Tag Archives: pregnancy

Mythical? Pain-free Labour (Birth Story)

I’ve read many birth stories of women who have wonderful pain-free births. I have to say I was a bit skeptical, and a bit jealous. I’d had two fast labours with easy to manage levels of pain, but there was still pain.

But this time was different.

 

photography by Ella

I’d have to say I actually went into labour at about 10PM on February 13th. Not active, but as in first contraction. These contractions were well spaced, much farther than the braxton hicks I tended to get. But they made me take notice. I couldn’t sleep through them, but I could sleep between them. So I did.

When Ryan got up with the girls I told him to make some muffins, and guacamole for the girls. Pack snacks for them, and get everything ready to go. I tried to get some more sleep. But I was too excited. I was probably, possibly, maybe? in labour. I got out of bed. The contractions pretty much stopped. Ryan and I still continued to get everything ready to go, but I took my time.

I got down on my hands and knees to sweep the floor under the table. I had a contraction. We talked again about comfort levels of being at home vs hospital. We talked about what would happen if we showed up at the hospital and I wasn’t in labour, or  in ‘enough’ labour. We decided we’d go to the hospital anyway.

I had 3 more contractions while in the van on the hour long drive. Though they weren’t very strong. I felt silly for packing everybody up to go to the hospital, especially since our basement flooded the day before and we had a lot of work to do.

We debated whether to go to the mall to walk, or to go to the hospital.

In the end we decided on the hospital. I figured we could just walk around there and wait to see if I really was in labour or not. I thought I’d have the opportunity to leave if the contractions didn’t pick up.  I was still only have a few contractions. They were about twenty minutes apart, but not regular, and they weren’t painful.

When we arrived at the hospital we discovered that unless I actually registered I couldn’t get past the ER waiting room. So no turning back, I registered and we were off to the obstetrical assessment unit.  No walking after all.

When we arrived, 1120, the unit was overflowing. The nurses asked if I was there for a Non-Stress test. I said, no I’m here to have a baby. An induction? Nope, I think I’m in labour. The nurse rolled her eyes, but they have to check everyone. We had to wait in the hall for a few minutes. I burst into tears. No pain, no contractions. Just tears.

We were brought to a chair a few minutes later and the assessment started. I was hooked up to monitors and I sipped my Red Raspberry Leaf tea. The woman beside us kept screaming out in pain. The nurses told her she wasn’t in labour yet and she’d have to go home. I looked at my strip, the one contraction I had didn’t register.

I was moved to a bed so I could be checked. The nurse asked about me previous deliveries. I told her I was fast.

She looked at my strip and asked if I knew I’d had a couple contractions. I said sure I had a couple small ones. She smiled and checked me. She suddenly looked worried. She couldn’t find both sides of my cervix. She guessed I was about a 5. She called to get me a room upstairs.

When we arrived at the next unit, the room we’d be checked into was being cleaned. So we went to the family lounge. A couple families sat waiting for their loved ones to give birth. We waited for Ryan’s sister to arrive to help with the girls. I walked up and down the hallway, and Ryan turned on a movie for the girls.

While I walked I had a couple contractions. Enough that I noticed them. Enough that I sometimes stopped walking, but I still wasn’t sure I was in labour. Part of me was afraid they’d still try to send me home, or induce me.

The room was finally ready so we went in and the nurse went over a few things with us. Around 1PM Ryan’s sister arrived. Once the girls were comfortable with her and the nurse was finished giving orientation and asking about birth plans, Ryan and I walked. Up and down the hallway.

Fresh from the shower, 8 cm and smiling

I suddenly realized I was in labour. I felt the pressure. I knew I wasn’t ready to push, but I didn’t think it would be long. My Dr. came to the room to check me. Sometime around 2 I was about a 9.

I couldn’t stand to be in the room. I’d tried a shower earlier, but it annoyed me. I went back out into the hall. The nurse insisted I at least bring a wheelchair with me. She didn’t leave my side.  I walked passed the charge nurse. Apparently it isn’t very common for a woman in transition to be walking so much, and certainly not common to be laughing and talking so much. I was ‘encouraged’ to stay in front of my room.

A few moments later I needed to pee so I went back to the room, unfortunately just as I attempted to sit our little darling decided it was time to arrive. I was stuck. I needed a fair amount of help to get out of the bathroom. Our nurse asked what position I wanted to push in. She did mention that a mother earlier that day squatted at the side of the bed. I opted for side-lying. I was too nervous to try squatting. In hindsight I think I might have preferred it though.

My Dr arrived and gowned up before checking me. When she did check, she told the surprised nurse that babies head was ‘right there’. With roughly 10 min of pushing, Cordelia Rose joined us.

The only part of my entire labour that I would consider painful was the pushing. And I do believe that wouldn’t have been painful if I’d trusted myself, stayed upright, and had less ‘help’ from the Dr. and nurse.

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Announcing…

Cordelia Rose arrived valentine’s day at 3:07PM weighing in at 8lbs 7oz she’s a whole two lbs bigger than her sisters were at birth. She was 19inches long, our shortest baby. And she has the most gorgeous hair ever. Of course I am biased : )

Cordelia Rose

We’re both doing well. She’s nursing like a pro, and keeping us all on our toes. She must realize she has two bigger sisters who require so much attention, because she lets us know – very loudly – the second she has a need.

Her big sisters are so proud and love to help out. Ella is her protector, keeping her safe. Agatha is her friend and mentor, teaching her all there is about the world.

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Boy or Girl, Only Time Will Tell

I’m ready to meet our baby, to find out if we get a set of girls, or if we’re going to find ourselves one day convincing Agatha that her little brother really doesn’t want pink toes, and telling Ella that “Yes, it is a nice dress, but he doesn’t want to wear it.” What an adventure that would be : )

I believe most people think we want a boy, so that’s what they guess. From the comments we’ve received, I also think most people believe the only reason we’re pregnant is with the hopes of having a boy this time. It really drives me nuts.

When we were pregnant with our first, heck before we even got married or were considering children, someone told us we had to have a girl, or else. After all girls are so much better than boys. Despite always wanting a little girl I suddenly found myself wanting a boy so very much. I wasn’t disappointed for myself when we found out we were pregnant with Ella. I was upset that I wouldn’t get the chance to shove it down that person’s throat (I know that’s not a very nice thought, but I can’t get passed it yet).

Would that person really have loved a boy less? I hope not.

I hate when people suggest one or the other is better. I don’t care what their reason is, I don’t want to hear the thought or the reason behind it. All babies are special, all babies deserve 100% love. No baby should ever be born with someone suggesting, in any way, that one chromosome is better than another. I especially don’t want MY baby born with someone suggesting the opposite sex would’ve been better.

We’ve had lots of guesses, and I don’t mind that. I enjoy the wonder of it all. The excitement. I think it’s hilarious how adamant each person is that their guess is right. My belly sits this way, so it’s a…, I drink orange juice so it’s a…, the reasons are great and so much fun to guess. As long as a guess is all it is, I’m happy. I don’t want someone suggesting I’d be less than happy if we had one or the other. I want a healthy baby. I’m really not picky.

I don’t like hearing, before our baby is even here, that if we don’t have a boy this time, we’ll NEED to try again (Yes, we’ve been told this).

Why? If we decide to have another baby, that would be our choice based on our family, not based on our girls not being good enough. And it’s none of anyone else’s business if we decide we’re done with three girls, or if we decide to add to our family a few years down the road.

Ella and Agatha are amazing little people and I would never want to change them for any reason. I am so honored, so blessed to be Mommy to two wonderful little girls but I would’ve been equally honored and blessed if they’d been boys.

When I gave birth to my sweet little girls all I could think of was how perfect they were, how absolutely amazing it was that  Ryan and I made those ten little fingers and ten little toes. That that sweet smile playing on the face of a newborn baby was ours. None of those thoughts could have changed if we’d had boys instead. The details of life would’ve been different, but I sincerely hope the feelings would be the exact same. Nothing but joy and happiness.

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Postpartum Disorders

There are many things I wish I knew before having children. How difficult it would be, how wonderful, how rewarding, how humbling. But most importantly I wish I’d known about Postpartum/Perinatal Mood Disorders.

Oh sure, I’d heard of baby blues. I think most women have. It starts shortly after birth, you feel miserable for two weeks, then things get better. (Please note: I’m not trying to be flippant or belittle the way a woman experiencing this feels). I’d even heard of postpartum depression. It can start up to a year after the birth of baby, it lasts longer than baby blues and the symptoms are more severe. Then there’s postpartum psychosis. You know what that is – it’s when moms kill themselves or the ones they love. (I’m referring to the cases we tend to hear about – the most severe form).

Honestly, even as a nurse, I didn’t really know much more than that. In our area, when a woman has a baby they screen for postpartum depression (PPD) at every appointment for either mom or baby. During the first few months as a new mommy I had one nurse suggest I had PPD. So I took the screening again. Each time I took the screening things came back normal, not borderline, but normal.

At the time I didn’t know there were other forms of postpartum disorders. I certainly didn’t know the screening tool used isn’t capable of screening for those disorders.

Which disorders do I mean? Postpartum Anxiety Disorder, Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Postpartum Panic Disorder, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

It wasn’t until after the birth of our second baby that I discovered these existed.

It was a cold winter day. We were stuck in the house. I needed to wash the floors, I needed to clean. I don’t remember much more than that. I do recall that if I told Ella to stop something, she’d do it more. If I said sit, she’d jump. And the more upset I got, the more she laughed at me. Ryan was at work. I was exhausted, the house was a mess, and I wanted so badly to make my little girl stop smiling. I wanted her to feel as miserable as I felt. However, my saving grace was that I knew doing that was wrong. I knew that even a little swat would be a bad idea. I had no idea what to do. I had no one. So I called the crisis line. I thought if I  talked to someone for five minutes ‘d calm down and they could give me some ideas on how to get through the day. I needed the support of someone that agreed hitting my child was wrong.

What I needed and what I got were two different things. First, they called my husband to come home from work, sent the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) to my house until he could get there. The person on the the phone told me everyone had bad days, and I should suck it up!  She also told me I likely had PPD. Before Ryan got home I was also told that until a psychological profile could be done and a home visist follow up completed I needed to have someone with me at all times, or my children would be removed from my home.

I was devastated. I’d had a bad day. I asked for help. I never hit my children. Not even a small little smack. Despite the thoughts in my head, I knew it was wrong. I couldn’t do it. I asked for help, to make it so I wasn’t thinking like that. Because I called I could loose my precious girls. Yet the people around the corner frequently hit their children and they also get approved to foster? Would my girls end up in a home like that? My entire world crumbled around me.

Ryan stayed home, we saw the nurse, I passed the screening, again. The follow-up completed and we were apologized too and told I did the right thing to call and please call if I ever feel like that again. Even on my worst days I’,d lock myself behind a door, but I wouldn’t ask for help again. (I later found out the person I talked to wasn’t actually part of the support team, she over-stepped her job description, she was supposed to forward my call to someone else, but choose not to. Please do call for help if you need it).

However things really didn’t get better for me. For us. I needed to clean constantly. But only certain things. I had a crawling baby – the floor had to be clean enough for her to eat off of. And heaven help anyone that attempted to load my dishwasher for me. It had to be done just so – or else. Each night I checked the doors and windows several times, and if Ryan was home, I often made him check them as well. I slept with a baseball bat close at hand – for protection. I don’t even want to mention the thoughts that went through  my head when I went to the mall. I was a nervous wreck – and it effected my family.

It really wasn’t like me – but by then I’d been like that for over three years. It started after we lost our first baby, and the longer I went untreated the worse it became.

Shortly after that I saw a naturopath. I discovered I had under-treated Hypothyroidism/Hashimoto’s I started taking cytomel as well as increasing my synthroid. Things improved. Drastically. I also discovered I have celiac’s disease. As I cut gluten out of my diet things continued to improve.

I looked online for information. Read blogs. What I found made me angry. Thyroid disorders are very common during and after pregnancy and account for a lot of mood fluctuations. I also discovered all those other postpartum disorders.

Realizing that I controlled my thoughts, not the other way around, helped immensely. It wasn’t easy, but I’d manage to leave the floors unswept for an extra two hours each day. I’d let Ryan load the dishwasher, and I wouldn’t rearrange (much). I made a point of getting back outside, walking, breathing deeply. I still needed to keep the buggy enclosed so the girls didn’t get dirty or cold, but I was able to open the side vents without cringing. Things improved.

Then one day they got a whole lot worse.

It was one of the worst days of my life. I have no idea what triggered it, but I couldn’t handle anything anymore. I banged my head on the wall, I wanted so bad to hurt someone, anyone. I paced liked a tiger in a cage. I knew hitting was wrong. I knew it only made things worse, but that was all I could think of that might help release the way I felt. I wanted to hit something. I threw stuff. Anything out of place got thrown. Things broke. I tried to calm down, but everytime I’d start to calm down something else happened to trigger an outburst.

My thyroid was off again. I adjusted my medication doses and things improved again. It took a few episodes like that to discover the subtle warning signs.

As of right now I feel more and more like my old self again. I’m able to go to bed without checking the doors and windows a million times. The girls can have craft time without me warning them not to make a mess. I even help make the mess. Ryan loads the dishwasher, and the only time I need to rearrange is when something really is in the wrong spot (i.e. covering the water spout).

It’s been a long road. A scary road. A road we don’t want to find ourselves traveling again.

Ryan hasn’t said anything, but I think he’s nervous it’ll happen again. Right now I cling to the knowledge that we have; we know what triggered it in the past. We can treat it so much faster this time around.

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Wave Over Wave

I posted something similar to this a few weeks ago on a pregnancy site I frequent.

Many women are afraid of giving birth. They’ve been lead to believe it will be the most painful experience of their life (It isn’t). Many women believe that if you don’t have an epidural, the pain is impossible to bear (it isn’t). Many women think I’m nuts (I’m not) because there is no way on earth I’d get an epidural and that I don’t find labour and delivery to be that bad. In fact I kind of enjoy it. At least the first two were pretty amazing experiences.

One woman posted about needing to give birth without an epidural. She was looking for ways to cope with the pain.I had two analogies for her – both of which I use when in labour.

First, I am a runner (or at least I was once upon a non-pregnant time). I love to run. But it’s one of the most painful things I’ve done. I’d say the most painful I’ve done willingly. In many ways running hurts more than giving birth. When running, I focus on the next step. It’s a lot easier to keep running the race when there’s only one step to think about. If things are difficult and you focus on how far away the finish line is, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. It’s easy to stop and walk. But if you say just one more step, that’s easy. After that step, one more is easy as well. All you need is just one more step – eventually the finish line is there and all you took is one more step. Ultimately that thought pattern helped me finish races, and place in races that I might otherwise have given up on. A contraction is just one more step.

I am a runner. Being a runner means I will cross the finish line. But the analogy that I use to enjoy the race, the one I can visualize in my mind, the one that brings peace, is the sea.

A dark stormy sea crashing upon the shore, chaotic and bent on destroying all in it’s path. That’s what labour could be like. But if you step back and watch the waves crash on the shore you’ll see it isn’t really as chaotic as you think. There’s a pattern.  The waves roll in from the left, from the right, in ‘V’ formation. One after another tumbles in from the East, making their way down the length of the beach. The clouds overhead swirl, but the waves maintain their pattern. Rising out of the depths of the sea, small white caps form only to rise up, 3ft, 6ft, higher and higher. Swelling, churning, tumbling toward shore. But they don’t maintain that height. The waves crash and disappear as the water rolls back out to sea. That small piece of beach has a reprieve while the waves move down the beach. Another wave will come, but in that moment the sand settles. The sea might try to batter the land, but it only reaches so far before it recedes again.

Labour is the storm. Each contraction is a wave. It starts out small, it gets bigger and bigger, it swells, but it doesn’t stay at peak for long. It tapers off. The grip loosens and the contraction ends. There is a space between the contractions. Depending on the storm the space might be long or short, but there is a space to take a breath before the next wave rolls in. Use the space to admire the storm – to see the beauty in the clouds, to hear the music of the waves.

The storm won’t last long and you don’t want to miss it.

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Another Stellar Moment in Parenting

I’d like to make an excuse or two for my behaviour. After all I’m very pregnant and don’t move as well as I used to. However, I know that no matter what I say, all I have is an excuse. There is no justifiable reason why I did what I did. What I did was wrong. It was mean. It was a panicked effort to try to make the girls do what I wanted them to do.

The initial problem is my guilt. Moving has become increasingly difficult the past few weeks and I’m not playing with the girls the way I used to, and definitely not the way they want me to. I have a big belly, and they’re aware of that. They both do what they can to be gentle and watch out for their growing brother or sister, but at 2.5 and 4 sometimes they forget to slow down before leaping into my arms.

Our day starts out pretty basic, but as soon as the girls want me to do something I can’t, they head down and turn on shows. Agatha will come back upstairs and join me in whatever I’m doing – usually cleaning of some sort. Or she’ll grab a book and ask me to read to her. I can do that – so I do. Sometimes she’ll turn on the computer and play games, or ask for the ipod or explorer. It all depends on her mood. Ella, on the other hand, will stay downstairs and watch shows all day long. She doesn’t venture back upstairs unless she has to.

If I go downstairs to do something, she’ll join me. If I’m cleaning up their toys, she’ll come over and either help or start playing with something and ask me to join in. It’s not easy sitting on the floor, but I do accept her invitation for at least fifteen minutes – longer if there isn’t too much pain. But ultimately she’s in front of the TV most days for the majority of the day.

This evening, after Ryan left for work, the guilt overwhelmed me. I wasn’t engaging her enough. So I brought the phone, computer, snacks, water and some books downstairs and sat down on the couch. I had everything set up when Ella stopped watching her shows and came over asking to Bop! me. (She loves “Goblins in the Castle’)

Of course I said “Yes.” My plan was working. I met her in her space and I was more important than the TV. That’s a pretty amazing feeling. So we played a Bopping game for a while, then it morphed into a magic game, then into something else. All total we played for over an hour where she was physically active – with me. It was great.

Then Ella said, “I’m Hungry.”

“Supper’s upstairs, it’s too messy for the basement.”

“Can I watch more shows first?”

“Okay, but when you’re done, turn off the TV because after we eat it’s time for bed.” Agatha and I went upstairs on our own.

A few moments later Ella joined us.

As they ate, I realized that the Explorer was covered in some sort of slimy goo, and the game cartridge was missing. No one knew where it was. I was upset and instantly started lecturing Agatha (like that would do any good!). But Ella stepped in and said she’s the one who removed the game, not Agatha. She didn’t remember where she took it out, or where she left it.

It’s her game, her system, so why I got so upset is beyond me. I started yelling. I said if she didn’t find the game then there would be no more TV, no more computer, no more ipod, and definitely no more explorer. In order to use the toys she needed to show she could be responsible and respectful of the items. She started crying. And of course hurting her like that wasn’t enough. I then went into a rant about how messy her blanket was, and she couldn’t use it that night, she needed to find something different. Yes, the blanket was dirty, but all of the bedding is due for a wash, so did it really matter if she used it one more night, and then had it washed during the day tomorrow? I behaved poorly. I put items higher on the priority list than my dear Baby Girl.

I’m sure many of you might read this and think I did the ‘right’ thing. If she can’t take care of her toys, then she shouldn’t get to have them.

However by taking away her toys I prevent her learning how to take care of them. Also the explorer, ipod, TV, and computers are all different. She misplaced the explorer game, she did not damage the TV, or anything else for that matter.

Luckily, I realized this and back tracked. I apologized for what I said, and told her the other items were not taken away, but that she still couldn’t use the explorer until the game was found. She cried and told me how upset she was, it’s so special to her, because she got it as a present. I hugged her and assured her I would help her find the game in the morning, but also let her know that I hoped she’d take better care of her toys in the future so this doesn’t happen.

That was a better approach, but I still missed one very important thing. I focused on the game, not her. The game wasn’t in the machine, but I never once asked her why. I automatically jumped to our ‘rule’ that if the game was taken out it needed to be put into the case – that is kept in a cupboard the girls can’t reach. She’d taken the game out, because Agatha kept pulling it out and leaving it on the floor. So Ella took the game, and put it somewhere safe so that it wouldn’t get broken, but so she could still play it when it was her turn on the explorer.

Even though I negated some of the damage my yelling and punishing did, bedtime was difficult. The girls were both well beyond tired and that lead to fighting. Ella just wanted to lie down ready to listen to the story, Agatha kept Roaring at her. Ella cried, screamed, and Agatha did it more. I started to scream again. For some reason my brain seemed to think that screaming at them to be quiet would actually help. Again, I realized my mistake, turned and walked out of the room. I stayed out until the urge to do anything drastic passed, then I walked back in – all ready for bed.

Agatha was still roaring, so I ignored her. I cuddled Ella, her needs seemed to be more pressing. We talked about how she was feeling so tired and how I was concerned she might have chosen to watch too many shows that night. We talked, both expressing our views. I let her know I wouldn’t make her stop watching shows, but I didn’t think it was a good idea to watch them if she was left feeling sad or angry in the end. She nodded and asked to read the story.

I began reading the book and Agatha quieted down, Ella snuggled up beside me, and just as her eyes drifted closed, she looked up, smiled and said, “I love you Mommy.”

Just as Agatha was about to drift off to sleep, she reached up, hugged me, lifted my shirt and kissed my belly, then promptly fell over asleep.

It was a rough night, but it could have been so much worse. By realizing I was the one error I was able to change what I was saying and doing and prevent so much heartache. Nothing is worse then watching my little girls fall asleep with frowns on their faces.

I must have done something right

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To a Better Tomorrow

Today was one of those days. After waking up a million times to provide my tenant a bit more elbow room, I couldn’t go back to sleep. Five O’clock, dark outside, and my eyes would not close. So by the time the girls woke up I was a bit, shall we say, lazy. I got them breakfast, then just sat there and watched them run around. That was it. I didn’t try to get them crafts, or games, or anything. And then when they started to hurt each other, I snapped. I raised my voice, and they both looked so dejected. I felt miserable and instantly wanted to make it up to them – so I asked if they wanted to help me make cinnamon buns.

They shook their heads sadly and said they’d rather watch shows. Boy did I feel like the worlds worst mother! I can’t keep up right now, I can’t participate in many of the games they play, I can’t chase them, or swing them, or throw them. If I want to pick them up, I need to sit down first. And if one of them needs me, it takes me a lot longer to navigate the room than it used to.

There I was: tired, and guilt ridden. I joined them for some shows, we had fun talking about what they saw, but even now, I can only handle so much TV before I need to do something. So I got up and fixed them some snacks, and started to make cinnamon buns (and a nice double espresso to get me through the afternoon).

I completely lost track of time and just as the buns were about to go in the oven, I realized the roast was twenty minutes late for it’s date with the oven. It wasn’t even dressed yet, in fact it was still in the fridge. Sigh. One of those days.

Ryan got home, and supper was still cooking. The girls were wild, there was nail polish everywhere, and I was ready to cry.

She was happy. What more could I ask for?

What did Ryan do?

He got down on the floor with the girls and had them giggling in moments. He chased them, helped with a puzzle, got out candyland, admired their newly polished fingers. In short he was the world’s best Daddy ever.

Daddy's Little Princess

As their game allowed he came over hugged me, kissed me and offered to help in whatever way he could. He was already doing so much to help me relax, and he offered to do more.

I am truly a blessed woman. Tomorrow will be a better day.

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