Sunday, April 15, 2012
Saturday, April 14, 2012
If someone were to ask me what the hardest part about giving birth to my baby was, I would probably tell them that post partum was the least fun. Here’s why:
The books that you read and the classes you take and the people you talk to always say stuff about the “pains” of labor, but no one ever says anything about what you may go through after the birth. Maybe it was silly of me, but I was expecting to perhaps be uncomfortable and tired a few days after birth, but for me, that wasn’t necessarily the case.
During Kessie’s birth, the one thing that was hard is that Kessie was born with her hand up by her jaw. This, unfortunately did make her birth a little more difficult on me physically, not to mention she was also a pretty big baby. I ended up tearing quite a bit (sadly, I actually remember feeling one of those tears happen) and so I needed to get a lot of stitches afterwards. It took at least an hour because they kept finding stuff to fix up. That was not fun at all, but I did bear it well. After all, I had my sweet little girl to look at and my darling husband to talk to during it all, so I was very happy anyhow. Finally when the stitches were done and I was cleaned up, we were allowed to go home (birth centers don’t let you stay over night like how hospitals do). Going home was nice, but at the same time, I do think that being able to stay and have nurses to take care of you every hour would have been nice. That, for me, is the only real perk for doing a hospital birth.
So when we got home, I rested as best I could. My family ended up coming that day since I would be going home so soon, which was really nice. I quickly discovered though how little I really could do. I needed help getting in and out of bed, using the bathroom, sitting up, pretty much everything. If I was walking, I need someone to help me and make sure I didn’t fall over while I waddled slowly to my destination. On top of the stitches, I was very swollen as well. Plus there was the bleeding, which I had expected, but it was annoying all the same.
Anyhow, so you put all that on top of being totally tired, needing to feed the baby every 2 hours, having to try your best to keep her awake while you feed her (she is an extremely sleepy baby and so hard to keep awake while she eats!), plus all the hormones and how your body has suddenly changed so much, and you have exactly not what I had envisioned. I also had another episode of the involuntary shaking while I was at home, which was a little scary really. My mom said that she had the same thing happen to her with both me and Michael, who were her bigger 9 lbs babies too. She said it was due to fatigue and blood loss.
Eventually, I believe it was the next night, I started crying for a myriad of reasons: I felt like I would never get better and that I would forever be sore, swollen, bleeding, etc. I felt so tired and I missed feeling somewhat normal. But most of all, I really, really missed my baby. I had expected that I would be able to take care of her after I got home- change her diapers, feed her easily, get her dressed, hold her often, all that good stuff. But the only thing on that list that I did get to do was feed her, which was painful because we had started out with a poor latch. So the thing that was really getting to me most was how little I was able to do for my little girl and how much I missed always having her with me like how it was when I was pregnant with her. I felt like I was able to do everything for her while she was inside of me. I even got to sleep right next to her and cuddle with her 24/7! I just really missed my baby and missed getting to do all the things I had been looking forward to doing.
Eventually, I did end up feeling better, but it took a full week until I actually started feeling like myself again and able to sit and walk comfortably. I think part of why it took a long time for me to recover also was because I was unable to take Ibuprofen to help with taking the swelling down because of the antibiotic I was on. It wasn’t recommended that you take Ibuprofen while on that certain medication, so I had to rely solely on Tylenol and ice packs to help with my discomfort. But let me tell you, I am sooooooo grateful for how much better I feel! I can now do everything I need to take care of Kessie the way I’ve been wanting to and it feels so nice to be much more independent. J
So, after my own experiences, I’d just like to share some of my own thoughts and advice to anyone out there who would like it. ;)
- If you are wanting to do a birth where you are in complete control of what you do and how you give birth, but don’t want to do a home birth, I would definitely look into a birth center. My experience there was great and I really liked the freedom I had to move around and birth in whatever position I wanted. The place was also very calm and peaceful and felt very homey. I also liked how the midwives were so compassionate, helpful, and great and coaching me on. There was never a moment where they made me feel like I couldn’t give birth to my daughter and I felt that the whole experience was very positive. (Of course, all of this said, I would never make a decision like this without praying about it first. I was sure that I wanted to do the birth center, but if I would have felt that it wasn’t right for us, I would have gone to the hospital. So make sure that it is definitely the right thing for you).
- Midwives are great! Don’t get me wrong, there are some really great OB doctors as well, but there was something really nice about having a woman help me out with all of this. Probably has something to do with the fact that they’ve been there before and can relate and understand. ;)
- If you are planning on doing a natural birth, take a hypno birthing class!! There are a couple different programs out there, and the one I did was called Hypnobabies. I would strongly suggest doing something like this because not only does it provide you with very helpful techniques in relaxation (which is key for a quick and easier birth), but they also help train your mind to look at birth in a different, more positive perspective. Birth is natural, normal, easy, and safe! J
- If you do decide to go natural and do hypnosis, practice your techniques as often as they say to! I think that I practiced well enough to do a great job at giving birth to Kessie, but I honestly think that if I had practiced more, I would have been amazing and I would have been able to concentrate better and have an even better birthing experience than I already had. Next time I’ll practice more. J
- Know what your options are for everything and remember that you can say no if you feel the need to. For instance, the midwives let me know that the Glucose screening test was optional, and I didn’t have to do it if I didn’t want to. Not only that, but if I wanted to do it, but not take the nasty orange drink, there was another option in which I would just need to eat certain foods before performing the test. Since there is no history of diabetes in my family, my weight was great before pregnancy and was still on track, and I was eating healthy already, I pretty much had a 1% chance of having gestational diabetes, and since 4 out of 5 people come back with false positive results, and since the treatment would be diet and exercise (which I was already doing well on), I decided to opt out of it. I never had to do the test, I never had to deal with a false positive result and do the bigger test, and I never got gestational diabetes anyhow.
- If you ever feel uncomfortable with your doctor or midwife or whoever you are seeing, don’t hesitate to find someone else! The first OB that we had was obviously a good doctor and really knew what he was doing. But there was just something that didn’t feel right about us seeing him. When I told him that I was wanting to do a natural birth and asked if he was supportive of such, he only said, “Yes.” And that was it. Um, don’t you want to maybe ask me what I have in mind? Don’t you want to know exactly what I’m wanting to do? Don’t you want to expound on how you really look at it? Then we also asked him how he felt about inducing, and he pretty much said if I went over 40 weeks, he would want to induce me. In the back of my mind, I said, “Yeah, we’ll see about that…” I mean, the due date is really a guess anyhow. It’s not like babies have timers inside them and know EXACTLY when 40 weeks has com and gone. Furthermore, I always felt like he was never happy or excited for us. I understand that he’s probably seen a million pregnant women and babies, but for us, this was our baby, and our first as well. We were ecstatic! At our 20 week ultrasound, I was so excited to find out if we were having a boy or a girl. When he told us we were having a girl, we were thrilled, but he didn’t even say so much as “congratulations.” Neither did the nurses or staff. It was kind of odd because inside, we were celebrating big time, but no one around us seemed to care. The other thing too was that all of our ultrasound pictures were kind of weird. I keep seeing ultrasound pictures all of my pregnant friends are getting and they look amazing! Ours were weird, like, a foot, a hand, a skeletal face, the spine. What was up with that? It just seemed clear to me that our doctor didn’t really care on a personal level, and that didn’t make me feel right about seeing him at all. So we wanted to switch doctors (at this point though we had decided we wanted to go to the birth center), but even still, we did feel kind of bad about wanting to switch. Was that rude of us? NO! It’s not! Remember that this is your birth, your baby, and you are paying this guy to take care of you and your baby. You shouldn’t have to pay someone to do whatever they want. After switching over to the midwives, we got a new OB to help us out in case we ever needed to switch to the hospital (because of my infections). The new doctor was so much better and really supportive of my decision to do a natural birth at the birthing center. He actually was really determined to help us get to full term before Kessie came so that I could do the birth there, and was very happy for us when that happened. So, bottom line, if you ever feel like your doctor or midwife is not right for you, find someone else!
- This may be TMI, but I’m going to say it anyway. Invest in: 1. A sitz bath. This will help sooo much with recovering quickly and it also feels really nice. 2. Depends for Women. You really will want these. If you do a birth center, they will give you one when you leave, but you’re on your own after that. If you do the hospital, they do give you some maxi pads and some weird underwear stuff too, but I personally think the depends were better. But do invest in some regular pads too. You can use these for when your bleeding lets up a little, plus you can use them to stick in the freezer, thus creating an ice pack for your sore perineum. 3. Witch Hazel. You can put this on your pads and then freeze them. The Witch Hazel helps you to heal better, plus it feels nice. Eventually it won’t though, so don’t use it forever. ;) 4. Some things I got from the midwives as a sort of “home care gift” were baby balm, for Kessie, to keep her from getting diaper rash, this other balm stuff called comfort cream for sore and/or cracked nipples, and these herbal “tea bags” to use in the bathtub or sitz bath. All of these have come in really handy, and I like that they are all natural things as well. I’m not sure what was in the herbal bag exactly, but I for sure believe that the stuff helped me heal better and quicker. So, if you have a way, you may try to find something like that.
- Do everything you can to prepare yourself for birth and minimizing the recovery time and discomfort. Here’s what I would do differently:
-Exercise, at least every other day or so. I did do pretty good at this, but not as good as I should have. I would get into a good flow, and then out of it, then do good again, then back out. I did get a lot of walking in because of going to school, but then when school ended was when I had a harder time getting myself to exercise.
-Do kegals! I’ll be honest in saying that I didn’t really like doing them, but part of the reason was because I honestly couldn’t figure them out that well. I also didn’t feel like I even did them well when I tried, so why even bother? Boy I wish I would have at least tried! I’m sure it would have helped minimize my tearing and such. I’ll be doing these next time, and maybe even in between!
-Do perineal massage. This is also to help with stretching things out and preventing tears. Again, I’ll be doing this next time as well.
-Primrose oil. I kept forgetting to use this, and I wish I would have for the same reason as the above.
-Again, practice practice practice your hypnosis techniques!
-Take naps! I’m not really one to nap very well. I like to be always doing something, so napping isn’t always the first priority, but after you have that baby and all you want to do is sleep, you will feel pretty silly for not taking advantage of it before. Plus, as mentioned before, it’s really nice to get as much rest as possible before the big moment! J
Well, I think that’s all the advice and such that I have. I really hope it wasn’t TMI or scared anyone. I just wanted to be helpful and informative since I feel I wasn’t as well informed and prepared for the aftermath.
But there you have it. Kessie’s wonderful, beautiful, lovely birth story (and plus some). I’m soooo enjoying my little girl and so glad that she is finally here! She’s the best and I love her so very much! She’s such a blessing and absolutely perfect! <3
Okay, so that wasn’t much of a brief explanation, but there you go. So then I got done with the medications, and I was full term, and I was convinced that because of everything that happened, my baby would be coming earlier than expected. I did everything I could think of to be ready and prepared for her arrival ahead of time because I did not want to get stuck in the rut of “Oh darn! I wish I would have done this or that before the baby came!” I was also afraid though that she would decide to come before we had the rescheduled baby shower, but she didn’t. The baby shower was very fun and went so well (thanks Keri! You’re the best!). So after that, I was pretty much all ready. I didn’t even have any other sewing projects I really wanted to do. So I waited…and waited…and waited…which turned out to be a very hard thing to do. It really wouldn’t have been so bad if I hadn’t anticipated her coming early, but I had, so the extra 3 weeks I was waiting seemed like an eternity. At each appointment, we were told that she was nestled pretty deep in my pelvis and in a perfect position for birth, which made me even more convinced that she was coming any day now. It also didn’t help that we had a few times where we thought something was happening. Three times I had contractions that were coming about 10 minutes apart (always at night, mind you), and I was certain that I would wake up later that night with them closer together and then we would have our little baby girl. But I always woke up the next morning feeling completely fine and contractions gone. One time they were actually 6 minutes apart and coming fairly strong, and I was very excited thinking that she would come later that night for sure. But, of course, she didn’t. I guess it was just a dress rehearsal. ;)
When I made it to 40 weeks, I was starting to feel like I would be pregnant forever, which I knew was a silly thought, but it was hard to believe that my baby would ever come, especially with all the false alarms. What was more, this entire time I was completely infection free and feeling really good, and then, a few days before 40 weeks, I ended up with another infection. I was so disappointed and I really couldn’t understand why my baby couldn’t have come when I had been feeling so good and not on medication, but oh well. Since we had to wait for the culture to come back to tell us what antibiotic would be best to take for the infection, I didn’t start anything until Thursday, the day I was 40 weeks exactly. We decided to go out for dinner that night and do something fun to get my mind off of being pregnant and having an infection, plus we were certain we wouldn’t be able to do things like this anymore after Kessie came. It was fun and we had a good time. J
Later that night, I had a really difficult time sleeping. We went to bed somewhat later than we should have, but I laid there for about an hour or two before I finally fell asleep. Then I woke up a couple hours later to use the bathroom, and I then I couldn’t get back to sleep for another half and hour or so. It was strange because I just felt like I was really hot, so I turned on our fan, and then I got really cold. Then I felt like I was thirsty, so I got a drink, and then felt hungry too, so I got something to eat and checked out facebook, hoping that it would make me feel tired and get back to bed soon. I stayed up for at least an hour and then finally was able to fall asleep again.
The next day I was pretty tired, and there was still no baby. I felt it was just as well though since I had slept so poorly and would need the day to just relax. My lower tummy had been hurting since the day before though, so that just added to my discomfort and made it pretty difficult to nap. I chalked it up mostly to the infection and was sooooo anxious for the antibiotics to get a move on and make me feel better. So for most of the day I just rested and watched movies and tried to sleep. Which was good, and you’ll see why.
Later that night, we went to bed at about 10:30 which I was really happy about since I was so sleepy and knew that I needed as much rest as possible. Unfortunately, again, I laid there for about two hours before I finally fell asleep. It was at least midnight by the time I did fall asleep. Then, at about 3:00 am, I went to use the bathroom, as usual. During this time, I felt some cramps in my tummy and in my back. I wasn’t sure if I was just experiencing indigestion (haha!) or what, but I realized that my contractions were close and pretty strong.
I headed back into the bedroom and was so tired that I felt like maybe I would just go back to sleep. But something told me that I needed to wake up Brandon and tell him what was going on. So I did, and we decided to time my contractions. They were coming about 5 minutes apart and lasting at least 60 seconds or more. So we called the on-call midwife (Kelly was on call, which I was happy about, since I wanted her to be the midwife who delivered my baby) and she said to continue timing them for about an hour more. After that, it was pretty clear to me that things were progressing- I could feel the pressure waves getting stronger. They never necessarily hurt though. It seriously just felt like…pressure. No pain really. Just tightening muscles I guess. Anywhoo, so we called her back and she said she would come on over to our home and check me out and see how I was doing. Almost immediately after hanging up, I noticed that I was bleeding, and although it concerned me at first, I realized that this must mean that our baby was coming soon.
So we turned on the Birthing Time CD of Hypnobabies (this was how I was planning on doing a natural birth. Click here to read more about what Hypnobabies is exactly). I started using my relaxation techniques, and they worked nicely. However, I did have some times though where the pressure got pretty strong and it was difficult to concentrate. I mostly blame that on my lack of sleep. Remember, I had had a difficult time sleeping the night and day before, and at this time, I had only had 3 hours of sleep.
Kelly made it to our house and checked how far along I was. I was at a 7! So it was obviously determined that we should head on down to the birthing center because our baby was coming tonight!
During the time that Kelly was there, I did have some involuntary shaking in my legs. She told me that it was due to adrenaline and just how hard my body was working. Then I threw up. Not so much fun to deal with those things, and they did make it harder to relax, but I feel like despite such, I was doing a pretty good job of it.
So Kelly went on ahead of us to get things ready and Brandon got everything in the car while I continued my relaxation techniques. At times I felt that the pressure was quite strong, and although during hypnobabies relaxation, you are supposed to go completely limp and loose and relaxed, I had a couple times where I just felt like I couldn’t, and what I really needed to do was just say “Aaaaahhh” to get through them. You’d almost think that it meant the hypnobabies wasn’t working, but I feel more like it did work, but during those times of “aaaahhh-ing” through the pressure waves, I felt I was doing what my body needed me to do.
In the car on the way over, I was able to relax pretty well, which was nice. Just as we made it in the parking lot, I threw up again. Thank goodness we had towels in the car!
On my way into the birthing center, I had another pressure wave, and I was able to use my relaxation so well during it! I think it was my best one! J
Once I was inside, I got in the tub, which felt really nice. However, after a while, I started feeling some pushy sensations and relaxing was a little more difficult. I had to “aaahhh” through most of those pressure waves. Then I decided to get out of the tub because I was actually getting pretty warm, which wasn’t as comfortable. So I moved into the bathroom and sat backwards on the toilet (which is a great position in case your water breaks). However, my pressure waves were a little harder to bear while I was there (probably because I was scrunched up) and I was still feeling those pushy sensations. At this time, the student midwife, Kristin, was the one who was in the room with me. She told me to try and not push too much at least, since we didn’t want me pushing before my cervix was ready and dilated. That was a little disappointing since I felt like pushing would help, but I did my best to not, although it was hard.
I finally realized that the position I was in at the moment was good, but not as good. So I moved to the bed and laid down on my side. This was easier since my body could stretch out and my body didn’t feel so squished together (I’m sure that at this point Kessie was quite deep in my pelvis. She was at 0 position when I was at home, plus Kelly was able to feel the amniotic sac ballooning out a bit). While I was lying there, I suddenly just felt a strong need to push. My “aaaahing” turned to yelling somewhat (although I still wouldn’t say it was because of pain. It was mostly because that’s what I felt I needed to do) and Kristin told me I could push a little bit. This time, although I tried to do what she wanted, I hardly tried. My sensations of pushing were becoming somewhat involuntary and I just needed to push.
After one of my pressure waves that I was obviously pushing through, I noticed Kristin get up and leave the room. Then I heard her say, “Kelly, I think we’re going to have a baby here soon.” That was sooooo motivating for me. YES! This meant I could push now, right? And not only that, but my sweet little baby would be here soon!
Not long after that, my water finally broke, which was a relief because of all the pressure it was putting on everything. I felt a bit better after that, and shortly after, things really started progressing.
Now, it’s at this point that things get a little fuzzy for me. I remember Kelly and the two student midwives, Kristin and Grace, and Brandon being there, but I can’t really recall when they were all around me and coaching me on. I do remember though that the involuntary shaking started happening again, which I wasn’t much of a fan of, but in the moment, it hardly mattered. The next thing I do remember though is Kelly saying, “Wow, your baby has so much hair! Do you want to feel her head?” When she said that I just smiled and was so happy. My baby had lots of hair, which was just what I wanted! J I had wondered before if I would want to feel my baby’s head as she was born or not, but I’m so glad that I did. With every push I could feel her progressing more and more and that was super motivating. The midwives were all so great too, always telling me how good I was doing, which also helped a lot.
After pushing for only half an hour, my sweet little Kessie girl was born! The cord was actually wrapped around her neck twice, but it was not an issue and the midwives simply unwrapped it as she came out. I got to hold my sweet little girl the moment she was born. She cried a little, but was quite calm and such a joy to hold in my arms. She was beautiful and really did have a ton of hair! Everyone was so surprised and absolutely loved it! We then talked with her while we dried her off. Brandon got to cut the cord after it was done pulsating, after which I delivered the placenta (which was really cool looking actually!) Then I got to feed her since she was hungry and ready to eat the moment she came out. We got some time to ourselves for bonding with our new little one. The time was 8:21 am on a beautiful Saturday morning. Perfect.
Later, she was weighed and measured. We all guessed how much we thought she would weigh. Brandon guessed 8.6, I guessed 8.8, and Grace guessed 9.2. I can’t remember what Kelly and Kristin guessed, but we were all so surprised when we found that Grace was spot on! Kessie weighed 9 lbs. 2 oz. and was 22 inches long! What a big baby! I felt pretty proud of myself after hearing that. ;)
Many of you may already know about our pre-term labor experience, but for those who don’t, I’ll explain briefly. So I get urinary tract infections really easily, and a fun side effect of pregnancy is getting urinary tract infections more easily, so I ended up having to be put on antibiotics many times and dealing with symptoms of such. Not fun at all, especially since I didn’t like the thought of all those meds going straight to my little unborn baby and hoping it would have no effect on her. Anyway, one day I wasn’t feeling very well and thought I had another infection coming on. I had a prenatal appointment that day, so I waited until that, where I did a urine sample and sent it in for a culture. After my appointment, I felt steadily worse though and eventually ended up in a lot of pain and couldn’t even fall asleep. Eventually I threw up and got chills and that’s when I decided it was time to call the on-call midwife and see what I should do. She called my OB (I had an OB as well that I saw every now and then just in case things turned sour and I needed to deliver in the hospital instead of the birth center) and they both agreed that I needed to go to the hospital immediately and that I probably had a kidney infection. The thing about kidney infections during pregnancy is that they are much harder to treat and you basically have to go to the hospital to get it taken care of. So when we got there, they monitored the baby and checked my cervix and it was discovered that I was dilated to a 4 and was having contractions at 3 minutes apart. The other thing about infections during pregnancy is that they can cause preterm labor, which is exactly what was happening here. Interestingly enough, I had no idea I was having contractions so close together. Many of them I didn’t even feel and the only way I knew I was having one was because of the rising line on the monitor.
So then I was taken to a room in labor and delivery, just in case things progressed, but I was also given some medication to stop the contractions and then also put on an antibiotic through an IV to treat the infection. We had left for the hospital about midnight, and by this time it was almost five in the morning. Then Brandon and I decided to get some rest after eating something real quick (I was starving because I had vomited the little food I was able to eat for dinner and hadn’t had anything since lunch time). Anyhow, long story short, I ended up staying in the hospital through to the next day (Friday) and then went home Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately, my baby shower was planned for that Saturday, so I had to call and write on facebook to everyone that the shower was canceled and I’d let them know when it would be rescheduled. That was crazy!
Anyhow, so then I was released from the hospital (which, by the way, St. Luke’s is a wonderful hospital. They took such great care of me and were all very nice. I would recommend them to anyone who wants to do a hospital birth and if things would have gone in that direction, I would have felt very good about giving birth at that hospital) and we went home. I had to stay on the medication for keeping contractions back since I wasn’t quite full term yet and I also had to take an antibiotic. It wasn’t much fun though because the medications made me have a headache, and then I felt dizzy sometimes, and then my ankles swelled up a little, and weirdest of all, I got red, hot patches on my ankles and thighs that felt like a sunburn. My midwife later told me that it was because of the medication for contractions. It’s actually a medication for slowing down blood, so basically my blood was pooling up a bit, thus causing the redness, warmness, and swelling. Bleh.
My mom was very sweet and came to help me out since I was supposed to take it easy for a while. I wasn’t necessarily on bed rest, but I wasn’t supposed to do a lot either. My mom is amazing by the way. J