Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Benefits of Massage During Labor

I have never had a Cesarean so while I can't share in the Cesarean Awareness Month personally, I can attest to the benefits of massage during labor. I believe massage during labor shortened the duration of my last two deliveries and definitely helped me deal with the pain. Perhaps this information will save at least one woman from enduring an unnecessary Cesarean.

During my labor with Madilyn, one of my very best friends attended the birth to help me deal with the pain. She is a Licensed Massage Therapist who owns her very own Massage studio where she and her colleagues specialize in Therapeutic Massage. She arrived at the hospital before my labor began (I was induced). Once in the throes of labor though, her touch was so strong and steady that the pain of each contraction was greatly diminished. She eased my contracting muscles and knew all the right places to touch to alleviate the pains in my uterus. It amazed me then as much as it amazes me now that her touch on my lower back helped ease pain in my pelvic region. But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. Imagine having a horrendous headache then falling down a few stairs in your house, bumping your funny bone on the way down. You’re not thinking about your headache anymore, you’re thinking about your funny bone’s aching and shooting pain up and down your arm.

The same is true during labor. Heating pads, therapeutic touch, and proper positioning can help with pain during labor, resulting in a natural, drug-free experience that is surprisingly devoid of intense pain. The reason that massage during labor is so effective at reducing pain, is due to the “Gate Control Theory”. This theory is based on research that your brain can only process so many signals at one time. Add two or more sensory aids to labor, and pain is greatly reduced.

Research suggests that massage during the early stages of labor helps a laboring woman save her energy for the more difficult active labor. The stress hormone, Adrenaline has been shown to reduce the effectiveness of Oxytocin, the hormone that causes labor to begin and progress. When massage is employed during labor, adrenaline is greatly reduced and Oxytocin is able to flow, causing labor to progress naturally and quickly.

It is no secret that massage loosens muscles. The same is true during labor. Massage loosens the pelvis, allowing it to open up in anticipation of the baby descending into the birth canal. It can also reduce the severity of contractions. While still having contractions, the pain is greatly reduced, allowing your uterus to relax naturally which aids in a much quicker labor. My own massage during labor experiences resulted in a 75 minute labor and a 55 minute labor (this is no exaggeration, and these figures are from first contraction to birth) where my uterus did ALL of the work of pushing my children out of the birth canal. I didn’t have to actively push one single time. I fully believe it was partially because of the massage I received while in labor. My uterus was relaxed and free to do what it was meant to do.

I know of many women who plan on having a drug-free birth but then are unable to withstand the pain of labor. I fully believe that if these women had employed alternate methods of dealing with pain such as massage, heat, water, or a change of position, they would have successfully been able to deliver without medical aids.

Epidurals not only slow labor in a woman who is laboring normally without problems such as high blood pressure, they pose significant risks to mother and child. While I respect every woman’s right to choose the way that she gives birth, I think women often jump too quickly at an epidural before allowing their bodies to prove that they can not only handle the pain of childbirth, but that they can work more effectively without pain medication.

Along with massage during labor, I employed The Mongan Method of Hyphobirthing. This method utilizes deep breathing and visualization of your uterus as a ribbon, loosening (not tightening) during each “contraction”, or surge. Fear of pain actually does a disservice to laboring women. It causes your muscles to tense up which is completely counterproductive to what your uterus is ultimately trying to achieve. When you focus on something other than the pain, your uterus is able to relax and not only is pain reduced but labor is allowed to progress quickly. Add massage to the breathing and visualization and your body is even that much more prepared to work properly, more efficiently, and less painfully.

Add this to your arsenal when trying to decide on whether or not to endure a pain medication free labor. It really isn’t that bad, especially when you arm yourself with knowledge and practice breathing and visualization beforehand. There really are techniques out there that help ease pain naturally. You CAN DO IT, MAMA!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Five Things that Shocked Me about Cesarean Recovery

I've said before that my cesarean was not a planned one, so to say that I had no idea of what I was getting myself into is an understatement. My learning curve after having my son was steep. Here are some of the "surprises" I encountered in both my son and my recovery that I had never read about prior to and that I don't see mentioned very often anywhere.

1. Unexpected Digestive Issues

It seems very clear to me that my son was fated to have digestive issues. He had really bad reflux until he was about six months old. He has struggled a very underdeveloped digestive system (although it has improved greatly over the past few months) and has a very acute dairy allergy. These natural digestive issues were further complicated by his cesarean birth. One of the first issues he encountered was excessive gas and spitting up developing within hours of his birth. The nurse assigned to us the first day assured me that babies born through c-section often have gas and spitting up issues the first day because when the baby is born through c-section, they are often frightened by the sudden action of the doctor pulling them out. This causes them to cry and to swallow large amounts of amniotic fluid as they are being pulled out. (Conversely, babies born vaginally often do not because of the pressure exerted when they are pushed out.) I don't know if this is true from any other sources, but as the nurse was a twenty year nursing veteran, I had no reason to doubt her expertise. I can attest, the my son was a burping/clear fluids puking machine his first twelve hours or so.

Babies born through cesareans also lack exposure to the helpful bacteria of their mother's birth canal. This bacteria is the same bacteria that should be found in any healthy digestive system, but are missing from most cesarean birthed babies. (Cesarean birthed babies have, instead, been found to have bacteria found on the skin in their digestive systems.) This lack of helpful bacteria can make foods (even breastmilk) harder for those babies to digest.

2. Extreme Cluster Feeding

It is my understanding that most babies clusterfeed to some extent especially during growth spurts or during times when there are supply issues. Cesarean birthed babies take this to the extreme with clusterfeeding sessions lasting hours on end. This happens most often on the third through fifth day after birth. I've read that this may be the babies' reaction to a slowness in the mother's milk coming in (another common side effect of a c-section is that the milk is often delayed in coming in). In my case, my milk came in only two days after my son's birth, but my son still extreme cluster fed on both the third and the fourth day after birth. The third day (the day we came home from the hospital), he fed for almost eleven hours straight from 4 in the afternoon to 3 in the morning. He slept only in four ten minute stretches that entire time. Panicked, we trolled in internet and found descriptions of this behavior and even called the hospital ward we had just left. We were assured by both sources that this is not uncommon for cesarean birthed babies. (The following night, he cluster fed for 9 hours straight; the night after that, he fed for five hours . . .after that, he stuck to two hours or less.)

3. Physical Recovery takes a lot longer than Six Weeks

Before I had my c-section, I thought that when books said there was a six week recovery time that at the end of the six weeks you would be fully recovered from your surgery. I was so wrong. Six weeks is the MINIMUM recovery time. It is basically the time your body needs to recover enough so that the incision site will not likely reopen. It takes months for your body to fully recover (at least nine months for the muscles alone to heal). It is not uncommon for the incision site to remain tender and for the muscles to ache long after those six weeks are up. Some parts of it never heal. (I have permanent numb spots along my incision site.) Most resources I have read say that to insure your body is completely healed from your surgery and give you your best chance at a VBAC, you need to wait at least TWO YEARS before conceiving another baby. Even if you do wait that long your muscles and the skin of your incision site is forever altered and my not be as elastic or as comfortable as it was during your pre-cesarean birth pregnancy. (Kayce has been very candid about some of the experiences she has had in her post cesarean pregnancies.)

4. Mental Recovery Can Take Even Longer

Some women have cesareans (expected or unexpected) and feel perfectly content with both the procedure and its aftermath. Some women are devastated by it and even suffer PTSD. Others are somewhere in between. It's impossible to know where on the spectrum you might land. Prior to going into labor, I would have told you that although I was planning a natural birth, I would be fine with a necessary cesarean. However, after my labor, I learned that wasn't true. Even though I really do think that my cesarean was necessary, it has been a huge emotional hurdle for me to recover from.

In the beginning, it was really hard to struggle with my emotions because it didn't seem like anyone around me really understood why I was struggling. I think all new mothers struggle with a version of this. Taking care of a newborn is mentally and physically exhausting and sleep deprivation is far crueler than most of us realize until we experience it firsthand. Meanwhile, it seems that everyone around you keeps cajoling you to "cherish every minute." You can start to feel you are a terrible mother just because you are crying because your breasts ache and you haven't had a two hour stretch of sleep in three weeks. For mothers who have just had cesarean surgery, you are dealing with post-partum emotions, physical demands and recovery from your labor, and intense physical recovery from a surgery. Unlike most other emergency surgeries which would result in other people tenderly attempting to take care of you, a c-section is treated almost as if it didn't happen by a lot of people because the focus is on the healthiness of the baby not the mother. Of course, every mother is delighted that her baby is healthy, but it is also perfectly normal (even healthy) for her to be aware of her own discomfort and recovery. It's also natural to go through highs and lows in your emotional recovery.

My own emotional recovery has also been impeded by what I refer to as "The Mt. Everest Syndrome." Prior to my labor, when I heard about people who made it almost to the top of Mt. Everest, but had to turn around for technical, weather, or health reasons, I never really understood why they became obsessed with trying it again. Wasn't it enough that they almost made it to the top? They made it further than most of us ever will. Why do they need to risk it again? Now, I understand perfectly well where their obsession comes from. I labored for 26 hours without pain killers. I have learned that I am a woman warrior and that I have the mental and spiritual strength to birth a child. I know what I am capable of. However, because my son got stuck, I have yet to be able to show the rest of the world what I now know about myself and that drives me mad. I have often described my c-section as "defeat snatched from the jaws of victory." I feel like an Olympic athlete whose shoelace broke causing me to trip inches from the finish line. I long to roar my child into being and to claim that victory as my own. I want to be one of those women who say with pride "I birthed my baby and now I can do anything."

5. C-Sections Introduce Troubling Doubt

The most nefarious, by far, of all the surprises I have encountered during my cesarean recovery is the introduction of doubt into all thoughts of future births. Many women who have experienced cesareans (maybe especially the women who experienced necessary ones) feel self-doubt as to whether or not their bodies will be reliable in future labors. Having been failed by your body once, it's hard to have complete faith that your body will not fail you again.

Complicating this self-doubt further is the doubt of everyone around you. A woman who is planning her first birth is told "when you go into labor" and "when you birth your child." A woman planning a VBAC is told she will have a "trial of labor" and "if you birth your child." Even those who believed in her the most during her first labor or in her labors prior to her cesarean now have cause to doubt her and her ability to birth. That can make future labor feel like an uphill battle already. In an attempt to realistically acknowledge what has been proven to be a birth possibility, support team members often feel they need to develop the repeat cesarean birthing plan alongside the VBAC trial plan. It's a little like training to run a marathon while your cheering section is gassing up the car to pick you up when you collapse. (A necessary evil, but still a gut checking one!) During my first labor, when I hit a wall during transition and said aloud that I couldn't go on, that I didn't have the strength, I was immediately assured by those around me that I could go on and that I did have strength. Now, I live in fear that if I am not in the right environment for birth, I will be believed if I utter those words again and will end up with another c-section which is something that I most assuredly do NOT want for myself or my child unless it is necessary.

You're Still A Mom - EMAB Review and Giveaway!!

Mother's Day is fast approaching, and we at Connected Mom are making this year about those that don't appear to be mothers.  Those that have lost babies, whether by miscarriage, stillbirth, or anytime after birth.  There are so many types of loss that fall into this, and this is for all of you.  I hope this brings you a little comfort, and a little bit of love, knowing you aren't alone.

(If you haven't, please go read You're Still A Mom, it opens this post better than I could today).

Earth Mama Angel Baby has been so generous and has donated two items for us to review and of which to do a giveaway.

Having just suffered our fifth loss, this product could not have come at a better time.  Earth Mama Angel Baby is a certified organic company, meeting the needs of women through pregnancy, loss, family, and beyond.  Their products are 100% toxin free, cruelty free, and completely vegan.  Even their name just fits with this years emphasis on mothers of loss.

I was given both the Healing Heart Mist and the Harmony Tea.  Both smell like heaven, and regardless of whether you need a good cry or just a few minutes to feel like yourself, they are amazing.

 The Healing Heart Mist smells just wonderful.  Whenever I feel a little down, spraying some of this perks me right up.  I feel okay, even for just a few minutes.  The spray gives me enough time to clear my head, breathe, and relax.  When you have lost a child, life goes in second and minute increments.  It takes all your energy to go from one minute to the next.  Spraying the Healing Heart Mist when things are looking particularly gloomy helps me make it through.  It helps me remember that I need just a few seconds to focus on me, to make sure I'm okay.  It helps me remember that sometimes I do need to just think about myself, and that's okay.

The Healing Heart Mist is made with water, organic olive oil, organic lime essential oil, ginger essential oil, tangerine essential oil, organic orange essential oil, and ylang ylang flower oil.  It is the perfect blend to clam, relax, and help you feel okay, even for a few seconds.

The other product is the Organic Harmony Tea.  In this box, you get 16 tea bags, ready to go.  They just need hot water and about 5-10 minutes to steep.  Even if you aren't a tea person, this blend is specifically made to help you relax and feel better.  Spray a little of the Healing Heart mist, sit with a cup of this tea, and forget the world.  Breathe, cry, feel what you need to.  The Harmony Tea made me feel more relaxed than than I had been in a long time.  There truly is nothing like sitting with a hot cup of tea, and being allowed the time alone you need.

The Harmony Tea is made with organic cinnamon bark, organic lady's mantle leaf, organic red raspberry leaf, organic nettle leaf, organic lemon balm leaf, organic ginger root, and organic alfalfa.  Everything in this tea is made to help your mine and body heal after a loss.  The cinnamon and lemon add a very wonderful taste, and the other ingredients come together to make this tea not only unique, but one of the most perfect blends for healing the body.

After suffering a loss, one of the most important things to do is remember to take care of yourself.  After mine, I have a really hard time sleeping, a really hard time eating, and I just don't want to do anything.  These two products have helped me come back to myself, even just a little, which I desperately needed.

And always always remember, regardless of your loss and whether you have other children, you are still a mother to that baby.  Nothing can ever take that away from you.  And again, always remember that you are allowed to be selfish, to take care of yourself.  No one could ever understand the loss, the emptiness, even others that have been there.  Each loss is unique, something only you understand.  Take care of yourself, and know that even if others don't understand, we are all here to help.


Earth Mama Angel Baby has also been generous enough to offer both the above products to a mother of loss in a giveaway.  This giveaway is specifically for mothers of loss, but if you know one and are willing to enter and give the item to them as a gift if they don't want to enter, that is okay.

To Enter:

     1. MANDATORY ENTRY: Please head over to Earth Mama Angel Baby's site, specifically THIS PAGE which is their baby loss items, and leave a comment letting us know which product you like, what you like about the site, or just something that hadn't known before.

     2.  There are FOUR extra entries that you can use to up your chances of winning:
    • *Like* The Connected Mom on Facebook (If you are already a liker, you can still count this as an entry)
    • *Like* Earth Mama Angel Baby on Facebook (If you are already a liker, you can still count this as an entry)
    • Follow @theconnectedmom and @EarthMamaHQ on twitter and tweet (once a day!) "I entered to win Healing Heart Mist and Harmony tea from @theconnectedmom and @EarthMamaHQ!"
    • Subscribe to The Connected Mom using Google Friend Connect (If you already follow, you can still use this as an entry)
     3.  The giveaway ends on May 10th at 11:59 pm.  The winner will be drawn at random and announced May 11th.  The winner will be posted here and contacted via email, so remember, please include your email address in the comment form.  If we do not hear back from the winner within 48 hours, a new winner will be chosen by another random draw.


ComfortBathBlossomsSeeds Of HopeHealing Hearts Baby Loss Comfort

If any of you mothers need anything, please do not hesitate to email me at  You are not alone, even though most days it feels like it.

Earth Mama Angel Baby sent me a free sample to review, I received no other compensation for this post, and the views expressed are my own.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

You're Still A Mom

As Mother's Day approaches, I have been thinking more and more about the babies I have that most people don't recognize.  I get flowers for my living daughter, but no one knows that in truth I have six babies.

When people recognize Mother's Day, they see what they want to see.  If a woman is pregnant and it is visible to all, she is a mother.  If a woman has children with her, she is a mother.

But, to me and many other women, the obvious mothers aren't the only ones that should be celebrated.

There are many mothers that need more love during this time than those with living children.  The mothers that have lost children, that appear childless, are still in fact mothers.  They deserve to be celebrated also.

Those of you that have lost children, whether through miscarriage, stillbirth, or neonatal loss, you are still in fact a mother.  No one can ever take that away from you.

Since my first loss three years ago, I have changed a lot as a person and changed what I believe about pregnancy.  I believe that regardless of gestation, a baby is a baby.  If you know you are pregnant but never really get that clear positive test, or you start bleeding within seconds of getting that test, you are a mother to that precious miracle.  If you carry that child to 8 weeks or 20 weeks or 44 weeks, you are still their mother.  If they tell you that your baby was "chemical" because you lost them before 5 weeks, you are still their mother.  If you hold your precious child in your arms or just see a few drops of blood, you are still a mother.

It hurts to be looked at with pity because you aren't getting flowers or presents, especially when people don't know or choose not to understand why your arms are empty.

You are a mother.

Just because your baby couldn't stay with you doesn't mean that you shouldn't be included.  Mother's Day was made to include and celebrate motherhood.  When we lived in smaller communities and had the support of a village, no woman was left out, even if her children weren't living.

You are a mother.  No one can take that away from you, and this Mother's Day, remember the precious baby you were given, and how you were chosen specifically for them.

Nothing can replace a mother's love, and this year, we honor you.

The Cord

We are connected,

My child and I, by

An invisible cord

Not seen by the eye.

It's not like the cord

That connects us 'til birth

This cord can't been seen

By any on Earth.

This cord does it's work

Right from the start.

It binds us together

Attached to my heart.

I know that it's there

Though no one can see

The invisible cord

From my child to me.

The strength of this cord

Is hard to describe.

It can't be destroyed

It can't be denied.

It's stronger than any cord

Man could create

It withstands the test

Can hold any weight.

And though you are gone,

Though you're not here with me,

The cord is still there

But no one can see.

It pulls at my heart

I am bruised...I am sore,

But this cord is my lifeline

As never before.

I am thankful that God

Connects us this way

A mother and child

Death can't take it away!

Author Unknown

*Check back tomorrow for a giveaway for you mothers of angels and precious blessings that left this Earth too soon*

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sick Mommy Manifesto

3am Monday morning and I am unable to get back to sleep after my son, Oliver's, regular night feed. This is odd because normally I barely wake enough to thrust my breast in the general direction of my son's rooting shadow & hope it's good enough for a decent latch.

The reason for my waking soon becomes clear. My head feels heavy, my sinuses are packed tight, my mouth is dry from breathing through it exclusively, and when I try to swallow what little moisture remains I am met with scratching protest which very nearly turns into a coughing fit that would surely wake my now re-settled toddler if I let so much as a grunt escape.

I am sick. [pout]

There are several things about parenting as my full time job that I love. I love that I can do it in sweat pants. I love that I get paid in smiles & cuddles. I love that I get to choose my own projects & spend my days experiencing the world through my child's eyes.

I DO NOT love that I don't get sick days.

Your head spins every time you stand? Too bad, toddler's climbing the bookshelf so you'd better get moving! 
You want nothing more then to lay on the couch under a pile of your own snot rags while sipping hot tea? Sorry, if you don't get up to toss your tissues & feed that baby he'll start eating the used tissues you leave laying around. 
Feel as though napping through your cold sweats & chills would make them so much more bearable? Unfortunately your little one didn't get the memo about that extra nap you would like to schedule in.

While it would be tempting to have my husband call in sick to his job to solve this predicament, the sad truth is that illness spreads, and he is more then likely going to need those sick days for himself in a couple days. So here I am, slightly delirious & a lot miserable wondering where the heck my village went to? You know, the one that supposedly raises children?

If you know this feeling. This feeling of being so sick & miserable that you are wondering how on earth you will make it through the day without straight jacketing your child & tying him to a stick in the yard, this manifesto is for you!
The Sick Mommy Manifesto
I will employ the electronic babysitter (tv) early and often without shame or guilt! Their brains will not rot completely from one day of Nick jr.

 (if applicable) I will rely heavily on breast milk to feed the child so I don't have to get up & make anything. The extra immunities are probably a good thing anyways right?

 I will complain to my twitter friend's about how crappy I feel no matter how many un-follows my whining gets me. The ones who stick around are the closest thing to that village I am going to get!

 I will bribe quiet time & cooperation with any means necessary. 'good' parenting be damned, I need rest to get better.  

 I will actually 'sleep when the baby sleeps'. I've only been giving the advice for years, it's time to start following it myself for a while.

 I will use any pity afforded me by friend's or family to have dinner & movies delivered to the door step... And maybe get that pile of laundry done. You know, the one I wouldn't have done myself even if I were feeling good. (I shouldn't need the pity! Where's my village?!)

I will not be a hero, or a martyr. I will take the drugs. I will feel better!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Completing Our Family?

Next week, my youngest child will be the same age as my second was when she was born. I find it hard to believe, because she still seems like such a baby. This milestone has brought to light an important decision that my husband and I need to make soon: whether or not to have another child.

Always before, the decision was easy. We knew we wanted at least three kids, and we would go from there. Now we have them--two boys and a girl. Each one is a blessing who adds another dimension to our family. To call our family incomplete would seem ungrateful. Still, I do not know if we are all here yet. Is it possible that I have not yet met one of the most important people in my life?

There are plenty of logical reasons for stopping now. All of our current children were born within just over three years. As they grow older, they will be able to enjoy many of the same activities. I would have more time to focus on each of my current children. We do not have an incredible amount of family support, neither for our parenting choices, nor for our decision to have more children. Frankly, I am not sure I feel like fighting through another birth for my child's and my best interest. (A homebirth could solve a lot of these problems, but there is no guarantee that I wouldn't be transferred--and the closest hospital is my worst nightmare).

Despite the logic of not having another child, my heart is pulling me in the opposite direction. As I lay here snuggling with my precious three, the love I feel for them makes me want another. It fascinates me to watch them develop, to learn more and more about the people they are. Best of all is when they interact and show their love for each other. How can I turn down the chance to experience this just one last time?

What if we decide not to have another baby? Will we look around the dining room table 20 years from now and feel like someone is missing? Or will we simply enjoy each other's company and celebrate the full life that we have lived together?

Readers, what do you think? Any insights about knowing when your family is complete?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Way Mother's Are

One of my favorite books as a child was The Way Mother's Are by Miriam Schlein. My mother read it to me often and when I became a mother, her gift to me was a copy of that book. It's a story about a kitten trying to understand the depth of his mother's love. The mother cat assures him throughout the book that she loves him unconditionally because that is "the way mother's are" I love the illustrations and as a child I felt I could relate to the kitten in the book. Sometimes I was an angel and sometimes I was a monster and my mother loved me regardless.

The book took on a whole new meaning for me when I read it as a mother instead of a child. I began to understand the moments for the mother who loved her child during the difficult times as well as the easy ones. My heart had been opened to a new kind of love and now I see the world differently. Nothing in the world can prepare a mother for that feeling. You hear about it, read about it and try to understand, but until you feel it, you never truly know the amazing love a mother has for her child.

Once you do understand the depth of a mother's love, you know you'll never be the same. My life before Lou was wonderful, but compared to now, it seems less meaningful and fulfilling. Once you've experienced the love a mother has, nothing quite compares. My son is so precious, so delicate, so beautiful and so much a part of me! He brought to life a part of my soul that I didn't know exsisted. His presence in my life completes a part of me that I didn't know was lacking. He has awakened the most precious depths of my heart. It's amazing how a tiny person can have such an enormous impact.

This indescribable love is what fuels my desire to have more children. Now that I have experienced joy like no other, I want more. Trying to conceive baby #2 has been difficult. It's the hardest challenge we've had to face as a couple. It's been a rough road. I haven't been on birth control since 2009, we used a barrier method until 2010, then we weren't trying but also not preventing for several months. We finally got to the point where we have been actively TTC for the past 6 months. I was just certain we'd have a baby by now. But life never seems to work out the way you plan.

I was upset about not being able to achieve a pregnancy for a while, but then once day I woke up and realized that a lot of other people are in a similar situation. Instead of silently fretting over my own TTC woes, I decided to be open about it. That decision has definitely been a double-edged sword. I have received a lot of "just relax" advice, which can be annoying. (If relaxing worked, I would have been pregnant a year ago.) I have also received a lot of support and encouragement. I am OK with talking about my conception goals. I have found that being open about it has improved my attitude. I originally thought it would be difficult to share something personal like this. I didn't want people to anticipate and expect a pregnancy announcement. That would do nothing but add stress to the situation. I was happy to discover the opposite to be true. I have received lots of support and encouragement. People don't ask me anymore when we are going to have another baby. That part has been especially nice. My family and friends know that when I have an announcement to make, I will make it.

Trying for our second child has been rough at times, but being open about my experiences has helped. I have been able to connect with some amazing women going through similar experiences. I have recieved encouragement from family and friends. I have drawn closer to my husband, and I know that when I am finally blessed with another child, the love I have for my son will expand into something amazing that I can only begin to imagine.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Today I Ate A Rainbow Giveaway Winner!

And the winner is... #19 - Rachel Lyn!  You didn't have your email on there, so please, email me at within 48 HOURS to claim your prize or we will draw a new winner.

Thank you all that entered, and congrats to the winner! :)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My Cesarean Story

This is the story of my daughter's birth.  The easy pregnancy turned rough, an unnecessary procedure turned emergency cesarean.  I decided to rewrite it for Cesarean Awareness month and give it a fresh perspective, with all the emotions rather than the edited down version I normally write.
My pregnancy with my daughter was easy.  We tried to get pregnant for three months before we got our positive, but it never felt like a long time.  From the first instant, I never had a thought that anything could go wrong or that we would lose her.  It just felt right to be pregnant.

I called the OB that my mom had when she had me, and ended up being transfered to the CNM at the hospital.  He had retired a few weeks before I got pregnant (which I am now incredibly thankful for as his name around here was "the butcher". He had an almost 70% cesarean rate) and the CNM had taken all of his clients and was getting calls that used to go to his office.

I never thought of having a midwife.  I knew that I wanted a natural birth, not because of anything I read, but because my mom labored naturally with me until she was taken for a cesarean.  I never thought that pain medication was necessary because my mom never had any.  I set up the appointment, and it was smooth sailing from there.

My family was a bit weird about my having a midwife, but when they learned I was still having the baby in the hospital, they could have cared less.

My pregnancy progressed really well.  I never gained much weight, I had hyperemesis gravidarum (severe "morning" sickness) throughout my pregnancy, but it was never bad enough to be hospitalized, and my plan was to labor without medication and for me to specifically ask for meds and my midwife to approve before I got any.  It seemed perfect.

At 35 weeks, we found out our daughter was breech.  My midwife sent me for an ultrasound to check what position she was in, how much she weighed, and how much fluid there was.  We came back from the ultrasound completely shell-shocked.  My fluid was at an 8 (10 is the lowest they want), she was said to weigh 4 lbs 3 ounces, and was Frank Breech (feet up by her head, butt in my pelvis).  I was put on instant bedrest (which I never followed) and had to have 3 ultrasounds a week followed by a non-stress test to see how she was doing.  It all seemed so unreal.

My care was transferred to an OB without my consent.  They set up a consultation with him to do an external cephalic version (where they manually turn the baby from breech to head down).  I wasn't given a choice.

They told me that we would do the version at 37 weeks 1 day.  If she turned and I didn't go into labor, they would send me home. If she didn't turn and I didn't go into labor we would try again at 39 weeks or schedule a cesarean.  And if I went into labor regardless, I would be either able to have a vaginal birth, or would be whisked for a cesarean.

The days before the version, I was secretly excited.  My mom had two cesarean sections and she was fine.  My brother and I turned out fine.  I almost hoped that I would have one so I could meet our baby and take her home.  Sometimes I think that those thoughts are what lead to my cesarean.

The day of the version came.  I had an epidural placed, an IV put in with fluid and meds to calm my uterus (I had been having braxton hicks contractions since 17 weeks), and had an ultrasound done to make sure she hadn't flipped already, though they did the ultrasound AFTER I had everything already placed.

It took them two tries to turn her.  It was more pressure than the cesarean was.  They had to lift her out of my pelvis, and the OB pushed her head while the CNM pushed her butt.  The second time she spun around beautifully, but I could barely breathe because of how hard they pushed on me.  I didn't notice that they were both sweating from pushing so hard.  They did another ultrasound to make sure she had turned, told me they were going to monitor me for a few hours to make sure she was okay, and they would check me later.

The epidural and medication made my legs spasm and I started having anxiety attacks.  I couldn't breathe and I felt like my chest was caving in on me.  I started throwing up.  About this time they noticed that I was having regular contractions and her heart would slow down during and after each one.  With some her heart beat was completely vanished.  I was given an oxygen mask, pushed onto my left side and left alone with just my husband.

The version was done at 7 am that morning, and by noon, they were getting worried about her heart rate.  I was only one centimeter dilated.  I was told they were giving me a cesarean and I didn't have to consent because before a version, you sign papers saying that you agree to a cesarean section should it become necessary.  I had to have a second dose of epidural medication, and they had to give me three times the dose because it wasn't working.

My daughter was born at 1:41pm.  It turns out that when they did the version, they pulled part of her placenta off.  I remember a lot of tugging, throwing up because of the pulling and pressure, and then just silence.

My daughter didn't cry.  A few minutes later I heard a tiny cry, and she was instantly whisked away to the level 2 NICU, and my husband with her.  Then, darkness.

I woke up in Recovery, not knowing what had happened.  I didn't believe I had a child.  I tried to ask if she was okay, but then darkness again.

My husband called everyone to tell them about our daughter.  He got to hold her and be with her.  I was alone for almost 4 hours after her birth.  One nurse brought me a really crappy Polaroid picture of her, but it was blurry and I couldn't believe it was my baby strapped to that many wires.

My husband came back and told me what she looked like, what she weighed, and how long she was.  He told me that she was on oxygen and couldn't breathe.  And the worst part is that part of me didn't care.  She wasn't my child.  She was just someone people were talking about.  Someone I hadn't met.

When she was seven or eight hours old, one of my postpartum nurses came in to see how I was and asked if I had seen my daughter yet.  I told her no and she was furious.  She told me every mother should see her child no matter the situation.  She got me into a wheelchair with my IV pole and my catheter and took me to her.

 She had hair all over her body.  She was so tiny at 5 lbs 13 oz.  They told me that she looked much earlier than a 37 weeker.  She had tubes of oxygen in her nose, an IV of sugar water to keep her nourished, a pulse oximeter to see how her oxygen levels were, and a monitor for her heart and lungs.  She had already had an X-Ray to see if she had pneumonia.  She was bruised on the entire right hand side of her body.  She had two vaccuum spots because they couldn't get her out of the tiny cesarean incision they had made with just their hands.

She didn't feel like my baby.

I was only allowed to stay with her for an hour, and had to leave her alone in the NICU.

The next day, my parents and my husband's brother, his wife, and his grandparents all came.  I got to hold her for the first time.  She didn't even make a noise.  I was told she had had another X-Ray and her oxygen levels had almost reached the maximum they were allowed to give at a Level 2 NICU.  She was so red because she was trying so hard to breathe.  The nurse only let me hold her for thirty minutes and said that I had to put her down before I hurt her more than I already had.

The next afternoon my daughter was life-flighted to a Level 3 NICU an hour away.  We followed close behind with my husband's parents.  My parents showed up at the hospital a little bit after we got there.

Instantly she looked better.  She was almost 3000 feet lower than at the old hospital, and just the shift in altitude helped her breathing.  She was still at a very high level, but things looked a lot better.

I pumped every three hours and the next morning, my milk came in with a vengeance.  In the three days I pumped at the NICU, I was able to store almost 150 ounces of milk.  The day my milk came in, she was finally able to take a little bit of it through a tube.  They slowly increased her stomach size for three days until her stomach could hold about 50ml. When she was 6 days old and finally off the oxygen, we finally figured out nursing (after she pulled out her tube in a fit).

When she was a week old, we went home with six oxygen tanks, an oximeter, and an appointment to meet with her pediatrician to decide if she was okay to come off the oxygen since we were 3000 feet higher than the NICU.

It took me a long time to feel like I was her mother.  It took me a long time to truly love her.  I didn't bond with her at all, and she just felt like some baby I was nursing.

I hated how I felt.  We tried to keep her in her crib, but I couldn't stand it and finally brought her into our bed.  I had her away from me enough in the NICU, I wanted to make sure she knew she was cared for at home.

It took me almost 18 months to write her story the first time.  Since, it has gone under many revisions, and has helped shed a lot of tears.  To this day, almost 4 years later, I regret to my very core hoping, even a little bit, that she would be born the day of the version.  I regret not researching for myself the benefits and risks of the procedure.  I regret how she was the one that was made to suffer because I didn't know that I needed to advocate for myself and not just blindly trust someone I was paying.

I still have trouble thinking about her birth.  I celebrate that she is beautiful and healthy and happy, but inside, part of me is still so angry and so depressed about what happened.

Most of me is so glad it happened, though.  If I had had a natural birth, I doubt I would have found my calling as a midwifery apprentice.  I doubt I would care as much as I do about women, pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding.  I am so happy that it happened if only so that I finally found a "job" that I am happy doing.

Since her birth, I have come to realize that I can love her with everything I have, but still hate and mourn the day she was born.  I have come to realize that it isn't about having a healthy baby, it is about having a healthy and happy mother and baby.

My cesarean was so hard in so many ways, and I am still dealing with the scars left behind.  I don't think I will ever just get over most of them.

You can be happy your child is alive and healthy and still mourn.  You can love your child and hate they day they were born.  It isn't black and white.

A healthy baby isn't all that matters.

A healthy mom, inside and out, matters just as much. 

My beautiful daughter, who made me the person I am today