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Hospital VBAC with a True Knot

Hospital VBAC with a True Knot

I have had three children. The first was a c-section and the other 2 were VBAC.  I feel that I was “bullied” into the c-section simply because I didn’t follow their time schedule.  I was induced at 9 days over my due date because I was told my pelvis was not large enough to have a 9 pound baby which they said she would be.  I didn’t progress as quickly as they wanted and was given high doses of Pitocin.  I made it 13 hours before caving for the epidural which then stalled my labor which required more Pitocin. Then I needed another epidural because all the feeling returned and was so intense.  After having a midwife and resident fight over if I was at a 9 or 10 and pushing for 1 1/2 hours a different doctor came on and said I was only 9 centimeters. He said I would not progress and had to have an emergency c-section because of lack of progress and potential harm to the baby.  This baby now has asthma, had tubes in her ears, and is constantly sick.  I honestly believe it is in part or mostly due to the c-section.  Also, they were wrong about her size, she was born 8 pounds and 8 oz.

I became more educated for baby #2 and found a VBAC friendly doctor.  After my water was broken naturally for 22 hours and 3 hours of pushing, I had a vacuum assisted delivery of a perfectly healthy baby girl.  I was so thankful to be “allowed” to VBAC that I questioned nothing.  I did what I was told with no questioning.  I hated being in the bed the entire time!  I was monitored the whole time, took the awful Pitocin when told, and was checked constantly for progress.  It wasn’t awful, but it sure wasn’t what I had dreamt of for a VBAC. I was very thankful not to have another c-section.

With our third child we were stunned to find out we were expecting.  As soon as we found out we started looking for a doctor who would do VBAC.  I had heard horror stories about the Air Force hospital I was supposed to deliver at.  I managed to get a referral off base, but couldn’t find a doctor. that would allow me my right to VBAC.  I was forced to go to the hospital which I was terrified of.  During the pregnancy I was scared they would force me into a c-section.  I was never really comfortable at any appointments.  The closer the due date became the more apprehensive I was.  The birth of our son was traumatic, but I wouldn’t do it any other way.  My water broke in bed at 4:45 a.m.  I had planned to take my time in going to the hospital.  However I noticed he had meconium inside me by the blackish water leaking from me.  So I showered and ate a healthy breakfast (I knew they would starve me after I got there) and then we went to the hospital.

After 3-4 hours they kept trying to give me Pitocin.  I refused.  I kept walking, rocking on the ball and trying anything to start contracting.  I was getting angry at my body.  My waters had broken but my body didn’t seem to notice I should be in labor.  Then the reminders started that I had 24 hours before they take the baby.  I knew I needed to get something started.  My husband helped me remain in control.  We continued to walk coming back every 30 minutes to be monitored.  We enjoyed the time together and he snuck me food.  The doctors began to get more insistent that I start Pitocin.  After 3 pm I finally consented. I was still 2-3 centimeters dilated. I began to have a bad feeling at this point.  I immediately lost my freedom to be up and walk around.  Now I could only go as far as the drip, then his heart rate fluctuated a couple of times so I was placed on the fetal heart rate monitor nonstop.  I was still on my 24 hour window that they had given me to deliver from time of rupture, so was getting a little nervous. Then they turned the Pitocin up so high I had to get an epidural.  That was pure hell!  I got what’s called a wet tap, so essentially a spinal instead of a regular epidural.  I’m really sensitive to meds so that made me pass.  I remember pretty much everything including my husband’s face when I couldn’t talk or breath and baby’s heart rate was in the 50s.  Once the drugs started to wear off and the baby and I were okay he had to leave to compose himself.

Next came the internal monitors and a half dose of epidural when it had worn off.  They then decided I would be allowed no more drugs.  This is where my husband got me to focus.  I love to run so he used running analogies with the contractions and breathing.  It was the most helpful thing anyone could have done and I was managing the pain.  Baby’s heart rate then had unexplained dips and then they started discussing a c-section.  I’m told that if we do a c-section I will have to be put to sleep because of the instability of the wet-tap that the anesthesiologist caused.  I freak out and start bawling.  Not only is a c-section the furthest thing that I want from our birth plan, but I already thought I was going to die from his previous error and now he wants to put me to sleep?!

My doctor that had come on service came by to chat and told me as long as no infection he would not adhere to the 24 hour rule but if we lost heartbeat one more time he would take the baby.  I went from a 2-3cm dilated to a 9 in a little over an hour.  Thank you doctor for allowing me to finally relax!  I stalled at 9 1/2 and the doctor stayed and massaged and stretched me the best he could.  The heart rate dropped and he made me start pushing.  I pushed for 45 minutes and with each contraction there was an irregular heartbeat for baby.  I finally got his head out and there was nothing but silence.  Next thing I know doctor says “I’m sorry dear” and gives me a 4th degree episiotomy and then nurses start putting pressure on my stomach.  A vacuum is placed on baby’s head and he is out.  There is still no life from him.  Almost 2 1/2 minutes passed from his head exiting until they had him take his first breath.  The 1st cry was the most amazing sound ever!

It was a boy after 2 girls! Thanking God he numbed me before he stitched me up after effectively having zero pain meds for the actual birth of baby was a must!  I hear the nurses and doctor start saying, “Miracle Baby.”  I didn’t understand.  Then I hear something about a true knot. Jagger’s true knot is what was caused all the fluctuations in his heartbeat.  He wasn’t able to draw what he needed anymore from the cord.  He also had a broken clavicle and Corio (infection).  It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done to bring him into the world but I am so thankful he is here and so amazing!  My postpartum care was awful.  I had bronchitis and they took me off all my meds and said the antibiotics for Corio for me would take care of it…wrong!  I was begging for cough syrup to help.  Imagine a 4th degree episiotomy and an uncontrollable cough…not pleasant.  I was discharged without anyone looking around down there and haven’t used the bathroom.  We had to stay 8 days because Jagger didn’t respond to his antibiotics in the first 48 hours so he had to be on a full 7 day course of meds for him.  I was put on bonding status and was able to stay in a room with him because he is nursed exclusively.  I asked everyday what to do to go to the bathroom. I tried prune juice, Colace, Miralax, veggies, almonds and chugging water.  I kept asking what to do but no one could help me because I was no longer a patient.  I asked every nurse and they all called ObGyn but no one would come.  This left me to asking friends and nurses and trying a tries variety of things.

Truly disappointed that after baby is delivered Mama is not a concern.  It would be more helpful for recovery, bonding, and overall well being if moms were treated with the same respect after little one is delivered as prior to delivery.  I am thankful that I have three beautiful children.  I am relieved I only had 1 c-section.  I do think that our culture needs so much work to make birthing babies a safer, more enjoyable, easier, less traumatic journey.  I would love to see moms with more options and knowledge about our rights and what is acceptable from practitioners.

VBAC true knot

VBAC true knot

 

Birth Without Fear Top 10 Most Popular Blog Posts of All Time

Birth Without Fear Top 10 Most Popular Blog Posts of All Time

Birth Without Fear is three years old today! To commemorate this special occasion we compiled links to the Top 10 most popular blog posts of all time here on the Birth Without Fear Blog. So without further ado…

10. Home Birth of Twins Born Past 41 Weeks, One Footling Breech

“…I had been having mild contractions off and on for about the last week, feeling my body right on the edge and knowing our boys were about ready to be born…”

9. Beautiful and Inspiring Pregnancy and Birth Pictures

“…We are strong. We are beautiful. We are inspiring. We are empowered…”

8. Face Presentation Vaginal Birth

“…Not only did she have a successful VBAC in the hospital, but her daughter was birthed with a face presentation (yes, her face was birthed first) weighing 8 lbs 1 oz…”

7. Estimated Due Dates

“…I think most of you know not all women have the same length cycles and ovulate on the same exact day in that uniform cycle. Also, not all women gestate the same, nor babies grow the exact same rate…”

6. More Birth, Breastfeeding and Placenta Pictures Removed From Facebook

“…Sometimes I see a picture that is removed from a social media site, like Facebook, and I understand why. Even if I don’t find it disturbing, I can appreciate how it might be too graphic…”uniquenessquote

5. A License to Rape

“…Rape? A doctor? A midwife? Yes. Birth Rape to be more exact. I remember the first time I read about birth rape…”

4. One Extraordinary Birth (Six Days of Labor, 33 Hours between Births, Two Healthy Babies)

“…It wasn’t that I set out to be an enthusiastic proponent of homebirth. As a matter of fact, I hadn’t thought much about what kind of a birth experience I would like to have until I got pregnant…”

3. The Circumcision Decision

“…When I began to make plans for the birth itself, I thought about what would happen on the day of his birth, and circumcision crossed my mind…”

2. The Post Partum Baby Bump: The Truth Revealed with Pictures

“…We are women, we are amazing, beautiful, strong and create miracles! Yet, we are incredibly hard on ourselves…”

1. Breech Babies Are Another Variation of Normal

“…At my ultrasound appointment and 36 weeks pregnant, I was not shocked when the ultrasound technician said, “Yep, she is breech.” I was not surprised, but I was devastated. This was not something I was educated about or prepared for…”

Breaking Down Boxes – A Follow-up PPD Post!

Breaking Down Boxes – A Follow-up PPD Post!

I cannot tell all of you who commented on my guest post on Post-Partum Depression (PPD) how much all of your comments meant to me. Somehow January always seems to re-share my guest post on days where I am having an extra tough time and just reading your thanks and knowing that I am not alone in this garbage is very helpful, even during my darkest times.

I am happy to report to all of you that beginning in January I have gradually been getting “better” and little by little I feel like someone is turning up a dimmer switch and making my world bright again. I am by no means out of the woods and still have days where I could just explode, but the part of me that has to muster the energy I need to control those emotions is stronger now and I can totally dig it!

The interesting thing about this time around with PPD is how I started to get better. I was prescribed a hormonal oral birth control pills (OBCP) to help control a issue that I have with endometriosis (looong story for another time, whew!) and, well, let’s just say it was not doing its job so I fired it. Within two days of stopping my medication, I felt like someone was lifting the lid to a box I had been locked away in. A heavy, wooden box with a crummy-looking window on the outside, because that’s exactly what my PPD felt like; being locked in a box, shut away from everyone, with the ability to watch all of my horrible reactions and outbursts, but without the power to do anything about them.

obcp

I doubt that my OBCP’s were the direct cause of my PPD, but it is obvious now that they were exacerbating the issue. With brighter and clearer eyes, I am finally able to assess my situations with a logical head, when, before, any little thing could potentially cause an upheaval.

It came to mind that it would be good to write an accompanying post about helpful ways to maintain your balance while your body and mind are still healing from PPD. No one gets better overnight and this was something I ended up learning the hard way. I had gone nearly three months without incidence and then – BAM! – An exceptionally AWFUL day hit me like an aluminum bat to the face!

I bawled. No, like, I sobbed! I was so distraught over the idea that I wasn’t better yet, that I could still lose it so quickly. I called my husband at work, rambling like a blubbering mess and just plummeting very quickly over my down mood and unacceptable reactions. He pointed out to me that after almost two years of being extremely unbalanced and dealing with such intense emotions, having one rough day out of almost three months was awesome! Although I did not share his enthusiasm at the time, he was absolutely correct.

Parenting is NOT easy, but hell, life isn’t easy either! Things go wrong in your day to day all the time and kids are just downright unpredictable. I can’t control what other people do around me, but I can try to control how I choose to react in the moment. And when I sat down and really thought about it, there were other ways to take control over various parts in my life that also might add to my stress. I started to go through all the aspects of my life and clear out the negative or stressful elements that were not necessary. I mean, yeah, my children can sometimes be stressful, but I am keeping them! Haha!

People who would inspire an unpleasant environment and who I felt were simply bringing a negative presence into my life were kept at a distance or dropped all together. Not to say that you should only keep people in your life if they benefit it, but you shouldn’t put up with them if they detract from it either.

eat-colorful-foods-for-better-health

Foods that would make me unbalanced, such as processed foods or items high in sugar content were no longer purchased, and we have been making a huge effort at keeping just whole, healthy foods in the house. (And really good quality dark chocolate for the times when I want chocolate and only chocolate will do… you know the times I’m talking about!) I also try to drink as much water as possible every day. I bought myself a 20oz. water bottle and do my best to fill it up at least five times a day. Hydration has a great effect on my attitude when I keep up with it and there’s the added bonus that my kids want to drink more water too! I try to get regular chiropractic adjustments and I am a lot more careful about which medications (if any) I will take now.

I started trying to add exercise in where I could in small increments at first (like dances parties while we clean up toys during the day or parking farther away at the grocery store) and then building up to bigger exercises (longer, more complete workouts; such as walking my neighborhood or doing yoga).

The number one thing to help alleviate stress: hugs. Give them to everyone, even people who might not like being touched, and make them count. Not just an obligatory embrace, a real one; squeeze them tight and hold them until they can feel your positive energy and you can feel theirs. Most importantly, hugs your kids. Kids give the best hugs in the world and a really great hug accompanied by a semi-toothed grin can sometimes be that can of spinach you need to get through the rest of the day.

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I haven’t shaken this beast yet, but I’m doing whatever I can that is within my control to keep my ass out of that box. Every day I feel just a little bit better and having my old self back has helped my relationships with my husband and children to grow and adapt to be that much stronger, because we have all survived my PPD together. I’m grateful to my family for being there for me and giving me a constant reminder about why I’m working so hard on myself.

abecheesing

If you find that you’re reading this and you’re still trapped in that f***ing box, please know that there is no specified length of time that one might be stuck enduring this horrible illness. Just because you are not there yet does not mean you won’t get there sometime soon. Likely when you least expect it. If you’re reading this story and you are just realizing that you have PPD or are not sure, PLEASE talk to someone TODAY. Please don’t wait. The longer you wait, the longer you will be stuck in the box and not getting back to YOU.

I don’t necessarily mean a therapist or counselor, because maybe that isn’t within your means. Counselors and Therapists are trained to understand the emotions you might explain to them, so they can be quite helpful if that is something within your reach*, but a parent, friend, sibling, or spouse can work great too, don’t discount them! I simply mean to talk to a person that you can feel comfortable enough to open up to, and likely cry in front of (if you’re anything like me). Not everyone gets better with diet and exercise alone and should you find yourself needing the added help of an anti-depressant please understand that it is OKAY!! The most important thing is doing what you need to do to get well!

I say we end this post with a mantra, whether you’re dealing with PPD or not, this is always an excellent reminder: “I am a good mom, a kind person, and I deserve to be happy!”

Say this mantra at least once a day and see if it doesn’t help you to believe it!

nomming

*If you are still unsure if you’ve got PPD or maybe you even realize you DO have it but don’t have anyone you feel comfortable speaking with about it (in which case I am very sorry and just want to hug you!) here are some resources specifically for Post-Partum that I hope can help! Remember, you are NOT alone, mama!
( http://www.1800ppdmoms.org/ and http://postpartum.net/ )

 

BWF Inspiration for 2013

BWF Inspiration for 2013

I started Birth Without Fear on Facebook in May of 2010 and the blog shortly after in October of 2010. It has been a wonderful journey over the last few years. Thousands of emails, many thanking BWF for helping them in their pregnancies and births. Giving them a renewed hope or opening their eyes to options they never knew they had. Finding support they could not get anywhere else and forming new friendships with amazing women who have similar goals. Celebrating ourselves as women, planning and experiencing empowering births, and recognizing that may be different for each woman! Yes, it has been a mighty fine journey so far. Healing, uniting, growing, supporting and lovely.

So what is in store for all of us for 2013? I sat here on Christmas Eve, presents under the tree, stockings stuffed, a warm house, healthy children and Christmas music playing in the background. I soaked in all of my blessings and thought about what I want to personally acomplish this upcoming year. What I was left dwelling on was what I wanted to accomplish as a mother.

See, I have this insanely deep desire to be a successful business woman. My mind tells me that is how success in a person is measured. It’s ingrained in me. I come from a family of successful women and so I constantly feel I am not living up to this expected measure of success because I chose to stay home and have babies instead of being a doctor or high powered business woman.

However, my heart tells me otherwise. It tells me that success comes from my own home. How I am as a woman, wife and mother. What kind of children I raise. That is true success. What’s hard about this? It’s not measurable. At least not while my children are fighting over the ladybug rainboots, making messes quicker than I can pick them up (even with a cleaning lady) and starting to ask hard questions such as, “Are you actually Santa?” and “Where do babies come from.” What?! Back it up…I’m not ready for this. But they are. How can I focus on being a successful mother when I don’t feel the worth of such?

That leads me to a newfound focus for 2013 and I’m going to tie it into BWF. We will still focus on pregnancy, birth, post partum and breastfeeding, but take you into motherhood (or fatherhood) as well. That is where we need the countinuous encouragement and support. Pregnancies and births come to an end. Even breastfeeding does (even if you do breastfeed until they start school)! Motherhood…well, that stays with us forever.

Some of us are better than others at understanding that this is the most important work we will ever do and we will need to lean on you at times. Success is not measured in blog hits or how much money we make. It is measured in how we raise our children, having a long and happy marriage, centering our life around our faith/morals/values, and what we contribute to family, friends, our communities and for me…my readers.

So, are you ready? Let’s embrace our bodies, our pregnancies and births, our differences and now motherhood. Let’s help each other get through these ‘bring you to tears’ type of days (toddlers are good at that), and also share the small moments that make us smile…for those build up into years of memories that will be cherished and one day we’ll wish we could get back!

Love & Inspiration,

~January

The Hole {A Poem about PPD}

The Hole {A Poem about PPD}

Caitlyn shared this poem and picture about her stretch marks with BWF almost a year ago. It was received with love and appreciated by many. She now opens herself and writes this poem about post partum depression {PPD}. Many of you may be able to relate and feel that you are not alone.

The hole ppd

 

The Hole

 

There’s a hole that sits within my chest

I cannot quite explain

for it’s just there and I’m not sure

exactly when it came.

 

Somedays it’s black and hollow

or it’s small and hard and tight

and others it’s not there at all

replaced by joy and light

 

I want to love each moment

as I watch you grow each day

but somedays I can’t find energy

to sit with you and play

 

From the moment you lift your lashes

to the time you fall asleep

I have to count each breath I take

so I don’t fall and weep

 

Each task becomes a struggle

and soon I fall behind

which only makes the guilt I feel

more present in my mind

 

But still I want the world to see

as I walk around with grace

pretending life is perfect

with a smile upon my face

 

when inside I might be crumbling,

tears just behind my eyes

anxious that my face might fail,

revealing my disguise.

 

I don’t want to feel broken

and I don’t want them to think

that just because I have this hole

I’m sitting on the brink.

 

“Please everyone, I’ll be alright

in time I’m sure it’s true

but for right now I need to know

that I can trust in you

 

to remember that this little hole,

too small and dark to see

does not take away the fact

that I am still ME

 

Because even with the bad days

my life is filled with joys

I get to spend each of my days

loving my two sweet boys.”

 

You make all of this worth it

you’re the reason for the light

which brings with it the happy days

and gets me through the night

 

That moment when I hold you close

and smell your sweet, soft hair

when I know I’m all you want and need

and you know that I’ll be there

 

when all the hurting goes away

as I hold you to my chest

to savor your sweet peacefulness

and forget all the rest.

 

Caitlyn Blake
November 25, 2012

Photography by Bean to Baby.

A Small Lesson on Female Etiquette {I’m not pregnant, just fat!}

A Small Lesson on Female Etiquette {I’m not pregnant, just fat!}

So there I am in the middle of enjoying a lovely afternoon with my boys, rounding it off with a quick stop at the grocery store to grab a few items for dinner when my fantastic mood is brought to a screeching halt. This is what happened…

We get in the checkout line and my four-year-old son begins to help me unload the cart onto the conveyor belt, while my one-year-old son babbles on excitedly. As we approach the clerk, she starts to make polite small talk and asks my older son about his day, etc, etc…

Before we can complete the transaction and get on our way, she throws out the most dreaded question she possibly could, “So… how far along are you?”

Mind you, I am not currently expecting, so she basically just called me “fat” to my face.

At this point I’m torn between my two possible (and justified) reactions; blow it off and pretend like it’s no big deal (even though it is, because, what the heck, she just called me fat!) or be mildly confrontational and make a point to demonstrate how insulting the person just was and let them know that, “No, it’s not a baby, it’s just a big, fat belly. Thanks.”

Why do people put themselves into that much of a conversation with random strangers anyway? For the record, the photo below shows what my belly looks like when I am actually pregnant (around 27 weeks) and it looks NOWHERE close to my stomach currently. Yeah, I still have some of my baby weight from my most recent pregnancy, but I would say that my size would definitely put me more into a “questionable category” rather than an “oh-yeah-she’s-obviously-packin’-baby-in-there category.”

Which leads me to my point; if you can’t tell that someone is pregnant and they do not offer up said information, then there is NO need to ask. Period. Any woman who has ever been pregnant will either choose to keep that blessed information to themselves, because honestly, it’s intimate knowledge and isn’t any of the clerk’s business! Or she will be shouting it from the rooftops, anxious to inform all she meets about her wonderful news. Basically, unless a woman is actually HOLDING a baby and standing on a corner SHOUTING about her pregnancy and labor details, do not pry into her life and potentially ruin everyone’s day.

My youngest son is now 16 months old and I have probably been asked that question by roughly 12 people (read: strangers) since he was born. Sometimes this even happens when I’m having, what I believe to be, a “skinny” day and feeling really good about my body, only to have that come crashing down by six tiny words. You might think that after so many instances I would be able to laugh it off, and trust me, I have a pretty keen sense of humor, but no, damn it, it isn’t funny the second, third, or ninth time!

(Okay, so it IS a bit funny when you sarcastically thank them for calling you fat, and make them feel horribly uncomfortable, but it only lasts for a moment…)

So, please, heed my advice and spread it to all that you know: If you feel compelled to ask, YOU SHOULDN’T! Seriously. Just don’t. This is good advice for many facets in life. I promise that if a woman is indeed expecting and deems it necessary for you to know about it, then you will whether you want to or not!

I am NOT Okay, and THAT’S Okay

I am NOT Okay, and THAT’S Okay

One of the most (out of many) horrible things about having post-partum depression (PPD) is the silent battle you are constantly fighting, against yourself, alone, while at the same time hoping like crazy that nobody notices that you might be unhappy/stressed/overwhelmed/anxious/you name it. I’m always nervous for people to randomly drop by my house for a visit should they happen to notice the puffiness of my face from crying “for no reason,” or how dirty my hair might look from being in my third day of a “rut” where I just don’t care to wash it, or the unclean dishes piling up in my sink; a sure sign that I’m obviously failing as a mother.

Not every person who has PPD gets it to the same degree; nor does that beast rear its ugly head in the same regard to each woman. With my first born, I mainly dealt with severe crying fits, feelings of failure, and overpowering hopelessness. Whereas with my second child, I have major anxiety, feelings of intense anger, and a loss of self-worth – on top of the crying and feeling overwhelmed.

Found via Pinterest

With my first child, I did not bond with my baby at all when he was first born. It was not until he was around five months old that I finally realized how incredibly in love I finally was with my little person. I didn’t dislike my baby, I just felt like someone had suddenly stuck me with this tiny, little stranger whom I had expected to immediately fall in love with and understand the solution for each and every whimper. And I think I had a slight grudge against him for it, like he wasn’t really doing his part either. “Come on, baby, make me love you!!”

On top of that, I was constantly hopping from one foot to the other, trying my damnedest to make it look like I had everything under control. In reality, things couldn’t have been farther from the truth. And my inability to admit that I was struggling and craving to appear like “The Perfect Mother” was making it far worse. Looking back on those days, especially in old pictures, I can tell how insane that idea was making me. My house was spotless!

Let me make this perfectly clear: I am not judging anyone on how often or not one might tidy up, but a brand new mama, with a tiny, new baby, should be doing nothing more than eating, drinking, and tending to their new little person. She should not be scurrying around the house all day long, bouncing from one task to another and making herself exhausted.

But I couldn’t do that. I felt like every dirty dish had to be washed right away and every dinner should still be homemade and on the table by five. I wanted everyone to believe that I had my shit 100% together and to be amazed by my natural ability. On the inside I was hollow. I wouldn’t understand wholly the reasons why, but my birth had left me feeling like a total failure. Lacking, somehow.

I felt even worse when I thought about how I “should” be happy. “You should be happy. WHY aren’t you happy??” I had a loving and supportive family, a wonderful and devoted spouse, and an adorably perfect new little boy.  But I just wasn’t, and it wasn’t until around six months post-partum, at the urging from my husband, that I would finally ask someone for help. It was very difficult for him to watch me go through this, and my random outbursts were draining on our relationship.

After seven months of jumping from one antidepressant to the next, I discovered that diet and exercise worked best for me, and I started feeling better and better each day. It was as if someone was slowly lifting a veil away from my eyes and I started to find more and more joys in my daily life. My son was about 18 months old by then and we had grown much more accustomed to our routine. So this mothering business was not beyond my grasp! I CAN do this!

When I ended up getting PPD again with my second child, I couldn’t help but wonder if there really was something wrong with me. Even with all my learning and understanding that the surge of hormones can make the situation nearly unavoidable, I felt like, “if only I had handled xyz differently” maybe things wouldn’t have ended up back here. I was in a dark spot for about eight months before finally deciding to handle this round of PPD with a new approach. Instead of keeping everything to myself, I was going to tell people that I wasn’t “fine,”  I wasn’t going to keep my life under the veil of “The Perfect Mother, “ and I wasn’t going to pretend like I didn’t need anyone’s help.

When people would ask me how things were going with the new baby and ask if they could help, I would tell them the truth, even if it made them uncomfortable, “He’s very healthy, but he’s not sleeping well and I could really use a nap if you’ve got time,” or, “I’m not able to pay enough attention to his older brother and am overwhelmed, would you mind taking him to the park for me, please?” I’m overwhelmed, I’m stressed, I’m tired, I need a shower but would rather sleep. I’m not going to bother cooking a whole meal today, and yeah, my three-year-old is just going to eat Wendy’s for dinner tonight.

Instead of pretending that I wasn’t drowning, I was up front with everyone about what was happening. “These tears? They’re inevitable these days. Yeah, it’s my post-partum depression, but it isn’t all the time or every day. I have good days and bad days with it. It’d be great to have a kid-free day if you have time to take them to the zoo for me.” Being open about my PPD hasn’t cured it, by any means, but at least those close to me can better understand why my laundry might be piling up or why I look like a hobo that day (no offense to any hobos…). It’s because I’m overwhelmed by everything in my life at the moment, and you know what’s truly liberating? IT. IS. OKAY. It really is, I promise.

When things get really tough for me, I try my best to reason with myself. I ask myself three basic questions:

1.)    Are my kids happy?

2.)    Are my kids healthy?

3.)    Do they know that I love them?

As long as I can answer “yes” to those three questions, I feel like we can make it work. Years from now, when my PPD is gone and they look back on their childhood will they remember all the times I might have cried while making mashed potatoes or will they (hopefully) remember all of the times we laughed? Will they focus on the times where I might have gotten more upset than necessary with them and had to apologize? Or will they remember the times we took, each day, to snuggle?

FAMILY is important, not this sickness or the circumstances it might find you in. And having to deal with this sickness is NOT MY FAULT. I am NOT okay and THAT is okay… because eventually we will BE okay! The most important thing is admitting that you are having a tough time and getting the help that you need. Regardless of how little you hear about it or how that one mom friend you have on Facebook might be making herself look like she’s got it all together (honestly, how often does anyone advertise their day to day “failings” on their Facebook wall?), you are NOT alone! You aren’t. All mothers will go through a bout of baby blues at some point post-partum, despite how small or large it might be. And if you are having a tougher time than another mom, IT’S OKAY! It does not make you a bad mother, nor does it make you a failure for admitting it.

We need to end this stigma of immediately being able to gracefully, flawlessly enter a new situation when having our first, second, third, and so forth, babies. Why are we expected to all of a sudden know exactly what to do and how to handle it when we’ve never done any of it before? Parenting is NOT easy and anyone who tells you otherwise either needs to cut the bullshit or put out a damn manual!

Listen, mamas, do yourselves a favor; If you’re reading this post and nodding and thinking, “Yes, that’s me, I am having a tough time!” Go into your bathroom, look yourself in the mirror and say, “Things are tough right now and that is okay! I am a good Mommy!” Say it a couple times. Say it until you can believe it. Then, say it to your partner or a family member, or to a trusted friend. The more you say it the more you will believe it and the less those tough times will add to your stress. And remember that I am sooo right there with you.

If you find yourself in my boat, don’t lose hope. Take things one day at a time. Find things to make you laugh and laugh out loud. Ask for help and don’t be afraid to do so. Don’t hide behind the “I’m fine/everything’s fine” veil. Get a shower (at least) every other day – it FEELS GREAT! Force it if you need to. Eat good food and stay hydrated. It helps, it really does. Maybe if we all stop pretending that everything is okay, the pressure to be “perfect” will take a hike!

 

*Mama Queenly is a wife to her best friend of 15 years and SAHM to two young boys in Midwest, USA. Her passions include, but are not limited to:  writing, cooking, baking, and all kinds of music (both recorded and live).  Having had both an induced, med free vaginal birth in a hospital and a birth center transfer turn emergency cesarean, she has very strong interests in pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding. She shares the belief that knowledge is our best defense when fighting for our basic rights and feels that she has much to share with other women about her own experiences. “If you have knowledge, let others light their candles at it.*

Home Birth Story and Post Partum Reflection

Home Birth Story and Post Partum Reflection

Written by Rina on July 8th, 2011.

Having the knowledge that I would give birth at home, with my midwife Nancy, assisting midwife Noel and doula Machelle, was a huge comfort to me. It was such a relief to know I would be doing the hard work of labor in familiar surroundings and recovering without interruptions from nurses and visitors. During my last trimester, anytime I complained about pregnancy related discomfort, my husband Aaron would ask me if he needed to take me home (instead of the hospital) in case I went into labor. It made me smile every time.

My pregnancy was healthy and I gained about thirty pounds. Nancy and Machelle came to my house for prenatal visits and it was nice to be able to relax and talk with them in the comfort of my home. I was tired much of the time but Baby and I were doing very well. My estimated due date was May 1st, 2011 but I was anticipating that I would be overdue, like I was with my first baby.

So you can imagine my surprise when, Thursday evening, April 28th, early labor began. I was having a lot of back contractions, I felt very restless and the only way I could get comfortable was to sit on my exercise ball and rock back and forth. I began thinking, “This could be it! I could be in labor…but I’m just not sure.” I remember telling my husband, Aaron, that we had to get a new dishwasher immediately! Ours had broken down and we were washing dishes by hand. I just felt this intense need to have everything organized and ready. That night, I was so tired but sleeping was a challenge due to back and hip pain.

Friday morning, April 29th, I woke up and I felt like I had a million things to do. Around 10:30 AM, I began working on sidecarring a crib (converting a crib into a safe co sleeper) when the contractions became obvious and more intense. I was incredibly irritable and short with Keaton and I knew I needed help. So, I called Aaron, my husband, around 11:30 AM and asked him to come home and help me care for our son. Aaron finished his lunch and came home soon after.

Around 12 PM my water broke in a huge gush, all over the kitchen floor. It was quite a surprise and, at first, I didn’t believe this could be happening. I thought, “Wait…water breaking before active labor hardly ever happens! Maybe I just peed myself?” But, as I had more contractions water continued to gush. I called Aaron again and told him he had to hurry home! He said he was on his way. I called Nancy, my midwife, and explained to her that my water had broken and I was having strong, irregular contractions. Then, Nancy called Machelle, my doula, to have her come to my house to take the baby’s heart tones.

My contractions continued and my water kept gushing. Keaton was very interested in what was going on but he was also a bit concerned. I had put towels down over the water and Keaton kept trying to help me clean it up. As you can imagine, having a three year old help clean can make an even BIGGER mess and it was a challenge to keep him away from it while I had contractions. Thankfully, Machelle arrived soon after my water broke and she cleaned up the mess for me. Wasn’t that nice? I remember saying to Machelle, “I am so glad this is on the kitchen floor and not the carpet!” Machelle and I talked a bit, she listened to the baby’s heart tones and then she started setting up the birthing pool for me. Aaron arrived home about 1 PM and it was a huge relief to have him at the house to take care of Keaton. Nancy and her assisting midwife, Noel, arrived soon after.

Around 1:30 PM I began entering active labor. Things became hazy after that and I closed my eyes and concentrated. I rocked back and forth and rested between contractions as they continued to grow longer and stronger. To my amazement hours were passing by in the blink of an eye… Nancy and Machelle reminded me to eat frequently, for the baby and to keep my strength up, even though I had no appetite.

Aside from getting me food and checking the baby’s heartbeat they pretty much let me do my own thing and allowed me to move around as I needed. Machelle would apply a heating pad to my lower abdomen when I had contractions. The heating pad was incredibly soothing. A few times she used a rebozo wrap to lift my belly during contractions which was very helpful too. I was walking around, I leaned over on my exercise ball, I labored standing, and I walked some more but eventually I decided I wanted to be in the birthing pool once the warm water had filled up.

One interesting sensation was realizing that my hip bones were moving and spreading. It wasn’t painful, but more like an intense pressure as my baby was bearing down on my pelvis with each contraction. I remember that I was getting out of the pool often to go to the bathroom to pee. Once out of the pool, it was nice to get my land legs back after using the bathroom, but I wanted to get back into the birthing pool as each new contraction came.

The birthing pool was an immense help for my contractions because the warm water relaxed my muscles and allowed my belly to be buoyant. Machelle gave me a back massage and reminded me to relax my face during contractions. I recall hearing Nancy and Noel talking quietly on the sofa while Machelle was next to me as I was laboring in the birthing pool. Listening to them talk was a very nice distraction from the discomfort of my contractions. I had my eyes closed but hearing their voices seemed to help me relax because I was reassured to know where they were. Nancy was able to take the baby’s heart tones while I was in the water and it was helpful to know he was doing as well as I was.

In the mist of labor Keaton became concerned and anxious. He kept coming over to give me hugs and kisses to make me feel better. He was such a darling and so concerned about mommy. He even attempted to get in the pool but we had to gently tell him no. So, instead, he would put his hands in the water and move them back and forth. He so badly wanted to be close to me and offer me love. Unfortunately, having my son present and upset began to slow down my labor and my contractions would stop while I tried to comfort him. I became emotional so Aaron and I decided it would be best for them to go for a drive and get some fresh air. Later, I learned they had a great time getting burgers at Wendy’s and watching cars drive by. They also visited Aaron’s dad at the hospital.

Once Aaron and Keaton left, my labor became more productive and around 6 PM I was in transition. I was bellowing and groaning to cope with the pain and it really worked. Vocalizing the contractions and swaying back and forth made them more tolerable. I thought I would be scared of the pain of labor but I really wasn’t. I took it one step at a time, one contraction at a time, and all the hormones kept me going strong. There were a few times when I felt like I just couldn’t do it but I remembered something Nancy told me, “the pain of labor is a productive pain” and that helped me stay positive. I could actually feel my baby rotating in the birth canal. At one point, as I was squatting in the birthing pool I said with surprise, “Air bubbles are coming out of my vagina.”and we all laughed.

Before I knew it, my newborn son was crowning. Deckard was born at 7:02 PM but he had a short umbilical cord that was tightly wrapped one time around his neck. Nancy somersaulted him in the water, leaving the umbilical cord intact, and placed him on my chest. He was blue and not breathing. Nancy him put on a warm tray next to me and gave him two puffs of air while Noel got the oxygen tank turned on. Then, an ambu bag (a bag valve mask used for resuscitation) was placed over his face. I was holding my breath and Machelle told me to start talking to my baby. With tears in my eyes I told his name to him for the first time and I told him how much I loved him. I told him he was so beautiful and I asked him to open his eyes. As I rubbed his back, I watched the pink color return to his skin and his chest began to rise and fall. He looked at me with a confused look on his face, like he was thinking, “How did I get out here?” and he whimpered. Then, he started to cry and I was so happy! All of this took place in less than three minutes.

Shortly after birth, while Deckard and I were still in the birthing tub, I called Aaron to come home. As luck would have it, Aaron and Keaton had already pulled into the garage and were on their way to the door. They got to meet Deckard at the perfect time; they avoided all the scary, icky stuff but they got to meet him when he had stopped crying and was alert. Aaron had a proud look on his face and Keaton was super excited to see his baby brother.

Deckard and I stayed in the birth tub a little while longer to catch our breath. I awkwardly held him against my chest but we could tell he was getting cold. I carefully lowered him into the water with my hand supporting his head and back so that he was floating and staying warm. As we were resting and enjoying the warm water, I delivered my placenta and when the umbilical cord stopped pulsating, it was cut.

Once I was ready, Nancy, Machelle and Noel, helped me slowly walked over to my living room sofa where I settled in and bonded with my baby. He was very alert as I held him skin to skin while I gazed at him and admired how handsome and perfect he was. Breastfeeding went off without a hitch about forty five minutes later and we’ve been going strong ever since. I got to watch my older son, Keaton, run circles around the living room and showed off for us. He certainly knows how to be the life of the party. A bit later Aaron put Keaton to bed and he came downstairs to join us as we relaxed and chatted in the living room.

We talked about how beneficial and lifesaving it was to leave Deckard’s umbilical cord intact after it had been wrapped around his neck because he was still receiving 70% oxygen. We talked about water birth and I told them how appreciative I was to have had the birthing tub available because it was instrumental in coping with the pain. We talked about the fact that home birth is very safe for a mother and baby when they are healthy. We talked about how perfect and healthy my labor and delivery was and how natural homebirth is. We commented on how handsome and healthy Deckard was. It was such a calming experience to sit and talk in the dim light and warmth of our home, while we discussed the events of my birth.

After a while, I gave Deckard to my husband to hold and I went up to our bedroom, with Nancy, Machelle and Noel, to have a tear stitched up. Then, my son was brought to me while I lay in bed. Nancy weighted him, did a health check (no Vitamin K or erythromycin ointment) and made sure all his fingers and toes were accounted for.

He weighed 9 lbs., 9 oz. and was 22 inches long. What a big, healthy boy! Around 10 PM Nancy, Machelle, and Noel said their goodbyes and headed home while Deckard and I snuggled in bed and my husband took care of the birthing tub. (I was so thankful he was willing to do that even though it was hard work and took several hours.) It was a very restful experience, to sleep in my own bed with my newborn son, undisturbed by interruptions from nurses and visitors. Just peace and quiet as I got to know my baby…

Giving birth at home, on my own terms, surrounded by three strong women helping me was an amazing experience! I am so glad I had the courage to bring my second son into this world drug free and in the security of my own home. I can’t say enough how peaceful and natural it was. Home birth gave me confidence; if I could give birth at home, I could be fearless and I could do anything! I had tons of endorphins and oxytocin rushing through my body and I felt alive! For me, home birth was exactly what I needed. I wish now that I had allowed pictures to be taken of the birth because it was such a beautiful experience.

During the early postpartum period I got to see Nancy and Machelle on a regular basis for home postpartum visits. Deckard was gaining very well, I lost thirty five pounds during the first couple of weeks and we were both very healthy. I realized that emotionally, I was doing much better than I had after my first birth.

Last time, I knew intellectually that I had had a baby but instinctively, I felt unsettled and confused. I had the baby blues and then postpartum depression which seemed to drag on and on. This time, both instinctively and intellectually, I felt at peace because enduring the pain of childbirth, in my own home was what my mind and body needed.

I did have the baby blues for a few weeks and I do feel tired most days and overwhelmed sometimes but there are no signs of postpartum depression. I feel my home birth has contributed to my state of mind because it was a very healing, enlightening and empowering experience for me. I felt closer to my newborn son and I felt like I could take on the world. What a blessing homebirth can be. It was hard work, it hurt A LOT, and I did it!

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