Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Birth Story (November 2013)

I woke up around 3:30 AM with mild contractions, a common occurrence in the past few weeks before baby was born so I began my routine to see if they would stop. Trying to repress the excitement that accompanies the possibility of labor, I drank some water and ate a cracker and put on a hypnobabies relaxation CD. This usually put me back to sleep and I would wake up in the morning depressed because I wasn't in labor. However this time, I was still awake all the way through the CD. So I started another CD. The contractions seemed to be more regular than previous times and I found myself irritated with the voice on the CD because she wasn't helping me sleep. So I decided to take a bath and change CD's. At this point I was pretty sure I was in labor this time but I figured some time in the tub would let me know for sure. I did not wake my husband yet, he needed his sleep!

Sitting in the tub with candles, wearing my yellow sunglasses, with the hypnobabies going was relaxing but the contractions kept coming. I looked at the clock and thought I'd wait until 6 AM to wake Fixitman and call my dear friend at her hotel. She had came to town to help out as my doulal. While listening the CD, I was also counting marbles stacked in pyramids in my mind. Best suggestion for a distraction I've ever been given! I loved the orderly stacks of shiny black marbles in my head. It helped me be distracted enough to be able to calmly continue to breathe. Since each contraction was about 25-28 marbles of counting at this time, it let me know the contraction was almost over. I loved the rhythm of it.

At about 5:45AM the contractions were getting strong and I decided I needed to get out of the tub. Fixitman woke up and I asked him to time some of the contractions because they seemed really often and I wanted separate verification that they really were so often. Getting out of the tub the contractions seemed to be coming more often and I was having to focus more during them. When I called my friend to tell her labor was indeed happening, I had to pause during the contractions, I couldn't talk through them anymore. Fixitman called our night back up person to come sit at our house and got voicemail. We were almost to dawn so I called our daytime back up person as well because we needed to get going. I spent time resting mostly while Fixitman got everything loaded in the car. At one point I was in child's pose on the floor and the thought occurred to me that I was going to have this baby pretty soon. I could sense that I was definitely out of early labor and in the active labor stage. Fixitman had to help me out to the car. Dinoguy woke up and I gave him a hug and told him everything was okay we were just going to go to the hospital to have the baby now. Our back up child watchers had not come yet but we needed to go! It was about 6:30 AM. I think they got to our house about 6:45 AM, both of them within 10 minutes of each other.

While driving we discussed whether or not my doctor would be at the hospital today, since there was one day each week he worked at another facility. Fixitman called his phone number and left a message. The reason it mattered to me was he was the only doctor willing to let me labor in the birthing tub I was bringing to the hospital. The back up doctor wasn't going to "let" me use it. (Really how is that his call?!? Women should be able to labor however they want!) Originally our plan had been if my doctor was not going to be at the hospital we were just going to "accidentally" stay at home too long and have the baby there so I could use my birth tub. Since we were already driving to the hospital, I decided I was okay with whatever happened, that whether or not I labored in the birthing tub was not critical.

As we pulled into the hospital parking lot, I started crying because I realized Fixitman would have to leave me at the entrance and go park the car and I did not want him to leave my side. I was cold and heavily involved in labor at this point. He reassured me he would not leave me and helped me to the entrance and put me in a wheelchair. The registration nurse was a bit alarmed when Fixitman told her my contractions were every 2 minutes and lasting for 45-60 seconds. He covered me in my mother blessing blanket and told me he'd be right back. My dear friend called me to ask me a question and I responded with something like "Hospital, Just get here. Now." I had on headphones with my birthing affirmation CD from hypnobabies and was focusing on listening to that and stacking my black marbles in my head during contractions. So when the nurse from labor and delivery came to get me and was trying to talk to me I told her to shut up, I was having a contraction and she was distracting me. Then when it was over I apologized. I was still freezing cold and feeling vulnerable. I knew I had to sit through them doing their initial fetal monitoring on the bed and wasn't looking forward to that. I hate the monitors. They are one of the worst things!

Happy news was that my doctor was at the hospital! An initial check said I was about 7 cm dilated.  Hooray! However I also heard my doctor say the baby was occipital posterior, which worried me. My two longest labors the baby was posterior, so I had been mentally telling this baby to present anterior please! I wanted Fixitman to go get the birthing tub and bring it up to set up but I also didn't want him to leave my side. My dear friend finally showed up (she had gotten very lost) and I wanted to send her to get the tub but also didn't want her to leave my side. It turned out there wouldn't have been time to fill it up and use it but I wish we'd just brought it in with us when we first arrived. The 20 minutes of the initial monitoring were quite uncomfortable. Laboring while lying on your back in a bed is the MOST UNCOMFORTABLE position possible for labor. When that was done, Fixitman helped move me to the birth ball which was more comfortable. I was whiney and overwhelmed at this point, not liking my position but not feeling capable of moving so he had to guide me through each step until I was resting on the ball and leaning on him. He is such an awesome support person for me! My dear friend was their providing positive words and being my advocate. I was so glad she was there too so Fixitman could just focus on me.

Mentally by this time I was having a hard time focusing on my pyramids of marbles. I had given up making them three dimensional anymore and was now making flat triangles of marbles. The music and affirmations on the CD which had been so relaxing previously was not helping as much anymore and the contractions seemed to never stop. I was getting to 55-60 marbles and losing my place counting and getting very frustrated because I was still feeling the pain. The very clear thought came to me: "You're in a hospital! You can ask for pain relief and they have it! You can make all this go away!" The next time the contractions had subsided enough to speak I said "I want an epidural." Fixitman smiled nicely at me and hugged me, which I knew meant he didn't believe me. So I started whining and possibly crying that I really wanted it. The nurse immediately said she could get one for me, but Fixitman suggested they do a check on dilation first. This required me to move back onto that evil bed.

Fixitman guided me up to the bed and I lost my headphones in transit but didn't care. The nurse did a check and announced I was a stretchy 9 and could possibly try pushing, there was just a small lip. She then went off to get the doctor to come back up. (He was downstairs doing a surgery.) I wanted to push but I didn't like my position of course. Mike helped me get onto my knees and then at the next contraction I felt the need to bear down. It felt wonderful! I heard and felt a pop and the pushing stage was in process. (The pop was the bag of waters breaking.)

Our sweet baby had apparently had a bowel movement in utero because the nurse kind of freaked out. Instead of clear liquids, greenish blackish liquid was everywhere. I know there were more people in the room all of the sudden but I wasn't super aware. Mentally I was somewhere else and completely focused on pushing out the baby. I was in a half squat/kneeling position I believe and it only took a few good pushes for the baby to be born. They cut the cord quickly because of the meconium and the nurse whisked him off to suction off his face. After pushing him out, I was suddenly out of energy to move. I waited for someone to help me turn over onto my back and for them to bring my baby back to me. It took what felt like a really long time and in the mean time I pushed out the placenta and had the doctor checking me. Shortly after he was born my friend had announced that I had a son. It was only 8:14 AM. We had only been at the hospital a little over an hour. This was my fastest labor and delivery by far.

I did not find out the gender of our baby before he was born. I had heard it was a neat experience to find out at the birth and wanted to try experiencing that, especially since I knew I'd be happy with either gender. When she told me he was a boy, it just felt right. I knew he was meant to join our family and was the child I had been waiting to meet. When they finally brought him back to me he was beautiful. I was so thrilled to finally be holding him! He was happy to cuddle and nursed a little bit. Then the nurse was after me to go use the restroom and so I had to hand him off again.

Once I was cleaned up and back in bed holding him I was hungry but happy. My sweet boy was here and he was beautiful and healthy. He weighed in at 9 pounds 6 ounces and 21.5 inches in length. Not quite my largest baby but close! My friends brought my a delicious Chick-fil-a classic chicken sandwich and their delicious lemonade.

Then I noticed the IV still dripping in my arm. What was it for and why was it labeled oxytocin? I had received the group b strep antibiotics while in labor but those were done. Why was there a new bag? I called the nurse and found out that I was indeed receiving oxytocin because she felt it would prevent hemorrhaging and because he was my fifth baby she felt I was at risk of this. I should have demanded it be removed but I didn't. I don't think I had the fight in me. But I didn't need it and didn't want it. Afterward discussing it with my doctor he said nurses could give that without getting doctor permission and he had not known about it. Maybe this isn't a big deal, but my right to informed consent was violated. Additionally it made my after birth contractions so strong that I had to take some pain medicine to deal with them. I dislike taking medicine and having to take medicine because of the effects of other medicine was irritating!

Overall I am choosing to remember this as a wonderful positive birth experience. My son was born healthy and with no complications. However if we are discussing birth in general, my wishes and my birth plan were ignored. Sharing or wants beforehand did not work, we still had to inform every nurse about things that differed from their standard policy while arriving for the birth. Additionally I was taken advantage of in my vulnerable new mom state. Baby having meconium is not crisis enough to warrant immediately clipping the cord and taking him over for a vigorous exam immediately. My third child was also born with meconium in the waters and the midwife just quickly cleaned him off before handing her to me, without cutting the cord. Additionally you have the IV and oxytocin that was put in me without informing me.

When I have given birth at a birth center (twice previously), the people are busier right when you give birth, but there aren't suddenly 4-5 more people in it. Additionally I have been able to just hold my baby IMMEDIATELY after the birth. Hospitals are so worried about their protocol. They are not concerned with the individual needs or wants of patients. While I had a fabulous doctor, most of my interactions were with the nurses and I didn't meet them until I was there in labor! This doesn't make sense at all to me. I should not have to worry about building a relationship while I am in labor. Why even bother to talk about all your concerns with the doctor when he won't be there most of the time while you are in labor?

When you have a midwife care for you beforehand, you also have that same midwife there the whole time you are in labor. They don't attempt to go back and forth between seeing patients in their office, doing surgeries and checking in on you. Anyone scheduled for an appointment when you are in labor is rescheduled or seen by someone else. Mother care by a midwife is more than just seeing if her physical stats are fine, it is caring for the whole person. My midwife with my fourth child especially was wonderful at providing a safe place for me to discuss my mental and emotional stuff I was dealing with while we were pregnant. Then she was there the whole time I was in labor.

I've given birth in a hospital with a family doctor, in a hospital with an OB twice, and with a certified nurse midwife twice. I absolutely prefer the midwife. This doesn't mean my doctors weren't great because I do think they were. However the system they work within is fundamentally flawed with hospitals and their management of birth. I believe almost all women should be giving birth in birthing centers, (or at home if they prefer) with just a few being sent to hospitals. If I were a hospital administrator, I'd be building a birthing center right next to the hospital and recruiting midwives.Why isn't this more common?

With regards to home birth, I think I would like to experience it if I have a nurse midwife with me and a hospital is nearby for backup. My husband would rather not deal with the messy results of birth at home. However he is a fabulous wonderful support person, and was willing to consider it when my options were limited this time. Ultimately after prayer, I had felt like the hospital and the doctor I chose were the right choice this time for me. I don't think it was because of any conditions that happened to my child but because I needed to revisit what it was like to birth in a hospital so I could get over my irrational fear of Texas hospitals. I was also able to review what I dislike about the setting.

Hospitals are for sick people y'all. Most women in labor are not sick but doing something natural and beautiful. I think the oversight of professionals is very good to have because of the possibility of complications but for most women this possibility is very small and does not require an institutional setting. We need to spend more time educating and inform women about the natural process of birth. Hospitals do not provide emotional support to women in labor. Women need doulas and support people who are with them. This is scientifically shown to improve the outcomes for mom and baby! But because of money, hospitals are happy to continue to perpetuate the lie that labor is painful and difficult and you should just let all your decisions be made by professionals without becoming informed. I am not saying all women should give birth without drugs. I am saying women need to become educated and empowered about the things happening to their bodies. If a woman wants to have an epidural or other pain relief product, that is fine, but she needs to be educated about all of the possible side effects.

If I have a choice, my next baby will be born in a birthing center or at home.

Monday, January 27, 2014

FHE - Tithing

After Princess' lesson, it was Christmas and we had the traditional read the story of Jesus' birth as a family on Christmas Eve lesson. The Monday after that we were traveling to South Carolina and did not have a formal lesson. I'm counting the 18+ hour car drive as adequate family time. :)

On the next Monday, we were in South Carolina still so we had a Family Home Evening lesson with relatives. Little Guy was next in line to give the lesson. I prepared a basic tithing lesson based on David Bednar's talk The Windows of Heaven. I chose a few quotes to have family members read, summarized some of the scripture examples he gave of blessings and had 10 pennies and 10 dollar bills for the visual activity. Little Guy showed everyone the pennies and how 1 penny belonged to Heavenly Father as tithing and then we repeated it with the dollar bills and Princess. A simple and quick lesson. Perfect!

Some Quotes:

Often as we teach and testify about the law of tithing, we emphasize the immediate, dramatic, and readily recognizable temporal blessings that we receive. And surely such blessings do occur. Yet some of the diverse blessings we obtain as we are obedient to this commandment are significant but subtle. Such blessings can be discerned only if we are both spiritually attentive and observant (see 1 Corinthians 2:14).

The imagery of the “windows” of heaven used by Malachi is most instructive. Windows allow natural light to enter into a building. In like manner, spiritual illumination and perspective are poured out through the windows of heaven and into our lives as we honor the law of tithing.

I promise that as you and I observe and keep the law of tithing, indeed the windows of heaven will be opened and spiritual and temporal blessings will be poured out such that there shall not be room enough to receive them (see Malachi 3:10). 

Friday, January 24, 2014

November activities (Nov 2013)

Photos and short captions of our activities in early November.
Traiboy building with his Erector set
With the finished Lawnmower that actually ran around.
Cute Little Guy frequently tells me to take a picture. I usually oblige.
First weekend in November meant first overnight camp out for our new boy scout.
Dinoguy got to go on his first overnight camp out with scouts. He was thrilled. He had a blast.
We remembered to take the other kids to the Home Depot workshop and build ships.
It was kind of odd to not have Dinoguy with us, but they had fun because there was a bounce house too.
Trainboy made a bow tie with a dollar bill that he wore to church several weeks.
Princess is posing for a picture here. No idea where she got these poses from.
Little Guy felt he needed a turn posing. He's not quite as exuberant.
We went to the park and played with a stomp air rocket.

It might have been rainy, but it was warm. They played with this for over 45 minutes and might have gone longer but I was hungry so we had to leave.
Almost 39 weeks pregnant, documenting my belly.
 In preparing for the new baby and labor, I purchased an exercise ball to use in labor. It was also a great chair alternative in late pregnancy. I had not gotten one before because I figured kids would pop it. I was hopeful I could get this one to last at least until baby came. It made it almost a month but did not make it to labor day. We tried lots of repair ideas listed on the internet, which was not the smartest thing because some of the fixes cost almost as much as the ball. In case you are wondering, none of them worked permanently. If your ball gets a hole, just replace it. Duct tape, filling it with slime, bike repair kits...none of these worked for more than 24 hours. Luckily the hospital had a ball already that I was able to use.
Sitting on my ball post hole.

At Trainboys' last soccer game, here is Little Guy waiting in the rain with me.
Selfie at Lowes workshop with Little Guy

Their finished cars

Princess building her car.
 After the building workshop, Princess and I went dress shopping for an upcoming family wedding. Cute purple dresses on sale! It was the first time she and I have gone shopping together just the two of us. It was pretty fun.
She liked this one, I didn't.
I loved this one, she said it was itchy. Love the face.

Neither of us were crazy about this one.

Her favorite and the eventual winner after I checked with the bride and Grandma.
Boys creating a radio with snap circuits.
40weeks & 1day pregnant. We went to the park and I walked (waddled) around and did a few squats. Maybe it helped because the next morning I was in labor!

And that is a summary of some fun things we did in November before our new arrival!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Halloween (Oct 2013)

For Halloween, Princess knew she wanted to be a knight. Right up until it was time to put on costumes, Little Guy declared he wanted to be a knight also. Then he wanted to wear his viking helmet and carry a pirate hook. So he was a viking-pirate-knight. Dinoguy originally wanted to be some alien creature from the book Ender's Game. We discussed how difficult it would be since masks weren't allowed and he finally settled on being a soldier. Trainboy also was planning to be a soldier. While these seemed like simple costumes to me, I procrastinated putting them together until the last moment. Fixitman made a bazooka and an RPG launcher for the boys to carry with their costumes and made a knights shield and a helmet for Princess. He would have made them for Little Guy but he didn't want them, preferring his Viking helmet and shield. They had a great time at our church Trunk or Treat and then several days later when we took them trick or treating as well. Little Guy and I walked slowly around one big block circle while Princess ran with her brothers and father to several more blocks.

There were more details we wanted to do - make Princess' helmet more elaborate, get the boys army boots or other shoes, find the camouflage handkerchief for Dinoguy's head instead of the blue one...but it was enough. Little Guy was happy running around getting candy and scaring people, while there was a lot of fake firing of the cardboard bazooka and RPG launcher.

Despite the use of the Switch Witch last year, this year they each ate almost all their candy. (Some was donated to Mom and Dad.) We'd already been sick the week before and gotten well, I guess everyone was happy to eat lots of sugar this year.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

FHE Lesson - Keep the Commandments

Our next FHE lesson was giving by Princess and was loosely based on Henry B. Eyring's talk "To My Grandchildren" where he discusses how happiness comes from following the commandments of God. Princess wanted to share a story from The Friend magazine about being kind and a video that shows a boy giving away his coat to another boy we'd watched previously and to talk about being nice to others. I shared a couple of short quotes after her story and video. I don't remember lots of details because it was a month ago and I have put off writing it up. Here is a link to the video, if you haven't seen it, watch it, it is super cute.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Dinoguy's birthday (Oct 2013)

My first baby celebrated 11 years of life on this earth in October. We started the day by bringing him breakfast in bed, which meant that the rest of his siblings now want such treatment from now on. Oops. His sister made him approximately 7 birthday cards; she loves coloring! He also got to attend his first Boy scout patrol meeting that evening so he was quite happy.

He asked for chocolate cake with chocolate frosting - I made Germans chocolate cake but used a Chocolate ganache filling and a Chocolate buttercream frosting. It was extremely sweet and chocolatey.
Happy Birthday dear boy. I love you!
11 years ago on his first Halloween

Monday, January 20, 2014

Arrow of Light (Oct 2013)

In October, Dinoguy received the Arrow of Light award at pack meeting. This is the highest award you can earn in Cub scouts and in receiving it, the boys are sent over a bridge to the Boy scouts troop. Dinoguy was quite excited about this and we were proud parents. He also worked hard to earn all 20 Webelos activity badges, not just the required ones.

Trainboy and the wolf scouts were in charge of the flag ceremony at this meeting. He was the caller and did a nice job of using a loud clear voice. He also earned several arrow points for his Wolf badge.
 After the regular awards were presented, the Arrow of Light ceremony began with the arrival of an Indian Chief (one of Dinoguy's good friends).
 The story of the Arrow of Light and following Akela was shared and each boy receiving the award was brought up with parents. (I stayed with our little ones while Fixitman went up.)
 Five boys received the Arrow of Light, which had much to do with the awesome Webelos leaders we had this year. (Webelos can wear either the blue Cub shirt or the tan Scout shirt.)
 Dinoguy had been anticipating becoming a boy scout for quite a few months now and was very excited for this transition. Sentimental for me, realizing how much he has grown in the past few years as a cub. Here is a picture of him, not quite 8, to compare with not quite 11 year old boy. He is wearing the same scout shirt in both pictures.


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