremely sore all over but mentally and emotionally I felt fantastic.  They knew we wanted to go home the same day, so they got Dr. Rexroth, one of the doctors, to come in and look at Lucy and give us the ok.  Jay and I were able to give her her first bath later on.  That afternoon, my parents came back to visit, and Jay's dad brought Oliver to meet his sister for the first time.  For months I had envisioned him meeting Lucy, and all the adorable pictures we would take of the two of them. Oliver had other plans- he wanted to eat the fruit I had and wanted nothing to do with Lucy! He saw her and didnt care at all!  Jays brother Rusty and his girlfriend April also came to visit.  That evening we were able to go home, about 13 hours or so after Lucy was born.  It felt perfect to be headed home as a family of 4.  On the way home we met up with Kristin so I could get my placenta pills, and my parents helped get us into the house and settled.

Lucy will be six weeks old in a couple of days, and it has taken me this long to write her birth story.  It was a beautiful experience, but one that took some time for me to process.  I also had to accept how I acted during labor- although others said I was very much in control, I was surprised at how much reassurance I needed when I have full and total faith in the birth process.  Having a natural childbirth was extremely empowering for me.  I will absolutely choose to do this again with our future babies, and to use Britte as our midwife.  Lucy fits perfectly into our family, and after just six short weeks, its hard to remember what life was like before she was here.  You are so very loved, sweet baby girl.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Lucy's "Pre-birth" Birth Story

Jay and I were blessed with a beautiful daughter on Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 6:38 a.m.  Lucy Lynn was 8 lbs 1 oz and 21 inches long.  She is an answer to our prayers and a wonderful addition to her family.  Here is her birth story.

In order to really understand Lucy's birth, I need to start with her big brother Oliver's.  Oliver Michael was born on August 26, 2008.  My first child changed my life in ways I did not expect.  Oliver was induced three weeks early due to my health issues.  I chose to have an epidural because I did not believe I could handle the pain.  The epidural worked perfectly for several hours...and then stopped after I was completely dilated and ready to push.  While I do think that I still had some medication left in my body that helped with the pain, the epidural was not working the way it should have or the way I expected it to. However, I would not change a thing.  Feeling the contractions helped me to push, and I felt very empowered afterwards knowing I had done it without the full effects of the pain medication.  My nurse apologized time and time again and could not explain why the epidural had "failed".  I was not uspet about it at all, however, and knew right away that I would never choose to have another one.  I wouldn't trust it to work anyway, and besides, I knew I could do it!  No one was going to take that feeling of pride away from me.

That started my interest in natural childbirth.  Once I realized I would not want an epidural next time, that led me to wanting- or rather NOT wanting- certain other things.  I knew I did not want to be induced with my next child if my health was good.  Not only was I concerned about the implications of the drugs on my baby and myself, but I also felt that it was wrong to choose a baby's birthday for my convenience. I very strongly feel that babies know when they are ready to be born, and so does God.  A due date is only a guess and for me to decide my baby's birthday based on when he or she is supposed to be ready was not right, in my opinion.

We found out we were expecting our second blessing on January 26, 2011.  After six months of trying to conceive, we were thrilled.  I had my first prenatal appointment with Dr. Davis in March.  I was nervous for this appointment because I wanted to talk to him about the many things I wanted for this birth.  I knew some of them were probably not going to be received well by the hospital and I wanted his opinion.  We got to talk some, but not a lot, as he was called to a birth.  My main concern at this time was whether or not he would be the one attending the birth, as I knew his practice operates in a rotation basis.  He assured me he would do everything he could to be there.  I left feeling better, but still not 100% convinced that things were going to go the way I was wanting them to go.

I continued my care with Dr. Davis and looked forward to every appointment. We learned in May (and it was confirmed in July) that we were expecting a baby girl and that her little feet looked perfect. (After Oliver's clubfeet, we were concerned about this possibility.)  We decided to hire a doula because I still did not feel that my wants for the birth aligned well with the hospital.  We had chosen to go to Dupont Hospital instead of Lutheran Hospital (where Oliver was born) because I thought Dupont gave me a better chance of having a natural birth.  They had labor tubs and other equipment, and overall seemed more mother-friendly.  In July we began taking Bradley method childbirth classes in Auburn.  These are excellent classes that I would recommend to every pregnant mother.  We learned so much about the various stages of labor, what is normal and not normal, and most importantly, how Jay could help support me during the labor and birth.  The knowledge we gained in these classes helped me more during the labor and delivery than I even expected.

During these classes, we learned more about the midwife practice that is in Auburn.  It is a group of 3 midwives and one OB.  The midwives deliver both at the hospital and birth center.  The more I heard about them, the more interested I became.  And the more concerned I grew with delivering at Dupont.

On the way to our final childbirth class, I told Jay how concerned I was that Dr. Davis would not be the one attending the birth and how upsetting that was to me.  I also said I did not trust the nurses at Dupont.  I didnt know them, but I knew that because Dr. Davis would not be there for much (if any) of my labor, that a lot of my experience rested on those nurses.  Jay jokingly said that it was too bad we couldnt call ahead to Dupont once I was in labor, and if Dr. Davis wasnt going to be there, to go on to Auburn to birth with a midwife.  I looked at him and very seriously said, "You don't know how badly I wish for that too."  He then said that if I wanted to, I should schedule an appointment to talk to one of the midwives and see if that was the way I should go.  I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders- this was so much what I wanted to do but was scared to say it.

The hardest part for me was the thought of leaving Dr. Davis.  I adored him, and really thought I could have a good birth experience with him.  But it worried me that he might not be the one that ended up being there.  My birth was too sacred and important to me to have a person I had never met before be there at the delivery.  So over the next couple of days, I gathered my courage, wrote up a detailed birth plan, and went to my 32 week appointment.  I felt like I was going to be sick.  Jay went with me to that appointment, and when Dr. Davis walked in we sat and talked for awhile.  I told him my concerns, and we went over my birth plan.  He was fine with pretty much everything in my plan, but he admitted that his other partners might not be.  He also said he could not guarantee that he would be at the delivery, which I knew.  Even if I went into labor and delivered during the day during the week when he was at work, he said if I went to Dupont and he was at the Jefferson office or at Lutheran, he might miss it.  This made me terribly uncomfortable.  I told him I was considering switching to the midwives and he said he completely understood.  He even said I could remain a patient of his in the event that I needed an OB.  I left the appointment feeling very happy with how our talk had gone, but saddened knowing it was my last appointment with him.  I wanted to meet with a midwife to make sure I connected well with her, but in my heart, I was already there.

The next morning I called and made an appointment with Britte Nihart, one of the midwives.  A friend of mine was seeing her at the time and spoke highly of her.  My appointment was for just a little over a week away, and I couldn't wait.

My first appointment with Britte was wonderful.  While I was waiting I had been reading Ina May Gaskin's "Guide to Childbirth".  When Britte's nurse saw me with the book, she said, "Oh, if you're reading that, you'll fit right in."  I had to smile at that.  Fit in?  Awesome! I had always felt like I didnt belong in an OB office.  It was like coming home.  Britte and I talked for nearly an hour that first appointment.  I showed her the same birth plan as I had shown Dr. Davis and she was receptive to every part of it.  In fact, she said that most of what I was requesting was just commonplace for them.  I left the appointment feeling on top of the world.  I couldn't wait to call Jay and tell him how excited I was to make the switch to midwifery care.  I called Dr. Davis's office the next morning and had my records transferred.  It was official.

I began seeing Britte on a weekly basis.  I brought Oliver to several of these appointments and loved how he was included.  He was able to "help" with the doppler to listen to the heartbeat and also measure my stomach.  He loved going to the appointments with me, and having him involved was very special to me.  My appointments with Britte were vastly different from those with Dr. Davis.  Instead of a 5 minute check-up to make sure that nothing was wrong, my midwife appointments lasted anywhere from 10 minutes (when Oliver was cranky and kept trying to run out the door) to 45 minutes or more on those rare times when it was just me at the appointment and Britte and I could talk about everything.  She would ask me how I felt emotionally as I approached my due date.  She asked how Oliver did sleeping at night and how having a baby would play into our family dynamic at night.  We also talked about how our faith in God helped our faith in childbirth.  Although I was a patient of Britte's for only 7 weeks or so, I felt she and I became very close and had a wonderful connection.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Conception to birth -- visualized

I wish I could embed this video for you, but you'll need to click on the link. It's an incredible visualization of conception to birth, explained by Alexander Tsiaras.

Alexander Tsiaras: Conception to birth -- visualized | Video on

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Please Submit Your Birth Story

I now have an email account set up specifically so you can send me your birth stories to be published on the blog.

I apologize for being such a slacker on this blog since I've been pregnant. I've had some serious writer's block since becoming pregnant, and I feel like I've neglected the blog a bit.

I would love to share birth stories from all of you here, if you feel comfortable sharing them. I'm happy to share all different types of birth stories, so don't be shy.

You can now send all birth story submissions for the blog to:

Please include photos with your story if you feel comfortable doing so.

This email is for birth stories only. Thank you!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Parents Changing Diapers Less Often to Save Money

"Advertising Age reports diaper sales are down, but diaper rash cream sales are up. It's happened three years in a row, coinciding with the downturn of the economy. The study hints that we as parents are changing diapers less frequently and our kids' tushes are the victim."

This is one reason I love cloth diapers: I don't have to worry about how many we go through, because I wash and reuse the diapers. I don't need to factor diapers into my budget.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dance the Baby Out!

OK, this is awesome. Dancing to get labor started. Check out her amazing belly at 40 weeks 4 days with twins!

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Consciousness of Infants

"Not long ago, experts in pediatrics and psychology were teaching that babies were virtually blind, had no sense of color, couldn't recognize their mothers, and heard in "echoes. They believed babies cared little about sharp changes in temperature at birth and had only a crude sense of smell and taste. Their pain was "not like our pain," their cries not meaningful, their smiles were "gas," and their emotions undeveloped. Worst of all, most professionals believed babies were not equipped with enough brain matter to permit them to remember, learn, or find meaning in their experiences."

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Spirituality and Birth Book

My husband and I were honored to contribute some of our experiences and stories as content for this book: The Gift of Giving Life.

Here's a brief synopsis:

The Gift of Giving Life: Rediscovering the Divine Nature of Pregnancy and Birth offers something that no other pregnancy book has before–a spiritual look at pregnancy and birth by and for LDS women and other women of faith. With inspiring birth stories and essays from dozens of real LDS women, scriptures, words of the prophets and other spiritual texts related to pregnancy and birth, The Gift of Giving Life if the essential pregnancy companion for every LDS woman.

The book is scheduled for release in December, but you can preorder your copy today! I'm personally looking forward to getting my own copy.

Update: I just learned that the release date for the book had to be pushed back to Feb 2012. However, there will be a giveaway and you can enter to win a free copy of the book.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Clio's Freebirth

In this clip from the documentary "Freebirthing," Clio Howie peacefully gives birth to her little boy. To learn more about the documentary visit To learn more about freebirth visit

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pregnancy Update: 22+ Weeks

22 weeks

I haven't posted a pregnancy update in about a month, so I figured now would be a good time.

I've been consulting with the midwives on the phone, but haven't had an official prenatal visit since about 14 weeks. I'm OK with this. I'm actually more than OK with it. I've been able to check my vitals and heart tones when I want to, which hasn't been too often, but the big thing for me is that I'm feeling my baby move - a LOT! I'm loving that, and it gives me assurance that all is well. My two midwives are just a phone call away if I need any help, and that's comforting as well. I can call them anytime with anything I might need, which isn't much.

At 22 weeks I'm still very tired, but otherwise doing really well. I find myself looking at my children with such intense love and wondering what I ever did to deserve them. I'm so grateful for my life and hopeful and excited for the future. Emotionally I've been feeling much more myself compared to the grumpy bear I was for several weeks.

I had an ultrasound around 19 1/2 weeks and found out we're having a BOY! This is boy number 5 for us, and we have one girl so far. We love our children so much, and we're very excited for another boy.

The ultrasound technician said that everything looked good, and the only item of potential concern was that my placenta was anterior and low. This means the area of the placenta that attaches to the uterus (which takes up about half the placenta at this stage) was attached in the front of my uterus and low, close to the cervix. The placenta wasn't covering the cervix (placenta previa), just close to it. The tech said that most of the time the placenta moves up and out of the way by the time the baby is ready to be born, but she recommended a follow-up ultrasound closer to the due date (around 34 weeks) to double-check the location.

My main midwife, Sherri, wasn't overly concerned about the placenta. She asked me how I felt, and I told her I wasn't worried, and she recommended getting plenty of rest, lying down as much as possible, and staying positive about the placenta moving further away from the cervix.

The second midwife was more concerned. She strongly recommended that I do the follow-up ultrasound so we have a clear idea of what what we're dealing with before labor starts.

I don't have a strong inclination one way or another. I feel a peace and I'm not worried about the placenta. I haven't decided yet if I'll do the follow-up ultrasound.

In my 23rd week I noticed was more tired than my usual fatigue, and I wondered if my iron levels might be low. It's been a known pregnancy issue for me in the past, so I got my iron checked right away, and it turned out to be a healthy level. I realized that my fatigue got worse, along with my hip, low back, and general join pain, and wonderful mood swings, after I had run out of cod liver oil and stopped taking it. I never realized how much that was helping me until it was gone! I'm ordering more cod liver oil and using other coping techniques in the mean time.

In general I feel good and happy, and I'm not worried about any problems with the pregnancy. I'm really looking forward to another wonderful home birth, and I feel nothing but peace about my plans.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Demonstration of Delayed Cord Clamping Benefits

Penny Simkin provides a demonstration and explanation of the importance of delayed cord clamping.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

You Are a Tree

Love yourself, for you are a beautiful tree.

In my religion we are taught that our body is a temple and we should love, honor, and respect it

Monday, September 5, 2011

Favorite Pregnancy/Birth Quotes

I often share quotes on my Mamas and Babies facebook page, and I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorites here on the blog.

Some of these are obviously related to pregnancy and birth, and some can fit a wide range of applications but also can be related to pregnancy and birth. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

"Childbirth... is chaos that the body can resolve itself." ~ Jennifer Block

"If a woman doesn't look like a goddess in birth, someone isn't treating her right." ~ Ina May Gaskin

"The whole point of woman-centered birth is the knowledge that a woman is the birth power source. She may need, and deserve, help, but in essence, she always had, currently has, and will have the power." ~ Heather McCue

"Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever." ~ Lance Armstrong

"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great."
~ Mark Twain

"The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there it is." ~ Winston Churchill

"You can’t be said to make a choice when you only have one option." ~ Henci Goer

"There is no other organ quite like the uterus. If men had such an organ they would brag about it. So should we" — Ina May Gaskin

"If you want a humanized birth, the best thing to do is to get the hell out of the hospital" ~ The Business of Being Born

"A mother does not become pregnant in order to provide employment to medical people. Giving birth is an ecstatic jubilant adventure not available to males. It is a woman's crowning creative experience of a lifetime." ~ Dr. John Stevenson

"Most of us have had moments when we touched the divine presence. We did not think it extraordinary because it wasn't; it was just a beautiful moment filled with love. In those simple moments our hearts were alive, and we saw the poignant beauty of life vividly with wonder and appreciation." ~ David McArthur

"It's major surgery, and yet we now present cesarean section as if we're gonna cut your fingernails" ~ The Business of Being Born

"Having a highly trained obstetrical surgeon attend a normal birth is analogous to having a pediatric surgeon babysit a healthy 2-year-old." ~ Marsden Grigg Wagner

"We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty." ~ Maya Angelou

“Birth is the sudden opening of a window, through which you look out upon a stupendous prospect. For what has happened? A miracle. You have exchanged nothing for the possibility of everything.” ~ William MacNeile Dixon

"Fear can be overcome only by Faith." ~ Dr. Grantly Dick-Read

"The vertical birth is on its own time and the baby will slide down on its own." ~ The Business of Being Born

"We should constantly be asking ourselves 'Is this an improvement, or are we making things worse'?" ~ The Business of Being Born

"The ultimate measure of man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy" ~ Martn Luther King, Jr.

"Attending births is like growing roses. You have to marvel at the ones that just open up and bloom at the first kiss of the sun but you wouldn't dream of pulling open the petals of the tightly closed buds and forcing them to blossom to your time line." ~ Gloria Lemay

"Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life; define yourself." ~ Harvey Fierstein

"If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it." ~ John H. Kennell

"One of the deep secrets of lfe is that all that is really worth doing is what we do for others." ~ Lewis Carol

"What happens in birth is very important to the future development of that child" ~ The Business of Being Born

"A woman doesn't need to be rescued.  It's not the place for the knight in shining armor.  It's the place for her to face her darkest moment so that she can lay claim to her victory, so that she can lay claim to her victory after she's done it, I think." ~ Cara Mulhann on The Business of Being Born

"Birth is a miracle to me, and it will never cease being so." ~ Sherri Price

"'If I could do that, I could do anything.'  That's the power of birthing, and that's what we're taking away from women!" ~ The Business of Being Born

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Malakai's Hospital Water Birth Video

This is a beautiful video of a hospital water birth. This mom had 3 home births prior to this birth. I love how the midwife and attendant waited outside the room while she labored, and that mom caught her own baby. Things were done while she held him in the tub. This was the first water birth in this particular hospital. They had just updated their policies to allow water birth, and they accommodated the family by moving the bed out of the room to make room for the tub which the family provided themselves.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Malakai's Birth Story, Part 2: Birth Day!

My mom and Grama arrived Thursday morning. I was miserable! I felt so sick, and was so upset about not being able to fully focus on our soon coming birth. Everyone agreed that Matt should take me out to dinner, and get me out of the house. I hadn't been out for about 2 weeks due to flu season! We went to Red Robin for dinner. Then we walked around Target and Walmart. It was so refreshing to be out with Matt. Throughout the evening, my mild contractions became pretty regular at about 5 minutes apart. I told Matt that I bet Malakai's birthday would be November 6th! We came home, and I went to bed. Matt stayed up making sure everything was ready if we needed to go to the hospital in the morning. I had contractions all night, and also got some sleep.

In the morning, my contractions began to get better. I couldn't talk through them at about 8:30. We began timing them. They were between 5 and 7 minutes apart. They got a little closer together, and I decided to take a shower. That really helped! I had 6 good contractions while I was in the shower. When I got out, I called Matt at work, and told him it was time to come home! We left for the hospital in about 15 minutes or so. The ride really wasn't as bad as I had feared it would be. Matt did speed, and didn't exactly obey every traffic law! 

We arrived at the hospital a little after 10:30 am. Our midwife, Eileen was waiting in our room. The pool was set up and filled. The bed had been moved out to the hallway. :o) We met our nurse. This was one of the many amazing things God had planned for us. Our nurse had had 4 homebirths. 3 in the water! She was so exited about us. She had requested to be called in to be our nurse whenever we checked in. She was awesome! I had to get some bloodwork done between contractions, but refused the IV!! I am not sure when I got in the pool, but I fell in love with that pool! Oh soooo nice!! I had to get more blood taken. It was ok. We just went with it.

Eileen knew I wanted lots of privacy and space. So, she and everyone else left Matt and I alone for a while. It was nice! She checked on us periodically. My contractions got better and better. It was getting nearly impossible to be in a comfortable position through them. Yay!! Then, I told Matt to kneel down in front of me. I grabbed his shirt and got through my much stronger contractions. Quietly in my heart, I was really hoping Malakai would be born with just the two of us there. A couple minutes later, I braced myself, gripped Matt's shirt and felt my body begin to push! Matt asked me if my water had broken, but I could not speak. My body bore down again very strongly. I felt my tailbone move up and out of the way as Malakai's head came out!! At that time, Eileen and another midwife came in to check on us. Eilleen heard me make a grunting noise, and said, "Oh! Is it time?!". I said, "Yes, the head is out." In fact, his bag of waters was still in tact around his head! When I felt his head, it felt so cool being in a waterballoon! I relaxed for a moment. Then, my body pushed the rest of his body out. His water broke as his shoulders were born. I lifted him up out of the water and to my chest!

His heartrate was good. He was limp and getting more purple though. We rubbed him, kissed him, spoke to him, and he wasn't snapping out of it. It had only been a minute, and sometimes waterbabies don't breathe for a whole minute just because they are not stimulated to breath until they are out of the water. Eileen gave him a few breaths mouth to mouth. He gave a little gasp and squeaked, but not enough. Katherine (OB that works with Eileen) gave him a few more breaths, and they cut the cord to get him to a flat surface. When they suctioned him, they found that he had swallowed some meconium. He pinked up right away. This particular situation would've been handled well at home too. I am very pleased with the care he received at the hospital. Everyone was very calm and acted quickly. They were great! 

They brought him back to me in the pool. It didn't take him long to show me he was a pro at nursing! Soon my placenta was born. Then, we got out of the pool.

So, that's it! All of the fear, planning, tears, praying, and frustration about Malakai's birth came down to a very unusual hospital birth! Matt and I got to share a moment between just the two of us that we couldn't have even had at home! His birth began as an unattended birth, and I caught him myself! Malakai's birth was definitely the easiest I have ever had. I guess it helps to have a 10# 14oz baby before to plow the way!! lol!

For the record, the birth itself was the best part of our hospital experience. We were not thrilled to have to deal with the many unnecessary hospital protocols that you don't have to deal with at home. It is definitely not as restful to stay at the hospital, and soooo many people have their hands on your baby. You don't have as much say in your baby's care as you do at home. Yes, I'm still partial to homebirth, but now I know hospital birth can be awesome too! For us, the baby care afterwards was the main headache. We had nice people. All the required tests and procedures and middle of the night disturbances are not nice though!

God totally blew me away! . . . and, Malakai doesn't even have hemophilia after all of that! 

Malakai Thomas Reeves was born on November 6th, 2009 at 12:32pm in a birth pool at Women's and Children's Hospital in Buffalo, NY. He was 7lbs. 12oz. and 21 inches long. His actual birth was mainly attended by his Daddy, and he was caught by his own Mommy.  "God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of POWER, and of LOVE, and of a SOUND MIND."  "I can do ALL things through Christ Who strengthens me."  God is truly awesome!!!  That was the beginning of Malakai Thomas Reeves!!  Whew!

You can read all four of Sarah's birth stories here: My Birth History as a Hemophilia Carrier

Sarah is now expecting her fifth child and planning her fourth home birth!

Stay tuned for the birth video from Malakai's birth.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Malakai's Birth Story, Part 1: Pregnancy and Planning

Sarah, Malakai's mother, had 3 home births prior to discovering that she was a hemophilia carrier. This is the story of their birth planning after that discovery.
I didn't realize how emotional it would be to revisit my pregnancy with Malakai.  I've shared my birth story with so many, but his story begins a few months before he was created. . .

One month before Elijah was a year old, I got the news that I was indeed a carrier of severe hemophilia A.  (For those who aren't as familiar with hemophilia:  It is possible that a hemophiliac is the result of a spontaneous mutation, and did not inherit the gene from a parent.)  That was November 2008.  In March 2009, we found out that we were expecting #4.  Within the next month or two after that, my husband learned that he was losing a huge part of his job that would make it impossible for us to stay in CA.  This was a very personal thing, and not just a business downsize.  Also, Elijah was one week from his port surgery.  I was under extreme stress, and had to choose where my energy would be spent.  That was not a hard choice.  I had to take care of my family.  My husband needed a lot of support, I was growing a baby that needed me, and I was gearing up to hand off my older baby to surgeons.  There was no room for anything else.  But, still, it didn't make all the other pressure go away.  On top of all that, I had to start planning my upcoming birth.  We got an ultrasond to determine the sex of the baby.  It was a boy!  I started doing extensive research on hemophilia and childbirth, and was not satisfied with what I found. I'll get into that in another post. 

Several facts were in the mix:  1. Our baby had a 50% chance of having severe hemophilia.  2. I had to plan my birth with wisdom in the new knowledge that I could pass on this gene.  3. I could not base my decision on the success of Elijah's birth, although that did play a part in the decision.  All hemophiliacs are not the same, and have different bleeding patterns.  4. Until my third trimester, I did not have any idea where we would be for the birth.  5. We needed to have his blood tested right after his birth.   6. My son's hemotologist recommended that I schedule a c-section.  Then, when she could see that I was not welcoming that idea, she recommended a plan B:  Have my birth as natural as possible in a hospital where they can do an emergency c-section if needed.

Near the end of my second trimester, my husband was offered a job in NY.  He accepted the position, and we had to pack up our house in a week.  We decided to drive.  After all, when would we ever get the oppurtunity to drive from CA to NY again?!  So, Matt drove the big truck, and I drove the van.  Yeah, it was pretty crazy!  It was fun though.  We made lots of memories.   I met with the ONLY licensed midwife in the Buffalo area a couple weeks later.  We were planning a homebirth, hoping the local hospital would support running the labs for us (Matt would take the blood to the hospital immediately).  In some cases, this does work, however, in ours, it did not.  Our new ped. hemotologist tried to work out the labs for us, and even an on call emergency transport.  However, the hospital would not support this plan.  Our midwife, who we loved, could not help us with a homebirth.  She was under fire from the hospital, and could only offer to help us with a hospital birth.  I was devistated.  We met with another midwife, but we couldn't work out the labs.  I met with the nurse manager at the hospital.  I told her that I wanted a waterbirth.  She told me that they did not offer waterbirth, and the room was so small that it just wouldn't work.  I was determined to have the most relaxed non-traumatic birth possible even if that meant having my baby at home and compromising the immediate lab work.  I was trying to avoid causing my baby a bleed.  I would keep him safe!!  I met with the perinataltologist who asked me about my birth history and what I wanted for this birth.  When she heard my reasoning and that my only concern was the safety of my baby, she told me that I should get exact measurements of the birth pool, and get them to the nurse manager.  I did, but the NM said there was simply no room.  I asked her if we could make room for the pool by moving the bed to the hallway.  She said I shouldn't hope for this to be approved, but she would speak to "the powers that be", and get back to me.  I again shared my heart for my baby's safety with her.  The next morning,   I wept tears of joy when the NM called me and told me to order the pool!!  

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pregnancy Update - 18+ weeks

Yesterday as I was snuggling my sick toddler in my bed I decided to do a mini-prenatal checkup on myself. It had been about 5 weeks since I met with my midwife, and per our agreement I decided to check my vitals and record them in my file.

Gestation: 18 weeks, 3 days
Weight: Up 6 pounds in about 5 weeks
Blood Pressure: 90/46
Heart Rate: 75 BPM
Fetal Heart Rate: 140 BPM

I haven't measured my fundus yet, but I've felt the top of it just below my belly button, which seems right for the gestation.

I've started noticing fetal movement each evening for 3 days prior to this, all in the lower right area near my pubic bone. The night before I'd actually felt movement outside as I held my hand against the active area, and it was very exciting. I haven't been able to hear anything with the fetoscope yet, so I've been using the doppler to check fetal heart rate. It takes some practice, and I imagine the fetoscope will require some patience and practice as well.

I posted my vitals on facebook and someone commented about my diastolic number being quite low. I decided to retake my blood pressure, and the reading was 107/65. That's a normal reading for me, and I feel good about that. The first reading may have been inaccurate, or it might have been influenced by the fact that I was so relaxed as I lay in my bed with my toddler.

This is so different from going to a clinic or even someone else's home to have them take my vitals and tell me how the pregnancy is going. I'm tuned in with myself and I know how it's going.

My energy levels have improved in the past week, along with my overall mood and health. I feel better and happier. I'm enjoying the pregnancy and enjoying my children. I have moments of overpowering love for my family. Life is good.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

VBA3C - Video

This mama almost stopped having babies because she couldn't bear the thought of another cesarean. This video made me cry. A lot. You can do it.

Monday, August 15, 2011


I can't sleep, and I'm alone with my thoughts. This means I have time to think about all the stuff that briefly passes through my mind during the day when I don't have the time to consider it.

Foremost on my mind: TWINS

I seem to be carrying larger than usual with this pregnancy, enough that I myself have wondered if I might be carrying multiples. It's not logical. There's no family history of multiples that I'm aware of, and I haven't undergone fertility treatments or done anything else I'm aware of that could increase my chances of having twins. But the thought is there, and it keeps coming back.

I've scheduled an ultrasound in a few weeks. I really want to confirm or rule out this thought. I don't think I'd be surprised to find I'm further along than I thought (despite my dates) or that there is more than one baby in there, simply because of the size of my belly.

Is this crazy? Maybe. I never claimed to be sane, especially during pregnancy. In fact, I believe pregnancy gives me the right to be a crazy lady. I can't seem to control it anyway.

What if I'm carrying twins?

My birth plans wouldn't change. I'd still plan a home birth. In fact, my midwife has already promised me that she'd be hands off even if I had twins. Her words, not mine. She's a very intuitive woman. Does she have some kind of inkling she hasn't told me about yet? Hmmm. I may have to ask her at some point.

What would change? Mainly, we'd need a bigger vehicle and we'd have to move. It's in our lease agreement that we can't live here with more than 6 children, so we'd have to start looking for a new place to live. We just bought a van a few months ago that has 8 seats. Yeah, we'd have to sell that and start looking for something bigger. I might end up with one of those full size vans that seats 12 or 15. Think of the space!

Am I scared? Not particularly. I'm grateful for whatever we'll be given, even if that means two babies for the price of one. I have no clue how I'd handle the logistics of 7 children under the age of 12, the youngest 2 being twins. Yeah, things would definitely be interesting, even more so than they are now, in our house. But we can handle whatever we get, whether we think we can or not. I'm stronger and more capable than I give myself credit for.

So there it is. My pregnancy confession. Now, how sheepish would I feel if we have the ultrasound and find that there's only one baby in there? Oh well. At least we could keep our van and our home, and I already know I can handle one baby at a time.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Monday, August 8, 2011

Pregnancy Photos - 16 Weeks

Pregnancy #8, baby #6

At 16 weeks I'm wearing some maternity clothes and some "bigger" regular clothes. I'm getting comments from strangers, the most common one being:

"Are you having a boy or a girl?"

How the heck should I know?!

I've consistently gained about 1 pound per week so far. If this trend continues I'll gain a total of 40 pounds.

Side shot - 16 weeks

Front view
And you've just been treated to my first pregnant belly photos ever.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Pregnancy and Health Gadgets

Blood Pressure Monitor
 I love gadgets, and when I can get gadgets that help with my family's health, it's even more fun!

My midwife recommended I get an automatic blood pressure monitor. I have a cuff and stethoscope and I'm comfortable taking my blood pressure with that, but she felt the automatic monitor might be easier and more accurate. It was like Christmas to get one and bring it home.
Blood Pressure Cuff
She also suggested that I get my own doppler to listen to fetal heart tones. I already have a fetoscope that I haven't been able to use yet, because I'm not far enough along yet. A fetoscope can be used starting around 18-20 weeks, and I'm really looking forward to trying mine out. I love that the fetoscope doesn't use electricity or sound waves like the doppler, but I think a doppler would still be fun to have, especially since I plan on becoming a midwife and would like to have one for my future practice. I'm not sure how much I'd use a doppler versus a fetoscope, but I'd like to get some practice with both, especially the fetoscope since it takes some skill, or at least a trained ear, to use.

I don't have a history of blood pressure problems or other pregnancy complications, but I'm getting these things as part of my plan to take charge of my prenatal health. As I talked with my midwife about these things yesterday she also suggested that I bring home the file she started for me, and use that to track my prenatal health. She asked me to bring the file to each of the five prenatal visits and she said:

"You're responsible, which is really true for everyone, but they don't always take that responsibility."
And that statement pretty much sums it up for me.

Friday, July 29, 2011

15 Weeks - Prenatal Visit and Plans

Midwife Ina May Gaskin at a prenatal visit.
I keep meaning to blog about my first prenatal visit, and it turns out I have more than that to talk about. Things are coming together, and I'm very excited.

I'll start about prenatal care.

I intentionally waited to schedule my first prenatal visit. Because of my two miscarriages I didn't want to try to find a heart rate at any point when being able to find one would be questionable. For instance, at 10 weeks with a doppler it's possible to get fetal heart tones, but it doesn't always happen. I didn't want to set my hopes up for something that might not work out even if things were still fine. If I hadn't been able to hear a heart beat at that point, it would have only caused more questions and doubts about the viability of my pregnancy, and I couldn't deal with any doubt. I was focusing on the positive and moving forward without fear. There were other factors in choosing to put off my first prenatal visit, but it was mostly that I felt things were OK and I didn't feel a need to have an official visit. I was already consulting with my midwife over the phone, and she had already helped me with some of my needs by offering advice, information, and alternatives I might not have considered myself. That shifted in my 14th week. Out of the blue I felt it was time to call my midwife and schedule a prenatal visit, so I did.

I took all my kids with me to Sherri's house, thinking they'd be happy to play there and that they could all gather around to hear the heart beat when it was time. Not so much. My toddler had just woken from a short nap and was grumpy. The other kids were fine, but the toddler refused to calm down. We didn't know where his pacifier was - I thought we'd left it at home - and he was MAD. Sherri and I were trying to start the prenatal visit and he just screamed at me. About halfway through the visit he found a Spiderman mask, and from that moment on he was Spiderman and he was happy. Phew! I had to laugh when Sherri's 5 year-old (her youngest) who owned the mask kept asking for it back and telling me how "crazy" my toddler was. Yes, welcome to my life.

On to the more important things. My weight was good, and exactly where I knew it was. I had bought a scale when I was thinking I'd have an unassisted pregnancy, so I'd been watching my weight. My blood pressure was nice and low (108/69 - normal for me), and the urinalysis was perfect! When I was pregnant with my youngest I had problems spilling ketones in my urine, meaning I wasn't getting enough nutrition, probably because I was still trying to breastfeed my fourth child at the time and it was such a struggle to meet my body's demands. My midwife counseled me endlessly during that pregnancy about eating more and eating healthier. I was so glad to have avoided that whole conversation this time!

She was able to find the baby's heart rate immediately, and it was 158 beats per minute.

Ina May Gaskin checking FHT with a fetoscope.
I don't remember everything we talked about. She asked if I was taking my nutritional supplements (yes) and how I was feeling. When I told her that I was still fatigued she asked about my sleep schedule and suggested more naps and going to bed earlier. 

Sherri was about to wrap things up and I said "Oh yeah, one more thing!" I told her about how I'd originally wanted to plan an unassisted birth for this baby, and how my husband hadn't felt comfortable about that and we'd decided to hire her again. I explained my reasons for wanting a UC and she listened and promised me that she would be as hands off as I want her to be. At the end of the visit she reminded me of her fees and asked me to talk with my husband and figure out how we would be able to pay her. I told her we would and thanked her, and we scheduled the next visit in 4 weeks. Then I gathered my kids and cleaned up the mess they'd made, and we went home.

I was happy about how the visit had gone, with the exception of the angry toddler. I was grateful for my midwife's support and felt very reassured that all was well with both me and the baby.

And here's where there's more.

About a week after the prenatal visit Sherri called me. She said she'd been thinking about what I told her about wanting an unassisted birth, and about our financial situation. She's a dear friend to us, and she knows our circumstances and has always been willing to work with us. She told me she thought that part of my motivation for wanting a UC was because of finances. She was right, but I had been afraid to admit that to myself until she pointed it out. She agreed that I have a lot of knowledge and understanding about pregnancy and birth and understood that I felt comfortable moving forward without outside support. She also pointed out that at my home birth there was a lot happening behind the scenes that I wasn't aware of. I had thought about that before and realized it was wonderful to just focus and be in labor la la land without worrying about setting up, cleaning up, and all the nitty gritty.

Sherri then offered an alternative plan.

She had talked with one of her midwife assistants and had made arrangements for this assistant to work with her in giving me 5 prenatal visits through my pregnancy, attend the birth, and provide one postpartum visit. They would also provide phone consultation throughout the pregnancy. She offered me this for a significantly lower cost than what my midwife normally charges.

The visits would be at the assistant midwife's home, which is closer to my home and a shorter drive than to Sherri's house. They would expect me to be responsible for my own prenatal care between visits, including tracking my own blood pressure and doing my own urinalysis. I was already comfortable with that, because I'd been considering doing it all myself to begin with. She suggested I get an automatic blood pressure cuff that would take the reading for me, since she wasn't sure if taking my own blood pressure would be accurate. She also told me where I could order the urinalysis strips from, and suggested I could also get my own doppler to use for fetal heart tones. She also asked that I commit to come to her monthly forum throughout the pregnancy, which was something I really enjoyed last time and was already planning on doing.

I'm very happy about this plan. I feel it shows trust in me to tune in to my body's needs and stay healthy and take care of myself, with minimal visits to the midwives themselves. I feel it's a really good compromise between an unassisted pregnancy and one with the full 13 prenatal visits that are typical. I feel very comfortable doing most of my prenatal care myself, and I love the idea of having my midwife and one of her assistants available as consultants. I feel this is a good way of utilizing them as valuable resources but not depending on them for everything. I'm really glad I spoke up and told my midwife about my desire to be unassisted, and that she really listened and seriously considered my wishes and my needs. It also takes some financial strain off by offering us a more affordable alternative.