Thursday, August 30, 2012

"Stimulating" Your Newborn

Before this whole thing called parenthood entered my life, when I was still in the infertile trenches longing for a baby more than I'd ever longed for anything before, I found the idea of comparing your kid to other kids ridiculous.  Same goes for comparing your style of parenting to another.


But then I had a baby.

And for the first time I UNDERSTAND.

I find that Baby Jett sleeps ALL THE TIME and is really boring, so when he's awake for those few hours I really feel like I'm supposed to DO something with him, you know?  Like...interact with him.

Except he's a baby...and he doesn't do a lot of interacting.

He's boring.

So I find myself just waiting for him to go to sleep again so that I can go about my day.

And I found myself FEELING BAD ABOUT THIS.

Ugh, the guilt starts already.

So I googled "stimulating your newborn" and lo and behold...let the comparisons begin.

Apparently everyone, everywhere thinks their baby is the greatest thing in the world and does not find their newborn as boring as I find mine and DOES THINGS WITH THEIR BABY instead of just wish they were sleeping more.

Like play games with flashcards, try to put things in their hands and have them grasp them, sing to them, talk to them etc etc.  The list goes on and on.

I find if I sit around trying to stimulate my baby all day I never get anything else done.

I talk to my baby but it's more like "What's the matter baby?  Hungry again?"  Etc etc.  I've also attempted to put things in front of his face or in his hand, but come on, he's 4 weeks old...and I think adjusted he's only 2 weeks old.  He accidentally grabs my hair, he does not purposefully grab anything else yet.


I find that things like baby grabbing things and baby becoming interested in things visually should sort of happen on it's own.  When he IS looking at me I make sure to talk to him, but if he's happily staring at the side of his pack n' play I don't find the urge to go pick him up and "stimulate" him.

Nor does my least we're on the same page in our parenting style.

Is that wrong?  Isn't the side of his pack n' play stimulating enough?  Should I be doing more with him now?

I found myself feeling bad that I wasn't "doing" more with my baby from one Google.


So, in a nutshell, it's really REALLY easy to feel like your parenting style is "less than" other parenting styles.  And I'm sure it only gets worse from here.

Ugh, Welcome to Parenthood Jesica.

What does everyone else do with their newborns???

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Things I Never Knew About Newborns

I'm learning so much about babies, I never knew...

...that their umbilical cord stump stinks before it falls out!  And I mean STINKS!  For like 3 days my baby boy smelled GROSS, every time I'd go to change him this horrible stench would just come wafting up from him...EW!  In case anyone is curious why it stinks it's because baby's digestive juices are eating away at it from the inside-out...I never knew this.  Once it's off though baby is back to smelling like a delicious baby!

...they pee ALL. THE. TIME.  I had no idea a baby could pee so much!  He literally pees at least once an hour BARE MINIMUM.  And almost always you can get him to pee when you change his diaper.  SO MUCH PEE! boys pee EVERYWHERE!  Their little penis is like a hose and no matter if you point it down in his diaper or not somehow he can still pee everywhere.  He's peed out the side of his diaper, out the back, out the front, all over me, all over the bed, through his diaper, his clothes and his blanket through to the mattress, he even managed to pee on himself and cover himself from HEAD to toe...yes, he peed on his own head.  Again, there is SO MUCH PEE!

...because of all the pee, there are SO MANY DIAPERS!  We've started cloth diapering now that baby is bigger (he started out way too small for the cloth diapers!) and even with my 12 that I have we go through SO MANY DISPOSABLE DIAPERS!  I'm stocking up on more cloth so that we can get out of disposables completely, but HOLY HELL...I had no idea just how many diapers a newborn could go through in a day.

...they sleep A LOT.  A newborn is actually really boring!  I rarely see my baby's eyes.  They don't do anything except sleep, PEE, poop and eat.  It's a neverending 2 or 3 hour cycle of feed the baby, change the baby, baby sleeps for 1-2 hours and REPEAT.  I've never been so bored and yet so overwhelmed at the same time.

It's a good thing babies are cute because otherwise I don't know why we, as humans, would continue to procreate!

We call him...The Burrito. 

Look how tiny The Burrito is in the big bed!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Breastfeeding - A Timeline

I didn't read a damn thing about breastfeeding before baby came.  I bought a book and had every intention of at least glancing at it before I hit 40 weeks, but we all know how that turned out. So when Baby Jett arrived I had no idea exactly how breastfeeding was going to go down, but I knew it was happening whether I was ready or not.

I find this information would have been helpful to me over the first few days, so here you go, here's how the beginning of breastfeeding goes.  Of course everyone is a little different with how your milk comes in, but this timeline would have saved me from a bit of anxiety!

The first 24 hours baby doesn't eat AT ALL.  You put them to your boob like all the time, let them sit there for hours with their mouth at your nipple, smelling and rooting and licking...but baby doesn't eat anything.  My baby literally didn't leave my boob for the first 12 hours of life except for 15 minutes when he was escorted by his father down to the nursery for his newborn check and not once did he eat anything.  It's weird...but they don't, they don't need to eat in that first 24 hours. As long as you put boob and baby together a lot, so they can get used to eat's fine.

The second 24 hours baby is still very interested in eating but still doesn't really eat and you have to express colostrum and hope that's enough.  Baby would lick off the colostrum and go back to sleep, BUT everyone assured me he was getting enough and that he needs just a taste every two hours or so and that was enough.  I HATED expressing the colostrum, it feels totally gross to squeeze your own nipple the way you have to to get the colostrum out.  This is also the point when baby gets weighed and you find out that baby weighs less than they did at birth.  If you have a normal size baby this probably doesn't stress you out too much, but if your baby started out at 6 lbs and gets down to 5 lbs. 6 oz, this is when you're like EAT BABY, EAT!  But it's ok, baby will eat...I promise.

The third 24 hours baby finally starts to eat but it hurts like hell and you have to watch baby's latch carefully to make sure they are latched on's very confusing because it all hurts, even a correct latch.  A correct latch hurts DIFFERENTLY than a bad latch...but it all hurts.  Baby also seems to want to eat a ton here as there isn't much colostrum that he gets and this is like a test to see how committed you are to breastfeeding because your nipples hurt from the nearly constant sucking and the rest of your boobs hurt because they're getting ready to grow an insane amount and fill with milk.  This was a very painful day.

The fourth 24 hours your boobs hurt like crazy as the milk has finally come in and you're convinced that your boobs will always hurt and you just have to get used to it if you want to keep nursing.  They're also massively huge...and I was small chested when I started this, I imagine if you were already busty they would be INSANE!  But the pain in the nipples has at least subsided as they get used to nursing and baby gets more efficient at latching properly.  Somewhere in here you may also find out that your amazingly huge boobs that finally have milk in them have helped baby grow again and your amazed that you are doing this...sustaining him on the outside just like you did when he was on the inside.  Baby also feeds a bit less since he gets way more milk in eat feeding than he was getting when it was just colostrum.

The fifth 24 hours...relief.  The boobs don't hurt anymore...and breastfeeding finally works.  The latching barely hurts, the actual feeding doesn't hurt at all and the crazy engorgement only happens if baby has gone too long between feedings.  But rather than have to sit there with painful boobs, you just wake baby up, pop him on the boob and VOILA, instant relief from the huge boob.

And every day after that things just get easier and easier (when it comes to breastfeeding anyway!) The whole thing is absolutely amazing, the symbiotic relationship between baby and boob is NEATO.  I wake up easily when I know baby needs to eat and they start leaking if he cries in pain.  And the boobs are even down to a more comfortable and more reasonable size...they're still D's, just like when I was pregnant.  They were DD's for like 3 days right when my milk came in but didn't stay that huge.

At 17 days in we're exclusively on demand feeding.  If baby shows ANY signs of being hungry, onto the boob he goes.  He has never had a pacifier and I have never tried to pump.  We will continue this way for AT LEAST a full month before I give pumping a whirl just to appease my husband who wants to feed the baby.

Baby is still an "efficient" nurser and doesn't dawdle on the boob.  Feedings are 7-10 minutes with a rare 15 minute feed thrown in every once in awhile.  I definitely have a quick let down and he gulps and gulps to deal with the gush of milk, but he's getting better at it.  There's still a lot of pausing for spit ups and pooping, so nursing sessions are never less than half an hour, but the actual time on the boob is short.

Books say feeds of 15 minutes on each boob is ideal.  Which means...I still stress a bit that baby only nurses for short periods of time AND very rarely makes it to the 2nd boob.  If he's managed 10 minutes on one boob he's usually out for the count and not interested in the 2nd boob.

But as far as I know he's still growing and he always seems satisfied with his short sessions, usually lasting 2-3 hours between feeds, with a cluster of one hour sessions in the morning and evening.  And OMG he lasted a full 4 hours between feeds last night!  Baby is also peeing and pooping like nobody's business, so again everything appears to be working even with his less than "ideal" feeding schedule.

So, books be damned...stressing about baby NOT being attached to my boob 24/7 is the LAST thing I want to be worrying about on such a small amount of sleep.

Anyone else find their baby to be nursing well but very very differently than what is considered "ideal"?

My drooly spitup baby with his EYES OPEN.  

You can't beat waking up to that little face right in front of you.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Postpartum 2 Weeks


I feel like I read a lot of blogs about women who have trouble losing the baby weight postpartum, and like all women I was worried I would too.  Since giving birth I've found the complete opposite to be true and would have appreciated hearing more from women who were in a similar situation postpartum while I was pregnant.

So I'm gonna go ahead and represent the other side.  The side that loses the baby weight.

Weight is not something I struggle with, so please don't read it if you do struggle and you think hearing about postpartum easy weight loss will make you feel bad.

At one week I:

...had breastfeeding down pat and actually really enjoy it.  It took a stressful few days where I thought I was just going to always have sore boobs and that if I wanted to breastfeed that was what I had to live with, but once baby learns how to latch properly and the milk came in breastfeeding hasn't been an issue...and my boobs don't hurt anymore.  Having the kid on your boob every 2-3 hours?  Different story!

...was down to only 8 lbs. more than I weighed pre-pregnancy.  I know guys, I KNOW.  I agree it's completely ridiculous.  But don't hate...I told you I've never struggled with my weight and I was only up 23 lbs. when my pregnancy came to a very abrupt end.  Most people lose about 25 lbs. with the birth itself and I was only down about 10 lbs. when I got home from the hospital.  My midwife is already on my case about eating enough as I shouldn't be down to pre-pregnancy weight until 3 months postpartum.  I'm trying to eat MORE than I think I should...but really I just want to keep eating like I always eat.  I am not overly hungry and when you have a baby attached to your boob every 2 hours it's hard to get around to eating in your short windows of free time.

...was pretty much healed from the birth.  The lady bits took very little time to heal because of the lack of trauma (this was the point of the natural birth after all!), in fact on Day 3 the lady bits were pretty much back to normal, though a bit swollen and uncomfortable if I sat for long periods of time.  Bleeding was down to a very light period.  My biggest beef physically was that my back sometimes hurt if I was in bed too long and I think it's because of that DAMN EPIDURAL that I never wanted in the first place.  I say this because the pain is much higher (read right where the epidural was) than a normal "I've been in bed too long" backache of the lower back.

...had massive hemorrhoids...oh yes, the birth made them HUGE!  Though my intestines did not spill out of my body as I pushed like I feared.

...was absolutely astounded that the body is able to heal so quickly from such an ordeal.  I was expecting to feel AWFUL after giving birth.  But truth be told the hips and the lower back were only a bit sore on Day 1 and 2 but I honestly think it was from where I had midwives pushing on me to try to ease my back labor.  You would think pushing a human out of your vagina would really take it's toll on your body and you'd feel like crap...but the body is obviously designed to do this AND take care of the baby it produced.  My greatest complaint immediately upon arriving home was the fact that if felt like my guts were gonna fall out.  Your belly muscles DO NOT WORK at all and you feel like your insides could just fall out at any moment if you didn't hold them in with your hand.  WEIRD feeling.

At two weeks I: still really enjoying breastfeeding, but Baby Jett seems to have an issue with projectile spit up.  I asked the pediatrician about it and she says it's totally normal, I have a quick letdown and am apparently drowning my baby when he first latches on so he gulps like a madman to try to get all the milk which causes some projectile spit up if we move him too quickly after a feed.  My body and his body are still figuring each other out and over the next few weeks my letdown SHOULD decrease a bit as it figures out that he doesn't NEED that much right when baby latches on.  But projectile spit up notwithstanding breastfeeding is still going well and baby is up to 6 lbs. 11 oz.  STILL TINY and only in the 15th percentile but gaining weight just fine and is up from being in the 5th percentile!

...weigh about 128 lbs., which is up about 6 lbs. pre-pregnancy.  I also fit into all of my regular clothes again.  Everyone told me my hips would forever be wider after giving birth but that doesn't appear to be true as all my pants fit again...this is why I'm writing this guys, because of everything everyone told me...I believed everyone and I'm finding it weird that none of it appears to be true in my case.  The truth of the matter is that all women are different and quickly go back to your original size I GUESS. healed from the birth except for those two labial stitches that I can actually feel now.  Believe me, after the birth you DO NOT touch the area and I honestly had no idea what bi-lateral labial stitches really were or where they really I finally did some exploring and found them.  They must be about ready to dissolve any day now, but I can still feel them.  I also still have hemorrhoids, but they are shrinking SIGNIFICANTLY each and every day and I feel they too will soon be gone.  My crotch finally doesn't hurt AT ALL anymore and bleeding is down to a bare bare minimum.  Almost not even pantyliner worthy...but if I don't wear a pantyliner I'll ruin underwear.  My back feels better too, that epidural pain wore off after about a week to a week and a half and I don't have any back pain anymore.

I find that the only part of me that really feels different than it did pre-pregnancy is my tummy.  The muscles are starting to come back together and work again, but not really well yet.

Just home from the hospital, this is the day I gave birth. 

I look like death...I'm really tired.

It's like a 6 month pregnant belly!

One week. 

Belly shrank significantly.

 Two Weeks...Please ignore the HUGE MESS, my parents just left for home...let real life on our own begin!

It's still very very squishy, I can't wait to be able to feel and use my stomach muscles again!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

On Preeclampsia

I promised a post on here it is.

While I was having a lot of trouble accepting it at the time because it happened so suddenly, I can fully appreciate now that I probably had preeclampsia.  If I did not, I would have before I hit 40 weeks and a homebirth was unfortunately never going to happen for me and I was never going to stay pregnant until my due date.

As I stated many times, preeclampsia is actually pretty scary and it is best monitored by giving birth in a hospital.

I accept this.

No one knows exactly what causes preeclamsia and no one knows exactly why some women get it and not others.  But it is theorized that it is a disease of the placenta.  The placenta has a finite life anyway and begins to break down and stop working at 42 weeks, this is why everyone gets concerned if you haven't delivered by 42 weeks, but it seems in preeclampsia the placenta starts to break down earlier than it should.

I was asymptomatic in that I did not have the swelling, visual disturbances, headaches or excessive weight gain.

But I had some of the more important ones of high blood pressure, an easy induction and a baby that wasn't growing anymore.

Yeah, baby wasn't growing anymore.

If you remember, baby was measuring roughly 5.5 lbs. at 34 weeks and about 6 lbs at 36 weeks.  Baby came out at 38 weeks at 6 lbs, beefed up a bit by the IV fluids, which means he wasn't REALLY 6 lbs.  Poor baby really hadn't grown much since 34 weeks.  Yeah, I had a little belly, and a little baby in it.

This part makes me sad.  My baby being born so small makes me sad.  He's growing now and was already back to his birth weight at 6 days old, but man those were a rough few days when he was losing weight.

I'm disappointed in my placenta and the fact that it quit working.  BAD BAD PLACENTA!  (And no I did no encaspsulate or make art out of my placenta...I am angry with my placenta, it does not deserve to have art made out of it, future post on this to come.)

So yes, I had preeclampsia and I needed to have my baby in the hospital just in case something went wrong.

This isn't the part of my story that makes me angry.

The diagnosis does not make me angry.

Ok I am angry about my diagnosis, but that's my placenta's fault not the hospitals.

I am angry with the hospital because of the cookie cutter way in which they treated the diagnosis of preeclampsia.

Is all they saw was a woman showing signs of preeclampsia who was 38 weeks pregnant, full term in their eyes.  And as far as they were concerned I needed to deliver that baby right then and there, not 2 days from then, not 12 hours from then, right then.

They could see no reason to compromise.  No benefit to staying pregnant even a day longer.

What they couldn't comprehend was that just the day before I was all set to have a homebirth.  In one day I went from planning a peaceful homebirth to OMG YOU HAVE PREECLAMPSIA YOU HAVE TO BE INDUCED AND GET THAT BABY OUT NOW!

They could not accept that I was not trying to put me or my baby at risk by refusing an immediate induction but that I needed ONE night to both change gears and accept what was happening mentally AND GET SOME FUCKING SLEEP so that I could come to the hospital refreshed and ready to have a baby, not so exhausted that I don't know how I even found the energy to do what I did.

I had even signed all the leaving Against Medical Advice paperwork that they shoved in my face so I could not sue them should I start seizing in those 12 hours that I was away from the hospital.  But they couldn't let it go.

And the fuckers bullied me into that induction by calling me an hour after I left to tell me my bloodwork was changing.  Had I not been so exhausted, had I not already been fighting them for 2 days, had I just been in a better place mentally I would have questions WHAT was changing and what it meant.

But I was tired of fighting and I gave in.

In the end, once all the results from the bloodwork and the 24-hour urine test came back THAT THEY WERE SO WEIRD ABOUT LETTING ME FINISH after I'd had the baby it was determined that YES, blood work was changing heading in the direction of preeclampsia, BUT STILL IN THE NORMAL RANGE.  And the urine????  Came back normal.  


When all was said and done everyone conceded that YES, THEY DEFINITELY COULD HAVE LET ME WAIT 12 HOURS FOR THE INDUCTION, probably even a few days if I had daily monitoring!

And that, my friends, is why I desperately tried to stay out of the hospital system while I was pregnant.  Why I so desperately wanted a homebirth.  Why I was so upset with the way the induction was handled.

Everyone says that once you have the baby it doesn't matter how he came into the world because you got a healthy baby in the end.

I disagree.

Maybe I'll change my mind in the future, but for still matters and I'm still pissed.

To me, they took something away from me unnecessarily by refusing to match specific circumstances to a recommended course of action.  When I pulled that baby out of me, so numb that if felt like I was pulling a baby out of someone else's body, I did not cry with pure joy or feel this overwhelming gush of love for this little thing on my chest.  I cried in relief.  Relief that it was over and that soon I'd be able to feel my legs again and I could get out of that fucking hospital.  

It took me a few days at home with baby to actually feel any sort of real emotion when I looked at him.  People say they look at their babies and wonder how they could ever love anything more and that the feeling needs a new name because love isn't strong enough, blah blah blah...I felt none of that.

Just relief.

And I felt awful because I know so many women who've had much more traumatic deliveries (3rd & 4th degree tears!  forceps!  C-sections!) and THEY were able to say that all the pain in the world was worth it just to see their babies for the first time.  And here I was with my perfectly intact perineum, no trauma whatsoever, and I couldn't, and still can't, make that statement.

With time I hope this feeling passes and that I will be able to look back on Baby Jett's birth story with better feelings than anger and sadness...but for now it is what it is.

The hospital, once again, has proven to me that it is the worst place in the world for women to be having babies under normal circumstances...and that even under abnormal circumstances like preeclampsia I wish there were other options.

Hopefully if we can manage to get pregnant again in the future we can stay far far away from the hospital and get our homebirth that we're still longing for.  And please god let me not end up preeclamptic again!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Not 30 Anymore Just In My Thirties

Today I turn 31.

I was convinced 30 was going down as the worst year of my life.  The miscarriage and the death of my grandmother left an awful taste in my mouth even as we welcomed the news of a second pregnancy on the heels of the first. 

I was elated about the pregnancy but upset about being pregnant for ANOTHER birthday, which just served as a reminder of what we had lost and WHY I was still pregnant a full year later.  

And I really wanted to have a baby while I was still 30.

I never considered the fact that Baby Jett would come early.  Unless he was showing up today, on my birthday, I honestly believed he wouldn't be here until the end of August.

But he's been with us for 10 days already.  

And Baby Jett's early arrival turned 30 from the worst year of my life into the something much different.

I can't claim 30 was the best year of my life as there was still just so much sadness, but Jett is the light at the end of that dark dark tunnel and I am grateful that he made his debut when he did.

So Goodbye 30 and Hello 31.

Friday, August 10, 2012

One Week

I should be 39w2d pregnant right now...instead my baby is 1 week old.  Still so weird.

At one week Baby Jett:

Has diaper rash already!  Ugh, we tried so hard to avoid diaper rash, changing him ALL the time but seems it is impossible to avoid.

Is a champion nurser.  He's what's called an "efficient" nurser because he latches on, guzzles down half a boob in 8 minutes, gags, burbs and spits up for a bit, sometimes a la exorcist style (projectile baby spit up at 2am is awesome)...and repeats on the other side.  Nursing sessions should only take about 20 minutes at this rate but...

He is also a very picky eater.  If he has gas, needs to burp, needs to pee, has a wet diaper or dirty diaper, if ANYTHING is amiss he won't latch until the problem is fixed.  Thus nursing sessions take much closer to 30-45 minutes because mommy and daddy have trouble figuring out what's wrong before Baby Jett will nurse.  There's also a lot of latching, sucking, pulling away, figure out what's wrong, change what's wrong, problem fixed! back on the boob, latch, suck and repeat.  It's a game of trial and error.  

Is back to his birth weight already!  This can take anywhere from a week to a full 2 weeks for them to get back to birth weight, but because he's such a great nurser Baby Jett accomplished this feat in just 6 days.  Which is completely awesome because babies under 6 lbs. are too tiny!

Is also a champion sleeper.  We spent the first 6 days waking baby every 2-3 hours to nurse, which can be quite exhausting, especially when baby doesn't want to wake up!  But as of Day 6 when he reached birth weight again we can now let him sleep for a 4-5 hour stretch every 24 hours.  Of course we choose to let this happen at night and Baby Jett has put up no fuss about it.  I end up waking him up in the night to feed because my boobs are engorged...I have no idea how long he would sleep if we let him.  You know you're a parent when you think a 4 hour stretch of sleep is a LOT and you're super excited about it.  We, by the way, get a good 2 hour stretch and then the 4 hour stretch at night now and if we're lucky an hour or two nap during the's not bad, totally doable.

Sleeps in bed with us.  I honestly don't know how I could possibly put him in his nursery all by himself when he's so teeny tiny.  I also don't know how I'd know to wake up and nurse if he wasn't right next to me.  He doesn't really cry, he just sort of wakes up and starts moving and grunting, it wakes me right up because I'm next to him but if he was in another room I imagine he'd have to get all the way to crying for me to hear him!  I love waking up to see him right there next to me...we will be co-sleeping until he moves around too much in his sleep as to annoy the shit out of me.

Is just being way too good of a baby for me to accept.  Instead of relishing in the moment I'm looking to the future and thinking about all the ways in which things could change and make him a fussy baby.  I should stop and just take in the moment and enjoy the fact that we slipped into this thing called parenthood relatively easily.

And because I never got to do my 38 week bumpdate...cause you know...we decided to just have the baby instead...I give you my final pregnant photo, taken just an hour or two before we headed off to the hospital.

And Baby Jett on the outside!  Curled into the exact position he was in utero.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Jett's Birth Story Part 2

Birth Story Part I

So, it's 9am Thursday morning, I'm in labor on my own and we've been laboring in bed for 9 hours...time to make a move.

The very first thing I did and I strongly recommend this to anyone who goes into labor at home, I brushed my teeth and I TOOK A SHOWER.  I sat on the birth ball in the shower and Dom got in with me and helped me wash my hair.  Contractions were picking up but totally manageable, I could breathe through them easily and I loved this first shower of the morning...I spent quite a while in there, mentally preparing to switch gears again and get this baby out au naturale.

The day pretty much progressed in a blur from here.  I did a lot of moving around the room, swaying while I held onto Dom's neck, on the bed, off the bed, bent over the bed, on the birth ball, in the bath.  It was interesting to see what positions felt good and which ones I couldn't wait to get out of.  At one point I had my arms draped over Dom's neck swaying, while one midwife put pressure on my back and one midwife put pressure on my hips.  Here's where I'm going to say ANYONE WHO WANTS TO LABOR NATURALLY, GET YOURSELF A BIRTH TEAM.  There was no fewer than 3 people in the room with me at all times and I kept them BUSY!  Getting drinks, getting snacks, pulling my hair back into a ponytail, pinning my bangs, pushing on hips, letting me lean on them, etc etc.  Don't pretend that you and your husband can do this by can't, get yourself a whole slew of people in there!

Sometime in the afternoon things were starting to get really intense and I was feeling pretty strong rectal pressure, which from this point on became what my contractions felt like, they were no longer in my uterus, they were almost exclusively in my rectum.  And while I wasn't pushing consciously and was just trying to relax into the feeling, always thinking "open" thoughts, at some point my body started bearing down on it's own.  I should also mention I was also fully naked at this point except for my monitors and had been for hours as I moved all over the room.  I never put clothes on again until long after delivering the baby.  There's no modesty in labor, there's no part of you that has time to concentrate on such things.  I had also switched from breathing through the contractions to full on moaning at some point, the low guttural moans just sort of flow out of your body and if you can direct them they REALLY help as pain management.  I SWEAR.

But the bearing down sensation was becoming really unbearable and to top it off I was now getting back labor too.  BACK LABOR SUCKS!

At about 5pm I had a bit of a breakdown, it was the back labor that finally threw me over the edge.  We decided on a cervical check since I hadn't been checked since midnight.

A good 17 hours of labor and we were only at 5cm.  I lost it.  All the breathing, moaning, relaxing went out the window and I was in PAIN.  I started crying and told everyone I didn't want to do this anymore.  If we were at home I would power through but since we were in the hospital and everything was so fucked up anyway I just wanted to get it over and done with.  I WAS DONE.  I told them I just wanted the damn epidural now so my back would quit hurting.  Add this to the reasons to have a team of people with you, at this point everyone encouraged me to keep going, that I could quit if I really wanted to, but that I was doing it, (even the nurse, which I vividly remember for some reason, you always hear about nurses offering anesthesia over and over until you finally cave) I was getting my birth I wanted I was just in a hospital and still contracting and progressing really well.

We decided to try some nitrous oxide to take the edge off the back pain and see if I could keep going.  I cried my way through the next few contractions on the nitrous and while it didn't really help, somehow in that hazy light headed feeling I found something within myself that wanted to keep going.  But I had to move to try to get the baby out of the terrible position that was causing the back labor.  Hands and knees sounded like the worst position in the world to be in but my midwives insisted this was a good position to move the baby.  So, somehow we decided on hands and knees IN THE SHOWER so I could have the hot water spraying my back and also try to get baby to turn.

THIS BECAME MY NEW FAVORITE POSITION and I basically did not want to leave the shower ever again.  I stayed here for hours.  Literally hours, not figuratively hours, the one plus to a hospital birth is the hot water NEVER runs out!  I ate hard boiled eggs here, I had the most amazing delicious cup of coffee here, I loved it here.  These were the most special, intimate, just the two of us moments between Dom and I.  He got in the bath with me and sat on a teeny tiny ledge that I'm sure hurt to be sitting on and let me lean on him as I breathed and moaned through every contraction.

It's so interesting that between contractions you feel perfectly fine.  You can talk, you can walk, you can kind of come back out of labor land mentally.  I will look back on those moments between contractions while it was just the two of us in the shower and remember how special it all was, this is the part of my birth that was beautiful, the fact that I have those moments to look back on with nothing but joy.  And as each contraction swept over me I had Dom whispering in my ear that I was doing a good didn't matter how many people were actually was just the two of us bringing our baby into the world.

So now that I was in the tub and had found a position that didn't bring on the back labor I was so scared of getting out of the tub and getting back labor again and was really hesitant to try any new positions.  It was THAT bad that I didn't think I could survive even one contraction with back labor again.  So, this girl wasn't leaving that amazing hot water that was pounding on my back through each contraction!  

BUT there's a downside to being in hot get dehydrated and overheated, so at some point I ended up back on the bed so that I could get some fluids through my IV and we also decided to get checked again as the bearing down sensation was absolutely excruciating and we needed to know if it was time to push yet or if my body was still just doing it on it's own prematurely.

I was at a whopping 6 cm and all the bearing down was starting to swell my cervix.


It was close to midnight again, almost Friday morning and I had been laboring for 24 hours and I was now being told to breathe out with each contraction and FIGHT the urge to push rather than relax around it and I had nothing left.  Once I got on that bed I was literally falling asleep between contractions.  I had heard stories of women falling asleep in between contractions but didn't believe it was possible.  

It's totally possible.

My contractions were starting to slow as well, in an effort to preserve ME my body was trying to give me a break.  I had three options at this point, get up off the bed and move around to try to get the contractions going again, start pitocin on a low dose to keep contractions going and see if I could handle it or get an epidural, get some pitocin to keep the contractions going and get some sleep.  

I couldn't imagine trying to get off that bed, move around and continue to fight that bearing down sensation.  I also couldn't imagine continuing to lay there adding pitocin to the mix, and still try to fight that bearing down sensation while my contractions got stronger and stronger from the drugs.


And here is where that stupid little fact of me coming in the night before rather than the next morning becomes so important.  We all agree that if I had gotten one last good night's sleep I probably would have been able to finish this without that damn epidural as the point I was at, 6cm to 10cm, is usually a relatively short phase of labor.

But I was so tired, I just didn't care anymore and wanted it done.  I was completely and utterly exhausted and felt SO DEFEATED.  I even began to think about a C-sections at this point and decided I didn't care if I had to have a C-section either, I just wanted the baby out.

It still makes me cry just thinking about how completely defeated I felt and how pissed I am about that one night of sleep.

So, in comes the anesthesiologist and in goes the epidural, which, ladies, if you've been laboring at all the pain of the epidural is so minor as to almost be insignificant.  A little sting in your back is nothing like a contraction in active labor.  I almost laughed when he said "you're gonna feel a little stinging", I was like WHO THE FUCK CARES ABOUT STINGING!

I HATED THE EPIDURAL and will never ever ever get one again if there is any way to avoid it.  But the pain was going away and after they got me all settled I finally, FINALLY could sleep.

ONE hour later I wake up with some breakthrough pain in the right side of my uterus.  After so many hours of back labor and that awful rectal pressure I actually had forgotten what a contraction felt like in my uterus.  It hurt in a very very different way than what had been happening before and was honestly quite easy to breathe through, but MOTHERFUCKER I gave in to that damn epidural, I WANTED NO PAIN AND TO SLEEP.  I also had the most awful disgusting heartburn suddenly that was so bad I was almost throwing up.  I was so miserable guys, so so miserable.

After another hour of trying to get me the right drugs to get the heartburn to go away, the right amount of top off to the epidural to get the pain to go away and my midwife getting me out of an unnecessary vaginal exam I was finally in no pain again and back to sleep.

Blissful blissful sleep.

Two hours later, at 4am, 28 hours of labor later I have millions of people back in my room, everyone thinks I'm probably fully dilated now as my contractions on the monitor look strong.  I'm so numb at this point from the epidural that I don't even really open my eyes for the vaginal exam, but then someone whispers ok, Jesica, time to open your eyes and push your baby out!

Relief swept over me, the 2 hour nap gave me the energy I needed to finish this thing out and the pushing began.  It was super weird to push with the epidural but apparently I was doing it well as every time I pushed people kept exclaiming, Oh wow! Good pushing! Look at that! etc etc.  Baby's head was already visible just a few pushes in.  After about 20 minutes pushing was going fine, baby was moving down with each push and stretching me out a bit between contractions.  Somewhere in here I asked for a mirror so I could see, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED if you're pushing through an epidural.  Seeing the baby head completely freaked me out, but it really helped me direct my pushing, I could see what worked to move baby down and what didn't because I couldn't feel anything.

After just 45 minutes of pushing, at 4:45am on Friday morning, 29 hours after labor started, my midwife grabbed my hand and said help pull your baby out.  I reached down and helped pull baby the rest of the way out and onto my chest.  As I admired the little squirming baby covered in goo on my chest, tears streaming down my face, I asked if it was a boy or a girl and everyone said YOU TELL US!  I looked down, got the little wiggler to separate his legs and declared BOY!  A son, still so strange to say.

My midwife excitedly tells me my perineum is still intact and that I just have 2 tiny tears on either side of my labia where the baby's hand was up by his head when he came out.  After an uber quick delivery of the placenta which came out with my very next contraction my midwife tells me that they don't normally stitch the little tears that I have but since I'm already numb and the stitches sting less than tears when you pee after delivery the stitches would probably be preferable.  I accepted this logic, anything to make postpartum recovery easier was fine by me.

A few minutes later we were done.  All the way, officially, finally done.  I had a healthy baby.  We had a vaginal delivery.  I labored naturally like I'd wanted to for the vast majority of the time.  And I had an intact perineum.  

But I mourn the fact that I didn't get to feel him leave my body.  And that I feel like I gave up 5 hours from the end.  I was so so close and I gave up.

It took a few hours for me to be able to feel my left leg again, but once I could finally walk and PEE, (apparently the all important thing about an epidural is to be able to pee afterward) we left the hospital as soon as we could.  I WAS NOT staying another night in that place after having already been there for 2, so after a lot of signing of paperwork saying we were leaving against medical advice and taking the baby against medical advice we were finally home and able to pretend that we'd been there the whole time.  Our bedroom became our little nest that we didn't leave until Monday when I finally just needed to use my legs a bit and a change of scenery.

All in all it was a good delivery, obviously not short by any means at 29 hours, but so many things I was worried about regarding hospital births didn't happen and I know I need to be grateful for what I was able to have even though we did not get the homebirth we had planned and I didn't have the fully natural birth that I wanted.

I will write about the preeclampsia in another post and discuss my anger, not about the diagnosis per se as it became quite clear that I was in fact on my way to preeclampsia if not already there, but the robotic like way in which the hospital treated the diagnosis and subsequent induction.  I'll also tell you the results of the 24 hour urine test that I told you I finished.

If you made it to the end Congratulations, sorry it was so long!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Jett's Birth Story Part I

Instead of a 39 Week Bumpdate, I give you my birth story.

I am still completely emotional and upset by what happened to me and how it ultimately changed my birth.  It was really small, seemingly insignificant details that had significant consequences and I'm still pissed off.

My birth turned out beautiful and better than I was hoping for after being told I had to be induced but I feel a little bit like something was taken away from me that didn't need to be.

I'm gonna do this in 2 parts for you guys so it's not so long.

So, without further ado...Jett's Birth Story.

When I last left you it was Wednesday, I had been diagnosed with mild preeclampsia and I had refused an induction and agreed to a 24-hour urine collection and an ultrasound to check amniotic fluid and growth of baby, at which time we would discuss again either induction or letting me continue the pregnancy with extra monitoring depending on the results.

I went in for an ultrasound at 1:45pm, by 2:30pm we were once again across the street in labor and delivery being hooked up to monitors and having more blood drawn.

My amniotic fluid had gone from an 11 the day before down to a 6.  Amniotic fluid can vary but it was a significant drop and combined with the blood pressure and the fact that baby was measuring only 6 lbs (13th percentile) we once again went over all the negatives and positives of an induction that night and how there was basically no positive whatsoever to staying pregnant any longer.

After another long chat with both my midwives and the hospital midwives we all decided that yes, if I wasn't already preeclamptic I was rapidly heading that direction and that yes, baby should probably come out sooner rather than later.

Once again I was pressured heavily to not even leave the hospital and just be admitted right then and there to start the induction.  But I still wanted the results from the 24 hour urine test which wouldn't be complete until 7am the next day AND I wanted one last good night's sleep before I was going to have to undergo an unwanted induction to have a baby at 38 weeks.  Remember that detail as it's one of the small details that led us down the road that we had to take and what I am most upset about.

So, we all agreed that we would leave the hospital then and come back in the morning with the urine collection, us rested and with all of the things we would need should we have to stay if the results of the urine collection were not good.

We leave and try to come to terms with the fact that we were not only not having a homebirth but that we would be having an induced hospital birth, pretty much my worst fear.  I cried a lot, took a bath, took some final 38-week photos and made a belly cast of the bump.  We were just getting ready to go out for a final meal as just the 2 of us when the hospital midwife calls to tell me that my blood work had changed and that she was no longer comfortable with us waiting until the next day for the induction, we needed to go in NOW.

At this point we were just so tired of fighting off the inevitable as we'd already accepted that we were more than likely getting induced the following day and we said ok, you win, we'll come in tonight.

This is the bone of contention, the tiny little thing that would not have altered the matter of a safe delivery, but would have given us peace with what we felt we were being forced to do.

One goddamn night's sleep.

We gathered our things and went out for our final meal and had a glass of wine with dinner.

An hour later than when we told them we would be there we showed up at the hospital, got admitted and got settled in a delivery room.  We brought our 24 hour pee collection jug and it was decided that I would continue to pee in the stupid thing until 7 am and they would still do the test for us...for our own peace of mind and hopefully for their medical knowledge, though they had already decided I had preeclampsia and I don't think anything would have convinced them otherwise.

That's another important detail to remember...we finished the damn test.

Some time close to 11pm-midnight after my midwife showed up we decided to go for the misoprostol as the first means of getting labor started.  Technically this is categorized as an induction, but it's just a pill (an ulcer medication actually) that stays in your system for about 4 hours and just thins and dilates your cervix a bit.  The reason for the "light" induction before administering pitocin is that pitocin does not work well unless you're already dilated to 3cm, so the miso is administered beforehand to try to give the pitocin the best shot at working.  I was only 1 cm dilated at this point and I was told to expect some light cramping but more than likely I would be able to sleep right through it.  A 2nd dose would be administered at 4am and I would get checked at 8am after all the miso was out of my system and we would see what the next step would be.

I was told it was very very unlikely BUT there was a possibility the miso would dilate me enough that my body would just go into labor on it's own and that that would be the best case scenario because we could then still have a natural birth...I would just be in the hospital for it.

I don't know that I actually even processed this little bit of information at the time.  I was already exhausted and felt very bullied, defeated and resigned to the fact that I was going to get pitocin and an epidural in the morning.  I did not realize I could still have a natural birth.

I did manage a little bit of sleep between midnight and 4am, with some very minimal cramping, but 2 hours max.  At 4am when the nurse came to check on me and give me my 2nd dose of water broke.  Between 4am-8am I started contracting pretty regularly and once again got basically no sleep.  By the time all the midwives were back at 8am and the Dr. came to check me I was regularly contracting and in labor ON MY OWN.

This is another reason everyone is pretty damn sure I was in fact preeclamptic, apparently preeclamptics are really easy to induce, and while nobody knows why, it seems to be that the body knows the placenta isn't working anymore and that's it's time to get baby out and accepts an induction really well.  Cause let's face it, it's usually a bit tricky to induce a 38 weeker, it usually requires a lot of pitocin.  YAY BODY!  But screw my preeclamptic placenta.

So instead of checking me, they just left me alone.  Midwives kicked everybody out except the nurse and labor was ON. At this point I was hooked up to monitors to measure baby heart rate and my contractions and while I had the setup on my arm for an IV, I was not attached, so I could move around freely.  It wasn't exactly easy to move around as there were lots of cords, but I was attached to a remote monitor and could move around and go anywhere I wanted, EVEN THE SHOWER/BATH!

I didn't know what was going on at this point really, I knew that I was in labor but I had done NO research on hospitals and had no idea that I could eat, drink, wear whatever I wanted, get in the shower, get in the bath, etc etc.  I had come to the hospital resigned to the fact that I was going to be tied to a bed and drugged up to get this baby out and it really wasn't processing that I could in fact pretty much do whatever I needed to do at this point.  We were getting to do this naturally and I couldn't actually comprehend that things weren't as bad as I had thought.

To be continued tomorrow...

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Everything in my house smells like breast milk.

My boobs are massive.

And my baby is absolutely tiny.

We're down to 5 lbs 6.5 oz, he doesn't even fit into newborn clothes...we're in preemie stuff.

But he's nursing like a champ...and damn he's cute.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Our New Addition

Announcing the newest addition to the Brennan family.

It's a BOY!

Jett Lawrence Brennan born at 4:45am Aug. 3rd, 2012.  Weighing in at 6 lbs, 19.75 inches long.

The birth did NOT turn out as I had planned, but considering the many other ways in which things could have happened since I was only 38w1d I am doing ok with the road we traveled down.  And let's just say thank god I had my midwives there, a birth TEAM is really and truly the way to go, I felt so supported and looked after and knew that there were people there who really and truly had my best interests at heart and we avoided a LOT of unnecessary drugs, checks and procedures that way.

I'll have a full birth story for you soon but ultimately as far as hospital births go I came away from the experience pretty unscathed physically.  Labor was almost entirely au naturale and my perineum is still intact!

I had the baby yesterday morning and we were home by nightfall as I had NO desire to stay a moment longer than was necessary at the hospital.  I already feel a thousand times better than I did yesterday and we're home just working on nursing.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Practicing What I Preach

We spent 6 hours yesterday at labor and delivery in the hospital.

And at the end of it I was "encouraged" to induce...right then and there.

I'll back up for you a bit.

I had my regular weekly midwife appt yesterday at noon.

I had high blood pressure again.  But no protein in my urine in the dip stick test again.  Same as 2 weeks ago.

To ease my midwife's mind she sent me to the hospital so they could hook me up to a blood pressure machine and monitor it for a bit.  Her thought was better safe than sorry.

I don't disagree.  She needs to feel comfortable letting me continue with the homebirth.

For 5 hours I had a blood pressure cuff on measuring my blood pressure and monitors all over my belly measuring baby's heart rate and uterine contractions.

I also had a blood test done and another urine test.

All day long nurses and Dr.'s kept coming in saying how good everything was looking and that they were just waiting for my lab results to let me go.

Over the time period I had 2 blood pressure spikes.  

It happens whenever I talk through the reading.

The rest of the readings were all in the normal range.

But after 6 long hours of sitting in a closet strapped to monitors the HIGH RISK OB pops her face in and tells me that my labs came back, I have protein in my urine and that combined with the high blood pressure spikes she is diagnosing me with MILD PREECLAMPSIA and the fact that I'm 38 weeks, full term, she recommends an induction NOW.

I was somewhere between pissed off and absolutely devastated.

I'd done my homework as I know a few people who've dealt with high blood pressure during pregnancy and also because I'd been dealing with it myself and traditionally the next step is a 24-hour urine analysis before officially diagnosing MILD PREECLAMPSIA.  The full term thing led her to gloss over this step completely and she diagnosed me without the 24 hour test...which really pissed me off.  I am now plagued with an official diagnosis of preeclampsia in my chart regardless of what happens at this point.

We said no, we will not induce right now we want the 24-hour urine test.

She said she would agree to that if I would agree to a check of my amniotic fluid and an ultrasound to confirm baby is growing because preeclampsia can stunt baby's growth.

I agreed to both and after talking to my midwives if either is off, either low amniotic fluid or the baby concerningly small then we would go ahead with the induction.

After a quick ultrasound my amniotic fluid is measuring FINE and baby looks like he is growing fine.  I have a more detailed ultrasound later on today to confirm the baby's growth.

And that's where we stand right now.

About a heartbeat away from being induced for mild preeclampsia.

And getting farther and farther away from my longed for homebirth.

My title of this post is Practicing What I Preach because I made a few statements about appropriate birthing in previous posts and preeclampsia is one of the conditions in which a homebirth is no longer safe and in which an induction is completely appropriate to keep mama and baby out of harms way.

But I never imagined I would be in this position.

I WILL get the induction at the hospital if my 24-hour urine test comes back positive for proteins in a high enough volume to convince me that I have preeclampsia.  Practicing what I preach.

But I'm pissed.

I have no other signs of preeclampsia.  No headaches, no visual disturbances, no swelling.

If I wasn't who I was, if I hadn't done my research, if I didn't know there were options I would have been induced yesterday and probably have a baby right now...or be having one.  I'm in awe and absolutely astounded at the pressure that was put on me to induce.

Even if I don't have protein in my urine tomorrow I will be closely closely monitored from here on out with the very real possibility of an induction at any time.

It's very possible we will have a baby this weekend.

The homebirth is looking unrealistic because as I've's not safe at a certain point...and we're about at that point.

Even if I can get out from under this diagnosis of mild preeclampsia I don't know that my homebirth midwives will be comfortable with me being at home anymore.

So for now we are peeing into a jug for the next 24 hours.  Tomorrow will be spent hooked up to millions of monitors again...and then we go from there.

I'm devastated that everything I've prepared for over the past year is slipping through my fingers and that here at the very end, the final stretch, I'm having to completely change gears and try to accept that my birth experience is going to be nothing like I thought it would be.

I'm having a little trouble wrapping my brain around everything.

I'm holding out some hope that we can still do this at home, but realistically I'm trying to prepare myself for the induction and subsequent hospital birth.

And in the meantime we're trying like crazy to induce labor on our own.  Sex, nipple stimulation, evening primrose oil, acupressure, a chiropractor appointment, an acupuncture appointment, some long walks...this is my life probably until baby comes...if I have to do this in the hospital maybe I can at least avoid an induction!