Archive for January, 2013

The end of my first pregnancy was easiest of all. My second was only slightly more difficult. Since I had my first baby a week early, an early birth was now a possibility in my mind. I also desperately wanted to have the baby so that my milk would come in for my 13 month old again. He hadn’t had much breastmilk since he was about 6 months old and I wanted so badly for him to have it again! I tried a few of the tricks to try to jump start labor, including black and/or blue cohosh (can’t remember for sure which) and Swiss Kriss (a laxative). They didn’t work at all. Five days before my due date I lost my mucous plug, which gave me hope that things were happening. On my due date, a Friday, James was at work and I had just put Aslan down for an afternoon nap. I was talking on the phone to a friend in my ‘green room’. I had a contraction. I looked at the time. Seven minutes later I had another one. I didn’t say anything to my friend and we finished talking. I was watching the clock for the next seven minute mark, wondering if I’d have another contraction, but about 5 minutes into that my husband sneaked into the room and scared the bajeebees out of me! I skipped a contraction and I was sure that he’d scared labor away, but then came another, and another. When Aslan woke up they slowed, so we brought him to spend the afternoon with my mom. We went for a walk and then to a scheduled prenatal appointment. My midwife didn’t have any reason to think I was in labor, but I knew I was. I just thought it would be slow, like the first time. And of course, my contractions were much milder in her office and then picked up when we went home and went walking.

My mom brought Aslan back. We walked with him and put him to bed. Then we went to bed as well. Just like before, I slept fairly well. Aslan, who slept on a crib mattress on the floor next to me, was extremely restless, but if I put my hand on him he’d go back to sleep. I found out later that he never had any dinner that evening. I thought my mom had fed him, and she thought that we would feed him! Poor guy! Anyway, next morning I got up and (I thought) my water broke. (It turns out that sometimes there can be two layers to the bag of waters, and only the outer layer had broken.)  I had a fairly strong contraction right away. As the family awoke, the intensity went down. I made breakfast and fed Aslan, the midwife was on her way, and my mom was coming to get Aslan. James was setting up the birthing pool that we’d rented in the ‘green room.’ Toward the end of breakfast, I couldn’t sit anymore because things were getting more intense. Finally everything settled down with the midwives in the living room and James and I were alone in the ‘green room.’

The green room was the spare bedroom in our house. We’d painted it turquoise . In it was our double bed, the bed Aslan had been born on.  One window faced south and the other west, so it got lots of sunlight. I’d hung up a couple of my favorite flannel sheets which had patterns of orange, yellow, purple and green as curtains. The turquoise of the birthing pool perfectly matched the walls. It was a bright, beautiful room, especially during the day in August.

As we waited for the pool to be ready (heated) I knelt in front of a birthing stool with pillows on it while my wonderful hubby coached me to relax. With my first labor, that was perfect. I seemed to have no expectation of labor ever ending. This time though, I knew that in late second stage and transition, my mind would be in a completely different state. I was still thinking and analyzing perfectly sensibly, so I knew I wasn’t very far along. I kept thinking to myself that I just must stop thinking! I was also thinking about a friend of mine who had a slight interest in natural birth, but was too terrified to try. I kept thinking, ‘She could do this’ and then I’d think, ‘stop thinking!’  I got so frustrated in my mind.

Finally I got into the pool and went through a lot of back labor. My wonderful hubby massaged my back. The baby moved down or turned so that my back did not hurt so bad. At some point I did enter that state of transition, but of course I didn’t think about it then! All I remember is suddenly coming out of transition. I was wide awake and alert. I took the cool washcloth off my eyes and the light didn’t bother me. I started making little grunty pushy sounds and I knew I’d come out of transition and was in second stage. (I don’t have as clear of a memory of this with my first, probably because I was so tired from being up all night, and I was sleeping between contractions.) The room was beautiful with the sun shining through the brightly colored curtains. I was suddenly too hot and wanted out of the water. I stood up for a couple of contractions, but my midwife was checking heart tones and said that the baby didn’t seem to like my position, so I got out and into a semi-reclining position against my hubby on the bed. I pushed for about an hour, with the midwife and her assistant hiding behind towels because it looked like my water would break any moment. Then she broke my bag of waters and I pushed my baby’s head out. His shoulder was stuck, shoulder dystocia. My midwife had my husband flip me on my hands and knees and she skillfully helped him out. Later, everyone was shocked at his size: 10lb 4oz. Because of the shoulder dystocia, he had some trouble starting to breathe, and I bled more than I should have. To me everything in the room was beautiful with the sunshine and me holding our baby, that I was pretty unaware of the stress my midwife and husband were experiencing. A few hours later, when we went to the hospital (for an unnecessary two days) because of my loss of fluids and baby breathing rapidly (transient tachypnea) I became stressed, but that’s totally another story. For now I just want to think about what I learned about those last weeks of pregnancy and going into labor so that I can set myself up for a positive attitude this time around!

Still a few weeks to go! In the green room, with the curtains in the background to the left.

Still a few weeks to go! In the green room, with the curtains in the background to the left.

Baby Shiloh, in the green room.

Baby Shiloh, in the green room.

A green then that we have.

A green then that we have.

I love the lighting inside! It reminds me of the green room I gave birth in.

I love the lighting inside! It will always remind me of Shiloh’s birth.

What I learned from Shiloh’s birth:

My labor was still slow and steady! Once I had a contraction, it slowly lead to a birth. This time it was about 26 hours of labor, about 7 hours of active labor.

I couldn’t rely on a baby coming early just because my first had, or on ‘natural methods’ to induce my labor. Baby came when he wanted to!

I liked laboring during the day. This is still the only day-birth that I’ve ever had. In all aspects of life, I shut down when I’m tired. If I don’t sleep, I don’t function well. It was nice to be awake and alert when Shiloh was born, though I can’t do anything to control the time of day that this baby come except not try to encourage labor in the evening if I could be sleeping!

I loved the sunlight, the warmth, and the colors in the room I had Shiloh in. I still have pleasant memories of those combinations of colors, and I plan to make some curtains for our room out of the sheets that I used back then, just to set up a peaceful atmosphere. I wish I could paint the room a green/turquoise! Unfortunately, we’re renting.

I can grow a pretty big baby! I should not try to give birth in a semi-reclining position because then my weight rests on my tailbone, making it unable to move out of the way for baby to come through. This was probably a huge contributing factor to the shoulder dystocia. Though semi-squat is a comfortable position for many women, fully squatting, side-lying, or hands and knees are better for me. For a suspected big baby or concern of a small pelvis, I would totally recommend against the semi-squat! (Read more on that in the book Active Birth by Janet Balaskas.)

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My first ‘leading up to baby’ was by far the easiest. I had gotten it in my head that my baby would come late so I wasn’t expecting anything  for another couple of weeks when my labor started. Once my slow and steady contractions began, they never stopped! I woke up early on a Saturday, 9 days before my due date, with contractions. They lasted all day, as long as I didn’t distract myself too much or walk too fast. My hubby and I had a very relaxed day, free of distracting thoughts or responsibilities. The only thing we made a point to do was buy a few cloth diaper covers from a consignment store. Everything was exciting and peaceful. We only told my mom that I was having contractions as we didn’t want any pressure to update people with news. We went to bed that night thinking we may have the baby the next day.

I got a good night of sleep, though I believe I had gentle contractions through the night. The next day, we went to church, still in the early stages of labor, still not telling anyone. Contractions slowed with the distraction of church, but they continued. Afterward we walked slowly through town. We watched Napoleon Dynamite at my mom’s house. Driving home, we picked up some wedding photos that we’d finally gotten developed. As I looked through them, contractions slowed, but then they picked up again. In the evening they were getting stronger. I now realize they were nothing yet, but at the time they were the strongest I’d experienced yet. I quit talking through them and took deep breaths, and so we called the midwife. She came over and watched a milder contraction (because I was distracted with her there). She thought that she should tell me to take a bath and go to bed. Then she did an exam. I was 7 cm! She was shocked and so were we! Then, real, hard-work labor began. We took a walk at dusk. As we went down our little street, we called James’ parents. Even the excitement of calling slowed down my contractions for a few minutes, but then they picked up again and we got down to business. Another 13 hours of intense labor and we were holding our baby boy!

Upon waking to contractions, James went out to buy some snacks for everyone.

Upon waking to contractions, James went out to buy some snacks for everyone.

Finding out we're at 7 cm, right before the hard work began.

Finding out we’re at 7 cm, right before the hard work began.

Laboring, sometime in the middle of the night.

Laboring, sometime in the middle of the night.

He's here!

He’s here!

In my first labor, I learned that it’s nice to be taken by surprise with labor, instead of going past ‘the right day.’

I learned that my labors start slow and are long and drawn out. I held my baby about 52 hours after my first wakeful contractions, and after 13 hours of hard labor.

I learned that I needed a peaceful atmosphere to labor in. Whenever I got too excited about something, contractions would slow or disappear. I’m so glad we didn’t spread the news far and wide in the early stages!

I learned that I need to concentrate on labor in order to keep it going strong in the beginning stages. The whole ‘going for walks’ thing helped me only if I walked S L O W L Y. If I sped up, contractions would slow down.

I know that now that I’m a mother with little ones to care for, things will never quite be the same as that first time. I do hope though that I can intentionally set up that peaceful environment again.

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About a Month To Go!

As I look at the date, I realize that a month from January 29 is…. February 29…which doesn’t exist, so it’s March 1! March 1 is my 40 week mark. I’ve always given birth between 39 and 40 1/2 weeks, so most likely I’ll be holding this baby in my arms in the next 4 to 5 weeks!!!

The end of pregnancy has been hard for me the last two times, expectations of contractions turning into labor, not being able to labor well while I care for kids (and my labors tend to start SLOW and be LONG), wanting pregnancy to be over so I can eat more carbs again, and just looking forward to holding my little one in my arms all add up to me being ready to have the baby before the baby is ready to come out! This can set me up for an emotional roller coaster! I have been thinking about my four labors thus far, and want to remember the good and bad about each of them in order to set my family and myself up for a joyful time as we welcome our new baby.

I don’t have enough time to blog the long blog posts that I would love to do, but over the next month (+/-) I will try to post little thoughts here and there about what I’ve learned and how I’m trying to keep a cheerful attitude as I approach the unknown birth day of our baby.

Dec-Jan 12-13 070

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