My sister

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Wanted to share a post my sister recently shared. Also, I’m about to be an Aunt. Well, I already am an aunt to my brother-in-law’s kids. So I guess I’m about to be an Aunt, again. Point being, my sister is due with her first, in just a couple weeks. Here’s a glimpse into her journey:

I know, I’ve been quiet about my pregnancy. Protective is the better word. It’s not because this is my first; it’s because it’s my fifth. I like to keep my personal life private, but I share this because I know how lonely it is to go through it, and if I can let just one person know she isn’t alone, that makes the self-disclosure worth it.

A few years ago, Chris and I decided we wanted a kid. It wasn’t a decision taken lightly. There were lots of long discussions. We thought that was the hard part–deciding. As if the universe was just waiting on us: “Whenever you’re ready, guys.” How naive we were. My first pregnancy was ectopic–Greek for “out of place.” The embryo was stuck in my left fallopian tube–life-threatening for me, life-ending for the embryo. I had emergency surgery and lost the tube, the baby, and a lot of faith. We decided to try again some months later and when I got pregnant, we assumed all was well. We asked ourselves that jinx of a question: “What are the chances of something going wrong again?” Then the doctor called and said the baby wasn’t viable. I miscarried some weeks later.

The third time, we said, “Well, either the third time’s a charm, or three strikes and you’re out.” We were leaning on cliches at this point. I got past the first trimester and we thought we could breathe. A boy was on the way. We started discussing names. Then, weeks into the second trimester, they said my amniotic fluid was low. I was on bed rest for two weeks. At our next appointment, our son’s heartbeat was no more. After another surgery, we thought we were really done. This was too much for us. We didn’t know why these things kept happening. There was no common thread, medically, and all the professionals we consulted said “bad luck.” It felt like tempting fate to keep trying. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…. You know how it goes.
Eventually, though, we decided to try again. What’s that infamous definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome? We were crazy, I guess. The fourth time resulted in another ectopic. They didn’t even know where the embryo had implanted, meaning surgery wasn’t an option. I had to do shots of methotrexate, which is a drug they use for cancer because it stops cells from multiplying. It took two months for me to be “unpregnant” again. I asked my doctor, point blank, “Should we just give up?” He said, “No, I don’t think so.” We consulted with IVF doctors, thinking maybe if someone could just put the embryo in the right place, we’d save ourselves a lot of heartache. They wouldn’t work with us though. They said I didn’t have enough eggs, that our chances of success would be 5%.

We could either try again on our own or give up. I felt we had to try again.  And now I am 37 weeks pregnant with a little girl.

It was just a few weeks ago when I got up the nerve to ask her for one of her ‘Mama Bird’ shirts and she took some photos of me. Wearing the shirt feels dangerous, arrogant. I still live with fear of loss every day. It hasn’t gone away. But, I AM a mother.  I think anyone who has lost a child in utero is a mother. For a woman, it starts the day you find out you’re pregnant. It must be a function of nature, preparing us for the responsibility to come.

If you have lost a baby, I feel your pain. And if you ever need someone to talk to, please don’t hesitate to send me a message. I’m working on a book about our whole experience because this is something I feel so passionately about. It’s a terrible thing to go through, and so many go through it. You are not alone, and there is hope.

Pregnancy + Birth in Numbers

San Clemente Family Photographer-3736Sonny was born at 41 weeks + 4 days.

My water broke at 12:20am, with my first ‘real contraction’ coming about 12:25am, arrived at the hospital at 1am, had a baby boy on my chest at 1:16am.

We drove 95 MPH on our way to the hospital and ran about 4 red lights.

Weighed 10 lbs at birth, 9.7 upon leaving the hospital, 9.13 at his first doctor’s appointment, and 10.4 at a week and a half old and 12.5 at his one month appointment.
22 inches long at birth, 22 1/4 just 4 days later, and 24 inches at one month.
I gained a total of 21 pounds during the pregnancy, 9 pounds less than during my previous pregnancies in hopes it would have some impact on my baby’s weight. It did not.
Sonny has been in size 1 diapers since the day he was born. So much for the pack of newborn diapers I had neatly organized in a woven basket on his changing table.
It took me 4 days after giving birth for me to poop. Yay for Colace.
The longest stretch of sleep I’ve gotten in the first week of Sonny’s life is 3 hours and I feel incredibly grateful for those glorious 3 hours.
I’m feeding on demand, which sometimes means feeding up to 2 times in an hour.
It took about 12 days for my lady parts to feel more or less normal.
Despite being my biggest baby yet, I only sustained a first degree laceration.
Number of hemorrhoids: 0. Following Van’s birth, that’s cause for major celebration.

A Discussion on Epidurals

San Clemente Family Photographer-3758With the rise of influence via social media in conjunction with the over abundance of glorification of natural births, epidurals have – in my opinion – gained some weird association with turning your back on the ‘real experience’. I remember a family member telling me after my birth with Hooper that women who give birth naturally don’t deserve some special trophy. It hurt my feelings some at the time because I felt like she must have inferred that I chose to give birth naturally because I had some crazy notion that doing so would win me some prestige. It was quite the contrary, actually. I was scared to get an epidural. So scared, in fact, that the idea of giving birth screaming and yelling and feeling every single contraction somehow seemed more appealing. I didn’t want a c-section and I understood the connection between having an epidural and ultimately needing a c-section. And, in hindsight, had I gotten an epidural with Hooper I can almost guarantee that I would have ended up on the operating room table. I mean I delivered him on the operating room table anyway but was luckily afforded that final opportunity to push, something that would have been more challenging had I been numb from an epidural.

Some use the argument that those that receive an epidural aren’t fully present for their birth but as someone that has given birth three times now sans an epidural, let me tell you, neither was I. I don’t even recognize the person on that video on Willy’s phone pushing out that baby. It’s not me. It’s not sounds I make. All I wanted to do in that time was escape myself.

Had it not been for my fused spine, I may have just opted for an epidural this third time. In fact, when I got to the hospital, even in my rushed state, the nurse asked if I wanted something for pain. And my answer was quite different than my first birth with Hooper where, in my sober, non-labor-land state, I told the nurse to kindly not offer me an epidural. This time, instead, in my full-on-labor-land-state and between rapid and strong contractions I said, “what can you give me?”… By the time the exchange of info was made – they learned of my fused spine and I learned that the anesthesiologist was in the OR assisting another patient – it was time to deliver Sonny anyway. But the point is, I wanted a way out and dammit, if given more time and opportunity, I would have taken it.

My sister recently sent me a link to this blog post, via Scary Mommy, which serves as a hysterical pat on the back for anyone that may be leaning toward an epidural but feels like there is a certain degree of scrutiny associated with such a decision.

Final point being, you have to do what you feel comfortable with. I wasn’t initially comfortable with the idea of an epidural and now that I am, it’s not an option for me. Ho hum. Fortunately, Sonny came fast enough that whatever pain I experienced is already a fleeting memory… but not really, cuz – I mean – ouch.

I’m curious to hear from any mamas that have given birth both ways – with an epidural and without – and what your experiences were like when compared. And, of course, any random thoughts on the topic are also invited… if you chose not to have an epidural, what was your reasoning? Would you do it again? And for those who had an epidural, did you experience any complications? Also curious to know what it’s like watching your baby come out in the absence of the hysteria that comes with a natural, un-medicated, birth… I imagine it’s pretty surreal. I mean it’s surreal anyway… but I digress. I’m rambling now.

Newborn Daze

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I’ve mentioned before that the newborn phase has never been kind to Willy and I’s relationship and I think it’s fair to say that lack of sleep, in general, is never a recipe for a successful marriage. This third time around, however, we’ve changed our game plan and thus far, Sonny has afforded us the smoothest transition. Everyone says the jump from two children to three is the hardest and while I’m sure there are hard days ahead that are surely chuckling at us as we make such grossly ignorant statements so early on, thus far it’s been the perfect amount of team work combined with smooth sailing with, of course, the small doses of tears and tantrums that, in part, are to be expected. Just fewer than I anticipated, I guess.

So what’s changed, you may be wondering?

With both Hooper and Van, Willy and I shared nighttime duties. I found it hard to get any sort of solid sleep when around the baby because I was always on-edge and anxious over the thought of them waking up hungry, ready to feed. So after a feeding, I would go to bed and Willy would sleep on the sofa, with the baby, and wake me when it was time for the next feeding and then we’d switch. It was fair and afforded me at least a few hours of promising sleep but it also left both of us in that survival mode; depleted and rundown. And it opened the door to a lot of bickering that really had nothing to do with whatever subject matter was brought up in said bickerments, but instead in the fact we were plain tired; our reserves empty.

With Hooper and Van now older, it seems silly to have us share the newborn responsibilities. In hindsight, it was probably silly to share it even back then. What we’ve found is that the best way to divvy up responsibilities is to have one take the nighttime shift (me) while the other takes the supportive role. And when you have two already, it’s kinda a draw as to which one is easier. Thus far, these roles have worked in such a way that a transition we were both kinda dreading has actually become sorta – well – enjoyable. And I think that’s because we have a good balance.

I’m getting a few solid hours of sleep at night, in chunks of course, but there’s also no rush for me to start my day because Willy has been getting up with the boys, fixing them breakfast (never mind the fact it’s Eggo waffles most days… which I pick up off the floorboard of the car days later in their stale, hardened state), getting them ready for school, and dropping them off.

The days are slow and most days are spent checking off the bare necessities a family needs to accomplish to get to the next day, but happiness and joy have been encasing us. Alas, we have found a system that allows us to enjoy these fleeting days just in time for it to all change; because that’s how these early days go, isn’t it? In any event, trying our best to take it one day at a time and to welcome the changing tides. And feeling grateful for our current situation; having Willy around as often as I do is something I didn’t have with Hooper and Van.San Clemente Family Photographer-3724

Perspective

San Clemente Family Photographer-3808 San Clemente Family Photographer-3833Our days take a while to get started and I catch myself in fleeting moments of feeling unproductive; like I’m floating from one thing to the next as opposed to moving with intention, crossing things off the ol’ daily list of tasks. My inbox always seems flooded, dishes always piling, legos forever spilling across the floor; the days are moving faster than I am.

But I have this little tool in my arsenal that I arguably had before but it’s just a bit sharper now; the edges made more defined by the days behind me. If ever there was a l lingering theme in my life, let it be perspective.

Motherhood has taught me that there is a season for everything; a time to enjoy nights out away from the kids, a time to enjoy vacations as a family and adventures to foreign lands, a time to push bedtime back a few hours and go out for ice cream, a time to buckle down and lay out the law, and – well – a time to put the to-do list down, to slow down, to welcome help with a grace and gratitude; a time to celebrate new life… and nothing more.

Celebration is so often skipped these days; we’re so eager to make it to the next big thing, the next accomplishment, that we don’t take the proper time to celebrate all that can be celebrated in the moment we’re in.

It’s not easy to slow down, to get a late start, to make it to the end of the day having accomplished little more than three meals (and questionable ones at that), breastfeeding, changing of diapers, and maybe the start of a load of laundry that may very well end up sitting there until tomorrow, the smell of mildew a reminder that you simply didn’t move fast enough but your handy dandy tool of perspective reminding you that it’s okay.

My house is a mess. The boys have ate more Eggo waffles than I care to admit and snuck more candy, compliments of Easter, than I care to regulate. But the time will come when my attention will be, once again, more evenly divided. For now, it’s all about celebrating… taking in this new life, new gift… and letting everything else fall wherever it shall fall.

For tomorrow there will be time to sort out all the fallen pieces. Or at least some of them.

Post Birth Ramblings

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San Clemente Family Photographer-3749 Sonny San Clemente Family Photographer-3914Hooper came home from school with his belly button painted purple and red looking like a makeup artist got ahold of him and gave his belly button a good bruising. When questioned about it, he said he wanted his belly button to look like Sonny’s.

As Sonny laid curled up into me in the hospital bed, I couldn’t help but think how the kicks from him while inside me were so reminiscent of the kicks I felt with him lying next to me.

One of the nurses commented as I ate my meal over a breastfeeding Sonny that I must not be a first time mom. It sure is a lot easier the third time around.

I’ve always said that the newborn phase isn’t really for Willy and I, that we’d rather jump right into the toddler phase. But I guess with each child you gain a better sense of just how fleeting and unforgiving time is and for whatever reason, I’m really enjoying this newborn phase. Willy too.

Questions asked by the boys: Why doesn’t he open his eyes? Can we watch him suck your booby? Mama, when are you going to fill your belly up again? When will he be able to tell jokes?

Hooper broke out into full crocodile tears when he had to go home from the hospital without Sonny and I. Through choked up words and flowing tears, he said, “I want mama and Sonny to come home too”. Broke. My. Heart. He also cried heavily after Jimmie accidentally scratched Sonny.

Highlights from the hospital: lavender towels delivered by the sweetest of volunteers and home made chocolate chip cookies.

My first day home I watched Van pick a very large sized booger and was actually relieved when he put it in his mouth, allowing me to stay sitting on my injured lady parts.

Van, being to boob man that he is, shared the following observation: “Wow, mama, that is the biggest I have ever seen your booby”. Followed by, “Can I squeeze it?”.

Speaking of boobs, Hooper made one out of his legos. He used a long stick looking lego for the nipple and it resembled the fembots from Austin Powers.

Jimmie spent the first week of Sonny’s life rather out of sorts. He welcomed him home by peeing all over the hallway floor, the stairs, and the landing area.

I’ve rediscovered sleeping on my back, which never felt like something to write home about before but is nothing short of a privilege now.

My doctor’s response when I told him we’d like to save the placenta, “Um, okay. Gross”.

The following conversation took place:
Van: “How come your tummy is still big?”
Me: “Cuz there’s still gunk in there”.
Van: “But gunk only comes out of your ears”.

Willy, on having another boy: “It’s nice not having to wipe poop out of a vagina”…

My vagina itched in the worst way possible following the delivery. It’s one thing to be awoken by your newborn baby, but it’s an entirely different thing to be awoken by my own labia. In any event, desitin worked magically. Take notes.

I had made a list of things to do once I felt labor coming on on the back of a tear away calendar. When I came home from the hospital, I turned the list over only to discover that I had written it on March 17. Here I am visiting the magic eight ball’s website trying to figure out when this baby would come when all I had to do was look on the back of my pre-labor to-do list.

Van peed in his bed one night, followed by throwing up in his bed the night after that. Willy has been in charge of household duties so Van spent the next two nights sleeping on semi-barf sheets.

I texted my mom “shit just got real” the morning Van woke up with said throw up. I thought that day would be the day that would do me in but it was the next day, when Van was back to being healthy, that the first I-don’t-know-if-I-can-do-this tears started flowing. Luckily, they came and went.

I’m eating my placenta, which sounds better than the truth which is I had it encapsulated. I’ve never had post partum depression but as soon as I heard that it could* help with post partum hair loos, you better believe I was in.

Sonny’s belly button stump smells like an ape’s armpit. We ended up using alcohol on it to speed up the falling-off-process and I’m happy to report that the problem has been resolved.

Willy caught a video of me giving birth and I’ve only been able to watch it once or twice. In fact, every time Sonny cries that high-pitched newborn cry I am reminded of that video and equally troubled as the first time I saw it.

Sonny’s balls are the size of the rock of Gibraltar.

Van refers to the suction/bottle part of my breast pump as “water blasters” and has taken to carrying them around the house, one in each hand, shooting them like you would a gun.

Hooper asked if he could carry Sonny down the stairs, pointing out the fact he’s 5 and therefore totally trustworthy.

A Birth Story

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San Clemente Family Photographer-3517 San Clemente Family Photographer-3529 San Clemente Family Photographer-3534 San Clemente Family Photographer-3544 San Clemente Family Photographer-3545 San Clemente Family Photographer-3547 San Clemente Family Photographer-3549 San Clemente Family Photographer-3585 San Clemente Family Photographer-3604 San Clemente Family Photographer-3656 San Clemente Family Photographer-3670 San Clemente Family Photographer-3680There’s a mason jar that sits on the plywood concrete block shelf Willy built about a year ago that also houses a portion of our record collection, our record player, and a few other knick knacks and books and plants. Within that mason jar are several pieces of paper folded in such a way that the words remain hidden; guesses, if you will, as to when the baby would come, how big it would be, whether it would be a boy or a girl, and how long it would be. Everyone from friends, even one in Florida, to grandparents, great grandparents, and neighbors pitched in on the pot, hopeful to take home a portion of the pot of money. It seemed like a fun idea until it got near the end when, well, truthfully nothing is fun anymore. I unfolded those little bits of paper and staring back at me were dates from weeks before. Even my own guess, made in some sort of hopeful and delusional state, was far gone.

Sonny, the wait was nearly longer than your mama could bear but, as I suppose they say – and as I peek over my shoulder at you so perfectly asleep and content in your bouncer- you were worth it.

Everyone has a story, my dear Sonny, this is yours.

———-

As your induction date grew nearer, I became more obsessed with getting you out before eviction time. I started to get hung up on stupid shit – like whether you’d be an Aires or a Pisces – and even considered changing my induction date because, I’m telling you, I was going crazy. If only hindsight weren’t 20/20. If I could have the peace of mind that I do today, knowing what I know now, I would have waited with more grace, more patience; I would have waited a lifetime. But, alas, the end of my pregnancy with you felt like a lifetime with each day sucking whatever energy I had and whisking it away like a broom sweeping dust off a porch. I read once that cats runaway prior to giving birth; they find somewhere dark and birth their kittens in the loneliness and company of dark shadows. I can relate. I wanted to dig a hole and not come out until I had you in my arms.

I woke up that morning looking forward to my appointment, eager for the doc to give me some crystal ball answer of when I would go into labor; which, truthfully, I knew was a lousy thing to rely on given the fact at the previous appointment he said I’d have you in my arms within the next 5 days. That appointment was over a week prior. I suppose it’s that very lack of control, the uncertainty, that makes pregnancy so troubling at times; so much to worry about and get hung up on.

He did a quick ultrasound and confirmed that my fluid levels were great, your heart beat perfect. He didn’t comment on your size, per his usual less-is-more conversational skills and at-that-point I was glad; I knew deep down you’d be big and going into labor without that seed of fear planted in my head helped to some degree. He stripped my membranes, for at least the third – maybe fourth – time and reminded me, once again, that he’s never put a women into labor by stripping her membranes. I was 4 cm and 80% effaced and though that came as a pleasant surprise, google was quick to remind me that others stayed at these measurements for weeks, some even having to be induced for ‘failure to progress’ beyond those measurements. No such reassurance with this pregnancy gig, I’m tellin’ ya. He hooked us up to the fetal monitor, checked your heart rate against some contractions during a non-stress-test, told me you look “too perfect”, asked that I not go into labor until after midnight – after his sushi date with his wife – and I left his office.

I met up with a friend of a friend later in the afternoon, who agreed to do some acupressure. By this point I had sworn off all natural induction tricks but given the fact she was referred by a friend who referred to her as “the big guns” and offered to help out of the kindness of her heart, it was hard to say no. I met her at her house and she worked on some areas on my feet, shoulders, neck, and back while her son played with legos and their new puppy pissed on the carpet.

I stopped on the way home to get a pedicure, which is something I’ve never gotten in the two years of living here. But, given the fact I’m unable to bend due to my fused spine and now even less able to bend because of, well, your ridiculous size, I figured someone who does not love me ought to trim my nails and scrape the dead skin off my feet. There was a women sitting with her feet in the tub when I got there. She glanced over as I was picking out a color and said, “you look like you deserve a pedicure, when are you due?”. I gave her the I-know-right look and told her my due date had come and gone sometime ago. I climbed up to the massage chair, flipped through some trashy magazines that I only seem to ever pick up while waiting in line at the grocery store or at a doctor’s appointment, and left the nail salon with cherry red toe nails feeling like now would be a good time to go into labor. As would yesterday, but – ya know – ships sail.

The rest of that day was spent like the days that preceded it — waiting. I waited all the way through dinner and got in bed that night dreading the passing of another day and feeling much like I did the evenings preceding it — defeated. I got up to the bathroom, noticed some blood tinged mucous, googled “bloody show”, compared pictures others had posted, told Willy it could mean we’d be on our way to the hospital soon OR it could mean several more days of waiting (thanks, again, google for all your wonderfully definitive information), and got in bed with just the slightest glimmer of hope to combat the usual feeling of defeat.

As if you had more respect for our OB than I, just a few minutes after midnight – per his request – I felt the first contraction that caught my attention and briefly made me exhale just a tad longer than usual. Not being the first time I was awoken by a contraction that seemed to be gaining in magnitude, I didn’t get too excited. I did consider timing it to see when the next one would come and sure enough, five minutes later, I had another. I stopped timing them, however, when ten more minutes went by and nothing much happened. Defeat, pouring back in.

Then, around 12:20am (keep track of the time here because it’s an important part of your story), I heard a “pop”. I turned to your Papa and said, “did you hear that?”. He wrote me off entirely, assumed I was dreaming and responded to me the same way you’d respond to a drunk person who you know isn’t in their right mind to be having a serious conversation. He blamed it on my back, “It was probably just your back cracking”. Only it felt very internal. To be honest, I thought you had broke your neck. I spent the next couple of minutes waiting for you to move, to be sure you were okay, and when you responded with some gentle kicks, I got up to go to the bathroom hoping to see some sign of impending labor. Alas, nothing. Defeat, pouring back in.

I climbed back in bed and succumbed to the fact it was going to be another sleepless night, waiting and wondering and anticipating. And then my underwear started to feel wet. My first inclination was to wait, to be sure. My second inclination was to get out of bed and avoid having to deal with a mattress soaked with amniotic fluid. I made my way to the bathroom, again, this time accompanied by a clear puddle of water beneath my feet. I called my doula, told her in a calm voice that my water broke and asked her what I’m supposed to do now. Given the time and lack of sleep, she suggested waiting just a bit and trying to get some more rest. I knew in my heart of hearts I would not be able to take her advice.

I made my way back to the bed and had a contraction that made me grab hold of the bedding for support. Your Papa called the OB. I went over to my desk and consulted the list I had made (I love lists) of tasks to complete in early labor; things like shower, put toiletry bag in backpack, turn off computer, etc, etc. I started moaning in such a way that your Papa said, “How ’bout you stop doing that stuff and we start to head over to the hospital”. I agreed because it was obvious shit was gonna go down. We got in the car about 12:30am.

My contractions seemed to be escalating quickly. It literally went from my water breaking to full-on labor land mode. I tried to watch the clock to time them but each time one came I was swept away in such a way that no thoughts registered, common logic had all but left. I was in survival mode and the drive to the hospital felt like the longest drive of my life. The commute to the hospital is about 20 minutes and your Papa must had been driving 95 mph in addition to running several red lights. I heard your Papa on the phone with the OB, “I’m no OB but I think things are moving pretty quickly…”.

When we got to the hospital your Papa wheeled me into the waiting room of the ER. For the brief second I could open my eyes I could see about 10 to 15 people sitting in chairs, waiting to be seen. I gave them quite the show and I’m sure any one of them would have offered to give up their place in line for the screams of the woman in dire need that just bursted through their doors. Luckily the OB, God bless him, showed up a few minutes later and he was actually the one to wheel me up to the delivery unit. Your Papa went to park the truck.

On the way to the elevator, the OB – the one I’ve called some not nice names and debated leaving several times – rubbed my shoulders and whispered in my ear, “you’re doing awesome”. He probably knew he’d be home soon enough. I’m such a cynical bitch (should I apologize to you for that now or later in life?). Before we even made it out of the elevator, I felt the urge to push. I didn’t fight it. Past experience told me that the nothing was coming out of me with any sort of ease, so with each contraction, I bore down.

There was a room full of people waiting for me and next thing I knew they were asking me to get out of the wheelchair and into the bed. I remember the transfer being so difficult. Your Papa came in from the parking lot. I was still in my dress when I got into bed. I heard one nurse mention something about putting an IV in me, the other nurse declaring that there wouldn’t be time. They made an attempt at putting the monitor around my belly, asked me to switch positions a few times, and urged me to breath in the oxygen they were giving me. The OB checked and everyone stopped moving so fast when they declared me to be 6 cm. My heart sunk. It was 1:10am. They inserted the aforementioned IV. I still felt the urge to push and I couldn’t fight it, so I continued to push with each contraction. Not but a few minutes later I heard the OB say, “we’re going to have a baby here within the next 20 seconds”… and the room full of nurses started cheering on my pushing efforts. About four contractions later, at 1:16am, you were on my chest… your fluid-filled ball sac catching my eye during the transfer. A boy! They could have handed me a monkey and in that instant I still would have felt nothing other than complete and utter relief.

Moments later, my mom came in — the look of complete and utter surprise across her face. And moments after her, our doula arrived. Both intended to be at the birth but turns out that while some hurry up and wait, you prefer to wait and hurry up.

You pooped while you were on my chest, in true Jennett fashion (Hooper pooped on the way out too) and we all laughed by just how much poo there was and just how many of us your poo touched (all over my dress, all over your Papa who went to grab you and came out with fingers caked in green meconium, all over the nurses that eventually bathed you, and even on the OB who left soon-thereafter with poo on his jacket).

You latched on and breastfed like a champ, everyone commenting on the perfection of your latch.

We all took guesses at what you would weigh, with the majority of us (and the nurses) guessing in the 8 pound ballpark, sprinkled with a few 9 pound guesses. All of our jaws dropped when the scale read 10 lbs 0 oz. TEN POUNDS? So much for keeping an eye on my weight in hopes of it affecting yours. Should we be blessed with another baby in the future, I will surely take up smoking.

Welcome to the world, our world anyway, hope you enjoy your time here my sweet Sonny.

Born on St. Patricks Day, as only luck would have it.

———-

Post Script

Your Papa and I laugh about the fact you were almost born in the car. It seems only fitting that we have two ‘failed’ home birth attempts under our belts only to plan a hospital birth that nearly misses the hospital all together. There has been construction on the freeways here and given the 20 minute commute to the hospital, had you decided to come in the daytime hours, you would most certainly have been delivered in the car.

One additional token of irony is the ease of which you came out… the biggest babe of mine yet and somehow the easiest to deliver and with the fewest repercussions.

All of it proof, I suppose, that life doesn’t always have to make sense.

He’s here…

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Sonny Jennett
Born 3-17-2016
10 lbs 0 oz, 22 inches long

As soon as I am comfortable enough to sit for the amount of time to write about his birth, I will. Until then, I have loads of sessions to catch up on sharing as well as a few interviews and various other things I’ve been meaning to share (including photos and tales from Cuba, which is long overdue).

Sonny and I are home and doing well. Thank you to all of you who have supported my family and I through this journey… I’ve shared more over on instagram, if you want to take a peek.

41 weeks and then some…

San Clemente Family Photographer-3482I’m running low on prenatal vitamins. So low that I actually counted them out to see if the bottle of pills perhaps holds the magic eight ball answer as to when I will go into labor. According to the number left, I’ll be going into labor on Monday, after lunch.

We bought the boys squeezable greek yogurt, which is something new that they’ve started carrying at our local store. I’ve been hijacking the grape because it tastes just like grape bubbilicious gum. I eat greek yogurt almost daily while pregnant because of the protein content. I’ll be writing Chobani and requesting that make the grape flavor in the adult size so I don’t have to feel like a tool.

I don’t recommend sex at 41 weeks pregnant. Sure, this might be TMI, but it needs to be said for all the people who suggested it. I want to punch each of you in the face.

I know I said I was done with all the natural labor induction techniques, but I did try some acupuncture points because I figure at least those are reminiscent of a foot rub. And I did have some pretty strong contractions that for a few hours were coming pretty regularly. Alas, I’m still pregnant.

When I told Willy I was “over the wait”, he suggested I open the envelope that unlocks the answer to the gender of our baby. I told him the truth, which is I still don’t care – at all – about the gender, I just want to meet the damn booger.

The whole Pisces versus Aires thing has been weighing on my mind more than it should. I suppose you start to hang onto stupid shit at this point. So even though I have an induction date tentatively set for Tuesday (I’ll still push it off if all checks out fine), I’d really rather the baby come before Sunday because after that, it’s an Aires. I’m a Cancer and I favor water and earth signs. I dated a fire sign and he was a dick.

I find myself willing my water to break to the point where I’ll actually reach down to feel if my pants are wet; like I can sometimes fool myself into believing there is a sensation of water trickling down my leg. It’s crazy how strong our minds are… so easy to fool ourselves into believing. In actuality, only something like 15% of labors start with the rupture of membranes but I’m so jealous of those that get that definitive start. I wish.

I’ve done really well to keep an eye on my weight this pregnancy; not because I gained a lot in my last pregnancies but because my babies end up getting so big. My last midwife suggested I go on a 25 lbs weight gain limit should I get pregnant again. I’ve held to it but these last few weeks have been the most difficult. I deserve cheesecake and chocolate, dammit. In any event, since last week I’ve lost two pounds which is a sign labor is coming, though I’ll believe it when I feel it.

I spread the simplest of tasks out over days; like the loads of laundry that I literally took four days to complete. And now they’re done and I’m back to twiddling my thumbs. I even threw in some stuff to constitute a hospital bag, which is something I’ve never showed up to the hospital with and consequently wasn’t high on my to-do list. I wasn’t even sure what to include but ultimately I put the following: some clothes, a onesie and blanket, toiletries, a couple protein bars (I don’t follow the ‘no food’ during labor rule), and a grip of chocolate.

The fish bowl is cleaned and I got a pedicure for the first time in at least a year.

I bought more girl clothes. I still hold strong that I don’t care about the gender but man it’s going to be hard returning some of these girl clothes should it be a boy… Is liking girl clothes reason enough to put one gender higher on the want list than the other?

I’ve been fulfilling all the orders that come in via The Bee & The Fox either the same or next day. It’s my hope to leave as little for Willy in that respect as possible but man, it’s been weeks of doing orders on the daily and I’m drained. And grateful, really.

A friend mentioned that she ate a lot of pineapple toward the end of her pregnancy. I’ve been eating pineapple daily since I found out I was pregnant. I now feel like pissing on what’s left of the pineapple in the fridge and telling it to go cause sores in someone else’s mouth.

I went to the doctor yesterday. I’m now 4 cm and 80% effaced. He said he “doesn’t know” why I’m not in labor. I seriously feel like I’m going to dilate all the way to 10 cm and still not be in active labor.

I’ve stayed away from google much of this pregnancy and it wasn’t really hard, to be honest. But you know what I’m spending my time asking google these days? Really dumb questions like “when am I going to go into labor?”. I’m telling you, I’ve reached the point of no return. I can’t get out of my own way. I’ve been on the magic eight ball webpage and I’m completely and utterly ashamed.

I sleep really well until about 4 am and then I’m wide awake, worrying about everything. Last night I spent the wide-eyed moments researching recommended pitocin dosages, should I need to be induced. I’m sure I was overloaded in my labor with Hooper. It’s relieved some anxiety and has also given me the opportunity to discuss with my OB how he writes his order for induction via pitocin so I at least feel as though I have something to hold him to should we have to cross that bridge.

When your looking for hope in any little crevice, I mean I googled ‘the magic eight ball’ for goodness sakes, researching signs of impending labor can be maddening. You want so desperately for someone or something to give you some affirmation and, with labor, you just don’t get anything of the sort. Instead you get things like “this means you can hurry up and wait” or, my favorite, “this means that labor may start in a few hours or within the next several days”. I took an online labor quiz, because I told you I’m desperate, and one of the questions asked if your pet has been more clingy. It went on to say that this could mean it senses labor coming on or that they may just love you. No definitive answers, ever. Pregnancy is a true test of patience.

41 Weeks…

San Clemente Family Photographer-3444I feel like every shower may be my last one before I give birth. Pregnancy hair has allowed me to push off washing my hair to every three days, which seriously is enough to make me want to get pregnant immediately again. I kid. Kinda. I’ve tried to increase the frequency back to the everyday or at least every other day rhythm. Point being, my legs are always shaved and lotion always applied because, well, you never know who may be holding your leg later in the day.

Before I call any loved one, I feel as though I need to shoot a text over that reads “I’m not in labor but I am about to call you”. I can’t stand hearing the anxious anticipation that comes with answering my call as if I’m on the way to the hospital. The other day my mom called me and asked, “did you just call? I heard the phone ring but couldn’t get to it in time”… I could hear the anxiousness in her voice and it makes me feel awkwardly disappointed every time I have to say “no, I’m not in labor” and “no, I didn’t call”.

I’ve started wearing deodorant to each of my OB appointments. That’s when you know shit’s getting serious… when someone who doesn’t normally break out in body odor has to prep for the pain that comes with membrane stripping or the uncomfortableness that comes with pleading for another week of waiting…

The last time I had my membranes stripped, my OB turned as he was walking out the door and said, “you know, I’ve never put someone into labor by stripping their membranes”. I wanted to respond with something smart ass like, “well you got to finger me anyway, so consider it a success” but I said something more polite like “maybe I’ll be your first”.

I’ve come to detest the comments that go a little something like this, “well, just remember it’s easier having them inside than it is outside, so enjoy the last few days or weeks because it’s going to get harder”. Sure, the statement is true. But worrying about going post term and the health of your placenta and the amount of fluid in your belly and  your baby aspirating on it’s own shit isn’t fun… I’d rather wake up in the middle of the night to a baby next to me, no matter how sleep deprived it makes me… because having the piece of mind of a healthy baby next to me is priceless. But ya, shit’s about to get harder. Duh.

When I went to my 39 week appointment, I remember the receptionist at the front desk telling me about a patient who had just left. She was kind of puffing her feathers when she said, “I could tell as soon as she walked in that she was ready to give birth”. According to her, and she sees pregnant women all day long, there is a “look” that we have when we’re at the end of our rope. I was practically gleaming when I walked into that appointment; knowing that the end is in sight. When I asked her if I had the same look (because hashtag: optimistic), she tilted her head to the side and said, “aw, this is your first pregnancy, isn’t it?”. I knew right then I didn’t have the “look” and felt like an idiot for asking when I knew I was way too jolly to be at the end of my rope. She went on to say that the woman who left the office was 3cm dilated and 80% effaced and said, “I’ll bet he’ll be seeing her in the hospital tonight”. I know now that when I walk through those doors for my next appointment that I need to put on my best dejected face. I do feel rather dejected and I’m basically hanging onto the frayed ends of my rope. Hoping that means I’ll walk out with the same hope. Or better yet, not make it to my next appointment.

My OB waited until my 40 week appointment to tell me he would not be on-call over the weekend. At the same appointment he told me I’m 3 cm and 70% effaced. It seems only fitting that I would be destined to go into labor when he’s not on-call and continue the trend of my babies being by delivered by anyone other than the person I have selected to do so. Buttttt… given the fact it’s Monday, that ship has sailed. This baby must have a thing for douche-bags.

Fortune cookies really blow these days, but the last one I opened made me smile. It read, “Be prepared to receive something special”. I’m prepared, dammit. Now come…

My breast pump is out because I gave the good ol’ nipple stimulation a try. Later in the evening I found the boys, each with the suction part of the pump connected to the bottle, pretending they were guns. Hashtag: signs of things to come.

I scheduled an induction date that I’m surprisingly comfortable with only because I have this weird confidence / feeling that I’ll be in labor before that dreaded date comes. And even if I do make it to the eviction date, I made my case of having my water broken – instead of using pitocin – to induce labor. While my OB didn’t seem to think my plan would necessarily work, he did agree to it.

My neighbor suggested I jump on a trampoline. I wanted to tell her that I struggle to hold my pee in when I blow my nose. And damn this cold because I’m blowing my nose a lot.

I’m in this weird limbo of wanting to have something to do everyday yet not having the energy to finish the few things that have been lingering on my to-do list for months; like updating my photo website, for example. In general, I would describe myself feeling “blah”. Really blahhhh. I imagine this is how dads feel most weekends… laying around, being unproductive, watching TV… Turns out, it ain’t all it’s cracked up to be… for me, anyway.

I’ve been sleeping way too good to be 41 weeks pregnant. Makes me feel like actual labor is even further away.

Timing contractions with two young children is nearly impossible. I’ve downloaded the app, which is something I initially told myself I wouldn’t do until my contractions became something that tore me away from whatever it was I was doing. As soon as I start to recognize a pattern and gain some hope, mama duty calls and the whole keeping track thing goes out the window. So basically I’ve had a lot of contractions, mostly in the 7-10 minute apart ballpark, but capturing any evidence of such has proved futile. And the frequency of said contractions has been occurring for daysssss… hashtag: nothing new.

I’m dying for a stranger to ask me when my due date is so I can say “last week” and get that look that makes me feel as though I should be in bed, twiddling my thumbs and waiting but the reality is most days I haven’t mustered up the energy to leave the house so I’m doing exactly that — twiddling my thumbs and waiting at home. Which is brutal, by the way. Given the fact I’m sleeping well, you’d think I’d have the energy… but scroll back up to that “blah” feeling and re-read. I did make it out over the weekend and when asked, “how far along?” my reply was simply “too far”.

I ventured out to buy some new underwear because daily tasks have become a necessity and new underwear is something I’ve put off for far too long. I ended up also buying two pairs of jeans to add to my post-pregnancy-prize-pack, which essentially breaks my own rule as now I have the dreaded worry of not fitting into them. But, they’re rather stretchy, they were on sale, and I have 180-some-odd days to return them if they don’t work. It’s funny how a few new articles of clothing can make you look so forward to not being pregnant. Oh wait, I didn’t need to buy clothes to feel that way… Hashtag: feelin’ that way anyway.

I’ve watched ‘Gilbert Grape, Lost Angels (a documentary on Skid Row), and Lost for Life (a documentary on juveniles serving terms of life in prison) which collectively amount to more time spent in front of the TV, for me, in the last week than in the last six months, at least. And sadly, it’s not even enjoyable. It feels like such a waste but at the same time I don’t have the energy to do anything else. The thought of even returning emails makes me want to puke. Back to that “blah” feeling.

I’ve succumbed to simply waiting. The day after I tried a combo of root bark cotton extract and nipple stimulation I woke up with sore nipples and swore it all off. I also burned Moxa sticks between my toes, per another friend’s suggestion, and following the smell that filled the house Willy put his foot down and said no more. This baby will come when it damn well pleases. I know this. What I don’t know is why I don’t accept it. Until now, that is. I’m done.

I made myself a cup of hot chocolate and thought the indigestion that followed would knock me out for the remainder of the day. I’m fragile physically as much as I am mentally at the moment. But really, I can handle the physical side effects that come with 41 weeks of pregnancy, it’s the emotional stuff that eats me alive and chops down my core.

Should this babe need to be evicted, it would be an Aires and I was kind of counting on a Pisces. Am I a prick for having a preference? San Clemente Family Photographer-3492

40 weeks…

San Clemente Family Photographer-1515 San Clemente Family Photographer-1944I called my grandma the other day. We were both battling the cold that seems to be making it’s way around all the households these days. I giggled when she asked, “What happens if you go into labor? Will the hospital turn you away because of your cold?”.

I got up to pee four times last night.

I didn’t really think twice about the due date that my doc originally assigned me because early-on it didn’t really matter. But now that the countdown has begun and I know the induction conversation awaits just around the corner, I’m finding myself researching due date calculations and adjusting mine – in my favor, of course – accordingly. Luckily google agrees with my calculations so now it’s just a matter of convincing my doc that my calculations make more sense than his.

I roll my eyes every time I over hear willy joyfully say “any day now”, which started at 38 weeks and while technically true, seems like a statement that was made in what should be considered ancient history in terms of labor. I keep reminding him, and everyone he suggests “any day now” to that “any day now” most probably means at least a week or two or – God forbid – more.

I’ve been checking my underwear like its fucking Easter and I’m hoping to find an Easter egg. And by Easter egg I mean any sign of life to come — discharge, blood, even dribbles of urine the lunatic in me can pass off as “leaky water”.

It’s getting harder to hold my bladder. I shoved Hooper out of the way to beat him to the toilet the other day and felt like a total loser. When I was pregnant with him, I mistook pissing my pants for my water breaking. When it happened the second time, I was actually prepared with a plastic syringe I had taken from work and used to draw some up off the floor to prove, in fact, it was urine.

Every time I feel a contraction I hear this voice in my head that sounds like a sweaty man watching Sunday football, his favorite player running in a touchdown, with teeth clinched and grunting – almost as if during aggressive sex you see in the movies – chanting “yes! Yes! Bring it! Bringgggg ittttt”… And then the contraction ends I feel like I just got off one of those chintzy roller coaster rides at the local carnival when I was hoping for amusement park grade.

The milk in our fridge expires well past my due date. It’s weird to think of me going into labor, spending a few days in the hospital, and returning home – with a baby – to that same gallon of milk in the fridge. Hashtag: where my thoughts go.

Baby brain is in full effect. I refer to things I did yesterday as occurring days ago and am baffled when asked by someone how yesterday went because, for the life of me, I can’t recall a mere 24 hours prior to whatever moment I’m currently in.

I met my sister for dinner at a local mall and ended up leaving the mall with a bag full of girl clothes. I’m not really sure what spurred the urge. Lately I’ve been feeling like this babe may be a little lady, though regardless I find my actions completely absurd. I’ve added ‘return bag of girl clothes’ to the honey-do list while I’m in the hospital should another dick come out of me.

My dear friend Audrey offered me a virtual seat in her class, Breaking Through via The Define School, to help pass the time. It’s nice to have homework for the next few weeks.

I’m sick of not being able to see my lady parts and yet, when I catch a glimpse in the mirror, I wish I hadn’t. Know what I mean? y…eah.

And yes, we included Jimmie in our last round of booth photos.

An interview with an OB…

thestorkandthebeanstalk

A while ago, I posted here and on instagram about my own personal experiences with midwives and compared it to my current experience with my OB. While many commented and shared similar sentiments, there were still others who defended their own positive experiences with their OBs (and hey, more power to them). If there ever was an asterisk attached to anything and everything I share, it would read this: *based only on personal experience. I’m hardly trying to be the voice for anyone other than myself. It’s hard enough at times to find my own voice, I certainly don’t feel the need to put words in the mouths of others.

One reader, however, caught my attention. What she said was not judgmental or harsh, but rather she expressed sadness with the way OBs are bashed. She said, “There are many practices out there, like my own, where its a collaboration between midwives and OBs – we both benefit from each other and most importantly the patient benefits… The focus on birth and birthing stories, birthing photography, videos, etc has sadly turned such a private intimate moment for a family into a business and a chance to out do each other… Birthing is one of the most sacred moments in a woman’s life, but it’s only one moment of many to come for the couplet”.

I use my blog to share my own experiences, sure, and whoever follows along can follow along on their own free will. But when given the opportunity to expand and share a different side of the coin, you better believe I’m grateful. I realize that my own experiences are a mere drop of water in the ocean and anytime the opportunity should present itself to share a different point of view, I’m all about it.

So, I contacted Ema and asked her if she’d be willing to share more about her OB practice and thoughts, in general, about the current state of birth. I feel so fortunate to have her and hope you all can appreciate the conversation; because that’s what it’s all about — not who’s right or wrong, but the dialogue.

For the past 8 years, Ema has chosen to work in OBGYN-Midwife collaborative group at North County Health Services, where they have 5 OBGYN’s and 10-12 Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM). With no further adieu, here’s Ema…

 

It could easily be argued that the way you have designed your practice is quite progressive, as the tandem approach to patient care between OBs and midwives is not something we see often. Why have you chosen this model and what would you say the advantages are?

 

I am certainly blessed to have found North County Health Services. But in reality, I think it actually found me.  My entire training starting in residency has been along side midwives.  I did my residency in the military, an institution that is very progressive in its use of ancillary health professionals, specially midwives.  The biggest advantage I see is that it is a win-win for the patient.  As one of my OBGYN colleagues jokingly says, “they do all the crunchy-granola stuff and we do the high risk stuff”.  But it is all part of the same practice.  Patients get the sense that there is a team based approach to their care, multiple eyes reviewing their antepartum care, if complications arise, the OBGYN is a phone call away and if all goes well, the patient receives a hospital based midwife attended delivery.
The advantage is that it is the best of both practice patterns.  The key to our practice is that it is truly collaborative- we all meet for 4 hours weekly to discuss cases, learn each others’ practice patterns, and share info/management plans on the higher risk patients.  This helps bridge the gap in communication and overtime reinforces the trust needed to have this unique collaborative model.

 

In recent years, there has been several documentaries put out about birth. Take the Business of Being Born, for example. Have you seen it and what are your thoughts on it?

 

Indeed!  There are in fact several documentaries.  I have watched Business of Being Born.  Although this movie was revolutionary in highlighting the natural and gentler side of child birth (providing contrast to the mass media depiction of a screaming birth), what it did do is provide a very biased depiction of this business.
The OBGYNs that were in the movie seemed to be unfamiliar with natural birth options and hence the debate started off with an unfair advantage.  I read in an article while researching this answer, “Noam Chomsky once pointed out that if you only allow two view points, and then allow vigorous debate between the two view points, you can achieve the appearance of democracy and free speech without ever actually having it.”  What I do appreciate about the movie is that it is a good starting point for further discussion.  For example, although the profession of “midwife” or “midwifery” is used in this film, it should be noted that there are several types of midwives. Lay midwives, certified midwives, and certified nurse midwives- which are the only ones who can work in a hospital setting.  They have far more extensive training and education than lay midwives.  The audience is left to think that there is only one kind of midwife practice without any indication that there are vast differences between these subsets.

 

I think these documentaries are somewhat responsible for a certain degree of fear some women have toward birthing in a hospital. Would you agree? Do you think this fear is justified?

 

Once again by the biased portray of the business of midwifery vs. obstetrics, yes, movies like BOBB, feed the fear in the masses.  As I mentioned before there are a plethora of documentaries on birth that I would recommend:

1. Birth Story: Ina May Gaskin and The Farm Midwives
2. Midwife
3. From Conception to Birth
4. BBC documentary Childbirth All or Nothing

In addition, there is a great website that we encourage moms to look at:  www.evidencebasedbirth.com
I had horrible side effects following induction via Pitocin. I’ve read that Pitocin, while FDA approved for the induction of labor is not actually FDA approved for the augmentation of labor. Can you discuss the validity of this? 

 

Regarding pitocin- Pitocin is the brand name of the synthetic form of a naturally produced hormone called oxytocin.  It is derived from the pituitary gland of mammals.  According to the FDA or look on the FDA or other resources such as Physician Desk Reference, or websites such as drugs.com or rxlist.com,  Pitocin is indicated for the initiation (induction) or improvement (augmentation) of uterine contractions.
Therefore, I am not sure about the validity of the statement that it is not FDA approved for labor augmentation.
That being said, Pitocin is a drug and like any other drug it does have negative side effects.  Some of the reported reactions include:  anaphylaxis, nausea, premature ventricular contractions, hypertensive episodes, and with high doses uterine hypertonic its, spasm, or rupture of the uterus.  Therefore, beyond a certain limit, pitocin needs to be administered with an intrauterine pressure catheter.

 

There is a presumption that some OBs prefer performing a c-section to a natural birth for selfish reasons: more money, easy to schedule, etc. Have you noticed a trend of this sort among your colleagues? Can you speak to how the decision for some to go this route may taint the perception of the field of obstetrics as a whole? 

 

I think this is similar to the “bad apple” question.  I would like to think that I work in field with other altruistic physicians whom also have taken an oath to do no harm.  Therefore, even though there might be some who shift the pendulum, I firmly believe that these practices of financial gains and convenience are outliers and certainly not the norm.  And therefore, I am incredibly saddened that the few have tainted the perception of the many.  But I do hope that with conversations like this and continuous open discussion we can help shift this biased view.

 

I have two young children and a very busy schedule. We’re new to the area that we live and this will be my first birth in this new area. What tips would you recommend to someone like myself for finding a good fit in an OB without having to waste time I don’t have interviewing several? And what kinds of questions or things should one ask or look for when searching for an OB? As I touched on in my initial post, the OB I see was recommended to me by the local birth center, which was a huge deciding factor for me. It is also important that he is a sole practitioner as I mentioned that many of the OB practices in my area are part of a larger medical group and that continuity of care within these medical groups is typically lacking. 

 

I think what you did is exactly perfect.  Reach out to your local birthing center and ask for references or the names of their back up doctors.  Generally, but not always, these physicians have experience with midwifery care and can appreciate the different approaches.  You do need to interview, there is nothing, no Yelp, for physicians that would beat the actual gut feeling when you meet a physician.  I would encourage women to ask A LOT of questions regarding the relationship between the midwives and the supporting physicians.  One key factor is the financial drive in the relationship.  For example- if a group of midwives is working with a group of physicians and the midwife refers a patient to the physician for a consult, it would be financially advantageous for the physician to “label” this patient as high risk and therefore take the patient for him/herself.  This would then create a distrusting relationship between the two groups and ultimately put the patients at risk.   The midwives would fear loosing their patients and would be less inclined to refer or consult.  Therefore, a true collaborative model where there is no financial incentive between the parties is the model that works best.

 

Because you’re passionate about what you do, does it bother you that a few bad apples have more-or-less tainted the overall impressions of OBs? I’m sure reading experiences like mine weighs heavy on your heart and I wonder if you can’t see how other OBs have essentially worked against the fight you are fighting? And if I’m wrong on this entirely, feel free to call me out. I understand this statement may boarder on being presumptuous. 

 

Of course, in all professions however, there are always outliers.  The key here is to not be swayed by the “bad apples” and media and continue to do what at the end of the day is good medicine.  There is an art to medicine and that is one of the reasons I truly love my job.  Unfortunately, “bad apples” lead to stricter guidelines that ultimately end up in the loss of this art.  It is a continuous battle.

 

You clearly see the benefit of utilizing midwives as they are, in your own words, “the first responders” in your practice. Why don’t you think more midwives are used within the hospital / obstetrics settings? 

 

To answer this question you need to recognize that the term midwife is an umbrella term referring to several different types of midwives.  There is a CNM- certified nurse midwife, a certified midwife, and a lay midwife.  There are training differences for each of these types of midwives and the only ones that can work in a hospital setting are CNM’s.  There are strict state/medical/nurse midwife/hospital board guidelines that dictate the scope of hospital-based practice.  I am not sure why a person would choose the different routes, but I am sure that the cost and duration of training are huge factors.

 

Can you discuss how beneficial it has been to have midwives as part of your practice and how what they might bring to the birthing experience differs from what an OB might bring? And perhaps how having the two together – midwives + OBs – proves most beneficial to patient care?

 

It is actually a little hard to answer this question because I don’t think of the practice as an OBGYN practice that has midwives but rather a collaborative practice.  Therefore, the benefit of having CNM’s in the practice is that our patients truly get the best type of care. CNM’s appointments are longer, although not by much, some patients get one CNM for the entire antepartum care while most others see a fair share of our CNMs.  I think this is helpful as there is a familiarity with the CNM attending your triage calls, L&D triage visits, and delivery.  In the clinic setting, patients benefit visits like a “spiritual cesarean” and other wisdom from Birthing From Within as some of our CNMs are also Birthing From Within educators. In the hospital setting, peanut balls, robozo techniques, and other Spinning Babies expertise to help rotate babies.
At the discharge, CNMs spend a great deal of time going over common questions, follow up precautions, and of course breastfeeding is highly encouraged and there are hospital based lactation consultants.  In case of clinical concerns, the OBGYNs are a phone call away and each high-risk patient is discussed in a weekly case conference for management collaboration.  In the hospital setting, if an emergency or complication arises, which needs immediate attention, the OBGYN’s are again a phone call away.  Truly, the collaborative models are an incredible resource that puts the patient and her pregnancy and birth experience at the forefront of the practice.

 

How do you balance the defense of the obstetrics profession with your empathy for those individuals who, like myself, have less than ideal things to say about their own experience with their practitioner?

 

I welcome opportunities like this to educate and communicate.  The professions have become so segregated but ultimately the end goal is a happy healthy couplet.  We can’t loose sight of this in the name calling game.

 

One of my friend’s husbands is an OB and he says he is very bothered by the birthing-at-home trend. He said, “Birth either goes totally fine or there are major complications requiring a hospital setting. There’s rarely an in-between.” What are your thoughts on this?

 

I would agree.  That is why sticking to strict guidelines for eligibility of a home birth is so important.
These guidelines were created to ensure a level of safety in a risky situation.  Our bodies and our births are unpredictable.

 

Do you find that the location of an OB practice matters? It seems that in very busy metropolitan areas, the staff is so overbooked and stressed, so even if the doctors have good intentions, they simply don’t have the time for personalized care.

 

I don’t think I can fairly answer this.  I will say that the example you pose would argue completely against the UCSD model- a hospital based birthing center inside a metropolitan academic institution.  I don’t think the location of an OB practice is so much the issue but the administration and staffing support of the hospital.

 

I have a friend who recently birth her fifth baby and for the first time was told she needed to put her legs in stirrups. Can you touch on how different hospitals have different practices and how somethings might be allowed at one hospital but aren’t at others?

 

I encountered this myself the other day at a birth.  Typically the people helping a woman push for 1-3 hours is a loving family member and the labor and delivery nurse.  This nurse wears multiple hats during this second stage of labor.  Having her be responsible for leg holding takes her focus off fetal monitoring, vitals monitoring, and overall lay of the LDR.  Therefore, if no other family member is available to help with leg holding, especially in an anesthetized birth, where the leg is really heavy, then stirrups are used.  The growing trend of rise in BMI’s also feeds this answer.  It is something that is worth addressing but women with higher BMI’s have a higher risk for pregnancy complications and in the second stage require a greater level of nursing support.
As far as differences in hospital delivery practices it comes down to the administration as well as the attitude/culture of the OBGYN Division in that particular hospital.  We are all governed by ACOG, American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. However, there are variances within and different degrees of confidence/training/expertise amongst the staff in each L&D setting.  For example, an assisted vaginal delivery can be either via a vacuum or by forceps.  If the department has OBGYN’s who were trained in either technique more than the other, then you will see a shift in assisted vaginal delivery techniques.  The culture of our training sites has so much to do with how OBGYN’s practice as well.  For example, in my residency we used cytotec, misoprostol as an induction agent.  However, in my current practice, everyone was using cervidil and so I had to adjust my level of comfort with in.

 

How much of a role does the hospital have on the dictation of care a physician renders?

 

A LOT.  A silly example would be how much of a role does the HOA of a condo complex have when you rent out the community area and pool.  Ultimately, the HOA is also liable in any adverse events.
Therefore, the hospital administration, nursing administration and along with the division of OBGYN staff, together dictate the guidelines.  Protocols are written by, reviewed, and agreed upon by all involved.

 

I’ve often gotten the sense that the majority of OBs are most comfortable when delivering a baby in bed. Is this due to the way OB’s are taught / trained? Why is there trepidation with allowing a woman to labor and birth a baby in water? Water is a wonderful pain reliever for those who chose to go the natural route but it is rarely allowed in the hospital setting (outside of showers, which don’t really offer the same great relief as a birthing tub). Can you discuss this? And how does your practice navigate around the hospital limitations?

 

You are correct.  I am not aware of any OBGYN residency that offers training in water births.  The typical delivery position we are trained in is supine/semi fowlers.  However, those residents who have the fortune of having CNMs in their training institutions may have experience and comfort with other delivering positions. It is unfortunate that the OBGYN is finger pointed as the bottleneck for water births when there are so many layers to consider.  These have to do with infection control, staffing, resources/equipment, and the rate of turnover (house keeping).  There needs to be buy in from all these departments including Administration (finances, maintenance, engineering), Infection Control, RN, and Housekeeping in order to keep a water based practice practical and safe.
As one of my CNM mentors asked me in discussing this answer, “do you like cleaning your own tub at home?”
Now imagine this with industrial strength chemicals, several times a week.

 

The number of c-sections performed has gone up dramatically (only now starting to go down a bit). Do you think this is because of fear of liability issues? Or insurance payouts? Or convenience for all parties? Or all of the above?
 
There are many factors to this beyond what you have listed here.  First, you need to consider the change in the body habitus of women.  We are seeing a lot more obesity and women with BMI > 35 having children.  In addition to underlying obesity, the associated medical conditions such as diabetes, PCOS, and liver disease certainly affects the health of the pregnancy.  Babies of diabetic mothers are bigger and certainly at higher risk for birth trauma and therefore warrant evaluation and discussion for a primary cesarean section. The second overlooked factor is general living condition of pregnant women.  Our society has become one of “deep couch sitting” and screen time.  This reclined posture found in cars, theaters, at home, etc. perpetuates an occiput posterior (OP) position for the fetus.  In the OP position, the largest portion of the fetal vertex needs to engage the pelvic bones hence making labor more painful and longer.  The insurance payout, convenience statement might be true for some “bad apples” but it is certainly not for the majority of OBGYNs.  Fear of liability is better understood as a fear of bad outcome for either the mom or the baby.  OBGYNs have the lives of 2 people on their hands and it is the high desire for a good outcome along with the litigation scares that may sway decisions.  The invention of fetal heart rate monitoring has contributed to the overall higher number of cesareans.  Now we have a tracing that indicates what the fetus is experiencing and OBGYN’s are going to act to rectify the intrauterine environment, which may mean a cesarean section.

I read recently that “because birth matters. How you give birth matters.”  This was a very well done article on thebestofbaby.com.  For the most part I agree.  It does matter if your arms are tied down to the operating table, if your legs are in stirrups, if you are on your back, or upright in a tub, or squatting on a ball.  The entire birth experience matters as it becomes your babies story and how you both exist as a couplet now.  In order to have your birth experience, I encourage women to speak up, ASK questions, TALK to your physician.  There is no way that you will get your birth experience if you haven’t communicated and understood the practices of your physician.  Brining in a doula is essentially giving your power to someone else, someone who is paid to be your advocate.  But you can be your own advocate from the beginning.

 

Image of pregnant woman by By Rosenoff | Birth art found on Pinterest

Acupuncture

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San Clemente Family Photographer-3066 San Clemente Family Photographer-3077 San Clemente Family Photographer-3103 San Clemente Family Photographer-3104The office walls were practically covered in pictures sent in by previous patients; women and their baby bumps posing with him as well as images of newborns accompanied by the sweetest of thank you cards. Cards that read things like, “Thank you for helping us bring baby X into the world” or “You worked magic on my fertility issues so-much-so that I’m now pregnant again, thank you” and so on and so forth.

Little sentiments of gratitude from women that at one time lacked hope and then, BAM, got pregnant and seemingly owed all the good cheer to this unassuming, gentle doctor.

It’s not the first time I’ve done acupuncture. I gave it a try when I was pregnant with Hooper as well. It wasn’t a great experience for a lot of reasons. There was the one session that very nearly made me pass out. I seem to be prone to passing out, especially while pregnant. But the more annoying thing was when the girl who ran the place started texting me on a regular basis to see if I was in labor. She just became one more person to answer to and one more person to have to give the defeated “nope, not in labor yet” news to.

When he – the man in all the pictures that covered the walls like wallpaper – walked in the room I said, “I see you have good results with getting the babies in, do you also have good results with getting them out?”. “Oh yes, we do that too”, he said. I couldn’t seem to find one thank you note that spoke to the exit of said babies… but I wanted to believe him.

I was given the option to sit or lay down and I opted to sit. As he punctured my skin ever-so-slightly with the needles, I could feel my nerves twinge. My index finger started jerking. He told me this was normal. I sat there, the lights off, my fingers twitching, and my palms beginning to get clammy. I know what this means. Next thing I know everything is getting a bit fuzzy. I know I need to lay down but I’m not sure how to maneuver the contraption that is hooked up to the needles that are making my fingers do the jerky dance. I call out for someone to come help.

They unhook me and set me up once again, this time lying down. My vision clears, my hands dry, and my fingers continue with their herky jerky dance. A few minutes later, I’m unhooked, told to call “if” I need another appointment (which truthfully made me giggle internally — I felt like setting up at least five more appointments right then and there), paid $85 (insert big eyes here) and went home to sit on the toilet because beyond a few stomach cramps, I felt nothing.

The desperate part of me wanted to call first thing the next morning and schedule another appointment. But truthfully, I didn’t enjoy it, it wasn’t cheap, and I’m not having any issues with constipation.

And so, as I’m checking things off the ol’ natural induction list, I’m getting more and more comfortable with just waiting and trusting that sometime soon this baby will come. Because, well, it will.

Herky jerky fingers or not.

And so, I figure my days are better spent with my boys, savoring the last of the days where I have a one to one ratio in terms of hands to kids. Hoping that having a third grants me some monkey status, where my feet become equally useful as my hands. That’s a thing, right? Monkey status?

39 Weeks | Natural Labor Induction

San Clemente Family Photographer-3253When you get toward the end of pregnancy, everyone seems to have suggestions as to what worked for them in terms of going into labor. Just as I was leaving Van’s school, his teacher said, “you know what worked for my daughter? Walking”. It’s all in good nature and I’m in no way offended by the offerings of advice from others; rather, I know the truth – for me – is that labor starts whenever it damn well pleases. That’s because for the only two births I’ve experienced, there wasn’t a pineapple I didn’t eat, a hill I didn’t climb, or a magic wand I didn’t whimsically swirl over my head.

I tried everything; homeopathies, acupuncture, some ridiculous salad people swear by, castor oil, blue and black kohosh, sex, a breast pump to stimulate my non-milk-producing ta-tas, walking, stair climbing, ball bouncing, pleading, membrane stripping… the list goes on…

That’s not to say I’m going to sit around just waiting this time around. I mean the reality is that my days are still pretty full, but my intention is to – once again – be proactive. Not because I think it will work, but because I’m a woman, and dammit, being proactive speaks to the heart of my multitasking soul. I realize, however, that any attempt to control when this baby makes it’s exit is purely for the peace of mind of knowing I did everything in my power to offer it the warmest of invitations into the world. Because I fear induction, mostly. And secondarily because I fear the more time spent inside, the bigger this babe will get.

When I saw my OB at my 36th week appointment, my first – and only – question was “when can you strip my membranes?”. He laughed, because he’s a cocky bastard like that, gave me “the look” and said, “you know that doesn’t work, right?”. I mustered up the smallest of smiles but I really just wanted to spit on him.

Yes, I know none of it works. But, again, I’ll be damned if I didn’t say I tried everything I could.

I was researching an acupuncturist the other day and one of the reviews made me giggle. It went something like this: “Doctor so-in-so is amazing. I had tried everything and finally, at over 41 weeks pregnant, I decided to give acupuncture a try. The next day I went into labor”. Sure, the naive part of me wanted to call for the first available appointment but the logical me couldn’t help but think “lady, you’re 41 weeks pregnant… it was your baby’s time”…

Nevertheless, you better believe I have an acupuncture appointment. Not with Doctor so-in-so, but an appointment all the same. Hashtag: hope.

Each morning I’ve been making myself a cup of hot raspberry leaf tea. I don’t particularly care for it and given the 80 degree “winter” weather that’s filled the majority of the days as of late, I can’t even say I enjoy it. I’ve also been sticking these silly primrose oil tablets up my va-jay-jay every night. Evening conversations go something like this:

Willy: “Do you mind getting up to turn out the light?”
Me: “I would, but I don’t want my oil tablets to fall out”

I’m telling you guys, pregnancy turns me into a complete and utter lunatic come the end. I haven’t reached lunatic status just yet, but the anxiety and impatience and ticking-time-bomb feeling are whirling all around me and soon enough they will take over and I’ll be that toothless whack you see roaming the streets yelling at park benches.

Not because I think what worked for you will work for me, because – again – hashtag: logic, but for the pure sake of humoring me and making me feel less crazy, what kinds of things did you try in terms of at-home, natural labor induction?

Off to cut up some fresh pineapple so I can spend the rest of tomorrow bitching about the sores in my mouth and still being pregnant…

A Birth Plan

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When we had our initial meeting with our doula she mentioned coming back, within a few weeks, to discuss our birth plan. I hung on the phrase birth plan much like when you stop listening to the rest of what someone says once they use a word you’re not familiar with; a word not within your known vocabulary.

I didn’t do anything between that first meeting and our second, in regards to my homework, the birth plan, but figured we’d have her over anyway because – well – we like her.

When I arrived at the hospital to be induced to deliver Hooper, the only instructions I gave my nurse – through choked up words and a few tears of defeat – were, “please don’t offer me an epidural”. Words I’d later regret around the 6cm mark but no longer have the ability to form verbal sentences to retract.

By the time the ambulance got me to the hospital to deliver Van, there was no time to make even the meekest of requests; things were happening to me, not with me at that point.

Needless to say, a plan has never proved itself needed and it almost feels sheepish at this point to put any sort of words down on paper as if experience itself hasn’t taught me that plans are, in my case, for the birds.

So when she asked me, all I could come up with is “you… you’re our plan… and to get the baby out as safely as possible”. So that’s the plan: I’ll make some calls when (hopefully) labor starts, we’ll go to the hospital, and we’ll deliver a baby. Sure there’s lots of holes in that plan but I’m going to allow them to fill themselves in.

Did you have a birth plan? How close did what played out relate to whatever plan you envisioned? Did your plan change as events unfolded and if so, how?

The Asterisk Attached…

San Clemente Family Photographer-1490I’ve come to realize that in sharing my birthing fears I may have given you, the reader, the sense that I am not comfortable with the plan I have been – more-or-less – going with. And sure, while I may appreciate the care I have received in the past from the lovely midwives I was seen by, I would ultimately agree that in the hands of an OB is probably the best fit given previous circumstances (it’s taken me time to get here, but I am here — in a place of agreeance and acceptance). So the answer, to those who have asked, why I stick with this plan and why I presumably put up with something I’m not entirely comfortable with is because I think it’s best for our current situation. And by “our”, I am including Willy’s wishes and fears as well, because they count too.

As a nurse, I have a better understanding of doctors than most. I get “it”. And though I share much about my OB that I’m not stoked about, I also believe he is the best – for this pregnancy – in terms of delivering this baby safely. He’s not warm and fuzzy, nor does he take the time to review anything from my chart prior to him stepping foot in the room and running through the series of informal questions he without-a-doubt asks every pregnant woman that comes through his door. That said, I also know that it doesn’t matter. Whether he knows my birthing history or not is not going to have an impact, ultimately, when the proverbial push comes to shove and he’s catching my baby. It makes no difference if he knows my pervious babies were large because he’s going to deliver this one the safest way possible regardless.

The thing with birth is that nothing can be predicted; so I get that the birthing experiences I’ve had in the past, no matter how traumatic for Willy and I, have no bearing on this birth. He doesn’t ask about them or remember a damn thing I’ve said about them because he’s privy to the aforementioned truth, too (the truth being that it doesn’t matter, in terms of relating to the significance of this upcoming birth).

That all said, sure, he could have better bedside manner. He could take the 5 seconds it takes to look up what my due date is so he doesn’t have to ask me. He could validate my worries and concerns instead of harshly telling me to “not worry and be positive” as if I’m doing something wrong by expressing and attempting to work through my fears. And if he did all of the above, he’d add a couple extra minutes onto what’s been an average long 6 minute appointment and with those added two minutes, he could simultaneously nurture my trust in him exponentially.

It sucks to leave an appointment and not feel like you were treated as an individual; to feel like your worries are not valid and that your past experiences have little impact on your current situation. But I do feel confident that this baby is in good hands and if it weren’t for the latter, I would find someone I felt more comfortable with. In the end, I know it’s not about a doctor’s conversation skills but in their skill as an OB… and I believe in him in that respect. Thus, why I stay.

Does bedside manner matter to you if you know that the end goal for both parties is the same? Would you change practitioners and perhaps risk having a different outcome all for leaving your appointment actually liking the person you’re seeing?

Supporting your partner during pregnancy & birth

AshleyWilly-197mattandtish AshleyWilly-198mattandtishThere’s been lots of time and space for introspection during this pregnancy and the implications of having a third have been weighing on me, and Willy, far more than say having a first or a second ever did.

I’ve admittedly been quite selfish with my feelings and desires during pregnancy and it hasn’t been until this third babe that I have realized such.

As much as motherhood has made me pro-female in so many ways, lately I’ve come to the realization that much of what we experience as birthing mothers firsthand is just as difficult for our partners to handle secondhand. I was always under the impression that us women, because we are the ones growing and carrying and birthing the baby, are the only ones allowed to be scared. I’ve realized that even if they aren’t the ones going through pregnancy or birth, they are still experiencing it in their own way and filtering emotions and anxieties and fears all the same.

This may all sound like nothing new to you, but this all was a recent revelation of mine; the idea that I’m not the only one that needs to be supported and cared for and heard during this pregnancy. This idea that the unknown, namely the birth of our third baby, is a shared fear; that the unknown can bring with it anxieties felt by both of us and that one persons fears are no more valid than the others.

Don’t get me wrong, I still think mothers (or simply women) are some of the strongest creatures around… but this pregnancy has taught me that my feelings toward this pregnancy are no more important than Willy’s simply because I’m the one carrying and birthing the baby. To watch the person you love most in this world birth a new being that is a part of you is no easy feat either; and frankly, sometimes I think it’s even harder to be a player on the sidelines. Sure, I fear all that is out of my control, but even more is out of Willy’s control.

What has your experience been like in supporting your partner through pregnancy and birth? Did you find that they too had fears and desires in terms of how they wanted things to play out and were those fears and desires in line with yours? Also, I’m 38 weeks… hard to believe this baby is coming so soon…

Images by Tish Carlson.

On gender…

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San Clemente Family Photography-5683When I was pregnant with both Hooper and Van, it would have been torture to wait the entire 10 months to know their genders. I had intentions of trying to wait with Van but Willy really wanted to know and not knowing weighed on me so heavily that it felt more like I was depriving myself of something I needed as opposed to waiting for something I wanted.

This pregnancy I feel entirely different. I actually have “the envelope” with the gender written somewhere inside it and I’ve had zero motivation to even touch it. Can’t decide if it’s because I truly don’t care (which I don’t) or because I’ll take whatever extra motivation to push that I can… because the good Lord knows I need help getting dem’ big babies out.

I recently wrote a post about the realities of announcing a third pregnancy and the thing is, when you’re the pregnant mama of two boys, nearly everyone assumes that you’re pregnancy is a direct result of trying for a girl. If I had a penny for every time I said, “actually, I truly don’t care what the gender is”, I’d be able to buy fancier maternity clothes (like the stuff from Hatch that I’ve been drooling over but could never pull the trigger on buying). I digress.

It seems to be our society’s perfect picture of a family: two parents, a boy, a girl, and – of course – a dog (because ain’t that the American way?).

People tell me I need a girl. And yet, I don’t feel the same way. It’s like gender has become similar to the coveted birth plan as it’s no longer about a healthy baby but instead about the desired sex coming out exactly as the pre-written birth plan dictates, with dim lights and Coldplay playing in the background.

Someone asked me the other day, “but how are you preparing for the baby if you don’t know it’s gender”… which truthfully made me laugh. I don’t believe she was a mother and perhaps after two kids of her own she’ll realize that there isn’t nearly as much in the preparation sense that ought to be done for a third than there is with a first… and truthfully, there ain’t nearly as much for a even a first and if it weren’t such a money making market, you would see less of all the graphics depicting all the perfect baby gear and gadgets. I let go of the diaper bag after Hooper, if that gives you any indication. I digress, once again.

Let me be clear and honest. I really and truly don’t care about this baby’s gender. So-much-so that that little envelope remains sealed and tucked away. It has no bearing on my curiosity because that little piece of paper says nothing about the health or the circumstances of which it will come into this world and that, really and truly, is all I care about.

With that all said, I’m expecting another boy. I’ve always felt, even before becoming a mother, that I would inevitably be a mother to all boys. And if I do have a girl, can’t say I’d raise her any differently. So society, take your “perfect picture” and shove it.

I would end this post with asking if you too felt the general let down of announcing another pregnancy with the same sex as you already have, but I know the answer to this question already… And having grown up with a sister, I’d argue further that having the same gender sibling is a pretty special relationship. And I’d be willing to go even further and ask, what’s gender anyway? Hashtag: Bruce becomes Caitlyn. Hashtag: More power to him, errr, her.

Soon to be three…

Souther California Photographer-270 Souther California Photographer-275When I was pregnant with Van I felt a certain amount of trepidation, like adding another child was going to somehow compromise the love I had already established for Hooper. I guess the love for a first born is like that, would you agree?

Even after Van was born, I took just a bit longer to adjust. Sure, the love was instant and innate, but there was this feeling of hurry-up-and-become-fun that I think points to the notion that our love for our children only grows and so the love on the day they’re born kinda piddles in comparison to what it becomes when they actually have, well, personalities.

This pregnancy is so different in that respect; I’m so excited to add another to the mix, to give Hooper and Van another sibling. Perhaps it has everything to do with their own excitement; they’re old enough to understand the concept of having a sibling and they’re so eager to meet this little one. Hooper was still so young when Van was born, it was hardly worth explaining or preparing him for it.

And I have no feelings of hurry-up-and-become-fun, perhaps because I know that those days will inevitably come and that this will most likely be the last googly-eyed little munchkin I may have the privilege of bringing into the world. I’m so eager to soak in all the newborn-ness, even the hard parts…

The vision of the three of them together has my eyes all filled with hearts… like one of those silly cartoons where love is flowing out every orifice. Sure, I know there will be hard days and trying times ahead, but whatever trepidations I felt during my second pregnancy have been replaced with pure joy and excitement during this one.

Soon to be mother to three, a house of five…  and I can’t wait… though I will admit, it makes me a bit sad to think of this pregnancy ending. Pregnancy, in general, treats me well and those little kicks are something I treasure so greatly. Who’s with me?

Birthing Fears, part III

San Clemente Family Photography-6470I’ve come to a lot of self-realizations during this pregnancy. One being that you can’t really prepare physically for a natural birth. I’m sure others would disagree and, for others, this may be true. I’ve heard all about the hypnobirthing fad (even my OB suggested it), but I just don’t think I could get out of my head enough for that to work for me. Having had two natural births before, one of which was Pitocin-induced (and therefore accompanied by Pitocin side effects), I know the pain well enough to conclude that there’s not much I can do besides surrender and allow my body to do its thing.

Which brings me to another self-realization: While I’ve accepted that I cannot physically prepare, I have been doing as much mental preparation as I can. Y’all have been witnesses to that. I’ve been using my blog as a platform to walk through my fears as they present themselves and it has, in fact, proved therapeutic in the working-through-shit sense.

Next on my self-realization checklist: Accept whatever path this baby may need to come into this world. While I’ve accepted that my body will need to do its thing, my major fear is that my body won’t do its thing well enough on its own. I’m going to have to accept that a c-section may be the safest delivery method for me. I may go through hours of unmedicated labor only to end up on an operating table. This means a vaginal recovery (because, hello, pain from pushing), as well as recovery from abdominal surgery. And, for me, a c-section would mean being put to sleep completely. Because the majority of my spine is fused, I can’t have spinal anesthesia (where you are awake but the lower portion of your body is entirely numb). This is the hardest for me to accept. I want to be present when my child enters the world. It hurts my heart to imagine not hearing that first cry.

I know that, ultimately, I should focus on the baby’s health instead of obsessing over the birth. If the baby is healthy, I shouldn’t really care too much how it gets here, right? So why do I care? Is it a societal pressure? Are we all too attached to this “ideal birth experience”? Why do I have all of these biases toward a c-section? When I talk to people about how big my baby is getting, they say “Oh, you can just have a c-section,” with a flip of the wrist, like it’s no big deal. For me, it is a big deal. I know there are women who choose to have a c-section. Maybe they want the control that comes with a set date in their day planner. Or maybe they want to avoid the pain of labor. Or maybe they’re worried about ruining their lady parts. I don’t fit into these categories. If I have a c-section, it will come with a feeling of defeat.

That feeling of defeat will only exist because of the ideals I have in my head. If I am able to let go of those ideals and embrace whatever happens, the disappointment and distress won’t be as jarring and monumental. It’s like the Buddhists teach about not getting attached to certain outcomes. I thought I was a go-with-the-flow type, but maybe I’m not in this case. So this is my challenge: accepting that I may need a c-section, welcoming the unwelcome circumstances, and relinquishing control.

You can read my other two posts on birthing fears by clicking here and here.

Image of Hooper unrelated to the subject matter, but one of my favorite I’ve captured of him to date.