Monday, August 31, 2015

The One Thing You Should Pack in Your Hospital Bag That No One Will Tell You

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I've had enough! I've had enough of reading the Facebook posts that say something like, 

"I am at the hospital. My water is broken, and my labor has stalled. It has been (too many for their comfort) hours with no effective contractions, and they're pushing pitocin. What can I do to get contractions to pick up?" 

The woman has usually been on continuous monitoring, hasn't had much rest or privacy, has been confined to the bed, and is being treated like a watched pot. I always just want to say, "Go hide in the bathroom (alone or with your partner, whichever is better), and use your vibrator."

Only she probably didn't pack one. No one ever packs one. Why don't people pack one? Everyone should pack one!

Recently, I read in the book Orgasmic Birth, that if you want to be assured of some privacy, pull out your vibrator and set it out alongside your other comfort measures tools. Can you imagine that scene? I've never witnessed it, but I'd love to see what would happen if a client said, "I need to go masturbate now." 

I've been to a few births where my intuition was telling me that the couple needed some oxytocin producing alone time together, and I made myself scarce for awhile so they could accomplish that. Only I would return to their room to find out that they never got privacy. They were bugged the entire time. I wish I was bold enough to say, "Hey! Go in the bathroom. Get in the shower with the lights low and masturbate." So here it is. "I think y'all would benefit from some alone time" is actually code for, "Go in the bathroom and masturbate." 

I probably won't be able to be super blunt about my feelings about packing a vibrator because that is not my personality. I don't know everyone's history or feelings about sexuality. I wish everyone knew how sexuality and birth are related, but not everyone does. People have different levels of comfort around the topic of sex. Not everyone will pack a vibrator, much less consider using one. I don't want anyone to feel pressured to try it by being too forward about it.

And most people won't need it. Honestly, you know all those comfort measures taught in birth classes? Most people don't need most of those either. It's just that I would really love it to be packed for those "just in case" moments. You know the saying. It's better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. 

Pack your vibrators, people!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Last hoorah from the hoohah

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On Friday, July 24th, I woke up at around 8:15am to the sound of my girls' bedroom door opening. I rarely need an alarm clock anymore, especially during the summer. That morning we were planning on attending a friend's little boy's birthday party. We were also hoping to get some shopping done for groceries and last minute birth supplies. We were planning to get some major nesting done over the following week. After all, I was only 39 weeks pregnant, and I always go past my due date. Certainly this time would be no different. Plus my midwife was still out of town and wouldn't be arriving until very late the next day. The midwife that I had asked to be back-up had left that day as well. I had been referring to July 24th as my "Black Out Date" for about a week or so because under no circumstances could I have a baby that day. My baby HAD to stay in. Plus, it would anyway, since of COURSE I would make it to my due date.

When I woke up, I didn't immediately jump out of bed or anything. I like to lounge if I can. The girls were being cooperative, so my husband and I lounged for a little while playing on our phones. I was feeling kind of crampy, so I headed to the bathroom to see if I could feel better. I wasn't too concerned because I had experienced cramping episodes for the two previous nights. They always ended up going away. After spending some time in the bathroom, I noticed the slightest tinge of pink on the toilet paper. It was so light, I thought maybe my eyes were deceiving me. I went back to snuggle in the bed for a little while longer. I told my husband what I noticed and started asking questions to my doula and Birth Boot Camp Doula group.

At about 8:45am I posted this in my Birth Boot Camp Doula group:

"My midwife is still out of town. Should be getting in tonight. Pink spotting this morning. What is that? My mucous plug? I've never noticed losing a mucous plug before. I'm pretty crampy, but I could still have days, right? I've still got some stuff to do. Besides the fact my midwife isn't back yet."

At that point I still thought she was getting in a day earlier than she actually was. Oops.

I then texted my doula, "Pink spotting and cramps. No big deal right? Could still have days?"

Then I complained, "I really don't have time for this today. I still have to buy some chux pads..."

She responded, "Shhhhh, you'll upset the birth gods!" 

We have fun. We like to joke. We decided to just go about the day and check in periodically.

I may have decided to try the bathroom one more time at this point. When I went back to the bedroom, the cramps were really starting to get on my nerves. I was complaining to my BBCD group that I had stuff to do today, that my midwife was still out of town, and that I hadn't written this blog post yet. It was a little after 9am at this point.

Then one of the cramps made me need to lean over the bed and sway my hips. Robbie asked, "Are you going to have that baby?" I was adamant that, "No. I'm not having the baby. I just need these cramps to stop."

I think we decided that we should probably get the house cleaned up just in case we would have people coming over. I don't remember where he went, but I started putting away the laundry in my room. It was getting hard to do because I kept having to stop and lean over the bed during each cramp. 

About 15 minutes after we all decided to go about our day, I sent another message to my doula, "I don't know about this. This is new. I'm not prepared and trying to do stuff is making me uncomfortable."

She asked me to describe what I was feeling. I responded, "I'm not sure, but they might be starting to develop a pattern. I feel like a storm is brewing or something. I need to do the thing where it stops. How do people do that? I see it all the time! I'm drinking lots of water in case I'm dehydrated. 

Oh, and when the cramp goes away, it feels really good."

She then asks me which midwife was on call for me, which is good. I still wasn't sure about that. My midwife had left me with the name and number of another midwife just in case. I'd never met nor talked with her before. We agreed that I would start to time my "cramps" for the next hour to see what was going on there.

I moved into the kitchen at about 9:30am to try to tackle the mess of dishes we left the night before. I sent a message to my primary midwife to ask her if I should give the other midwife a head's up that I was cramping and spottimg. I didn't get to see her response until much later.

My husband started getting antsy and asking me what I wanted to do. I downloaded a contraction app and  started timing. I forgot a few times, and it was hard to figure out exactly how long they were. They looked to be about 2-3 minutes apart according to the app. I had to keep stopping to sway and breathe through the "cramps." I don't remember the order of everything, but at some point, my husband called the midwife to let her know what was going on. She started to head our way. 

At around 10am or so, I remember washing a bowl and Robbie asking me what I wanted to do. I said I really wanted a shower because I felt gross. He said to go and that he would take care of the rest of the dishes. So off to the shower I went.

I washed my hair and started crying because the cramps had me worried. I thought, "It is really going to suck once labor gets started." Robbie was in and out of the bathroom asking me what I needed. I remember him bringing me some water and my birth ball. He had also called everyone and let me know they were all on the way. They'd be there in about twenty minutes. I decided to see how much progress I could make in that time. I remember thinking, "Fine! I'll vocalize, then! Time to relax." I was really trying to resist vocalizing, but I just couldn't anymore. I was uncomfortable.

I vocalized one good time, and I really felt the baby move down. I dropped to hands and knees. The intensity picked up. Robbie was telling me how great I was doing. I hit the wall and yelled, "I don't want to do this!" Robbie chuckled. Good thing I didn't hear it.

I vocalized through a few more contractions when my water broke. I screamed, "My water broke!" I felt some burning and felt the baby's head coming out. I thought I screamed, "The head is coming out!" but apparently I was just screaming. At that point I started making peace with God because I thought the baby and I were about to die. I remember thinking, "I guess this is it then."

Then I felt a hand on my back and a voice saying, "I'm here." I rejoiced inside because I no longer feared death. My doula was here! She said the head was out and encouraged me to push. I pushed with all my might for what felt like ten minutes but was probably less than a minute and the baby was born. He arrived at 10:28am.

The way my husband tells it, my doula banged on the door, he opened it,  and she ran in just in time to catch the baby. She told me that she happened to take a new, but shorter, route that day. I'm glad she did.

A few seconds later, the midwife and her assistant arrived just in time for all the third stage and postpartum stuff. I felt bad because I was so unprepared for a birth that day. I didn't even have a baby blanket to wrap him in. We wrapped him in a t-shirt!

So this is it. My last baby. My last hoorah. I'm not sure when labor officially started, but I know it took me longer to type this (one-handed and nursing a baby) blog post than it did to have a baby. And I'm totally ok with that. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

I can have an epidural if I want to

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When I was pregnant with my first baby, I planned a natural childbirth. I had no idea what to expect, but I had heard that giving birth was the worst pain imaginable. I tried to prepare my mind for pain that was more than I've ever handled before. I read positive birth stories, took an independent childbirth class, and prepared myself to the best of my ability for something that I had no idea what it was like.

I knew a handful of people who had experienced natural childbirth themselves, but the only one in close proximity was my childbirth educator. She did it, so it gave me hope that I could do it too.

The big day came, and I did it! I had a natural childbirth. I couldn't believe it. I did that? I did THAT?

A few years later, I was expecting my second baby and planning a home birth. I had one natural birth, but I began to doubt that I could do it again. Now I knew what I was in for. I knew what birth felt like. Most of the time, I was pretty sure I could do it, but some days the doubt and fear would creep in. What if I lost it? What if I cried? What if I couldn't do it? My husband never doubted that I could do it. He always reassured me that I could do it. After all, I did it once. I could do it again. I wasn't so sure.

But, as it turned out, I could do it again, and I did do it again.

Fast forward a few more years, and I was expecting my third baby and planning another home birth. I'd had two natural births, but again, I began to worry whether or not I could do it again. "It hurts!" I told my midwife. And she kind of looked at me like, "Well... yeah. And?" I have to admit that I was more worried about whether or not I could handle the pain than I ever was during my other two pregnancies. I did my best to prepare my mind and body for labor. At this point I was even teaching others about how to have a natural childbirth as a Birth Boot Camp Instructor. Still, I worried about my ability to handle the pain, even though I am stubborn about referring to the sensations of my previous births as painful. Uncomfortable? Yes. Most definitely. Those two births were uncomfortable. But painful? It's really hard for me to use that word for some reason. But for this birth, I worried about pain.

I kept hearing and kept telling myself, "You've done it twice. You can do it again."

I hoped so.

At this point, I don't remember when I thought this, but a few days or weeks before giving birth a third time, I tried to fall asleep while thinking about my upcoming birth. I was again worried about the pain. Then a comforting thought came to me. "I can have an epidural if I want to. If it all becomes too much for me, I can go to the hospital and have an epidural."

And with that thought, I quickly fell asleep and my fears about the pain disappeared. I had never given myself permission to have an epidural before. With my previous two births, it wasn't an option in my mind. I'd only have an epidural if there was an emergency and I needed one for safety reasons, such as during a surgical birth. For this birth, I gave myself permission to have an epidural for pain relief. And that permission was a huge relief to me. It told me that I didn't have to birth a certain way just because I am a doula or teach natural birth classes or because I've done it twice before. I can give birth the way I need to. If this birth happened to test me beyond my ability to bear it, I could have relief. It was there for me and okay for me to accept it should I need it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

How to (not) Stay Pregnant

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Exactly three weeks ago, nine days before my due date, I posted this question in one of my doula groups because I had started cramping the night before.

"Seeing so many people as far along as I am (38+ weeks) trying to get baby out. Here I am hoping to keep baby in until my midwife gets back on Saturday. Googled keeping baby in. Nothing. Googled natural induction methods. Bazillion results. I mean, seriously. How DO you prevent labor?"

It was decided that I should blog about all the ideas I would try to keep baby in. Here are a few things I tried:

1. Schedule all the things

From 38 weeks on, I had something I *had* to do every day. I scheduled play dates, birthday parties, postpartum visits, and shopping trips. Every day was full of something to keep my mind occupied until the due date. Because my first two didn't come until after my due date, I knew this baby would stay put until at least my due date. 

2. Avoid homemade prostaglandins

Not sure what I mean? Semen. No semen made contact with my cervix while waiting for my midwife to get back into town. 

3. No Evening Primrose Oil

I tried it during my previous pregnancy, but I decided that I would not even consider it until my midwife was back in town. I didn't have any in my possession whatsoever.

4. Procrastinate nesting

I decided not to go shopping for any of my birth supplies until my midwife was back. I had some projects that I wanted to accomplish the few days before my due date because I knew those few days would feel like FOOOOORRRREEEEEVVVEEEERRRRRR. 

The big question is, did any of this work? Nope. Three days later I had my baby

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

I miss my midwife

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Postpartum comes with a lot of surprises. One of the biggest things that surprised me after the birth of my first baby was how much I missed my midwives. I didn't expect to feel that way because, honestly, I barely knew them. How is it possible to miss someone that you barely know? I missed the midwife who was there with me during my labor, and I missed the midwife that I felt most connected to during prenatal visits. I kept thinking about them in the days after the birth. I was so glad when I ended up with mastitis because it gave me an excuse to see them again before my six week postpartum visit. I didn't want to wait that long! The six week visit is so bittersweet. You get to see your midwife again, but that's it after that. Not only did I miss my visits with them, but I missed that feeling of having something to look forward to and the feeling of being taken care of.

But there was a comfort about it all. It wasn't going to be my last rodeo. I would have another baby eventually.

For our second baby, we decided to have a home birth which would mean having a different midwife. I'll always have a special place in my heart for my first midwives, but we knew that we needed to do things differently the second time.

Like before, after the birth of my second baby, I missed my midwife. I missed our visits and conversations. I missed learning from her. I missed having something to look forward to. My second pregnancy happened during one of the hardest times in our family's life, and she helped me to feel cared about. I felt lonely, abandoned, trapped, isolated, and flat out worth less than the people around me, and she helped me feel like a worthwhile human being. She seemed to know the perfect balance of just listening and having the right words. I really learned that midwife is just another word for angel. Because she really is someone pretty special.

And then I gave birth, and our visits had to stop. She had to continue on serving other mothers.

But again, there was a comfort about it all. It wasn't going to be my last rodeo. I would have another baby eventually, and I would see her again.

But this time, it is different. Eleven days ago, I gave birth to my third and last baby.

And I miss my midwife.