Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Mom of Twins Experiencing Prodromal Labor

So, I am a little late in posting this, but as of 8:12 this evening, there was no announcement on Natasha's blog that prodromal labor had culmanated into the birth of her twins, so I'm going to post this, thinking she is most likely still experiencing PL.

Read this post from last week and if you are inclined, encourage this mommy that she won't do this forever.  Prodromal labor has its challenges, and discouragement can be one of them.   Hopefully, someone who visits the post will not only encourage her, but her story will encourage a reader in the future that prodromal labor is not all for nothing.

I hope she updates when she gives birth, and I'll link from here.

*Updated to add: Natasha had her twins via c-section on the 17th!  Read here about "the twizzlers'" arrival and Natasha's coming to terms with a surgery she didn't want.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

U.S. Prematurity and Antibiotics (unrelated to one another)

Thanks to my news-surfing hubby:

Premature Births: U.S. gets a failing grade (New Mexico earns a D!)


This article has a link to the March of Dimes where you can see a map of the US and how all the States measure up.  Take a look.  I was surprised at how many states got an F.

Ear Infections and Antibiotics:


Good to know my kids’ pediatrician is ahead of the game here, by reserving antibiotics for when they are truly necessary (which has been once so far).

Here’s a bonus link about breastfeeding moms and sleep from a few days ago (courtesy of my local La Leche League!):


When Montgomery-Downs and her colleagues asked 80 new mothers to report how often they woke up and how rested they felt, and to wear sensors that measured how long and efficiently they slept, they found no significant differences between those who relied on breastfeeding, formula, or both. They report their findings in the journal Pediatrics.”

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

More on Birthing Sounds

Some comments to one of my recent posts made this link seem just the thing for diferentiating helpful v. not helpful birthing sounds.  (This link comes compliments of a fellow Bradley instructor on the teacher forums. . . which, by the way, have been a-buzzin' lately. . . I hope to be free to write about this soon!)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

If I Were Truly "On" Face Book, I'd "Like" This

Sarah, from here, said this:

Many people are vaguely aware that "too many cesareans are being done," but they are unaware of the cause-and-effect that lead to preventable cesareans and other interventions. I know this because almost every woman who has had a cesarean, thinks that *her* cesarean was necessary/life-saving/not preventable. Statistically, over half a million preventable cesareans are performed annually in the US, so SOMEBODY'S cesarean was preventable.

(Contented sigh as I revel in reading the thoughts of others that validate my own.  Someone else said it.  I can't be that crazy. :)

The Price of Natural Childbirth

This post is for CM, MB and CC; friends who have recently given birth naturally.  They made it look easy.  But it wasn’t.  It just appeared that way.  If you can relate, this post is for you, too.
Lately, I’ve been directed to some YouTube birth videos.  The kind where the woman is screaming or, at the very least, protesting each contraction.  She’s in pain.  It’s more than obvious.  The comments that follow the video are sympathetic.  The woman is commended for having gone through the horrific experience.
One of my fellow teacher’s comments (about one of these videos) on our teacher forums got me thinking.  She’d posted the link along with the phrase: “NOT a Bradley mom!”  After watching only seconds of the video of this woman in early labor, I smiled at the validation that for once, someone else had the same perspective.

What’s your perspective?  Let me give you two examples.

Example one:  A contraction hits Mom; she writhes in pain.  Her face contorts.  Her hands grasp the bed sheets.  She screams.  She thrashes.  It is clear to any observer: she’s in agony.

Example two: Mom has a contraction.  She breathes deeply; sighs.  Her sounds are low.  She sways.  Her face is relaxed and peaceful.  It isn’t apparent that she’s experiencing difficulty.  An onlooker may not even notice she’s contracting.

What is your first thought? (Believe it or not, your answer to this reveals a lot about your preconceptions about labor and birth.)

If you said that the second woman had a higher pain tolerance or an easy labor, you have the perspective of the majority of Americans.

If you said the first woman is having a harder labor, if you said she was experiencing more pain, you may be right.  But not the way you might think.

I’ll give you my perspective: Mom #1 does not know (or is not proficient) in pain-reducing techniques.  She is not aware that her pain is exacerbated by her behavior.  She does not realize that position, tension, perceptions and expression can lend to more pain than she may otherwise have.  She is experiencing unnecessary pain.

Mom #2 is well-versed in comfort measures for labor.  She knows that doing all she can to get out of the way and allow her body to work unhindered will reduce her pain and finish the work ahead of her.  She works with the pain she does experience, and she sees it as good: the baby is coming.  Though her appearance is that of rest and tranquility, she is working.  Hard.  To relax.

This is how I see it.  This is how my fellow teacher saw it.

This is not how the general public sees it.

A woman who wants to give birth naturally might want to consider what it will cost her.  In order to assure the most success in her endeavor—indeed, the most enjoyment—she will need to give up her right to have a dramatic labor.  The better a woman stays relaxed and tension-free, the more it will look like she’s not even in labor (that is, from the perspective of the untrained eye).

Unknowing friends and acquaintances will not recognize all the work that went into the birth.  After the fact, whether her labor was long or short, word may get around that she just “showed up and had a baby.” Her providers may also be under this impression.  Even her husband may not realize how hard she was working.
It may be assumed that she is just “tough.”  Or worse, that she had it easy.  After  all, she wasn’t complaining.  And she didn’t look that uncomfortable.  It must have been easy for her.  She must be one of the lucky ones.

The woman who gives birth under the honed skills of relaxation may be despised by onlookers, hearers and naysayers.  She may reap the spite of other women; women will tell her they “hate her” for having an easy time of it.

Yes, natural, enjoyable birth has its asking price.  A price that is worth the time and effort necessary (necessary for all but the smallest percentage of women), but a price, none-the-less.  A woman would do well to consider and accept this likelihood when she starts on the path toward. . .

Enjoying birth.

Most woman can.  Few desire it.  Fewer succeed.

To my friends and loved ones who worked hard to prepare and educate yourselves for safe and satisfying births, I believe you.  I believe it was hard work.  I believe it wasn’t easy.  Congratulations on making it look so easy that people assume it was.

10/12/10 Edited to add this awesome link on birth sounds.

Friday, July 2, 2010

When Labor Becomes Birth, I’ll Alter My Plans

 056Though I have not been keeping an official record, prodromal labor continues.  Over the past couple weeks, contractions are generally 10 or less minutes apart and about a minute long (some more, some less—again, not keeping an official record) about 3-5 days of the week.  On the other days, ctx are more spaced out and may not be as strong.  As a general rule, they’re about a minute long no matter what.
From Monday to Wednesday of last week, ctx were 10 min or less apart, day and night.  Then I had a great break for Thursday (when I had arranged w/a friend to clean house).  Ctx were present, but not as close or strong.  I had another day or two of “the usual” ctx pattern after that.
This past Monday, ctx were spaced 10 minutes all day until around 7:30 p.m. to 1 a.m., where they were 2 minutes apart (1 min long).  The next morning, they had tapered down in intensity and spacing.
Then, yesterday morning around 4 a.m., I began having ctx 2 minutes apart, one min. long, and very crampy.  (Crampy ctx are not usual for me in this pregnancy like they were last time.)  I was dreaming I was in labor and kept wondering why the contraction never ended.  When I came out of the haze of half-sleep, I realized it was because there was only about a minute break between ctx.  It just seemed like one ongoing contraction from my sleepy perspective.
Casey’s alarm went off a little after 5 a.m. and I told him what was going on.  We decided he would stay home in case it turned into anything.  At his prodding, I put my laptop down (was checking e-mail for 1/2 hour) and we took a nap after he read me a Psalm and prayed with me.  Contractions continued 2 min apart and a minute long, and very strongly crampy.  Baby was moving around a lot, too.  Even so, we got some good rest until the girls awoke.  Case went downstairs with them to give me a little more time to rest (because of heartburn the night before, I’d had about a 3-hour window of sleep before contractions awoke me in the morning).
Some time in that nap, the contractions really tapered off in intensity.  By 9 a.m., they were back to my usual contractions—not as crampy.  By 10, they were also not as close together.  So Case headed off to work around 10:30, as my friends arrived to take the girls for a few hours (we’d arranged this last week) so I could get some organizing done around the house.  In comparison to the early-morning contractions, I hardly noticed the ones I had the rest of the day.  This is the pot-of-water in full effect.  These contractions weren’t weak, they just weren’t as demanding as the others had been.
Late that afternoon, my midwives arrived for the home visit.  They re-checked my blood, as last week, we discovered that I was anemic (crit level of 32.  Twenty-five is when a transfusion is called for).  No wonder I’ve been so tired!  Since Saturday, when MW 2 called me, I’ve been taking 150 mg of iron 3x a day along with 500 mg vitamin C.  I also upped the red raspberry leaf ratio in my pregnancy tea (doubled it) to help strengthen my uterus.  I’m also taking black-strap molasses (ick) and chloroxygen (for better iron absorbtion).  The only difficulty that has come of this is that it is best for me to take the iron on an empty stomach, but I can’t do an empty stomach for very long before getting nauseated, so I’ll try to wait an hour before eating or taking Tums (which is the only way I can keep from throwing up from the heartburn I get at night).  We’ll know in a couple days what my iron levels are, and then we’ll discuss if it would be wise to give me a shot of Pitocin immediately after delivery.
Around 3 a.m. this morning, contractions again presented strong enough that I had to sleep between them.  Crampiness wasn’t immediate, but rather built up.  Something I noticed with the few contractions I actually timed is that only about half of the contraction is crampy (maybe till the peak—about 1 minute), and the rest is just the usual rock-hard belly contracting.  So, they’re longer (2 min long) but only half is really strong.  And this morning, ctx are between 4 and 7 min. apart, so they don’t seem as bad because of the break in between.
True to the frog-in-the-pot-of-water perspective, this time, I told Case to go ahead into work—I’d call if things picked up or changed.  I am also planning to continue with today’s commitments: a friend from church is having the girls and I as well as another woman and her children over for lunch.  They live about 1/2 hour away.  I figure if I get too uncomfortable, we’ll head home, and if things get really crazy, I’ll call Case and ask him and the midwives to meet us there.  I’m not going to cancel my plans every day for the next week or more until contractions turn into birth.  It truly messes with the mind to sit around waiting to see if contractions will continue/intensify/close in.  Not going to do it.

*Update: the next day, I posted this on my other blog.

Officially Affiliated

After nearly two months since I sent in my final examination, I heard from AAHCC that I passed and am now a fully affiliated instructor for the Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth (R).  I heard from one of my fellow instructors that she’d also just been told she passed, and she had to wait three months!  Crazy.

We’re waiting to see what life is like with a fourth child before committing to teaching the next series, but the plan is to not teach another one until at least September and possibly January of 2011.  Even so, it is a huge relief to know we’ve gotten this far, and the timing could not be better.  I’m so glad Casey encouraged me to get certified when he did.  Otherwise, we’d have found many reasons not to do it, and I’m pretty sure I would not have attempted to go through the year-long process with four little ones.  So glad that part’s over.  Mosey on over to the Academy’s horrendously outdated website for a peek at our “official” web page (ugh).

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bradley Final: One Step Closer to the End!

This afternoon, the girls and I made our once-every-few-months pilgrimage to the post office, where (among other things) I sent my final exam off to CA for the powers that be to grade. Finished all 21 pages of it this morning at 2:30 a.m. and mailed it off as soon as we could get out the door today (2 hours to do so--why we only make it to the P.O. every few months--so many things to mail, and none of them ready).

Bradley gives a month to complete the exam, and today marks exactly one month since they sent it to me. I probably could have waited a few more days, but I wanted this thing DONE. Every evening that I haven't worked on it has been not-as-enjoyable because I am putting it off.

For the first few weeks I had it, I barely did anything with it. I seriously found it intimidating. Nine sections, seven of which have 10 or more essay questions each, the eighth section being 88 vocabulary words needing definitions (I've always been bad at defining words). The final section was possibly the easiest. A few weeks ago, I sat down to do the first few essay questions and got really bogged down. It was another week or more before I picked it up again. Those first four sections probably took me 1 1/2 to 2 hours each to complete. As I got more into it, it went faster, and last night, I believe I completed the last 3 sections, plus did proof-reading and formatting for the whole thing in about 5 hours (had to wait till class was over, so it extended into the morning).
Total time put in is probably 15 to 20 hours. One thing that helped immensely is that I called to clarify a few things and found out something that really took the pressure off. See, the beginning of the exam has a part where you have to sign and say on the honor system that you had no help from anything (book, person, whatever) in completing the exam. I found this confusing, because in the couple times that I had taken up the exam to complete another portion, I found that I could answer some of the previous questions I had already answered, either better or with more clarification. I knew this had to be because of something I'd read in the teacher's manual, student workbook or another book I'd read since I'd last picked up the exam, so I wasn't sure how I should answer these questions, because at some point, I had learned MOST of the stuff I was answering FROM A BOOK! (Yes, I am a very literal person, if you do not already know.)

So I wondered how they could both allow me a whole month to complete the exam (assuming that I am working on it little by little) yet not have any "help" from learning or being reminded of anything in that time. Let me be clear: I did not think that I was allowed to sit down with the exam and have a book with me to reference as I answered questions, or google something whilst I typed away in Word, but it seemed hazy as to what I wasn't allowed to do. I knew it needed to be my answers, but many of my answers are not truly "mine" because I've reviewed the material so much by now. My impression from some of the message boards I'd read is that most people went through and answered all the questions they could answer easily and then came back to the harder stuff later. I assumed this was because they needed to do a little more research on those topics, etc. It sounded like a reasonable plan to me, until I experienced what it meant to come back to the questions after some time away. It quickly overwhelmed me.

Since every time I came back to the exam, I felt like I had a better understanding of many questions I had previously answered (and that without purposely going to do research on those questions), I began to feel VERY overwhelmed with how thorough and detailed I could be with this exam.

Last week, I ran into a question on which I needed clarification: wasn't too sure what they were asking. So I called and while I was asking, I clarified what exactly the honor system required. She explained that I was not allowed to go look something up specifically, even if I knew where to find the answer. However, she said they could not stop me from teaching my series while I completed the exam, and if I came across things in preparing for classes, I was welcome to use the information I'd read. Is it me, or is that a little confusing? I would never have assumed such a thing. Seems like splitting hairs to me. It did help clarify my predicament: the things that I'd had a hazy answer for almost jumped out at me when I would prepare for classes. Not that I'd gone and researched something specifically, but in my "research" (yes, I do that for every class I teach) of what I was to teach that week, I found a great deal of info. that I would not have paid as much attention to if I had not remembered a question on the exam to which it spoke. And it just kinda felt like cheating.

But anyway, I was very comforted to know that they did not necessarily expect me to have a thorough or detailed answer for every question. They wanted me to answer from what is in my head, without ruling out that new things can come in there if I am currently teaching/learning more about birth (yet not because I'm studying for the exam--it really gets into motives, doesn't it? Eesh. Too hazy for me.). This greatly helped my anxiety about answering questions: I was expected to answer them to the best of my ability NOW. I was not expected to kill myself "finding" the answers, nor to limit my answers if I HAD learned more (inadvertently, that is, and that is KEY to taking the pressure off). When I hung up, I tried to wrap my mind around what the honor system required of me. I decided to treat the exam like a student that I would only have for one week, and would never have contact with again: they only get what I know off the top of my head. I do not have the luxury of saying, "Let me look into that and get back with you." (Thank God--I cannot imagine how many pages the exam would've ended up being if I were allowed/expected to do that.)

As it turned out, I think I may have come back and answered ten or less questions with more clarification or detail than I had before (usually after preparing for or teaching another class!). And here I had wanted to put off finishing the exam because I wanted to "learn" all I could before I answered all those questions. Who knew I was allowed to learn along the way?

Glad it's done. What a relief. And last night marked the half-way point in our current series. It's going well. Have 2 great students. We had one other student, but it just wasn't working for her to come to class, as her husband was not able to attend with her, and often needed her to help him with his commitments on class night. I'm bummed we couldn't have found a night that worked well for all four of us. It would have been great to have them in class, too.

Both students from last series have now given birth, and both without medication (and from what they've expressed to me, happily so!). I'm glad they're pleased, and proud of them for preparing for an unmedicated birth. Doing so is no small task.

God willing, in another 6 weeks I will have completed all the requirements to wrap up my provisional affiliation w/Bradley. I'm so excited to have come this far! God has been so faithful to bring us to this point.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Want to Read Another Prodromal Experience from the Laboring Woman's Perspective?

Lynsie linked to this blog as she was (possibly is still?) in the middle of a prodromal pattern of labor a couple weeks ago. I like to divide prodromal labor into two categories--one that takes breaks (and can last weeks--perhaps 5-6 hours or a whole day/night, then not picking up like that again for another day or two), and the other that continues uninterrupted until baby is born (and lasts a couple days or more). It appears that what she experienced is the first pattern--and my favorite, personally!

In her post, she mentions that she's found it a comfort to read my experiences w/this type of labor, and that is exactly why I started this blog. There are too many women who come out of this pattern with no validation for what they've experienced, and from my perspective, it can create a very lonely--even crazy feeling. (More on feeling crazy later--have I got a story for you! I can hardly wait to tell it!)

So, if you are a woman who has stumbled upon this blog because you, too, are experiencing something that you cannot find in printed material or haven't had satisfactory answers from your provider, doula or childbirth educator (there are many who are either not aware it exists or have misconceptions about it), you may find comfort in hopping over to Lynsie's post, Diary of a Laboring Woman. She gives some good detail--helpful for those of us who search for things based on "sypmtoms." You may find her experience to be for you what mine was for her--comforting.

Go check it out. I do hope she posts about how it went!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Checking In. . .

In case you're curious, my belly's over here.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Contracting vs. Not Contracting: A Visual

This was my belly a little over a week ago, at 19.5 weeks, not contracting.

The shape of my belly changes as I have a contraction.

As pregnancy progresses, some contractions become so obvious that even outsiders can tell a difference. A couple years ago, when I was 35 weeks with Haley, I was at a scrap-booking event with a friend. As a contraction began (they were about 10 minutes apart and very strong that day), I sat back in my chair and rested a moment. A couple ladies across the way (about 10 feet away) looked at my belly and asked, "Are you having a contraction? . . . Because your belly looks really odd." It did. It was contorted and almost boxy--like my uterus had corners to it! I have no idea what was going on during that contraction, but I sure wished I'd brought my camera!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

20 Weeks, Contracting Regularly

Before I get into last night's events, I want to disclose a few things: I am not a clock-watcher. The reason I know so well the timing of last night's episode has to do with the fact that I was near a clock all evening and could not help but notice that contractions were coming very close together (verifiable by glancing at said clock). I had only to set my eyes in a particular direction to see what time it was in each room I found myself (and for the bath, I could also note the length of contractions, since that clock also had a second hand).

I would/do not advocate that every woman time every contraction that ever happens, nor do I do this myself. However, my researchy side has found that sometimes this is the only way for people to acknowledge that these kind of things actually do happen--they are not just impressions. Actual times can be noted. Several things that I have experienced contraction-wise in pregnancy and labor are so far from textbook that I find the in-the-textbook-box thinkers quite annoying at times.

It can be very discouraging to go through a non-textbook experience and have it discounted or explained away by these people. I recall being in a room full of women a few months ago, listening to a woman who has probably witnessed a few hundred births (if not more) and should know better, defining prodromal labor as contractions that a woman experiences that are only a few seconds long, but "mom" has the impression that she is in labor, when a more objective viewer can clearly see that she is simply paying attention too soon (another way to say prodromal labor is not real). While I do not doubt that this scenario is possible, I did not appreciate that she failed to acknowledge the fact that women do indeed have long, strong and close-together contractons for days at a time that very much fit the description of true labor contractions. What was made clear in her description was that she herself had not ever labored this way, and had probably not seen much of it either.

I hope to expound on a few of my "researchy" ideas in this pregnancy, but I need to talk with my midwives first, so for now, here's what began at 5 p.m. yesterday despite being well-rested, eating and snacking, drinking 64 ounces of water, emptying my bladder often and soaking in a warm tub of water:

Monday marked the completion of my 20th week of pregnancy. My body celebrated by contracting every 2 minutes for seven-plus hours. And that quite unexplainably, as they started about an hour after my waking from a 2-hr nap, while I was preparing dinner (and snacking on avocado, cheese, carrot, ham, etc.) and drinking water. In the beginning, it made a little sense that I was experiencing contractions at that moment (empty stomach, a while since I'd hydrated myself, etc.), but they didn't change after having 2 (16 oz) glasses of water and plenty of dinner. So far in this pregnancy, two-minute-apart contractions are not something I have experienced yet (at least that I have noticed).

My usual pregnancy/labor contractions are not very "regular" in the truest sense. Generally, the only way I have "regular" contractions is by grouping them in a window (say, 3-5 minutes apart), but last night, they were right. on. the dot. As one would start, I'd look at the clock on the stove and, sure enough, 2 minutes had gone by. I would feel another one coming on and could be certain that if I looked up again, I would see another even number.

After eating dinner, cleaning up and putting the girls to bed, Case and I sat down for the next few hours and checked e-mail and read up on a few things. I had another couple (16 oz) glasses of water. Yet the contractions did not budge a bit.

By 11:30, Case had gone to bed. I was still contracting, and not in a going-to-bed mood, as they were still very close and I didn't think I could sleep until they either slowed or calmed down, intensity-wise (not that most of them were intense--once-in-a-while I would feel a distinct down-low "opening" feeling at the contraction's peak, but otherwise, they were just noticeable, with a discernable start, peak, and decline).

So, I drew a bath, had another glass of water and a snack, and had a very short let-up timing-wise: Two contractions were 5 min. apart (about 30 seconds long), but then the next one was 4 min. (30 seconds again), the next 3 (45 seconds), and after those 4 contractions, they settled back into 2 min apart again, 45-50 seconds long for the duration of the bath. Around 12:40, I decided that I had exhausted all the things I could think of to slow/stop contractions, and I lay down to try to get some sleep.

It was a little difficult to fall asleep, as I could feel my belly dig into the mattress (I was on my side) every couple minutes. Hard to get past the distraction of my body working while I wanted to sleep. However, it wasn't more than 20 minutes before I was able to drift off, and they did not wake me through the night. In the morning, I awoke to contractions 15 minutes apart, and that was a good discovery.

Today was very busy, and I didn't notice another pattern of close-together contractions, so that is encouraging. It is not that I worry about these episodes--this is how my body gears up for giving birth. This kind of thing is nothing new to my pregnancies, and I haven't yet had the fear that I'm in pre-term labor.

This is the irony of my body doing automatically what my mind would never choose to do: if it were up to my mind, I don't believe I would have even one contraction until birth day. I am a procrastinator and have never been very motivated to practice or even begin something until it is just about due, be it a writing assignment or a baby's birth!

So, it is not that I worry when this kind of thing happens. However, having too many spells like this can have a frustrating effect, so I am grateful that today was not a continuation of yesterday's weirdness. This pregnancy, I am purposing to have a better attitude, should that kind of thing happen. My tendency is to become annoyed, and I want to instead welcome whatever happens, and follow Philippians 2:14 better by not grumbling or disputing. I did this too much with my second pregnancy, and fell into complaining about seemingly needless contractions now and then with my 3rd as well. So, this time even more, I'd like to be really mindful of my mental/emotional state within the physical state of unexplainable contractions and remain postitive.

Monday, January 25, 2010

WhooHooo! First Series is O V E R

Last Tuesday, I wrapped up my first 12-week series of Bradley classes. Though this has been a harrowing 12 weeks, I am really surprised to find on this end that it went SO fast.

I heard from the Academy today that my first provisional series has processed and been accepted, which is a relief, since I had heard of a few other provisional teachers who are still provisional even after teaching four series. It made me wonder: "Am I not taking this seriously enough?" So I asked and they said I "did a good job" with my series.

This I find a little funny, because though I have filled out an evaluation form after teaching each class, there really is no way for them to know if I'm doing well or not. From my perspective, I think it went fairly well for it being my first time through the material in a teaching role and my first time teaching, period and, well, I hate to say it, but this played a huge role in how it went: me being in my first trimester for most of the series. Yes, I do believe I could have done better, yet I do not think I did a bad job or a disservice to my students because of the pregnancy.

There were challenges, to be sure. And I had to tweak things so that my feedback from the Academy was generally good. Still very much believe what I've said in the past: this company does not have good business sense. So many things could be done better, and you'd think they'd have this running like a well-oiled machine after all these years, but not so much.

Casey taught with me most classes. By "taught" I should clarify that he was present and free to interject at any time, which was mostly in regard to his perspective as a coach. I found his presense to be very helpful on several levels. Though it worked well in this particular class for him to be there for most classes, and I really believe it is great to have a couple teach together, I don't think I can expect this for every series. After all, he is my childcare, and it is a lot to ask for him to set aside one evening a week to be there. He just doesn't have the kind of passion for birth that I do :). (Though some may argue this point, because he is more passionate than most men would be, since he knows more than most women do about birth.) I think we'll settle on him being in class for specific times where coaches can do Q&A, etc.

So glad to be done with this series, and excited about my students' upcoming births.

Next series will begin on Feb. 23 (Ed note: changed the start date to 3/17). I need to get going on advertising. Didn't do a bit of it last class, but I feel comfortable "promoting" my classes now that I'm not so much a newbie.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Contraction at 12 Weeks

Early on in my four pregnancies, I always intend to take pictures of my very small uterus showing itself as I lay on my back. I think I may have accomplished this with Ruby, my first pregnancy, but otherwise, the weeks come and go with me thinking first thing in the morning, "I wish I had the camera right now." I have a few things to thank for this fascinatingly obvious baby bump (it's all uterus) so early on: 1) It is morning, and my bladder is full and 2) I am having a contraction.

I finally brought the camera by my bedside so I could take this pic in the morning, because it had been several weeks that my pregnancy was noticeable in this posture (as opposed to the other weeks--er--months that standing up, I have a belly, but it is most definitely mine).

Contractions started with this pregnancy toward the end of my sixth week. About the same time as they did last pregnancy. My latest-arriving Braxton-Hicks (B.H.) were with my second pregnancy, at about 14 weeks. They arrived before 12 weeks with my first, but I didn't take note of exactly when, because I didn't know it was "not supposed to happen." (Or, by many professionals, "DOESN'T happen." Ha! Where do they get this stuff?)

Differences with this pregnancy include that my B.H. have been ever-present, yes, but not incredibly bothersome. I can tell when I'm having one, but it doesn't usually hurt (annoying at times, yes). And I have only had a few truly "crampy" days, when the contractions felt menstrual-like and late-labor-ish. These days were clustered right around the time the contractions presented: at six and seven weeks. Another nice thing is that I have not spotted once in this pregnancy, and that is a first. Something for which I'm very grateful is the fact that my back does not constantly ache like it did even from the first weeks of my last pregnancy. I have a strong suspicion that the reason is that my abdominal muscles are stronger than they were in that pregnancy, since I had a few extra months "postpartum" to get back into shape (not that I did such a thing). It has been nice to not awaken to an already-aching back.

I am now almost 15 weeks into this journey. Not sure why, but my "first trimester" is extending into the second in the nausea/exhaustion department. Perhaps it is because my family and I have been battling sickness for over a month now (colds and whatnot). Maybe my body is trying to fight off/get better so much that it has no time to tend to other issues, like paying attention to what week it is :). The worst of it was the combination of nausea/gagging and profuse drainage (I know, TMI, but this whole post is pretty much TMI, so if you've gotten this far, are you actually surprised?). Drainage is no fun anyway, but I would not wish it on a first-trimester woman I didn't like.

Smells. . . in the first trimester, these can be very tricky to deal with. Not just bad ones, but overly "good" ones can be so sickening. My friend recently told me how she got sick of the smell of lavender after making a bunch of sachets as gifts during her first trimester. This pregnancy, the worst "good" smell has got to be our fabric softener. It makes me gag. I've noticed that I'll choose my or my children's clothing for the day based on the fact that it's not fresh out of the laundry, which is a challenge, since nowadays I do not have much in the way of clothing options, and almost all my options have been recently washed.

On to brighter things: despite how it looks in the above photo, I am still able to sleep on my stomach, and I am drinking up the nights where I still have every option open to me: Left side? yes. Right side? Well, okay. Back? Indeed. Stomach? Oh, yes, please! It has to be annoying for anyone who likes all their options--pregnancy is a sacrifice of comfort in many areas. I remember in my past postpartum recoveries, being more than happy to lie on my tummy to help the involution of my uterus (Here's a bonus tidbit: my home-birth midwives do not mash on my stomach after delivery. They take the far-gentler approach of assigning sessions of tummy-lying in the days after birth, for which I am grateful, because tummy-mashing hurts like the dickens.) My stomach-sleeping window is closing quickly. I will miss you, my comfortable friend, but look forward to when we will meet again in 6 months!

Okay, since I'm getting all my frivolous little complaints out there, I will also mention a question that has perplexed me for the last 3 pregnancies. No, not, "Why does my body have to gain weight there when I'm pregnant?" (Seriously, what do those parts have to do with carrying a baby?). The question of "Why, if I will not be giving birth for the next six months, does my pelvis have to get all loosey-goosey now?"

I would say it happened overnight, because that is how suddenly it came on, but it was even more suddenly. At 13 weeks, 2 days, I sat down to rest one afternoon and got up with that "splitting chicken" feeling, and it has been with me ever since. I do not have to describe this to most pregnant women, I'm sure, especially ones who have had more than one baby, but for those who have yet to experience this, picture for a moment that you have no legs, and someone has attached ropes to the bottom of your hip bones, and has given these ropes to opposing teams in a tug-of-war match.

That is the feeling to which I refer, and it limits one's ability to move about as lightly and gracefully as she once did (Mmm-hmm:). Small things become extremely painful. Have you ever used your foot/leg to scoot something that was a little too heavy to lift? That's out. Big steps? That's out. Letting your toddler sit on your foot and gallop away on her horsey? Definitely out. Walking like a normal person? That's out. (But try to anyway, so people won't laugh at you.)

I'm getting all my "pregnancy" stuff out in this post. Haley is still nursing, but quickly losing interest. I cannot say I am disappointed. Ruby's (understandably, my first) pregnancy is the only one in which I have not nursed for at least some time. (I have logged in about a year's worth of nursing-while-prego at this writing.)

Many people think you can't or shouldn't nurse while pregnant. It isn't so much that you can't as much as it isn't very appealing to the mom-to-be to have all this stuff going on inside her body and to also then subject her body to more "abuse" on the outside. But, since my children have all been relatively young when I have gotten prego again, I have not felt right about weaning them. So, they nurse until they are no longer interested. (And that has never been five years so far--thankfully!)

Haley is now almost 20 months, which is exciting to me, because I've never nursed a baby so long before! Ruby quit around 14 months and Claire was about 16-17 months. Ruby was my earliest to wean, but, because of her closeness to Claire, was the one who nursed the farthest into pregnancy--six months. I was glad when she decided she was done, because I was getting tired of being kicked from the outside and the inside at the same time. I was caught in the middle of already-developing sibling rivalry, and more than happy to be rid of the whole business. Claire nursed the shortest time into pregnancy, at about 2-3 months. That was also welcome, because the first trimester demands so much of a body anyway . . .

So, whenever Haley is ready to give it up, I will sigh with relief and a sweet sadness of that phase with her passing, but no real grief. Breastfeeding is a blessing, and I absolutely would not consider not doing it, but there are many things about it that I do not miss when it is over. I've mentioned before that I am not one of those who just loves breastfeeding (except the fact that God is so good to make such a wonderful system of nourishing a baby--I am thankful for His provision in this), and though I am committed to it as long as my babies are interested, I am NOT a big fan of breastfeeding, personally. It is great, and it is best, and I do . . . not. . . like it.

Casey and I are getting more and more used to the idea of having four little pairs of pitter-pattering feet, and I would have to say that even though I would not describe myself as "excited" in the truest sense, I am very happy and okay with the idea of welcoming another child, and plan toward it and think of it often.

I am excited about the birth of this baby, and that probably makes me a real weirdo among women, but I can truly say that. Birth is something wonderful and special and though it happens all the time all over the world, I will only do it a select amount of times, and I am so glad I get to do it again! I can't hardly wait to see how this labor and birth will go. Very exciting!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Prodromal Labor, from a Doula’s Perspective

Rachel is a friend of mine through blogging. She is a doula in Alabama. Recently, she attended a prodromal birth. I asked if I could post her story—along with any thoughts she had as a doula on what may have been helpful or otherwise. Many women having prodromal labor make the same mistake: that of trying to get labor going early-on. This works fine if you go on to have an 8 hour labor, but there is no telling how long your labor will be, so take it from someone who just witnessed how things go when you choose that route: if you find yourself in early labor, don't get too excited or try to make things move along faster. (Especially if it is bedtime! Prodromal labor is notorious for kicking in at night.) Take labor as it comes. It will not leave you behind.

Here is Rachel's story:

I originally wrote this as a "facts only" birth story. But for those interested from learning from this experience I have added my opinions in blue.

(*I will make this a condensed version of this birth story*)

Amanda started ctx-ing a week before her due date. Thinking that it was time, she and Brian headed to the hotel. Yes, hotel. They live further out of town and were about a 45 minute drive from the hospital so they went to a fancy hotel about three minutes away from their hospital to ensure comfort as well as being able to wait until the last possible minute to head to the hospital. Really, really long story short. Amanda would get consistent, intense contractions for a few hours and then just stop. Oddly enough, once I would get to the hotel to check on her, she would putter out. Thankfully, she says it was because I made her too relaxed. ha. Good problem, I guess. (I had suggested to Amanda while she was still at home to try and lie down to see if the ctx's would stop, thus showing us if it was active labor or not. She was convinced that labor has to be "helped" along with constant movement, so she never laid down. Thus the frustration when she got to the hotel and I got her to lie down...they stopped. Please understand that real labor will continue whether or not you lie down or stand on your head.)

She did this for 44 hours. Off and on ctx's that were intense and longer than a minute, 3-5 minutes apart. When the last time that I went to check on her came around... (around 2 am) I went to the hotel and the ctx's were more intense and all we could judge, consistent. (Because they continued as she was in a side lying position for several hours). After about 4 hours mom was complaining of pressure and felt it was time to head to the hospital. (The ctx's were off and on longer than a minute, but that part wasn't consistent. I made the mistake of telling mom what we were looking for as our sign to head to hospital. Please note fellow doulas: do not tell a laboring mom what you are "looking for" when trying to determine her progress. The mind is a powerful thing and if you tell her you are waiting for her to feel pressure, her mind will tell her she is having pressure, no matter how slight the pressure is. I felt it was still too early to head to the hospital, but because she started complaining of pressure, we had to go to be on the safe side).

Once we got there she was 4cm, 80% effaced, -2 station. I had told her not to get discouraged no matter what we found out at the hospital, but it was hard not to, only because I agreed we should go because she said she had "pressure." But at -2, and water still intact, I'm not sure what pressure she was feeling. (Exactly why you don't tell the mom what you are looking for. It's not that mom wanted to head to the hospital that early, rather she just wants to believe it is going faster than it may be at that time. And for whatever reason, lots of moms believe that just being at the hospital will make it all "go faster." That is no guarantee.) Either way, anything we can do at the hotel, we can do at the hospital. Her doc was AMAZING and fully prepared to let her do whatever she wanted and even to leave her alone. Because mom was exhausted from 44 hours of prodromal and 4 hours of active labor, she needed some rest. However, Amanda is a eh hem… stubborn woman. ;-P (Again, we were constantly battling this false belief that you have to help a labor along. Nothing could be further from the truth. When dealing with a long labor you must REST. As in, get in a side lying position and get your full "break" in between contractions. But Amanda did not see the benefit in that and therefore wore herself out completely.)

After several hours of the same thing… (*again, condensing things*) It took another six hours to go one cm… and then another four hours to go one more cm. In that time, mom was giving up. She was exhausted. And I knew that without some rest, she would not make it to an unmedicated birth. After phoning a doula friend who suggested (thank you Virginia.. yes like a game show, "phone a friend") we get mom some narcotic (I would not recommend this for the average long birth. In this case I believe it was necessary only because mom refused to get rest on her own. It was for the purpose of slowing things down so that she could get some rest in between ctx's. This worked like a magic show... she rested for about an hour and a half...as her ctx's slowed to more than 10 minutes apart. Once the meds wore off, she was renewed mentally and physically, enough to endure what would be the last two hours of her labor. However, the same thing could have been accomplished without the narcotics if she would have rested long before this point.)

After an hour of walking and pacing, she was checked and found to be at 6cm's. However, she felt discouraged and was ready for the epidural. (*I think it is important to note something here. After the birth was over, Brian informed me of something that I was clueless about. He and Amanda made an agreement before the labor ever started that if Amanda wanted the epidural at any point, he would support her. This is important to note because in my opinion if you are planning on that option at any point, you WILL get that epidural. It also would have changed whether I would have taken them as clients. Meaning, I would have been able to explain my philosophy on the issue and suggested that they consider NOT hiring a doula. This is an issue of philosophy of labor. Because the mind is a powerful thing, if you give your mind an "out" it will take that "out." I wholeheartedly believe, also, that her decision to put the epidural in play affected her labor. She never fully embraced her labor as what it would take to have her baby. I think because she never fully embraced what one friend calls, "labor-land," her body responded with a fight... taking 10 hours to go 2 cm's. Yes, I believe that is connected to her mental/emotional acceptance of "other options" with the epidural).

After much back and forth with the two of them, I conceded (*keep in mind, I knew nothing of their agreement, only that I had told them I would use every resource available to move away from an epidural because that is what they communicated to me that they wanted. I was done trying to convince them of something that we were all originally on the same page with, so I thought). The nurse was to call for the epi but the doc was stuck in a c-section and Amanda would have to wait. So as we are dealing with each ctx… she has a big one and then has a good amount of discharge on the floor during the ctx. At this point… we get her in the bed to get some narcotic until the epidural can be done. At that moment, her water breaks (on its own), she has her narcotic and immediately her ctx's hit 2 min apart, 90 seconds in length. I pull Brian aside and say, "I know she wants an epi… but I believe all of these things are pointing to transition and I think very quickly you are about to hold your baby. If you can let me get her through each ctx, one at a time, I believe this birth can happen the way you guys originally wanted it."

He agreed to work with me until the epi arrived. About 20 minutes later, Amanda shot up and yelled, "RING OF FIRE." Surprised, I said, "okay honey… are you just feeling pressure?" to which she looked at me like I was crazy and said, "NO… ring of fire." So I took a peek and baby's head was definitely crowning. About 10 minutes later, Amanda had her sweet baby girl.

No epidural. And even though they had their agreement… they both assured me that they were glad that I persisted like I did and that she "went all the way." (However, honestly, had I known about the agreement, I would not have persisted.) Later the next day she told me how wonderful she felt and how happy she was that it went the way it did.. except for the whole "length of labor thing." ha! I don't blame her. (But let me be clear. I define a natural birth as one that you embrace even if it is long, and you do what your body needs. You have to be mentally prepared that things don't always go the way you expect them to or that they will be anything like they were in your other births. If you are trying to do things based on misinformation and not taking the advice of your doula, you may want to reconsider why you want a 'natural birth' to begin with. Otherwise, it may just mean that you want an unmedicated birth but not a natural one.).