Category Archives: Pregnancy and Birth

Peter is here!

We’ve been on edge since I was 36 weeks along as to whether this guy was going to make an appearance with all kinds of false alarms! We went from California law says the baby can’t be born until 37 weeks anxiousness to California law says this baby has to be born by 42 weeks anxiousness and we made it just in time last night (41 weeks and 6 days) at 9:26pm. Peter Zachariah, my fourth baby born at home, is 8lbs 10oz and 22in long.

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Of course it’s me so there’s a long story to go with this photo. Before you get started, it is a homebirth story and that means there are going to be some frustrations expressed with medical practice and the law as well as some gory details you might not want to read about if you have a weak stomach or you are eating. Proceed if you are into that sort of thing.

Last year California passed a new law that while in some ways was good for and gave more formal recognition to the practice of midwifery, it was very restrictive in other ways.

Even after three prior homebirths I found myself in this strange position of having to prove for most of my pregnancy, where I encountered the same issues as the other three, that I really was healthy enough to do this again. The day I finally could prove this to the medical establishment, I was so relieved to finally continue care with our midwife that had helped deliver two of our three babies.

So I had been having 1-3 hour spurts of patterned contractions on and off since 36 weeks. It was frustrating every time they fizzled.

I remember we were out for tacos with my friend Heather’s family and other friends and I looked and seemed then to be very done, but as Heather joked that night, “California passed a law so the babies better take notice.” The goal was to take it easy that week and make it until at least Saturday, August 2 when I would be 37 weeks, the minimum gestational age under the new law I mentioned.

And then I kept on being pregnant.

As more and more physically uncomfortable I began to grow and in some ways impatient, I also knew that my body and the baby knew what they were doing. We were checking out healthy at our appointments. I was enjoying my visits with my midwife as usual because talking about birth stuff with her is always fun. I made some sarcastic remarks here and there about wanting to be done, but I wasn’t going to try and hurry things along unnecessarily. A few dietary old wives tales were about the extent of any actions on my part.

Then my due date came and went and next thing I knew I was 41 weeks along. Unable to lighten the baby carrying load that night, I decided at 10pm after a shower that it would be a good time to chop 9in off my hair instead.

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Another part of the law was that at 41 weeks my midwife had to send me for post-dates testing. Since I hit 41 weeks over Labor Day weekend, it granted me a slight reprieve. I was not looking forward to going in and being lectured by an OB about the “need” to be induced. I had dealt with this before and both times it was not a pleasant experience. So I actually started to have some pretty serious anxiety about it Monday night which resulted in a piddly four hours of terrible sleep.

Tuesday morning after several tries with our insurance automated phone system totaling about an hour and a half, I finally got a real live representative on the phone. As I started to explain my situation, I heard a dial tone and I was calling from my home phone at that. I was beyond frustrated and by now my three small children really needed my attention as they ran through our house banging and blowing musical instruments as loudly as possible. More phone time was not an option. My plan was to make another attempt after schoolwork and lunch, but then my faithful pal “morning” sickness showed up, we had ballet and I had a midwife appointment.

Getting down to the wire of the maximum gestational age under the new law, my midwife and I started to make plans at our appointment. The next morning I would try to make an appointment for post-dates testing with my insurance again and try the good old castor oil induction.

My second attempt at making an appointment seemed to go slightly better. The first rep I talked to was shocked that I still wanted a homebirth at 41 weeks, but I told her that I wanted to get the tests done so that I could make an informed decision about how to proceed. The second rep she transferred me to was very understanding and chatty. She asked about my previous homebirths and said she totally got it. There were no appointments available, but she said she would put in a message to a nurse.

No one called me back the whole day and the castor oil induction attempt was almost immediately rejected by my still sensitive stomach from the afternoon and evening before of “morning” sickness.

Thursday morning I called again and was told they would send another message to the nurse. I asked my sister to come pick up my kids hoping that not having to worry about them would maybe do the trick.

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With still no luck going through our insurance, my midwife advised me to go to the hospital, explain the situation and get my testing done there. Hospitals make me super anxious. I’ve never really had a horrible hospital experience, but I was talking with a friend about it the other day and I think part of it is just the level of stress the staff is undergoing often is palpable (even if they are nice to you), as well as the spiritual significance of death and life in that place, add to that intercom paging (especially when things are getting more intense), beeps, heart monitors, the often very low temp maintained by the air conditioning system, etc. and it is just hard to relax there.

I had Stephen with me though and we went that night after he got off work. I was somewhat mentally prepped for it not to be an enjoyable experience, but I am happy to report that it was actually pretty great. We walked into the labor and delivery ward and I was immediately registered and taken care of with very little fuss. At the end of our time there, the on call doctor from our insurance OB group was gracious in the way he handled sharing his professional opinion (that I should stay and be induced because their policy is 41 weeks and 3 days) while also being understanding of my being an informed patient, the appeal of homebirth, and that while there are increased risks associated with going late, the tests showed it was very unlikely that any of those would happen. He even joked about epidurals. He stripped my membranes to help things along and sent me home saying that our insurance would contact me in the morning to schedule my 42 week induction.

The next morning bright and early they did call and wanted me to come in to the OB clinic for an appointment and more testing as well as paperwork for my induction. At that point I was just feeling slightly defeated and passive about the whole thing (I thought I would never go into labor!), so I agreed. My husband was not happy, saying another appointment was overkill.

We went in. The doctor that had an opening that morning was not exactly happy about my still being pregnant and my plans, but we got through it with an “agree to disagree” ending, another NST and check of my amniotic fluid, and an induction appointment for 7am the next morning.

With two clean bills of health from the medical establishment (which wasn’t really news) to satisfy state law, we could move forward with our next set of plans. My midwife came over, started an IV of antibiotics and broke my water at 3pm.

Nothing really happened right away, but after two hours I started having some contractions that were increasing in intensity. I went from chatty and joking to irritated and slightly snapping at Stephen about movement next to me, lighting, sounds and being touched within an hour. My midwife needed to start some more antibiotics at 6:30, but I have small veins that roll and she didn’t want to keep poking me and blowing veins. So she called another midwife with a background as an EMT to come start an IV. I wanted in the tub and tried there for a bit, but then wanted out and on my bed. By the time the other midwife got here at 8:50 and was trying to start a new IV, I was semi pushing. After IV attempt one I just really didn’t want to be poked again and knew that I was going to be pushing this baby out really soon making the antibiotics somewhat mute. I could not get comfortable on the bed and decided to go back to the tub.

I was kind of in a table position on my knees with the side of the tub and started pushing. It felt better in there, but obviously still uncomfortable because it’s labor and you are pushing a tiny human out of you. I don’t really think I pushed a ton, maybe 5-6 times and he was out. My position was awkward in the tub though so I was the only person that could reach down and pull him up and out of the water. I felt so shaky and was afraid I wouldn’t be able to hold myself up with my legs alone, but I did it. I saw that he really was a boy just like the halfway point ultrasound said, but we slightly doubted because he was so active making a clear picture tough for the tech and because my pregnancy symptoms were so much like Jilly’s. I was eased back into a sitting position where I stayed for a bit until the placenta came out as they were draining the tub.

With the other three I gave birth on our bed so the midwives were changing out bed pads and towels the whole time and I was lying back instead of sitting up so I didn’t really see anything. So I was kind of shocked about how much blood there was in addition to the shock of just giving birth and feeling slightly weak and shaky from that.

They got me out of the tub and onto the floor by the tub, but I didn’t feel like I could walk all the way back to our bed right away. When I stood up it just felt like my lungs and everything were falling without that baby holding them up and squashing them. So they checked me out there first.

They got me back to the bed and I initially felt pretty good. I was in way less pain than I expected to be in both with nursing and dealing with afterbirth pains.

Stephen made me some toast so I could take some Advil. I took one bite and I suddenly did not want it in my mouth and thought I might throw up and that’s when things got a little tense. I did throw up. I started not feeling good at all and the midwives were concerned about my uterus contracting. It was contracted, but not down far enough. They started an IV. I was bleeding a bit more than they liked. I was feeling really out of it too. It maybe seemed more scary to me, but they both kept assuring me that I was going to be OK and that if they were really concerned they’d have emergency personnel come. They gave me medicine in the IV and then decided they needed to check for clots. It was really painful, but once they got them out the bleeding was much more controlled. Things calmed down. I started to perk up and joke again.

Once I was more stable they examined our baby, Stephen cut the cord, I had more IV fluid, they cleaned me and our room and bathroom up. They gave Peter a 10/10 on his Apgar and decided based on their examination that his gestational age was actually 41 weeks. They reminded me that I went through a bit of trauma and that I needed to stay in bed this week before heading out so we could go to sleep in the first hours of Saturday (our 11th anniversary!)

So that’s my plan. I think this is really the first time I don’t feel like getting up the next day, actually. Pretty content to rest and snuggle our very sweet and cute boy.

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*** Sorry if I sound like such a Debbie Downer about laws and medical practice. I’m just not sure if I would feel as tired or had the immediate post-partum experience I did if my body had just been allowed to do things more naturally when it was ready.

**** For those interested in the reasoning behind the names:

St. Peter the Aleut was an Orthodox martyr right here in California. We have a children’s book version of his life which all of our kids, but especially big brother Henry love. In this last year of helping to start up a mission parish for the Orthodox Church in America, one of the things that made it possible was the closing of St. Peter the Aleut mission in Lake Havisu because they gave us several liturgical items.

Yesterday was the feast day for the Prophet Zachariah.

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Filed under Family, Kiddos, Parenting, Pregnancy and Birth

Alone and not alone.

Yesterday and for a few days before I was fine.

My anemia symptoms are gone now. Milk that came in was quickly dried up again with herbal tea consumed and cabbage strategically (albeit uncomfortably) placed. Physically, I feel normal again.

In spite of that, today has felt like more of a falling apart kind of day.

A friend of mine reached out this morning, the timing of it could seriously not have been more perfect. She said how this all feels in a way that was so well written:

I don’t understand the pain that you’re going through, or will go through. But I get what you mean. I was thinking about it all this morning, about you and about (name removed for privacy)… how terrible miscarriages can be. I came to the conclusion that it’s because, not only is it a loss that you’re dealing with (as many of us do)… but a miscarriage is directly and solely yours. A personal tragedy. Only you can know what has taken place, the horror that your body has gone through. And for that, I empathize with you.

One of the first questions I had for my midwife as this all unfolded was, “What do I even call this?” I seriously wondered if I even was allowed to call it a miscarriage since it was so early. The well meaning people surrounding me and asking me if I was sure that this was in fact a miscarriage did not help in the processing of this question. I must have had at least five or six conversations over-explaining myself and how I knew for a fact that I had been pregnant and that I was sure this was a miscarriage. The last post on this subject was just that: wordy me, over explaining. I guess I wrote it with the hopes that I wouldn’t need to have one of those awkward conversations again if I wrote it all out and knew my answer to that question.

Some of you may or may not remember or know this, but this happened to me once before. Since I figured it out so far after the fact though, it did not hit me like this has. I have had many new doctors over the last few years because of insurance and job changes and as any of you know when you get established with a new doctor a review of your health history is part of the process. On almost every form there is a part where there are separate entries for number of pregnancies and number of live births. I have always put 4 pregnancies and 3 live births on those forms, but upon discussion with every single doctor (the exception being my wonderful midwife in Ventura) they always say, “Well it was so early that we won’t note that in your chart,” or “That really doesn’t count as a miscarriage.” It’s not so shocking really, the point when I miscarried is the point when it is still OK in our society to have an abortion.

A few years ago a friend of mine that doesn’t blog anymore shared some of her fertility struggles back when we were all blogging and bloggy friends. I remember her words impacted me so much and helped me to finally somewhat process through the miscarriage “that didn’t count”. She said that in a world where the unborn are regarded as disposable nonentities at the early stages of pregnancy, there is little comfort for those of us that suffer a miscarriage during that part of a pregnancy. Miscarriage is so common (and I hate that word in this situation), but no one really knows how to deal with it or those of us that have been through it. Her specific words have stuck with me, “My unborn children were people with a soul. The loss of that unique person left an enormous void in my life.”

In early miscarriage we don’t have a funeral. We don’t know the sex of the child and cannot name the child, a suggested coping mechanism on several articles I’ve read on the subject. I did not ever feel my babies kick, hold their hand, gaze into their eyes. No aunties, uncles, cousins or grandparents got to know this person or hold them and thus feel the void of their absence.

Post-partum hair loss has started, but there’s no baby to show for it. It’s a deep ache that is hard to share with anyone else.

My husband’s cousin that knows this tragedy, sent a card that said, “There are no words for the pain.” She’s right. But in some small way those that have brought meals, sent texts or messages, brought flowers, sent cards, books, have prayed and offered their condolences have helped. It has not gone unnoticed even if I have not responded directly to everyone. They can’t share in my grief or understand it. They never knew and can never miss this person, but knowing that they care helps. It helps me to know I’m not alone in something that I am going through alone.

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Filed under Family, Parenting, Pregnancy and Birth, Ramblings

It happens to most women.

This is the space where I share in milestones and birth stories. This will be the space where I share my grief.

I know I said I was done after Henry. That I did not ever want more kids. What happened after his birth, not really ever feeling totally well afterwards (still don’t), the “ruler of the home” he turned out to be like his name means, etc. Stephen was so scared after what happened he didn’t want me to be pregnant again either. Too many ER trips for IVs and prescription anti-nausea medications and being unable to really function, let alone take care of kids from being sick and the side effects of the prescription medicines. I was justifiably done. I had done my part to continue the Wuertz name with two boys. We had three kids in a country where the average is probably somewhere around one or two.

I don’t know when or how I got to the point where I felt like after three I knew I’d survive those hard nine months and it was just so, so worth it, but I did. I guess I’m kind of glad we didn’t decide to be “surgically sure” after Henry. He’s taught us so much about ourselves, our selfishness. And the kid can work the charms on me. His new favorite thing is to come up on my lap and hug me tight and say, “My lap, my mama, my snuggles,” (we are heavy into the “my” phase).

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I don’t pretend to be able to explain myself well here. I know big families are kind of a freak show in our culture (with their own Reality TV shows like the other freaks in our nation). And I never wanted a big family or thought I would want one. I never thought I’d want kids, period.

So then there it was, a change in decision, and almost immediately I was pregnant because I’m Fertile Myrtle like that. Much like with the others, especially Jillian, I was already nauseous about a week after conception. My face erupted in major, painful breakouts. I needed a nap every day, but obviously could not take one with two older kids that don’t nap anymore, but are not old enough to be trusted in any way. I could not keep my eyes open past 8pm most nights and I slept like a brick. I had brain fog and trouble focusing. Smells were stronger and I had more aversions. These are things that only happen when I am pregnant. It was obvious to me. So obvious, that I decided a pregnancy test was unnecessary.

At first my symptoms just seemed to coincide with Lent, but it just kept getting more and more intense and I knew, I just knew it wasn’t a Lent thing. In fact, I finally had to get a fasting dispensation from our priest for pregnancy and even then I was having all these really intense typical pregnancy symptoms. My period was late as expected.

I guess what was unexpected was how excited we were. I pretty much put two and two together within a day of the symptoms starting and we were both so thrilled. We haven’t really ever been like that before, especially in the midst of nausea. It took warming up to the idea all the other times.

There’s something different between Stephen and I in our relationship and even just us as individuals this last year that I can’t quite put my finger on completely, but it’s there, this quiet strength and peace and knowing that even in hard times, which have seemed plenty the last year, we are going to make it through. Perhaps we’ll come out a little more battered, but overall we’re going to be OK and we’re going to make it through. I don’t quite know how to articulate it other than that, but it feels bigger than that.

So we knew a pregnancy would be hard. I knew lots of puking was ahead of me, but we knew we were going to be OK and make it through and there would be this sweet little person that would fit him or herself into this family of ours. Perhaps part of it is just having done it three times before.

After three homebirths and in spite of the after-scares with myself after giving birth to Henry, my plan was still homebirth and the midwife that “caught” two of my babies.

She had been at a midwifery conference this past week and got back earlier this week. I checked in with her and asked if I could come by to get lab orders and get my official test.

But then I started feeling too normal for a typical pregnancy for me. After three solid weeks of symptoms, suddenly I felt fine and did crazy adventurous things with my kids like hiking and a day at the farm strawberry picking.

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I got scared. I questioned my knowledge of my body and my symptoms. I bought pregnancy tests. I took one at night. It was negative. The best time to test is first thing in the morning, I reminded and consoled myself. The next morning was the same. But my period was late and the symptoms told me these tests had to be wrong. This was the day that I wanted to get my paperwork anyway. My midwife suggested ordering a hormone level check instead of a plain pregnancy blood test.

Surely things were fine. Surely this was just weird stuff. But deep down I knew it wasn’t fine and started to worry. The sudden lack of symptoms was my red flag. I asked a few people to pray. I prayed.

Before I could even get the test results back I was cramping, hard. Then bleeding. Then clots and tissue. I had my answer.

A day that was supposed to be filled with joy went terribly differently than I expected. And the grief hit me. And then I was fine. Then it hit me again. Then I was fine. I think I’m going to be OK and console myself that at least it was only a little ways along and physically this could be much worse and then I find myself slamming cupboard doors for no apparent reason or snapping at my kids for minor infractions. I had a meltdown over Henry trying to help with the laundry carrying his folded pile down the hallway dropping a piece every few steps. I try to keep busy and then fall apart in tears. I know these things happen, happen to most women at least once. I just thought it wouldn’t really be me.

I asked my midwife what to call this. It’s so early. Is it even considered a miscarriage if you are only a week late? By the time I took the test my hormone levels were so low it was “questionable if it was a pregnancy.” The passing tissue, the other symptoms sound and feel more like a miscarriage than just a late period. Hormone levels drop when you have a miscarriage, that’s what causes your body to lose the pregnancy. Stephen said he’s never seen me so ravenous to eat, so nauseous, so tired except when I’m pregnant. We’re calling it a miscarriage.

Depending on the priest, it seems, the same rule that applies to mothers that just have given birth to not return to church until 40 days after the birth, applies to women that have had a miscarriage. I am still waiting to see what this means for me, our upcoming reception into the church and all that.

When I first heard about this whole 40 day thing awhile back, I scoffed. I was back at church within a week or two with my other children, who did these Orthodox people think they were making a rule like that?

Well for one thing, even the midwives want you to take it easy for the first couple weeks. I was scolded for doing too much at first all three times. A friend of mine in the church with a new baby remarked when her 40 days were up that she was finally starting to feel better after giving birth and falling into a rhythm, feeling adjusted and that after experiencing it, the 40 days made sense.

I left the house twice to go three places today. The first time to meet with Stephen for lunch and then the craft store for supplies to keep me busy.

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Ethan dressed himself today in this guitar tee with clip-on tie and he dressed his baby doll in a mismatched outfit too. I just wasn’t up to a fight with him about clothes or taking toys out of the house.

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The second time we left to go have dinner with Stephen because I decided I wasn’t up to cooking after all.

Both times of leaving the house it seemed like a good idea at first. Sometimes when I am going through something tough I need to leave the house or I feel like I will suffocate from grief and stress pushing in on me from the walls of our house. Being outside feels more breathable.

I listened to this parenting interview today and the mother had lost her child five years ago in a car accident. Her 10 month old son makes it impossible for her to dwell or become useless on certain anniversaries anymore. Life goes on and the baby does not stop or give her a day off to spend looking through photographs.

My kids were up at 7am. They will be again tomorrow. They require attention and interaction all day long. They need us and especially me.

But once I was in public, I instantly realized I was still much too raw. Do you even leave the house after something like this? Is that allowed? Will it seem uncaring? What would we do or say if we ran into someone we knew?

Holding myself together was nearly impossible at times. Crying in Baja Fresh just seemed ridiculous though especially with all the peppy music blaring overhead and I kept it together.

So forty days is making huge sense to me right now. Forty days to hunker down. Get things together. Honor that which was lost. Process through the grief partially.

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Filed under Family, Parenting, Pregnancy and Birth, Ramblings, Uncategorized

Happy due date!

I never thought I’d be able to say that with one of my kids. Though, there are many indicators that my due date was likely earlier than what we calculated.

So anyway, I think I came to a decision on the blog nickname: Sparrow.

Sparrow is a really sweet, really laid back baby. He rarely cries and it’s usually because he is uncomfortable (soiled diaper, not swaddled, too hot, etc.) or hungry. He gets pretty extreme about it until the problem is resolved and then he’s back to chill, calm sweet baby boy again.

After Sprout and all of his super sensitivities, reflux and general digestive irritability, terrible sleeping abilities (still!), and all that it has been so nice to have a baby that is pretty much the opposite of that. It’s keeping me sane and allowing me to stay up with the other two.

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In which I…

• have quite possibly the easiest labor ever
• a super sweet and picture perfect home birth
• a big sister completely smitten with her new little brother
• faint several times
• have big rescue force guys in my bedroom
• have my first ambulance ride
• spend a morning in the ER
• have a CT scan and a bunch of other tests
• get some pain meds after a hilarious conversation with our backup OB

This is the birth story of the newest little brother to join the Wuertz family.

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So, Friday night I am waiting for Stephen to get home and finally finishing the owl that I started for Sprout a long time ago.

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He was very happy about it. Bean was, as usual right next to me as I finished, pelting me with state-the-obvious questions and touching everything in my knitting basket as I am telling her repeatedly to not touch things. Sprout was handing me books every few seconds, asking me to read them and walking away after I got to the third page.

Somewhere in this chaos of my life I start to realize that I am having some contractions. Nothing too exciting. Nothing I have to breathe through. Nothing regular.

I was kind of the queen of false alarms with the other two kids so I was very prepared for this to be that. However, these contractions were slightly different feeling to me than with the other two. There just seemed to be more pulling and tugging. Nothing I couldn’t manage. Just mostly annoying.

So Stephen got home and because I knew he wasn’t quite ready for this baby to make his/her appearance, I told him what was going on, that I needed a shower and that he should figure out dinner. Things he said that night were quite comical. “OK, what can we have for dinner that will stop labor? Is there any connection there?” He was just so not ready for this baby to come yet. He was definitely counting on me going past my due date like I did with the other two.

The contractions never really picked up a pattern or intensity, but they continued through the night. This had happened with the other kids too. We just kept waiting for them to fizzle. We didn’t think this was the real deal, but Stephen cancelled his plans for a Dodger game with friends just to be safe. Because you never know. Or you both go to bed that night annoyed that nothing happened except more lame piddly contractions that don’t seem to be doing anything.

We woke up the next morning to more of the same. Every now and then I’d have a contraction that was kind of more uncomfortable, but still nothing regular or substantial.

I got up with the kids (Stephen did it the day before), made French toast for breakfast and we got ready for church.

I started having a TMI pregnancy moment in the shower, the good ol’ mucus plug/bloody show. Still I didn’t think it meant much. I lost mine with the other two within a week, but they can regenerate and it really isn’t a good signpost. Real labor still seemed far off.

I had some more intense contractions during church. I think mostly from all the standing. Still, not all of them were similar feeling or having any regularity. I kind of felt like we should be at home, but also decided I didn’t want to be responsible for lunch. So we went to the shopping center we always do for lunch after church and in true American style ordered from three different restaurants.

Contractions started to be more intense during lunch, but maybe it was just all the toddler wrangling we were trying to do. Our kids were both being a tad bit obnoxious that morning.

The plan was for the kids to fall asleep on the way home and take it easy the rest of the afternoon. Stephen really wanted me to take a nap in the hopes that these things would just go away.

Except Bean almost fell asleep, but not quite and nap time was almost ruined. The contractions seemed to be petering out, but then would come on again out of no where. Stephen began making phone calls and just-in-case arrangements. I pleaded with Bean to take a nap. I tried to lay down with her and she was just too wound up. So, I took matters into my own hands and went for a little drive with her. She fell asleep, but by the time I got back Sprout was awake.

We hung out a little bit. Some of my contractions were intense, others were almost non-existent. Sometimes they’d be two minutes apart, sometimes six.

We made dinner together. Stephen grilled corn and squash, I made a huge salad. It was quite the veg feast.

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I started putting Sprout to bed a little early due to his shorter nap. While I was rocking him it seemed like the contractions were more consistent and mostly stronger. Since we still weren’t sure if this was the real deal or not, we decided to chance letting the kids go to bed and sleep through it.

I decided to try and rest, finally, just in case. But things were intense and regular enough that I couldn’t really sleep and decided I should time them. At 8:30pm or so we had a pattern! 1 min long and 6 min apart. I was still totally fine though.

Stephen called the midwife on call just to give her a heads up. She suggested I take a bath and try to relax and get some sleep again that night. So I got into the bath. Stephen went into nesting mode and cleaned our entire downstairs, did all the dishes and got out all the home birth supplies.

I hung out in the bathtub, somewhat in disbelief. I could definitely feel the contractions working and doing things. I had to breath and relax through them when they were happening, but then I was fine. I still expected them to fizzle at any moment. I kept expecting to be so lost in how intense they were that I would need Stephen to come in there and coach me to relax, but that mostly never happened. He would pop in and notice my jaw wasn’t slack enough, but other than that I was fine. I just kept visualizing a circle getting bigger or a drawstring bag opening and then the contraction would be over and I’d be back to thinking, “Really? This is labor? Like really, really?” I was almost laughing to myself.

Then I think my water broke at about 10:50pm. I felt a few gushes over a few contractions, but I couldn’t really see anything since I was in water. I definitely noticed the loss of “my cushion,” and the pickup in frequency, but still things just were not that intense. Stephen called the midwife again. I kept hanging out in the tub.

Just before she arrived I had a couple pretty uncomfortable contractions in the tub. Then I had to go to the bathroom. I did not like having contractions on the toilet. I just wanted to get it over with and get on my bed and start pushing. I heard things and attitude come out of me that sounded just like our daughter in a crabby mood, “Don’t breathe in my face!” when Stephen was coaching me to breathe. “I don’t want to be on the potty!”

I could tell I was almost there. They were so close together that I couldn’t really accomplish things as fast as I wanted to.

After 3 or 4 contractions Stephen finally got me to the bed and I laid on my side. The midwife called and having not yet had her home visit with us, was a little lost in our complex. He went down to find her. I had a couple contractions where I pushed. It was really uncomfortable to push on my side.

I was so glad when they got up there and I could sit up with Stephen behind me. She listened to the heartbeat first and things were good. Another contraction where I pushed. Then our midwife checked me. The head was really close. Another contraction to push. Then she checked again just to make sure I was dilated completely. I was. Pushing was exactly right, she said. She flurried about the room getting various things ready. I had a few contractions that didn’t really feel to me like pushing contractions. Then it was go-time. I think he was out in three or four pushes. The first where his head came out the midwife noticed that he had the cord around his neck and shoulder. She calmly unlooped and then I had him out and our baby was a boy!

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He was born at 12:30pm on July 25, 2011. He was 8lbs 2oz and 20in long.

The next couple hours were kind of a blur of nursing, getting cleaned up, placenta inspection, drinking a lot of juice and a newborn exam. I did feel pretty nauseous when I got up for the first time. I took some homeopaths I have for nausea and our midwife put a cool washcloth on my neck and it went away.

Bean woke up at some point, but didn’t want to come out of her room at first. She started to, but then saw our midwife sitting on our floor working on her charts and retreated back. Around 2:30am we heard her singing in there and Stephen went in and she had finally warmed up to the idea. She was immediately smitten with her new baby brother. She said, “I like this baby, Mama.” She wanted to be right next to him and to me. She called him, “my little [name].” And she was very attentive as our midwife went over the initial recovery instructions.

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Our midwife left at about 3am and we all got snuggled in to go back to sleep with Bean back in her own bed and lights out.

I woke up at about 4:30am in really intense pain from the afterbirth contractions. This was way worse pain than my labor and it didn’t subside at all. The pain was so much so that I felt like I was having hot flashes and I was really nauseous. I got Stephen up. He took the baby and I started throwing up.

Once I finished I wanted to go to the bathroom. I think I was a little too determined and headstrong about this and probably should have laid down a little longer. We made sure I was contracted by massaging my tummy like the midwife said. Then I made my way in. I felt like there was a lot of blood. Then I started to feel like I would pass out. I yelled, “Stephen I don’t feel so good!” twice. Then I heard a whoosh, Stephen screaming and hugging me as my head flopped around, “Lisa come back! You have to wake up! You have to try!” I was coherent enough to remember, “You have to massage my tummy! I need to lay down! Massage my tummy!” Then I passed out again. Another whoosh. Stephen yelling at me to stay with him and talking to a 911 operator. “You have to massage my tummy!” Feeling gushing blood. The 911 operator telling him to get me on the bed and laying flat while massaging my tummy. That the fire department is on the way. Painful tummy massage. Finally feeling alert. Operator saying the baby nursing could also help. Baby in my arms nursing.

Firemen and paramedics in my room clumping around in their big boots (how did our kids sleep through this?) A thousand questions. Realizing I am basically naked (tank top and post-partum undies) and really bloody in front of all these giant men. Legs shaking. Stephen telling them he thinks I had a seizure. Being carried out of the room by two big men on some sort of stair chair contraption. Asking for a blanket because I don’t want my neighbors to see me naked. Being transferred to a gurney.

Nearly crying that after all the perfection we have to go to the hospital. Stephen staying behind.

Clutching our baby in the bumpy ambulance ride with one arm while the paramedic effortlessly starts an IV in my other arm.

A very old-fashioned and abrupt male doctor: “Why did you guys bring the baby? I thought we had you trained better than that. If there’s nothing wrong with the baby, you don’t bring the baby.”
Paramedic 1: “It’s better if the baby stays with mom. He was thirsty.”
Paramedic 2: “Yeah he was parched.”
Doctor: “Alright well now we have to call labor and delivery to get a warmer down here.”
Nurse, as she’s taking my baby: “A baby warmer is better for keeping the baby warm.”

Laying there alone. Wanting to hold my baby. Thinking that I’ve just become the poster child for reasons not to have a homebirth, another statistic for ACOG. Pokes and sticks and tests. More alone. Stephen finally makes it. He immediately asks to hold and remove the little guy from the warmer and then snuggles him. A long hallway ride on a gurney. A CT scan. An EKG.

The abrupt doctor thinks that I fainted and threw up due to the pain. Nothing is wrong with me, I did not have a seizure, my heart is fine, I didn’t even lose and abnormal amount of blood.

About to be discharged. Emergency stroke victim and shift change mean waiting longer. My Advil from just after the birth wears off. Off the chart, unsubsiding pain again. Nurse coming in expecting to take out my IV and get a free bed is distracted and slightly flustered by my new problem.

A call to our backup OB. More waiting. More pain. He arrives. He is hilarious. “This is normal! I can give you some good narcotics! Not heroin, that’s just in the back of some guy’s car. (Stephen claims the joke went, “Not heroin, that’s just after hours.”) You can take four Advil! You can get a shot of Toradol if you want. When I was hit by a car they shot that in my leg…” “You were hit by a car?!?” “Yeah, on my bike. The paramedic shot that in my leg and it felt real good. It’s good stuff. You have an IV! You don’t have to get a shot!”

So I get some Toradol and then a few minutes later I feel like I can relax my legs. I can move. I feel much better. I can even nurse the little one that Stephen has been placating for several hours now. And then finally a wheelchair ride to the car and home. Snuggling my sweet babe on the couch.

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Anyway, we love this little guy. So happy to be home. Thankful nothing was really wrong. Thankful for family that took Bean and Sprout at the last minute so Stephen could go to the hospital. Thankful that I didn’t get seriously injured when I fainted in the bathroom. Thankful that Bean and Sprout slept through the scariest moments. Thankful for friends bringing us dinner tonight. Thankful that I can process things in writing.

P.S. Trying to come up with a blog nickname for this little guy that goes with the other two. Suggestions welcome 🙂

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Full term

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I snapped this pic in the bathroom before church on Sunday. I haven’t really documented this pregnancy in pictures because some comments last go ’round with Sprout have had me feeling really, really self-conscious.

I mean, I know this is what pregnancy does to the body. I know that I am healthy. I know I won’t look like this forever. I know that most people only have nice things to say. I know I really haven’t gained much. I know that I am one of the few people that gets told to eat more during pregnancy and actually struggles with gaining weight. I know I am “all belly” and that if I really wanted to torture myself I could put on a pair of my pre-pregnancy jeans wearing them ultra low with no problems (discounting sitting down). I know all this sounds ridiculous and almost like I am bragging.

But really, all it takes is one negative and hurtful comment about the way you look to make none of the above matter. There is incredible power in words to build up and tear down. Often tearing down is much more easily accomplished.

So anyway we saw one of the midwives yesterday for my 36 week appointment. I have a home visit next week and the week after.

The baby’s heart rate was in the 140s, as usual. I am finally measuring right on and not two weeks ahead. I find this so weird because at my last appointment I lost weight and was measuring two weeks ahead, this time I gained weight and measured right on. Huh?

We discussed concerns about our household’s immune system right now. Stephen in particular has had some lingering congestion from a cold he and the kids got a few weeks ago, he tweaked his back over the weekend and he just kind of feels run down and stressed with work and the craziness at home lately. So my midwife writes him a prescription. Ha!

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She said, “In a homebirth, it isn’t just about mama and baby and how well they are doing. In a homebirth, the family is part of the system as a whole and that entire system needs to be well.” So we are on a mission to relieve Stephen’s stress and build up his immunity.

I was really determined to be patient this time. Just be prepared and ready for the fact that I am very likely to be overdue again and not have the baby until at least a week after my due date. So that would mean probably somewhere around the 16th of August and not the 9th. Then the 36 week mark was right there and my midwives had said that I would be allowed to go into labor as early as really late Monday night and suddenly I am SO not OK with the prospect of at least one more month of pregnancy.

Not impatient enough to chug castor oil or anything dumb like that, just tired and feeling done, done and done.

I still have the end of pregnancy itchies going on too. I have tried a ridiculous amount of stuff only to be mostly left wanting to rip my skin off. Homeopaths, lotions, OTC creams, etc.

I have finally found a couple things that at least cools and calms things down for a little bit.

One is not wearing the belly band from my maternity jeans up over my belly. Ever since all the crazy IV stuff during my pregnancy with Bean I have really struggled with skin irritation and sensitivity to various things. But only during pregnancy, it all seems to go back to normal after that. During pregnancy I am highly sensitive to medical tape. Getting my blood drawn or an IV during this period results in a rash around the area for days and sometimes it spreads to other parts of my body. So annoying. Yesterday one of the midwives thought that it is possible the stretchy material in the band on the maternity jeans could have latex or some other common skin irritant that I may be extra sensitive to since I am pregnant. So I am trying to keep it off my belly as much as possible and just keep most things off the irritated skin. This means I walk around the house a la Homer Simpson much of the time with Bean nagging me to, “Put your shirt down, Mama!”

I also made up a variation on my diaper rash spray after reading about rashes in my homeopathy book that I’ve been spraying on myself whenever I get the urge to scratch. It hasn’t made things look much better, but it does cool it down and seems to keep the itching at bay for a little bit.

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Truth be told, I used to hate marigolds. I just thought they were really ugly cheap flowers. I didn’t understand how anyone could like them or want to plant them. Now that I know a little more about natural gardening and homeopathy, it seems these things are a treasure trove of cures and remedies. I recently made up an insecticide using some of these flowers in my garden that has been working awesome at keeping the bugs from eating my plants. And there seems to be unending uses for them in skin care and wellness.

So anyway my rash spray? In a big tea cup steep a chamomile tea bag and 1-2 marigolds. Strain. Let the liquid cool. Add in a few drops of tea tree oil, lavender oil and sage oil. Pour into a little misting spray bottle. Shake before use and spray the rash area as needed.

Alright, enough pregnancy ramblings for today.

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One month to go, get your predictions in

So we are about one month away from the due date (August 9). Which is an average and knowing me I will go over. Again. Because this is me.

Though my chiropractor claims that chiropractic care can assure a more on time delivery by keeping my pelvis open and my low back from being all out of whack. We had some up close and personal and slightly awkward and uncomfortable specific adjustments this week. Fun times.

My midwives also have me taking this herbal supplement “labor support” stuff which I looked up a lot of the ingredients in my homeopathy book and they are supposed to bring on labor. I’m allowed to have the baby as early at Tuesday, July 12. That would be so awesome. I am so ready to be done. So ready.

I think we are finally somewhat settled on names. I bought all the extra supplies needed for a homebirth including some newborn size gender neutral sleepers, one “little sister” outfit and one “little brother” outfit. Despite already having one boy and girl, most of my baby stuff was given away. Hence the need to buy some clothes and swaddling blankets. My homebirth kit arrived a few weeks ago with the more “medical” items that will be used.

My last boy or girl post, didn’t get much feedback, so I thought I’d throw out there again the chance to predict what we are having.

So here’s a review of all the information you might deem necessary in making your prediction:

-Bean definitely thinks we are having a girl. There was one slightly comical incident involving pink cowboy boots getting passed on if the baby turns out to be a girl, in which she suddenly changed her mind about the gender. But other than that she thinks we are having a girl. Sprout is no help. When I ask him he just says, “No.”

-Hardly any morning sickness this go round. I definitely had an aversion to chicken at first and preparing food. I felt kind of sick, but really didn’t puke ever aside from the food poisoning incident.

-The heartbeats per minute gender prediction is no help as it has been kind of all over the map. Mostly around 140, a few times lower and a few times higher.

-My first ultrasound in the ER, the tech thought we were having a boy, but then decided it was unconfirmed and what he saw was the umbilical cord.

-At the ultrasound appointment with the backup OB he made us close our eyes at the beginning until he knew what he was looking at and could safely navigate away from that area. Then he said, “OK, you can open your eyes. I saw the bbb-ladder. Oh, haha, you guys thought I was going to say ‘boy’ didn’t you?”

-One of my friends was talking on Facebook one day about doing the baking soda gender prediction test and so just for the heck of it I looked it up and did it. It indicated girl.

-Same friend also pointed out the Chinese calendar prediction which is supposed to be 99% accurate, in my case it indicates boy.

-At a wedding a couple months ago another friend was telling me all about how accurate the wedding ring prediction was with several people she knew. That test indicated girl.

-I took this old wives tales test and it was dead even on girl versus boy.

So as you can see, this child is a complete mystery. What do you think? Are we having a boy or a girl? And if you really want to get the most out of your prediction, what do you think baby’s birthday will be? Leave a comment and let me know!

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