Thursday, June 26, 2014

Happy birth

Breathing through a contraction with the help of my husband Nate and my doula Marcie.
I've become really passionate about the childbirth experience and women's rights in regards to it. I have so many thoughts jumbling around in my mind so I thought I would try to organize them here...

Birth doesn't have to suck! If you've ever been to a baby shower or let's face it, been around a group of women for more than an hour at a time, birth stories are told. I've tried, and I have to really strain to think of a single happy one told in my younger years. We tell them like horror stories. We list all the complications, the doctors' urgent advice, and the pain! Oh the pain! It cannot be adequately described! Your body is being ripped apart! Your husband is in the corner fainting! At the end of each of these stories, we smile down at our children and say, "But oh! It was so worth it to have you!" As they toddle away, we say again, "but the Paaaain!" After I gave birth to Bridger, I understood this. I was stuck in bed, thinking I had to be on the monitors. I slammed my head against the bed until I couldn't take it anymore and asked for an epidural. After that, I was determined to make my next one a better experience!

Another thought on the Horror Birth Story is that women who have had positive birth experiences do not want to make others feel inadequate so they don't share. I wish they would share! Surrounding myself with positive birth stories (in books and on blogs) was one of the best ways I prepped myself for Colden's birth.

All birth stories are valid. They are a part of you and your journey. A healthy mom and baby are what we want out of birth. But they are only a minimum requirement! Ladies, I am hear to tell you that your birth does not have to be a horror story. The Pain does not have to rule your birth. Neither does your doctor. YOU rule your birth. By allowing yourself to go into the Pain, by letting those strong feelings direct how to position yourself during birth, you can have a positive experience. It may not be ecstatic, but it does not have to be terrible. And it does not have to be at the risk of your or your baby's health. A happy birth can happen with an OB/GYN, it can happen in a hospital.

Simply by being free to walk around during labor and choose your birthing position, you can reduce the likelihood of interventions, complications and labor will be shorter. (Evidence for alternative pushing positions here and evidence for movement during labor here and here.)

One of the best ways to experience a happy birth experience is to have continuous labor support from someone that is not your care provider or nurse. Your partner or your mom can give you continuous labor support, but the best outcomes are when the mom has a doula. When a doula offers a mom continuous labor support, she is  less likely to ask for an epidural, 31% less likely to have Pitocin, 28% less likely to have a C-section, 12% increase in a spontaneous vaginal birth and has a 34% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with her birth. Moms who have a doula present are statistically more likely to feel less pain. Isn't that amazing?! (Source.)

This can be a beautiful experience that you think back onto with pleasure, rather than a time you had to endure. Childbirth is a pivotal moment in every woman's life. I want to help make that experience an empowering one! This leads me to my own journey as a doula.  I'm so anxious to get going but while I'm breastfeeding Colden the next year, I am focusing on my doula education and certification as well as doing some shadowing. I love this work and can't wait to really get started! Right now I'm reading Your Best Birth and I find it to be a great starting point for those interested in learning more about having a happy birth experience!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Zions

Some photos from Zion National Park when my sister Kenzey and I (and Colden!) visited a few weeks ago. (more on the family blog). We camped at Zion River Resort. The nicest campground I've ever seen!

We were pretty pressed for time, so really we only did two hikes in the two days we were there. On the first day, after strapping Colden into the Ergo, we went for a ways down the Narrows with about a bajillion other people. Pretty amazing stuff! On this adventure, I converted Kenzey to the Gospel of Hiking Poles. They saved us so much grief! The cliffs all around were breathtaking. It was getting dark so we headed back after a mile or so. We didn't get a ton of great photos because I was afraid to take out the big camera.

Kenzey started out slower than a grandma but quickly found her stride and was an excellent hiking companion!

Colden slept practically the whole time he was in the Ergo. Such a good baby! We stopped occasionally for "adventure nursing." ;) I don't really feel like he slowed us down much at all besides when he needed to eat. So many people we passed commented on the fact that I was carrying him on a hike. Well people, it wasn't my first rodeo. We ran into another mom babywearing with the same Ergo as me and we had a great bonding moment :)




The next day we hiked to the Upper Emerald Pools, passing by the Lower and Middle on the way up. This was a gorgeous hike!
Middle Emerald Pool
Upper Emerald Pools




Middle Emerald Pool


Lower Emerald Pool
Lower Emerald Pool
The 3 Patriarchs
We drove through the tunnel and then headed home after a fun two days! This was great introductory trip to Zions. There is definitely lots more to see and do. One day when the kids are older, we will do some more backcountry, technical hikes!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

House dreaming

We've been dreaming about a real house lately. And driving by, we took some sneaky photos of these amazing houses. We would never build anything this massive, but aren't they pretty? I love this style of home! Too bad they are in cul-de-sacs. They belong on a lake!







I've always dreamed of owning a home on a lake. One day baby!

Monday, May 5, 2014

On having two

I didn't know quite what to expect when having a second baby. I've heard some women say they were scared to have another because that would mean loving their first less. This is a thought I have always dismissed and I'm glad I did. Because, at least for me, it's been the opposite!

I love Colden to the moon and back. He is a perfect little baby. I'm so glad he is in our family. But this post is about Bridger. The first time I saw him after Colden was born, he looked like a kindergartener. He seemed to have grown years within the few hours I hadn't seen him. I think this happens to a lot of parents: compared to their new tiny baby, their older children suddenly seem like teenagers. It really is nuts how BIG and grown up Bridger seems now. Things I haven't given much thought are so fun to see now. His hair is so long. After playing outside, it's sweaty and sticks up everywhere. The toddler chub on his legs and feet is so endearing. His hands are squishy and usually dirty. He cocks his head to the side when he talks to us.

But most of all, I love his interactions with his little brother. Bridger comes over and looks at Colden and scrunches his nose, like "isn't he cute mom?" He says, "awwww." He touches each of his features. He pats his head. He plays with his hands. He gives him kisses. He wants to pick him up and hold him. He has to be reminded to be soft very often.

I am so glad we had another baby. These two will such good friends. I can't wait to see what the future brings. But I'm truly enjoying the sweet times now. There are plenty of challenging times with a toddler and newborn, but the love in my heart has grown!


Friday, May 2, 2014

What the what?!

Just four days after Colden was born, I started having this ridiculous pain in my back. No position made it better. I was crying out in pain. It felt worse than labor! I stumbled into the living room and told Nate there was nothing really the matter with me. I rushed into the bathroom and threw up. That didn't happen during labor!

Nate quickly called my midwife group and spoke to a nurse. She said it sounded like kidney stones and to go to the ER. Whaaaaat??

Please note that the little boys and I were still in our pajamas. Bridger had remnants of breakfast all over his face.

I cried on the way to the hospital and pounded my fists on the dashboard. Luckily Nate ran the red lights when it was safe to do so. Orem Community checked me in pretty quick. When the nurse saw me throwing up he said he knew it was kidney stones! I had a CT scan (can't wait for that bill!) and the doc confirmed that I had a 4mm stone. Ouch!

Aunt Lora saved us again and picked up Bridger. They loaded me up on pain meds and Nate took embarrassing photos of me. The nursery sent over a bottle of formula for Colden and he took it like a champ!

They released me after a couple of hours with a Percocet prescription and some strainers to pee through. (Awesome. Something else to add to my postpartum bathroom routine.) I was dizzy and weak the rest of the day thanks to the pain meds. But luckily Colden was still able to breastfeed, it just made him extra sleepy. 

And this story ends when the nasty stone passed later that afternoon. Phew! 


Wild Oregon

I think I'm okay with settling in Utah...and then I see this photo essay. Sob. Someone find Nate a job in Oregon please! Pretty pretty please!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Colden's birth story

I love reading birth stories and so I have the funnest time writing my own! (You can read Bridger's here).

For those who don't want the messy details, here is the short version: I was induced on April 7th. Colden was born at 7:15 PM and weighed 8 pounds and 5 ounces and was 21.5 inches long. I'm so happy I was able to make my goal of having a natural birth!

The long version:
Pregnancy & preparation
Ever since we started thinking about a second child (early last summer), I have been researching natural and alternative birth methods. I read a couple books by Ina May, watched the Business of Being Born (I recommend it but beware of lots of naked mommies), and read lots of natural birth stories. I even interviewed a couple of birthing centers. That's where you give birth with a midwife and have most of the technologies a hospital does, it's just more home-like. I really wanted to do that but most insurances still don't cover birthing centers (ridiculous!). And I still really liked the midwife group I used with Bridger's birth so we opted for a natural birth in the hospital. 

I think I wanted a natural birth mainly because I wanted to prove something to myself (maybe even others as well). I firmly believe that pregnancy and birth is a normal and healthy part of a woman's life. I believe that the pains of childbirth are normal and healthy. I wanted to feel everything. That sounds crazy to some people. But I wanted to be aware of my body and work with it. I wanted to prove that labor and childbirth could be joyful!

I stayed somewhat active throughout my pregnancy. But starting in January (thanks to a Christmas gift from my awesome in-laws), I started practicing yoga regularly again. Other than the amazing genes that were given to me, I think yoga helped me prepare the most. Yoga is all about your breath and being mindful of your body. My instructor encouraged us to pick mantras each class to repeat throughout our practice. I used to roll my eyes at this and just repeat, "inhale, exhale" to myself. Eventually I created some mantras that have great personal meaning and that I had my doula repeat to me during labor. I also attended a weekly prenatal yoga class. This was AMAZING. Basically it was just resting in different postures but so relaxing and helpful in the last few weeks of pregnancy.

We also hired a doula. Doula is just a terrible name for a birth assistant. I totally recommend mine, Marcie Hunter. I met with her early in my pregnancy and then a couple more times near the end. She was fabulous! She was all about supporting me in whatever kind of birth I wanted. I told her that my goal was a natural birth but that if my labor was terribly long and awful, that I would get an epidural. And of course, if a Caesarean was necessary, I would do that. She was very supportive of all of this. She has helped many moms during all kinds of births. But her experience helping moms through natural labor is why I hired her. Nate is wonderful and supportive of all of this too, but he's never helped anyone through natural labor. I wanted them both to support me during birth. And that's what they did! She gave me lots of info about birth and different choices that I could make in the hospital. She gave me a list of positive affirmations and I chose some of my favorites for her to read while I labored. She also helped me make a list of birth preferences to give to her, my midwives and the nursing staff. 

I didn't want to limit myself to one "type" of natural birth, so I created my own list of birthing tips based on things that jumped out at me in stories from other women, Birth Matters, Guide to Childbirth, Baby Catcher and Hypnobirthing.

Heartbeat issues
On Thursday April 3rd, I had my 39 week appointment with my midwife (I was meeting with Sue this time). All three of the midwives are great, but Sue is my least favorite. She's the most medically-minded and thus the least supportive of natural birth. Anyway, as she listened to Colden's heartbeat, she noticed an irregularity. It sounded like it was skipping every third beat. She said it wasn't a great cause of concern and that in 99% of cases, it goes away after birth. But she suggested a non-stress test. She was never great at finding the baby's heartbeat anyway so I was doubtful of her prognosis. Plus, she was the one who wanted a non-stress test when I was pregnant with Bridger. This led to me being induced. And since I was hoping for a natural birth this time, I wanted to let labor occur spontaneously. Being induced increases the risk of complication and can make for a very painful birth experience. My gut told me that everything was okay. So I opted out of the NST but planned to come into the office on Monday morning to listen to baby's heartbeat again. (Note: at this appointment, I was 2 cm dilated and I think 60-70% effaced).

Monday came and we walked down to our local nursery as a family and made plans for our garden. They have an awesome playground there and Bridger had a blast. There was also a bunch of small farm animals for him to check out. I'm glad we took him that morning because it ended up being our last outing as a family of three! We went from there to the doctor's office to hear the baby's heartbeat, with plans to eat at Chik-fil-a for lunch and then to go shopping after. 

A nurse listened to Colden's heartbeat for a long time and the same irregularity/arrhythmia was there. She called the midwife on-call, Jennifer Cook. Jennifer suggested the NST and indicated that she would probably induce, depending on the results. So to the hospital we went. At this point, I was pretty bummed. This is not how I pictured my birth. I wanted to go into labor on my own, to labor in the comfort of my home. I didn't want a painful Pitocin labor. And I hadn't even finished editing my birth preferences! (My doula and my midwives had a copy, but I had nothing to give the nursing staff). I had assumed my whole pregnancy that I would go past my due date. My bag wasn't packed. My soothing playlist wasn't loaded onto my iPhone. The house was a wreck and I just wasn't ready to bring a baby into the world that day!

Nate dropped me off at the hospital for the NST and he took Bridger to Aunt Lora's house. I gave him some instructions for my hospital bag and then he picked up some lunch for us. A perinatologist looked at the NST results and consulted with Jennifer. Jennifer called me and indicated she would like to induce that day or I could wait and do another NST at the end of the day to see if the results would be any different. She was doubtful they would change. After consulting with Nate who had just walked in with my hospital bag, I took a deep breath and told her we would like to go ahead with the induction. The big catch? She wanted to have me admitted to UVRMC. Deep sigh. I had my heart set on interacting with the amazing (and natural-friendly!) nursing staff at Orem Community. I loved the big homey rooms and the quiet atmosphere of that small hospital when I had Bridger. But Jennifer wanted Colden to be near UVRMC's bigger (better?) NICU, just in case. Another deep sigh. Again, in my gut I knew everything was fine but playing it safe was, of course, a good idea.

Knowing I would be limited to liquids after being admitted, I wolfed down some lunch that Nate had brought in. We walked upstairs and started the admitting process. We had to wait about half an hour or more because there weren't enough rooms (!!!). We later learned from the nurse that they had delivered 6 babies between 12pm and 2pm that same day. While we waited, I texted family and close friends an update. I talked with my doula who was in Salt Lake with family. She wasn't going to be able to come for a couple of hours and was working on finding a doula to step in for her until she got there. We got admitted around 3:00 PM.

A baby by bedtime
Pretty soon after we got admitted and I got into one of those gorgeous gowns (that someone died in yesterday), I talked with my mom on the phone and started to feel a little better about what was happening. Mostly, it was just nice to think that I would be able to hold my baby soon and not be pregnant anymore. Around this time, Jennifer Snell, who was to be my stand-in doula for the time being, arrived. While we talked with her and got her up to speed, I was feeling better and better and getting excited. Labor time had arrived! All of the breathing, relaxation, mantras and good thoughts I had been preparing with were about to come into play! And at the end, I would be rewarded with a sweet little baby!

And it didn't hurt that I had such an amazing view! (Of Timp as well as Chik-fil-a! ;)
Jennifer S. was a delight (I would also recommend her as a doula!). Even Nate liked her. (Mostly because she grew up in Canada too). She was so supportive and friendly. After the nurse checked me, (3 cm dilated!) she looked up a Bishop's Score for me. This just tells you how ready your cervix is for labor. Jennifer Cook (midwife), came in, checked me and confirmed that I had a "very soft, favorable" cervix! Yay! This meant I was already well on my way. Things were looking up! I remember saying, "I'm 30% done already!" I was also Jennifer Cook's only patient that night! So nice! She was in and out constantly. Before they started the Pitocin, Jennifer S. suggested I get moving a little to see how it would move things along. I had the bed raised and leaned over it and swayed. This movement caused my, ahem, backend to hang out. Jennifer Snell helped by pinning it closed. It's funny I was worried about modesty at this point when in just a couple hours any shred of modesty was long gone. The nurse (who was delightful also, I wish I remembered her name!) started the Pitocin at 4mL/hour at 4:00pm. This is a low dose.


Since Bridger came relatively fast, everyone expected me to go quickly. I remember hopefully remarking that we would have a baby by bedtime!

Enjoying my tigers blood flavored ice chips. 
This is really turning into a long post! Phew! Anyway, the contractions started right up and they got me a labor ball. (Just an exercise ball). I sat on that while I leaned over onto the bed. Each time I had a contraction, I would lay my head down, breathe deep and sway a little. Nate held my hands and/or stroked my hair. Jennifer S. whispered encouraging things and pushed on my back. My doula, Marcie came in around this time (5:00PM). Marcie took some notes for me and when she came in, she noted that I was 4 cm dilated, 80% effaced, in a good mood and laughing. Jennifer Snell was having a good time and said she hadn't attended a birth in a while and asked if we minded if she stayed to help and take photos. We said sure! (Glad we did!) Marcie took over massaging my back during contractions with tennis balls. Nate continued to hold my hands (and letting me squeeze his hands!) and stroke my hair. Jennifer S. started reading off some of the mantras and positive affirmations I liked the best. I repeated these to myself and took deep inhales and exhales. As soon as a contraction was over, I looked up and smiled at everyone, so grateful to have such a good team!

Jennifer C. broke my water around 5:30PM. When Dena broke my water when I was in the hospital for Bridger, I just remember a little trickle. This time it was BIG gushes for a while. At 5:45 I was 5 cm dilated and Jennifer C upped my Pitocin to 8mL/hour. Around 6:00PM Marcie noted that I was becoming more serious during contractions.

They didn't have a good working telemetric monitor that would allow me to roam around the room. Jennifer C. would have been fine with me doing intermittent monitoring, but since we were worried about Colden's heartbeat, I had to wear the monitor constantly. After being on the ball for a while, the monitor for Colden's heartbeat wasn't picking up much at all, mostly because of the position I was in. In order to get a good reading, Jennifer C. put in an internal monitor around 6:15PM. This goes right on baby's head, so I had to get into the bed. Having to be still like that in bed can make labor harder. But my awesome team helped me up and continued their support. The contractions were worse up there but really, they weren't terrible. Just felt like really bad menstrual cramps, mostly in my lower back. By 6:30 I was at 6cm and 90% effaced.

I love this photo. Nate was so much help.
Each time a contraction started, I would turn onto my side and lean into Nate. Someone, many times Jennifer C, would give counter pressure by pressing onto my hip and thigh. I would squeeze Nate's hand with my left and Marcie's with my right. Jennifer S would read mantras. All reminded me to relax, to accept the pain instead of fighting it. I moaned a lot. The new nurse, Heidi was in and out too. I think she felt a little unnecessary since there were so many people helping me. I remember laughing a little to myself at Heidi when she took a turn giving counter pressure on my knees. She was kind of weak and wasn't very helpful with that particular exercise. But she was doing her job just fine. Anyway, at the end of each one, I would look up and smile. I was so lucky to have so many people helping me! I loved looking up to see so many supportive faces around my bed.

At 7:00 PM I was checked and was at 7cm. I think I kind of cried out at this point. It seemed like I had so far to go and suddenly my contractions were almost constant. No time in between them. But at 7:10, Marcie noted that I said, "I could do this for another hour or two." When I did have a break at about 7:13, I said I wanted to get on my hands and knees. I thought this would relieve some of the pressure off my back. As soon as I did, I thought, "oh this is WORSE!" And immediately, I screamed the Lord's name in vain (something I still feel terrible about, I feel it's worse than swearing, but maybe it was more of a prayer than cursing!) and every part of my body screamed PUSH! I was yelling and moaning constantly now. It huuuuuurt! I yelled "I'm crowning!" and "HE'S COMING!" Heidi pushed everyone out of the way to check me. I remember asking everyone in the room if everything was okay. Seemed so crazy to already be pushing! Everyone answered that everything was just fine.


The worst part of all my labor was the time between crowning and his head coming out (I should note that this was really less than one minute, according to the photos Jennifer S. took!). Jennifer C came rushing in and without enough time to put on gloves, she squatted down and got ready to catch my baby. (Remember I am still on my hands and knees!) I felt his head come out and Jennifer C. instructed me to give little pushes. (This helped me have no tears or stitches!) I felt his shoulders come out and then the rest of his little body and the cord. Everyone helped me turn over and sit up. He was wiped off real quick and then placed into my arms! That immediate skin-to-skin time is so precious! After a few minutes, Jennifer C took the cord and pushed everything in it into Colden and then Nate cut the cord. After a few minutes, they weighed and measured him while Nate looked on. Jennifer C. helped deliver my placenta and we were all done! I have to say that trusting my body and giving birth without (much) fear was a beautiful experience! I love the strength and confidence it has given me. This experience has inspired me! I'm thinking about becoming a doula myself. I want to help other women give birth joyfully and without fear too!

So much happiness while holding Colden! We breastfed a little before heading up to the mother/baby floor and he latched on so well!
Heidi, RN; I don't know this nurse's name, I think she came in to weigh Colden; and my midwife Jennifer Cook.
My doulas: Jennifer Snell and Marcie Hunter
Bridger stayed the night with Lora, Scott and Erika (bless them!).  They brought Bridger to meet his little brother pretty soon after we got into the mother/baby ward. Bridger was actually pretty cute with him. After they left, I tried to take my sister Mandi's advice and just sleep as much as I could, even when the nurses came in. Nate stayed with me and Colden. I was a little teetery and nauseous but pretty much normal by the morning. My recovery has been pretty fast compared to last time and it's nice not to worry about caring for stitches.

The minimum stay in the hospital is 24 hours. I did not want to stay a minute longer! Our room was tiny and the bed was pretty terrible. Bridger really had no room to play in there when Nate brought him back on Tuesday afternoon so they didn't stay long. I had a few visitors and talked with family on the phone quite a bit but I was bored and wanted to go home. Nate, Scott and Erika cleaned up the house really good for us on Tuesday. After Colden's bilirubin test, we were able to leave the hospital at 8:00 PM. I was so glad to be out of there and start this new chapter of our lives!

Bridger has had a few tantrums, the first night at home all together was the worst. But since then he has done really well. Colden is a sweet little baby! This transition is going well thanks to his sweet demeanor and all of the wonderful help we have received from generous family and friends!! We love having him in our family!

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Phew! That was long! Thanks for reading! Next up: dealing with a kidney stone 4 days post-partum!!