Why A Birth Center and Midwife

I want to be clear first: I think modern medicine and hospitals are awesome. Seriously, they have been my good friend this pregnancy. Rehydrated me 6 times now due to hyperemesis. My son bashed his chin open a few weeks ago and the wonderful local children’s hospital glued him back together. I had repeated tonsillitis and ear infections (so bad it was damaging my immune system) in college, my amazing ENT took out my tonsils and my hospital took great care of me afterwards. Seriously, wonderful and totally awesome when you need that kind of treatment. But I don’t view a pregnancy with no major complications as a something that needs that kind of treatment.

 

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Jack was a few hours old, both of us doing good.

Jack’s birth was good. Nothing horrible happened and we were both given reasonable care. It was very standard Medical Model of Care. They followed protocol and did all they could to ensure we both were healthy and alive. I gave birth in a very busy county hospital, so some resources took longer to get. But when they did come, they tried hard to give us good care with the limited time they had. Overall, I say it was just good.

However, now that I am more educated on birth, I want better than good. I want my requests respected (within reason). I want the Midwife Model of Care this time. In a nutshell, the Midwife Model of Care believes that birth is a natural process that your body already knows how to do on its own. You just need a little guidance and enough time to relax to do it. There is still medical care offered—a midwife doesn’t just leave you alone for 40 weeks and only show up if you have a problem in labor. Standard procedures like blood tests, ultrasounds, and exams are offered. The key difference is you build a closer relationship with your midwife, so you feel comfort and trust her during the birth process.

That last part was what drew me to midwife the most. My OB with Jack was not the person who delivered him. I adored her and wish she had delivered him, but that’s not how my clinic worked. The on-call OB at the hospital at the time delivered Jack. I had no idea anything about her, only her name and that she was a doctor. I didn’t know her stance on natural childbirth practices, c-section rate, or anything else. And I had no choice but to just trust this random woman when I was the most vulnerable. It was worked out okay, but it’s not something I want to do again. There are a few things I want to avoid now that I know better.

First of all, when I got to the hospital, they did not believe me that my water actually broke. The triage nurse looked at me like I was lying…despite the fact that I was carrying a SOAKED towel between my legs. She left me standing next to the bed leaking and gave me no instructions. I had a contraction, so I leaned over the bed and set my towel on the tray. She came back in and freaked out! Threw the towel at my husband and said NO NO NO! She immediately got cleaning supplies and sanitized everything again…leaving me hunched over wanting to cry from the contraction and still no instructions. Then she left again. I just grabbed the gown on the bed, got undressed, and laid down. She came back in and asked if I was having contractions. I looked at her crazy and said yes. I told her they were 2 minutes apart and 90 seconds long. She kinda rolled her eyes. She hooked me up and looked very surprised to see I was right. Then she asked for a urine sample. I told her I did not have to pee and really needed to lay down because my contractions were coming faster. She said I had to, they needed a urine sample to admit me. So Michael helped me hobble to the bathroom. I tried, but only got a big gush of fluid. I came out and told the nurse I couldn’t. She took the cup and said fine, she will check to see if it’s actually amniotic fluid. Then she announced it indeed amniotic fluid and without saying anything else really, she checked me. I was 2 cm. I was kinda bothered that she didn’t ask first, but it got me away from her faster so I didn’t argue. She left without saying anything again and came back close to an hour later. At this point, I was starting to transition. I couldn’t talk during my contractions and was started to shake. While Michael was asking if I wanted him to sign the epidural form just in case, I started to vomit. The nurse once again couldn’t believe it so she checked me again, I was close to 5 cm. They quickly took me to my room and I was so happy to be away from that nurse. Looking back, I can understand her attitude. She had to follow the Medical Model of Care and I was not following the procedure she was set to do. I didn’t come in as a women not sure if she was in labor who had the time wait as she checked all the boxes. That being said, she did have poor bedside manner.

In my room, I was progressing so fast and was exhausted. I knew I needed an epidural to relax. They needed my blood work results before the anesthesiologist could come. One nurse really fought for me. She put a STAT order on my blood work and refreshed the screen every 5 minutes to check. Then once the results came, she called the anesthesiologist immediately. She held me while the needle went in and stroked my hair when I had contraction at the same time. So, I know nurses can be very amazing and really help you when you need it.

 

Would you keep telling this face they need to flip on their back?
Would you keep telling this face they need to flip on their back?

However, there were some other issues. She and another nurse kept insisting that I had lay on my back for continuous monitoring. I physically couldn’t. That made contractions unbearable. Plus, I knew on your back is the worst position possible for labor progression. And continuous monitoring is unnecessary if there are no complications. I did go onto my back for a bit every hour or so to check if Jack was still okay, but flipped back on my side once they said it was good. I finally asked if there a major reason why and they said no, just protocol. Then they backed off. Once again, they didn’t do anything bad really. They had a system to follow, but my body’s needs didn’t fit into it.

 

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Taken the day I posted this. The red mark is permanent. It should have been our consent to give it to him.

I pushed for 1.5 hours and Jack was stuck with his 1 head inch out. The doctor stuck an external probe on Jack’s head to check his vitals since he had been in there so long. No one said anything to Michael and I, just told me to stop pushing for a second. At the time I didn’t really realize what she was doing. He was fine so she told me to push again. In general, I have no objection to having this done. He was stuck for awhile and it was important that she made sure he wasn’t in distress. But, it left a scar on Jack’s forehead. If anyone was going to make the choice to permanently mark our child, it should have been ours. I would have totally understood if they said “I’m going to stick this on his head to check his vitals, okay?” It was not an emergency situation, no one was rushing, they did have time to ask. I resent the lack of communication and consent, not the actual procedure.

 

About this time is when I saw what the IV bag said...
About this time is when I saw what the IV bag said…

After Jack finally came out, they plopped him on my chest and encouraged me to nurse him. I vaguely remember them saying my placenta came out intact and no excessive bleeding. I thought yeah yeah, I’m trying to feed my child. Then I looked up at my IV and saw the bag said Pitocin. I really wanted to get mad. I said out loud and in my birth plan that I did not want Pitocin unless it was truly necessary. They started a bag to get my placenta out quickly and never mentioned it to me. They gave me a medication I did not consent to. If they said something like, “We would like to start Pitocin right now to get your placenta out quickly because we need to make sure you are okay before the doctor has to leave for the next delivery”, I would have totally understood and said okay. I know this is standard Medical Model of Care, but I resent not being informed of what was happening to my own body.

I was one EXHAUSTED and stressed mama, don't let the smile fool you.
I was one EXHAUSTED and stressed mama, don’t let the smile fool you.

I also hated my hospital stay. The nurses were all super busy because the ward was full. Many of my questions and requests barely got answered. Also, being woken up to be checked every few hours stressed me out beyond all belief. I was exhausted and the hospital was not restful. The second night there, Michael went to sleep in the car because he was so exhausted and had to drive us home the next day. I was alone in the room with screaming Jack and so exhausted I couldn’t even think straight. I burst into tears and was shaking. The nurse came in and said I just needed to sleep. I explained that I can’t because he won’t calm down, and you are going to come back in shortly to check us. She just shrugged and left. I know there was nothing she could do, that was not her role and she was just following the Medical Model of Care once again. But it was stressful and hard for me in that moment. It made me feel like I was already a horrible mother.

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This time around, I know what I want in my birth experience. And unless there is an emergency, I don’t want the Medical Model of Care. There are women who truly need this type of care all along (my friend who has Sickle-Cell Anemia and fought infections most of her pregnancy definitely did). So, it is wonderful this type of care exists. However, I want something different this time. I want a connection with the person I am trusting to touch me when I am the most vulnerable and help bring my child into the world. I want her to know right off the top of her head that I do not want Pitocin. I want to labor on my side without question and not have to argue for occasional monitoring. And I want to recover in a relaxed, comfortable setting with my husband and newborn. I want my provider to believe me when I say something is happening. With the Midwife Model of Care at a birthing center, I get all this. They are not crazy things to ask for at all. I want to be respected, informed, and comfortable. All medical patients deserve this, especially women who just giving birth.

I really suggest you check out Birth Without Fear. It really changed my views on birth and helped me process some of the issues I had with Jack’s birth.

Advice For My Sister-In-Law

In a few short weeks, Jack is going to have a little cousin to play with! My sister-in-law is expecting her first child, a little girl. They are going to be wonderful parents, and that little princess is going to be very well-loved by the whole family.

When I was buying presents for the baby shower a few months ago, I tried not to buy them frivolous things. Just the stuff that I didn’t even think needing before Jack was born. That got me to thinking about the stuff I wish I would have known before I had a baby. Rather than just lecture her to death over this, I’d thought I’d make a post so she can read it as she needs. And any other mom can share in the advice to.

Advice For My Sister-In-Law:

Labor and Delivery

  • Childbirth is a pain you cannot compare to anything else. I am not even going to try to explain or compare it. It’s something unique and you need to experience to understand. But the phrase hurts like a mother f**ker doesn’t even begin to explain it. And I had an epidural!
  • But you will feel like a goddess for doing it. A gross, sweaty, fat, exhausted goddess. But a goddess nonetheless! You created a life! You are superhero!!
  • Listen to your body. Trust that your body knows how to do this (because it actually does!). If something doesn’t feel right, tell someone. I did not want to lay flat on my back during labor because it didn’t feel right. So, despite the doctor insisting, I stayed on my side because Jack and I were just fine. Later on the pain was different and I wanted to be on my back, suddenly Jack started to crown. My body knew what to do and I am glad I trusted it. This also includes if something doesn’t feel right. Tell your nurse immediately if you even have the slightest bad feeling. Be your own advocate.
  • Don’t be upset if your birth plan doesn’t work out. All that matters is your baby is healthy. Vaginal unassisted, epidural, induction, planned c-section, emergency c-section—all just semantics.  I suggest having a good birth plan so you know how to be your own advocate and can make informed decisions when issue arise. My birth plan went out the window as soon as I was admitted. I just stayed focused on my baby and everything worked out fine.
  • Bring snacks for your husband. Whether your labor be quick or slow, it will be hours  before he can walk away to get food. You are really going to need his support and he is gonna need his strength to do so.
  • Bring something to pull your hair back. Hair ties, headbands, scarves or whatever. Not only will hair in your face piss you off, it might get in the way of medical procedures. I had to put my hair up for the epidural and when the they put the oxygen mask on my face.
  • Push like you have to poop. Seriously. Push like you have to take the biggest poop of your life. I did not get pushing until a nurse said this to me two hours later. Save yourself the trouble, do it from the start. And if you actually poop in the process, that’s okay. The doctors and nurses have seen it all before!
  • If there is not a medical emergency, demand skin to skin contact right away. Pop that baby out and plop it on your chest right away! It is one of the most magical moment in your life. This tiny human that you made will know who are instantly and snuggle up. This time is also important as it helps regular baby’s temperature, breathing, and heart. And encourage the needs to nurse. And if by some chance you can’t do it, have your husband do it. Tell him to take his shirt off and snuggle that baby as soon as possible. Your baby needs that comfort!
  • Try breastfeeding as soon as possible too.  Not that you can’t do it if you don’t try right away, but you will have a higher success rate the soon you try.
  • No visitors until baby and you are situated in the postpatrum room. Your needs that family bonding time. A visitor will interrupt your skin to skin contact and breastfeeding time. They will want to hold the baby and hog up this vital time. No offensive to them, I know they probably mean well, but this is not their place. The only thing that baby needs is mama and papa for the first hour or two. Everyone else can wait. And if they aren’t respecting this, call security. And I am so not kidding, they need to respect your wishes bottom line. Everyone respected this for me so there was no issue. My mom while Jack (followed by Michael) went to the nursery for testing. She helped me get situated in my postpartum room, which was a really nice bonding experience for us. Once Jack came back to me and we had a few more nursing attempts, then I invited the rest of family to come see.

Hospital Stay Advice

  • You will probably get little rest at the hospital. Between the nurses come to check on both of you and the baby wanting to nurse all the time, it’s exhausting. But try to rest as much as you can. I regret not sleeping more the first day so much. I was excited to show off my baby to everyone, despite being exhausted. Don’t be afraid to visitors out when you are ready to sleep. Like I said, they need to respect your wishes bottom line. No one was rude and stayed later than I wanted, I just should have asked them to leave sooner.
  • Going to the bathroom for the first time after birth is scary. Everything hurts down there (and if you had a c-section, the incision hurts when you walk too) and you will probably be exhausted. I’m pretty sure I looked like Bambi walking for the first time, I was so glad the nurse goes with you. The nurse will show you how to wash and clean yourself (especially if you have stitches). Take your time, listen to the instructions, and let them help you. I was still a little numb and needed my nurse to help me do everything.
  • Don’t be scared by the giant pads and mesh panties. They will probably put them on you right after birth. I was so fixated on Jack that I didn’t even notice. But I was horrified when I saw I was wearing a GIGANTIC pad. I had heard about them but they were way bigger than I Imagined. They are really more like open diapers. But once I saw how much blood had come out of me, it made sense and I got over it. And the mesh panties—they totally do not look like the ones stripper’s wear. They are more like mesh shorts. But they are soooo comfy and easy to put on. I took a few pairs with me when I left and wore them for the next few days until I was less sore and less bloated. Embrace them, they are amazing.
  • Eat everything you can. Once you relax and your appetite comes back, you are probably going to be starving. Eat all you can! Eat the food the hospital gives you. Demand your family bring you something from your favorite restaurant. Pack plenty of snacks. You just burned as many calories as a climbing a mountain. Stuff your face, you earned it! Plus proper nutrition will help you milk come in.
The Fourth Trimester (The first three months postpartum)
  • Limit visitors for the first two weeks after birth. This is my biggest regret after Jack was born. Too many came over the first few days and I got very very overwhelmed. I was beyond exhausted and ended up crying after people left one day. And Jack wasn’t happy either. He just wanted to be held by me and nurse, most visits ended with him screaming. It also interfered with us getting nursing down quickly. My advice is after immediate family has their initial meeting, close off visitation for two weeks to give everyone time to settle in.
  • Do not accept uninvited visitors. It doesn’t matter than Aunt So-and-so happens to be in town and wants to see the baby. It’s not about her! She is a grown up who will get over it and can come see the baby later. If you let her come over, I guarantee other people will think that mean it’s an open invitation for everyone to come whenever. Or they will get mad they didn’t get special treatment and cause drama. Spare yourself, you have enough to worry about. So when Auntie knocks on the door, ignore it.
  • Require people to either bring food or do a chore for you if they want to see the baby. I read this piece of advice before I gave birth and thought it was rude. How could I ask my guests to do that? After Jack was born I got it. They aren’t guest, you just had a baby and have no reason to play host to them. You are doing them a favor to see the baby, so they should be paying you back for your generosity. When they contact you about coming to visit and you approve a set time, ask them to help you by bringing food. Even if it’s just a loaf of bread or a cake. You will be so happy to eat a big piece of cake when you are nursing the next night at 2 AM. Or, ask them when they show up if they can please throw the load of laundry in the dryer while you nurse the baby first? That way the baby will be content and you will be free to chat instead of running around. Please you shouldn’t be running around, you need to recover. Your  visitors should understand that. And if they chose not to come when you ask them this, that person isn’t nice and shouldn’t be around your baby.
  • Don’t be afraid to kick visitors out. If you are tired, baby needs to nurse, or you are simply just annoyed, tell your visitors good-bye. Thank them for coming and let them wave bye to baby, then kick them out. And if they won’t leave, take the baby into another room and don’t come out until they are gone. It’s not rude, you are doing what is best for your family. It’s rude that they didn’t respect your wishes!
  • You don’t have to listen to every piece of advice. You are going to get a ton of advice. Some good, some bad. Some wanted, and some very unwanted. Listen to it, and say thanks for sharing. If you like it, give it a try. If not, forget it and never give it a second thought. This includes my advice.
  • Hold your baby, hold your baby, hold your baby!!! I know I said please to ignore advice you don’t like, but please listen to this one. You cannot spoil a baby this young. Please hold your baby all you want. Your baby only has a few needs the first few months, and your comfort is one of them. Don’t listen to people who say you should let your baby cry it out and learn to not be held. It’s horrible advice, your baby will become very stressed out and not develop properly. I also suggest babywearing, they make some very simple carriers that are easy for anyone to use. Or give woven wraps a try, I love mine.
  • You are going to get very little sleep. Between all the feedings, diaper changes, and taking care of yourself—sleep will become a luxury. And of course try to sleep when the baby sleeps, but you will probably spend it worrying the baby is breathing.
  • Breastfeeding is hard. While it is the most natural thing your body can do, it doesn’t come naturally to most women. You will need a lot of time, patience, knowledge, and support to be successful. It might hurt, your baby might gave tongue or lips ties that need to be surgically addressed, or you might have a medical reason interfering. All that being said, breastfeeding will become natural overtime. Now I can nurse Jack anywhere, anytime. I love Jack and I breastfeeding relationship, it’s such a powerful bond.
  • But don’t give up when it gets hard. But with the proper help, you CAN overcome most issues. It might not be easy and it might not be a quick fix, but keep going. I almost gave up 3 weeks in, but I turned to La Leche League’s website and gained the knowledge to overcome our struggles. Do everything possible. If one thing doesn’t work, try something else. Keep trying, you CAN do it!
  • Join La Leche League. Or some other breastfeeding support group. You don’t have to struggle alone. Do you know why the official book or La Leche is called “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding”? Because breastfeeding is an art! You need to be taught by someone with experience on how to do it and talk to your peers on how to advance your knowledge. Obstacles will come up that will blindside you, your fellow lactating mothers will talk you through it.
  • If breastfeeding doesn’t work out, that’s okay too. After you have given it your all and you realize breastfeeding just won’t work for you, it’s okay to switch to formula. Your baby will still thrive. You didn’t’ fail, you just tried something that didn’t work. All that matters is your baby is fed and happy.
  • Don’t look at the clock or follow a schedule for nursing.  “Your baby should nurse 15-20 minutes every 2-3 hours.” THIS IS THE BIGGEST LOAD OF CRAP EVER! Most babies do not nurse like this. Nurse your baby whenever they show you hunger cues (rooting, hand sucking, fussiness) and nurse them as long as they want (and you are comfortable).  The best advice I ever got was “Never unlatch a suckling baby”.  Who cares if it’s been 45 minutes, your baby needs it. Even if they are not eating that whole time, they are comfort nursing—which is just as important as eating. It stimulates your milk production and comforts your baby. However, if your baby keeps popping off after a minute or two, make sure you at least keep trying to latch your baby for 15 minutes. Likewise, if it’s been more than 4 hours without your baby nursing (like they are sleeping), latch them on and get them fed. There isn’t really a thing as too much nursing, but they can nurse too little. That’s the only time you should watch the clock.
  • Give yourself time to heal.  The first few weeks the only things you should be doing sitting on the couch nursing your baby or laying in bed nursing your baby. Nothing else. Cooking, cleaning, work, etc.—that all can wait. You are gonna be sore ALL over. You are going to be exhausted. You are going to be worried about your baby constantly. Just sit down, hold your baby, and rest.
  • Don’t worry about losing the baby weight quickly.  Odds are you will not be that one out of a million woman who looks exactly like she did before she got pregnant right after birth. But that’s okay. Just focus on caring for year newborn and healing yourself. Once you are cleared by your doctor, start taking some small steps back like walking with your baby and eating a healthy diet. It took 9 months to gain it, give yourself at least 9 months to get it off before you go crazy. I have lost all my baby weight plus 7 pounds by doing nothing but eat whatever I want within reason that is healthy, walk and nurse. And I’m only 8 months postpartum.
Other Stuff that I can’t explain, but you will understand soon enough:
  • You are going to love your husband even more now.  
  • You are going to love your mom even more now too. 
  • You are going to be a different person from now on. 
  • Your body will never be the same, but you will respect it’s power. 

Jack’s Birth Story: What To Do When Your Birth Plan Doesn’t Work Out

I was going to do update last week about how my maternity leave is going but…I had my baby!

At 39 weeks and 4 days along, bright and early in the morning, Jack made his entrance into this world. My labor and delivery did not go as I had planned, but it ended up all working out. All that matters is Jack and I are both safe and healthy. AND that my wishes were respected all along. Birth trauma is a real, serious issue. If you feel you were disrespected or even harmed during your birth, speak out and get help! Some links are listed below. I am referring to when thinks don’t go according to plan due to natural circumstances.

I had made a birth plan on babycenter.com and was pretty intent on sticking to it. I wanted to labor at home as long as possible. I wanted to try for an unmedicated, natural birth. I wanted to be free to move about and labor in any position I wanted if possible. I wanted to be able to push in any position possible too. I only wanted an episiotomy if I was not tearing cleanly. I wanted only Michael present in the delivery room and for him to cut the cord. I also wanted to breastfeed as soon as possible.
Out of that list, only the last two sentence came true.
That Monday I had been a little extra crampy. My mom said that was a good thing and her labors started that way. Random braxton-hicks would start up, then die out. Overall I knew my body was getting ready for labor but I didn’t think too much of it. I was looking for the timable contractions.
That night I was up administering Spring recruitment for my sorority online until about 11 PM. I had to sit up on the couch because my cramps bothered me more laying down. I thought about walking around the house to get them to turn into contractions, but was too exhausted. I went to bed. Oddly enough, Michael was exhausted that day too. He came home from work and took a 3 hour nap randomly. My mom joked he subconsciously knew he would be up soon to take me to the hospital.
I woke up around 1:30 AM because my cramps were suddenly horrible. Then I felt something wet, I assumed I peed a little. So I went to the bathroom and the minute I sat on the toilet a small gush of clear liquid came out. I put on a new pad and decided if I soaked the pad again quickly, it was for sure my water. I woke up Michael and as I was telling him I noticed I had already soaked the pad. So he jumped out of bed and I woke my mom to tell her we were off to the hospital. I went to the car and I started having contractions as soon as I sat down. Four minutes apart and lasting 1 minutes instantly. I slowly leaked amniotic fluid with each one too. I am so glad I grabbed a towel to sit on so I didn’t ruin my car.

We got the hospital in only 15 minutes. There is no traffic in the Bay Area at 2 AM luckily. If it had been rush hour, it could have taken an hour. Also luckily, there was no one else going into labor when I got there so I was taken back to be checked quickly.

The triage nurse had me do the standard pee in a cup, take your vitals, and get hooked up to the monitor. All while my pain is getting more and more intense, and I am leaking more and more fluid. The nurse did a swab to confirm water broke and then got the doctor. The doctor checked my cervix, I was at 2 cm. Then they told me I would be admitted shortly.

Here is where my birth plan went totally out the window. I was already in a lot of pain and knew there was no way this was going to take long. And I was still exhausted as I only had 2 hours of sleep. I also started to throw up a bit too. So when the nurse asked if I wanted to go ahead with the epidural paperwork, I instantly said yes. It took an hour get my admitting paperwork, the epidural paperwork (both of which Michael signed because I was already kind of out of it from the pain), and draw my blood. In the mean time, they gave me shot of pain medicine and Zofran for the nausea in my IV. I was very grateful to say the least.

The only labor picture I let Michael take.

The doctor came back to check me and I was now 4 cm. She quickly got me to a room since I progressed so fast. My bloodwork was still not processed yet so I still couldn’t have my epidural. I was crying for it at this point, and I mean seriously crying. I asked for another pain medicine shot since the first was wearing off, but they were having a hard time picking up Jack on the monitor. I couldn’t have another until they could track him better. They wanted me to lay on my back to pick him up better, but that was SO uncomfortable I couldn’t do it. I wanted to sit up or stand, but they said I couldn’t because of the medicine. Finally they got a good read on him and gave me another shot.

The doctors checked on me again about an hour later and I was at 6 cm already. The nurse kept refreshing her screen for my lab results so I could have my epidural. I was seriously pleading for it at this point. I am not a wimp when it comes to pain at all, but this was something different. It was happening so fast and was so intense.

Another hour went by and I suddenly felt the urge to push. The doctor came in to check me, I was at 9 cm with just a slight lip left. She let me try pushing, but it was not working. I wanted to push on my side, but the doctor said that I needed to be on my back because of the way he was positioned. But it did not help. I was too tired. I did not have the energy. I asked if I could still have the epidural and the doctor said yes. I was elated, I needed to relax and calm down before I could push effectively.

I laid back down and dealt with the contractions for like an 30 minutes. Then suddenly the nurses sat me up and said the anesthesiologist was coming right then. He was squeezing me in quickly. He did everything quickly and efficiently. He gave me only a half dose so I would still feel the pressure to push. The doctor then gave me 10 minutes for everything to kick in and for me to relax. It was a huge relief. I calmed down and actually wanted to push.

I did not get pushing right away. I was pushing into my legs. The nurses kept telling me I need to push into my butt, “Like you need to take the biggest poop of your life!” one kept saying. His head was 1/3 of the way out for the longest time. Then finally—over an hour later— I got the pushing thing right and he started coming out faster.

At this point is when I looked over at Michael. I noticed he was getting a little pale. He doesn’t do that well with blood. He had been holding my leg and encouraging me the whole time though. He was exhausted too and I think it all got to him. The nurses told him to sit down for a minute to recover.

And suddenly, they said Jack was coming out. The doctor told me to keep pushing continuously and Michael to come back over quickly. Then Jack popped out! Just like that. They cleaned his nose and mouth, then put him on my chest. I started crying, I couldn’t believe it.

I can’t even explain the joy I felt.

He was prefect. He looked just like Michael, just in like the ultrasounds. I loved him instantly.

They started a line of Pitocin (which was not on my birth plan either actually) and delivered my placenta. I tore cleanly and naturally, but the doctor did a small episiotomy to give Jack some more room. So she had to stitched me up down there, but I didn’t even notice. I was just mesmerized by Jack.

Then they sat me up a little so I could breastfeed. Jack was rooting and sucking his fist as soon they had put him on my chest so he had very little trouble latching on. Not gonna lie though, it hurt like hell and he did bruise my nipple. But I didn’t mind, I was happy to have that bonding experience.

So, am I upset that Jack came into this world totally not like I planned? No. Not at all.

It would have been nice to have followed my plan, but all I cared about was having a healthy baby. It happened so fast, I was so tired, and I was in so much pain that my plan was not practical. I am glad I made a plan though. I educated myself on giving birth and knew the options open to me. I also knew the possible procedures that could be done so I was not freaked out when they did something new (like the Pitocin).

My advice for any expecting mom is to have a birth plan so you can be your own advocate, but in the end do what your body tells you. My body said it was too tired to handle such an intense and rapid experience on its own. Don’t be upset if your birth reality doesn’t match your birth plan. Just focus on what needs to be done to have a healthy baby.

I will do a post about my postpartum recovery soon. But right now I want to go snuggle my son 🙂

Informed Birth and Birth Trauma Information:

Childbirth Class and Labor & Delivery Again

On Friday I went in for my second third trimester doctors appointment. Once again, I had lower blood pressure and a higher pulse. So my doctor decided I should go to Labor and Delivery–again–to get it checked out. Michael and I tried to say I was fine, but she insisted. She misunderstood what I was saying about feeling dizzy/faint almost everyday and thought I was having heart palpitations.

Four hours later (car crash victim came in shortly after me and I had no problem letting her go first), I was told everything was fine. Jack was prefect and I had no signs of preterm labor. My pulse was a little high, but nothing bad. And my blood pressure was lower, but not bad either. They did an EKG on me and said my heart was perfect. They gave me some juice to drink before I left, and told me to just keep my blood sugar up and relax. Dizziness is normal and as long as I am not blacking out daily, I am okay.

Even my meat-eating husband loves Veggie Grill.
Seriously go try it! source

Michael bought me a nice lunch at Veggie Grill (I am SO in love with that place, the buffalo wings and  “fish” tacos are amazing!) and then took me home to rest. We are both kind of annoyed we had to go again since we both knew Jack and I were fine, but happy to know nothing major is wrong. Just exaggerated pregnancy symptoms. At least I got yummy food 🙂

Anyways, Saturday we had an all day childbirth class. My clinic offers free classes through the counselor so I didn’t want to sign up for another class, but Michael said he wanted it. Then he was not amused when I told him the class was 9 AM to 4 PM, and the same day as Giant’s Fanfest.

The class was offered for free through my hospital and taught by an OB nurse. Not all hospital offer free classes, but most offer something so I suggest checking it out.

If you know nothing about labor and delivery, I really suggest you take any class possible. They go over stuff that is vital knowledge to ensure you deliver safely and your baby is healthy. Having a baby is scary and hard work, it’s nice to have a heads up on could/will happen. I’ll spare you from going over every boring detail, but here is some stuff I thought was really important.

  • Unless you feel something is wrong, only go to the hospital when you are in active labor. This is usually when your contractions follow the regular pattern of 4-5 minutes a part. Until then, stay at home or go about your normal day if you can.
  • If you water breaks at anytime, go immediately to the hospital. Even if your contractions are irregular and far apart.
  • When your water breaks, remember TACO: T– time it happened, A-amount that came out, C–color of the fluid, O–odor of the fluid. Remember or document this information, and tell your doctor or nurse right away.
  • Remember that as painful as contractions can be, that are only temporary and will pass. Each one increases in intensity until it reaches a peak, then tapers off.
  • Rest as much as you can in between contractions. Focus on relaxing rather than waiting for the next one.
  • During active labor, try to change positions every 30-60 minutes (unless you can’t move because you had an epidural). This will keep encouraging your body and your baby to progress.
  • Urinate as often as you can, this not only alleviates pressure but will provide your baby with more room as it drops down further.
  • Try to stay as relaxed and comfortable as possible at all times.
  • If you decide you want an epidural or a shot of narcotics for pain management, it may take awhile to actually receive it. The doctor will usually check your cervix first, then call in the order or call the anesthesiologist. Then papers need to be signed and you will need to be prepped. Keep this in mind if you are considering pain medicine.
She also had this chart of positions to try during labor. I tried to get a better picture, but the lights in the room keep causing a glare. This is the best pic I could get:

I really like the squatting and sitting positions, especially with the ball. She recommend we try these positions now, that way we can get used to them and see what we like. Some of these are yoga poses that I happen to do almost every night anyways. I really suggest everyone do Cat/Cow pose, it feels so good to stretch out your back and alleviate the pressure from your baby while your belly hangs.

We have the hospital tour, a newborn care class, and an infant CPR class in the next weeks. I am looking forward to the hospital tour the most. Even though I have been to Labor and Delivery twice now, I only went to the Triage area. I have questions about what happens when you are actually admitted. Then I will be able to finalize my birth plan too.

Anyways, here is a bump shot I took a week and half ago. Another H&M top that I am so in love with.

29 weeks.

Here are some links for more info on labor: 
Signs of Labor, American Pregnancy Association
10 Ways to Relieve Labor Pain, Fit Pregnancy
Water Breaking During Pregnancy, What to Expect
Labor Positions, Mayo Clinic

Maternity Leave Plans

Two Fridays ago I met with the real OB/GYN , not just the practitioner, because I am in my third trimester now (27 weeks at the time). She said everything is fine and Jack is doing great. Then she started going over signs of preterm labor and how I need to go straight to the hospital if I something doesn’t feel right. Then I suddenly remembered that Tuesday night I woke up feeling like I REALLY had to pee. And no matter how many times I went to the bathroom, it was not go away. Jack was still moving normally and I could tell it was only urine was coming out, not amniotic fluid(urine smells like ammonia and you can stop the flow easily, amniotic fluid usually smells sweet and cannot be stopped). I was concerned, but decided not to the hospital. It went away by noontime so I was not that worried. My doctor immediately said I should always go when I feel weird pressure. Then decided I need to have an ultrasound and a cervical checked.

She asked me to have a seat in the waiting room while they squeezed me in between other patients. Forty-five minutes later and several text from my boss wondering where I was, I was called in. Jack was fine (he was in a weird position so we didn’t get a good look at his face) and I had plenty of fluid. Then they did a vaginal ultrasound for my cervix. It was long and closed, so everything was fine. She said he was probably just sitting on my bladder that day.
However, while they were checking his anatomy, I caught phrases like, “Measuring at 29 weeks”, “About plus 2 weeks” , and “Early April.” They also asked when my due date was and if it had ever been changed. I have heard thing like this all along, even at my pregnancy confirmation ultrasound. But no one had ever actually changed my due date directly. So I asked the ultrasound tech. She said that yes, he was measuring 2 weeks ahead. But an estimated due date is based on your last period plus or minus two weeks. Since he is not off by more than two weeks, they will not officially change it.
I asked the OB/GYN when she came back in. She agreed with the ultrasound tech. She said she will not officially change my due date, but unofficially I should not be surprised if he came at 38 weeks. And to not be upset if I am told I need a c-section because he is big and I am petite.

I am already getting really uncomfortable so I would not mind at all if he came reasonably early. And as much as I want to do it all naturally, I would not be upset if I had to get a c-section. I just want a healthy baby. However, my mom said they told her the same thing and she had two healthy babies vaginally that were pretty close to the actual due dates. I am pretty much her carbon copy, so if she can do it, so can I.

source

This week I started thinking about all the stuff I need to do before Jack arrives, including finalizing maternity leave.When my husband got me a job at his work, I was 16 weeks already. My boss asked during the interview how much leave I would take and when I would take it. I told him I wanted all the 12 weeks Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles me to and I will try to work up to my due date. He said no problem. He also kept asking every once and awhile if my plans have changed once I was hired, just so he knows when to start training my replacement while I’m gone.

I realized that maybe it is for the best I start my maternity leave at 38 weeks instead of working until I go into labor. I am already pretty uncomfortable, and it’s only going to get worse. It’s probably for the best if I give myself a break. And if he does come early, I wont have to be faxing in my leave forms to work and my disability forms to the state with a screaming newborn in my arms. My mom is also coming to stay for a month around that time. We can finish getting everything ready and have some nice bonding time together.

I wish I was tough enough to be one of those women who works right up until her water breaks, but I am not. I need to do what is right for my baby and myself. Like I said, I totally would not mind–if he is ready–to come early. I am already over being pregnant and just want to kiss his sweet little face already.

And yes, I already thought about what to do if he comes late, when I would have used up several weeks of my 12 week maternity leave. I have Paid Time Off that my boss said I can use if I need to once my leave is up. I will just need to let him know two weeks before I want to take it.

source

Before you finalize or take your maternity leave, make sure you talk to your boss and HR director. Also check out FMLA. It has some very specific wording that might disqualify you if just started your job or work for a small company. It can be confusing to figure out and you might need to think about your options for awhile if you do not qualify under FMLA. And see if your state offers disability pay for pregnancy and bonding time. California offers up to 4 weeks before birth and 6 weeks after of  disability pay for mothers. Dads get 6 weeks unpaid after the birth. Both of which are beyond awesome!

Michael is going to wait to take his until after my mom leaves and might use some PTO instead. My boss approved my leave to start the Monday I am 38 weeks. All I had to do was fill out an Absence Request Form. I see my pregnancy counselor in a few days, she will help me fill out the disability forms then. And I know that 6 weeks pay will not cover the full 12 weeks I plan to take off, so we will need to plan accordingly. That is why you should start getting this stuff in order before the baby comes!

Here are some important links to help you finalize maternity leave:.
Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
California Family Rights Act (CAFRA)
Maternity Leave: The Basics, Baby Center
Maternity Leave, American Pregnancy Association

Dizziness and a Trip to the Hospital

It’s well known that pregnancy makes you constipated. Iron supplements also make you constipated. When you are constipated you don’t really want to eat much. And you get dizzy when you don’t eat much. So what do you think happens when you add being pregnant on top of all that? A lovely trip to Labor and Delivery.

Jack and I are both fine, it was just a precaution. I had a counselor appointment yesterday morning . I had a light breakfast because my stomach hurt from being constipated. I also had a light dinner the night before for the same reason. My appointment was going well when all the sudden I felt hot and dizzy (nothing new, it’s happened a bunch and it not that uncommon of a pregnancy symptom). I asked for a glass of water, but it did not improve. So the counselor altered the front desk, who much to my embarrassment called a code blue. That usually means all medical staff drop what they are doing and rush to help a critical patient. Everyone came to me instantly. They checked my blood pressure and decided to have me lay down because it was very low. They took my blood sugar next, which was low too. All my other vitals were fine though. Jack’s heart rate was fine, but the doctor urged me to go to the hospital just to be safe.

Michael luckily came with me to this appointment. The poor guy was was shoved into the hall way while they checked on me, but he quickly came in to comfort me when they finished. He brought the car the to front of the clinic and they brought me out in a wheelchair (straight through the waiting room, which was also kind of embarrassing) as a precaution.

Because I am over 20 weeks, I had to go to Labor and Delivery. They checked my vitals and compared them to ones reported earlier at the clinic. They also hooked me up to a fetal heart rate monitor and said Jack was perfectly fine. No signs of labor or distress. They determined that I had low blood sugar, causing my blood pressure to drop and made me dizzy. Plus being anemic on top of it didn’t help. They brought me juice and some snacks to munch on.  After an hour, they discharged me with orders to rest and prescription for Colace to help ease my constipation.

So what did I learn from this slightly embarrassing ordeal? I am not quiet sure. All the things they told me about  nutrition and anemia I already knew. They said it’s not my fault I am anemic, it’s a chronic condition that is being exacerbated by pregnancy. I talked to Michael about how frustrating all this is. At first I was told I was gaining too much weight so I started really watching what I ate (while still ensuring I was eating the required calories and nutrients). Now I am being told I need to eat more and more often!

People keep telling me I should eat meat, and I know they mean well, but it’s really pissing me off. I do not believe that meat is going to magically cure my anemia. It’s a chronic problem, my body does not know how to maintain iron in the long run. Not to mention I really hate the taste and texture of meat.

I admit I should being eating more frequently, and I am going to talk to my doctor about increasing my iron. But other than that, I do not think I am doing anything wrong. I eat very healthy, exercise daily, and drink tons of water.  My husband reminded me that our son is growing fine and overall my pregnancy has no major complications. Pregnant women get dizzy, they get anemic, and they need to eat more. I just need to keeping doing what my body is telling me to do and stay calm.

On the plus side, we know we can get to the hospital in 15 minutes if there is no traffic. And we know where to park and where Labor & Delivery is now.