“I just like to smile. Smiling’s my Favorite!” ~Buddy the Elf
Snuck over to my sister’s house to snag this holiday picture of her darling girls for her. I love it!
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
~Winnie the Pooh
Oh boy, it’s time for me to confess some bittersweet news. We are moving soon! Headed to Liberty, MO (just northeast of Kansas City). Paul has accepted a job in the corporate office at B&B Theatres that will be great for him and our family. We are really excited about this! And I’m excited to make new friends and have an adventure with my husband and kids in this new town that will soon be our home.
We moved to Wildwood a little over four years ago and at the time we couldn’t have known how much this place and these people would mean to us. It has been some of the best years of our lives. We are so fortunate to have followed life’s path here, and now it’s time for a new chapter.
Of course, goodbyes are the hardest part of this and I’ve been putting that off for a while. Things have moved along quicker than we had hoped and we will be moving before the month is out. So time to face reality and let all of you special friends and clients in Saint Louis know. I’ve been very blessed by each of you. I am thankful beyond words. I know I will be back next spring for a wedding, so scheduling portraits with me is totally possible during that time (email me if you are interested firstname.lastname@example.org). After that, no guarantees, but being only 4 hours away there is a big chance (probably if I can stack up some sessions) that I will be able to come visit and take some pictures.
You all mean so much to me! Thank you for being great!
Hey there! My little man is almost 9 months, and I REALLY need to plan a bigger session for him and just stop putting it off! I’m sure any other mom-tographers out there that follow my blog know how that goes… I do still take a monthly shot to track his growth, and lots of pictures on my iPhone, so I don’t feel too bad. But sometimes is isn’t easy to take pictures of your own kiddos. He’s just getting big so fast, so I will make it happen…. in June-you can hold me to it! For now, here is one super cute picture I took of my little squishy man at 6 months. Ah! I love this kid so much, my heart may just explode!!!
It was a little challenging to get in the studio (even though across the hall… haha!) and do a session of little Kal in those first few days, so we spread it out. Paul and I started his session at day 4 (I think) and wrapped it up by day 13. Kal has been an angel since day one. Super mellow little child. We’re perfectly in love with this handsome little blue-eyed boy with a crooked nose, big kissy lips, and lack of visible eyebrows.
All parents know, they change so much so fast. As I was looking through which pictures to put up on the blog, I’m thinking who is this child? Reviewing these makes me so glad we got his newborn moments captured in this way. He’s now a pretty big boy, and I’m glad I have some documentation of how he looked during this sweet but hazy time in my memory.
Before I start, as a photographers blog, I need to comment on the lack of photos here. I am a pretty insecure person, especially in front of the camera. (I can relate to most of my clients in this way.) I wasn’t interested in having anyone else in my house that night for fear it would keep me from being able to relax and let nature take over. We had counted on Jen and Paul taking a few pictures as it happened, but as you will see-it all happened too fast for any real “action” shots. I’ve included some of the shots Jen was kind enough to grab after he was born. Some with her phone, some with my camera. Thanks Jen!
My due date was slated for August 23rd. I thought I would have a baby by then because Sophia came a few days before her due date. August 23rd came and went with no baby. I realized that I actually hadn’t gone into labor with Sophia (my bag of waters ruptured prematurely leading to induction), so I was okay with the new “going over” territory. It had helped that weeks before on the first day of class, Jen introduced the inconsistencies and questionable science behind estimated due date. Also, I knew that a healthy baby was anywhere between 37 weeks and 42 weeks and that would be considered a normal term (40 weeks being the due date). Even though people I knew considered me as “going over”, I knew I was still not actually ‘over’ until I passed 42 weeks. My midwife was okay with this as long as the baby and I were doing well. In reality, I was glad to have more time. Anxious as I was to meet him, I had done the newborn thing before and knew it was hard and demanding, so I focused on getting more done at work and around the house. I was doing fine, keeping busy, and finishing all sorts of things I never thought I would until one thing I hadn’t prepared for happened: September.
Jen had advised us to “embrace our birth month” for our own sake and to keep me sane, so instead of clinging to that particular day the doctor told me I was due, I tried to tell people I was due in August. This had been extremely helpful-until it wasn’t August anymore. Paul’s birthday was in September, I didn’t want Kal’s to be too. Midnight on August 31st was a hard moment for me. From then on, I became a bit more obsessed with determining ways to get this baby out.
I had been having contractions, mostly when I’d go for a walk. So even though it was super hot, I was out walking for hours. Then I’d come in and sit down and they would go away. Some nights I’d feel some contractions. I would get excited. “Tonight’s the night!”, I would think. Then I’d look at the time and decide I should go to bed so I could rest up in case the hard labor would come on in the next few hours. Of course that also caused the contractions to stop. I see the problem in my reasoning there now and I feel a little more than foolish, but it made sense at the time. The good thing is, with this false labor (or start/stop labor), I was making progress. Whereas I was dilated to 1cm when I got to the hospital to have Sophia and 0% effaced, I was already at a 4 and at least 50%. Yay for work that I didn’t have to do later!
There I was, trying every Old Wives Tale that claims to facilitate induction. And EVERYONE had advice on what had put them or their daughter into labor. And folks, let me tell you: it is all a lie. Well, maybe some of the big ones really do work for some people: walking and black cohosh for instance, seemed to really give me some contractions. And maybe this is the bitterness of going crazy eating spicy or greasy foods, sucking my thumb, drinking gross red raspberry tea, doing jumping jacks in my living room, or spending hours with my Medela breast pump. But I think you get to this point (most every mother does) where you are desperate, so you try all of these things and eventually you have the baby, because you were going to anyway and you say, “Hey! This last thing that I had tried did the trick—that must be the secret to having a baby!” In my experience, nearly nothing works. Or at least that’s how I was starting to feel at the time. But I kept trying and it was exhausting. In retrospect, I think some nerves were in the way. The mind can be a powerful thing, and I think somewhere deep in mine, I was stopping labor from progressing because I was afraid. Afraid once again because of the pending pain. I was also nervous that with all this start/stop labor, the actual labor would go fast. Worst case scenario, Paul would be delivering the baby while Jen and Dana were on their way (I think something Paul was secretly hoping for). What I needed to do was to let go and allow my body to do it’s thing.
Dana, my midwife and I had decided that September 4th would be the day we would try to pull out all stops and try to get this baby to come. September 6th would mean 42 weeks, so it was time. As I have mentioned in earlier posts, one of my top reasons for wanting a home birth was to completely avoid an induction with Pitocin. I was so grateful we had switched to a midwife because I didn’t know very many people whose doctors let them go this far past 40 weeks. We both felt such an emotional confirmation that we had made the right decision. But now, it was time to try to get my body to get to work.
Tuesday the 4th was a nice day. I decided we’d consider my evening appointment with Dana as an induction. I told myself we were going to have a baby that night or the next day, hoping that saying that aloud would help my mind surrender to the inevitable. That morning I had an acupuncture session scheduled in my attempt to try anything to get the baby out. I cancelled it and we just spent time together as a family, enjoying our last day as a family of three. That was the right decision. We finished the day with dinner at PF Changs and then dropped Sophia off at her Aunt Kelly’s to spend the night.
Dana stripped my membranes which was uncomfortable, but bearable. I went directly home and drank a castor oil concoction she called a liquado (which was uncomfortable, but bearable). By 9:00 pm I was feeling contractions. I needed them to continue this time. No resting. If I sat, they would go away. So Paul and I watched back-to-back-to back episodes of Parks and Rec while I paced from our kitchen to the living room. I texted Jen, who we had also hired as our doula (we had both grown to love her so much we really wanted her with us for this) and asked her if she recommended anything to help bring on real labor. She told me to go up and down the stairs taking two at a time on the way up, with a slow, assisted descent. This seemed to help. My legs were so swollen at this point and they ached, but no big deal compared to what was to come, right? So Paul gave me a few foot rubs, but I spent most of my time pacing. Things started to feel stronger around 10:30 pm. I was feeling more pain and had several contractions in a row that made me stop and catch my breath. Then Paul and I started to get excited and made final preparations. He ran the water into the birthing pool. I made our bed and got out all the towels and changed into the tankini and dress I had planned to deliver in. I got Kal’s clothes out and turned off the lights and had just a few lamps on. About 11:40, I called Dana and texted Jen. Paul put a cute sign on the door that said something like: “If you are here for baby’n, come on in” directed to Jen and Dana.
Jen came in at 12:18. I was still feeling good and was happy to see her and tell her how things were going. I knew it was happening and I was getting excited. I had been trying to time my contractions on my phone but was a little confused. Sometimes my contractions were seven minutes apart, sometimes five, most of the time three. And sometimes even just a single minute between. The sporadic pattertn didn’t seem very textbook which made me question the legitimacy. She turned off my phone timer and told me to ignore it. I wanted to chat and be excited with her, but then a contraction came that blew me away. From then on, it was go time. I had to focus. I think my mind was ready to let go a little more now that a pro was here to help.
As this more powerful labor continued I moved from leaning over the birthing ball to standing in the kitchen and also to the toilet (the effect I had been warned about from the castor oil had not hit and it was hard for me to relax my butt for fear that I may poop all over my living room – so I spent some time on the toilet – just to be safe). My lower belly hurt, so Jen heated up a rice sock and applied it to the spot to help relieve the ache. She also reminded me to use my energy wisely and use low moaning tones when the contractions came. This not only helped me get through them, but helped make the laboring contractions more productive. At some point, while leaning over the ball, I started to shake. I was trembling all over and I couldn’t control it. Jen told me that this hormonal shaking was normal and a good sign. I ended up laboring on the toilet again when my midwife came.
Dana arrived at 1 am. I was in pretty intense labor, shaking and moaning. She immediately accessed the situation and asked me “Where do you want to have this baby?” It was a simple question, but the way she said it made me look at what was going on in that bathroom and step outside of my trance long enough to realize that the long hours of labor I was expecting would not be happening. All those stages I had learned about were meshing together in a insanely quick blur. I was about to have a baby on a toilet.
We wanted to deliver in the birthing pool, which I had asked Paul to set up upstairs. I had been having contractions a minute apart and could barely catch my breath or stop the hormone-induced shaking, so getting up there seemed impossible, but I needed to do it! Once again, there is amazing power a determined, desperate mind. I was able to hold off a contraction long enough to not only make it upstairs, but lay down on the floor (which was covered with absorbent sheets). Dana had a nurse assisting her named Susan. They worked fast. They had to and they rocked it. Dana examined me and I heard something about being dilated to a 9. Tunnel vision had taken over again and contractions were back. Paul sat behind me holding me through those contractions as I closed my eyes. I was helped into the pool. It was 1:04 am. Dana and Susan had been in the house less than five minutes.
Again, as if the short hours of this evening hadn’t been evidence enough, I wrongly assumed I still had some time. The water felt amazing. I got in ready to relax for a while. Since leaning had felt best this whole time, I just plopped right over the side of the pool in front of me as I got in. Everyone else took position after I chose mine. Jen poured some warm water over my tailbone which felt great. Paul got me water to drink and helped prop me up in the tub. I tried to relax, but was getting really scared. There was a brief moment free of contractions. I was in the zone and trying hard to release my fears and let my body take over. With no warning, an incredible and powerful contraction took over my body and I started to push. Mad at my body, I fought this. I was not under the impression that my next contraction would be a pushing contraction. There had been no warning like my experience with Sophia (maybe the absences of the epidural and Pitocin, maybe because it was my second time?) I felt like my body had betrayed me and I didn’t want to give in. The force was so strong my legs drifted up behind me and I yelled out, “I’m pushing and I don’t want to!” Somehow I made it through that, fighting it the whole way. I got a minute or two to catch my breath and listen to the words of my birth team. Paul told me I could do this and to not be afraid. Jen told me what I was feeling was my baby and I needed to welcome him. Dana told me when the next contraction came I needed to push. So I started to prepare myself. She was right, I couldn’t keep fighting it. Paul was in front of me, holding me, and I had my arms wrapped around his neck. The next contraction came. I started to scream, then Jen helped me by reminding me to relax and focus on making a low controlled sound. Jen and Paul have described the sound I made as “primal” and “guttural” -I just let out this deep, crazy roar that I could never repeat unless under the same circumstance. With one huge mother of a push, Kal was delivered. He was born at 1:13 am. We had wanted Paul to be able to catch Kal, but with how fast he came and the fact that I had Paul in a death-grip, that wasn’t possible. Dana initially caught him, and Paul got there to bring him out of the water. He held him as everyone else assisted me in getting turned around to hold my son.
It was amazing. We sat there in this warm tub in a dim room in our own house just looking at each other. I was trying to take it all in. I’m not sure if there were a million things going through my mind or none. Kal didn’t cry. He had come into this world so peacefully, what was there to cry about? (I actually didn’t hear him cry for a couple of days). That moment, with all the relief that swept over me from the labor being over and holding his perfectness, was breathtaking.
When I was ready, Dana clamped and Paul cut the cord. I handed him off to Paul. He took Kal across the hall into his room to dry him off and wrapped him in a towel. Everyone else teamed up to get me out of the tub. Dana had a birthing stool that I sat on and delivered the placenta. Then she had me lay on the absorbent sheets which covered the carpet to investigate me. I hadn’t torn. At all. I was relieved, as I had understood that in order not to tear I needed to push slow. I didn’t have that kind of control over the situation and it had happened faster than I had wanted it to, so I thought there would be a tear for sure. Then they helped me to my bathroom where Susan had drawn a bath. I was a little too lightheaded to stand in the shower. Both Dana and Susan were careful to make sure blood didn’t end up in my house. Susan used hydrogen peroxide to get a little drop off our bathmat. I appreciate their attentiveness.
I was so happy that through this time, Paul was the one holding our son, getting aquatinted with him. After I got dressed and in our bed, Kal and Paul came in and I held Kal again. Then I got to nurse him. He latched perfectly on his own. When I was ready to let go of him again, Dana and Susan took his stats on the bed next to me. He was 19 1/2 inches long and 7 pounds 6 ounces. He wasn’t the 10 pound baby everyone thought I would get for going to nearly 42 weeks, and he was perfect!
Dana and Susan made sure that I was fine, that Kal was fine, and that we didn’t have any questions. They left, saying they would be back in two days to check in on both of us. Jen helped Paul clean up the tub and whatever else while Kal and I snuggled in bed. It was a great night and I feel like the bond that we were able to develop that night, uninterrupted by tests or drugs has done something great for us. I’m not sure what it is, but I feel strongly that something about those first few hours has had a huge effect. Sophia met Kal the next afternoon and was instantly in love with her baby. We are now a very happy family of four!
My biggest takeaway from this experience is not that home birth is the only way, or even the best way. It was an amazing journey for us-one that we will never regret and always look back on fondly. However, my takeaway from the whole experience with Kal is that ownership of your birth story can be amazing. It is something I would like for all women to have, regardless of whether a midwife, home birth, water birth, doula, birthing center, or hospital is selected. Knowing your options can make your story your own. Paul and I have been empowered by this and our relationship with our son is all the better due to the decisions we made for ourselves before he was even born. I do want to add as well that I’m thankful for modern medicine, it is saving lives for sure (my sister and my three beautiful nieces to name a few). Sometimes interventions are wanted or even necessary, and we women have that choice. We do live in a wonderful time, where we have a vast amount of options. I’d like to encourage couples to seek excellent education when expecting, so they can learn about the choices that will lay before them and be prepared. After all, birth is one of life’s big moments (the biggest, I suppose).
A special thanks to Jen who, as part of her doula services, typed up her notes from the evening. And great love to all of you who have read this. Thanks for your encouragement in getting me to write it down. XOXO!
So my hope with telling parts one and two of this birth story were that when I got to this entry it may become easier for you to understand why we chose to have Kal delivered at home. I know it is a growing trend in the United States, but it’s still pretty strange sounding to the majority of us. And like I mentioned in the last entry, it honestly was the last thing on our minds. ….Until.
One week in Jen’s birthing class we spent a portion of it discussing home birth. And our narrow perspective of this was widened. For instance, I learned about midwives and how qualified and experienced they are, as well as how their approach and training differed from that of the OB doctor. It started to make more sense to me. I always had thought how out of place the maternity ward seemed in a hospital. You go to a hospital when you are sick, have a condition, or generally something wrong with you. I wasn’t sick, I didn’t have a “condition” and I didn’t feel like I should be viewed that way. As I mentioned in my last post, I no longer wanted to be a victim of labor. I wanted to allow my body to do the beautiful thing it was designed to do and trust in it’s abilities as well as trust in my baby, that he will know how and when to be born. I started to really want to be surrounded only by people who viewed birth in this peaceful way.
As I sat there in that class, listening to Jen’s descriptions, my mind wandered and I started to think more about what I really wanted. I wanted my body to be trusted by all not doubted. I wanted to be left to labor long without feeling like I needed to hurry it up or it being suggested that I need help getting things going. I didn’t want anyone to suggest drugs. I wanted to see what my body was capable of on its own. I wanted a room with calming lights and a familiar smell. I wanted to be able to eat whatever whenever and step outside if I thought it would help. I didn’t want to shower in a hospital shower, or use a hospital toilet. I wanted to be able to walk barefoot without worrying about how gross it was. I didn’t want to be connected to any machines or IVs. I wanted everyone around me to be focused on me and helping me achieve peace in that moment-the moment that would likely make me more frightened than I have ever been. I didn’t want to be treated like I was sick because it would likely make me feel that way. I wanted to hold my baby the instant he came out. He was in me! I made that healthy perfect home for him, he would be perfect- I didn’t need him to be sterilized before I touched him. And I wanted to be able to hold him for as long as I liked. And finally, I didn’t want to have to explain my desires to the staff when I got there and was already in the heaves of labor.
We finished up the class by watching a video of a home water birth. I remember sitting there thinking to myself how perfect that all sounded to me. And following that thought right up with, “forget about it-Paul will NEVER go for that.” It would seem, however, that he felt something too. Strangely enough as we were pulling onto 270 on the drive home, Paul starts to approach the subject. If I remember right, he started in as timidly as I would have. I think he was worried I would shut it down, so his approach was a little bit of a “now hear me out” style. Relief washed over me and we talked the whole way home realizing that we were eye to eye about how right it all felt. I emailed Jen for references the next day. I was 30 weeks at this point. I thought I may be crazy for changing my birth plan so late in the game, but how could I not try when it was so right? Jen sent me this link for area midwives: http://www.stlouismidwives.com/find-a-midwife Allison and Dana were the only two I called that had openings. I met with them that week. I absolutely loved them both and had a really hard time choosing. Since Allison was due with her second in September and I thought Dana’s medical background (she had years of experience as a nurse as well) would help calm friends and families concerns (when we would eventually decide to tell them), we chose to book with Dana.
My appointments with her were amazing. She had her own office in Richmond Heights where Sophia and I would go. She was an open book and I felt no rush, I was usually there for forty-five minutes. Sophia was constantly telling her, “You take care of my mommy. I love her very much.” Dana smiled and got used to that instruction from my three year old.
Paul and I debated about not telling anyone we chose home birth until after Kal arrived. We knew it would be impossible to explain to them all the reasons we came to the conclusions we did. And we knew there would be some concern about our safety. But I’m not a fan of lying, nor do I find it easy, so eventually the questions came and we answered them truthfully. Family was supportive. Some people were even excited for me. Some were concerned, but we assured them that we would go to the hospital if there were any signs of need (as our midwife would have instructed us as well). I also let them know that my Doctor (I really was sad to leave her, but knew what I wanted couldn’t be achieved in her care), although she was concerned as well and unhappy to see me go, admitted to me that I was a perfect candidate for a home delivery. We had some friends who seemed upset, annoyed, or confused. Most were a little weirded out, but supportive and helpful. A lot of times, I would be told a horror story of a friend of a friend who had delivered at home and had to be transferred to the hospital or had a scare with their baby or something awful. Transfers happen about 10% of the time, but anyone I know who ever ended up being transferred was grateful they did as much as they could at home. And thank goodness for modern medical intervention when we need it!
I wished I could have explained to them all the reasons we had made the choice we did. They would learn it wasn’t on a whim, but was very well thought out and planned. Here are some of the reasons I wanted to have a home verses hospital birth:
This became a major decider for me. You see, I tested positive for Group Beta streptococcus with Sophia. It is a bacteria that can occasionally decide to hang out in my lady parts and has a .5% chance of infecting the baby as they pass through (incidentally, 30% of those are preemies). About 10-30% of women get it. Because the test takes days to process, there is no way of knowing if it is colonizing the day I give birth. So the hospital treatment of this in America is to deliver antibiotics in labor. Since I tested positive once, I probably would have to have antibiotics in an IV for all of my deliveries (in a hospital). I’m not a fan of antibiotics personally, but it wasn’t so much the effect on me.
I learned one week in Jen’s birthing class about the effect antibiotics have on babies and I nearly cried then and there. You see, for the first 5 months of her life, Sophia was a screaming nightmare. Nonstop, so loud. We figured she had colic. But she wasn’t having issues with acid reflux, she was having digestive issues. She would scream just to poop the tiniest bit. It was so incredibly painful for her. Around month five, she started to adapt better, but it took a while to slowly go away (I credited introducing foods to her diet with this). I had tried everything changing my diet, infant drops, gripe water… etc. One day in class, Jen said that antibiotics during labor wipe out the babies good digestive bacteria and it is near impossible for them to replenish that, my heart sank. To think that these agonizing months could have been avoided. That my bond with my baby could have been sweeter rather than constant stress. That this medical treatment had caused her that great pain.
Of course, having a baby infected with GBS could be far worse, but other countries, like England, use different methods of preventing transfer. My midwife ended up putting me on a regimen of vitamins, probiotics, and herbs for weeks before my due date. She encouraged me to avoid sugar, because bacteria feeds off of it. Since the bag of waters protects the baby from any of my bacteria, in the event it should break during labor, we had some hibiclense on hand to administer every four hours topically.
We were surprised to learn that a home birth was much more affordable. They usually range between $1,500-3,000. This struck home in a big way. You see, I had maternity benefits through insurance with Sophia, but it capped at $2,500. I didn’t know this, but if the hospital is running your bill through an insurance company, they charge more. A ridiculous amount more. We were young and entirely sticker shocked. The bill for Sophia after our deductible was $11,000. Eleven thousand dollars. Silly as it is, I hadn’t switched companies. We had collected more insurance coverage however, to the tune of $5,000, but decided we were only going to use that for my prenatal visits and pay cash with the hospital. If you declare you will pay cash before the baby comes, we could get a two day stay for $3,000. Three thousand out of pocket was way better than $11,000 out of pocket. Until we heard about home birth. (Guess what though! Our insurance covered our home birth, so Kal cost us next to nothing compared to Sophia’s hospital birth! Win win!)
This to me was obvious. I could labor on my couch, my bed, my toilet, my bath, my rug, where ever and not have to cringe at the unknown of all the chemicals or how many people have spit, bled, or peed on that surface. The smell and lighting of hospitals does not relax me. The beds are not comfortable. In my home, I could dim the lights, have candles if I wanted. Wear what I wanted, move anywhere I wanted, outside if I felt like it. That sounded so good.
No stressful drive
It was a 20 minute drive to our hospital. Not unlike the drive to Joplin from Neosho, but I was pretty sure this time, it wasn’t going to be a leisurely Sunday morning jaunt. In my mind, if my body figured out what to do and went into labor on its own, it was going to go fast. Considering the relative quickness of labor after I got the epidural with Sophia, I just knew it was going to go even faster this time. No thank you, I’d rather not have to worry about delivering a baby on the side of 64-40 at 3 in the morning.
By now, my confidence in my body had grown exponentially since before I had Sophia. I’d spent the last three years thinking about how amazing it was when my body took over and heck! -even with an epidural, I pushed that girl out in twenty minutes flat! I was still crazy crazy scared, but I believed in myself. I wanted to do a natural birth. I didn’t want anyone around me making me doubt or suggesting drugs in crucial moments. I wanted to experience that (dare I say) better than sex high that God only reserved for a laboring woman (to help her cope with crippling pain of course, but nonetheless). For the longest time I had hated the “I gave birth naturally” club, now I wanted to join.
Midwives are typically more patient. Therefore, they are much better about helping to keep your perineum from tearing. I had 5 stitches the first time which was again, not bad, but this time, I wanted to go slow and have my midwife apply counter pressure (something they do regularly) to keep me from tearing at all.
Midwifes are so laid back about what position you want to be in when you labor. Sure, they may have their favorites, but ultimately I would be 100 percent supported should I decide to get in whatever position was feeling good, wherever I wanted. I spent hours on my back with Sophia. Guess what? Turns out that is the absolute worst and hardest position to be in during labor. Your uterus contracts forward. Being on your back is fighting that direction. Now that I was thinking about it, it made much more sense to me to squat or lean forward or anything else really. Laboring on your back is only easy for the person catching the baby, and I was more concerned with my comfort (and the babies) not theirs.
I was somewhat intrigued by water birth. It sounded relaxing to be surrounded by hot water. Most of all however, it sounded like the most gentle welcome for the baby I could imagine. With a midwife, we could rent the tub, if I felt like laboring and delivering in it, I would. And if so, my baby would come into the world in peace, no bright lights, loud noises, cold air, just warm familiar feeling water.
We were happy with the care we had found and felt very good about the decision we had made to switch to home birth. Now the waiting game begins.
I’m getting closer! Next time I will write about going “past due” and then it will be time to write about the birth. I really hope this isn’t getting super old for any of you. Thank you for your encouragement. If this is helpful for someone great, I’m glad. But actually writing this all down has been good for me as well.
Like always, feel free to shoot away with your comments. If you have any questions I can’t answer, I’ll do my best to get them answered for you!
Helpful comparison of the midwife model verses the medical model http://www.morningstarbirth.com/index.cfm?event=pageview&contentPieceID=3225
And here’s a funny video with some great home birth jokes
Okay, welcome to Part Two. So here I am, three years later, second pregnancy. Going into it, I was optimistic. We had moved, but I had a great new doctor and had heard awesome things about the hospital at which I was planning to deliver. I felt pretty good about my first experience with labor, so I expected good results for this birth as well. But like I mentioned before, there were some things that I felt were lacking and I wanted to try to have more ownership this time going through. What I wanted more than anything was to be able to labor without Pitocin. I hated feeling like my body was fighting the contractions instead of working with them (as I had heard natural labor described). I thought surely my body would know what to do this time so that induction would not be necessary, and I really, really hoped it would.
You know how sometimes you meet people or someone comes into your life for a certain reason? In retrospect, I feel like that had happened to me. I didn’t know that there was more out there that I needed. But one encounter helped me to see that there may be. Backing it up again, now to before I was pregnant with Kal, but thinking about becoming pregnant soon. It was early November 2011, and baby Caleb and his momma came to our house for his newborn session. I asked his mom about her birthing experience as I often do, and I remember being really weirded out by the calm, no-big-deal way she described it. She had a natural hospital birth and everything went fine. She talked like she had been in control and knew what to expect. So, I asked her how that was and she told me she had taken a 12 week course outside of the hospital that had helped her be totally aware of all of her options and how she would handle any unexpected occurrence. She also knew tons of laboring positions that she and her husband had practiced, so they knew just what to do when the tough contractions came. I was envious of her control over the experience. I took a mental note of this thinking maybe I would ask her for more info about the class when I became pregnant.
It took me a while to finally message her for the class info. I think I was in the middle of the second trimester, when I was starting to show, feel the baby, and become more and more aware of the need to start thinking about labor. Fortunately, a class would be forming in a few weeks and would finish just a couple of weeks before my due date. My brother Stephen and his wife Jessica were also expecting a boy and had been taking a Bradley class in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Jessica encouraged me to pursue this more extensive education as well. Paul was (surprise, surprise) very skeptical. He was still impressed with how I handled Sophia’s birth. To him, I didn’t need a class, I was going to go in to the delivery room and come out a champ again. The fact, however, that I was bearing his child may have afforded me some bonus persuasive influence, and we ended up going.
She turned out to be an amazing teacher. It didn’t take too long for Paul to be excited to go to her birthing class. We started to enjoy our regular Monday night class “dates” and drive to the office in Creve Coeur where she teaches. It was a time for us to really break away from everything else going on and focus on the baby and the labor and our relationship too. We made great friends with the three other expecting couples in the class with us. Two of the moms had had previous C-sections because of a breech baby (something that absolutely DOES NOT need to result in a C-section-there are natural methods of turning a baby, we learned about in class), and wanted to be sure to do everything they could to deliver their next baby vaginally. Through this class they armed themselves with knowledge. Both of those women later achieved a V-BAC (vaginal birth after caesarian). The other couple was planning a home birth from the beginning. I honestly still had some stigma attached to that at the start of the class and thought that was a little strange, but hey! Jen encouraged an open and non judgmental atmosphere. She welcomes all birthers and wants each couple to be able to find their own ideal birth. So we all really got along and respected each other. We will always have a great bond with those sweet families!
Sometimes some of the things Jen would mention in class really surprised my husband. For instance, in the US, we spend more than any other country on maternity care and have an abysmal maternal death rate compared to other countries. Or the fact that the World Health Organization says Cesarian Sections should be between ten to fifteen percent of all births and in the US, it is 32.8%! Paul found these things hard to believe, but he would check her facts the next day and always discover that she was right. Our perspective was widened. One thing that blew me away was learning about cord blood. You know how you always hear about cord blood banking? I just thought that was extra blood, turns out that blood is the babies blood, that is being transferred to the baby from the placenta. If you wait about two minutes after delivery, the cord will stop pulsing and all that blood will be in your babies body where it should be. Another reason to wait is that it gives you more time to deal with a dilemma in the instance the baby doesn’t breath right away. After I delivered Sophia the cord was immediately clamped and Paul asked if he wanted to cut it. To clamp immediately is pretty routine in hospitals. We were surprised to learn that this deprives the baby of up to 40% of blood volume! Learning that was a big deal to me and we decided this was one of those things we wanted to make sure didn’t happen with our second child.
We were learning so much more than we ever did in that hospital class we took before Sophia. Again, that class at the hospital was nice and helpful. It aided in our birth experience with Sophia, but the class focused on what we needed to know to be a good patient at that institution. Not much more. Now that I know what an all-encompassing class can be like I can honestly compare the two. In Jen’s class, we learned EVERY option we had. She didn’t talk about epidurals like they were cruel and nasty, she only presented options as well as possible consequences in a pro-con way. It was truly enlightening and empowering. I could see us now being in control of our birth situation and I loved it! We owed it all to Jen and her class.
I don’t expect everyone to choose the same birth scenario I did. We were able however to come to the perfect conclusion for us because of the knowledge we gained from taking this class. I had felt before that birth made me the victim. That no matter what I did, my body would be put through the most horrible of pain and the goal was to just get through it-whatever means necessary-only to be able to someday black out the horrific experience. Women have even said that to me all my life, jokingly: “the only reason we have more than one baby is because we forget how badly it hurt!”. This feeling was starting to change as I learned how normal and natural birth is to a woman’s body. And how your body has it’s own ways of helping you cope, that can work better than drugs if not interfered with. The first day of class, Jen described birth as a bodily function. That totally stuck. It was just as natural to my body as a BM, only I don’t do it everyday. But somewhere in my primal state, my body knew how to do it. My mantra became to trust my body, trust my baby, and surrender to the nature of it all.
Jen became a real friend and ally. She absolutely loves her job. Her personality yielded itself so well to be accepting and helpful. Her mission is to give couples the tools to find their own ideal birth and the answers they need and options they don’t know they have. She did this for us. A birthing course will likely not cause you arrive at the same conclusions we did, but if I can encourage an expecting couple anywhere to do anything it would be to get some good childbirth education. Jen Jester’s website is www.birthwisely.net. You can also look for Bradley Method or Plum Tree Baby birth classes in your area. One of the BEST things we have ever done for ourselves. Really.
Thanks again for reading. I’ll do my best to post my next entry about deciding to have the birth at home soon!
Okay, so I now have a four month, nearly 5 month old son! OH. MY. GOSH. Where has the time gone? I guess it slips away with those late nights, long to-do lists, and my semi zombie-like state. It has been wonderful, and amazing. It has been hard however, to find time to sit at the computer and do anything that would be considered as not completely necessary (which is why I have avoided my blog like the plague).
I had an amazing birth experience with our son, Kal. I feel like it could be empowering (possibly?) or at least helpful to expecting women. I feel like the things I’ve learned about my body and the amazing accomplishments of mothering could influence other parents-to-be out there to find the avenue that is best for them and to take ownership of their birth story before it is written. However, I loathe sitting at the computer on one website for more than 15 minutes. I feel like my time is being wasted. So, I didn’t want to put anyone through a 20 page read. I finally decided, after discussing with my understanding husband, to write this birth story in installments. Therefore, over the course of this week the story of Kal Judah Farnsworth will unfold. I know this isn’t for everyone. I don’t expect that. I am however an open book, and if there are any questions at all, please comment and I would love to answer. Thanks for tuning in to this very personal series of posts.
For anyone to understand why I chose what I did with Kal (ultimately home birth), I need to start with my first birthing experience, the arrival of Sophia. Sophia was born nearly 4 years ago in April 2009. I was excited to have a baby. Pregnancy for the first time can be so many feelings beyond just excitement and for me there was a lot of fear. We don’t talk too much about birth in our culture. There exists an attitude of fear and unknown around it. And for me, I had nothing to prove! I watched TLC’s “A Baby Story” for the first two trimesters and had to stop when it started becoming too real for me. It looked like a HORRIBLE experience! I wanted to get into the hospital and get all the drugs I could. Moms who flaunted their natural births annoyed me. I thought: we live in a modern culture, I take advantage of electricity and plumbing, why not drugs to aid with the pain of child birth? Paul supported this; he didn’t like the idea of him being helpless while I would writhe in pain. So that was basically our plan. We went to the hospital class and I was still scared. I learned things, but really just what the hospital needed me to learn about how to be a good patient.
One night, a few days before Sophia was due, Paul was at work and would be until about one or two in the morning. I got ready for bed, knelt beside the bed to say a prayer and then started climbing in. As I did, I felt a little leak of warm fluid. Could this be my mucus plug? It wasn’t gushing like my water breaking was supposed to be. So, I put on a pad and went to bed. I was tired, it was late, and I thought Paul and I could both use the sleep. So I didn’t text or call him about it. I just figured contractions are supposed to be heavy so they will wake me up if I’m in labor. I woke up the next morning and noticed the leak seemed to still be there. I called the maternity line for Freeman hospital in Joplin. They suggested I go for a walk and see if I could fill up a maxi pad with the fluid. If so, it was likely amniotic and I should get down there. So, Paul and I drove to the Neosho high school track, walked around, then drove to the hospital. Not at all what I had expected that drive to be like. It was a beautiful Sunday morning, we went the speed limit, listened to the radio, no screaming or running lights or anything.
After checking into the hospital and confirming that my water had broken, they got a little nervous about the ticking clock. When there is a premature rupture of the fluids (which keep the baby safe), they like to have the baby out of there within 24 hours. We were at hour 12. I had heard Pitocin inductions were more painful than normal labor, but was reassured that it was all going to hurt anyway and it wasn’t much different. Honestly, what choice did I have? At this time, since I was only taught by the hospital, this is the only one I knew of. So I got hooked up and got me some Pitocin. It took a little bit, but once it started it was hell. The contractions came with so much force I really did need to be reminded to breathe (which Paul was amazing at doing). I was begging for an epidural or something to help with the pain. They didn’t want to give me an epidural because I was only dilated to a whopping 1 centimeter. So… they told me they could give me Stadol. Later I learned that Stadol is a narcotic. It was pretty wild. It really only made me fall fast asleep in between contractions only to be awoken by them every few minutes and groggily deal my way back to sleep until the next one. I had about three maybe four doses of that that lasted 45 minutes but could only be administered every hour.
Then it was time for the epidural. Wow! I felt amazing. I mentioned it to the nurse how quickly my body felt good again. She told me that was actually because they turned the pitocin drip off for a moment. Pitocin not so bad-eh? You dirty liar. (actually we both loved the delivery nurse, she was amazing) So then they turn out the lights and restart my pitocin drip. Paul and I are advised to take a nap because my body was dilated to 6 centimeters and I would need the strength for pushing. They said I had about four hours of that to look forward to (I guess that is average for first time moms). I fall asleep, so does Paul. In a matter of minutes I wake up and hit the call button.
All my life, all the movies and tv shows I’ve been exposed to the Doctor comes in and says, “Okay Mrs. Farnsworth, now it’s time for you to push”. I wondered how I would know what to do. All of that was wrong. Finally my body took over and I pushed the call button and said, “I need to to push!” I was surprised that I was the one making that call. This was my first taste of empowerment over the whole birth experience. The nurse came in. She checked me. She was a little frantic to discover Sophia’s head crowning. I was asked to not push while they tried to get the Doctor, the nursery staff, the bed ready and all that jazz. That was hard, but I did it for about 10-15 minutes. Finally, they let me do what my body wanted to do-PUSH! And I did, and she came out in 20 minutes. No four hour experience. It wasn’t easy. I remember being upset because my wonderful Doctor, Dr Fogarty, said she could see the ears or nose or something. I said something like “Why don’t you pull her out?!!!” I obviously wasn’t really getting it. I had to do all the work. They were all there to coach me. And they did an amazing job at it. Paul and I really did love our Dr and delivery nurse. I was very lucky that Dr Fogarty was on staff that night.
Paul was amazed and in awe. I was tired and I think still a little groggy from the drugs, but I looked at her and tried to take it in. Paul was immediately asked if he wanted to cut the cord, and he did. Then he followed as she was carried to the nursery staff on standby. I didn’t get to touch her until she was cleaned off, shots, weighed, tested, eye gooped, wrapped up and brought to my arms. While that was happening I delivered the placenta and got 5 stitches (not too bad of a tear I guess). When she came back, I nursed her which went very well, and it was a great feeling knowing she was now with us and healthy!
Overall, I was pretty satisfied with my experience at the time. Plus, I felt really great about the accomplishment of it all and having the most difficult time behind us, but it did bring to light what my body is capable of. And it started a quest (though small at the time) to learn more about how things could be. I started to want to learn so that I could be more in control in the event of another child. I also begin to have a very strong desire to find out what my body was really capable of should I allow it to go through the process of childbirth without intervention.
If you read this far, wow. I don’t think I’ve ever survived a blog post this long. Tomorrow I’ll start talking about my birth class, hope you join me. Thanks! Also, please do feel free to ask any questions in the comments.
I am so thankful the little man growing inside of me! My due date is in a week, so now that we have entered the “any day now” territory I feel I should share these maternity pictures I had Paul take on this blog before our baby boy comes. I’m kind of hoping posting this doesn’t cause me to go into labor right away though. Although sleep is getting harder and I can tell he’s getting pretty big and it’s about time for little Kal to move out-I think a few more days would be fine.
Hey guys! Our Sophia Jane turned 3 in April. She’s so lively and fun! She is constantly telling her family (and all of her friends) how much she loves them. And everyone loves her back. Like her daddy, she’ll make up new lyrics to songs and it’s hilarious, and she’s very good at staying on tune and in key. She loves getting laughs and telling jokes like “mom- you’re an envelope, dad- you’re an apple!” or spouting off nonsense words while she giggles uncontrollably. She’s very imaginative and will often pretend to be a puppy or play doctor with a doctor kit she got for her birthday. For the last few months she has insisted that on Halloween she wants to be a knight in shining armor. So, this mom is shopping for a complete costume to indulge her fantasy. She’ll be thrilled when it’s time to actually put it on!
There’s so much to say about this little beauty. I love her so much. I love her intensity and excitement. I want only good and happy things for her. She’s our world. She’s also very excited about her baby brother. So far, we think she’s taken to getting a sibling as well as possible. She sings to my belly, and sometimes tells me she’s sad her brother hasn’t come out yet. She calls him her baby. We’ve decided to name him Kal (after being surrounded by so many people who have daughter’s with Sophia’s name, we’d like to go in a less popular direction with future children’s names). She has a little trouble with his name still pronouncing it “cow”. I almost wonder if she will be disappointed the first time she sees him and sees he’s not a baby cow. But I think we’re good.
Anyway, time for pictures! So, taking pictures of your own child is never easy, and my strong willed gal is no exception. However, going back through our little session I was very pleased! Can’t wait to order my first round of organic bloom frames and get some of these on the wall.
Credit for the last two outfit goes to my talented friend, Elisabeth! Thanks so much!!!