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Our Birth Story

Update: edited for formatting and to add Baby2’s birth stats and some more details. Never too soon to chalk that up to mama brain, right?

First, thank you everyone for your comments on my last post! My heart swelled with your kind words and well wishes. Each one made our day that much more special. Thank you for keeping me in your thoughts as we awaited the birth of our daughter!

And oh my, what a birth it was.

First, let’s go back to Tuesday’s midwife appointment (which I wrote about Tuesday night but had scheduled to post Wednesday morning, which just happened to be hours after our delivery!). She said that, based on Baby2’s positioning, my labor would likely start with my water breaking and then be intense and quick.

Oh my goodness she was so freaking right.

It started early on Wednesday, July 19th. I woke up to go to the bathroom a little after 4:30 AM, which is very normal for me lately. I went back to bed and tried to fall asleep, but I couldn’t (which had been normal for the last couple weeks).

Suddenly I heard The Pop. The Pop I had read about in other birth stories. The Pop of my water breaking. I thought, nah, that probably wasn’t it, but seconds later I felt a trickle of warm fluid. I ran to the bathroom to avoid soiling the sheets (and I totally made it down the hall and to the toilet without leaking! Score!). After I drained for a bit, I went back to bed to rest before things got going.

Mr. Handsome had just woken up a few minutes ago, but I didn’t tell him my water had broken until I had the first contraction. I quickly had three contractions in less than 10 minutes. Mr. Handsome could hear me breathing through them and asked if it was time to go. The clock said 5 AM and I realized things were happening fast. Time to pack up Kiddo1 and get going.

I got dressed and went to the bathroom a couple more times. The contractions were already super intense and I had to vocalize through them. I knew I needed some food in me, so I went to scramble some eggs (it seemed totally sane at the time!). Kiddo1 got ready with a quickness (luckily his bag was already packed and in the car!). He found me in the kitchen hunched over the counter, trying so hard not to scare him with my moaning, but probably failing.

I finished making my eggs and had to ask Mr. Handsome for a to-go container. I was already so out-of-it I couldn’t find the containers that I had reached for every morning to pack up my eggs for work. Yikes. I remember the next contraction dropped me to the floor and I pounded my fist and yelled out. Yelled. Loud. I felt the sensation of pushing. And I didn’t fight it, I pushed with each contraction from then on out.

Mr. Handsome moved with lighting speed after that! We piled in the car and took off for Kiddo1’s friend’s family’s house who, luckily, had answered the phone and agreed to take our child and lives about a minute down the street from us. We are forever in their debt for responding so quickly and keeping our son safe and occupied!

We dropped him off fast and headed toward the hospital. It was about 5:45. Mr. Handsome was so amazing. As I was somehow knelt on all fours in the third-row seat of our van (one leg on the bench seat, one leg on the floor, head toward the window grasping the seat belt and pulling on it with each contraction) he was driving us the six miles to the hospital. He asked if I wanted to stop at the hospital-affiliated clinic that is on the way. I told him to just keep going to the hospital (the clinic was probably closed anyway). The contractions still made me push, but they had slowed down. Because of that, I knew this was happening. Now.

We arrived at the hospital just before 6 – Mr. Handsome got us there in 10 flat minutes which was amazing! He later told me he ran three red lights to do it, but I was so grateful that he did! As we pulled up a contraction was starting. I finished it and we walked in together from the loading zone, where he left the car. I had a contraction in the lobby that I was able to stand through, as he explained to the front desk that I was indeed in labor and needed to get to labor & delivery, stat. They brought a wheelchair but there was no way I was sitting down! So they ushered us toward the elevator.

When we got to the L&D floor, I dropped to all fours again with another intense contraction while Mr. Handsome ran to find a nurse. I finished my contraction, got up and started wandering down the hall. I heard my name called behind me and saw Mr. Handsome and a nurse approaching with another wheelchair, which I refused again. The delivery room was right around the corner.

When we got in the delivery room I dropped my bag and literally crawled on to the bed. The nurse asked if she could check my cervix, but I told her she probably didn’t need to. I could feel the head crowning.

She and the staff had no idea what was coming.

I/she pulled off my underwear; my skirt and shirt were still on. My face was buried in the pillow and my butt was up in the air for all to see. Another contraction, another push. The nurse suddenly knew what was happening.

A fury of people entered the room. I heard a doctor introduce himself, who I believe I gave the thumbs up to. The midwife on call was rushing from another delivery. Another contraction, another push. More fury in the room. I heard Mr. Handsome say that we were interested in the waterbirth option (how freaking sweet is he?!) and a nurse (and I?) respond that there wasn’t time for that now!

Another contraction, and I knew this was it. I pushed hard and felt the ring of fire, so I backed off. How I was able to back off I don’t know, but I really didn’t want to tear!

Another contraction, and I pushed. I heard people tell me to push, but I didn’t need any direction. I felt her head emerge, I pushed again, I felt her shoulders. She was born at 6:13 am, less than 20 minutes after we arrived at the hospital. The midwife arrived 10 minutes later, so apologetic, but honestly, all I needed was someone to catch and I didn’t care who that was!

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
I couldn’t see her! I wanted to see but I couldn’t figure out how to flip over from my all-fours position. A nurse said something about skin-to-skin and I quickly ripped off all my clothes (that stretchy Old Navy skirt came in handy! It went right over my head). Mr. Handsome and a nurse helped me turn over and my daughter was placed on my chest. I looked at her, she was amazing. Mr. Handsome and I both said that she looks exactly like her brother did when he was born. The spitting image – it’s completely amazing! I looked at the clock and realized all that happened in about an hour and a half and my mouth fell open. Oh my goodness, what just happened?!

The cord blood donation process happened quickly. The nurses were so amazing. The placenta came out quickly and a nurse asked if we wanted a placenta tour. I declined but Mr. Handsome was all over it! He finds this birth thing just fascinating.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
The next two hours in the delivery room were a blur. Our daughter was here and she looked amazing. She came out perfectly pink, she was alert, she was completely healthy. She started to nurse about an hour after she was born and she ate for a solid hour. When she was done the nurses took her stats and APGARs (6 pounds, 8.8 ounces, 19 inches and perfect scores) then we were packed up to recovery and met more incredible nurses.

In the end, my GBS positive status didn’t matter at all. Of course I didn’t get a drop of antibiotics, but Baby2 didn’t show any signs of infection whatsoever. She did so great on all her tests that we were released a mere 30 hours after we had arrived (GBS positive births require a stay of 48 hours).

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
We’ve been home for 27 hours now and life could not be any more perfect. Mr. Handsome is my knight in shining armor, Kiddo1 is so excited and helpful, Max is slowly taking in her smell and getting used to having a new little one to watch. Our family feels so perfect. We’re all so very happy!

Babywatch Update

Still no baby and we’re two days overdue, but some progress to report. We went to the midwife on Friday – as of last Tuesday’s (7/3) appointment I was fine with not going in again, but as the days lingered on I felt like I needed to go for my own sanity.

We had to see a different midwife but she was very nice and supportive. Before going in I almost thought I’d get some lecture about how I have to be patient and what not. But there was no judging on her part, which was great!

My uterus measured at 38 cm, right on track (last Tuesday it was 37 cm). Baby2’s heartbeat was in the 130s, also very good. I asked to please be “checked” and she agreed to, although she did make sure to tell me that the results aren’t indicative of anything, really. It won’t tell me when this labor thing is going to go down. Sigh.

I was 2-3 cm dilated, 50 percent effaced and “soft and ready,” she said. She didn’t find any signs of scar tissue from my LEEP (in 2004) which is great because I was nervous about that. Also, my cervix has already moved up and away from my spine, which is great!

She also swept my membranes because I was already a bit dilated. I spotted for several hours afterward, but she said that’s probably just the rest of my mucus plug. I was pretty crampy for the rest of the day, too, but no contractions. Well, that’s a lovely paragraph to read, huh? Might as well add that I’ve finally pooped a couple times too! You’re welcome.

Physically I’m still feeling awesome, but my emotions are touch-and-go. In what seems like a split second I flip from excitement to frustration, from contentment to sorrow. Of course it’s worse when I’m not actively doing something, which makes sleep continue to be difficult. Last night I could nod off around 11:30 but I was up wide awake at 4:30 this morning. I refused to nap yesterday, thinking it would affect my nighttime sleep, but at this point I suppose it’s best to take what I can get!

On a non-baby note, I was fortunate enough to attend the wedding of one of my favorite friends last night. I said the only thing that would stop me from going would be if I was in the hospital, which I obviously wasn’t! Plus I’m still physically feeling great. And I’m so glad I got to go! It was a perfect weather day, a touching ceremony and a lovely reception complete with awesome food. And the bride was a knock-out! How did I not take a single picture?! Damn my absent mind! Anyway… Congrats Trang and Andy! Enjoy your tropical honeymoon and safe travels!!

Friday Update: Week 37

37 weeks! That’s term time! I’m feeling pretty darn good about that. As of today, I can have my waterbirth, I won’t have any restrictions if I go into labor now and the “preterm” risk factor for baby has been eliminated. Super sweet.

Speaking of baby, she’s supposedly about 19 inches long this week. Apparently a lot of things are 19 inches long but they’re all like TVs and car tires: boring. In keeping with the spirit of the (now concluded) NBA finals, I discovered this foam finger we obtained at a Phoenix Suns game is exactly 19 inches long! (We moved to the PacNW from Phoenix four years ago. We’re so lucky to live here now!)

Speaking of luck, this week I’m reflecting on how incredibly lucky I am. A year ago at this time I was frustrated with myself for not being pregnant yet. Now, I’m wrapping up my second super awesome pregnancy and I couldn’t be happier.

I’m lucky because pregnancy is fairly easy for me. I don’t intend to brag with this at all, I merley want to list all this lucky stuff for myself so when I look back I can thoroughly remember that I did have it good and I should not complain! Why complain about something we tried so hard to achieve? I mean, here I am, 37 weeks, and I’m still riding my bike around the neighborhood (not too far from home, just in case!), touching my toes during yoga, doing the downward dog, literally running across the street, getting myself out of bed on my own and driving myself to work every day. My wedding rings still fit and I can still wear some non-maternity clothes. I haven’t been sick, I haven’t felt gross, in fact I’ve felt pretty darn amazing this whole time. I sleep using only one pillow, for my head, and I sleep very well (almost too well becMy weight gain has been great, my tests have come back normal, my midwife is happy with my progress and I’ve only gone to see her once a month (next visit is in two weeks, but that should be the last one!). Overall, nothing to complain about.

Some more lucky stuff:

  • Total weight gain: 31 pounds. Three weeks to go. I totally got this.
  • Cravings: Still sweet things. Every day for lunch I eat a spinach salad (I crave those a little bit now!) but I’ve started to add a couple chocolate chip cookies to my lunch, too. Since I haven’t been eating my daily dose of Dove dark chocolates, I have to get my chocolate fix somehow. I only had one snickers blizzard this week! Major accomplishment in my self-control there.
  • Coolest symptom: This week I suddenly realized I’m having contractions (probably Braxton-Hicks, but whatever). On Tuesday I was driving in to work and noticed what I still think is baby’s head rotating a bit – it’s very low. Then my whole belly got super duper hard. I noticed it happening all day Tuesday and each day since. They don’t hurt at all, I barely notice them. I told the midwife at Tuesday’s appointment – I actually had one while we were talking. She touched my belly and said, “Yep, that’s a contraction.” Of course I didn’t have the sense to ask if she thought they were Braxton-Hicks or not, but sometimes they are accompanied by the “cervix pinches” I mentioned last week. Only thing to do is wait and see I suppose!
  • Lamest symptom: I fight the waddle so hard right now. Other than that, I’m not noticing anything in particular that is too lame this week.
  • Exercise this week (the goal is 210 minutes 180 minutes): 60 minutes of water aerobics, 120 of yoga. Just barely made it! I’m going to start doing water aerobics twice a week next week. I’d like to think that will increase my exercise time but we’ll see…

Here’s what’s new with Baby2, courtesy babycenter.com:

Your baby is now considered full term, even though your due date is three weeks away. If you go into labor now, your baby’s lungs will likely be mature enough to fully adjust to life outside the womb. (Some babies need a bit more time, though. So if you’re planning to have a repeat c-section, for example, your practitioner will schedule it for no earlier than 39 weeks unless there’s a medical reason to intervene earlier.) Your baby weighs 6 1/3 pounds and measures a bit over 19 inches, head to heel (like a stalk of Swiss chard). Many babies have a full head of hair at birth, with locks from 1/2 inch to 1 1/2 inches long. But don’t be surprised if your baby’s hair isn’t the same color as yours. Dark-haired couples are sometimes thrown for a loop when their children come out as blonds or redheads, and fair-haired couples have been surprised by an Elvis look-alike. And then, of course, some babies sport only peach fuzz.

Birth Fears, Expectations and A Plan

Apologies if you receive this post twice. It posted this morning before I was quite ready – oops! I added some things, but didn’t take away anything. Blog burp!

Apparently birth plans have become a controversial subject. Some of the books I’ve read completely support them (like Natural Hospital Birth) and some have basically said, “What’s the point?” (like Birthing From Within). I like to be a bit prepared AND our midwife recommends covering some basics in a written plan, such as if we want to breastfeed and how we want Vitamin K delivered (there are several options these days!).

I really liked the strategy suggested in Natural Hospital Birth about having three birth plans (fantasy, reality, abridged hospital version). I’m going to just stick with two, though: one that gets Mr. Handsome and I on the same page and one written version for the hospital staff to keep on file.

Before I get to our expectations for this birth, though, I thought I’d “talk” out some of my fears about birth. First off, I feel a thousand times better about this impending birth than I did in the weeks leading up to my first birth with Kiddo1. Nine years ago I was freaked out beyond comprehension! All I could focus on was how much it was going to hurt. Because of this, my birth plan was basically, “Give me the epidural as soon as humanly possible.” (Actually, my birth plan was pretty hilarious with lots of unnecessary stuff like, “I would like dim lights and soft music.” My OB even laughed at me a little bit.)

Nine years later (haha, had to sneak that in!), I don’t really fear pain. Having made it through a birth before, I know more of what to expect which helps me feel way, WAY more comfortable. I believe that I have the power to make it through this time. I believe this because my last labor was assisted with Pitocin, making the contractions way more frequent and intense. Also, I made it to 9 cm before getting the epidural, so I know I can push (haha, pun intended) just past that mark this time. I also believe that the pushing phase will go faster because I’ll be able to feel what’s going on (I didn’t have any feeling whatsoever last time).

Despite the increased level of comfort and knowledge this time around, I still have fears. I fear that I won’t be in control. I fear that my wishes won’t be followed because I won’t be able to make them known. I fear the “fog of labor” which will impair my ability to communicate.

I know I can alleviate my fear, though. I can talk to Mr. Handsome, in depth, about my desires and his expectations. I know that Mr. Handsome will be a great supporter and will fulfill every need I have. He did an amazing job last time without any real direction from me whatsoever. I need to give up my need for control and allow him to take over. I need to trust him to do what’s best for me. I recognize that my fear lies with my own willingness to let go, not his capability to do what I need.

So what are my own expectations then? Well, I need to make myself move around, change positions, etc, but I expect myself to get lazy and fight that a bit (last time all I wanted to do was lay on my side and cry/scream). So I’ve asked Mr. Handsome to keep me moving. I want to get in the birth pool, but I don’t know when I’ll be ready for it. I’ve told Mr. Handsome that the pool should be filled when I’m able to get in (5-6 cm) but I may not want to get in right away.

As for everything else, I’m trying to just keep an open mind and not expect too much. I have ideas for birth positions but I don’t know which one I’ll like or will work best in the moment. I want to try to remain as relaxed as possible about the whole thing. We’ll see how that goes!

I’m keeping myself sane and giving myself license to relax because we have a birth plan. The hospital philosophies very much align with what I’m wanting, so my birth plan should cover any lingering questions the staff has. Also, I’ve been reading up on tips for the hospital birth plan. Here’s a couple things I’ve learned:

  • Keep it short. Nobody has time to read a twelve-page treatise – it’s more likely that things will get overlooked this way, too. But a short, well-organized plan will allow the staff to follow your wishes more closely.
  • Be nice! A negative plan that says “I don’t want this” and “I don’t want that” feels very, well, negative to the staff. Frame desires in a positive manner: instead of “I don’t want to be confined to a bed,” state, “I would like to be as mobile as possible during labor.” (There are a couple exceptions that our midwife told us to specifically add, such as declining an IV/hep lock and eye ointment.)
  • Don’t belittle the staff. Don’t tell them how to do their jobs.
  • Avoid ambiguous statements such as “I prefer” or “If necessary.” Be assertive! But still nice.
  • Customize it! Don’t just take one of those “form plans” off the internet and check some boxes and call it good. Really think about what you want, what is necessary to ask for and what your priorities are.

So here it is, the Hospital Birth Plan:

  • During labor:
    • I would like to be as mobile as possible.
    • I would like to avoid pain medication. Please do not ask about pain levels.
    • I would like to enter the birth pool when appropriate.
  • During delivery:
    • I would like to give birth in water.
    • I would like my husband to be in the pool, “catch” our baby and bring her to the surface.
  • Immediately after delivery:
    • I would like to donate cord blood and preserve the placenta (for encapsulation).
    • I would like to exclusively breast feed.
  • Infant care:
    • We prefer a family practice consult to evaluate our baby post-delivery.
    • Please administer Vitamin K via injection.
    • Please do not provide eye ointment.
    • We would like the Hepatitis B immunization. We were immunized for Whooping Cough (TDap) at 36 weeks gestation.

I think we’re ready for this. Mr. Handsome and I have talked about it (and will probably continue to talk about it here and there). We have everything written down. All the reading I’ve done has mentally prepared me very well. Now we just have to get down the aisle, so to speak.

To Do List: Mid-Third Trimester Update

We passed the “mid-third tri” mark two weeks ago, but better late than never, right? Obviously I’ve been procrastinating as I knock out some of the more fun tasks of nursery decoration. But normal things must get done nonetheless!
 
As I look at this list now, which I created way back in December, I remind myself that sometimes I add things to lists just for the sake of adding things to a list. Some of these tasks aren’t really do-or-die, you know?
 
Anyway, let’s review what’s been done and what I have four (or less?!) short weeks to accomplish…
 
A recap of the First Trimester list, all complete:
  • Research hospitals and choose a midwife, with birth plan in mind COMPLETE, and I’ll post about it in a couple weeks once my regular appointments begin (I finally posted about group appointments just a few weeks ago.)
  • Start a pregnancy journal STARTED, and this Sunday I’ll post about the journal I selected
  • Start a photo journal STARTED
  • Find a social pregnancy group FORMED MY OWN
  • Download pregnancy apps for iphone DOWNLOADED (three!)
  • Schedule first appointment/ultrasound FINISHED
  • Write down questions for midwife QUESTIONS ASKED AND ANSWERED
  • Get on a kegel schedule SQUEEZING CONTINUES FROM TTC
  • Get on an exercise schedule (cardio) COMPLETE (although I’m struggling to stick to it, but I cardio it up when I can)
  • Plan meals/eat well A WORK IN PROGRESS (but I’ve made vast improvements over my pre-pregnancy habits)
  • Start a blog COMPLETE!
  • Decide whether or not to do the NT scan COMPLETE (and we declined)
  • Find some books about the next few months/year COMPLETE (and book reviews will begin on Sunday)
  • Start a name list BEGUN

The Second Trimester list:

  • Budget evaluation (let’s make adjustments now where needed) COMPLETE, plus we figured out how much money we need to save between now and July so we can pay hospital bills and make up for my company’s disappointing maternity policy (see below) so that I can take at least 10 weeks off work.
  • More diverse exercises (yoga, swimming) STARTED, I love prenatal yoga and I love water aerobics!
  • Research childbirth class and sign up – We’re being major rebels here and opting out of a class entirely. We’re reading so many dang books and we’ve been through this before. I understand that a class would help, but I see it more as icing on the cake than a fundamental piece of the puzzle. Controversial!
  • Evaluate maternity wardrobe COMPLETE and I think I’m set for a least another couple months. I’m only nervous about the last month or so because I know I’ll be absolutely huge then.
  • Prevent stretch marks PREVENTING AS BEST I CAN
  • Check out classes such as bf, baby wearing, cloth diapering, etc. – Cloth diapering COMPLETE, breastfeeding and baby wearing classes are coming up in late May (we’ll miss the April classes, sad face). Update: we had to miss the May classes too, so I’m hoping the June classes will fit our schedules!
  • Brush up my knit and crochet skills and start some projects STARTED some ideas. Projects pending. Currently they’ve been tabled due to all the nursery prep I’ve been doing; I didn’t anticipate getting into it so much!
  • Research maternity leave policy COMPLETE but the policy is pretty disappointing. I get six weeks paid 100%. I could get up to 13 weeks paid but I’d have to have a medical excuse. Lame! I’m going to take 10 weeks regardless, though.
  • Dog training (stop jumping, door management) STARTED, Max is getting used to going to his crate when the doorbell rings (his crate is right by the door) but we do need to work on his responsiveness to “come.” It’s a safety thing at this point.
  • Learn the sex of our baby! GIRL!
  • Doula? COMPLETE; we had a lot of good conversations about this and how we both felt about what we need and want. Ultimately we’ve decided not to use a doula. Mr. Handsome is an amazing coach and I am a very independent personality. I know we’ll have to be our own advocates in the hospital this way, but we know what we want and don’t want and aren’t afraid to ask for it.
  • Register COMPLETE! We’re on Target and Amazon to appease our families, which are all out-of-state.
  • Nursery Ideas COMPLETE, projects started and quickly snowballing out of control.
  • Living Will IN PROGRESS! I’m so glad we got started. We outlined our final wills, we just have to fill in Baby2’s name and birthdate, once we have those, finalize who our executors will be if we’re both deceased (is it okay to use the guardian we’ve selected as executor, too?) and get a witness, sign and notarize. Then we need to start the living wills, too. Progress!
On to the Third Trimester list:
  • Finalize birth plan
  • Hospital tour, preregister COMPLETE! We took the tour on Tuesday and completed our waterbirth class the week before. We’ll fill out preregistration paperwork at our next group appointment on Tuesday.
  • Plan for when labor starts How much can you plan for this, really? Hopefully I’m out of work by then, but if I’m not I need to just get out of there as soon as I can as I’ll likely be driving myself 15 miles back home.
  • Plan for Kiddo1 and Max while we’re at the hospital
  • Find out what the grandparents’ travel plans are COMPLETE! My parents arrive July 18th and it looks like Mr. Handsome’s have delayed until the 23rd (the day my parents leave) because his two older brothers will be coming then as well. I’m looking at, like, three solid weeks of family time.
  • Baby Gear, clothes COMPLETE! We’re covered for cloth diapers, that’s for sure! I’m not too worried about newborn-sized clothes because it’ll be hot so she’ll probably hang in diapers, light t-shirts and swaddle blankets for awhile. We’ve got our essential gear covered, too – car seat, crib, changing table (dresser), etc. I think we’re ready in this department!
  • Baby book I’m struggling finding one – I have too many requirements! When I find it I’ll review it. You can be sure about that!
  • Decide if we want pregnancy photos We’re not taking any official photos for a couple reasons, mostly because we didn’t take any with my first pregnancy and I don’t want Kiddo1 to think that pregnancy was any less important. Also, we’ve been taking a lot of just regular pictures now that we’re out and about in the fabulous weather. I don’t think we’re really missing out on anything. I do want to take a bunch of nice family pictures once Baby2 arrives though!
  • Fill out cord blood donation paperwork/register COMPLETE! The paperwork came in the mail the other day and we turned it in at the hospital when we went on the tour.
  • Install car seat We need to do this this weekend I think.
  • Pediatrician COMPLETE! We have a pediatrician for Kiddo1, of course, but I haven’t been all that impressed lately. I found a new one who has great reviews and is pretty close to us. I’m excited to meet her!
  • Make some frozen dinners Eh, whatever.
  • Wash baby clothes, blankets/sheets, prep diapers IN PROGRESS; I have put my cotton prefolds through a couple loads already (they say you should wash your natural fibers five or more times, with drying each time, before you use them for maximum fluffiness and absorbency). I’ll do a couple more loads today and a load of newborn clothes too. The blankets that we have are washed and ready.
  • Set up nursery/baby spaces COMPLETE!
  • Prep Kiddo1 for “culture shift” We’ve been talking him up about all the changes and I think he’s ready. We won’t know for sure until it happens but I’m confident. We ran into his second grade teacher last week and she just gushed about how great of a big brother he’s going to be. I agree – he’s going to be awesome.
  • Plan baby welcoming party for mid-August Looks like this is still the plan. We have to decide it we want it at our house/backyard or out in a nearby park. I can see the benefits of both and I’m having a very difficult time making solid decisions lately. Luckily this one doesn’t have to get done until after Baby2’s arrival.
  • Research c-sections and inductions, just in case COMPLETE and I’m ready to deviate from my birth plan if needed (but I don’t want to!)
  • Birth announcement (email, mail?) COMPLETE! We’ll send formal announcements to family while friends will get the typical Facebook update. I’ve already got the design queued up I just need a picture and some stats for our little girl!
  • Familiarize myself with contraction-timing apps
  • Pack hospital bag
  • Trial run to hospital COMPLETE! Mr. Handsome has got it down – stay left, follow the hospital signs and turn left at the gas station!
  • Clean house/have cleaned SCHEDULED! I found a couple Groupon-type deals so we’ll have the house cleaned and carpets shampooed in early July and then a cleaning again the day before our families arrive. They’re going to do our windows too! I’m so excited!

Group Appointments and Interventions

Mr. Handsome and I have taken the group appointments route for maternity care. We see a midwife along with five to seven other couples in one visit. It sounds a little strange, and we had some reservations at first, but now that we’ve had three appointments I’ve started to really enjoy and even look forward to them.

There are pros and cons to this style of care, of course. The biggest con is that the appointments take two hours (or more) where regular non-group appointments can be as short as 20 minutes. We can’t bring Kiddo1 with us so we have to ask someone to watch him for about three hours (with travel time).

However, a lot gets discussed during those two hours. Every session has had a focus. During the second session we focused a lot on nutrition. I learned a little too much about how many calories and carbs are in my favorite foods. We were all advised to keep our carbs to 30 grams per meal (three meals a day) and 15 per snack (two snacks a day) – that’s only 120 grams of carbs per day which may sound like a lot but when you realize your favorite bagel has 65 grams of carbs… it’s sobering. Even to a person who is stone-cold sober, like the pregnant.

Another con would be that there isn’t a lot of privacy when it comes to discussions (the part during which the belly is measured, heart rate monitored, etc is done in privacy). But, honestly, the fact is that we (the couples) don’t know each other and don’t know each others’ friends so what are we going to say about each other? We might as well commiserate on the what’s what. Plus, once we get going, things start to come out and we begin identifying with each other really well. It just takes a bit to get comfortable and get things rolling.

So other than great discussion and comradery, the main pro is that you don’t have to go through the same crap that you do during an OB appointment. I hear ladies in my mom’s group complain about how their OBs spend more time reading their chart than listening to them, that there isn’t time to bring up their questions or really get to the root of their concerns, that they analyze their urine sample more than their simple “symptoms” like leg cramps, indigestion, etc, which I’ve learned in my group appointments can be indicative of or adjusted by diet, exercise or vitamins. Simple fixes to annoying problems, which an OB usually doesn’t bring up.

I don’t mean to bad-mouth OBs at all. There are a lot of good ones out there. I’m simply reacting to feedback from fellow pregnants. The OB I had with my first pregnancy was great and a good listener, but this experience with the midwives is SO much more fulfilling.

I wanted to write about these group appointments today because during last night’s session we talked a little about our fears about childbirth (which I’ll write about more specifically in a later post). Our questions, however, led to a much larger discussion/overview of hospital policies.

I admit, after reading Natural Hospital Birth I started to focus my fears a lot on how the hospital could screw up my birth experience… After last night’s appointment I feel a lot better. The policies of the midwives very much align with my expectations and desires for this birth. This is why I chose this hospital and group of midwives, after all, so I shouldn’t be surprised!

The “24-hour countdown” of labor-to-delivery isn’t nearly as rigid with the midwives. They’ll pretty much let you take your time, but they say do yourself a favor and labor as much as you can at home (which won’t count on the clock). They only want to see you if your water breaks early AND there’s a risk factor (such as colored fluid or you tested positive for Group B Strep, the latter will cause a need for antibiotics via IV). Also, eating and drinking during labor is encouraged by the midwives but the OB-side of the hospital strictly prohibits it (the midwives will cut you off if you have Pitocin or an Epidural, though). Speaking of Pitocin, the midwives discourage it, which I am delighted to hear! Fetal monitoring is done via a doppler-like device and it is not constant, so it’s as non-invasive as possible. It still has to be done, but intermittently. As soon as you arrive at the hospital you are monitored for 30 minutes continuously so they can get a good idea of how the baby is doing. Then doppler monitoring will occur for about a minute every 30 minutes or so. For a hospital, that’s really not so bad.

We also talked about all the post-birth procedures that are generally required at most hospitals but are elective at the university. First off, as soon as baby is born she is placed on your chest and you are encouraged to breast feed within the first hour. All baby check-ups can take place right there on your chest. They even prefer to administer the vitamin K shot while you’re breast feeding (it distracts the baby from the shot). You can forgo the baby’s vitamin K if you want, or choose a gradual method instead of the shot (I think we’ll just get it over with with the shot though). You can decline the eye ointment if there’s no risk of infection. If your pediatrician is not affiliated with the hospital you can choose from a pediatric or family practice consult – the midwives recommend the family practice because they are “a lot more flexible” than the peds and will require a lot less monitoring if the birth was healthy and there’s no risk of infection. All this sounds great to me!

I got some great news on my stats, too:

  • I only gained three pounds since the last visit, which is consistent with my home-based weight check-ins. The midwife is happy with my weight gain, diet and exercise.
  • My fundal height (uterus size) is 32 cm which is also right on target. Baby’s heartbeat is an excellent 140 bpm.
  • My blood pressure is 118/70, most excellent. Apparently I am quite calm.
  • My glucose test (which I really tried to reject but apparently this midwife’s study focus is gestational diabetes so there was no getting out of it) showed my blood sugar level at 53 which the student midwife said is the lowest she’s ever seen. Not dangerously low, but low enough that – get this, GET THIS – the midwife says I have (basically) free reign on eating carbs and sugar. I CAN EAT CARBS AND SUGAR! I will still keep this manageable but I won’t be as restrictive as I have been. For example, that night I ate a sensible chicken dinner. And a cheese roll. … And some ice cream.
  • Baby is positioned the same as our last appointment – head down, butt on the right and feet to the left. She is awesome. Stay in that position baby! The midwife says it’s the best position for an easy, quick birth. Fingers crossed!

We have only two more appointments left until the due date! One in late June and one in early July. Unless a complication arises that’s all we’ll have to do! No weekly appointments, no constant check-ins. I’m loving the midwives at my hospital!

Book Review: The Waterbirth Book

As you may know, I’m very interested in pursuing a waterbirth so, naturally, I’m reading up about it in order to prepare myself and Mr. Handsome.

The first book I read, Choosing Waterbirth, was a great primer and helped prepare the emotional side of my brain for this experience. This next book, however, took my preparation to a whole new level.

PhotobucketMuch like her book Active Birth, The Waterbirth Book, by Janet Balaskas, is a comprehensive account of every detail of waterbirth that I could possible thing of, and then some.

Ms. Balaskas not only goes over a brief history of waterbirth, cultural uses of water during birth and pain management using water, but she also walks the reader through every stage of water labor and delivery. Any question that was lingering in my mind after reading Choosing Waterbirth has now been answered. Now I’m only left with a list of questions for the hospital about their policies. And an incredible excitement for what we could experience with this birth plan!

Here are some of my questions for the hospital after reading this book:

  • When do you fill up the pool? When we call to say we’re coming in (based on our assumed progress/timing of contractions)? When we get there and progress has been assessed?
  • How long does it take to fill the pool? How is water temperature regulated?
  • What does the pool look like/what is it made of? (Based on photos I’ve seen, our hospital uses inflatable pools that look about 5-6′ in diameter and maybe 2-1/3′ tall.)
  • At what point during labor is the appropriate time to get in the pool? (The book says 5-6 cm dilated, before transition.) Is there a point at which “the window closes” and it’s too late to get in?
  • What things would cause you to ask a woman to leave the pool?
  • How do you manage fetal monitoring? How often do you monitor?
  • Are partners allowed in the pool? During all stages?
  • Is there a time limit for being in the pool? (This book states most births occur within 3-4 hours of getting in the pool.)
  • Can the entire third stage (birth of the placenta) be done in the water or is it preferable that this is done on dry land? Will cord blood banking be effected? (We’re donating to a public bank.)
  • Finally, the big one, will you let Mr. Handsome “catch” and bring our baby up to the surface?!

See, Ms. Balaskas gives you a whole lot of ammo to make sure you’re fully comfortable with hospital policies regarding waterbirth. I’m totally going to rock our class (coming up in June).

There’s also some great tidbits in here from Active Birth; not so much from a physioloical perspective, more like the reiteration that movement and staying upright is helpful whether on “dry land” or in the water. She also points out that the pool actually facilitates movement as you’re less inclined to get into bed and have greater freedom of motion (one of the birth story quotes talked about being able to move quickly from an all-fours position to a squat which is quite a feat on dry land). Plus you’re in your own little bubble where you can be free to concentrate inward which is a major bonus for me.

Choosing Waterbirth was a great book but there’s nothing in it that The Waterbirth Book doesn’t have, plus it has a whole lot more. If you can only read one book about waterbirth, make it this one by Janet Balaskas!