Fox and Broom

A mom's adventures in keeping healthy, keeping her sanity, and making stuff.

Archive for the category “Pregnancy Labor”

How My Newborn Saved My Life

imageI have spent the past couple of days deciding if I really wanted to write about this. My newest birth story is a hard one. Most of the seriousness hasn’t totally hit me, yet.

My pregnancy was difficult. It started with headaches so severe and strange that my general practitioner had me get an MRI. The headaches faded away along with my morning sickness as I entered my second trimester. Things went pretty well for a little while, then as I got closer to my third trimester, I started to experience muscle and joint pain.

My midwife and I put it off as ligament pain. She did have me go in for a few extra tests and I did come back as very anemic. I started taking an iron supplement and started physical therapy in hopes of helping my poor muscles work better.

I now know that a good number of these symptoms are the lesser symptoms of something pretty serious. Well, something life-threatening, if you want to get to the bare bones of it. I just didn’t show the main symptom of high blood pressure. My bp was actually really great most of my pregnancy. Until I became anemic, then it dropped. And, along with the anemia, my heart rate rose.

My pain became so severe that I was unable to even drive my car. My ribs started popping out of joint at the slightest movements. I was forbidden to sweep or clean. We had to send my youngest son to the grandparents because I was unable to bend down to help him with anything. I had a hard time dealing with him being away from me. My in-laws asked me to stay with them. Partly because they felt bad for me being away from my kiddo and partly because they were really concerned about my health.

On the night of December 22/23, I started feeling pretty regular contractions. I finally woke up my husband at around 4:30. We got dressed, ran home, and grabbed the emergency hospital bag I had packed when I started to hurt. I was 36 weeks and 3 days, which means that I was not allowed to have a home birth.

We went to the hospital and were sent straight up to labor and delivery. My contractions were pretty light, but regular, so we were put in an exam room to determine what was going on with me. They took my blood pressure and then immediately ordered blood tests. My blood pressure had shot up.

When my results came in, my nurse came into my room and told me that both doctors wanted to talk to me and she was going to have to transfer my care to nurses who were more experienced…

The doctors came in and point blank told me that I had HELLP syndrome and preeclampsia. My blood platelet count was down to 24,000. A normal platelet count should be 150,000 to 250,000. Looking me straight in the eye, they both told me that there was a chance that I would die. The cure for HELLP and preeclampsia was to give birth as soon as possible, so I was moved to a regular room and hooked up to pitocin in an effort to really get my contractions going.

I hate pitocin. That stuff is nasty and rough. And because my platelets were so low, I was not allowed to have an epidural. I was also not even allowed to have general pain medicine such as Tylenol and Ibuprofen due to my liver and kidneys not at optimal functioning. I was given a straight drip of pitocin along with magnesium to keep me from having seizures, two bags of blood, and a bag of platelets. I had IVs in both hands. It was as if I had wings of IV drips.

The pitocin started as a low dose. They were hoping to get things going. They slowly cranked it up.

I don’t actually have much memory of the active labor. I know the nurses kept telling me not to push. I pushed anyway. I know I had the whole L & D floor running to my room and the doctor made it just in time to catch the baby. I nearly crushed the fingers of my husband and doula and I guess I was screaming because my throat hurt afterward. I like to think I roared that baby out. It was probably less dignified than that.

Thankfully, I did not tear. I did have more bleeding than normal, but it did stop. Probably due to the clotting shot I was given. I don’t remember what it was called.

And thus was Baby Max introduced to the world. He was placed immediately on me, skin to skin. And we snuggled and I weakly attempted to breastfeed him and he weakly attempted to eat. What a pair we were. I was weak from my malfunctioning blood and he was weak from coming so early.

It has been a week now and my arms still look like I was on the losing end of a fight. I am still in some muscular pain and I have discovered that I really do have to take it easy. If I try to go grocery shopping and do dishes, I am totally wiped out afterwards. I am getting better. With my last lab work, my platelets were still low, but staying steady. I get to have more lab work next week.

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I have lost a lot of weight from this pregnancy, which I think some people would think a good thing. And while I do not mind some of the weight loss, I do mind the muscle mass that I am also now missing. I can now pick up a dinner plate and a full water bottle, but it is more effort than it should be. At least I do not have the pain that I had when I attempted these tasks while pregnant.

Now, I am healing. Max is growing. We are going to be ok. I will be making sure to get back to my gym as soon as I feel able to. I plan on getting a session with a personal trainer to set me on a track to rebuild what I lost. I think I will set a goal of at least one 5K this summer or fall.

The comment that turned into a post.

This stated out as a comment on an article posted by one of my favorite blogs, Birth Without Fear. it turned into a full blown rant that deserved its own blog posting. Links will be added later when I am not on my iPad.

Most of you won’t care about this. I have found myself becoming a birthing advocate. Our country has a shameful C-section rate (approximately 30%, with one of our local hospitals, Kadlec, averaging ABOVE the national rate). Some of these are elective, and that is the parents’ choice. Some are true emergencies. Some BECAME emergencies due to what is known as the snowball effect (doctor insists on an induction – “baby is too big,” “you are two days past your due date,” “some other excuse.” Being induced is the absolutely worst pain I have ever experienced. And I have had my eyeball scraped with a razor blade. Which is also excruciating. spending two hours getting my tat felt like heaven compared to that. Being induced tends to lead to an epidural. Because it is the worst pain imaginable. Now… We have a few things that can happen at this point. I was lucky in that my body and my two older boys came through fine. What I found out later was that the pitocin can cause the baby to go into distress mode, leading to meconium in the amniotic fluid, leading to a rush into the operating room.

C-sections have become so mainstream that we don’t think of them as dangerous. They are an invasive surgery and usually take three times longer for recovery. Oh, the US is also a leader in infant and maternal death. go us. not sure what the stats are on this in relation to C-sections, but I think that would be an interesting stat to look into. There are a few theories out there as to why American docs seem so set on inducing: money from big pharma, vacation dates, even golf tee times have been thrown out there. I can’t answer that one. I do know that the second time I was induced, the doc was definitely in a hurry for baby to come (I was told it was for my health and that the baby was going to be big. Sammi was 7 lbs, 4 oz).
Don’t get me wrong, I am not against doctors. I have simply come to believe that a doctor is someone you see when you are sick. Pregnancy is not an illness. Now, some women have high risk pregnancies and should definitely be in the care of a doctor. And yes, sometimes there are complications that can arise during a natural birth that will lead to a trip to the hospital. A good midwife would actually be capable of handling most minor emergencies. In fact, a midwife is required to have an incredible birth kit.
After experiencing my own natural birth and how different labor was without pitocin, I definitely believe a midwife should be on a list of options for every pregnant woman. Or at least a supportive, natural hospital birth (I’ve known a few moms who had a natural hospital birth, yet was not fully supported in that decision by their doctors).
So, to end my rant, The Barefoot Bus is an awesome idea. I love it and the idea behind it. Every woman should have more than one option available to her for her birthing needs and desires.

That Crazy Girl Did What?!?! Without Drugs??!!!

I had a totally natural, stressless home birth. No drugs. Only my warm pool of water. I did it! Of course, I only did what females have been doing since mammals started having live births. Still, I am pretty proud of myself. I look at my beautiful new boy and think, “I did that. In MY home.”

The labor went pretty quickly. I started having light contractions on Nov 8 at about 4:30 am. I waited for an hour before calling my midwife, just to make sure they weren’t going away. She showed up around 7ish. I transitioned from light to hard at around 9:30 am. That would be when I went from being able to kind of talk to having to absolutely toning out everything. That was when I decided to get into the birthing tub. That warm water was an immediate relief. I felt so much more comfortable. I went into hard labor shortly after 11 am and baby J was born at 11:11 am IN MY HOME. Gotta admit – just as he started to crown, I started to have doubts that I could do this. Heh. A little late for those. I was so shocked to suddenly see a baby in the tub with me. I scooped him up myself. He did have the cord around his neck, but the midwife very quickly took care of that and he was fine. He started nursing like a pro before the placenta made an appearance.

I also had a wonderful support group on hand:

  • My husband. I can’t say enough about him. He was awesome. He also hurt the next day from being in an awkward position in order to let me hug him while I was in the tub heh.
  • C~ acted as a doula for me. She reminded me to breathe and to make lower sounds. The lower the moan, the easier it was to get through the contraction – on a more spiritual level, it helps to open up the chakras and get the energy flowing. I suppose it was less of a moan and more of an “Om” chant.
  • D~ took my birth pictures. She took over 400 pictures. It was awesome. I really owe her more than I could ever give to her for doing that for me.
  • My midwife and her assistant. They were both awesome.
  • Both of my mothers-in-law. I love them so much.

I do wish my mommy could have been there with me. It’s hard when she is 3000 miles away. This is another reason I was glad for the pictures. I get to share the birth with her through them.

I am also excited about sharing the pictures with my dad and stepmother. I know they wanted to be here and will not get to see J until April.

J is now 1 month old and growing like a weed. He is already so strong and so very alert. My milk came in about 2 days after he was born. This was really great. It had been a struggle with my previous two. There was lots of pumping and I had to supplement as they both lost too much weight. I have not looked at studies, but I suspect my previous issues with breastfeeding had to do with being induced. I now have so much milk coming in that I pump every once in a while just to have some extra on hand so I can go out for a few hours. We have experimented with a bottle to make sure he was ok with that. He is. If food comes out when he sucks on it, he seems fine with it. Greedy little leech.

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The birthing tub.

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Working through a lighter contraction.

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Contractions are getting harder.

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The hard labor begins.

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Freshly made baby!

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Baby J.

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Getting ready to be weighed.

I have not abandoned you!

I have been busy. Also, I have not been able to get on my regular computer very much at all. If any of you have ever tried to type a full post on an iPod or iPhone, then you may forgive me for not giving more updates. I have been stewing in a few ideas these past few months. I like my idea of posting about healthy, cheap meals and that idea + my pregnancy have led to posting about healthy, cheap, diabetic-friendly meals. I have not been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, yet, but it is on my mind. I will be tested for it at my next prenatal visit. *crossed fingers* I have tried to be healthier for this pregnancy, but I am also aware of the stats. Once you have already had gestational diabetes, you are more likely to be diagnosed with it in your next pregnancies. So, I have been munching on protein-rich foods and have tried to curb those dumb cravings for chocolate… Not too successfully. And dammit, sometimes you just need a candy bar.

This pregnancy has been very uncomplicated and is going smoothly, so far. No bleeding, no cramps, no scares. The ultrasound pics showed us a very healthy baby and proved my due date to still be around Nov 10th, 11th, 12th area. I have been doing mostly good with keeping up with exercising. Until 2 weeks ago, I had been able to make regular trips to the gym for swimming, and I have kept up with walking and hiking. I had to stop running about a month ago. My lungs couldn’t keep up with me, even on easy jogs. I will just keep up with my walking and restart the C25K program after baby is born.

Now for a bit of controversy. I am planning to home birth this baby. Before I start getting nasty comments, I have done the hospital birthing with my 2 older boys. I grew weary of the rushing to get that baby out with the last one. They were not overall terrible experiences, I just started to put a little more thought into how I wanted my birth experience to be. I also discovered I do not feel comfortable in a hospital setting for more than a day. I had thought I wouldn’t mind it too much as I practically grew up in a hospital (mom was a nurse), but I just want to get home as soon as that baby gets out of me.

So, after thinking through these thoughts, I started to do some research on home births. Home births are, for the most part, extraordinarily safe. Midwives, at least the ones in my area, will NOT consider working with mothers who have high-risk pregnancies, most will not work with twins, and most will not work with mothers who are having very large babies. These are cases where a doctor’s care is needed and quite possibly a hospital setting. Midwives are not against hospitals and doctors, hospitals and doctors just have their place. So, I now have a wonderful mid-wife who is also a naturopathic doctor. As a doctor, she is also able to bill my insurance, which is one less thing for me to worry about. She has set my husband mostly at ease with the idea of a home birth. We do live only about 10-15 minutes from our hospital and she is prepared in case of any emergency that may require us to rush there. A WA state midwife also has a pretty extensive list of what to bring to a birth:

I have also heard the “what if the cord is wrapped around the neck?” question. Yes, it happens. No, it is actually not always an emergency. An experienced midwife will quickly and efficiently take care of that.

“What about the pain?” Well, pain is a part of it. Even with a hospital birth, there will be pain. Get over it, accept it. There are ways to ease it without the use of an epidural (I still feel pain in the area my last epidural went in, btw): warm baths, back rubs, using a yoga/pilates ball, meditation, and in one of my favorite birth stories, singing. I am actually looking forward to experiencing the pain. I was induced with both of my previous births and the pain from the pitocin was pretty unbearable. I had experienced natural contractions with my 2nd kiddo, until the docs wanted it to go faster. The natural contractions were uncomfortable, but not even in the same class as the forced contractions. It was this second birth that really made me look at what I  wanted. If I had been more educated and maybe even a little more willful, I think I would have told the docs to wait. Baby was getting ready on his terms, there really was NO need to rush it. However, I was tired of being pregnant and I was excited by the idea of finally meeting this new one face-to-face. I just need to exercise patience.

Hmm. This blog post has taken me 3 days to write. Mostly because I can not type when Sammi is awake. He is such a button-pushing monkey. He is no longer allowed in the office heh. I had a lot more to write about, but those things will have to be put into a blog of their own.

The New Addition

Samedi was born on November 12, 2010 at 9:26pm PST.

I know I am 2 weeks late in getting this up here, but I’ve been busy. My new little guy was born with no complications and little pain. I had apparently been in labor since the day before, but didn’t realize it. Normal contractions feel nothing like induced contractions. They are a little uncomfortable, but way more bearable than the induced ones are. The doc still had me induced when I got to the hospital, just to get things moving faster. Boy howdy, did they ever move fast too. I had Sam in my arms 6 hours after I had reached the hospital. They didn’t even clean him off before they handed him to me:

It was messy and wonderful. They let me hold him and nurse him until I felt ready to hand him over to be cleaned up.

Poor Sam does need some minor surgery done on his tongue. He is unable to nurse properly due to the tongue tie (that piece that attaches your tongue to the bottom of your mouth) being too long. He can not stick his tongue out of his mouth. I still nurse him when he wants, but we then supplement with a bottle and I pump to keep my milk supply up. I am taking him in to a consultation next Tuesday to find out more about the procedure. I am not looking forward to it, but I want to make sure my boy is healthy and if this minor surgery will help him to gain weight, then I will do it.

Sol has been a super big brother. He likes to help wash Sam and feed Sam. I think he is still unsure what to make of this strange, small, funny-sounding creature, but he is very gentle and patient with Sam.

I plan to start exercising again in the next week or so. My sister-in-law gave me a free gym pass good for 12 visits. I just need to find the time to go. I need to be able to have someone watch Sam. I can take Sol with me and leave him in the daycare, but Sam is still too small for that. Once I start that up, I will start to record my progress here.

 

Easing 3rd Trimester Discomfort

3rd trimester discomfort is a memory that is coming back to me from my 1st pregnancy. I read that some women actually feel guilty at this point for just wanting the pregnancy to be done with. Don’t feel that guilt. It is almost done with. I think the baby probably feels the same way. It is getting awfully tight in there for the little one. Anyway, I think the discomfort we feel at this point is a way our bodies try to get us ready for the big day.

  • I took a warm bath last night. It was the most incredible thing I think I could have done. I felt so much better during and for a while afterwards. It didn’t stop Braxton Hicks from keeping me awake most of the night, but I definitely felt better for a little while.
  • Walking has also been helping. Once again, it doesn’t last for long, but I do feel better for a while after taking even a short walk for a few blocks.
  • Sitting and rocking on an exercise ball is also recommended. I do not have one, so can not vouch for this.

I am sure there are plenty of other ways to ease discomfort. I just felt like I needed to write down the few that have been on my mind. The walking one is also good in a few other ways. It will give you some nice easy exercise and helps to position the baby’s head properly. Some people claim it will help the onset of labor, but this has not really been proven. Most hospitals will get the mother up and walking, if possible, during contractions and before she is fully dilated. I wasn’t allowed to do this with my first kiddo as I was leaking amniotic fluid and the doc was worried about infection. Bleh. I wasn’t even allowed to get up to go to the bathroom. It was pretty much a total loss of dignity for about 15 hours.

Counting down to the finish line.

Within the week I will need to change the name of my blog as I will no longer be a “Preggo Chick.” My doc decided that I am ready to deliver and even set up an induction date for Thursday, November 11. The baby is small, but not too small. According to the ultrasound I had today, the baby is approx 6lbs, 11oz. I was relieved that he/she is not 9 or more. I was a little worried that may be the case as that is usually what happens with gestational diabetes. However, I had to wonder about it since I have gained a total of 13 lbs myself (not counting the 4 lbs I lost in my 1st trimester). If you had read my blog before I found out I was pregnant, yes, I was overweight to begin with. I have tried to keep active and eat mostly healthy. The eating healthy went into overdrive after I was diagnosed with diabetes. I suppose I should admit that I “cheated” a few times. Eating fast food or a piece of candy here and there. It is amazing how it can really change your mindset over these things when it these things affect someone else’s health as well. I have come to realize that I did some of this in order to keep myself healthy, but mostly to keep my baby healthy. I know I would not have been so stringent for my own sake.

So anyways, I had my last ultrasound today and an exam. Both revealed that baby is perfectly healthy and doing well. The doc decided, based on my gestational diabetes, the fact that I am on medication for it, I have been experiencing an increase in discharge (TMI I know), I am dilated at 2 1/2 cm, and an increase in Braxton Hicks that it would work in all of our favor to attempt to get this baby out into the world this week. He ruptured my membrane in an effort to get labor to start on its own. I have to say that since he did it, I have been getting more severe feeling contractions. In fact after this blog, I fully intend to sit in a bath for a little while. I have heard that a bath helps with the pain. I didn’t get to try that when I had my first child.

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