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.

Post Birth Ramblings

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.

Shits & Giggles.

I saw this video on Tosh.0 the other day. Willy and I must have replayed the video over twenty times, each time laughing just a little harder and each time shedding just a few more tears. I shouldn’t be laughing, after all, I presume my asshole will be hurting soon enough. Either way, this video is just too funny not to share. Laughter is just the medicine I need. I’ve been quite anxious the last couple days and am wondering where the girl who wrote A Family of Three post went as I’m struggling to find that peace I referred to.
Also came across this ecard, which also gave me a good chuckle.







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Steps to Obtain Insurance Coverage for a Home Birth

1. Speak with different midwives in the area. All the midwives I spoke to seemed to offer different types of advice for getting insurance coverage and were extremely helpful and hopeful. Ask your midwife for specific information like their license number, EIN and NPI number, and even the CPT code. These are all helpful to have on hand and eventually necessary when finally getting through to your insurance company.
2. Call the member services 800 number on your insurance card and explore exactly what your benefits are.
3. Get transferred to the medical management department and explain that you are in need of pre-authorization or pre-certification for midwife services.
sidenote: It is my understanding that all midwifery care is considered out-of-network. In other words, no midwives operate as in-network providers. This does not, however, mean that they won’t cover it. It simply means that they need to agree to cover it before they are billed for such services in order to guarantee payment.
4. Get connected with a nurse case manager. This person is your best friend. Be nice, but be painfully persistant. This person is the one that actually applies for the pre-certification. You want this person on your team. This person will also be in close contact with your midwife, as they need information from both ends to make it all happen.
5. Your nurse case manager will initially try to explain that you need to stick to in-network providers. They will do their own search of in-network midwifery services and tell you to start with that list of providers first. My case manager prompted me to search through what she described as “2 pages of in-network providers”. When I ran the same search, there certainly were two pages. All the providers had the same address and phone number, however. When I called, they explained that they worked out of a hospital in downtown Los Angeles and did not offer home birth services. For those that are familiar with the LA area, you know that trying to get to downtown LA, depending on the time of day, could be insane. Especially for a laboring woman. This prompts the next step…
6. Explain why their list of in-network providers will not work. I explained that not only do they not offer the care I’m looking for, but that I’d also run the risk of delivering on the side of the road as navigating through LA traffic while in active labor wasn’t the safest plan. They will then proceed with obtaining what they call “in for out” coverage or in-network benefits for out-of-network providers.
7. Call daily for updates.
8. Obtain your pre-authorization number.
Wow, I can’t believe it can all be summed up in 8 steps. The entire process took about a week. Here are some additional tips I had found in my research:
-Keep notes of dates, times, people, and departments that you speak with.
-If you feel like you are coming up against a bump in the road, explain that you are trying to save them money. If the person you are talking to doesn’t seem thankful for the fact that a home birth is much more affordable for the insurance company than a hospital birth, then ask to speak to their supervisor. If the supervisor is a carbon copy of the idiot you were just speaking with, ask to speak to their manager. Eventually you will speak with someone who appreciates the save in cost.
-If they deny the pre-authorization, ask for details regarding the appeal process. I fortunately know nothing about this process other than it exists and others have successfully appealed, so if you are in this position, do not give up!
Here are three links I found useful in my research: one, two, three
…And now, some inspirational birthing images:

















































Photo sources: 1, 2, 3

An Update

Lucky for us, our midwives have a couple OB/GYN’s that back them up, so to say. This, in and of itself, says a lot about not only what they do but how they do it. I definitely have my issues regarding trust of the mainstream medical field when it comes to labor, but seeing an OB that I know my midwives trust helps soothe some of my anxiety.
Since our appointment with our midwives, I’ve done a lot of reflection regarding what’s important to me and what I feel is best for myself, this pregnancy, and this baby. Keeping to my New Year’s resolution, I reached out to positive, educated, and encouraging individuals and what I got in return was just the support I needed.
I had one friend from High School that put me in contact with her sister-in-law who has had a home birth and is preparing for her second, also to be born at home, in March. She shared a story with me of a friend that also planned a home birth, labored at home for 22 hours, and ultimately transferred to the hospital where she underwent a medically-necessary c-section. It happens. It was her perspective that I found enlightening. She said: medical intervention helped her in the end, laboring at home helped her in the beginning. This same friend went on to have her second baby at home, in a pool in her living room, with no complications.
Always up for a good debate, I like to play the devil’s advocate. I sent an email to our OB, Dr. K, who delivered Hooper on the operating room table. Here’s what he had to say:
As we talked about in the office, I think your odds of an uncomplicated delivery are extremely high. Second labors tend to be faster and easier than first labors and less second pregnancies go past the due date. I do not, however, have a crystal ball and there are certainly patients attempting home births who need to be transferred in labor due to some issues that arise. I do not think your chances are any higher than anyone else just because of your first labor. I do back up midwives because I think it important that patients have options and choices. I am also very up front if I think that choices should be limited because of circumstances.  I see no such issues with your pregnancy at this point.  My agreement with the midwives that I back is that I will agree to care for patients that they feel are no longer low risk. I obviously do not tell my patients to seek midwife care but I would always agree to back them if that is what they chose. You have become my patient and I would always try to give you advice that keeps you in the realm of safety while trying to allow you to ‘get what you want’. I think you are an excellent candidate for a home birth if that is your choice. If you choose that, I will be happy to serve as your back-up MD in case there are issues that require my attention or your transport. I hope this helps you.  
And help me it did. 
With Willy on board as much as he’s gonna be on board and with the support I so desperately needed, I’m feeling good. I feel more confident than ever about my decision. 
A special thanks all those who have reached out to show their support, espically to Ali for putting me in touch with Abby, to Dr. K, to Janet for listening to me vent when things needed to roll off my chest, to my midwives whose patience, support, and love for what they do seems otherworldly, and to my lovely husband who listens to all my crazy shenanigans and trusts me enough to join me on this journey. Willy, you are the crispy pickle to my sandwich. Oh gosh, now I want a pickle. A really crispy pickle. 
Photo credits: source 1, source 2

13 weeks

We had our first appointment with the midwives this week and I have mixed emotions about how it went. For me, it was great. It was a familiar environment with familiar faces with supportive people that see birth and the birthing process through the same lens as me. For Willy, it felt like torture. I felt like I had to drag him with me and reiterate all the reasons why I believe a home birth is the best option for me. We’ve had this argument, or conversation rather, many times and each time it seems to land us in the same place: You know, those silent car rides when more is said with an eye roll than with a single word. We both believe adamantly about what we believe and he says getting him to believe a home birth is the best choice is like getting me to believe a hospital birth is the best choice. And that ain’t happening. So where to go from here is the question? We talked some more on the long drive home and have come to a tentative place of agreement, but it feels empty without having full support behind it.
With that said, I’m hoping to hear from others that have had or contemplated having a home birth. Did your partner agree with your decision? How did you come to a decision as to what was best? I’d love to hear more about your experience… Especially from the father’s perspective.
Oh ya, and we heard that little pounding heart and in those few moments all was p e r f e c t.

New Years Resolutions

…In no particular order.
1. Start a stretch/workout routine. And by routine I mean stretching and working out routinely. Not a today I have the energy but tomorrow I won’t kinda thing… I mean a real dedicated I don’t feel like it but I’m do it anyway kinda routine. When I was pregnant with Hooper I started a prenatal yoga class at 9 weeks and went all the way through to 38 weeks or so, until I was just humiliated that I hadn’t given birth yet and had no ounce of desire to show up with a still pregnant belly week after week. Now I have Hooper and no way of making it to a class with this little rascal running around. So yes, perhaps a stretching and working out routine during nap time.

2. Eat healthier. Are these already sounding like cliche resolutions? I mean doesn’t 24 hour fitness make like 80% of their years profit in January. Okay, I’m making things up, but yes, I am fully aware that these first two resolutions are probably 90% of the general populations goals. With the absence of nausea and the days of food aversions behind me, I really have no excuse to hold on to. In fact, I have the best excuse to fully commit myself: I’m growing a human. What better reason than that to trade in french fries for some whole wheat something or other?

3. Buy a new home. A bigger one. With room to grow. To raise kids and live happily ever after. We’re constantly working toward and saving for and figuring out some way to make this a reality. I hope this year it comes to fruition. There’s actually one home in particular we’ve been eyeing… But it relies on many things falling in place.

4. Visualize a healthy home birth and seek support from positive, educated, and encouraging individuals.

5. Keep the house cleaner. I swear I try. I swear I clean constantly. I also swear because this place is always messy. I should also resolve to swear less. Hooper is quite the mimic these days.

6. Continue blogging. I love documentation in all forms. I have a couple old journals and thousands of photographs that tell a broken story and I have a detailed baby book documenting Hooper’s first year. I want something that continues the story without collecting dust in a cluttered closet.

7. Take more small trips. This kinda contradicts #3, right? I’ve thrown out propositions for impromptu trips to Nicaragua or another vacation to Hawaii. Then we think of resolution #3. And I put my backpack back in the closet. But that’s not to say we can’t take a weekend drive and stop along the way or pull that tent out of the garage. We camped a lot before Hooper was born and have yet to return to the woods for fear it’ll be more work than play. But I think Hooper’s just getting to the age where he will enjoy frolicking about. Better squeeze in as much as we can until July, when our camping days will once again be numbered.

8. Find new recipes for dinners. Mostly because Willy will love the fact that this requires me to try something new. I’m a picky eater, you see. And I hate things mixed. I was that kid that whined when my chicken touched my potato. I try harder each year to resolve this. And I am better. I swear.

9. Do something different with my hair. Dye it? New style? Bangs? Anyone have any ideas? I’m bored to all hell with these strands hanging from my head.

10. I saved my most cliche resolution for last. To love and live as much as possible because in the whole scheme of things, life is pretty short. I had the privilege of caring for a patient yesterday that reminded me of this.

What are some of your resolutions?
source 1, source 2, source 3, source 4, source 5, source 6, source 7, source 8, source 9, source 10, source 11, source 12, source 13

Home Birth

While I am a huge and passionate supporter of natural birth and home birth, I know it’s not for everyone. I would never judge someone for choosing to have an epidural or choosing to give birth in the hospital setting, but I do feel it is absolutely the responsibility of mother and father to explore their options and understand the risks and benefits involved. I think it is complacent and ignorant for someone to assume that the hospital is the best or safest choice without doing research to back that up. I agree with much of Melissa’s opinions on the subject, which you can read here and here.
Beliefs aside, the reality is that a home birth is not an option for everyone. Insurance companies rarely cover all, if any, of the cost associated with a birth at home or the prenatal care delivered by Certified Nurse Midwives. I feel strongly that it ought to be the woman’s right to chose her birth setting and that cost should not be a factor. If an expectant mother believes a home birth to be the best and safest option for her, it ought to be just that: an option. That’s why I’m so proud to share the following video with you. It’s from the Home Birth Consensus Summit.

I’ve made the decision to start a grassroots effort to, at the very least, contact our insurance company and make it known that the option to have a baby at home in the care of midwives is something I, the consumer, is interested in. I’ll include you all on this journey and keep you informed on where it leads… To be continued.