Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Birth of Laurie Grace

As a disclaimer, this is not a pretty, unicorn and twinkly lights filled birth story. If that's what you're looking for, you should probably look elsewhere. This is a failed VBAC. A CBAC, though I hate that term since I have trouble truly believing that a birth took place. 
 I had been hoping that with a properly positioned baby, that I'd go into labor before my due date. Apparently my body is one that needs to hold on to babies just a little longer. People were shocked to see me at church three days after my due date, and it seemed like everyone wanted to know if I was still pregnant. I actually told one person that I wasn't actually pregnant, I'd just felt left out since for awhile it seemed like all the younger married women were pregnant, so I'd stolen one of the fake bellies from the Motherhood dressing rooms.
On Wednesday, July 10th when I was 40 + 6 weeks, I woke up around 2:30 with fairly strong contractions. They weren't regular and I hadn't been getting a lot of good sleep recently between being overly pregnant and our two year old deciding that this would be a good week to have monsters take up residence under her bed and have her show up to sleep with us in the middle of the night so I decided to sleep. I didn't get a lot of rest, but eventually they petered out and I fell back asleep. I got up to discover that I was losing my mucus plug. I got kind of excited since my water broke with my older daughter within 24 hours, so I was sure it wouldn't be too much longer. I texted my doula to give her a heads up, though admitted that I had no idea if the dose (I lost my mucus plug during the day before I was induced) of cytotec I'd had in the hospital might have been related. I had sporadic contractions off and on all day, but nothing to make me think I was in labor. Contractions again picked up in the wee hours of the morning coming about ten minutes apart before slowing down again. I had a doctor's appointment that morning, and was pleased to discover that I was at 2 cm. In my first pregnancy, I'd only made it to 1 cm by myself so I was feeling kind of proud of myself. Since I was at 41 weeks, he sent me to the hospital for a biophysical profile. Other than it being a time of day when the baby wasn't normally very active which made things take longer, everything looked great. I got a little annoyed by the nurses wanting to know if I was planning a repeat c-section or a VBAC since I doubt there's many people not planning a VBAC who are still pregnant at 41 weeks in a post-cesarean pregnancy, but everyone was nice so I kept my opinions to myself. As I was leaving one of the nurses mentioned that I was having contractions to which I replied, “ I know,” but I was pleased that the monitors were picking them up since I don't think the monitors will pick up Braxton-Hicks contractions.
I started having contractions again in the wee hours of Friday morning. I tried to sleep, but I really couldn't. At one point, I ended up getting in the tub in hopes that it would help me relax. It did, but we have pretty much the tiniest tub that isn't just a shower stall, and while the water helped, it wasn't comfortable enough to just stay there. Contractions weren't regular, but they were pretty much constant coming anywhere from six to ten minutes apart. When my husband left for work, I told him to make sure that he was available by phone just in case. I really thought that it might be the day. Things stayed that way all day. There was a decent amount of time that I wish that we lived close enough to home so I could have sent our daughter to stay with my mother, since I was having contractions often enough that I was worried about scaring her. But I wasn't having regular contractions often enough to warrant asking my doula to come over or to send her to stay with the friends who had offered to watch her while I was in labor. So I dealt as best I could.
During the day I started to realize that I was having trouble dealing with contractions since my body was automatically tensing every time one hit, and I would have to force myself to let go and relax through it. It was almost like my body was expecting Pitocin induced back labor, so the first several seconds were agonizing until I remembered to breathe.
I was still having a lot of mucusy discharge, and on Friday it took on a bloody tinge. I was sure it couldn't be much longer, and that the baby would be born sometime during the weekend. My doula when I talked to her concurred, and that she didn't think I could go much longer like that. Contractions slowed down in the evening to about every fifteen to thirty minutes, and I was able to get a few hours of sleep. They picked back up again in the wee hours of Saturday morning. I was still losing bloody mucus, and after about 36 hours of that I called my OB's office to talk to the person on call since the length of bleeding was starting to worry me a little, especially since my OB had said he wanted to be a little more cautious than usual over vaginal bleeding since I'd had a single layer suture with my first daughter. My doctor's in a solo practice, and he wasn't on call, so I ended up talking to one of the midwives at his back-up practice. Which was slightly ironic since I had wanted to see them but the OBs in that practice won't allow the midwives to attend VBAC deliveries and they're the only midwives in town practicing legally, so if for only a five minute phone call I did get to have midwife care. She told me as long as it was still mostly mucus and wasn't soaking a pad and I wasn't in a lot of pain that it was probably fine, but that if my contractions picked up to four to six minutes apart for at least two hours to go ahead and go to the hospital. Late that afternoon the blood stopped, though I still continued to have mucusy discharge.
I tried to talk my husband into taking our daughter to the church pool party (I assumed the family hosting wouldn't want me in their pool, and contractions every 10 minutes wouldn't make me good company regardless), but he didn't want to leave me. But they could of gone since things continued the same as they had been. We skipped church for the same reasons the next morning. I was starting to get pretty miserable. I didn't think I was ever going to go into active labor. The only relatively comfortable places to sit were on my ball, the toilet, the kitchen chairs, and to a lesser extent the floor. Contractions were practically unbearable on anything soft. We talk to my mom on Skype every day, and after seeing me Sunday night she was begging me to go to the hospital or to at least call my doula to come over since she thought I was further along than I did. (She also kept telling me to breathe which got on my nerves to the point that I snapped at her to quit.) I insisted that it was just more prodomal labor, all they'd do at the hospital would be to send me home, and that there was no point in calling my doula to come over if I wasn't really in labor. But I also told her and my husband I didn't think I could keep on like this much longer, and that despite my desire to never have Pitocin again I was going to ask about possibly inducing labor the next day at my doctor's appointment.
Monday thing continued like they had been with me waking up in the wee hours of the morning. Around 4 I thought about getting in the tub, but then I felt a small amount of liquid. There was a part of me that wondered if it was amniotic fluid, though it didn't last long and wasn't the huge gush like when my water broke the first time, but I decided as a precaution to stay out of the tub since our tub wasn't sterile and I didn't feel like attempting to clean it into that state. My military id expired that day, and we'd planned on going to the DEERS office on Base to get it renewed before my appointment at 10:30. My husband and I talked and decided there was no way I could manage right then, and that we'd try after my doctor's appointment. He left for work, and I set about trying to manage contractions that were starting to get closer together.
I put PBS on for our daughter, and I tried to get myself in a position that I thought that I could manage to make her breakfast. I wasn't particularly hungry, but I knew I probably should eat and got myself a banana. I was sitting down and then getting back up since nothing was particularly comfortable. I was done. I wanted drugs. I knew an epidural would probably be awful, but I didn't think I could keep going. I figured, based off my first labor, that I was probably at 3 maybe 4 cm at most. I fixed my daughter some cereal, and we called my mom on Skype. I was trying to fold laundry while my mom begged me to call my husband to come home. I refused and told her that I was pretty sure I wasn't in active labor, and that he was planning to leave work about 9:30 to come pick us up. And then I started leaking fluid that was definitely amniotic fluid since I couldn't get it to stop. I changed my underwear, and put a pad on to catch the fluid. I told my mom we'd talk to her later, and I started trying to get my daughter's bag together to go stay with friends. I was still sure it was probably too early to go to the hospital, but I also knew that they were going to send me to the hospital when I showed up for my appointment leaking fluid, and it was too late to cancel the appointment. I kept having to stop during contractions, and so about 9 am I called my husband to ask him to come home now so I could have some help. One of his co-workers answered his phone and told me he'd already left. When he got home, he helped me finish getting things together, and we left for my doctor's appointment.
The car ride was torture. I almost think that riding home after the first c-section wasn't as bad as riding in the car in labor. About three miles from the exit we needed to take for my OB's office, I told my husband to just go to the hospital (which is basically across the street from the OB's office) since I wasn't getting back in the car. I called the office, told them that I thought I was leaking amniotic fluid, and that we were going to just go straight to the hospital. They told me that was fine and to go straight to Labor and Delivery. We got to the hospital, and my husband offered to drop me off at the front door. I told him no, to park, and that I'd walk in. Walking was getting difficult, and I had to actually stop twice between the parking lot and the door to wait out a contraction. We checked in at the desk, and they sent us upstairs to Triage. While waiting I started singing some of the Bible verse songs from my daughter's favorite CD. We sang “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” and “Whenever I'm afraid, I will trust in You.” I didn't want to scare my daughter, and amazingly singing through contractions with her helped me to relax some. They brought me a gown, and my husband and daughter stepped out of the room so that they could check to see if I actually was leaking fluid. I was, though the nurse said the sac was bulging so much that she couldn't tell how dilated was, and she was going to get someone else to check me, but that they were definitely admitting me. I lied and told them I had started leaking fluid around 9:30 so that they wouldn't be putting me on the clock quite as early. My husband left to take our daughter to the friends who were going to watch her for us, and I texted my doula to tell her I was being admitted. I then called my mom with the same news, and they came back to re-check me. The nurse didn't tell me how dilated I was, and I asked if I could use the bathroom. I had been guzzling water and hadn't urinated in several hours at that point because I had wanted to make sure I could provide a urine sample. Needless to say, I really needed to go. The nurse told me I was pretty far along, and that they couldn't let me go to the bathroom but that she could bring me a bedpan. I freaked. I was right back at my first birth where I was forced to use a bed pan because they wouldn't let me out of bed, I had to ask the nurse to leave since I couldn't pee with her watching me, I wet myself since I wasn't on the thing right which embarrassed me greatly, and then I didn't pee for five or six hours until they inserted the catheter in preparation for surgery. I'd put my mom on speaker, and she started asking to speak to the nurse with plans (as she told me later) to try and explain why I was freaking out. I hung up on her. The nurse then told me that I was at 8cm, and that they couldn't let me have a baby in the bathroom. I was shocked. I stalled at 3 cm the first time, a fact that my first OB pointed out before I fired him as a reason that he wished I'd just give in and schedule a repeat c-section. And I'd done it all on my own. The contractions all of a sudden got much easier to manage. The intensity and frequency didn't change, but my perception did. I agreed to wait on the bathroom until they got me in a room, and texted my doula and husband with the news.
They moved me to a labor room, and my doula got there a few minutes later. The nurse who came in to check me, told me that because I was so far along that my OB had said that he wanted me to have continuous monitoring instead of the intermittent monitoring that we'd agreed on in the office. My doula promised that she'd help me maneuver with the wires so that I wouldn't be stuck in bed, and I agreed. I asked about using the bathroom again and promised that I wouldn't have a toilet baby, and the nurse agreed. They brought the delivery cart in, something that had never happened with my previous birth, and we got down to business laboring. My husband had brought my birth ball inside when he got back to the hospital, and I spent a lot of time sitting on the ball. I was up and down. I went to the bathroom as needed. It wasn't a home birth, but it was much more like I expected labor would be like before my oldest was born. My doula did remind me to breathe through contractions, but ironically it didn't bother me the way it did from my mom. I don't really remember the nurses coming in to bother us, but we didn't need them. 
My OB came by sometime between noon and 1pm to check me. He didn't have an amnio hook so I don't know if it just happened or if he broke it, but when he checked me my water completely broke in a gush. In triage they had been debating if there was meconium, but once it completely broke there was obviously meconium in the fluid and it smelled foul. He said I was at 6, but told me not to worry too much about going backwards when I asked since apparently it's not unusual to lose some dilation once your water breaks if the sac was bulging. Middle of the afternoon, a nurse came in and asked if I wanted to be checked. I consented, and I was back to 7. 
Around 5 o'clock, my OB came back to check on me. I was still at a 7, with the baby still high at a -1 station. He said we had an hour to get her to come down further not my pelvis. He wasn't worried about dilation, since he said that dilation would increase if she was further down. I asked how to get her to come down further, and he said he wasn't sure so he was going to defer to my doula since that was her area of expertise. 
He left, and she kicked things into overdrive. I was squatting as far down as I could by the bed. I was lunging. I was standing with one foot up on a chair. A nurse came in at one point to ask if she could watch what we were doing so she could have ideas for the future. I said it was fine, and then didn't notice her at all. She left at some point,though I'm not sure when. I spent a long time sitting on the toilet with my legs spread wide, and then with one leg up. I was in the bathroom long enough that a nurse cae in to check on us since I'd been off the monitor for about 20 minutes. 
The biggest issue was that as soon as my OB said "c-section" my contractions slowed down immensely. They'd probably been at 1 to 2 minutes apart, and while they didn't stop, they did slow down to more like 5 minutes apart. There really wasn't that much to work with. At one point my doula suggested trying a side lying position. I didn't stay there long since it was very comfortable and made me sleepy, and I had no contractions. 
About 6:30 pm, thirty minutes later than he'd said, my OB came back. He checked me and said, "I'm sorry,there hasn't been any change." I started crying. I asked if there was anything else we could do short of just removing my pelvis. I asked if Pitocin or an epidural might help. I was told no. My contractions were more than adequate, and since I was handling the contractions great an epidural would probably be more likely to cause problems than to help. He left, I cried like a baby, and I called my mother on the phone to tell her I wouldn't be giving birth and that I was scared. For the first time since I was a child, I called her mommy. She stayed on the phone, on speaker, until they came to get me. 
Things started to get real. A nurse came in and hooked up a bag of iv fluids. The anesthesiologist came by to talk to me. I told him how scared I was of the spinal, and how bad it was with Isabelle. He told me he didn't want to put me out since that wasn't good for me or the baby. I said I didn't want a general, I wanted to be awake, but I didn't want to be stabbed for better than half an hour while they hit nerves. And I told him I'd had a panic attack watching a woman have the same sort of nerve pain during a pre-cesarean spinal on television. (As a side note, I quit watching Discovery Health birth shows after that.) I said I thought from looking it up later that they'd used the wrong size needle the first time, but I wasn't sure. All I knew was that I couldn't do that again. He promised me that he wouldn't do that, and continuing like that was completely inappropriate. 
A nurse came into shave me. She had me lay down flat, and then I had a contraction. Flat on your back is the most uncomfortable way to have a contraction,and while I don't know if this normal in that position I couldn't move until the contraction had passed. She was shaving, and when the contraction started my belly moved down. She pushed up on it, and I screamed. The pain was almost as bad as the nerve pain from the first spinal. I was trying to talk,but all that came out was gibberish. My mom was on the phone still,and she said I sounded like a wounded animal. My doula came over to stand on the other side of the bed. She started talking to the nurse, but I couldn't really make our what she was saying. Mama told me later that what she could make out over me screaming was something about couldn't she tell I was having a contraction and to just wait a minute. Whatever she said, it didn't help since the nurse kept right on going. The contraction finally stopped and I lay there panting. 
They brought my husband some clothes to put on, and they came to ask if I'd rather have a wheelchair or a gurney. I asked if I could just walk, but was told no. I chose the wheelchair. A few minutes later they came and got me. I was wheeled down the hall, through the double doors that said authorized personnel only, and into the OR. 
They helped me get on to the table. There was a large digital clock on the wall that said 7:15, and that was determined to be the official start time of the surgery for their paperwork. The anesthesiology team had me sit on the edge of the table, gave me a pillow to hug to my chest, and had me lean over. They stuck me once with a numbing agent, and then a second time to actually administer the spinal. Mercifully, it took in one try without any nerve pain. I don't know if they started with the right size needle, if it was the different position since the first time they had me leaning forward onto a nurse, or just a different person doing it made the difference. All I know was that I wasn't thinking I'd never walk,and it didn't feel like I was on fire.  I thanked the anesthesiologist, and told him I owed them a fruit basket or something. He laughed, and told me I should have come to his hospital the first time, too. My legs started to go numb, and they helped me to lay back on the table. They moved the boards up on the sides for my arms, but didn't strap me down like I was the first time, and they put up the drapes. I was asked if I wanted my tubes tied, and told them no. I said as of right then I didn't want any more children, but that my husband and I hadn't really talked about it, and it really didn't seem like a good time to be making  that kind of decision. They laughed. Apparently Nurse A Contraction Is A Good Time To Do a Bikini Shave hadn't done a good job, and they re-shaved me. It was odd being able to hear the razor, but not feel it. As they were prepping me, the OR staff was discussing who was staying for the next one. Apparently I was c-section number 14 of the day, and there was someone waiting on the OR as soon as I was done. 
They brought my husband in to sit beside me, and they started cutting me open. I'm not sure exactly what drugs they gave me in the spinal, but it wasn't as strong as the fentanyl/marcaine combination I had the first time. It didn't hurt, but I wasn't as numb and could feel pulling and tugging. It was an odd sensation, but I preferred it to the completely numb disconnect of my first "birth." Soon I was hearing the words "time of birth, 19:48," and then I heard the most beautiful sound ever for the first time ever, my daughter's first cries. I missed it the first time since as they pulled her out they said don't let her cry and she didn't cry in the OR, but Laurie cried immediately. They took her to the side, and offered my husband an opportunity to go to where they were set up. Being squeamish he declined, but a few minutes later they brought her to me. And this time there wasn't any desperate reaching while they held her a quarter of an inch out of my reach. My arms were never strapped down, and the nurse placed her in my arms. I probably wasn't really holding her since she was resting on my left shoulder with my arm around her with the nurse still supporting her, and skin-to-skin wasn't an option since they'd (for reasons I'm not 100% on since it wasn't done the first time and I weighed more then) taped from my belly up and over my shoulders, but it was wonderful. I'd only been allowed to brush our older daughter's cheek after my OB said they could unstrap my hand in the OR. I had her for about five minutes. My husband and I both commented on how much she looked like her sister, and he thought she was bigger though I wasn't sure. Then my husband, Laurie, and the nursery team left. I was alone. 
A few minutes later my doula appeared in the doorway. I have never been so happy to see someone. Generally you hire a doula to help with natural childbirth, but not having to be alone while they sewed me back together was wonderful. 
After the surgery, the room seemed to clear. I was moved to a gurney to be taken to recovery. We were getting ready to leave,and a nurse stopped us to ask if I wanted to see the placenta. I did and she brought it over to me. It was amazing! I'd never seen a placenta other than in pictures before. It was slightly greenish (I'm assuming from the meconium) and you could see all the veins in it branching out like roots.  It was larger than I'd expected. I didn't want to eat it or take it home, but I'm glad that I saw it. 
In recovery the nurse told me she was going to call the nursery and see if she was in Well Baby or the NICU. They had taken her to the Well nursery, and they said they'd bring her to me. A few minutes later they rolled in, and they placed my awake baby in my arms. I counted her little fingers. Then I put her to my breast. With my first the hospital didn't allow babies in recovery, so by the time I got to hold her several hours after she was born she was asleep and uninterested. Laurie was alert, and very interested. I'm not sure that she got anything out until later since she seemed at that point to mostly just be licking my nipple, but she took to it right away and my milk came in slightly sooner. My doula gave me a hug, and told me I'd done everything I possibly could have and that she'd come back to check on me the next day. 
While they were sewing me up, they had done her measurements. My husband was right she was bigger. She weighed 9 lbs, 3 oz, and was 19 inches long. After awhile they took her back to the nursery for a little while, and took me to a room. 
It wasn't great, and it definitely wasn't what I was hoping for. This birth story was hard to write. I started it shortly after getting home from the hospital, and it's taken me better than two months to finish. I've cried a lot. That's probably the biggest issue in finishing this since I'd get a little ways and have to stop so I could pull myself back together. It was a better experience. I'm not going to lie and say it was good. Like the first picture with Isabelle, the first picture of me with Laurie that was taken in the OR I don't have that "oh my gosh I just had a baby" face. I just look sad. Working on this I think has helped me to put things in perspective and get it out. I'm proud that I went into labor on my own. The lack of drugs seemed to help. Laurie wasn't jaundiced really at all. At discharge her bilirubin levels were 0.01 which I credit to not being exposed to Pitocin. I wasn't swollen from an insane amount of iv fluids and she was awake, and nursing was so much easier. And despite all the uterine rupture scare tactics associated with VBACs, my OB told me that I had no sign of rupture or even windows in my scar. 
Emotionally I'm doing better than I did the first time, and much to my surprise I'm not emotionally dead. I'm not truly great and the wounds are still fresh, but I'm not a puddle in the floor. It took me weeks to even give myself permission to grieve. And there's a lot to grieve. I didn't give birth. And it wasn't for some definite even Ina May would agree reason, it was for failure to progress. There's a part of me that says "you're a broken failure, why did you even try," though I try not to concentrate on that voice. It's harder than I would have thought to come to terms with the fact that in all likelihood I can't have any more children. There is no way I can walk through the doors of a hospital to be sliced open for the third time, but finding a provider willing to take on someone wanting a VBA2C with no prior vaginal births and both c-sections for failure to progress that takes our insurance will probably be like finding a needle in a haystack. 
I do wonder what went wrong. With my first, in many ways I chalked it up to a badly positioned baby and a horrific induction and it was a fluke. But it's hard to call different circumstances with the exact same outcome a fluke. My mother says her head was just too big. My OB said that things might have been easier if I'd given birth vaginally the first time. I blame myself for sitting on the couch occasionally, eating sweets when I craved them, going to the hospital too soon, and a million other little things. I wonder how much of the problem was just psychological. I didn't want a hospital birth, but Alabama law makes attended home birth illegal. When we went on huge tour, it smelled evil to me. Just like the first time, my contractions slowed down as soon as surgery was mentioned. Knowing I'd spent the pet several days with my contractions slowing down in the evening only to pick up in the wee hours of the morning, I wonder if my body was doing that again and I just needed more time. And knowing I was c-section number 14 of the day with at least one more following me and that the postpartum ward was full while I was there, the cynical part of me wonders if there was pressure to get me out of the LDR room. I just don't know. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Why Is Getting Dressed So Hard?

Amazingly enough, that's a serious question. I swore I wouldn't be that mom who goes around in workout clothes who just looks like a stay at home mom. But especially since Laurie was born, I find myself more and more still in my pajamas at lunch, and when I do get dressed it's more often than not  barely much better. Thursday I got a shower and dressed while Isabelle was having quiet time. Which means after lunch, and then I put on a t-shirt and a pair of skirted leggings. That's what my husband who is deploying within the next few weeks came home to. I ran to the grocery store for some, laundry detergent after he got home, and I had to change clothes because I wasn't dressed in a fashion that I was comfortable leaving the house.

I think that part of it is that two kids really is twice as much work. There's all the responsibilities of taking care of a newborn and (unfortunately) recovering from major surgery, but I still have to take care of a toddler. As Laurie gets older I'm sure I'll get used to taking care of both of them, but as it stands I'm letting myself go. It also doesn't help that we're now a one car family. There are plenty of pros,but the con is most of the time I don't go anywhere. Our townhouse is in a mixed use suburban neighborhood, and most of the things within walking distance are doctors offices. There aren't any parks, and the only store is a gas station. We're basically stuck. If I can make plans ahead, we can take James to work, but if it's not super important if he's needs the car he gets it. It frustrates me, but meeting friends at the splash pad isn't more important than work. And with two car seats now getting a ride is more difficult than with just one. But without anywhere to go, getting dressed seems pointless. And I don't really want to keep wearing maternity clothes since anything with a panel makes me look still pregnant and they're getting almost too big to stay up regardless, but most anything with buttons is still uncomfortable. Which are all just excuses for being lazy since I manage to get up and get dressed on Sundays for church. We had family come down for the baby's baptism a few weeks ago, and when my grandparents came by the house on their way put of town, I was up and dressed. I had my six week checkup two weeks ago, and I was up and dressed with both girls dressed as well since we had to take James to work as well as drop Isabelle off at a friends since toddlers and OB/GYNs just don't mix. So it's not that I'm incapable, it's just that most days I'm not making any effort.

So in comes Frumps to Pumps. I've had this book on my Kindle for awhile, and when Caroline over at the Modest Mom Blog suggested doing a frumps to pumps challenge I decided to give it a whirl. I may not seriously buckle down until October since we're getting ready to move home while James is deployed in a few weeks, but I'm going to try and do better. My girls need a better example. Heck, I even managed to get dressed by 9:30 this morning, and I'm wearing a nursing dress and not comfy pants.

Monday, September 2, 2013

I Am Strong

  Birth Without Fear posts "I am strong..." birth stories, and I thought I'd do one for myself in a way of viewing my two births in a slightly more positive light.

I am strong because we didn't use birth control for two years before I got pregnant. James was deployed for six months during that time which obviously doesn't count, but the rest was heartbreaking learning I was still not pregnant every month. 

I am strong because I think I had an early miscarriage in July of 2009. When I went to the doctor to see about possibly having my progesterone levels checked because there's a family history of low progesterone, and since I was charting I knew I had a short luteal phase. My request was refused because we hadn't been trying (the six months we weren't trying just not preventing didn't count) long enough, and that since I needed a year and my husband was supposed to deploy in October we'd have to start a new year over when he got home. The nurse told me she didn't know how to read the charts I brought in, but she looked at them and told me since I had 28 day cycles (I consistently ovulated on day 17) there was nothing wrong, and then looked at me and told me if I'd lose weight my cycles would regulate. I didn't give up on having a baby, and I took Vitex in an attempt to treat the short luteal phase. I got my cycles to lengthen to about 30 days long with the same ovulation date, and I got pregnant the first cycle after James got home. 

I am strong because we found out about a month before I was due that he was deploying again sooner than expected to Afghanistan. 

I am strong because I was induced a week and a half past my due date. I was scared into staying in bed lest I kill my baby, and yet I still managed to endure about nine hours of Pitocin induced back labor without screaming or any pain medication. 

I am strong because I agreed to be cut apart in order for my daughter to be born after discovering that I'd been stuck at 3cm all day and that my cervix was swelling. 

I am strong because I endured the worst pain of my entire life while they stabbed me repeatedly and hitting nerves trying to administer the spinal all while I was thinking they're going to knock me out and I'm never going to walk again. Mercifully it finally took, and I was awake when she was born. 

I am strong because when they finally brought her to me several hours after she was born I wouldn't let her go. 

I am strong because the next morning when they'd kept her in the nursery for over an hour after they said she'd be back and I'd already talked to the neonatologist and knew she was fine I walked from my room to the other end of the floor to the nursery to find out why they were holding my baby hostage. 

I am strong because the Pitocin and iv fluids left my breasts swollen beyond recognition combined with missing that golden first hour because hospital policy forbid babies in recovery left my daughter completely uninterested in nursing. With the help of the awesome lactation consultant I pumped and fed her with a syringe. Two days after she was born she was completely on the breast, and nursed until she was almost 21 months old. 

I am strong because four days postpartum I was discharged from the hospital, and I climbed the stairs to our third floor walk-up apartment. It took about fifteen minutes, I seriously thought about giving up at the landing between the second and third floors, I collapsed on the couch for forty-five minutes after getting inside and only got up because my dad and husband arrived with lunch and I wanted to it at the table, but I made it upstairs and discovered that I'm physically stronger than I thought. 

I am strong because at four and a half weeks postpartum we drove my husband to the airport, and told him goodbye. Two days later, I moved home with a newborn. 

I am strong because my daughter developed fairly severe reflux and vomited every where. At it's worst it took medication plus a dairy, soy protein, and gluten free diet to control. It was a hard diet to follow, but I stuck to it religiously so I could keep nursing despite everyone telling how much easier my life would be if I'd just put her on a hypoallergenic formula. 

I am strong because at seven weeks postpartum I found a puss leaking hole at one end of my scar, and I ended up in the emergency room where I was (mis)diagnosed with wound dehecience, and told i would probably need to have it reopened surgically. After discovering that it was actually an infected ingrown hair in the same spot as where an internal stitch had worked its way up. I wrote a letter basically telling them off. No idea if the counseling they gave the doctor I saw actually helped, but it made me feel better. 

I am strong because I spent months crying over the fact that I hadn't given birth and that I was a complete failure as a woman. Instead of completely giving up, I admitted I needed help and found a counselor. 

I am strong because almost a year after she was born I drove an hour and a half to my closest ICAN chapter, and I finally found a place where I didn't feel feel like a total freak because I didn't think a c-section was the best thing ever. 

I am strong because every time I get sick I have to admit that I didn't give birth to my daughter. 

I am strong because when my daughter was 20 months old I discovered I was pregnant for the second time. I knew immedediately that a repeat c-section was not an option. 

I am strong because I decided to switch hospitals to the slightly more birth friendly hospital in town from my OB's preferred hospital where my first was born. The other hospital had a higher VBAC rate, and in a worst case scenario they had a separate OR so babies could be in recovery. 

I am strong because I recognized that I couldn't do it alone with no support other than James and hired a doula. 

I am strong because after finding out my daughter was breech, and my OB told me ECV wasn't an option because of my previous c-section, I refused to calmly sign up for a repeat c-section. I ordered the hypnobabies breech cd, I saw a chiropractor, I played music to my lower belly, I placed bags of frozen fruit on my upper abdomen, and I prayed that God would turn her. She did. 

I am strong because after months of bait and switch my OB told me at 35 weeks that his partners wouldn't attend VBACs, he couldn't promise he'd even be in town when I went into labor, and that he'd really prefer I'd have a repeat c-section. After talking it over with my husband and doula, I called the Base and demanded a new referral. At 38 weeks after leaving several messages they called me back. I fired my OB, and had my first appointment with the new doctor at a day shy of 39 weeks. My only regret is not switching doctors in November instead of waiting until June. 

I am strong because I started having contractions between six and ten minutes apart on Friday. They didn't stop until Monday. 

I am strong because my water started leaking while feeding my daughter breakfast Monday morning when I was 41 weeks plus 4 days. I decided in the car on the way to my doctor's appointment that I wasn't getting back in the car and told my husband to just go straight to the hospital. Despite being sure I was only at 3 or 4 cm, I was told I was at 8 cm in triage much to my shock. More than twice as far as I'd made it the first time, and I had done it all at home on my own. 

I am strong because I labored at the hospital without any drugs of any sort or an iv. 

I am strong because six and a half hours after getting to the hospital I hadn't made any more progress, and the baby was still at a -1 station. My OB said we had an hour to get the baby to come down further into my pelvis. I tried everything my doula thought might help. 

I am strong because an hour and a half later my OB came back and told me he was sorry there still hadn't been any change. I asked if Pitocin and/or an epidural might help, and I was told no because my contractions were more than adequate and I was handling them great. 

I am strong because I faced my greatest fears. I told the anesthesiologist about how bad the spinal was the first time, and that I was terrified of better than half an hour of nerve pain again. He promised me he wouldn't let that happen, and they got the spinal in one try. I let myself be wheeled into the OR, and be cut open again. At 7:48 CDT, our second daughter was removed from my body. My biggest fear the entire pregnancy was a second c-section, and I survived it. 

I am strong because I know my body can go into labor on it's own, and if I can find a provider and we have a third child I will attempt a VBA2C. And God willing, I will give birth instead of having any more children removed. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

So We Had Another Baby

So as made obvious by the title, we've had another baby. I'm working on a full birth story, but since I need somewhere to just vent I'll share the details. Our second daughter was removed on July 15 at 7:48 CDT. She weighed 9lbs 3oz, and she was 19" long. 

And as most of you imaginary people reading this have probably figured out, I had a second c-section.  It was better than the first. Better doesn't necessarily mean good, it just means it didn't suck quite as badly. From the perspective of a criminal life in prison is better than the death penalty, but neither is good. Everyone says that I did everything right, and that there was nothing else that I could have done. I know they mean well, but what I hear is "you did everything you could, but you failed anyway. You're just a stupid, broken, fat girl who had the audacity to think that maybe she wasn't a lemon, and that you had the right to give birth to your children." They don't realize that if I did everything I could and things still didn't work out, then the only thing you can say is that I really I am a failure. That my first birth experience wasn't a fluke, there really is something wrong with me. They blame it on the size of her head, that she was a big baby, that my pelvis had never opened before. Yeah like I don't know that people give birth to big babies on their first try all the time. I don't get why they just won't spit it out and say you're broke, you're a lemon,here's how you deal with it. I don't know how to tell him that I appreciated the fact that he acknowledged it, but when our assistant pastor called to check on me a few weeks after she was born he asked how I was doing recovering from my surgery. It's silly, but it was nice to have it acknowledged that I was recovering from surgery and not from childbirth. 

Probably because I had a better idea of what to do and not do, I'm recovering better than I did last time. And yet the things I can't do frustrate me to no end. The fact that it hurts, still, to pick up our two year old. She's not even that big at between 25 and 26 pounds at 2 and a half. I want to snuggle her, and carry her, and have it be like it was before. I went to go get a prescription filled and get some milk from the commissary on Friday. I didn't want to wake the baby up, so I took the stroller into the clinic. It was a mistake,it's too heavy and I spent all day yesterday paying for it. I know it's fair, but I hate the fact that every time I think that I'm better and physically mostly back to normal that I have to be reminded that I didn't give birth. I realize that failure has consequences, but I really wish I could get away free and not be punished for my actions. Or lack there of in this situation. I don't get why I can't give birth. I saw a chiropractor. I sat on the floor. I held bags of frozen strawberries to the top of my belly while playing music to the lower portion. I managed to both prevent another posterior baby and get her to turn vertex from breech. I hired a doula. When it became obvious that the OB I'd been seeing wasn't going to support my desire to give birth, I asked for a new referral which oak weeks from the Base and switch doctors at 38 and a half weeks. I went into labor on my own,and I got to the hospital with a bulging bag of water at 8cm. I was far enough along they wouldn't let me pee in triage because they were worried about me having a toilet baby, and they actually brought the birth cart in to my room. I had no iv and no drugs whatsoever. As yet she never would come down past a -1 station, and I didn't make it any further after I was at the hospital. I don't get it. It's not fair. I get to listen to people complain because their labors went so fast they didn't have time for an epidural. People who think I. Lucky because I could have just scheduled the birth. And yet I who greatly believe in natural childbirth, and except for a short period of time right around when my water started leaking at home and based off the first time I was sure I was only at 4cm at most I never wanted drugs. And yet I can't give birth and they all can. 

It's selfish. But I really do want to know what it's like to feel a baby come out of me of my own volition. To push my baby out and get to hold her immediately. To have that birth high. I want to not have to explain that mommy has a boo on her tummy. I hate the fact that it cuts me like a knife every time my little girl announces to anyone who will listens that "Waurie came out Mommy tummy!" I can't really tell her to stop because it's not like it's not true. And it's the biggest most amazing thing to happen in her life so far. 

I torture myself. I google what does birth feel like. I tell everyone that I'm fine, and that at least it was better. The spinal only took one try with no nerve pain, they didn't strap my arms down, I got to hold her in the OR, hear her first cry, and that they brought her to me in recovery instead of making me wait until I got to my postpartum room where she took to nursing like a champ. Everything is great. I grieved so publicly last time much to everyone's annoyance, that I've been trying to hold it together. To not let anyone see the crazy inside, or what I'm really thinking. I don't post about the birth on Facebook except for in the closed VBAC Facts and ICAN groups. They're full of people who seem to understand, and doesn't involve my brother asking my mother if he has to hear any more about my "vajayjay." But I need to talk, I need to let it out, I ned somewhere where I can say everything that I think. To share the fact I'm walking an emotional tightrope between shutting down completely emotionally and not allowing myself to feel anything anymore, and of completely following apart into a crying depressed mess. Mostly I try not to think about it all, but boxing up your feelings and sticking them in the metaphorical closet isn't particularly healthy, and when it gets quiet the thoughts burst out anyway. 

Ironically since I wasn't super thrilled to discover I was pregnant and had been researching there it's of only having one child, there's a part of me that really wants another baby and feels like part of our family is still missing. I know James wants to try for a son. And it pains me to no end, that unless a miracle happens, we can't have anymore children. I probably have a better chance of getting authentic eastern North Carolina style barbecue that I didn't make myself in Alabama than I do of finding a doctor willing to take me on as a patient. Oh obviously there's not an OB around who wouldn't happily slice me open for the third time. But the only way I could survive a pregnancy knowing a planned c-section is the only option would be to stay drunk, high, and/or drugged into a semi-vegetative state. None of those are really viable options since they would hurt the hypothetical baby. By finding an OB or midwife willing to take on a woman who's had two surgical births, one for failure to progress and the second for failure to descend with adequate contractions during spontaneous labor, and who who has never given birth normally at all. Probably not happening. Finding people supportive of VBACs is hard enough, but VBA2C... Assuming we're living somewhere with better laws, a home birth midwife might take  me on, but James isn't going to pay out of pocket for a birth that could happen at the hospital completely covered with nothing out of pocket. 

At least the benefit of a blog no one reads is that at least I can talk here. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

If Cheescake and Apple Pie Had A Baby...

This was originally written last October, and it was saved as a draft. No idea what I was planning to add, but here it is. 

Last  night, our pastor's family invited us over for dinner. While it was a little bit louder than we're used to since they have five little boys ranging from eight to a couple of months younger than our daughter, we had a good time. When his wife texted me to see if we could come I asked if we could bring anything, she said if I wanted I could do dessert which I readily agreed to. She had mentioned they had apple cider, so I set about looking for a dessert that would go well with cider and used ingredients I already had on hand. Apples are a good fit with cheese and I had a package of cream cheese in the fridge, I decided some form of cheesecake would be good. While searching for desserts that go well with cider, I also was reminded that apples are good with caramel. So I thought that would be good, caramel apple cheesecake. I asked Mr. Google, and discovered that I wasn't the first to have the idea. One recipe was an easy Paula Deen recipe, but it called for canned apple pie filling which didn't use the last of the Granny Smith apples I had and would have required a trip to the store. Plus since I've been trying to cook from scratch as much as possible, canned pie filling is generally out. The comments to that recipe led me to a completely from scratch version that sounded great, but it needed to chill for at least 12 hours which I didn't have time for. So I kept looking. Then I found this recipe. The only missing ingredient was caramel sauce, and it only needed to chill for two hours. It looked fairly easy, and so I decided to make it.

My husband's car needs looking at, so we've been down to one car for the past week or so. He needed the car at work, so I found a recipe for homemade caramel sauce. I mixed that up yesterday morning, and then put it into the fridge to chill. Personally I think it tasted better than the bottled sauces you can get, and it stayed true to my goal of making as much as possible from scratch. The bars themselves went together fairly easily. I mixed up the crust with my fingers since I don't have a pastry cutter, and then pressed it into my pan. I only have an 8x8 square pan, so it came out a little thicker and needed to bake a few minutes longer than the recipe called for. I mixed the cheesecake filling in my mixer with the paddle attachment until smooth, and chopped the apples and mixed with pumpkin pie spice and sugar. In a third bowl, I combined all the streusel ingredients and mixed with my fingers since I hadn't managed to get a pastry cutter since putting the crust in the oven. (As an aside, I should possibly look into getting one, but taking off my rings and doing it with my fingers seems to work well so maybe not.) After pulling the crust out of the oven, I layered it with cheesecake filling, then apples, and then streusel . Put it in the oven and set the time. Our daughter fell asleep right after putting it in the oven, so I had a little bit of a toddler free break to catch up on some knitting since starting a week from this Saturday I've got three baby showers in a row for friends and family. Like the crust alone the extra thickness required a few extra minutes in the oven, but otherwise didn't seem to cause any issues. I got the caramel sauce out of the fridge and drizzled it across the top. I tried to do a pretty design, but it poured a little quicker than I was expecting in one corner. It sank into the streusel for the most part, so I think to get a decorative design you'd probably need to wait until it was completely cool. Let it cool on the stove for half and hour, and then put it into the fridge until right before it was time to leave.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Preschool at Home Plans

As I've mentioned before, my husband is Active Duty United States Air Force. While we don't move nearly as often as people think military families do, we do move more often than your average family. We've lived in Alabama for a little over three and a half years, and while we have no idea when or where we do know that we're almost definitely moving somewhere within the next year. While I (still) haven't finished my degree in large part do to getting married, moving cross-country, and becoming a parent; I majored in elementary education. Since I've been to schools in three different states, as part of my course work I have to deal with the state standards from three different states. Generally speaking, the standards for any particular grade are the same across state lines. There are differences. For example, most states have students study state history in fourth grade. Which is wonderful unless you move your child cross-country midway through fourth grade. In Alabama, students study United States history in both fifth and sixth grade. In North Carolina, they study American history in fifth grade only so that they can have another year of state history in eighth grade. Even within states there can be continuity issues. My parents divorced when I was in the seventh grade, and we moved back to my parents hometown. The school I had been attending had an eight period day with all academic classes lasting one period for a full year. The school I transferred to within the same state also had an eight period day, but academic classes lasted for two periods and electives lasted for one. Math and Language Arts were taught the entire year, but Science and Social Studies were only taught for a semester. I was able to pick whether I wanted to take Science or Social Studies, but it meant that I never finished seventh grade science. And despite using the exact same textbooks for Social Studies, my old class had been further along in the book so I spent a couple of week repeating old material.

I share all of that because I have a lot of worries about educational continuity for our daughter knowing that before my husband retires, we will probably move at least 3 more times. I also know that we aren't guaranteed to have a place to live immediately upon arriving at a new duty station. When we moved from Arizona, pre-baby, to our current duty station, we broke the lease on our apartment and headed east with no new address. We were authorized to stay in the Base Temporary Lodging Facility (TLF) for a month, so we knew we wouldn't be homeless until we were able to find a place to live. We got lucky and arrived on a Saturday, looked at apartments on Monday, signed a lease on Tuesday, and got the keys on Wednesday. If we had had school age children at the time, we  probably could have gotten them enrolled on Tuesday amid setting up electricity and cable. Between driving cross-country and finding a new home, they probably would have only missed a week of school. But not everyone is that lucky. Good friends of ours PCS'ed (moved in military speak) to Hawaii under similar circumstances. They had planned to live on the economy, but were unable to find a place that met their standards in their budget. They ended up applying to live in Base Housing, and they ended up staying in the TLF for about two months. They don't have children yet, but two months without a definite address could mean two months without a school. If you knew you were going to be living on Base for sure, the school assigned to the Base  might be able to work with you, but not necessarily. I don't want our daughter, or any theoretical future children, to be in that position.

As of right now, my husband is not pro-homeschooling. He and I both attended public schools K-12, and he worries about our daughter ending up as weird and unsocialized. While one of my aunts homeschooled her two children who have grown up into generally normal well-rounded adults. Both of her kids are married, and her daughter has two children that she's planning to homeschool as well. They live in Pennsylvania, so my husband doesn't really know them at all, and the only homeschoolers he knows are a family at the church he attended as a teenager whose parents apparently locked them in the house except for church. Not knowing the family in question I can't speak as to how accurate his description of them is, but I know that even if it was true I wouldn't let that happen to our children. He has also said that he pays taxes for the public schools and he doesn't want his money to go to waste, and that public school was good enough for us. He has however agreed to homeschooling for two situations. One, he's willing to support it if he gets orders to Alaska because of their public school programs that provide money to homeschooling families. (I'm not trying to start a debate about whether students participating in programs like the ones in Alaska are real homeschoolers.) And two, after learning about how much preschools can cost he's open to me homeschooling for preschool. He agrees that I'm capable of doing the same types of things academically at home that our daughter would get at a formal school, and save our money for things like dance lessons that we think she would really enjoy that we both agree that with my two left feet just isn't something I'm capable of. (I did make an A in Modern Dance 1 which I took for my PE credit in college, but it was graded mostly on effort and participation. I'd of probably failed if it had been graded on actual skill. I have also tried Zumba at home with a DVD since I've heard several people say it's a lot of fun. After tripping and falling over three times, I finally just gave up.) Since he's open to preschool at home, I'm running with it. I've been praying for God to soften his heart on the issue, and I'm hoping that if things go well he'll be open to us continuing once our daughter is school aged.

Right now, our daughter is nineteen months old, so we have a little ways to go before she's ready for kindergarten. But I also think that she's getting to a point where she's ready to add in a little more structured learning to her day. While I've looked at quite a lot of curriculum from the just let them play until age five to the very structured and expensive programs, I haven't really started before now to actually put anything into practice. Until now that is. To start with, I'm going to be using the Letter of the Week Preparatory Curriculum. The curriculum is available online for free, and it's rounded out with some art supplies and library books. I wouldn't mind if the preparatory curriculum included Bible lessons, but since we read a story from her Bible as part of her bedtime routine, for now I don't think it's a huge drawback that it's not included. I probably won't use Letter of the Week all the way through, but for now I think it's a good start. I'm thinking that fifteen to thirty minutes a day should be enough to get started with, and because of her age I'll probably go through the Preparatory Curriculum twice before moving on. I want to work on getting stuff together for the learning poster  and getting the first few weeks of materials together before we jump in, so since I'm heading to North Carolina the first week of November for a baby shower and to see family, we'll probably start around the middle of next month. And since socialization is supposedly homeschool kryptonite, we'll be continuing with our once a week playgroup through our church that meets at parks, homes, local museums, and the zoo.

I have some work to do to get ready, but to be honest I'm very excited. In a month or so even if it is only preschool, I'll be able to say that I'm officially (if not legally) say I'm a homeschool mom. And who knows, maybe for the '18/'19 school year I'll be able to tell people, "no, she's not at Whoville Elementary, we're homeschooling."

Monday, October 1, 2012

Sermon on the Mount Month

This isn't a blog that I usually read, though when I have time I'm planning on going back and reading through more of the posts since it looks really interesting, but my cousin posted a link to the challenge on Facebook yesterday and I was intrigued. After reading through the post, I decided to join up, so the plan is to read The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) every day during the month of October. So starting today, I'll be reading those three chapters over and over until Halloween, thirty days from today. This is one of Christ's most famous teachings that is still relevant to today. I'm going to do my best to keep y'all (assuming there actually is a y'all that is reading this blog and not just me) posted on my progress.