Thursday, April 17, 2014

Let It Be

There have been some moments in between my pregnancies that called me into a place where I required extreme and, at times, immediate help from doctors. I had two very hard situations, one that could have been life or death. These circumstances also helped me in many ways. I learned a lot about my body and it's ability to fight, restore, and reginerate after losses. I learned that I am strong. Im strong enough to allow my body to work things out when I don't understand. I'm strong enough to do what I believe is right for me despite my pain. Im strong enough to feel pain in my heart and grow from it. I'm strong enough, also, to look at a situation and ask for help because something is wrong. This is a key in my journey to a natural life. I believe in what doctors commit their lives to day in and day out. They save lives, and I understand well that there are times, when you need a person who has gone to school, studied, apprenticed, practiced, learned and successfully applies expertise in the field of medicine. And I will call upon these men and women when or should I say, if, I find myself standing on the edge of fear and desperately need the skill that they posses. Be assured that there are cautions in my mind, but they are simply warning signs posted to help guide me in making sound solid decisions for my family. I do not believe that pregnancy, in its normal state requires a doctor, nor do I believe that labor and delivery, under normal circumstances, require a medical doctor. 

WARNING: I am fully aware that those I love dearly may read this and take offense at my words because they may feel that I question them and the beauty of their experiences. Hear my heart, dear friends, understand that this is me and my goal in this blog is to clearly define where my heart and mind lie and to share with you my excitement for this blessed and exciting event! My goal is not now, nor will it ever be to criticize another's life or choices. 

What I'd really like to share, though, is why I feel so strongly about natural childbirth. Childbirth is defined as: the act or process of giving birth to children. That's just a simple definition of something that is constantly occurig in the world. But are we, as women, giving birth, or is a medical system birthing children. Because for me, while my body allowed a child to be born into the world, I can't help but feel robbed of the innate ability to birth them with my strength and with my body. My reflexes were numbed, my hormones were put at bay, my mind was clouded, and in the end, my body was largely ineffective. So who receives credit? My conclusion would be the doctors. The doctors, while only there for the big show, are the ones who tell me how I'm progressing because I have no clue, they broke my water both times, they tell me when I'm ready to push and how to push and when I can't, they act, they tell me when to stop pushing, they catch the baby, decide when to cut the babies cord, they deliver the placenta and take care of any issues that arise. They are the hero! They are the star of the show really, I just showed up with a precious package to be delivered, but they delivered it and their role much outshines mine. Why? Because I was paralyzed, literally. It's not the doctors fault really, they did what was necessary, and I appreciate that. But again, I wager that a medical system dictates what we should be in control of. And the medical system here in America says that if we take the woman's control out of the picture, it's a safer situation, and a more manageable, wait, what was the term? Oh, yes, "A more Christian" situation. (See previous post, Living the Dream) 

So, for me, natural childbirth is the way that I can achieve the simple definition and truly give birth to my child. 

My picture perfect "Birth" Day looks something like this: I begin laboring, and the excitement is intoxicating. I'm elated to be beginning this process. I call the midwife and she says to give it a bit to make sure things stay steady. They do, and I'm breathing through these easier contractions. We contact her again and let her know. She says she is packing up and headed our way, because yes folks, we are having this party in the comfort of our own home (God willing, of course). We call in reinforcements for my little loves. They don't need to be rushed away, just entertained a bit while I'm otherwise inclined. Family and midwife arrive and things are getting more intense. The hubby is saying all the allowable items and non of the non allowable items (more on this at a later time). Maybe I use the birthing ball, but most likely, knowing me, I am pacing the house and stoping when I must. The midwife suggests that a walk down the street might be helpful (depending on the time). We take our time and walk down the street, taking in the sights and sounds, as I've read these things are quite vivid during labor. We return and the midwife decides to check. I still have a bit to go, but I'm progressing well. Maybe my water breaks around this time (all by itself hopefully). After this things kick up and I am writhing in pain. Maybe I decide to take a shower or sit in my birthing tube. I might shout, "Turn on the Beatles to calm me down!" Josh will reassure the kids that mommy is just fine, and the baby will be here soon! He then reassures me, as I may be shouting that we need to get in the car and go to the hospital for drugs. I may vomit. He will remind me of the beauty and importance of what I am doing and he will remind me that I am strong. I will become more settled because maybe , "Let it Be" comes on. I will get into a place where I make very weird noises, but I accept where I am at and I am having an out of body experience. And then without necessarily having to be checked, I will inform my midwife that it is about time and I think I need to push. (My kids may be out for ice cream at this particular time) I may get into the birthing tub, or I may not. My body will dictate when I begin and I will make my baby come into this world. I may even assist in catching him or her, but the hubby will be the first to shout if it's a boy or a girl! We may wait to cut the cord, and I will nurse immediately. My midwife will assist me in delivering the placenta and preform any necessary procedures. She will stay with us and assist us and make sure that all is well. She will also make sure that Josh has food ready for me very soon after, as this will be of great importance to me! My children and family will join us and we will marvel at this handiwork of God. The baby and I will be high on oxytocin, the love hormone. It will fill the room and intoxicate those around us. 

It's not glorious, the pain is included. The possibility of ridiculousness is included. It's a bit messy and it will, more than likely, not go exactly this way, but it will go something like this, and my body and my baby will determine it. I'm ecstatic to be doing things in this way. And very soon, but not soon enough, I'll be posting the real birth story. 

"And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light that shines on me, shine on until tomorrow, let it be." 
The Beatles, Paul McCartney

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

About a Boy

In contrast to my pregnancy with Audri, Jacob was a surprise! We had just dealt with a pretty trying situation in our family and we were unsure if a second child was a great idea at this time. Yet, right before we left home for a Fourth of July party, I grabbed a little test and took the plunge... Two lines, check, yes, positive, pregnant, go time! Well, ok, let's do this!

He started expressing his personality right away. I like to say he has been giving me a run for my money since conception. While my pregnancy with Audri had some nausea and occasionally I felt pretty poorly, I hardly ever, if ever got sick. With Jacob, I got sick almost every day for a few weeks and continued feeling poorly and getting sick occasionally into my 18th week of pregnancy. While pregnant with Audri I craved steamed veggies and fresh fruit, with Jacob my mouth watered watching Wataburger commercials! While pregnant with Audri, I grew in a manageable way, all around and slightly higher, with Jacob I grew straight out and unmanageably got large very quickly.

Just before I was through my first trimester, I woke up in the night bleeding... A lot. Having some experience in this area, I felt that I knew exactly what this meant, and without too many details, I surrendered to the defeat that we had lost him. Josh, my encouraging and smart husband insisted we call the doctor either way because I was loosing consciousness and he wasn't convinced it was over. The doctor encouraged us to go to the emergency room for multiple reasons, but also gave us a shred of hope that we should keep our heads up until there was confirmation.... We got to the emergency room and waited entirely too long (or so it felt), to get that knowing sonogram...beat, beat, beat, beat,beat... He was there, probably going, "What? I'm not doing anything wrong, I promise!" I couldn't wrap my brain around it, but it was true.

My care during this pregnancy was equally as much of a blessing. I was cared for by a very reputable doctor in the area and to my great luck, she also happened to be full of spirit and love. She made me laugh and lightened every fear I had. She supported my wishes for a birth plan, and encouraged me to do exactly what I felt I needed for this pregnancy. Having grown a little in my knowledge of natural childbirth, I felt this time, I was so much more prepared. I read Dr. Sears' birth book, Josh and I discussed exactly how it would go, what methods we would use and we went over it all thoroughly with my doctor as well. Everyone was on board, and we thought we were prepared to do this. This time, my doctor gave me up to two weeks after my due date before she would make me induce, pending my health. However, by a few days before my due date, I was beyond ready to get the party started. I, again, tried everything, some new items included, such as eating about an entire raw pineapple... Said to soften the cervix. I put Audri in a stroller and didn't just walk a bit, I walked about 3 miles.

Who knows which natural remedy served its purpose, or if it was just time, but the next day I knew something was off.  My tummy was completely weird and crampy all day. I was working on homework mid afternoon that I hadn't completed for a class I had in a few hours, and about 5:00pm my cramps turned stronger and I thought this was it, but I gave it a bit and did some timing. At 5:30, I told Josh he needed to get home because we were going to the hospital. 

We arrived about 6:15pm and we were admitted at 5 centimeters dialated, I was breathing through contractions and told the nurse that I would be having an unmedicated delivery. She actually complimented me on how well I was breathing through my contractions. Yet, around 7:30pm, the nurse came in to inform me that 'just for my information,' the anesthesiologist was headed home for the night and if I didn't take the epideral now, I would not have the option to get it later. She left and I freaked out. What if I got close to the end and the contractions piggy backed again and I wasn't progressing and I had to just lay there in pain all night long with no options.... I surrendered... Again! It was my choice and no one else's, but I did feel backed into a corner. Again, within minutes, he was there with his tiny needles, and within the hour, I was feeling no pain, well nothing really, As I was napping again. I faded in and out, but this time I was awakened by my wonderful doctor coming and asking how I was doing. I was down on myself because I had gone ahead and gotten the epideral. She was unhappy, apparently she had all but yelled at the nurse for even talking with me about an epideral because it was in her notes that I wasn't having one! I felt relieved that she had supported my wishes that much, but immediately I just wished she had been there to advocate for me and remind me not to listen to the nonsense, since obviously the anesthesiologist would be back pronto were we faced with an emergency C-section.... 

My water hadn't broken on its own yet I was continuing to dialate, so my doctor broke my water and we waited a bit longer, but not much...

I braced myself for another hour marathon since I, again, felt nothing. However, it turned out that even though I couldn't feel, my reading and preparations helped me understand more what I needed to do so with all my might I pushed whatever muscles I could control and he was born 15 minutes later, 1 hour and 9 minutes shy of his actual due date! 

He was beautiful, we snuggled for a few minutes, and I was elated to be holding my baby boy. I did not however breastfed right away, yet again. They suggested he have a bath first so he would be more alert, but when they took him, they didn't bring him back right away. His body temperature was too low, and they had to keep him under a warming lamp. Finally, 8 hours after he was born I got to connect with him and nurse him. Despite the time delay, he did very well, and I was much more confident this time around. He had my heart immediately despite the obstacles it took to get him to me, we were a team, and he was my boy! 

I, again, hold this day near and dear to my heart. The memories are vivid and wonderful of how my little man entered the world! After all, I had achieved going into labor on my own and successfully breast feeding, again, both if which contined to be high on my list of birth plan must-haves. Yet, I'd be lying not to say I was disappointed. I felt that I had let myself down, I knew I could do it, and I had prepared well, but I had once again let myself be persuaded by those who find it normal and preferable to have a laboring woman still and quite... 

My education from this birth was quite simple: If God granted me a next time, I would be delivering outside of the hospital walls, barring emergency, of course. How could I go on continuing to expect a place that simply accepts natural childbirth to soothe and woo me into my birth dream. I need a place and people that go beyond acceptance, a place that encourages it, people that advocate it, and a community who believe in it. 
"If you can't be a hero, you can at least be funny while being a chicken." 
Ina May Gaskin, world renowned midwife

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Living The Dream

At the ripe age of 18, I exchanged vows with my darling. We lived off of love, quite literally, for a while, working part time and going to college. After 5 months of marriage we adopted a puppy, Jazzy, and a kitten, Boomer, to tide my inner desire to start a family. But by that time the following year, I had him convinced! 
I had a beautiful pregnancy. I was cared for by a wonderful obstetrician in Oklahoma. She reminded me of my mom: calm, comforting, strong, intelligent and kind. She was a blessing to me in many ways and I respected her because she was a great doctor, but she was very cautious and, understandably, very medical in her thinking. At the time, I didn't know much about natural birth, but I did know, I wanted a largely unmedicated birth. I made a birth plan, but I was told that at the end of the day, the priority was to deliver a healthy baby no matter what that meant. I wanted to go into labor naturally, have an unmedicated vaginal delivery, and breast feed immidiately. Simple. Well at 39 weeks I was told that, because of my "small frame" (it's ok to laugh here, God gave me fantastic birthing hips) she wasn't comfortable waiting more than a week after my due date and 2 days after my due date seemed like a good date to schedule an induction... Part of me was naively excited because I knew I'd meet my daughter that day for sure, but part of me wanted so desperately to go into labor on my own, so I tried all I could to make it happen, but I failed. 

So, early in the morning on February 21, 2008, we arrived at the hospital and began a Pitocin drip.... 

Nothing happened for what seemed like forever, I visited with family and friends, had a few contractions, took a cat nap, then the doctor came in to check and decided to break my water... 

About 30 mins later, it hit me and all at once. My contractions were intense and one after the other leaving little time in between to do anything other than hold the bed rail and writhe while my dear husband paced and internally battled his impulse to stop my pain and also to support my wishes of no medicine. 

The labor and deliver nurse was awesome, she was supportive and knowledgeable, but she offered me the epideral several times. I turned it down probably 2 or 3 times. Finally she convinced the anesthesiologist to come chat with me about an epideral. 

He came and spent 15 minutes softening my spirit to an epideral, and finally breaking my will with the simple phrase, "if you get an epideral, it will be a much more Christain experience." He meant it lightly, maybe even jokingly. Yet still, this hit me right in the heart because I was afraid. I was afraid to yell, I was afraid to scream, I was afraid to show anger and pain, to be rude to my husband, and, forbid it, to curse out loud and be the woman you hear about loosing her mind on everyone around her. 

Almost right away they came and put that teeny tiny needle (if you haven't done this before, I am using a touch of sarcasm here) into my spine. They asked me to not move during a very intense contraction while they stuck me. This was probably the most physically challenging thing I've ever done. 

Within minutes, I felt a flood of relief from the pain, and I could sense the loved ones around me breathing easier and relaxing some. I laid down, turned the lights down and tried to watch The Notebook, but fell asleep for my second nap. 

About an hour later, I was awakened by, "You're a ten, it's time to push," 


I was assured that even with an epideral, I would be able to feel enough to push. I felt nothing.... The doctor said to bare down and with all my might I exerted my energy and strained my body blindly for an hour. Finally, she came into this world and changed everything about life. 

After all the routine checks and procedures, including a bath for Audri, I breastfed. It was tricky for a while, but we finally got it. And it was bliss (most of the time)! 

I love my memories from my daughter's birth, and I do not regret a second of it because it is a part of who I am and who Audri is. It's our story. We were surrounded by doctors and nurses that were wonderful and cared for us well. In addition, we couldn't have had more love and support from all the amazing family and friends that held our hands and walked us through our first days of parenthood. All in all, it was beautiful. However, I learned from this experience, I grew from it. I learned that for me to have a natural birth, I needed more prep and practice. It would take more than just wanting it, I would really need to prepare myself and my partner. Also, I learned that I had nothing to be afraid of. One, if I prepared my body, my mind, my spirit, my partner, and my family, I could do it, and most likely I would not be the outrageous woman that I and many others had in their mind. Two, if I am, I am, it's a part of birthing and at the end of the day, I am just not scared of how I may or may not act because I believe in who I am, I believe in the body I was given and the ability to do what I know I can do. 

This is the story of my Audri, my dream come true, and how she entered our world. 

"And though she be but little, She is fierce." -Shakespeare 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Lend Me Your Ear

Pregnancy to me is a love song of life. My body is currently singing.

I am roughly 21 and a half weeks. This is my third pregnancy. My wonderful husband, Josh and I have two precious children.
 When I was little,and people would ask me what I want to be when I grow up, I would say that I wanted to be a wife and a mother. I am quite happily those things, as well as, a preschool teacher, among the many exciting roles it takes to walk in my shoes.
When Josh and I got married I would tell people that we wanted 6 kids. As God forms my next precious one, I can tell you that I look around at the laundry piles, the dishes needing care, the family medical bills, the house size, car size, the number of hours in a day and the amount of hands I have and greatly wonder whether that was a good number to start with... Non the less, God grants me eternity and invisible loving, guiding hands and I feel at peace with not knowing what the future holds. Right now, we are beyond thrilled to grow our family from a rounded family of four to a perfectly unrounded family of five.
In more recent years I have developed an intense passion for nature, health, and simplicity. Thus my supportive and loving husband was not shocked when I told him that I wanted to use a midwife for this pregnancy. This was followed by a shocking number of naturalistic "bombs" that May or may not have been expected, but were all supported by my loving partner.

I want to share my heart and my experiences in this exciting journey. I will begin my making posts describing my previous pregnancies and what brought me to this place in my next entries.

"Lend me your ear and Ill sing you" MY "song, and I'll try not to sing out of key." - the Beatles, John              Lennon and Paul McCartney