Showing posts with label birth. Show all posts
Showing posts with label birth. Show all posts

Saturday, September 23, 2017

it's so different {what it's like to try every type of prenatal care available}

My pregnancy and birth history is complicated, which means I have never delivered with the same person or in the same location more than once. The constants at my birth have been Jonathan and my first midwife, but my first midwife has acted as a doula / support person / shoulder to cry on during my subsequent births.

Here's a quick outline of who I've seen and where I've delivered:

Birth # 1: Midwives only, stand alone birth center, all natural

Birth #2: Prenatal care from midwife and maternal fetal medicine doctor (high risk OB), hospital, MFM doc delivered, Pitoicin given, zero pain meds

Birth #3: Prenatal care from midwives and maternal fetal medicine doctor, different hospital from #2, midwife delivered, Pitoicin and epidural used

Pregnancy #4: Prenatal care from OB and completely new maternal fetal medicine doctors and clinic, hospital delivery (different from birth # 2 & 3) and ... who knows the rest. We'll see what happens, but as of this moment I am not planning on a natural birth because this mama has had enough birth trauma / let's try all natural / I can get through this with prayer and deep breathing etc.

This week I had an OB appointment and it was so impersonal. I went through the whole vitals check thing with the medical assistant and then after a while the doctor came in. She spent the visit reading the maternal fetal medicine doctor's notes, asking how I was feeling, checking the heartbeat and then that was it - after she asked if I had any questions.

I feel like I am floating out in the ocean by myself, guys. I know I'm not, but it sure feels like it. I have a GREAT doula and my midwife is going to do her best to be at the birth. Both are available for support via text, which I do require and use, but it's just not the same. I need tea, hugs, shoulder rubs, and heaps of understanding during a prenatal appointment. Ten minutes of interaction where the doctor mostly looks at her computer screen doesn't equal my favorite appointment.

If you need emotional support in pregnancy is that the best environment to receive it in? I'm not even trying because I have others to lean on, but if you don't have that is the ten minutes you get with the OB enough time to get out all the thoughts and feelings you have? And my next appointment isn't even with the OB! I see the nurse practitioner next. AND when I deliver I get the OB who is on call, NOT the one I've been seeing for my prenatal appointments. This system just seems all out of whack to me.

I'm sure some of you are reading this and thinking, I have the best relationship with my OB! We talk for hours and I feel so amazing after every appointment.

For me that is not the feeling I carry out of the office with me. I feel relieved the appointment is over (I hate that still moment - or ten - when the doctor is looking for the heartbeat) and surprised I was only at the clinic for thirty minutes.

This is my first pregnancy where the doctors I am rotating between don't know me and my story. They haven't walked with me for years. They don't understand just how anxiety inducing pregnancy and birth is for me. In fact, in the middle of our first consult the maternal fetal medicine doctor said, "Then we'll start non-stress tests, because that often helps with anxiety, but you, well, you seem remarkably calm."

I am excellent at pretending I am calm during appointments, but inside I just want to be done and get OUT, so there's a good chance the doctors will never know how anxious I am. (Well, until birth. Then I just lose my ever loving mind and any sense that all will be well) Holding all my feelings in is on me. I know that, but I am not a person who is going to open up about all my feelings during a twenty minute consult so I'm not sure that is going to change.

Now that I've vented for a solid twelve paragraphs I do have to say this:

I am so grateful for access to medical care, specialist doctors, insurance and hospitals. Thank you Jesus for options and help and doctors who care. It sounds like I think they don't care, but I know the ability to connect gets lost in the mess of our medical system. Doctors today are incredibly busy and under intense stress because our insurance system makes practicing medicine difficult and hard to navigate.

So yes, I am at sea here, but it's not like I'm going to have to deliver this baby in my backyard fifty miles from the nearest clinic with no way to get there other than my own two feet. I recognize and am very grateful for that.

This is just way more difficult to navigate than I thought it would be. I always try to be a normal pregnant mama, but that goes out the window as soon as I start the journey, because the truth is I have had a difficult relationship with birth and pregnancy. I hope as time progresses I connect with the OB a bit more, and maybe develop a relationship with the maternal fetal medicine doctor. I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

surprise, surprise ... baby #5!

I know baby #4 was an early loss, but I believe every life matters so I am currently expecting our fifth baby.

Now let me give you a moment to recover from the shock ...

Still breathing?

(I'm STILL recovering)

I'm due in March so I'm a couple days shy of 14 weeks. In 5 short weeks we have the all important mid-pregnancy anatomy scan with the maternal fetal medicine doctor. Keeping this pregnancy under wraps has made it zoom by. I've been super sick, because that's how I do pregnancy, but I haven't thrown up as much as I normally do so that's positive!

Since I like to make things uber complicated I am delivering with an entirely new set of doctors. With the kids nearing 4 & 6 life has become a bit more complex: preschool, homeschool, gymnastics and church programs will fill our weeks this fall and I simply don't have time to drive 45 minutes to an hour to see my previous doctors. Also, my maternal fetal medicine doctor retired and the midwife that delivered Ainsleigh moved to a freestanding birth center.

SO - I'm trying a traditional OB this time and the maternal fetal medicine doctors at the local hospital. I've hired an amazing doula and my midwife from my first birth will hopefully be able to be there as a doula as well so I think it will all be fine. With this birth I'll have delivered in 4 different places without moving from our fine city, so that's something of an accomplishment I suppose.

Also planning on an epidural at 4 cm (is that even allowed?) because I am over birth trauma and getting through it and breathing and trying to go natural. Just get this baby out, please and thanks!

I wouldn't say we are excited, but I would like to get to that point, so we are starting to share about this pregnancy. Hopefully if others are excited for us we'll get on board. With that hope in mind I finally posted about the pregnancy on social media last night.

Everyone present thought this was a fabulous announcement idea, but we were on eclipse party day 3 and all feeling a bit rummy so our judgement was questionable. I *almost* didn't post this picture, because we all look a bit rough, but that's us! In our jams, un-showered (I was too sick to host people for the eclipse and shower; it was literally too much) at 10:30, hanging out in our backyard for a monumental event. We are not a well put together family at the best of times (why get dressed when you could be reading?) and this summer has been quite a mess with B going through a massive diet change and me feeling so ill. We went to the doctors in our jams more than once this summer, so this picture feels quite appropriate!

I believe God has a plan for our family and for this baby. And I believe our family is meant to have a third little one to raise, because that is the only way I can wrap my mind around this year of surprise babies. Everyone who has read here, or known me, or talked to me for more than 10 minutes knows the more babies question was off the table. Pregnancy and birth is so traumatic for me I couldn't fathom choosing to do it again. We have two beautiful kids we are raising and that was enough. But through Christ all things are possible, so here we are, expecting another blessing, and hoping we are done with surprises for a while.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

ainsleigh's birth {part two}

This part of Ainsleigh's birth is not nearly as clear. I don't know when my water broke, or how long I labored before requesting the epidural. I know we arrived at the hospital at 8:00 am and that Ainsleigh was born at 8:58 pm, but other than those definite times I don't know what happened when. I may get this next part all out of order, but that's okay. My main goal is to write out my thoughts and impressions of her birth. HERE is part one.

After my water broke I walked the room for a while. The pressure was really intense. I think this is the first time the nurses and midwives prepped for delivery. It seemed like she was close to being born. After a while I decided to get in the tub, which was SO nice. It relieved a lot of the pressure.

The contractions still weren't bad, but the pressure was really intense and the water helped ease a lot of the discomfort I was feeling. I was hovering on the edge of transition - that's when things get really painful for me - but I couldn't cross over to the last stage of labor. I would feel Ainsleigh start to move down, panic, and stop my labor.

In retrospect wanting a water birth may not have been the best idea. I think getting in the warm water brought up grief I buried a long time ago. There were lots of small triggers too. While squatting in the water I looked down and realized my toenail color was almost exactly the same as it had been when Charlotte was born. Before that moment I couldn"t have told you what color they were for Charlotte's birth, but when I saw my feet through the still water images of the day she was born flooded my mind.

The room was prepped for delivery. Patricia and Angie had briefly coached Jon on how to catch a baby born in the water. Everything was still and quiet. I could feel Ainsleigh moving down and the contractions were really strong. I moved from squatting to sitting. I started crying. 

"I think she's going to be here soon." I sobbed.

"I think you're right," someone said. (I had my eyes closed).

"I'm scared. I'm not ready. I can't do this!"

I was so tense I kept forgetting to breathe. I held onto J's hand as I cried, one hand covering my face. I could feel the contractions slowing down and lessening in strength.

"J, will you pray? Please?"

Patricia placed a hand on my shoulder while Angie walked around the tub so she could put her hand on my back. J prayed over me while I continued to cry. A few minutes after J prayed I calmed down enough to try to get back into labor mode. I stayed in the water for a while then decided to get out and walk.

When I stood up the pressure was so intense I thought Ainsleigh was going to fall out (ha! if only). I labored on my feet, tried squatting again, then decided I really did want to get out. I don't know how long I walked the floor, how many times I cried, or how often the nurses and midwives thought delivery was imminent. I could not get past 8 cm. I couldn't let Ainsleigh be born. Every time I felt her moving down, every moment I put a toe in the waters of the last stage of labor, I panicked and the contractions dropped off. (This exact scenario happened with Bennett's birth. I eventually asked for Pitocin to help me get past 8 cm).

Around 5, I think, I was so emotionally exhausted I didn't think I could continue. I sat on the bed, sobbing.

"I can't do it! It's too hard. I'm scared and I can't breathe and I just want to be done. I want an epidural. Maybe that will get me to 10 cm."

Patricia, Angie and J stood around me. Patricia rubbed my leg. "Is it the pain?" she asked.

"No! It doesn't hurt that bad. I just need to be done."

Angie leaned in. "We're going to step out for a few minutes. Let you be with J and talk."

I sat there, hunched awkwardly, contractions barely registering. "I'm sorry I failed, but I just can't do this."

J rubbed my arms. "It's okay, you are not a failure. This is really hard. We'll get you what you need."

Patricia came in and sat on the foot of the bed. She rubbed my feet and legs. "What about narcotics? Do you want to try that first?"

"No! I want the epidural."

"Okay, Angie is putting the order in. It's okay if this is what you need."

Angie came in to let us know that the order had been placed. "You did a really good job getting this far. Your baby benefited from all of the work you did. You are not a failure."

I cried and nodded, too exhausted to speak.

At 7 pm there was a shift change. Our day nurse was wonderful, but I loved our night nurse. She walked into a very emotional situation with calm grace. She leaned over me with a box of tissues and whispered  "I can't say too much because I'll cry, but I understand." Her eyes filled with tears and she bit her lip to keep from crying. She squeezed my arm, "We'll get through this."

After the epidural was placed correctly - the first try went into a vein - I decided to seek support. I posted a picture to social media and was soon inundated with emails and text messages. The prayers and Bible verses that flooded my inbox really helped. I was still crying every few minutes, the tension made my body rigid, and I had to remind myself to breathe, but I could feel love washing over me and battling the overwhelming fear.

Even with the epidural I wasn't progressing. Angie did an exam and found a second bag of waters (just like Bennett's birth). She broke that sac then we waited a while, but I still wasn't progressing. Pitocin was started (I consented to all of this) and I began to feel a lot of pressure. I asked the nurse for the button that would administer more medication.

"I can feel pressure!"

"But no contractions?" she asked as she lightly tapped my belly.

"I can't feel that. But I feel so much pressure. Please, I don't want to feel anything!"

"It's good to feel a little pressure so you can tell us when it's time to push."

"I don't want to feel anything!!" I cried.

"Okay, let's give you just a little more so you can calm down a little."

It didn't take very long for Ainsleigh to be born once the Pitocin was started and I was a little more relaxed. Angie dashed to her house to get an overnight bag since she was on call and soon after she returned I was ready to push. I alternated between holding J and Patricia's hand, but when things got really close I dropped J's hand and asked for Patricia. I knew he wanted to catch Ainsleigh, but I also needed Patricia at the very end to keep me calm.

I hated pushing. HATED it. I just wanted the baby out. I didn't feel any connection with her and I wasn't anxious to meet her. I wanted her born for selfish reasons. I wanted to take a deep breath and I wanted the heavy blanket of anxiety to lift. When it was time to push I lifted my brown blanket with my right hand so it was covering my face and held on to Patricia with my left. I could move my legs and I could feel everything - except the contractions. I felt the ring of fire and all of those other lovely things that come at the end of a birth.

I moaned. I might have screamed. I know I said the following:

"It hurts!"
"I can't!"
"Get her out!"

It felt really strange to push while on my back, but Angie said it was more effective to push that way with an epidural. When she was close to being born someone asked if it was okay to remove my gown so we could start skin to skin bonding immediately. When Ainsleigh was halfway out she cried, just like Bennett did. The nurse later told me that was her favorite part, that she's never seen anything like it. The nurse at Bennett's birth said the same thing. The Lord knows I need to hear a really strong cry from my babies as soon as possible. J, with the help of Angie, caught Ainsleigh when she was born. That makes three out of three that have been born into his hands.

As they were lifting her to me Patricia said, "Oh! She is her own person! She has a neck roll. And leg rolls. Look at these leg rolls!"

I was really scared Ainsleigh would look like Charlotte. Patricia eased me past that moment of fear with her joy and enthusiasm. Ainsleigh was hungry. She began rooting immediately and Patricia helped me get a good latch so we could cuddle and bond.

I did not hemorrhage, though I was kept on Pitocin for five hours after the birth to ensure I did not, and I only needed one small stitch. Ainsleigh and I didn't have any trouble with breastfeeding and our hospital stay was stress free and calm.

I think what tripped me up with Bennett and Ainsleigh's birth was an expectation of redemption; a grand movie montage worthy moment of beauty and healing. But reality is much messier than that. How could I expect subsequent births to heal the gaping wound Charlotte left behind? I don't expect Bennett or Ainsleigh to replace Charlotte, or fill the space she left behind, so why did I hope - or think - their births would erase, or at least obscure, the memory of my first birth experience?

I am hard on myself, which further complicates every birth. I wonder what is wrong with me, why I can't labor normally. I discount the trauma I bring into a birthing situation and focus on the wrong things: labors that are not mine, time, comparisons. I feel like there is something wrong with me, like if I was just strong enough I would be able to push through and have the water birth I always wanted. But I can look back now and realize that there is no shame in asking for help. It's okay to admit that it was too hard for me emotionally. Asking for help does not mean I let the grief win.

Truth is, the body and mind don't forget extreme trauma. When I experience labor all that came before rushes in and the scab that will never scar is ripped off. All of the initial wounds, bruising, and bleeding rise to the surface and spill forth as the contractions intensify. And instead of being excited about what's to come - a little human! a new life to love and nurture! -  I get trapped in a vortex of what was lost.

I was so disappointed after Bennett's birth. It wasn't what I wanted, or expected, or needed. Even though Ainsleigh's birth wasn't the redemptive water birth experience I thought I wanted I'm choosing to let the disappointment drain from me like water through a sieve. I birthed her. I had to make some tough choices, but they led to this moment of joy in my life. All that matters is that the little girl sleeping next to me was born alive and healthy. I birthed two babies after Charlotte died. That's something to be proud of.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

ainsleigh's birth {part one}

I thought it was going to take me a long time to write this out, but my brain can't leave the subject alone. I've been writing bits and pieces of this over the past eleven days. A hastily written page in a notebook, notes jotted down on my phone while nursing in the middle of the night, a sentence written in the margins of a book. This is long, and it's only the first part. I wrote down some of my initial, raw thoughts in a post on November 1st. You can find that post HERE.

Sunday evening, the 27th of October, I had contractions on and off for three hours. I called my midwife Angie as well as my mom, who was going to take care of Bennett when I went into labor, to let them know I was having inconsistent contractions. At 8:30 I sent a text to my mom letting her know it most likely wasn't baby time then went to bed.

All day Monday I had contractions on and off. I met up with friends at a nearby coffee shop . The coffee shop has a playroom on the second floor and we meet up there most Monday mornings for coffee and conversation while the kids play. (One of the friends there was due a week after me. We were both miserable that day. Her baby was born 3 hours after Ainsleigh.)

I had one good contraction while there so I made sure to go for a walk with Bennett later that day. I was uncomfortable, but the contractions weren't very strong. 

I was up and down all night on Monday. Every time I woke from a contraction I would think about starting the contraction timer on my phone, but would drift off before I could actually do it. At 3 am I was up for the day. At 4 am J woke up. Bennett was asleep in his bed - a rare occurrence - so I asked J to bring me a piece of dry toast. We talked for a long time then J went downstairs to get ready for work.

I could not get comfortable, and there was no way I could sleep longer, so at 5:45 I decided to take a shower and see if that helped me feel better. While in the shower I thought, Oh no, this is it, as the intense pressure during a contraction caused me to bend over. While I was showering Bennett woke up. I paced around the house while J made Bennett breakfast.

As I walked through the kitchen J looked at Bennett and smiled, " I think mama is going to have a baby today."

"I don't know if I'm in labor!" I called from the hallway.

"Babe, I have seen you in labor. You're doing the walk. This is it."

A few minutes later I called Angie.

"My contractions aren't consistent, but I am really uncomfortable. This could be it. Maybe. I don't know." I said as I continued my slow shuffle around the house, one hand pressed firmly against my lower back.

"Why don't you come into the office and we'll evaluate you?"

"Okay, that sounds good. I'll do that."

I hung up then said to J, "You're not going to work today. I'm going to call my mom and Patricia."

I woke my mom up, but she said she would leave quickly as she had a 45 minute drive to us and we had a 50 minute drive to the hospital.

By the time I called Patricia I was pausing in my pacing every few minutes so I could breathe through a contraction.

"Hi, what's up?" Patricia answered.

"I think I'm in labor."

"Tell me what's going on. Why do you think that?" 

"I'm having a lot of pressure. Inconsistent contractions ... hang on." I leaned against the bathroom door and paused for a minute. "Okay. Okay. Whew. There's just so much pressure."

"Yep, you're in labor. This is how Bennett's started. Remember? What do you want me to do? Do you want me to come?"

"We're going to Corvallis, to the clinic, for evaluation. How about I call you back when I have a better idea of what's going on?"

"Okay, that's fine. Whatever you need."

With two people who have seen me through two labors independently telling me I was in labor I decided to blow dry and flat iron my hair. Bennett was eating in the dining room, J was starting to feel a little panicked - "I better load the car. We have to go, what do we need ... babe, what are we taking?!" - and I was trying to do my hair quickly.

"I wonder if I should call Dana?" I said to J as he passed by the bathroom. Dana is a good friend who lives three houses down. She was backup #1 in case I went into labor and had to leave before my mom arrived. "When did I call my mom? What time is it? I really think we need to go."

"Well then call Dana!"

"Hold on, I have to finish my hair."

"Oh yes, because that's important!"

"It is! J the hospital won't allow flat irons!! This is my last chance for a few days. Uhhhh." I put down the flat iron and bent over. "Okay, okay. I'm calling Dana."

The phone rang once then went to voice mail. "No answer! You better go down there and knock. Wait, wait! Go to the cupboard at the top of the stairs. Get the doll, the one I bought for Bennett. That's his baby, I want to give it to him before we go."

J raced up the stairs then back down. He wiped Bennett's hands and face then I picked Bennett up and gave him the doll as I explained a bit about what was happening. J took him out of my arms and went to Dana's while I finished my hair and packed a few stray items.

A few minutes later J was back. Bennett was still in his arms. "Where's Dana?!" I was feeling anxious, like we really needed to get in the car and go.

"I don't know! She's not answering her door."

"Okay, okay. What about the Watsons? Across the street, take him there."

"I checked, all of the lights are off."

"Put him in the car then. We have to go. My mom can meet us there."

We walked out into the frosty, cold morning. "Let me try Dana one more time," J said. He walked quickly down the street, knocked for a minute, then came back. "No answer, but a light just came on across the street. I'll take him there." I nodded as I paced and moaned in the driveway. The neighbor who lives next to us scraped ice from her car and watched me walk, pace and bend over in front of our house.

Bennett was having a great time. He enjoyed racing up and down the street in J's arms with his new doll clutched tightly to his side, yelling "Dana!". He was not happy about being left across the street, but calmed down soon after we left.

When we reached the freeway I called Angie to let her know I would meet her at the hospital. I called Patricia as J accelerated onto the freeway.

"We're going to the hospital. I ... will you ... can you ... please come."

"Of course. I'm on my way."

I kept my eyes closed most of the drive. The contractions were coming every four-five minutes and I had to focus on getting through them so I wouldn't panic about how far we had to go. The pain wasn't bad, but I was really uncomfortable. We got to the hospital at 8:00 am, went through the admitting process, then were escorted up to labor and delivery.

A nurse weighed me, asked me to use the bathroom, then told me where I could find a gown. I told her I wanted to stay in my own clothes then sat down on the bed for fetal monitoring. My midwife, Angie, wanted me to have a long stretch on the monitors before she made a decision about whether or not I could birth in the water. I was contracting every 2-4 minutes and I was dilated to 5 cm. I was definitely in labor!

Ainseligh was doing well, but her heart rate was dipping with every contraction. I panicked a little when the nurse asked me to roll to one side so she could place a pillow under my back and see if that changed anything, but J reminded me that it was normal for the baby's heart rate to dip during a contraction. Once Angie came in to check on me I put on one of the gowns I brought and then I was hooked up to a telemetry unit so I could continue pacing, walking, and squatting while being monitored.

Patricia arrived soon after we did. I was so glad she was able to be there even though I wasn't one of her clients this time. I cannot express the gratitude I feel for her presence. I needed her there and she found a way to be by my side during the entire labor.

The nurses set up a portable birthing tub while I walked back and forth in the room. Once I'm in labor it's really hard for me to sit still. I have to move. After a while the telemetry unit came off, my hep-lock was put in place (I always have one placed just in case I hemorrhage)  and Angie decided to walk over to her office, which is next door to the hospital, for appointments since Patricia was there and I was still in early labor - I was talking and laughing and didn't need to focus very hard to get through a contraction.

I wrapped myself in the soft brown blanket I had brought from home and walked while J and Patricia talked quietly. Every now and then I would join in the conversation, but I spent most of my time focused inward. I did a lot of coaching and pep talking and general okaying. I wanted a good birth experience, and I wanted a water birth - finally, please, I just want this one detail to be a certain way okay, God? I prayed - and I thought I could use stubborn determination and sheer will to make it happen.

I had a lot of back labor, just like Bennett's birth. Patricia applied counter pressure with each contraction, I squatted, got down on the floor on my hands and knees, used the birth ball. After a few hours had passed Angie came back to check on me.

"Do you want to get in the water?"

"No! I don't want to slow down my labor!!"

"Sometimes the water can help. Do you want me to check if you are progressing?"

"No! I can't handle knowing I am only at 6 cm."

"Okay. What if we put the birth ball in the shower and you can try laboring in there for a while?"

"Okay, that sounds fine." I was beginning to panic. I could feel myself starting to get scared. I was losing focus, looking at the clock every few minutes, trying to figure out how much longer I could handle the emotional strain. Physically I was still doing fine. Just like my previous labors I wasn't in very much pain and could easily handle the contractions.

After Ainsleigh was born a friend asked, "Was her birth harder than Bennett's?"

J's response was that I "was in a better frame of mind for a longer period of time," during Ainsleigh's labor, but it was still very difficult.

Once J adjusted the water temperature I climbed in the bathtub and sat on the ball. The hot water hit the exact place on my back that was the most painful. I exhaled and let myself relax a little.

"Leave me alone, please. Turn out the light and leave me alone." I asked.

Everyone left the small bathroom, closing the door most of the way behind them in the dark. Patricia came in for a minute to give me my water bottle, and the nurse came in a couple times to check Ainsleigh on the monitor, but other than those interruptions I was by myself.

I sat in the dark, head bent forward, hair obscuring my face, and I sobbed. I cried because I missed Charlotte. I cried because I was scared. I cried because I was frustrated. I cried because I could feel myself refusing to let go and let Ainsleigh be born. I could feel the tension radiating from my core, stretching its invasive tentacles outward until every square inch of my body was locked in a battle between letting nature do as it needed and letting despair and sorrow take over.

For the first time I talked to Ainsleigh. I tried to connect with her. I told her it was okay to be born, that I was ready, that we could make it, that she would make it. I gave myself permission to dilate. I told myself it was okay to let the contractions come, that it was time, that the baby was doing well. I mediated. I prayed. I focused on breathing and only breathing, just like my therapist taught me to do when I was in the throes of panic.

I worked through the panic and fear. I cried and prayed and let it all go. I forced myself - gently - into a really good head space. I allowed my grief to have its moment and then I pushed it aside so I could focus on what was to come; the hardest part of labor.

Moments after stepping out of the bath and back into the room my water broke. As I leaned over and moaned through a contraction Patricia rubbed my back and softly said, "Good, good job." I asked to be checked because I wanted proof of the hard work I had done. I was a 7/8; I had made good progress.

I did it, I did it, I did it! I thought. I was still feeling okay. I was uncomfortable, there was a lot of pressure, but I wasn't in a lot of pain. Each contraction felt manageable. I thought I could easily finish. I didn't know that was the beginning of an emotional cycle that would play itself out over and over until Ainsleigh was born. I didn't know how many hours I had left, or how difficult it was going to be. I felt proud, capable and ready.

Part two coming soon ...

Friday, November 1, 2013

I couldn't let go (1/4 of a birth story)

We are home and adjusting well. Ainsleigh is a champion nurser and Bennett is doing quite well with all of the changes. He loves his sister with an intensity that must be closely monitored. Bennett loves to kiss and hold Ainsleigh, it's the sweetest thing.

I think it's going to take me a while to write up Ainsleigh's birth story because I had such a difficult time of it but I do have to get some thoughts down.

I had the best team possible for this birth. The midwife I saw throughout the pregnancy was there as well as the midwife who has been with us for all of my pregnancies and births. Of course J was there. He caught Ainsleigh just as he caught Bennett and Charlotte.

And the nurses were wonderful too. I was very pleased with how kindly everyone treated the situation. I think our midwife must have been informing everyone personally about Charlotte, or she may have made it very evident on my chart, because every single staff person was kind and understanding and we didn't have to repeat the story over and over and over. Even the lactation consultant was sensitive to our situation. When we were talking about how many babies I have I said something about having three but only nursing two and her response was, "Yes, but the first is important too."

 We were blessed to be so well cared for during an emotionally difficult time. Ainsleigh was fine throughout the delivery, but I struggled. When I decided I wanted an epidural because I could not see myself letting go so Ainsleigh could be born (I have this amazing ability to stop contractions and decide to go no further even at 7 and 8 cm) I received so much love and support from my care team.

The physical pain wasn't unmanageable, but the heart pain was too much.

I cried more during Ainsleigh's labor and delivery than I have in a long, long time. It was the kind of crying that just won't quit; even when you're exhausted, even when you want it to.

I'm a little sad I won't have the water birth I always dreamed of. I thought this birth might be different because I had the experience of Bennett's birth stacked on top of Charlotte's, but knowing it was a girl made it more difficult. I hate that there is a well of trauma deep within my soul that makes pregnancy and birth such an overwhelming prospect. If I could alter my perspective somehow I would, but after Ainsleigh's birth I finally understand that the trauma is entrenched and it's not something I can overcome with willpower and prayer. I was blessed to be surrounded by people who pulled me up, held me together and told me, "you are not a failure" when I realized I couldn't do it.

And now that Ainsleigh is here the question of how she arrived doesn't matter. What's important is the life we've managed to create from the desolation of grief. Our little family doesn't feel complete, but it does feel whole. And for the first time in a long, long while I feel like I can quit striving and dreaming and focus on the present and raising and loving my babies.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

birth and trauma

Birth and trauma have been at the forefront of my mind lately. I'm going to try to work through some of the trauma from Charlotte's birth before this next one is born. Although, I feel like I tried that with Bennett's birth and failed miserably.

When Bennett was born I remember hearing Dr. K talking on the other side of the bathroom door. I don't know what exactly he was saying, but I do remember him mentioning that my labor was so long because of post traumatic stress.

I don't really think of myself as having PTSD. The best description I've heard of PTSD was at one of my support group meetings. Let me see if I can distill it here:

As we create memories we put them tidily away in a closet. When we want to revisit a memory, or when something makes us think of a memory, we go to the closet, pull it from its place and remember. With traumatic events all of the related memories get shoved in the closet and we close the door with a slam. When an event triggers one of those memories we don't wander into the closet and gently pull a memory from the shelf. We open the door and the memories all fall out at once, which is why people with PTSD freak the heck out sometimes.

Make sense?

This morning (at 5:30 am!) I should have been sleeping, but was thinking about my storage issues instead. I think I've dealt with the trauma from losing Charlotte. I think I've worked through a lot of it. But I think there's a second closet I haven't sorted yet, and that one is a holy mess. The problem with that closet is that I only go in there when I give birth. When I went into labor with Bennett I threw open the door for the first time since Charlotte died and nearly suffocated under the memories and fear that fell out. While in labor with Bennett I thought I was losing my ever loving mind and it seemed like everyone around me was calmly ignoring the paralyzing fear I was experiencing. Well, not ignoring, but everyone was so sure all was well while all I could think about was Bennett being born then immediately dying.

As I see it, I have seven-ish months to sort that closet out. The midwife I'm seeing recommended a book (Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma) and soon (soon!!) I am going to set up an appointment with my counselor so I can talk with her about it. Honestly, I don't feel very optimistic, but I'm willing to try.

Do you have residual trauma after your loss? How have you dealt with it?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

the wonders of hemp salve!

So it appears - and I really hope I'm not jinxing anything - that hemp salve from The Fay Farm is the solution we've been looking for.  

Our midwife brought us some from Seattle, (she goes on a vacation with her family and thinks of us while gone, so sweet!) we've been using it since Wednesday night and B's skin looks great.  Not entirely clear, but much better than it has in a while. And the drool rash is clearing up!  I was beginning to think the red on his neck wouldn't go away until he was three, or five, but it's nearly gone!!

It's not just the hemp salve, though, oh no, it's much more than that.  I've cut out nuts and eggs.  I only eat eggs baked in things - french toast, pancakes, brownies, never plain (expect when I was pregnant with B, then I ate so many scrambled eggs I never want them ever again), but I cut them out anyway, and reduced my dairy consumption (so hard!).  B is on probiotics and homeopathics while I am taking tons of fish oil and hydrating, hydrating, hydrating.  Throw in warm baths every night and CeraVe lotion twice daily and that's our treatment plan.

I think I'm having such a hard time with this rash for two reasons.

1. My beautiful baby has a rash.  I don't like his sweet face and body covered in scaly red patches.  I want him to be cute, not rashy.

2. I feel guilty.  Mamas can always find a reason it's their fault, yes?  I think, and so does the naturopath, that he has eczema because he was given strong antibiotics in his first week of life.  How is that my fault?  I had Pitocin during labor, which gave him jaundice, (don't believe me? look it up) which made him slow to feed, which sent him to the NICU (well that and an odd breathing spell or two) where he was given antibiotics for a possible infection that never was.  I am so mad at myself for resorting to Pitocin, but I couldn't sustain the contractions, and I didn't want to labor any longer, so I said yes, I'll take it. And I was given a small dose, but a dose all the same, and I regret that decision now.  Someday I'll come to terms with his birth, and give myself a bit of grace.  I'm just not there yet.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Design by Small Bird Studios | All Rights Reserved