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.