Archive | November, 2011

Birth Story – Part 2: Active Labor

30 Nov

Part I: Waiting for baby can be found here

I woke up early Wednesday morning with a warm liquid between my legs – I quickly got up and went to the bathroom.  There was just enough liquid to know that I didn’t pee myself (which I had never done before, by the way). Luckily I didn’t get any on the bed!  I got a towel and lay down on the coach to try and get some sleep.  In recent weeks, I started most nights in bed and ended them on the couch because of hip pain.  This night was the same—only my baby was coming!

After about 45 minutes I started to feel an ache in my back that did come and go—contractions!  I was too excited to sleep so I took a shower to relax and do something with my hair for laboring.  I braided the hair by my face to keep it out of the way so that hopefully I’d be presentable at the end.  I made some scrambled eggs for protein, drank lots of water and tried to keep moving so that things could progress.  I did the dishes.  I straightened up. I bounced on my exercise ball.  I went outside and listened to the birds.

By 7am I knew that things were moving along, but there was no real “pain.”  I called the hospital and the nurse at first told me to come in since my water had broken, but the midwife on call said I could call back at 9am.  I texted my doula to let her know it was baby-day.  I let my husband know that things were happening (I wanted him to sleep as much as possible!) and I called my mom.  I wanted to delay going to the hospital as long as possible, especially since I knew that my water had only partially broken and there was no meconium in it.  Yes, there was a risk of infection, but it wasn’t that high.

At 9:30-ish I called the hospital again and they told me to definitely come in. I told them I’d be there in an hour or so, as I needed to get ready.  I woke hubs up for real, I told my doula to come over, and I told my parents that I’d call when we were on our way.

That last hour at home was filled with getting ready. I had a hospital bag packed, but I wanted to make sure we had plenty of snacks and drinks so that both the hubs and I were taken care of. We packed a laptop, camera, and checked that we had chargers. My doula came over and we double-checked everything.  And then we were on our way.

When I got to labor and delivery, they brought us into the triage room to check my contractions on the electronic fetal monitor, and check dilation.  Everything looked good, but there wasn’t a room ready quite yet so they sent us out to walk around for about an hour.  Hubs went down to the parking garage to call his family abroad, while my doula and I basically did laps the length of the hospital, and occasionally outside.  We’d walk from the elevators past the entrance to the East end of the building and back. Near the elevators was a bathroom and I’d try to go each time.  I probably walked that hall 10 times that hour, but I made a lot of progress.

By the time hubs came back, I was ready to get a room.  We went down to the cafeteria to get some food to get us through the afternoon and it was really uncomfortable! The heat and smell of food made me sick—I grabbed a fruit and cheese tray and we headed up to get officially admitted!

We got checked in at about 1 pm. I remember this time as fun—a contraction would hit and I’d need to focus and either my doula or husband (or both) would provide pressure to counteract the pain.  But then the contraction would end and I’d be positively cheerful. It was such a funny contrast!

I spent most of my time at this point in the shower. I got the bright idea to bring the birth ball into the shower and it was perfect. I could sit and bounce on the ball while my doula or mom sprayed the shower head wherever it hurt.  I also used ice on the area that hurt—I got this idea from when I had a car accident in high school.  I had a sprained back and the physical therapist had me take hot showers while rubbing ice over the pain. The hot/cold contrast released the muscle pain then and it helped me deal with the pain of my dilating cervix this day too.

The nurse had to check the baby’s heartbeat every 30 min or so, usually by Doppler.  One time the heartbeat was difficult to find so she put me on the electronic fetal monitor on my back on the bed.  The contractions during that time were some of the worst I had to deal with.  I was so thankful that I didn’t have to deal with an induction and IVs that limited my mobility—It was very hard to cope on my back!

At around 4pm my midwife came by to check in. I asked her to check my progress so that I would know if I could move into the bathtub.  I was dilated to a 5 and fully effaced.  I was making slow but sure progress!

The rest of that afternoon I moved between the bath and the birthing ball in the room. At times the bath was relaxing, but I also needed space to move.  It was nice to lean on my husband and sway while someone else gave me back pressure.  I also had him reach below my belly and lift—it was nice to take that weight away.  I remember getting really tired so we laid a blanket on the floor next to the ball. Between contractions I would lay down to rest and then my husband/doula would pull me up to labor through contractions on the ball. This was a difficult time to get through, but taking it moment by moment to help. After the birth, I actually had a bruise on my arm and the only thing we figure out is that I got it when they were pulling me up from the floor.  When a contraction hit, I needed pressure NOW!

By 7pm I was back in the tub because it was the only place I could rest.  I remember the amazing feeling of relaxing between contractions and the dread when a contraction would hit. I remember the frustration when the contractions got closer and closer and I just couldn’t rest.  Although I was really good about keeping my moaning voice low and open, I remember my labor sounds turning into a high-pitched whine. My thoughts at this point were “wow—I know why some people just get a dog” and “oh, I’m never signing up for this again!” I guess I never said these things out loud, but they were definitely clear in my mind.  I panicked once or twice: this was transition.

Part 3: Hello Baby! can be found here.

A Very Friendly Thanksgiving

28 Nov

This past week my best friend came to stay for Thanksgiving and it was WONDERFUL! I hadn’t seen her for over a year but she is one of those friends where you can just pick up where you left off.  It was great to sit back, drink wine, eat good food, and laugh. One evening we ended up breaking out old high school yearbooks and laughing at what people wrote. I was in tears!  It was so awesome!

It was also awesome to have another set of hands–she helped with the baby, she washed dishes every.single.day. I’d get up to do it and inevitably something would come up–feeding time, crying time, etc.  I cooked several evenings and together we made the Thanksgiving feast.

There’s nothing as renewing for the soul as good times with a good friend!

On Thanksgiving we broke out the hubs’ dad’s old Soviet film camera.  He brought it back the last time he visited the motherland and we never bothered to check it out.  We picked up a couple rolls of Kodak film and tried it out. We couldn’t be more pleased with the results!!!

The camera:

The pics:

mmmm, bacon turkey

old friends

2 months!

18 Nov

The stats: weight: 11 lbs 7 oz, 41st percentile; height 25.5 inches, 92nd percentile.  Baby is in size 1 diapers and 0-3 month clothing. He’s ready for size 2 in diapers (i.e. poo sometimes leaks out) and he’s getting too long for size 0-3 pajamas and pants.

Nicknames: muffin, zayets/bunny, Nikitos, lyubov

Temperament: So observant and relaxed. He loves to smile and coo. He loves looking around, especially at new places. He’s generally a calm and happy baby! There is the occasional bout of fussiness–especially if he’s left alone. Mama needs to be nearby!

Things I Could Do Without: We’re trying to get him to sleep longer at night. Right now he’ll go for 4 hours but not much longer–I’d love to see a 6-hour stretch of sleep!  Some nights he fusses and I only get hour-long segments of sleep. This makes for a very cranky mama.

Item/Toy We All Love The Most: The baby bathtub.  Whether it’s for a fun! warm bath or for chillin in the tub on a towel for ‘naked time,’ you are almost always content in your baby tub.

Things I’m Loving Most Right Now: longer stretches of sleep, non-painful eating, smiles & cute baby coos.

Things You’re Loving Most Right Now:  milk! After dealing with all our feeding-related issues, dinnertime has become fun time!

In this past month you have become a cute roly-poly baby boy 🙂  You have pretty good neck control already and you’ve become so observant.  When we go to the grocery store you have so much fun looking around! I’ve also been bringing you to my meetings with my RA-ship advisor and with my PhD exam committee.  Everyone loves you and you are SO GOOD – you just sit and listen and look around until mama’s voice lulls you to sleep.

Today you had your 2-month check-up.  You are long and lanky and the doctor and nurse commented on how skinny you are.  I don’t know about skinny–your thighs look pretty juicy to me.  You got a shot in each leg–Hepatitis B (2nd), and DTaP, Hib, and Polio combined.  You also got a rotavirus vaccine orally.  Mama fed you while you got them but you were still so mad and offended by the shots.  After the doctor’s visit, we went to a meeting and after looking around for a bit, you fell asleep.  Good boy!

This last month has gone from frustrating to delightful. Sure, we could all use more sleep, but we’re falling into a routine. Around midnight we all head towards bed.  You wake up for a couple feedings during the night and by 8am-ish we’re up for the day.  I’m finding that I’m more focused on my work now that you are in my life because I have a finite amount of time to get things done.  You’re awake for longer and longer periods each day and we’re finding new ways to entertain you.

You love music, chilling on the futon with mom, naked time in the bathroom in your baby tub (on a towel), and being in the moby wrap carrier.  You entertain yourself pretty well–you make awesome dinosaur movements with your arms. You like to poke your eyes and pinch your chest–painful I’m sure, but it’s your way of figuring out what’s on your body and now to move your limbs.  You are so funny with your jerky movements and crazy eyes!  But it’s those wide-mouthed smiles with little baby coos that MELT.MY.HEART! We are so in love with you 🙂

You’re already such a big boy and you’re only 2 months old!

Birth Story – Part 1: Waiting for Baby

13 Nov

Throughout my pregnancy, I did a lot of research—it’s in my nature as a PhD student and internet-lover.  I read books, searched forums, and watched films.  From the start, I had a good idea of how I wanted my birth to go.  I really wanted to avoid any kind of medical intervention, allowing the best possible experience for my baby. In some ways it was a physical challenge to myself to birth without pain medication.   If women are made to birth, why would I need medical help?  If I had my way, I would have considered a homebirth or birth center!

I also knew my limitations—my husband had never seen a birth before and he can get a little freaked out by blood & needles.  He also comes from a culture where men aren’t involved in birth.  My parents planned to come out for the birth, but my mom’s last birth experience was 22 years ago with my brother.  Could my family give me the support I needed? And what if baby came early?

My husband and family clearly felt more comfortable birthing at a hospital.  My insurance was easily accepted at my University’s medical center and it was the closest birth facility.  And so it quickly became my first choice.  Luckily, it had a baby-friendly birthing center with a great team of midwives.  In my search for the right care provider, I first visited the OB at the on-campus clinic.  I had a short list of questions about things that were important to me—what does a typical pre-natal visit look like? What are your labor induction/intervention rates? C-section rates? During labor, what types of interventions do you require (saline IV, hep-lock, pitocin, etc?). What does an ideal labor look like to you?  Her answers quickly told me that I was in the wrong place: no-nonsense comments about timing (moms should dilate 1cm/hr), and regular use of interventions.  But when I interviewed the midwives they quickly put me at ease.  The clinic has a team of 5 midwives that rotate and throughout my months of visits, I got to know several of them pretty well.  I felt confident and comfortable in my care.

In addition, I decided to get a doula to help me out during labor.  I had first heard of a “doula” a couple years ago, and basically they are women whose sole purpose is to support a laboring mother.  They are trained in methods to help manage pain as well as how to support a woman emotionally. Studies have shown that the rate of C-sections dramatically decreases when a doula is present. Having a “woman’s helper” helps women avoid the types of interventions that eventually lead to C-sections (induction, epidural, etc).  I wanted to make my son’s birth an exciting experience for my husband, not a scary or difficult one.  I wanted him to be able to step out if things got tough, and someone to help calm him if he freaked out.

I signed up for a 7-week birth class and we both went weekly.  We did skip one class because at times it was too much “pain” and the breathing exercises got repetitive.  It was such a great experience to go through together and take some time to focus on us and our soon-to-be baby.  In hindsight, it was really useful for my husband to make all those funny pregnancy, labor, and newborn things normal so that he didn’t worry so much.  And with all my breastfeeding struggles, the breastfeeding session was priceless!!

And so I spent my pregnancy growing a baby and anticipating the labor process. I had no idea what labor would be like, but I knew how I wanted it to feel. I wanted it to be exciting for my husband and family; safe, calm, and in-control for me.  I anticipated intense feelings, but I wanted to avoid focusing on pain.  My goal was to labor in the hospital without the medical system affecting me—i.e. no IV, intermittent monitoring, changing positions, etc. I was looking forward to the Jacuzzi bath.

As a first time mother, I knew that my baby would probably be late, but I hoped that I’d be like my mom and deliver him early. She gave birth to me a few days before her due date and my brother was 6 weeks early. My parents arrived in late August to help us get ready and help us, well, wait. In general, my pregnancy was pretty easy, so as I approached September 1, I was confident and excited to meet my little boy.  He was active, healthy, and measuring average (my midwives guessed around 7lbs).

But then September 2nd came, and then Sept 4 (my other due date—depending on which calendar you looked at). And then Sept 8, which marked 41 weeks pregnant.  This baby was clearly comfortable inside, and the wait began to make the days and hours drag on.  At my 41 week appointment, I had my first non-stress test.  My mom and I went to the appointment, and it began with me being hooked up to a fetal heart monitor for 20 min.  The baby’s heart rate looked great and I had some small contractions.  Then we went in to talk with the midwife (one who I had never met) and she checked the amniotic fluid on the ultrasound machine.  Fluid levels should be between 5 and 10 and I had a 4.  Baby’s home was getting crowded and this midwife wanted to induce immediately.  In fact, she said that “if I were her daughter she’d send me right up to labor & delivery.”  I called my husband and quickly discussed it with him while sitting in the exam room–we hesitantly agreed, and mom and I went home to get ready. We were to call at L&D at 5pm to see if there was space available, and thankfully, it was crowded. When they asked how late that night they could call for us to come in, I suggested that we come back the next day to have another NST and check the baby’s condition.  Luckily the on-call midwife agreed.

I spent the evening drinking water and relaxing, since that can help fluid levels. The next day, Friday, everything on the NST looked great! And I was dilating nicely—probably 2 cm dilated and 50% effaced.  This time the midwife asked us to keep up what we’ve been doing and to come back Monday. We all hoped I’d go into labor before then.

The days of the weekend crawled by and when Monday came, I was getting frustrated.  Luckily I had an appointment with my favorite midwife.  We had another NST, which still looked great, but she was getting more confident that baby needed to come out.  We still had time, but the general feeling was that babies are better outside than inside as we get to 42 weeks.  I trusted that she was advising what was best for me and the baby, so we scheduled an induction for Thursday morning—right at the 42 week mark.

The hours still went by with no activity.  I was so tired and frustrated with waiting that we began to go on with our lives.  We ran errands, scheduled meetings, and took care of a lot of last minute concerns.  Baby would come eventually, so we may as well live 🙂  One night we all went out for Mexican (couldn’t hurt, right?).  Tuesday we drove to a neighboring town and walked around the mall with my parents and visited the Russian store to stock up on food.  Before we headed back home, I had to go to the bathroom.  The nearby one was out of order, so we briskly walked to a faraway one.  That walk made my belly hurt—which may have been the beginning of contractions.  That night, I convinced my husband to have sex (since the midwives were all recommending it—it can be a great “cervical ripener”).  Not sure what did it, but at about 4am, Wednesday morning, my water broke!

Part 2 – Active Labor can be found here!

Murphy’s Law

9 Nov

. . .Everything that can go wrong, will.

So after the excitement and hope that going in to the Pediatric surgeon for a frenectomy would help solve our feeding problems, I fed baby from both breasts.  The first, left, was in the office so the doctor could watch.  Once she was satisfied, we packed up and headed out to a nursing room in the clinic’s lobby.  We got settled in, I removed the softshells, and noticed some really gross milk inside the right one.  Since I had put them on less than an hour before, I knew that that milk was coming from me.

When I got home, I took my temperature.  It was high.  I fed baby, called my mom, and tried to figure out what was going on.  During the feeding I got the clear desire to vomit.  I quickly handed baby to hubs, and laid in the cold tub for a few minutes before I felt better.

I called the lactation consultant to confirm what was going on plus to find out if baby was at risk feeding off an infected breast with an open mouth wound.  She said that it shouldn’t be a problem to feed, but I should definitely call my midwife to get antibiotics.  I did, and it ended up being an ordeal in itself–I got the drugs by phone but ended up spending an hour at the pharmacy.  I felt like crap so I’ve been taking it easy since.  Napping day and night, water, juice, soup, vitamins. . . I’m treating it like I have the flu.  My temperature is down, but I now have a clear red mark and a lump on one side of that breast.  A day and a half later, that part doesn’t seem to be getting better.  So I’ll keep feeding baby, keep an eye on it, and keep taking it easy.

It just kills me that we just ‘got to the bottom of it – finally got baby’s tongue-tie clipped and I now have an infection in my breast.  It’s really common, but also serious.  My husband worries because his sister had it too and it led to an abscess and she had to have an operation.  I know we won’t let this infection get that far, but dude! Just when I thought we were done.

Clearly, when it comes to my boobies, Murphy’s Law has kicked in: everything that can go wrong, will.

Baby’s first surgery: Frenectomy

9 Nov

Back at home, fast asleep

As I wrote in my last post, baby went in Monday morning for a consultation with a local pediatric surgeon about a possible tongue-tie.  She was so nice!  We went in at 10am and she was waiting. She brought us right back and asked me for all the information: the struggles we’ve had with breastfeeding, things we’ve tried, etc.  Then she put on a glove and felt around his mouth–and yep, he had a posterior tongue tie.  This means that although he can stick out his tongue and it doesn’t make much of a heart shape (traditional signs), the back of his tongue is tethered to the floor so it doesn’t have the movement it needs. So she went over the procedure, a frenectomy, and all the possible risks associated.  She said there would be a few drops of blood and he may fuss a bit, but feeding immediately should help.

I agreed to the procedure and she swaddled his arms and had an assistant hold his head.  She took out sterile scissors and some gauze and before I could blink she was handing a shrieking baby to me to feed.  It was so fast!  The doctor explained beforehand that there is a little white ligament that is visible just below his tongue–it appears as a little white line from the tongue to the floor of the mouth.  This ligament would be clipped so that pink muscle would be visible behind and it would leave a small diamond-shaped gap.  This would heal over quickly (as our mouths heal very fast) and it would release his tongue to drink properly. At first he wouldn’t drink–he was so sad! I’m not sure if was pain or offense–the nice doctor lady hurt him!! But after a few tries and dabbs of the gauze to soak up the drops of blood, he finally latched and calmed down.

Since then, I haven’t noticed nearly as much of a pinch while nursing. There’s still some but I think that’s baby still learning how to use his newly-free tongue.  Even his bite and twist motion doesn’t hurt as much.  So we’re on the road to recovery, well, except for my newest problem: mastitis.

It’s so simple…

7 Nov

It’s so simple: eat-play-sleep. The result? This:

do we have a future piano player here?

By allowing him to decide when to eat & sleep, he’s happier. When he falls asleep on his own, we’re happier.  Allowing a baby to fall asleep on his own is an important skill, and I’m so glad he’s mastered it for the time being. The last two days have been downright peaceful 🙂

Today we’re heading to the doc to look into tongue-tie.  After several in-person and phone consultations with the lactation consultants at our hospital, they’re thinking he’s just a little tongue-tied, but tied enough to affect feeding. This pediatrician is an expert in tongue-tie, so I trust whatever she chooses–even if it’s a frenectomy.  I’ve been pumping all weekend (with my awesome Pump-in-style) and feeding the boy about 1x /day. . I’m excited to finally be able to feed without pain!!

Many updates coming: I’m getting PhD work done, I have many thoughts on pumping and on vitamins. I’ll be back soon!