Friday, September 27, 2013

Melia's Birth Story

The Long Version

Baby Mel's birth story has to start with her big brother's birth story. Marcus was born a healthy 10 pounds 1 ounce with a nice cone head and big lips.
He had a great start at life but I, on the other hand, had a less than ideal birth story. I was induced 5 days after my due date because we knew we were going to have a big baby. I wanted to try to have the baby naturally without the epidural but the pitocin was up way to high by the time I got to 7 centimeters and my contractions were 1 minute apart and a minute long, giving me practically no break at all. So I got the epidural. It was nice at first to have that break from the pain and I took a long nap (which, if you really think about it, is a really odd thing to do while your in labor) but I now wish I had never been induced in the first place. When it came time to push, some guy came in that they told me was the doctor on duty and lifted his eyebrows at me and suited up. Poor thing had to wait for 2 1/2 hours for me to get the baby out. He got bored a few times and walked out telling the nurse to call him if anything started happening. He never uttered a word to me the whole time but rather whispered to the nurse and I knew he was wanting to wheel me in for a c-section. I gave it all I had and somehow pushed that baby out despite hardly feeling a thing. I'm leaving out a lot of details but the point was I had a terrible first experience giving birth. I tried to forget all of it when they placed sweet baby Marcus on my belly but it was hard to while the doctor was stitching me up. He kept asking for more thread and he wouldn't tell me how many stitches there were because he lost count. The next SIX MONTHS I bled and suffered. Though the pain gradually eased it never fully let up. It was uncomfortable to sit, stand and walk let alone carry and breastfeed a growing 10 pounder. Needless to say, when my husband asked me when we were going to have more my anxiety would give me nightmares and I wondered if I really even wanted to have more children. I knew that I wanted more children but not more childbirth experiences like the one I had.

Well, after 1 year and a difficult miscarriage my heart started to ache for another baby. We tried for another year after losing one at 14 weeks and finally we got pregnant right after Christmas last year. We were really excited but I still always had anxiety about the impending birthday of my little girl. This time wanted to have a better experience, but what? Another epidural? I wasn't sure of my ability to deliver naturally and drug free, I mean I had a 10+ pound baby for crying out loud. I tried not to think about labor and deliver the first half of my pregnancy but just about having a new baby girl and all the new experiences we would have.

I started thinking more about natural childbirth when a few friends had their babies naturally and told me their experiences, all positive. One friend, whose hero is Ina Mae Gaskin, delivered her first, a 12 pounder, at home naturally (but it was a 24 hour labor- eeek!). Another had a water-birth in a birth center employing hypnobirthing techniques. Another had her first naturally after taking a 12 week Bradley method course with her husband/coach. And another had hers at home with 2 midwifes with her other 2 kids running around the room.

So there I had it. 4 friends who did it and did it well. So I started asking myself millions of questions. I asked my friends questions too. I wanted to know everything there is to know about how to deliver naturally. So I researched the Bradley method, hypnobirthing, acupressure, doula massages. I checked out books and documentaries from the library and spent hours and hours watching and reading everything I could get my hands on. I learned so much about birth and a woman's body and its amazing capabilities. The reoccurring message that I got from nearly every source I tackled was that if you are able to breath and relax through pain and discomfort then you can endure childbirth. I also learned that I needed to recruit my husband to not only be by my side through it all but to act as my coach, doula, massage therapist, and motivational speaker. He was very supportive of my wishes and read from my books, watched some videos and listened to me go on and on about what I was learning. I knew I could count on him.


Two weeks before my due date I felt as if I might not be capable of achieving my goal when my husband fell and sprained his ankle badly. I know it sounds dramatic but I lost all hope as I saw him fall to the ground and writhe in pain and then barely able to walk for a week. I had been relying on him so much so suddenly having to take care of him, Marcus and my 9-month-pregnant self was overwhelming. I went from getting a foot massage every night to having to treat and care for his foot every evening from 5 until bedtime. Before the ankle sprain the kitchen and dishes were cleaned every night. Now they piled up and the kitchen stank. I had to do things I probably shouldn't have been doing while pregnant like carry a naughty, screaming 30 pound toddler up the stairs to bed. I knew I couldn't deliver a baby without him so I thought about hiring a doula or buying a birth tub or even changing to a midwife that would deliver my baby at home in a tub. Every option came with its high costs and added stress. One day while frantically making phone calls and exploring my options on the internet I stopped and stepped away from it all and laid down on the bed. I cleared my head and immediately a scripture came to my mind: Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. I repeated it over and over again. I knew I needed to trust The Lord more and just believe. Of course, in the back of my mind I was still stressing out about everything.


So I had an appointment with my midwife that very day and I just broke down to her and told her everything that was going on. She already knew my birth plan and hadn't said much about it. She mostly talked about how powerful the mind is and if I can think it in here (pointing to her head) then I can do it. I felt like she had confidence in me. She said exactly what I needed and it pumped me up to give birth naturally. So I gave up on trying to find a doula or birthtub or birth center and I started to believe. Every time a doubt came into my mind I pushed it out with 'Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding.' And believe me- lots of doubts came. It surprises me the negative responses you can get when you tell someone that you want to give birth naturally and drug free. Why don't people say, 'Good for you!' or 'You can do it' or 'That is awesome!' rather than: 'Oh, I am so glad my wife is gonna get the epidural' or 'Just wait and see how everything goes, you might change your mind' or 'Scary!' I got all of the later but none of the former so I kept it to myself most of the time.

                       We took this picture just a few hours before I went into labor.

So my due date came...and went. But not without some significant progress toward going into labor. I went to my midwife appointment and I had already been 4 centimeters dilated with an extremely soft cervix. This time I was 5 centimeters dilated, 70% effaced and still had a cervix soft as butter. So we decided to strip my membranes. For those who don't know it is simply separating the bag of water slightly from the side of the uterus near the cervix. It is supposed to help get labor started and helps the body release hormones to start contractions. It was uncomfortable when she did it and I thought the baby would fall out after that but it just felt like menstrual cramps for 24 hours. I was a little dissapointed. The next day, Thursday September 19th, my menstrual cramping continued until we were heading in the car to Marcus' soccer practice at 6 pm. I felt tightening come and go in my back and belly so I started timing them. Half way through his practice I had timed about 5 of them and they were about 5-6 minutes apart. They weren't painful, in fact I was talking through them and laughing and getting super excited that this might be it. Juan was getting excited too. I called my mom and sister and told them. I told some of the mom's at the soccer practice that I was having contractions and they just looked at me like I was crazy for not dashing off to the hospital.I was just breathing deeply through them like I had practiced, pushing as much air into my belly as possible which helps relieve the pain. So as they were wrapping up the practice Juan shooed his family (oh, by the way I forgot to mention that my sister-in-law, mother-in-law, and grandma-in-law had been here with us for a few weeks) into the car and we headed home. I told Juan not to rush because I wanted to labor at home for as long as possible. We got home and started going through our hospital bag and making sure we had everything. Marcus was being kind of difficult to put to bed so Juan had to leave me in the room a few times to help his mom. The contractions progressed to about 3-4 minutes apart when I was walking around but 6-7 when I sat down. When Juan came back in the room I told him that and he thought we should stay at home for a little longer. Then some stronger waves came and I just knew we needed to get to the hospital. Juan disagreed and it made me unsure too. He told me he thought that they weren't painful enough because I was talking and walking around and when I had the contraction I was just breathing deeply and looked really relaxed. That's hypnobirthing for ya!! It is amazing how relaxed you can make yourself with a little practice. When I listened to the hypnobirthing audio files during my pregnancy they made me relax so much I always fell into a deep sleep. I highly recommend them!

To the hospital we go!!

Juan felt I wasn't ready so I tried to explain to him about the hypnobirthing and that the contractions really were stronger. I headed down the stairs and out to the car but he still took his time talking to his mom and grandma and grabbing some other things. We took this picture before we left for the hospital.
We were super excited! So the plan was for my sister, Sarah to come to the hospital with us if it wasn't too inconvenient for her. Since it was 9:30 it was perfect for her. She had already gotten all 5 of her kids to bed and was excited to come with us. We went to her house so she could follow us. We were keeping it so cool that when I called her upon arrival we asked her if she wanted Juan to take their garbage out to the curb. She was so confused because she thought we would be in a rush. My mom came out to my window to say good luck and I smiled and said hi. Sarah was in such a rush we were telling her calm down everything is fine. So we took off. After making a turn and going a couple of blocks Juan was looking back to make sure she was behind us, but she wasn't. So I called her. She was all flustered and said that as she started driving she realized that she couldn't see. She forgot her glasses! So she had to run back and get them. I can just imagine the look on my mom's face when she ran back into the house and how fast my skinny little sister scaled the stairs. So we waited for her at the intersection but it wasn't long. We had a good laugh at her expense. You have to know, my sister is the sweetest most generous, positive person you will ever meet. I knew she would be a perfect pseudo-doula for me!

Centennial Hills Hospital

We got to the hospital around 10 o'clock. Juan had been timing my contractions the whole way there and they were about 2 minutes apart. We parked and walked into the emergency room. The place was packed with people and I just smiled as I walked by. They all stared at me and started whispering. I had grown accustomed to this because I carry so low and it just looks like a basketball in my shirt; those are the exact comments I always get out in public. I had to stop a couple of times before we got up to the second floor, crazy hospital doesn't have an elevator!! JUST KIDDING! I'm not that tough! Okay, not funny.
When we got to the labor and delivery front desk I went up to the lady and smiled and said we are here to have a baby and asked if the room with a tub was available. She looked at me like, 'haha- we'll see if you are really in labor first.' She sent me to triage to have me checked. Sarah couldn't go into triage with us so she went to the waiting room. I had to pee in a cup first and then lay down on a bed that was separated from another couple with a curtain. We had no choice but to hear their conversation with the nurse. They were being sent home and the lady sounded like she was almost in tears- that sucks!
So it was my turn to be checked. Moment of truth. 7 centimeters! Juan was smiling ear to ear and gave me a high five. Then our nurse for the night, Joan came in to meet us. We hit it off right away which was important for us. She joked with Juan saying, "my name is just like yours only switch the U for an O." I was so relieved when Juan told me that he liked her. The reason was because we had a terrible nurse with Marcus- worst ever! I was so excited to be 7 centimeters but still getting a good break in between contractions. When I was at 7 centimeters with Marcus they were 1 minute apart and a minute long thanks to the oxytocin. I was feeling really good about everything at this point.
Joan checked my contractions and the baby's heartbeat. Everything just grand! I gave Joan my birth plan and she told me she would do her best to stay out of my way but needed to check me intermittently and give me a hep-block (stick a needle in my wrist just in case I needed fluids or asked for drugs). The thing is huge but I tried not to let it bother me. 
Then she wheeled me into our room and Juan started to set up shop. We had our birthing ball, Iphone with speakers, heating pads, lotion, lavender Essential Oils humidifier dispenser, massage balls, and hypnobirthing audio files. I closed my eyes during contractions and went to my special place, Temple Beach in Laie in the early morning with the waves crashing in the background and it felt just like being in paradise. I did my deep breathing through contractions while Sarah and Juan massaged my lower back. 

I tried numerous different positions; kneeling on the bed and laying on the ball turned out to be the best although I moved around a lot in between contractions. And I just let Sarah and Juan alternate massaging me since Juan needed to take a break for his ankle. The nurse told me they could check my dilation anytime I wanted so I told her I wanted to wait for my midwife, Angela. She walked in minutes later and I was so surprised to see her. I introduced her to Juan and Sarah and she turned to me and asked, 'Are you really in labor?' I have to tell you, I absolutely love Angela and I knew Juan would like her too. We had fun joking around a bit and it boosted my spirits because the contractions were getting a lot harder. She checked me and I was at an 8. So we started working through the contractions again. Juan and Sarah were amazing at helping relieve and distract from the pain. I was getting so much encouragement and I was so grateful to have both of them and Joan and Angela all there for me. It got to a point where everything was a blur and I just felt hands all over me. I think Juan was massaging my legs, Sarah my back, Angela was holding my hand and Joan had the monitors on my belly. How awesome to have a nurse crouch down and hold the monitors in place for me instead of strapping me up like an inmate. I loved Joan!
Since, the contractions were much stronger Angela wanted to check me again. I was at a 9 1/2! I couldn't believe it. She told me I could listen to my body and push soon. So I asked for the squat bar and they quickly set it up for me. It was nice to stay upright and lean on it in the bed because I felt like I was helping the baby to move down. Sure enough it didn't take long for me to feel that urge to push. So I listened to my body and pushed a little while kneeling or squatting on the bed. At this point the pressure of the baby was helping ease the pain of the contractions and I was feeling awesome. Yes, it was painful but I was still getting a nice break in between contractions. I wholeheartedly believe that it is a huge blessing from God that women get those breaks in between the intense pain because otherwise we wouldn't be able to do it. What was amazing is we were able to joke around during the breaks. I was able to push for a while with the squat bar but then my legs started cramping so we needed to try a different position. I had been scared to lay on my back because sometimes I have terrible tailbone pain but I tried it and it actually felt more comfortable. I started pushing with the contractions and Angela coached me. The contractions were excruciating but being able to push felt awesome. I felt like I was being productive rather than just enduring through them. 

To break or not to break

This is my midwife, Angela- love her to death!

At this point my water hadn't broken yet and I could reach down and feel the bag. Angela asked if I wanted her to break it, telling me there would be a lot more pressure but it would go fast. It was hard for me to decide because I hadn't thought about it much before. She told me that in her 15 years she had only delivered 2 babies in the bag so I said, "let's make it 3 then!" So she held a cloth over the bulging bubble while I pushed just in case it burst. Juan wanted to get a closer look at it and Angela said, "At your own risk, buddy." He explained to me that it was so thin and transparent. At first it was just a bulge then he could see the head and features. The bag was as clear as water. I pushed during about 5 more contractions and baby girl came sliding out. Angela had to slow me down a bit and I did my best to hold and push when she told me too. It was so amazing what she was able to do! She supported my perineum so it wouldn't tear while the head was coming out. She had also been massaging it before to prevent tearing and it worked. 

Baby in a bag

It was so fascinating to see baby Melia in her home before Angela tore her out. It was like literally peeking into the womb. So incredibly amazing! My only regret for the whole labor was not getting a picture or video of it. Here is one from the internet and it looked very much like this.

And the bag was so thin too! All Angela had to do was pull at it a little and it tore. Water came spilling out like a water balloon and she lifted the balloon over her face. What a gorgeous baby! She was purple and perfect! She didn't have a lot of vernix on her and her hands and feet were pretty dry and pealing which is normal for babies that go past their due date. They placed her on my chest and Juan yelled, "cheeee-hoo". We looked at the clock. 2:30. The exact time of day that Marcus was born. So my labor in total was about 8 hours. 4 at home and 4 at the hospital. And I know it sounds crazy but it was probably the best 8 hours of my life. Such an amazing experience.

Baby Melia

I am so in love with this little girl. She is absolutely perfect. I fall in love with her more and more each day. She is so sweet and tranquil! I love hanging out with her. I'm so grateful that my in-laws are here to spoil us and I get to spend most if my time with her. I couldn't be a happier momma. I can't wait to have another!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

39 weeks

Wow! what a ride it has been. it seems like almost yesterday I was 30 weeks and thinking little of the impending birth of my baby girl. now the time is upon us. I have only 9 days til my due date. I'm cramping, tightening and contracting. I could go any minute now!
my doctor checked me on friday and said I'm 4 cm dilated and my cervix was soft as 'buttah'. she compared it to a couple of weeks ago when it felt more like the cartilage on a nose and how quickly it became so soft, ready to ease a baby out. YAY! let the baby easing begin.
that's the good news. the bad news is nano recently sprained his ankle and I have had to take care of him, marcus and myself over the past week. it has not been easy. I have relied on him so much these last few months that it really was a difficult change to have to take care of him. the dishes piled up for 5 days and the kitchen stunk. nano always does the dishes. always. his return home from work means more work than relief from taking care of myself and marcus. I had to get him ice buckets and hot packs and food and whatever else he needed plus keep marcus fed and happy and wipe his bum. needless to mention, my belly is ginormous and I waddle. plus, my nausea came back in this final trimester and being in a stinky kitchen making food for my baby boys is the last thing I want to do. on top of all of this, we are trying to get the house ready for guests flying in on tuesday from ecuador. yes that's right, 4 of my in-laws will be taking over my house for a month (well, not technically- one of them, the witch aunty will be here for 3 days, my sis-in-law for 2 weeks and grandma and MIL for 5 weeks). soooooo....yesterday, I wore myself out cleaning floors, the backyard, the kitchen and doing laundry. I'm so sore today I couldn't make it to church.
NEVERTHELESS, having to do all of these things has been a great blessing in disguise, as most trials are. I've been planning and preparing for a natural childbirth for so long now and I have placed a lot of expectations on nano for supporting me during my labor. I have researched the bradley method, hypnobirthing and accupressure for labor extensively. read the books. listened to the audio files. watched hours and hours of dvd's that I could get from the library and watch on youtube. I urged/begged nano into diving right in with me but if you were a guy, would you rather watch soccer/tennis/whatever sport or read a book about the first and second stages of labor? I set myself up for disappointment when I constantly found him watching soccer highlights instead of preparing for OUR birth. the bradley method teaches that the husband should be as involved in the whole process as the momma and all of the feminist bones in my body agree with that. since he sprained his ankle I have been freaking out about the whole thing. I contacted a bunch of doulas to find out how much they charge and all of them were a pretty penny ($600-$650). I researched birth centers in vegas and there are NONE! I even considered buying a birthing tub but the hospital gave me trouble for that. Renting one was a pretty penny too but buying one, way cheaper, would create a lot of work for Juan- work he is unable to do quickly because he is lame. make a long story short- too late - I caused myself a whole heck of a lot of unneeded stress trying to figure out who was going to help me through my labor.
just when I put my head down in defeat after exploring all of my options, the scripture came to my mind: Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thy own understanding. I kept thinking it over and over again every time something else came up to stress me out. then my attitude changed. nano can't do labor for me. I have to birth this baby. ME! I can't expect him to take all the pain away because he can't. it is going to be painful and I am going to have to endure it with the help of The Lord. last night, I was having contractions and jumped in the tub and called nano in to stay with me. just having him, a priesthood holder, by my side while I was in pain was so comforting and reassuring. I didn't go into labor, it was more like a drill but it helped me realize how much nano is going to help me by just being there by my side, with his foot propped up, through all of the pain and joy of bringing this baby girl into our family. I know I need to trust in The Lord too and everything will turn out alright in the end. I can't wait to hold my little girl!