Tag Archive | health

It’s Shaped Like a Heart!

So, we (finally) arrived at the hospital.  Despite what I figured would happen, we did not in fact deliver the baby in the back of the van on the highway.  That’s a good thing!  I totally scored once we arrived & I learned that the CNM I had been seeing (in case we needed to transfer to a hospital) was on-call that day.  Now, I had my husband (aka ROCK), doula, 3 midwives and the midwife on at the hospital!  In addition, our nurse was hilariously sarcastic (which was perfect for me), so I was having a blast joking with all of these women.  Labor or not, I’ve always got time for jokes!

Sadly, I’d been pushing hard for about 6 hours at this point, and if I was going to get this baby (who’d been in the birth canal for 4 of those hours) out of my body, I needed rest.  This is where my plan fell apart.  I was about to get an epidural to slow the contractions for a while.  They wanted me to get an hour of rest.  The problem was, I don’t listen to instructions very well and I continued to joke around with people instead of resting.  I mean really, my body was still contracting; there was no way I was going to sleep.  (If you’re a man or if you’ve never had contractions, imagine your absolute WORST case of vomiting when you’re actually just dry heaving…now multiply it by 100…that’s about what it’s like to have contractions.)  After about an hour, they then informed me it was time for…(dun dun duuun) pitocin.  UGH!  I worked so hard at preparing for a natural home birth. Now I’m getting slammed with an epidural AND pitocin?  I would have said no, but let’s face it, my baby was stuck in the birth canal and he needed to be out!  Fine, give me the awful pitocin.  Now I can have twice the contractions (because it’s not like they stopped, they just lessened some).  This was in the best interest for the baby, so of course I did what needed to be done.

Back to pushing, pushing, pushing.  I had someone holding every limb, making jokes to keep my spirits up, trying to help me focus on the baby not the pain.  In all honesty, I had one heck of a pit crew!  The OB on call came in & threatened to get out the vacuum.  My midwife put him in his place, telling him I could do it.  I pushed for a total of THIRTEEN HOURS.  Yes, that’s right.  No, I’m not confused.  I was in labor for 18 hours, I pushed for 13.  If one more person tells me I must have that wrong, I’ll be forced to publish my medical records!  At the 13th hour of pushing, the OB returned & asked the nurse to get out the forceps.  By the grace of God that word must have done something in me & my baby because FINALLY he came out!  I couldn’t believe it.  I was finally holding my baby boy, in my arms, on my chest, right away.  This was the moment I’d dreamed about for so long.  There was no anesthesia preventing me from holding him, there was no operating table for me to be strapped to.  There was me, my husband, and our perfect second baby boy.  Just when we thought our hearts couldn’t possibly hold more love, they flooded some more.  We held him until the cord stopped pulsing (which I highly recommend, by the way) and they cleaned him up quickly & we held him some more.   We’d soon learn that the reason he was stuck in the birth canal for so long is because my pelvis is android (heart) shaped.  That’s not exactly conducive to delivering a baby.

Now, it needs to be said that the entire time I was home & at the hospital, I still hadn’t voided my bladder.  I had a fourth degree tear (yup, fantastic) that required quite a lot of stitching.  It was then that I learned what happened to my body.  My body had suffered significant trauma.  I had pushed so hard and for so long, that my body parts were no longer recognizable.  Literally.  Please, lift me up in spirit.  I am breaking once again sharing these details.   It’s like a horror story I relive every time I tell the story I’ve only just begun to tell.  The intimate details I’m about to share are embarrassing, to say the least.  But ya know what?  They’re my story.  They’re my reality.  They’re not my fault.  They’re the reason I’m even stronger today.  I had about 40 different people looking at my lady parts over the next 5 months.  Do you have any idea how much pride that strips from a person?  Just about all of it.  Really.

So, I’d tell my nurses, one after another, that I still couldn’t void.  “Oh, that’s normal after having a baby.”   Finally, we demanded a Foley catheter.  The nurses tried and tried (sure no big deal, it’s not excruciatingly painful or anything!) but because I was so swollen, they couldn’t insert the catheter into my urethra.  A doc finally came and inserted it.  Let me just tell you, having a catheter inserted is incredibly painful to a urethra that’s been abused by previous attempts at insertion.  As a woman who just pushed a big ‘ol baby out, yes, a catheter is extremely painful.  The nurses had me remove it later (also painful, but not nearly as painful as insertion).   Guess what?!  I still couldn’t void.  I was told not to worry, though.  “It’s normal to not be able to pee after having a baby”.  Well, considering my previous delivery was via cesarean, what did I know?  They’re the medical professionals, right?  Every time I’d try to go to the bathroom, all I could void was a drop or two.  Imagine, if you will, having a bladder that’s incredibly full, and only being able to get one single drop out.

So, I continue this nonsense and then was released. My husband & I told EVERY SINGLE NURSE that came into our room that I couldn’t void.  We’d later learn it was never documented.  Awesome, eh?  So, we finally get home with our new little bundle and our family of four could be together at home at last.  My parents (who’d been watching Brayden while we were at the hospital) brought Brayden to our house and our family was HOME!  Later that night, however, the nightmare began.


Please & Thank You

If you don’t agree with someone, that’s obviously your choice.  In fact, you may have very valid reasons for not agreeing with someone.  HOWEVER, you can disagree and still be respectful, right?  Oh this thought could take me in so many directions, but I’ll try to focus on home birth…for now.  Birthing choices are up to the parents birthing the baby.  If you have opinions, quite frankly, they really don’t matter.  You’re entitled to have them.  However, be kind.  Be compassionate.  Be supportive.  After all, that’s what love is, right?  We support the ones we love, whether we agree with them or not.

So, we had a cesarean section with our first baby.  Our baby was removed from my belly, brought to the other side of the room to be cleaned off & checked over, then they brought him to me for oh, I don’t know, a couple of seconds (crazy generous, right?) before whisking him away.  I wanted Todd to stay with him so off he went as well (he hated leaving his wife on the OR table all cut open & whatnot, but orders are orders!).  I had tears streaming down my face and after what seemed like an eternity (it was only about 10 minutes), I asked if they were almost done sewing me up.  The doc laughed & told me they’d finished soaking all of the excess blood off of my uterus and put it back inside my body (ew), were just about done sewing the first layer and had another layer to stitch.  Fantastic.  I’d just had the baby boy I’d been carrying for 9 months whisked away and I ached to see him.  If you’re a mom, you must know that ache.  Your heart literally hurts.  You NEED your baby.  This was a very traumatic event for me.  It may sound trivial in the grand scheme of things, but I’d had my heart set on a vaginal delivery and here this stubborn baby refused to get upside down (okay, I sort of can’t blame him there) in my belly to prepare for birth AND he decides to check out 3 weeks early, 3 days before my scheduled external cephalic version (to try to squish him around so he’d be upside down).  Then, to have the nurse tell me I can’t go see my baby until I can walk, despite just having had major surgery…it’s enough to make anyone emotional!

At this point, we wanted the complete opposite of a hospital birth where we’d have very little say in what goes on when.  In fact, the closest hospitals to us did not allow VBACs, so that was more of a reason for us to have our triumphant HBAC (Home Birth After Cesarean).  We want to have our baby in our home, with no white coats present, no wipe-off board with PIT (pitocin) written down and the time we are to be given PIT because we’re taking too long to progress, no instruments to yank the baby out before he’s ready, no monitors being strapped to my belly for all of labor & delivery, no bed I’m being told to lie down on, nobody telling me I can’t eat or drink (I’m working harder than ever before, and you’re going to withhold nourishment?), and no tub to push the baby out in (labor, sure you can labor in the tub, but try delivering a baby in one at a hospital & let me know how it works out for ya).  I can’t thank “Hope” enough for opening our eyes to an entire beautiful birthing community that we never knew existed.  I started seeing an awesome chiropractor that specializes in pregnancy adjustments, and she game me so much relief.  I had HORRIBLE round ligament pain, just horrible. I‘d wake up screaming in the night.  She took so much of my pain away.   I was so grateful.

Oh hello, Braxton Hicks!  I’d never had them with Brayden, nor had I had any type of contractions whatsoever.  I had no idea what to expect, other than the obvious pain.  I was at 40 weeks and, well, not exactly comfortable.  I decided to ask my chiropractor to do acupressure because the Braxton Hicks were just getting really annoying & (even though I know babies should come when THEY are ready) I just couldn’t be pregnant any longer!  She warned me that if she did acupressure, I’d be full steam ahead in labor later that day.  Well, as much as I adored her, I highly doubted her, lol.  I left there and started on the 45 minute drive home.  I was a bit frustrated because before my appointment, I’d been having Braxton Hicks for several days.  Now, they were GONE!  I remember thinking, “are ya kidding me?!  I went from fake contractions to NOTHING?  I’ll never get this baby out of my belly & into my arms!”    That night, I decided to sleep on the couch (I don’t remember why to be honest).  I fell asleep just before 11pm.  Todd slept next to me in the recliner.  Before midnight I woke up in shock, disbelief, anxiety, excitement, you name it, I felt it!  I remember the first thing on my mind was, “Honey!  Call ‘Hope’ & ‘Peace’-(our Doula & Midwife)!!!  We’re having a baby!!!”   We’d purchased the home birth kit online, so we had everything we needed (I’ll spare you the details, but if any of you reading this have any questions about home birth that you’d like to ask me, please feel free…even if it didn’t end the way we’d planned, we still went through the process).

So, wow!  THIS is what contractions feel like!  I don’t love them, not one iota!  Our Doula arrived and shortly after that, our Midwife arrived.  From this point on until a few months down the road, some things remain foggy, but I’ll share what I do know.  In less than 2 hours, our baby was in the birth canal!  I started dreaming of eggs, home fries, sausage & toast with my birthing crew!  We would all have breakfast together because our amazing baby is going to be born in no time!  I was in pain, but excited.  Now I’m going to share some things that I’m truly scared to share.  I tell you this because I want to be completely honest with our readers.  I’m going to be extremely vulnerable, but you need the whole story, so here goes.

We’ve got a few (yes, I was one lucky mama!) Midwives (Peace, Patience, & Faith) and our Doula (Hope) at our home now, all trying to help ease my pain through the birthing process.  I was in & out of the birthing pool (by the fireplace in our family room, oh so peaceful).  My poor husband suffered the pain right along with me.  Each contraction I had, I put my arm around his neck and I’d bear down on him, taking him down forcefully with me with every push.  He’d later be in complete agony from my abuse (oops! – love you, honey!).  Every once in a while they’d ask me to try to use the restroom.  I’d laugh telling them they were nuts, there’s no way I could go to the bathroom when I’m trying to push out a baby!  I tried, but couldn’t   No biggie, after all, I’m trying to push out a baby, my body was a little distracted.  I continued trying to push, and they continued checking in on his heart rate.  His heart was beating perfectly the whole time.  For some reason (I’ll explain later), I just couldn’t get him out of the birth canal (good thing they’re flexible, he’d be there for a great many hours!)  After several hours of trying with all my might to push our baby out, our Midwives & Doula advised me to go to the hospital.  I was crushed, but knew they were right.  So, somebody got a few of my things together while I kept pushing.  I made it out the front door and paused to push again (no matter what, anyone that tells a woman to “stop pushing” is completely certifiable, you can’t stop, you just can’t).  Then I made it around to the other side of the porch, down the steps, and all the way to the back of the minivan!  Woo-hoo!  Now I had to stop to push again (keep in mind I’m making crazy loud Amazon Woman noises, while my neighbors all stare at me from their driveway, awesome).  After that round I had help getting into the back of the van so I could lie down & keep pushing.  Ugh.  One of my midwives (Patience) drove us 45 minutes down the highway, all the while I was screaming & pushing in the back of the van.  She’s awesome for being able to get us there safely with a screaming banshee in the back (and for many other reasons!).

I’ll give you the details of the hospital arrival next time.  It’s going to get raw.  Thank you for taking this journey with us.

Between Thing One & Thing Two Lies a Little Thing Called…PPD

It’s a beautiful day!  It’s 76⁰, the birds are chirping, the sky is so bright we don’t need a single light on, and there’s a lovely breeze blowing in the windows.  One child is napping, the other is having quiet time.  It’s as good a time as any to get some more thoughts “down on paper”.

We had Brayden in September 2008.  He was every bit as perfect as I’d always imagined my baby would be.  As I mentioned previously, I’d done a LOT of babysitting, so I knew babies cry/eat/sleep/poop.  That truly about sums it up for the first weeks of life.  What I didn’t know, was just how common PPD (Postpartum Depression) is.  It’s not something I think I ever hear anyone talk about.  Nobody gave me a little lesson on signs to watch for, nobody told me it’s perfectly normal to start to feel depressed after having a baby, nobody explained that our hormones go completely bonkers because we’d had a baby and that those hormones can have devastating effects on us personally.  No, that did not happen.  Instead, I’d heard all of the wonderful things about babies (with a few, “it’s going to hurt like crazy”’s thrown in).  Sleep when the baby sleeps was a common helpful tip.  One thing that would have really helped though, is to hear from women who ADMIT to suffering from PPD.   It’s very taboo, that PPD discussion.

So, here I am, my beautiful baby boy & I, alone every day just about.  We’d go through the typical motions that any new mom does.  Sadly, I didn’t even notice myself getting depressed.  I mean sure, I was completely exhausted (hello?!  I just had a baby, that’s normal sweetie).  I was still in quite a bit of pain (well no kiddin, you just had your insides pulled outside then cleaned off & put back inside!).  But then, there was this baby; this perfect little gift from God.  This baby was greatest gift I’d ever received.  I had no idea what it felt like to love like this.  Love really is different for different loves.  I mean, the love I feel for my husband is so comforting, so intense, so safe.  I always assumed my parents loved me like that, but slightly different because I was their child, of course.  However, the moment Brayden was put on my chest, my heart started to swell.  I can’t describe it well.  I literally felt my heart hurt when they took him from me.  A piece of me left with him; a piece I could never get back until he was in my arms again.  It would be this way every time someone wanted to hold him.  I worked so hard keeping him safe all those months inside my belly, and now people want me to hand him over?  Seriously?  I mean, logically I completely understood I should let others hold him.  However, hormones know no logic.  I didn’t want anyone taking him from me ever again.  The nurses at the hospital took him & didn’t bring him back to me for 3 days!  Why should I let anyone else hold him ever again?  This all sounds completely loony, I know, but those hormones man, they’re no joke!

I got off track (it happens…a lot).  So, my husband obviously had to go back to work.  Here I was, alone most of the time, with my beautiful babe just a couple of months old.  There was a problem though.  He’d cry, and he’d cry and cry and cry.  He wouldn’t stop!  I’d pick him up, rock him, feed him, change him, sing to him, dance with him, beg him to stop, etc.  You name it, I tried it.  I remember very clearly a phone call I made.  I called my Mom. I was hysterical.  She put my mind at ease because moms can do that just by being moms.  Unfortunately, that eased mind didn’t last.  He kept crying.  I began to weep.  I felt like a complete failure that day.  My baby was so unhappy and the one person who’s supposed to be able to make everything better isn’t making anything better at all!  How was I ever going to be a good mother if my child didn’t find comfort in my touch?  By the grace of God, I received another phone call.  Admittedly, I ignored the phone a lot.  I was fall-on-my-face tired and didn’t feel like chatting with anyone.  For some reason, I answered this time.  It was the County Public Health Nurse.  I probably rolled my eyes thinking, oh great, she’s calling to tell me how awesome motherhood is when I’m in the middle of a crisis and I’m all alone!  The real reason for her call, however, was simply to check in on me.  Wow!  Okay!  Let’s chat!  I started sobbing to her on the phone about how my baby won’t stop crying but he’s healthy and has been given everything he could possibly need.  She urged me to put him somewhere safe (crib, pack’n’play, etc) and go outside for 5 minutes.  Once I do that, my body temperature will change and therefore my whole mood will change.  I thought, ‘yeah lady, that’ll fix everything, sheesh’.  Well what do ya know?  IT DID!  It’s literally my favorite advice to give anyone with high blood pressure due to a stressful situation.  I went back inside after about 4 minutes (it was NY winter, I had no coat, I couldn’t handle another minute!  Lol).  Guess what?  He was sound asleep!  I couldn’t believe it!  God answered my calls.

One thing I want to stress to all people everywhere, is that we need to take care of women.  I was lucky, my PPD ended pretty quickly after that.  In total, it lasted about 4 months.  I know some others who had no issues until 5 months after giving birth, or even a year.  Any time our hormones change drastically, we’re at risk for PPD.  That happens when we’re nursing, when we stop nursing, and just in general because of all the stress of having this little life completely dependent on us.  Reach out to the women in your life.  Don’t ask if a mom who’s got little ones needs a hand.  SHE DOES!  Of course she won’t tell you that, it’s not polite.  Just take charge.  Carry her bags for her.  Call to get permission to come over.  Bring a meal, or 3.  Get the floors vacuumed.  Unload the dishwasher.  Fold her laundry.  Bring her a cup of coffee or tea.  Ask her if she minds if you take her older children for a play date (even if it’s in her own yard!).  Women are (now) programmed to think we NEED to be able to handle it all.  If we can’t handle motherhood on our own, we’re failures.  Well guess what?  That’s poppycock!  (love unpopular words).  It truly does take a village, folks.  None of us are superwoman, nor do we need to be.  In fact, trying to be superwoman will often lead to a mental breakdown, so knock it off, will ya?  It’s time to step up & help out.  Any mom of young kids could use a cup of coffee with another grown-up.  Any mom of young kids could use a hand with the dishes.  Any mom of young kids could use a night off from cooking.  Random acts of kindness go a long way, folks.  Men & women everywhere have the power to help moms avoid PPD.  We’re an amazing mammal!  Let’s reach out & take care of one another!

This entry may have been a little all over the place.  I apologize.  My brain starts going and I just tag along for the ride.  It keeps life interesting.

Until next time…