Posted in birth story

Elliot’s Birth Story

I’ve been meaning to get this down in writing for months now and decided that today was the day.

I went to bed around 10pm with my husband on June 19th after watching an episode of Bones on Netflix.  I remember tossing and turning in bed, insomnia creeping up on me again as it has been doing regularly since I was a teen.  It’s not that I was uncomfortable, I was just restless, my brain refusing to shut off.

I started drifting off when the first contraction hit me.  I looked up at the clock: 11:30pm.  My heart started beating faster as I wondered if this was the night I’d meet my third baby (for this pregnancy, as for the two first ones, my husband and I declined to find out whether I was carrying a boy or a girl).  I closed my eyes, trying to fall asleep again.  Another contraction hit me, it was 11:40.  I waited in bed again, this time keeping my eyes open.  At midnight, I felt a third contraction.

I got up, deciding to go into the shower.  I knew I still had time ahead of me; my OBGYN had reminded me just a few days before to call the hospital once my contractions were ten minutes apart for one hour.

I stopped by the kitchen, my little brother was fixing himself his second supper.  “I’m pretty sure I’ll be giving birth tonight”, I told him.  “What time do your kids get up?”, he asked me knowing that he’d have to set up his alarm clock to be there for Charles and Amélie when they woke up.

I told him the time and went into the shower.  More contractions.  One, two, three, four, five.  I looked at the time in the washroom knowing that I hadn’t just spent 40 minutes under the water.  25 minutes.  My contractions were getting closer together.

I got out of the shower and got dressed.  I woke my husband.  “We’re going to have to go to the hospital tonight”, I told him matter-of-factly.  “Ok”, he answered still half-asleep.  This was our third baby, he knew better than to ask me if I  was sure.

I went downstairs to grab my birthing ball.  I bounced around on it as I timed my contractions.  By 12:45 am, they were 6 minutes apart.  It was time to call the hospital.

“Hi”, I said after the nurse had uttered the usual greeting.  “I’m going to have to come down to see you tonight”, I explained.

“Oh”, she said, sounding amused at the way I had announced my labour “and what makes you say that?”

I explained that my contractions were about 6 minutes apart and had started a little over an hour earlier.

“How strong are your contractions?”, she asked as I was breathing through one.

How is one supposed to quantify something like strength of contractions?

“I have to breathe through them, but I can still manage”, I said.

“And, is this your first pregnancy?”, she inquired.

“No, my third”, I answered.

“Well then, we will definitely be seeing you tonight”, she said.

By 1:00 am, my husband and I were in the car.  When we arrived, he helped me waddle my way through the hospital to the elevator, stopping with me every time a contraction hit.  We were greeted by two nurses, one of whom I had spoken to on the phone.  I followed the nurse to the examination room at her request.

“Oh, you’re definitely staying!  You’re already at 5cm”, she announced.

By this time, it was about 1:30 am.

That’s when I asked for the epidural.  I knew from experience that the more tired I got, the harder my contractions were to breathe through.  Since I’d been awake since 6am the previous morning and my previous labours had been rather lengthy, I didn’t want to take any chances.

I got hooked up and tried to answer the admittance questions.  I remember having to ask her to repeat a few of the questions.  I was having trouble concentrating.  I did, however, remember to tell her that I wanted to delay the clamping of the cord.  This was super important to me as I’d only remembered telling the doctor once the cord had already been clamped with Amélie (oops!) The anesthesiologist came in around 2:00 am.  Ten minutes later, I was all set.

Everything happened so quickly afterwards.  My right side was only beginning to numb when the nurse came to check on me again.  She asked me how long I’d pushed the last time I gave birth.  When I told her I pushed for about five minutes she said something along the lines of “Well, as much as I like you, I’m going to call your doctor now, because if I don’t I’ll be the one delivering your baby”.

My doctor came in and checked me.  She asked me if she could break my waters.  By that time, I was eager to hold my little baby in my arms so I said yes.  I was still only partially numb (almost completely on my right side and not at all on my left), but I was ok with that (not that I had any choice!).  Elliot came out after about five pushes at 2:55 am on June 20th (talk about a short labour!), weighing 7 lbs, 10 oz and measuring 51cm.

“It’s a little boy” my husband announced.

I was tired, happy, half-numb and ready to hold my baby.  That’s when I heard the nurse tell the doctor that I wanted to delay the clamping of the cord.  I was so happy I’d told her earlier!  I’d been too stuck in the moment that I had completely forgotten to tell the doctor.  For five minutes I waited, Elliot lying on my tummy.  It was the longest five minutes of the whole evening, but delayed cord clamping is what I wanted and I’m super happy to have gone through with it.  There are so many benefits!

That being said, I was happy when I could finally see and hold my new baby boy.  When I first saw him though, I remember thinking “he has a big nose, but he’ll grow into it”.  Hahaha!  Such a silly thought, right?

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Tiny baby!

 

 

Posted in Parenting

Reality Check (This Should be Fun)

It occurred to me recently that there are a few differences between my pre-baby conceptions of life and my post-baby reality of life.  I thought it would be fun to write them out here for everyone to laugh at see.

I’m going to become pregnant really easily like my mom.

Yeah…no!  It took my partner and I 18 months and countless ovulation tests before I got pregnant with Charles.  Though, to be fair, becoming pregnant with Amélie and Elliot was as simple as:

  1. Stop breastfeeding and condoms
  2. Have one cycle
  3. Bam!

I’m going to have quick and med-free labours just like my mom.

Apparently, I didn’t learn anything when my first conception flew out the window.  I had an 18 hour labour with my first complete with my waters breaking in bed at 3am, having pitocin administered at 8am, begging for an epidural by 1pm, actually getting it around 3pm and finally pushing the little bugger out after 45 minutes at 6:36pm.

Amélie’s birth went by more quickly shaving off 10 hours from my previous labour.  Though I still did get an epidural.

As for Elliot’s birth (I’m working on a post for it), well, that one was quick.  Though, I did still ask for an epidural.

I’m not going to bed-share with my babies.

Well, to be fair, I didn’t bed-share with Charles.  Amélie, on the other hand, I slept with on the first night we came home from the hospital and a few others after that, especially during night-long feedings during growth-spurts.  As for Elliot, well, I bed-shared with him at the hospital and then a few more times at home after that.

I’m not going to yell at my kids.

Hahaha, ha, HA!  Yeah, have you ever had a 3 year old?

But seriously, I do try to not yell, but sometimes my bag of tools gets depleted.

I’m going to nurse until he’s 6 months old and then stop once his first tooth comes in.

What I failed to realize in this instance was that teeth can cut before the 6 month mark.  And of course, Charles’ did.  At 5 months, to be exact.  The good thing is that since I really wanted to reach the 6 month mark, I kept nursing him and quickly got over the fear I had of nursing a toothed baby.  This led me to nurse both Charles and Amélie all the way up to their first birthday.  I plan to do the same with Elliot!

I’m never going to buy a minivan.  Instead, I’m going to be a cool mom and have a SUV to accommodate my growing family.

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Meet the (very dirty) “mom-mobile” aka, my fourth child.  I seriously love this thing.

I’m going to be very by-the-book.

Though I am very by-the-book (and a little over-the-top, according to some) with regards to car seat safety, I also have to consider the following with regards to the introduction of solids:

  • I chose BLW over purees;
  • I didn’t follow the 3-day rule;
  • I didn’t follow the suggested order of food introduction;
  • I even *gasp* introduced potentially allergenic food like peanut butter, eggs and salmon before the recommended ages.

However, all of these decisions were reached after doing a whole lot of research.

My kids aren’t going to get any screen time before the age of 2…

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I guess the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” is appropriate here.

…And they’re not going to play with tablets either.

No, of course not [insert ironic tone].

I should note, though, that we have drastically reduced the time our little ones spend with tablets because Charles, in particular, would become very grumpy and irritable whenever we would allow him even a bit of time in front of a tablet.

Charles is going to start rolling over/crawling/walking/talking very quickly.

Because, duh, he’s my firstborn child so of course he’s going to be perfect!

For the record, he rolled from front to back at 5 months, from back to front at 7 months, he crawled at 10 months, walked at 12 months and at 18 months could only say “mama” and “water”.

I am going to cherish every moment.

And, to quote Katherine over at Welcome to the Nursery: “unicorns [will be] literally prancing around […] with me”.

Because, seriously, as much as I cherish motherhood in general, I can’t say I much cherish being peed on, or vomited on, or bitten, or kicked, or, or, or…

I hope you guys had fun reading these!  Feel free to laugh with me and then share some of your own!

Posted in Parenting

Different

I’ve heard it said too many times to count: no two pregnancies are alike, no two labours are alike, no two children are alike.

Isn’t it true!

Whereas both my pregnancies were very similar, my labours were not.  And the kids!  Oh the kids…

It seems that they are opposites in many ways.

As a newborn, my son cried and whined quite a bit.  He wasn’t colicky, but I remember holding him tummy down over my arm as I walked and walked around the house to try to calm him down.  His tummy hurt quite often as a newborn and I remember that I had to give him lots of tummy massages to help him through the pain.  Of course, that might have something to do with the fact that he had an undiagnosed dairy allergy and I couldn’t get enough of the stuff while I was breastfeeding him.  Poor guy was already on two kinds of cortisone creams and a hydrating cream from the time he was 2 weeks old because his eczema was so bad.

So far, my daughter has been really relaxed.  She hardly cries, isn’t showing any signs of an allergy to something in my milk and besides the normal tummy issues that come with her developing digesting system isn’t too bothered by what goes down down there.

As far as breastfeeding goes, it was an unending marathon with my son.  He would suck at one breast for a good half-hour before sucking at the other breast for another half-hour.  Then, an hour or two later, he would be ready to do it again.  When it came the time for growth spurts, well, he’d be at it from 6pm onwards, sucking away and switching breasts every half-hour until 3am.  If I tried to put him down to sleep (when he inevitably fell asleep at the breast) he would wake up acting as though he hadn’t eaten in days.

My daughter, on the other hand, is a speed nurser.  It isn’t rare for her to be done with her meal in ten minutes.  She very rarely wants anything to do with the other breast once she’s done: she’s content to work on her neck muscles as I try to burp her instead.  Growth spurts for my daughter are also unending marathons…that last for hours on end during the day.  In fact, we just got out of one, in the past two days, little Amélie had hardly slept during the day, instead concentrating on bringing my milk supply back up to par as her needs change.  Oh she would fall asleep at the breast (the only time that happens is during a growth spurt), but I’m sure you can guess what would happen when I would put her down for a nap.

Speaking of sleep…on second thought, let’s not; I wouldn’t want to jinx myself.

Hum, what I will say is that Charles could be rocked to sleep in a jiffy and for a long time I had to work really hard to keep him from falling asleep during car rides (when I needed him to stay awake so that we wouldn’t mess up his nap window).  My daughter, well, let’s just say that rocking is a stimulating activity and car rides seem to be as well, whereas having a toddler running around and playing loudly with his toys near her typically has a soporific effect on her.

As for me, well, it took me a long time to heal and get over the extreme fatigue after giving birth to Charles.  I stayed two nights in the hospital and slept a lot during the first week.  With Amélie, had the doctors allowed it (they didn’t as they had to wait 24h after birth to to a test on Amélie), I would have returned home before supper the day I gave birth.  I was able to move around easily and didn’t feel the fatigue as I had with my first.

Having a first child is a wonderfully terrifying experience.  It’s roller coaster of emotions from learning about the pregnancy to delivering to the first days and everything that comes after. I remember following my pregnancy day by day reading about the development of the baby.  I remember spending hours reading numerous parenting books after giving birth.  I remember googling about everything from low milk supply (because my 2 day old…1 week old…2 week old…) was nursing all the time to oversupply, from poop (what?  He hadn’t pooped in 4 days at one point as a newborn) to sleep (when will he sleep more than two hours at a time?), to milestones (shouldn’t he be able to roll from front to back at 12 weeks!?!), to…well, you get the point.

This time?  This time I am much more relaxed.  I know that things will happen when they will happen.  I know how breastfeeding works.  I know that my daughter is growing well enough that it’s ok if she goes 6h between two feeds at night sometime.  In sum, I know that I have instincts and that I should just trust them.  Because for every child there is in the world, there is a different “book” on parenting.  The basics stay the same, but the small details differ.

You know what’s not different, though?  Love.   I confess that a part of me was afraid as I was nearing my due date.  I mean, my son means the world to me.  I remember being so overwhelmed with love for him in the early days that I would cry.  And, now, I was about to have a second child and a part of me wondered how I would be able to share the love between the two of them.  But you know, I’ve since leaned that your heart only grows with each new child that you add to your family.

Posted in Write for me Wednesday

Write For Me Wednesday – 4 Surprises from my Son’s Otherwise Standard Birth (Jocelyn’s guest post)

This week, I have another wonderful guest poster who agreed to share her birth story with all of you.  Jocelyn is the witty, talented and incredibly funny blogger behind The Home Tome.  She has guest posted for me before and I am so happy that she has accepted to do it again, this time helping me with my project of providing a multitude of different birth stories for expecting moms to read.

Enjoy your read!

4 Surprises from my Son’s Otherwise Standard Birth

Ian

My son (now 19 months) came into this world after a fairly standard vaginal birth in a hospital with an epidural. But there were a few surprises along the way…

1. Four days before I went into labor, my husband came down with a serious inner ear infection called labyrinthitis. This gave him a severe case of vertigo (i.e. he suddenly couldn’t stand up or go a few minutes without vomiting). I had to call an ambulance and we spent a scary night in the ER – we worried it was some kind of stroke or a brain tumor. Thankfully, it was neither of these. However, his dizziness and loss of balance would last for several weeks and even lingered to some degree for months – what a crazy way to become a new father. He was able to be by my side for the birth, albeit sitting in a chair. He was incredibly supportive and positive, despite the fact that his own world was rocking like a ship in a stormy sea.

2. My labor was 36 hours, from first contraction to birth. When I arrived at the hospital at 4 am, I had already been up all night and managed 12 hours of contractions – I assumed I was at least 4 or 5 cm dilated. Alas, I was only one centimeter. Because I hadn’t slept and wasn’t progressing too quickly, my OB ordered some morphine so I could get some rest. Already feeling guilty enough about wanting an epidural (hey, I was scared), I resisted this at first – I didn’t want this drug to cycle through my little guy even if it would supposedly be out of his system when he hit prime time. But I agreed and it was the right decision – I was able to relax a bit and I also experienced a hilarious and very specific physical sensation – my hands felt huge, like they were the size of bed pillows. Go figure. My husband and I laugh about my Big Hands to this day.

3. Because I was so nervous about the birth (even knowing that I’d get an epidural – hey like I said, I was truly terrified), we hired a doula from Northeast Doulas (http://www.northeastdoulas.com/) to help us through the process. This was especially fortuitous, considering my husband’s wobbly state. Lauren Porte Schwardsfeld was exactly as supportive as I was hoping. What I didn’t expect was how much she was able to decrease the intensity of contractions (pre-epidural) through massage. The way she put pressure on my lower back and hips during the rough parts was nothing short of miraculous. She. Is. An. Angel. She helped me manage the pain and the fear – this allowed the labor to progress naturally; without her, I suspect I would have gone the way of a C-section. If you think you might need a little extra support, I recommend a doula, whether you are aiming for a drug-free birth or not.

4. Unlike the movies, I didn’t embrace that “bonding” moment with my son the second after he arrived. Nope, I had just pushed for two hours – a physical exertion well beyond anything I’d done as a lifelong athlete. I was exhausted and disoriented. When they put him on my chest, I was like, “No, no, not ready.” Ha! The nurses must have had a good chuckle over that – after all, who is ready for this crazy adventure called parenting? No one. But when it’s time, it’s time: we snuggle that child, we coo, and – dizzy as we may be – we stumble into the wildest and most wonderful journey of all.

Thanks again Jocelyn for sharing your birth story with us!

Would anyone else like to share her birth story?

Posted in Parenting

The Birth Plan

So a (big) while back, I mentioned that I had started working on my birth plan.  With my approximate due date about 5 weeks away now, I figured I’d come back to it and blog about it.

I had linked to a great blog post that really did an awesome job at explaining how to make the best birth plan.  I read through it all and all of the links and had lots of fun building my own.

In a nutshell, a birth plan should be:

  1. Personalized: Definitely look at samples, but don’t just use a checklist type plan.  You want to know your birth plan inside out.  There are so many different formats that can be used, use one that reflects you the best.
  2. Realistic: Two thoughts on this point.  a)  For instance, if you know that your hospital doesn’t do water births (like mine), don’t ask for one even if it is something that you would enjoy trying.  b)  Keep in mind that even though no one wants anything to go wrong things can go wrong.  Keep an open mind to the options that will or won’t be available to you if such is the case.
  3. Researched: Know what your options are and how each choice you make may effect you and your baby.
  4. Short: Let’s face it, nurses and doctors just don’t have the time to read pages and pages of text or check marked statements.  Keep it down to a page or two at the most.

When I was pregnant with Charles, I had thought of doing a birth plan.  Actually, I had filled out a couple of blank ones with statements that you just checked.  After printing them out, though, I remember deciding to trash them because I had felt that I didn’t know enough about birth to be deciding upon things I knew nothing (or next to nothing) about.  I figured I’d go with the flow and see what happened.

Now that I’ve gone through one birth, I have a better idea of the things that can go down.  I have a better idea of what I liked, what I didn’t like and what I don’t really care about one way or another.  I also did quite a bit of research since giving birth to Charles.  I therefore felt more comfortable with writing a birth plan.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I totally understand that birth is unpredictable and I’m very much aware that just because it is planned and written, doesn’t mean it’s going to all go my way, but at least I know that if I do have control over some aspects, I will know exactly what I want.

Now, enough blabbing, how ’bout I share the plan I wrote up with you guys.  (P.s. The actual birth plan is in table form and fits on one page.  I’ll be adding a pdf link at the end in case anyone wants to see the actual version that I will be bringing with me to the hospital).

———————–

Will be present: (baby’s father)

Students and residents: I am open to their presence during labour and delivery

*The preferences expressed in this birth plan are the result of much research and thought. They reflect my wish to have a natural, med-free birth with minimal interventions. However, I do understand that labour and birth are unpredictable and want above all else the safety of both myself and the baby if an emergency situation arises. In the case of a non-emergency situation, please discuss any procedures (benefits and risks) with my partner and I so that I can give my informed consent after discussing them with my partner.*

We thank you in advance for your support in helping us achieve the natural birth we are aiming for.

1. Labour preferences

  • Hydration: through water/ice chips/popsicles rather than through an IV
  • Vaginal exam: upon arrival and subsequent checks no more than every two hours afterwards
  • Foetal monitoring: 20 minutes of external monitoring upon arrival and no more than 5 minutes every hour afterwards
  • Pain management: massage, mobility, birth ball, shower/tub, breathing techniques. Please do not offer any medicated options. If I change my mind, I will ask which options are available to me in relation to the progression of my labour.
  • Pitocin: use to be discussed only after 8 hours of natural labour
  • Amniotic sac: please allow my waters to break naturally

2. Delivery preferences

  • Pushing: please allow me to push when I feel the urge to and in the way I feel I need to. If I need guidance, I will ask for it.
  • Positions: I plan to alternate between a squatting, all-fours and kneeling up position during the pushing stage. If under the effect of an epidural, I will privilege a side-lying or semi-sitting position.
  • Preservation of the perennial area: I prefer tearing to an episiotomy.
  • Cutting of the cord: to be performed by the father after the cord has stopped pulsating.
  • Announcement of the sex: by the father.
  • Immediately following birth: I would like to have skin-to-skin contact with my baby and attempt breastfeeding on both sides.

3. Postpartum preferences

  • Delay of regular procedures (eye drops, vitamin K shot, weighing…): until we have attempted nursing from both sides or up to 60 minutes after birth.
  • Nutrition: I plan on breastfeeding, please do not offer formula or pacifiers.
  • Bathing: we would like to give our baby his/her first bath.
  • Visitors: only my toddler who will be accompanied by his father.

4. In case of emergency caesarean section

  • Consciousness: I prefer to remain conscious during the procedure.
  • Presence of the father: at all times during the procedure.
  • Announcement of the sex: by the father.
  • Skin-to-skin contact with the baby immediately after birth to initiate the bonding period and begin breastfeeding.
  • Suturing: please use double layer sutures to allow me to attempt a VBAC if desired for a subsequent birth.

Please sign to acknowledge that you have read and understood our wishes: ____________________________________

(My) sample birth plan (pdf version)

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So there you go…

Have you ever written up a birth plan?  How did it go?  Do you plan on using one?

 

 

 

Posted in Parenting

To Doula Or Not To Doula?

It’s a question that I’ve been asking myself for a little while now.  In fact, I started wondering about this shortly after giving birth to Charles.

You see, though his birth went well, there are a few things that bugged me about the whole process and now that I’m pregnant again, I would like for Peanut’s birth to be different in some regards.  I know I don’t have control over everything that goes on, but I would like to keep what control I do have when I’m going to go into labour.

For instance, with Charles, I had initially thought of going for a home water birth with a midwife.  After discussing this option with my partner though, we ended up deciding upon a hospital birth.  Since this was our first experience with birth and so had no idea what to expect exactly, we ended up concluding that we’d be safer in a hospital environment in case anything went awry.

I had also filled out a birth plan in which I had decided that I wanted the least amount of interventions.  I was gunning for a med-free birth.  However, when my water broke during the night at 40 weeks, I followed hospital procedure, gave the labour and delivery wing a call and we made our way there at 3am.  I started to have very weak contractions for the first time in my pregnancy (no Braxton Hicks for me, it seems) on the way there.  Upon arrival, I was checked (I was 1/2 a cm dilated!), strapped to monitors and told to try to get some sleep until 8am when the first ob/gyn would start their shift.

I listened to the nurse and managed to squeeze in a few more hours of shut-eye that night.  Then, at 8am, when the nurse realized that my contractions had become weaker and more spaced out, I was started on the hell that is Pitocin.

Had I known that I’d be leaving the comfort of my bed to go to a hospital bed, I probably would have stayed home.  In fact, had I known that moving about was likely to get my contractions going naturally, I probably would have stayed away from my bed and done just that: move (cleaning the house or even going out for a walk).

I pretty much stayed strapped to my hospital bed during labour as I tried to work through the pain of the contractions.  By 1pm, I was going into shock from the pain and was given an epidural (poor anesthetist who had to get his job done through my uncontrollable back muscle spasms).  After that, it was pretty much smooth sailing until I delivered at 6:26pm.

Now this time around, I can’t have a midwife.  You see, out here in Quebec, there are only 15 midwifes that graduate annually.   Here is a great article about the reality of natural birth with a midwife here.

Anyway, that got me thinking about having a doula this time around.  A doula, or labour coach, can be hired to help a mother/family before, during and after delivery.  Befor labour, they can help with a birth plan and preparing older children to the arrival or a new sibling.  During labour, they can provide physical assistance by the means of massage or just suggesting different birthing positions and emotional support.

I’ve actually started researching doulas and have found a few that have experience, references, a doula certification and other types of training (massage, rebozo…).  Now, I just have to call to see how much a doula costs.

I still haven’t made up my mind yet though, because I *did* enjoy having just my partner (and medical staff that kept popping in and out) with me during my son’s birth.

Did you consider a doula for one of your births?  Did you ever consider hiring one?