Monday, March 12, 2012

Big brother

Thursday, March 8, 2012

VBA2C: I am not a magician’s assistant.

*Note: This is a birth “story” based on the facts of my children’s births, both as I remember them, and as I want to share them. Some details may be a bit fuzzy, or may be left out, depending on my comfort. Therefore, if you hear conflicting details, from me or others, that’s fine with me. It’s my feeling of the event, not a play-by-play recap.

I hadn’t attempted the VBAC to prove anything. Really, I didn’t feel it would make me a superwoman. And I didn’t need to be empowered. But many of those things have been a happy by product. The greatest feeling, though, was being able to hug my son and daughter when they ran into the room. They climbed up on the bed with all their rambunctiousness and I introduced them to their little brother. That moment was only possible because of the VBAC.

Nearly a year after moving to another state (and 3 years after Jay’s birth), we were pregnant again. After two c/s, I had no other plan. I was glad I’d never have to deal with vaginal trauma; I was happy to have a scheduled day to go in and have the baby (waiting is NOT something I’m good at).

With great anticipation, I made my first appointment. It was kind of a let down. Not so much an appointment as a consult. I sat with a nurse in an office and gave my gyno history. Then, towards the very end, she asked, “So, will you be opting for a repeat c/s?” Umm, opting, like there is an option? I was caught off guard (I had met a few ladies who had done had either a vaginal birth previous, or had only one c/s). I sputtered that I would like to discuss it with a doctor.

A few weeks later, I met with a female OB. The appointment went well. We got to the VBAC question, which I asked without much conviction, and she dismissed with a sound “No.” She did not see any reason to try. On the way out, the OB was not available for my next appointment, which sounded normal from my previous experiences. Due date, January 27th.

In the weeks and months to follow, the VBAC question haunted me. Would it possibly work? I began reading casually, without much commitment. And the information intrigued me. At first, I worried how I would care for my family in recovery from a c/s. I mean, we had STAIRS, a big no-no after abdominal surgery (not a problem before). Also, how many times can you cut the same area? How many children did we want? So many uncertainties. This is where my wimpiness comes in.

I worried, now, not about the dangers of a VBAC, but the dangers of the surgery. Seems it’s not as easy, breezy as some are led to believe. Now, I was seeing a midwife, which I would continue until the very end of my pregnancy, unless I had other concerns for the OB, because they were so booked.

One night, laying in bed, I confessed to my husband (he’d heard me muttering for months, but this was my first statement with conviction), “I need to ask about VBAC, just one more time.” This time, he seriously responded with support. He agreed that, somehow, my questions needed to be laid to rest (after 7 years!).

At my next appointment, I asked, this time with anxiety. The midwife calmly responded with questions about my previous deliveries, beyond what was in my file. By the end of the appointment, just moments later, I walked out with an entirely new plan. This was August.

I sought advice from other VBACers I knew (you have to dig to find those, I tell ya.). I then began to gather books. The more I talked, the more I read, the more I worried about another surgery. I became convinced, through the statistics and birth stories, that a third c/s was riskier to my health, my family, my baby, than avoiding one would be. It took most of the rest of my pregnancy to convince my loved ones, however. I slipped stats and anecdotes into everyday conversations (it takes practice, but can be done!).

So, birth story, where’s the birth? It’s coming.

Aside: Successful VBAC stories (VBA2C are hard to come by but they are out there, even after 3, 4, I think I’ve seen up to 6) have a theme (I have a degree in English, I recognize themes!). Doulas. (My mom and husband both insisted on calling them “abdoulas.” This is, according to my husband, a Muslim nurse. Hardy har har.) Whoa. I had to do a lot of research on this. Doula, a woman (usually) to support the laboring woman while Everyone Else attends to the needs of the baby (my definition, sorta). I began to try to “get” one. I learned a few things: They are a rare breed; they are not cheap (they are worth the money, but hey, it’s a truth). They, also, have very full schedules. I began to look for a doula in October. Booked Solid.

Then I got a message from my guardian angel, oops, future doula. We set up an appointment to meet. I was totally not sure about needing a stranger in the room, I a very private person (honestly, writing this feels a little invasive, but it’s important to me to get it written down). My motivation to pursuing it was first, I had never been to the hospital, and I needed someone who would know the difference between an emergency and unnecessary interventions and, two, I knew this was my “last chance” my family would not support a VBAC after three c/s. Most doctors don’t even recommend a pregnancy after three c/s (so much for them not being a big deal).

I was comfortable with the doula from the first meeting, and we began to converse regularly. She was heaven sent, in that she had knowledge and experience in EXACTLY the things I was facing. I confess, I picked her because, well, she was available, but it was a custom match, as far as I’m concerned.

Both my previous babies had been posterior. I had heard this, but did not realize the issues it poses. I began exercising, stretching to improve this. I swear, I am not new age or even a little “crunchy;” I was completely skeptical, but filed it all under my “leaving no cards on the table” plan. And, it worked.

Per my agreement with my midwife, at 35 weeks, I met with an OB and signed my VBAC consent form, listening to him talk for several minutes on the reasons I would fail. My husband and I shrugged this off and went on. I had, almost fully, converted hubby to my side. Also, I “passed” every “test.” Blood pressure, gestational diabetes, group B strep, placenta position, baby position. We plodded along through the holidays. Other than being physically miserable, I had the healthiest pregnancy I’ve ever experiences (amazing how that can be true).

Then, my 39 week appointment. I woke up late, to 4 inches of snow. In the van, the gas light was on. Once at the gas station, my wallet was missing. Then, an unusually harried midwife rushed through an appointment without a cervical check, ending with descriptions of the tests I’d have to undergo if I expired again (went past my due date). I was so upset. So much was invested in this. At my first meeting with my doula, she asked what my worst fear was, because I could cause problems in labor. This was it, trying and not succeeding. I knew the stress was counterproductive to labor, which caused more stress. Honestly, I stepped up self induction measures (that I knew may or may not work, but wouldn’t hurt).

On January 24th, I woke up with a handful of contractions (this had happened a few times in the previous week). Once again, they stopped by lunch and I took a nap. That afternoon, however, a determined and very uncomfortable pregnant lady went for a LONG walk at Walmart (one of the few options open to a very pregnant lady in January in my area). I bought milk, donuts and castor oil. (I never took the oil, though; keep reading!)

Once home, I spent some time talking with my doula. She offered to stop by that evening. Then I talked with both my parents (seperatly). I could never determine if their hounding was of the excited nature, or just concerned. We had a simple supper. I felt perfectly fine.

The doula arrived just as we were cleaning up. She talked with me about my concerns. I confessed to her and my husband that my worst fear seemed to be coming true. It sounds silly, I know, because I was still days before my due date, let alone going over. But the anxiety was quickly over taking me. It kept flooding my mind, if I’d have elected for a c/section, I’d have a new baby by now (they are usually scheduled for a week before your due date). Also, I was going farther than I had with my second pregnancy, which yielded an 8 lb baby. How big would this one be? If a 7 pounder “got stuck” in my first attempt, what now. Even though I’d educated and prepared myself for these eventualities, even though I had tools and knowledge at my disposal that disproved my fears, I could not shake the doubt.

After discussing my pregnancy, which was perfectly healthy, and the progress at my last cervical check, several weeks before, my husband and my doula discussed some acupressure. She offered to show him some pressure points, should he want to try them that week. I agreed they could give it a try, without much hope that something to so removed from my cervix would help. Besides, it’s not like a 9month pregnant woman can massage her OWN feet.

In just a handful of tries, I actually felt a few, light contractions. After an hour, they were pretty steady. Satisfied that my husband had the hang of things, she left, with the promise to call later in the evening. To my amazement, a few hours later, they had not lessened (or picked up). I continued to doubt, but my husband, perhaps seeing something I missed, called into work. He also described the situation to the doula, who promised to return within the hour.

I never wanted to set up for “the big wait.” And in the beginning I felt a little odd about the three of us, sitting on the couch, watching NatGeo without much going on. Contractions continued, getting closer together, but still bearable. About 10pm, I consented to allow my mom to drive up; she lived three hours away and was determined to be there “in time” on the third try. The whole event continued to feel like a slumber party for several more hours.

At 2am, my mom arrived. About then, I began to have a hard time talking or walking during a contraction. I tried various stretches, positions and exercises to aid in dilation. I also tried to remember to keep hydrated (unfortunately, I didn’t eat much, but more on that later). Within an hour, the contractions were really taking a toll. I remember being leaned over the couch, hubby with a warm compress on my back, about 3:30am, thinking, “If it were just us alone, I’d leave for the hospital now.” With the added support, however, I renewed my determination to stay home as long as possible.

Soon after, I decided to try a shower, with my husband along for physical and emotional support. The shower felt pretty good (for me. I realized after that he mostly stood in the damp bathroom, without the benefit of the warm water. Must have been freezing!). After the shower, however, my mind became fuzzy. I tried to force myself to eat, first candy then cereal, but the cloudy feeling wouldn’t go away. I realized I’d been up for 24 hours. The previous evening, I couldn’t sleep, first because I was afraid the contractions would go away once again, and then because the excitement was too much. The anticipation of coming labor and meeting our baby keep me from relaxing.

My husband decided to call the babysitters, who came over pretty quickly, though it didn’t feel so at the time. Mom, husband, doula and I car pooled the few blocks to the hospital. We got there between 6 and 7 am and shift change occurred at 7.

I forget how it came up right away, but before we even made it past the double doors, the nurses found out I was a VBAC after 2 c/s. Her head snapped up in alarm, “Did you get consent from your doctor?” I assured her the VBAC consent was in my file. We handed over our birth plan and hustled through the doors and into a room. I changed into the super stylish gown they provided, pausing every 2-3 minutes for contractions. The fuzzy feeling had receded some with the fresh air. Then I climbed into the bed for the baseline reading. The telemetry monitoring unit was not available. Rats. The nurse said we had to establish that I was in labor. Before we left, the doula and I had discussed how things were going and we guessed about 6-7cms. I was pleasantly surprised when the nurse said 8. Somehow, shift change happened just then, and we went through the medical history again, with our new nurse, Pam. (Who I now want to adopt as maybe another aunt or something).

At the hospital, I tried the ball, the toilet, and a few other positions, but mostly started feeling run down. Somehow (I later learned it was a bit of an accident), I was assigned the OB on call instead of the midwife. She gave me my “assignment.” Dilate 1cm per hour until noon or off to surgery it would be. Honestly, that sounded like too long to me. About 9am, I looked at the clock, realized I probably did have hours of labor to go, and began to fear that I would be too exhausted to push by noon. I asked for the epidural. Shortly after, the OB broke my water (which, this time, was a flood. No doubt what happened. In fact, I worried it was abnormal, but no one said anything.) After about 1 miserable hour hooked up to an IV for fluids my savior, I mean the anesthesiologist, arrived. The epidural level was perfect. I had expected to be pretty much paralyzed, like the spinal I got before the c/s, but I was surprisingly mobile. I kept thinking I could’ve gotten back up and sat on the ball, but I didn’t think hospital insurance allowed for that (and the epidural makes whatever you are resting on numb, so that might have been tricky). The doctor gave me the spiel again, checked, announced I was still 8 and left.

By noon, not only had nothing exciting happened, but the fetal heart monitor showed some “occurances” that made her “concerned.” In other words, the fetal heartrate dropped with the contractions. In my mind, as long as there still was one, and it rebounded, I was not “concerned.” In private, my doula and my husband concurred. My mom stayed very quiet. At one point, the doctor called the room, because she saw the heartrate on a monitor in another room. My nurse assured her they would go away if I just changed positions. I think the nurse bought me some valuable time.

I began to fear that it was a repeat of my first child’s birth. I dreaded recovering from both labor and a c/s. Plus, I knew if I went in to surgery at 1pm, I wouldn’t get solid food until the next day. I joked that having solids foods for dinner was my motivation. Every time I felt a contraction, I did my best to work through it, as though I had full sensation. Finally, 1pm arrived and in walked the OB (insert spooky music of anticipation). She gave a new speech about reasons “we” would need to consider c/s. Surprisingly, some allowances were made for augmenting labor with pitocin for a (very) short time. She sounded VERY doubtful (given we hadn’t actually dilated since I arrived). Nodding politely, I chose to save all arguments for later. I hope I gave the impression of going along with her every wish. Then she checked me one last time.

And gave a very deer-in-the-headlights look. (Trumpet music) Full dilation achieved. Ready for launch. Her words were, “Well that speech was a waste of time.” Big grins between my, my doula and my husband. The Doc prescribed 45 minutes to an hour of rest (she also went for lunch, figures :P). The nurse came in, gave me an oxygen mask, which she said would revive me if I couldn’t rest (which I couldn’t!).

At 2pm, we began the pushing stage of labor. I’d say for about 20 minutes, I didn’t feel like I knew what I was doing, and it wasn’t being very effective. However, I made some requests about moving, changing position, and EVERYONE LISTENED! That alone made me feel so much more confident. During this stage, the OB’s no-nonsense attitude really helped, I have to say, though I hated it at the time.

After that 20 minutes, I must have been in labor land, because I only remember flashes. My husband got very excited (and loud) when the head became visible. Just before 3pm, he gloved up and prepared for the birth. I don’t remember seeing him hand me the baby, but suddenly, at 3:06pm, I had a warm, squishy thing in my arms as he cut the cord (We had asked for delayed clamping, which didn’t happen. However, we now know about an Rh sensitization that has taken 6 weeks to clear up, so that’s probably for the best).

At that point, I pretty much checked out. I know I held him and we both had a good, hearty cry. Then I began to sing quietly to him. And THEN I had lunch!

VBA2C: The Prequel

*Note: This is a birth “story” based on the facts of my children’s births, both as I remember them, and as I want to share them. Some details may be a bit fuzzy, or may be left out, depending on my comfort. Therefore, if you hear conflicting details, from me or others, that’s fine with me. It’s my feeling of the event, not a play-by-play recap.

My husband claims it begins seven years ago, with our first positive EPT. I spent my entire, uncomplicated nine month pregnancy with two wishes. Frequently, I made my poor husband recite them to me: Get me an epidural the minute I walk in the door at L & D and DON’T LET THEM SAW ME IN HALF. (Now many of you THINK you know where I went wrong. As much as I now agree with you about interventions, you would be guessing prematurely.)

Labor with was anticlimactic, at least in the beginning. Sunday, I had regular, period like cramps, but I went to bed and the cramps never kept me from sleeping. The next morning, I kissed my husband and shooed him off to work (already, he’d been acting the part of hovering, first time daddy). I promised to take it easy, as we had an induction scheduled for the next day, because I was four days past my expiration, oops I mean due, date.

True to my word, I spent most of the morning on the phone, but I have a habit of pacing while I talk. The extra walking must have been just what I needed, because in the middle of a conversation with my pastor’s wife, also one of my birth partners, I had a strange, warm sensation. Too embarrassed to admit that I’d peed myself, I made a lame excuse and hung up. Soon, though, I felt the cramps return, with more “punch.” I called my husband to be home with me, but still thought we had a lot of time.

45 minutes later, I wasn’t saying anything I’d want to repeat (actually I wasn’t talking much at all, but that sounds pretty lame). My husband and I began the long trip to the hospital. They definitely knew we were coming, because my hubby had called at least three times en route, worried what I was experiencing wasn’t normal. Later I learned I was not having abnormal, 5 minute long contractions, I was having perfectly normal back labor.

In triage, the nurse went from that “tolerating the paranoid first timers” to “all business” very quickly. I had already began track 1 of my birth soundtrack “Give me drugs.” As I climbed into my labor bed, I was informed that I was “too far along” and the baby will “be here before you know it” (this is on my list of dumbest phrases I’ve ever heard!).

However, the fetal monitor failed to give a proper reading. They eventually tried to switch to an internal monitor (which they seemed to staple to her head). It was at this point they said they would break my water, only to find it already gone. Apparently I hadn’t peed! Since arriving at the hospital, I had been in constant, excruciating pain and was having a hard time making sense of things. I made a guess as to when it happened. Each question seemed to be part of an interrogation and I got the feeling I wasn’t giving the “right” answers.

The rest of labor exists in my mind as snapshots rather than movies. My labor preparedness class taught me to listen to my body and I’d know hot to breath; I began to hyperventilate and they put me on oxygen. The hospital tour showed laboring in different positions, I was told to lay still on my back, because the internal monitor also was not working correctly and kept falling off. After a while, I’m not sure how long, we began pushing, mostly out of my desperation to be in a different position and do something, not because I felt an “urge” or was proclaimed to be ready. Once, I tried to pull myself into a reclining/sitting position, only to feel a hand on my shoulder, pushing me back down. I just knew I wasn’t doing anything “right.”

I think it was at this point that all the fetal monitors began to register zero fetal heartbeat during contractions and pushing. The doctor however didn’t look too concerned and we, achem, pushed on. After a few hours, he mentioned the “C word.” My (not very helpful up to this point) nurse pointed out all the reasons I shouldn’t, namely quoting “Once a c/section; always a c/section.” “How will you care for your daughter after you have another baby?” she asked.

My husband and I turned to our older, trusted OB. (Actually I saw a large practice of 5 OBs and 5 midwives. I think I’d met all of them once and a few twice). He simply pointed out, calmly, that he had a c/s scheduled for 3pm (It was now nearing 2pm. We had checked in (at 9cm) at 9am). I could continue trying to push, but I’d have to wait for him to be done with that surgery before I could get a c/s, which he thought I would need. Or we could go RIGHT NOW.

As my husband and I were prepped for surgery, I kept pushing, right up until they wheeled me down the hall. Movie-like we burst through the double doors, sheets went up, implements were ripped open and the Surgery began. Actually, before that, I got a spinal block, which failed to provide the relief I hoped for. (An epidural probably wouldn’t have been much more successful either, come to think about it). As they laid me back and lifted the drape, I was sobbing, “Don’t cut me yet, I’m not numb.” I must have gotten louder as I repeated myself, because my husband braved a peek around the sheet, only to report that they were already cutting. In fact, just a few moments later, the OB announced “A girl.”

I waited for the cry, to complete the movie scene in my head. However, I got a meek, baby kitten sound and lots of gurgling. She was pink, but leaning towards purple. After a quick glance, they whisked her away. My husband also disappeared from my line of sight and I lay, numb, tied to the operating bed.

Time in the recovery wing was torturous and lonely. I shook uncontrollably in shock, for which they gave me more medicine. I pictured my husband holding my baby, showing her off, as I lay there all alone. After an ETERNITY, they wheeled me back to my room where I found…..

Not much. My husband sat with my frien. The room was dark, quiet. If the news was on, they were watching Hurricane Katrina slam New Orleans, but I don’t remember seeing anything. Another hour later, the nurse brought my daughter in. She proclaimed her temperature was still too low, and recommended I hold her, naked, to my chest (wow, what a concept, after all else fails *sarcasm*). The nurse lifted a little body, with one are in a splint and said, “Let’s go see mommy.” I remember briefly wondering who she was talking about, and if, possibly, I could be referred to as something else.

In followup, my OB explained that the umbilical cord had prolapsed and was trapped between the baby’s head and my pelvis, causing the alarming readings (if the machines were working properly, which, ehh… who knows). When had this happened? I’m not sure, but being flat on one’s back, I’ve learned, increases the possibility of a prolapsed cord.

My recovery went smoothly. I had plenty of help; I soon learned to feel like a mommy (that isn’t always an automatic feeling, at least not for me, with my first). I gave ZERO thought to what this meant for my next delivery.

It wasn’t until I became pregnant a second time that I wondered “If I’d tried harder” or “If I’d pushed just 30 minutes more.” Three years, nearly to the day, I stared down at another little window reading “pregnant” (Those are the ONLY tests to get, by the way. Why fool around with symbols and lines. Blah). During this pregnancy, I asked about vaginal birth, but everyone was very matter of fact, against it. Only one, very edgy, family I knew was trying for a home birth, and I thought that sounded pretty crazy. My only option was to go to the hospital so advanced in labor that I’d deliver before the OR was made ready. In the end, I decided that trying and failing was too be a risk, without support. And, as slim as the dangers were for me and baby, the nearest equipped hospital was HOURS away. It seemed, to me, that VBAC was something for those lucky women who lived in large, metropolitan areas. End of birth story. (almost).

I went into labor a week and ½ before my c/s date, 2 ½ weeks before my due date. OB, anesthesia were called in on a Sunday morning. Snap, crackle, Jay was born, healthy, screaming, right on time at 8lbs 4ozs (not so preemie, I guess, not even 2 weeks.). Recovery was very smooth, despite the foreboding prophecy in my first delivery. Even with no grandparents around the first week, me and two kiddos got a long ok with just periodic help from church folk.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Run with Patience

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:1

imageI have often said I don’t run unless someone is chasing me. However, I understand the principles of marathon running. It takes months of training for a person to be fit enough to endure a long race. It takes a lifestyle commitment to achieve success. Many people are satisfied if they finish a marathon.

Though I have no intention of running a marathon, I cannot accept this attitude of “it doesn’t matter where you finish, only that you ran the best you could.”After all, I’m my father’s daughter and I’ve heard second place is the first loser. Smile with tongue out

Some Christians only talk the talk, and they are satisfied just to finish. However, I want to finish well. A lifestyle of “getting by” often leads to a discouraged person who struggles over and over with those easily besetting sins.

In Hebrews, However, God admonish us to run our race, and He even tells us how to run well.

image1. Find a coach. Any successful runner no doubt reaches the finish line to a cheering crowd of coaches, trainers, supporters, family, etc. As a Christian runner, look to that “cloud of witnesses.” First, see God’s word. Allow them to mentor you. Also look to history books for those who sacrificed to allow our faith to endure. Finally look around at those whose Christian lies you may emulated. Don't forget, run well because others may just be looking to you as their coach.

image2. Watch your diet. After you find your coach, he will often tell you to begin training right in your own kitchen. No successful runner lives on junk food and lazy afternoons.

For the Christ this means to guard your mind and heart from sinful activities and discouraging thoughts. Not only guard from obvious sins such as hate and envy, but also negative mindsets that weigh down your spirit.

3. Run with patience: We have an example in Jesus. All runnersimage. should keep their eyes on the goal. This allows them to pace themselves. Any person who runs all out in the beginning will wear out before the end of the race. Any Christian that runs ahead of God will wear out through discouragements and doubt.

Patience comes from a great deal of time in prayer. Few decision need immediate action.Always consider “Could I pray about his for another day? Another week? Do I need to fast over this decision?”

I have witnessed many people who attempt to run ahead of God, often in order to do good. Young ladies want to marry on their time table; often, they want to have children when it’s convenient for them. Too often, they end up frustrated with their life, because they see, too late, that life would have been better had they waited on God.

Others, though, patiently wait for God to provide for their futures. They enjoy their single lives, marry their soul mates or prepare for the mission field.

So, Christian, run and don’t worry if other appear to spring ahead. Stay close to Jesus. He always finished out front!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Free Christmas Music

One of my favorite blogs, The Cheapskate has a deal for $3 in mp3s from Amazon.
If you are looking for some holiday cheer, download

The 99 Most Essential Christmas Masterpieces (Amazon Exclusive)

How many more songs would you need, and they are FREE with $1 left over.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Toy Story for $12!

This week at Meijer, Toy Story 3 is 24.99 for the Blu Ray Combo Pack (normally $34.89).

Go Here to print a coupon for $8 off the combo pack.

Then, buy (2) 12 packs of AA batteries at meijer ($4.99/pack). You know you will need these at Christmas, if not sooner. Then get $4 off any DVD or Blu Ray $9.99 or higher.

Final price $12.99 + tax.

*Bonus* Check the toy cars. If they have a Lightening McQueen for $3.50, you can pick it up for free when you buy the Blu Ray Combo Pack.

**Bonus added from KPL**

$5.00 Rebate when you buy 3 Campbell’s Condensed Kids soups or SpaghettiOs
In addition to your proof of purchase, you’ll need to mail in your original receipts for this rebate.

$5.00 Rebate when you buy 2 Western Bagel products
This rebate will accept photocopies of your receipts, so you can submit it in addition to the Campbell’s rebate. You’ll also need to send in your other proof of purchase.

These rebates are the same as Beauty and The Beast,
if you used these rebates for that movie you can not use it towards Toy Story 3