Saturday, May 24, 2014

Ectopic Pregnancy Story

            For as long as I can remember, I have desired to have children. My lifelong dream was to be a wife and mother. My mom was a homemaker herself and every day she would faithfully teach my brother and sister and me the word of God. It was through her example and influence that the conviction of motherhood was confirmed in my heart. This was no longer just a desire. It was, I knew, my calling in life.
                When my periods started when I was eleven, I was confused by them. My confusion however, melted into excitement as I began to understand what the purpose behind this madness was. Every month I would see that flow and recognized Gods promise in my life that someday I would have babies and children of my own. I felt this was the Lords promise to me.
                Skip ahead thirteen years to 2011. I was now twenty-four years old, and the Lord had given me a wonderful husband, Andrew, three years earlier. We had moved to Louisville, Kentucky right after our wedding to attend seminary. Before we were married, Andrew and I had decided that I would take birth control until I was out of seminary and finished with school. We thought we had the perfect plan. In the summer of 2011, we were ready to be parents. I had finished school, as planned, and it was time to start a family, or so we thought.
                Pretty much right after I got off birth control, I got pregnant. It was early August when we found out, and we were so excited. We had decided we wouldnt tell our parents just yet because in September my parents were celebrating their thirtieth wedding anniversary, and we thought we would surprise them then. I felt good, and I hadnt even felt sick when I found out. In fact, I felt so blessed that the Lord was answering another prayer in my life. I was going to be the mother that I had always prayed and dreamed about.
                My husband and I told a few friends, and Andrew told our church. It was a decision I don’t even now regret. One week went by and I still didnt feel any discomfort or nausea. I set up my first doctor appointment for a twelve week exam, and my due date was set for April 15, 2012. When I was seven weeks pregnant, the following week, I started having some issues when I went to the bathroom. It wasnt pain, but whenever I would go, I would feel pressure in my lower extremities. The only way I know how to describe it was there was a feeling of needing to push something out or passing something.  When I was done going to the bathroom, the pressure would go away and I would forget about it until I went to the bathroom next.
                It was an odd enough occurrence, and never being pregnant before, I went ahead and called the OBGYNs office. The nurse told me that it sounded like I had developed a urinary tract infection (UTI) and that these were common in pregnant women.  She offered to set me up an appointment to come in and get myself tested. Instead of making an appointment, I decided I would treat myself with cranberry juice. I thought I could beat the supposed UTI on my own since I had not had any bleeding or burning and I was probably in the beginning stages.
                A couple of days later, it was August 18th, a Thursday, and Andrew had just left for school. Out of the blue the OBGYNs office called me. The nurse proceeded to tell me that she shared my phone call a couple of days before with my doctor and that my doctor wanted me to come in for a routine ultrasound just to make sure things were all right. She assured me that there wasn’t anything to be worried about and proceeded to give me two options of when I could come in. I initially chose the appointment later in the afternoon because the first one she offered me was just in an hour and I was not at all ready to go out that day. Then, after hanging up the phone, I thought, “Wait a minute, if I pick the one in an hour, then Andrew could go with me and we could see our baby for the first time together.” So, I hurried and called the nurse back and asked her if I could switch my appointment to the earlier time. As I got ready to go, I slipped on my necklace that I have had since high school with one of my favorite verse imprinted on it, Job 42:2, which says, “I know you Lord can do anything and that no plan of yours can be thwarted.”
                Andrew met me in the office, and pretty quickly the nurses got me back for an ultrasound. Never having gone through this before, I had no idea what to expect. She got her ultrasound wand ready and began the ultrasound. The nurse didn’t say a word and we didnt see anything on the screen. I looked at the nurse and said something to the effect of, “Is the baby so small we cant even see it yet?” She just quietly said, “I don’t see the baby, but I will let the doctor discuss this with you because Im not an expert. All I see is some stuff floating around in your uterus.” I quickly looked at Andrew and for the second time in our marriage (the first being when I walked down the aisle at our wedding), I saw him with tears in his eyes. Did he know something I didnt?
                When the nurse finished she told me to get dressed and left the room. By this time, Andrew had tears down his cheeks and I dont think it registered in my mind what had just happened. I remember praying together and Andrew telling me that he thought the nurse was trying to tell us that our baby was gone. We went to our assigned room and just waited for the doctor. It was a long wait since they had squeezed our appointment in last minute. We just sat there, staring at each other, scared.
                Finally my doctor came in and showed us the ultrasound pictures. She explained that she didnt quite know what was going on either. She felt around on my belly to see if there was any pain. I think she was shocked when I said there was none. She sat down and explained that she knew the baby wasnt there or where it was supposed to be, but she knew that I was pregnant.  She didnt know if what she saw in my uterus was the baby already miscarried and starting to deteriorate, whether it was an ectopic pregnancy where the baby was caught in one of my fallopian tubes, or maybe a molar pregnancy somewhere else in my body. All she knew was she needed to see what was floating in my uterus. She asked that we go home and be back at the office at 4:00 that afternoon for her to perform a D & C in order to biopsy this “debris.” 
                We agreed and she ushered us to the surgery appointment desk. While we were walking, I had this sensation like I peed my pants, and I told the doctor. I think maybe she thought I was so nervous and saddened that I wet myself. She showed me where the bathroom was and told me where she and Andrew were headed.  In the bathroom, to my horror, there was blood all down my legs. It was in that moment that I knew, my baby was gone, and it was with the Lord. I called for help out the door, not caring who saw me when the nurses rushed in to help me clean up and wrap sheets around me. My doctor turned to Andrew and said, “Forget 4:00, we are going to surgery now.”
                They wheeled me back through the “secret” halls of the hospital to prep for surgery. It was around 12:30 in the afternoon. When they had me settled, the staff asked me question after question. They even had Andrew in the hallway asking him questions. It was chaos. When the staff left, they had to escort Andrew away too. When I was left alone, I just let it out and really cried for the first time. Here was my dream of being a mother, slipping away all in moments. I cried to the Lord, “Oh Lord, hold my baby for me right now when I cant.” I knew that my baby was safe in the Lords arms, but I just wanted to hold it and tell it that I loved it. My heart swelled with love for this little soul who I had never met, let alone seen. I was trying to cling to the verse around my neck that the Lord knew and that His plans couldnt be thwarted.
                I knew too that my parents were on a cruise in Alaska and there was no way we could get a hold of them to let them know that I was pregnant, but now I was going into emergency surgery to remove my baby and fix my tubes and ask them to pray. It was a very scary time for both Andrew and me. The Lord was gracious to us that day. The doctors were able to get me in surgery by 1:00.  I came out of surgery well. My doctor was able to locate the baby in my right fallopian tube, remove the baby, and repair my tube instead of having to remove it, like so often happens with ectopic pregnancies, performing laparoscopy and a D & C. I praise God for the saving of my tube. More than my tube though, I praise God for the sparing of my life. It wasnt until afterwards that I realized and was told the gravity behind ectopic pregnancy and how they can be life threatening for a woman. I praise God for every single breath that He has given me. Andrew and I decided to name our baby John, which means “gracious gift from God.”
                After my surgery, I had a hard time registering that I had lost a baby. My husband contracted a strep infection in his hip two days after I was in the hospital. He was unable to walk, and I was his “crutch” for a few days. I didnt take my pain meds even though I had soreness around my abs. He was then hospitalized for five days and had to have hip surgery himself in order to cut out the infection just one week after my own surgery. This turn of events led me to a place where I wasnt able to grieve or care for myself because I was constantly looking after him. He was on IV antibiotics (administered by me) and had to be re-taught how to walk for the next five weeks (again, by me). I became his nurse and physical therapist. It was a strange time. When people asked me how I was doing, I would say I was fine because I think I was running on adrenaline just to make sure Andrew was okay.
                By the time Andrew was back to work a month and a half later, I wasnt okay anymore. Everyone who had asked me if I was okay before had forgotten about my grief and stopped asking. No one mentioned the baby I had lost, and still they never do. I had a lot of time to think and it led to my sorrow. There were a lot of questions that dominated my thoughts. Why would God take something away that was so precious and that would fulfill my calling in life? Did I kill my baby since the doctor had to abort my pregnancy in order to save my life? Why did no one care? Who was there to talk to? Why me? There were also unthoughtful comments others made that still sometimes ring in my ears.
                I still dont know the answers to all of these questions, and there are days when I still struggle with the pain of our babys death and the questions resurface. Sometimes I cry when I see the scars on my belly from surgery knowing that little John is safe with the Lord. I do know though that the Lord did not forget me in his mercy. When I was told I could get pregnant again in December after my surgery, I found out I was pregnant again in January. The Lord gave Andrew and me the blessing of our son Isaiah, whose egg came from the ovary and fallopian tube my doctor helped repair.

                There are times when I still struggle to see the Lords purpose. Just this last October, Andrew and I lost our third child (Abel) through miscarriage when I was almost twelve weeks pregnant. All of these events have not altered the Lords goodness in my life. He is still God in the midst of the pain and struggle. I pray this story has been a blessing to you as much as it has grown me in writing it.  Through all this, I pray every day for strength to be able to say with confidence the words of Psalm 18:30, “But as for God, His way is perfect.”  May each of us be able to “Be still and know that I (the Lord) am God” (Psalm 46:10) and say with Job in Job 1:21, “Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

~Shared by Meagan Record 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Who Should Be Present At My Birth?

This question was asked of me at my last Childbirth Conversations class. Having spoken briefly about it on my last post, I would like to speak a little more on it and hear what others think.

This question gets into knowing yourself and the type of birth you are desiring to have. Birth is already an intense time just by the nature of giving birth. Whether you are planning a completely natural birth or as many medical interventions as possible you need to be able to relax to the best of your ability. A stressful environment makes it difficult for the cervix to dilate. I'm not 100% sure why this is, but it is true. (Please note their are other things that can effect dilation, this is just one possibility.)

Personally I recommend your husband being there. This is such an amazing time and something that we have the privilege of being able to share with our husbands in our culture. It can be a time of growing closer together, which is a beautiful thing.

When thinking of who else should be there think about these things:

  1. What are your husbands thoughts on someone else being there?
  2. Will your husband be able to give the needed support? (I say this because some guys cannot handle seeing blood or their wives in pain without freaking out.)
  3. How many visitors are allowed to be in the delivery room (if delivering at a hospital or birth center)?
  4. Do you want more people in your room?
  5. What are you expecting of the people at your birth? (This is super important to ask yourself and then make clear to anyone who you invite to your room so that it doesn't add to an already intense situation.)
Whether it's a doula, parent, sibling, child or friend think through it carefully and pray over it. Invite people that you know will respect you and be a support to you.

Who did you have in your room for your birth? How did you decide who would be in your room?

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Amelia-Grace's Birth

          In March 2012, we discovered that God had blessed us with another baby. Clay and I were shocked. We were stunned. We were speechless. All I could do as I stared at my positive pregnancy test was think, “FOUR?” None of our friends have four kids. Teachers certainly don’t have that many. But apparently this one was about to.
          We were apprehensive about telling our families. Number three had made his debut only ten months earlier, so what on Earth were they going to think? Clay and I tried to think of a fun way to tell our families, but truly we were just overwhelmed with the idea of another baby, especially when we already had one!
          One of our favorite weekend traditions is for both of our families to eat at Wallace’s BBQ, so at the end of March almost all of us went to dinner there one evening- the four grandparents, two uncles, one aunt, plus the five in our family. Everyone was in such a good mood that I looked at Clay across the table and asked, “Maybe today?” He just smiled and said, “Whenever you want to, baby.”
          After we had all finished dinner and were in the parking lot getting ready to leave, I handed my mom my phone. On the screen was a picture of my two positive pregnancy tests. She stared at the phone and then stared at me. To say she was shocked was an understatement. Standing around in a group in the parking lot, we shared the picture and our news to the many shrieks of “What?” and “Are you serious?” Yes. We. Were.
          That spring I endured morning sickness that began with nausea as soon as my alarm went off and typically ended with me losing my breakfast before I headed off to work. That summer passed with a lot of time spent in the pool, at White Water with my boys, and purchasing anything pink after we learned number four would be a girl in June. Fall was busy and hectic as I set up my new classroom and redecorated the nursery to accommodate my two babies. In typical pregnancy fashion, the first 36 weeks flew by, and the last five crawled.
          During October, I swelled to Shrek-like proportions. My ankles disappeared, and my hands tingled from the circulation being cut off by my wedding ring. I couldn’t be ten minutes late taking my Zantac, or I would be tormented with heart burn. I had lots of head aches too, which even left me in tears in the middle of Babies R Us one afternoon. Also, baby girl was so big, and my torso was so small that I couldn’t take a deep breath no matter what position I tried. Needless to say, I was miserable.
          In those final weeks, I experienced a lot of contractions and not just your typical, painless Braxton Hicks. These contractions would plague me consistently for three uncomfortable hours and then fade away. My body’s preparations for delivery were driving me crazy.
          At 38 weeks, my midwife Linda looked at me and said, “You’re done. I’ll write you a note for work, but you are too stressed out and you need to be off your feet.” Glorious, glorious words. However, I didn’t accept her advice/directive for three more days when my parents begged and bribed me to do so. Even when you are 34, you’re apparently still your mom and dad’s little girl. On October 29th, I worked my last day, turned in my doctor’s note that required minimal activity, and was blessed by my class throwing me a baby shower.
          During the next nineteen days, I nested and crafted from my bed. I literally painted nursery d├ęcor in my nightgown while watching endless episodes of A Baby Story. As with my other pregnancies, I considered watching this show to be important preparation for my labor and delivery. I took a nap every afternoon with my sweet baby Collin, who I could not believe was about to be a big brother at 19 months. The big highlight of each day was getting dressed for carpool.
          Nine days before my delivery (three days before my actual due date), I went for a stress test. For an hour, I reclined in a chair and watched my contractions on the monitor, hoping that they were enough to convince my midwife that I needed to head to the hospital. A nurse monitored me during the test, and midway through she had me drink a bottle of orange juice, because the baby was not reacting appropriately when I was having a contraction. However, after my baby girl was all sugared up, her heartbeat gave the nurse the numbers she wanted to see. Midwife Chastain checked me after the test was over and deemed that I had a “dial-a-cervix,“ meaning that when pressure was applied my cervix would open from 2 to 5 centimeters. She encouraged me that my baby girl would be here soon and not to worry. Her words were not what I wanted to hear.
          My due date, Sunday, November 11th, came and went without a single contraction. To make me feel better, Clay and the boys took me to O’Charley’s where I thoroughly ate my feelings. No roll or cheese covered twisted chip was safe from my 40 week pregnancy anger.

          Four days after my due date, I went for my weekly check up. Midwife Linda, who was currently my favorite because she had told me I had to stop working, declared that I was 4 ½ centimeters. Being a little sneaky, she that if I had any contractions to head for the Women’s Center and say that when I had last been checked I was 3centimeters. She promised that when the triage nurses found me to be 4 ½ centimeters, they would think I had progressed and would keep me, especially since I was already past my due date. I was totally up for a little deception at that point. 
          To further help me along, my midwife stripped my membranes. She said that my bag of water was bulging and actually made her nervous that it was going to rupture during the procedure. I had heard horror stories of people getting their membranes stripped but it was actually not that uncomfortable. Perhaps, my desperation to not be pregnant anymore masked the pain I should have felt. Before I left, we scheduled an induction for Monday, just in case. However, my midwife didn’t think I would make it until Monday. If I did, she said that with a little Pitocin and a rupture of my water, she thought I’d be in full labor with no problem. I was grateful to have an actual end in sight.
          On Saturday at 4:30 AM, a day and a half later, I awoke to contractions. These were more intense than the others from the past month, and I knew they were the real deal. I waddled to the kitchen to get ice (my constant, nagging third trimester craving) at 4:45.  While standing in front of the refrigerator, I was hit with a terrible contraction. As it gripped my belly, I banged my head against the freezer. As soon as it passed, I hurried back to my bedroom and barked at Clay to wake up and call my mom. I immediately headed for the shower, scared that if I didn’t hurry Keaton’s labor experience would be repeated.
          Quickly, I showered, shaved my legs, and did my hair and make up. During this busy hour, my contractions became slightly less intense and frequent, but I was a determined woman at that point. I was having this baby today!
          As Clay and I finished getting ready and triple checked all my bags one last time, Mimi came over to take care of the boys. McLain and Collin woke up before we left, but Keaton remained passed out on a pallet in the floor of our bedroom. He was oblivious to the chaos around him.
          We arrived at the hospital at 6:00 AM. This being our fourth baby, we knew exactly where to park and enter. My parents were waiting for us at the Women’s Center entrance, surprised that they beat us there. My mom had requested a wheelchair from the front desk clerk, but I was capable of walking on my own and refused it.
          My parents stayed downstairs in the waiting area while Clay and I rode the elevator upstairs to triage. I explained my contractions to the nurse and emphasized how I was six days past my due date, so the baby and I were promptly hooked up to monitors. As midwife Linda had instructed, I said that I had been 3 centimeters Thursday afternoon. However, when the nurse checked me, she said I was still 3 centimeters. Clay and I didn’t say anything in front of her, but as soon as she left, I almost had a small heart attack. Where had the other centimeter and a half gone?
          As I lay on the uncomfortable hospitable bed, I grew increasingly frustrated. My contractions were not being consistent, and I knew that evidence would be documented on the monitor. Scheming a way to convince the triage nurses I was in real labor, I rolled from side to side every two minutes to trigger a contraction. There was no way I was going to be sent home. This mama wanted no more part of cankles, heartburn, waddling, or multiple middle-of-the-night potty breaks.
          At 7:00, after a shift change, a new nurse checked me and said I was 4 ½ centimeters. Hallelujah! My other centimeter and a half was back! Immediately, the midwife who had delivered Keaton came in to talk with Clay and me. She said that even though my contractions weren’t completely consistent yet that they were clearly productive, and since I was already past due, she was admitting me. If I had not been the size of an elephant, I would have done cartwheels across the room! My scheming had paid off. She also said because I was 4 ½ centimeters that I could go ahead and get an epidural. Her actual words were, “Why not?” Why not indeed!
          I was moved to a labor and delivery room where Clay, Mom, and I broke out all the day’s essentials: cell phones, I-pad, and cameras, and their necessary chargers. The anesthesiologist came in very soon after my room change and said he would give me my epidural between my contractions. I said that sounded great, but I was chuckling on the inside. My contractions had completely stopped, but the medical staff didn’t know, because my monitors were off. I knew that they would hook me up with Pitocin after my epidural was in place, and the nurses saw that they had faded away. I had had a little Pitocin help with McLain and Collin’s delivery, so I wasn’t concerned about restarting my contractions.
          However, I was a little worried about how the epidural would affect my blood pressure. I warned the anesthesiologist and my nurse that when I received an epidural with my last baby that my blood pressure had plummeted to 45/22 and that I could barely talk. They readied a dose of Ephedrine in case it happened again, which it did. Almost immediately after the medicine was administered in my epidural, I felt the complete exhaustion that comes with low blood pressure. This time it dropped to 70/something, which was bad (normal being 120/80), but I was able to tell the anesthesiologist and nurse how I felt this time without feeling like I was trying to talk from under water. The anesthesiologist gave me the prepared bolus of Ephedrine and my blood pressure quickly normalized. I was a happy girl.
          When I was hooked back up to the monitors, the nurse noticed that my contractions had stopped. Just as I had predicted, she started me on Pitocin to regulate my contractions. My lower body immediately developed a steady rhythm, which thankfully I could not feel.
          As I lay in bed watching TV, I noticed that my hands felt numb. I didn’t think much of it at first, so I waited until my nurse came back to check on me to ask her if feeling my epidural in my hands was a normal side effect. She said, “No,” and dug into her pockets for an alcohol swab. She wiped my forehead, neck, and chest and had me tell her when I stopped feeling the cold, wetness of the alcohol swab. My nurse determined that my epidural was working from my shoulders down and temporarily turned it off. Her concern was that it could affect my breathing. However, I was much more concerned that I would start feeling my contractions.
          Dr. Green stopped by to see how I was doing. I asked him to check me, not because I thought I was ready to push, but because I could feel the baby descending into my birth canal and wanted to know my progress. When he checked me, he said that I was now at 6 centimeters and that the baby was definitely working her way down. I was grateful that my labor was steadily progressing. He also instructed the nurse to turn my epidural back on since the level of where I could feel it was down to my belly.
          About 12:30, I started to feel my contractions, not at all in my stomach but definitely in the birth canal. Because I had the same experience with Collin near the end of his labor, I pushed my personal epidural button for an extra dose of medication, hoping that would help. My contractions intensified quickly despite the extra medication, and I couldn’t for the nurse to stop by. Instead, I frantically pushed the call button and asked for her.
          The nurse hurried to my room and checked me. She said I was 8 centimeters with a very bulging bag of water. Dr. Green and she agreed that my water should be broken to see if I would fully dilate. They were confident that since this was my fourth baby, I would be at 10 centimeters immediately and that I would be ready to deliver. Feeling like I was being unnecessarily tortured, I had no such confidence in their suggestion. 
          Dr. Green broke my water and so began twenty minutes of absolute hell. I held on to my mother’s and Clay’s hands and cried in absolute fear that I was going to be forced to have another natural delivery. I writhed, yelled, and cursed in agonizing pain. Because the epidural was only working to control the contractions in my stomach, I was acutely aware of every nerve and muscle in my birth canal. I knew the baby had not descended since my water had been broken, and I was unwilling to continue laboring without a properly functioning epidural.  
          My nurse rechecked me, and as I already knew, I was still at 8 centimeters. My mother and I explained (her more nicely than me) that I had received a bolus in my epidural at the end of my third labor and that I was able to easily push the baby out, even though my lower body was completely numb. Thankfully, the nurse believed us and called the anesthesiologist.
          At 12:50 my epidural was topped off. The anesthesiologist sat me up in bed, so that the bolus would travel down my spine faster. Within one minute, I was blessedly pain free again and remained that way for the rest of my labor and delivery. Another accidental, natural birth was thankfully avoided. 
          Thirty painless minutes later, I was checked again. The nurse informed me that I was 10 centimeters, and it was time to push. Immediately, several nurses came into my room to ready it for delivery. My bed was broken down. Tables of tools were set out, and the infant table was readied. As usual, Clay moved to the left side of my bed, and my mom stood on my right, ready to hold up my dead weight legs when prompted. When the nurse suggested where to put the camera, my mother told her, “Oh, we have a lot of practice with this.” Then, she set the video camera behind my head on my pillow to film discreetly. The nurse found my mother and Clay’s expertise humorous.
          Dr. Green returned to my room dressed in blue scrubs. He agreed that I was very ready and instructed me to start pushing with my next contraction. When the monitor indicated that I was having a contraction, I pushed with every ounce of my being, knowing from experience that the more effectively I pushed the sooner I would meet my baby girl. Several pushes and contractions later, the labor and delivery nurse climbed on my bed. I was surprised but didn’t say anything. Using her weight, she repeatedly pushed on my belly to get the baby’s head to move under my pubic bone. Finally, her head appeared, and I stopped pushing in an effort to see her. My nurse told me to keep pushing as hard as I could, and with a lot of twisting, turning, and shoulder manipulation from my doctor, my sweet Carolyn Amelia-Grace entered my world at 1:51 PM. As I lay holding my 9 pound 7 ounce baby girl, Dr. Green said, “She was a tight squeeze.” I agreed!

          For the fourth time in my life, God blessed me with a sweet, healthy, happy baby. Although she was not planned by Clay or me, we are amazingly grateful she was part of God’s great plan and that He knew Amelia-Grace would be the perfect addition to our family. We cannot imagine life without our pink, girly surprise.  

~Shared by Ashley B.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Tips for Preparing for Natural Labor

Today a friend asked for tips on preparing for natural labor, so I thought I would write briefly about it on here as I am working on getting more regular at posting again. I'm sure everyone who has had natural, unmedicated labor has different things they would advise, so here are some general tips.

  1. Pray a lot! And when you think you have prayed all you can pray some more. Seriously, I could not have gotten through any of my labors without a lot of prayer.
  2. Know what helps you to relax. This is going to be different for everyone. Maybe it's music. Maybe it's having some one massage your back, feet, hands etc. Perhaps silence with minimal lighting. Know yourself and know what is going to help you to be calm in an intense time.
  3. Practice relaxing before you're in labor. Set aside a couple times each week at the very least to practice relaxing your body in the type of environment you would like to have for your labor. For example, if you plan to have music, put it on and practice relaxing with it. 
  4. Memorize Scripture. This is such a great way to help you mentally concentrate on the Lord and not your circumstances. Find a Psalm or passage that really speaks to you and your relationship with God and focus on it. 
  5. Expect it to be hard. I really wish I had been better at this during my last labor. Because I had had fairly easy labors previously, I had forgotten that labor can be very hard. Prepare mentally for the worst and hopefully it will not be as bad as you are expecting.
  6. In labor, take each contraction as it comes. Once you think, "Is it going to get worse than this?" you are already on your way to needing medicine. Instead say, "OK, here it comes," then relax as you have practiced. Contractions will get more intense toward the end, generally speaking, but if you take each as it comes, you will likely make it. 
  7. In labor, ask your providers not to ask you if you want medication. They generally will tell you what medicine is available to you, but afterward you can say thank you for letting you know and that you will let them know if you need anything. 
  8. Know who you want in your room ahead of time. If you want the bare minimum number of people, then arrange that. Let people who might want to be there know that you desire for them to wait until after the birth. If you have unwanted guests and are uncomfortable saying something you can always ask your nurse or provider to be the bad guy and tell people to leave. If you want many, know that some places will not allow more than 3 or so extra people. Find out what the policies are where you are planning to deliver.
What is your advice? How do you prepare for a natural labor?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Sacred Suffering

" We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
Romans 5:3-5

It's nice to be writing on here again. I took longer of a hiatus than I intended, but God has really been working on me since the birth and I needed the break. Over the weekend I decided to read through some of Romans and came across these verses that I know, but had forgotten. 

No matter how good or easy your pregnancy and childbirth are there is some amount of suffering involved. There is discomfort and pain that comes and goes. These verses in Romans reminded me that all suffering is sacred if we allow it to grow us in our relationship with God. These verses tell us that suffering produces endurance, Christ like character and reminds us of the hope we have in Christ alone. Pregnancy and childbirth will do this for you if you allow the Holy Spirit to work in you and mold you. 

As I have been reflecting recently about the difficulties I had with this last pregnancy and birth, I realized this is what God has been doing in me. I still have a lot to learn, but I have grown a lot. Most of all I have grown in my knowledge of God and the hope that Christ alone gives me, just as these verses promise He will do. God's word does not return void. 

So I encourage you, in the midst of the difficulties of pregnancy and childbirth to cling to God and His promises. The joy at the end is worth it. 

How has God met you in the challenges of your pregnancy and/or childbirth?

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Collin's Birth


          For just over 38 weeks, I frequently thought and speculated about when and how my third baby was going to enter our lives. I worried if his labor would go on for days, like McLain and his 39 hour arrival. With significant anxiety, I wondered if his delivery would be unintentionally natural or after his due date, like Keaton’s birth. To my surprise, my third baby boy ended my speculation eleven days before his due date.
          On Saturday, April 16th, I woke with the determination to finish getting ready for my new little man, even though I was not due until April 28th. As I sat at the computer with my morning coffee, I updated my Facebook status with “Today’s agenda: Nesting. Clay is so thrilled. J” I was set on finishing up my baby “to do” list, so that my mind could finally be at peace.
          That morning, I finished hot gluing ribbons to the letters of Collin’s and Keaton’s names and had Clay hang them on the wall of the little boys’ room. I also cleaned out our filing cabinet, which I had never done before, but suddenly I couldn’t wait another day to do it. Piles of old, useless stuff from it had to immediately go.
          After that, I went to Target and bought a car seat. We had one for Clay’s car, but I also needed one for mine. While wandering Target’s aisles, I tossed baby shampoo, lotion, and desitin in the cart, because I was worried that I didn’t have any at home. As I was standing in the check out line, an old coworker, who was also pregnant, greeted me and asked when I was due. I told her that my due date was twelve days away, but I was completely ready to be finished with this pregnancy. She laughed and said, “Well, maybe you’ll be lucky and have him today. You never know.” Who knew her words would be so foreshadowing?
          When I got back from my shopping trip, Clay and I picked up around the house as I crabbily complained of how tired I was of being pregnant. That afternoon and evening I lay in my bed with the company of my DVR. Occasionally, I would have a random contraction, but none got my hopes up that Collin would make his debut anytime soon. As the evening wore on, my favorite reality shows held my attention until my mom called around 8:15 PM. We chatted for about half an hour, and at 8:45 PM I got out of my bed while still on the phone. As I stood up, I felt a small, warm liquid gush and thought, “Oh great. My bladder has stopped working.”
          What I initially thought was my faulty bladder continued to leak with every turn I made and with every movement that the baby made. The thought crossed my mind that it could be amniotic fluid, but I didn’t want to be too hopeful because my due date was still twelve days away. I did mention it to my mom and cautiously relayed the information to Clay. My mom said that she had a slow dribble with my brother and that I should pay attention to it and for contractions. I lay back down and obsessed over every twinge in my uterus.
          Even though contractions had not started, Clay called his parents about 9:30 PM to put them on alert. They had offered to watch the older boys when we went to the hospital, so we wanted to let them know they might need to sleep over at our house.  
          After talking again to my mom and to Clay, I decided to call my doctor’s office to see what they recommended. Fluid was continuing to increasingly leak after almost two hours, and I was no longer convinced that my bladder was the culprit. At 10:43 PM, I spoke with Dr. Morrell and described what I had been experiencing. He asked if this was my first child, and when I said it was my third, he told me to come to the Women’s Center immediately.
          Clay called his parents, and his dad said that he would come over and spend the night with the boys. I double checked my hospital bags and made sure I had our cameras, Ziploc bag of change, and my make up. While we waited, I swept the kitchen floor, made McLain and Keaton chocolate chip muffins for breakfast, and left them a note to read in the morning that said I was going to the hospital to have their new brother, and that they could come see him when they woke up.
          When Clay’s dad arrived at 11:30 PM, Clay helped me waddle to the car and we left for the hospital. This drive was noticeably different from our last car trip when I was in labor—no screaming, no cursing, and no contractions. Clay dropped me off at the women’s center entrance, and I walked by myself to the admission desk. Clay joined me just as I started to sign my paperwork. The admission clerk looked at me skeptically and asked if this was my first child. When I shared that this was number three, she said, “No wonder you’re so calm.”
          Thankfully, there were no other people ahead of me, so I was able to head straight for triage at 11:45 PM. With some embarrassment, I explained to the nurse that either my bladder had finally stopped working or that my water had broken. The nurse checked me and confirmed that my water had definitely broken and that I was at 3 centimeters. Clay and I were completely shocked to learn that I was already dilated. That was the easiest three centimeters I had ever experienced!
          Because I had dilated so fast with Keaton, I shared with the triage nurse that I didn’t want to miss my epidural opportunity again and had absolutely no interest in another natural childbirth. She assured me that the order for an epidural would be immediately placed. My epidural would be available as soon as my contractions began.  I was surprised at this point that I was not having any yet.
          I texted my mom who was already on her way with my dad, brothers, and my brother’s girlfriend. She was thrilled and as shocked as Clay and I were about my progression. I also texted quite a few of my friends as I lay on the triage bed, listening to my baby’s sweet heartbeat, and waiting for my delivery room to be ready.
          My mom beat me to my private delivery room and was waiting on Clay and me when a delivery nurse pushed me inside in my wheelchair. It was just midnight, a little over three hours after my water had broken. I was starting to get excited, even though I knew it was going to be a long night.
          After settling me in my bed, my nurse started my IV. She told me that my order for an epidural was already in place and that I just had to wait for contractions to start. We were all closely watching the monitor for contraction activity, but there was none yet. I was so fearful of missing my epidural, because my dilation with Keaton happened so fast.
          After I was completely settled, my dad came up to visit while the rest of my immediate family stayed downstairs in the waiting room. My mom acted as the official text communicator between them and the happenings with my labor, which had been uneventful so far.
          At about 1:45 AM, my first contraction crept around my huge belly and held it captive for close to thirty seconds. It wasn’t too painful, but it made me uneasy that the intense ones would quickly follow. Several more mild ones soon did. We paged the nurse who checked me after my father stepped outside of the room. I was still at three centimeters, and the nurse encouraged me to wait until my contractions grew more intense and closer together before I got my epidural. Very reluctantly, I agreed to wait. She assured me that if I wanted an epidural, I could immediately have it. I clung to that promise.
          A few minutes later, my parents went in search of some much needed coffee and to relay the labor news in person to my family downstairs. While they were gone, Clay sat on the bed, holding my hand, and tracked my contractions on my contraction iPhone app. At 2:15 AM, I had a ferocious contraction that lasted 2 ½ minutes. It sent absolute terror through me that I was about to go through another natural childbirth. I was no longer willing to wait for my contractions to progress further and sent Clay to tell my nurse that I wanted my epidural immediately.
          Without trying to convince me to wait again, the nurse paged the anesthesiologist who arrived by 2:30 AM. My mom walked back in my room as I was sitting on the edge of my bed, clasping Clay’s hands, and the doctor was inserting the needle into my spine. She had no idea how quickly my contractions had gone from mildly annoying to inescapably terrible.
          As soon as the medicine in the epidural entered me and started to alleviate my pain, I felt suddenly exhausted, as if I had just run a marathon. Talking was difficult, and I was too overwhelmed with this immediate exhaustion to explain how odd I felt. Even though I wanted to, I couldn’t lay myself down, and Clay and my nurse had to do it for me. I could see that my nurse was concerned by how she was watching my monitor, but I was too tired to really care about what was happening to me.
          My nurse noted that my blood pressure had plummeted after receiving my epidural. Quickly, she gave me a bolus of ephedrine in an attempt to bring it back up. I watched her, knowing something was wrong with me, but I couldn’t physically bring myself to question her about it. After taking my blood pressure again, my nurse said that my blood pressure was still too low and gave me an additional ephedrine bolus. Finally, my blood pressure crept back up to normal and the anxiety clearly felt in my room subsided.
          Later, my mother asked what happened, and my nurse explained that sometimes when women receive an epidural, it affects their blood pressure by causing it to drop. When my mother asked what mine was, my nurse said it was pretty low. Being persistent, my mother asked specifically how low, and the nurse hesitantly shared that my blood pressure had dropped to 45/22.
          For the next three hours, I lay in my bed and was plagued by an annoying side effect of my epidural: constant itchiness! While Clay slept in a hospital chair and was oblivious to my distress, my mother stayed up all night and rubbed my feet, which was the only thing that distracted me from my unrelenting itching! I cannot imagine a delivery without my mother to take care of me.
          At 5:25 AM, Dr. Morell came in to check me and discovered that I had progressed to 6 centimeters. He noted that my contractions had become irregular and infrequent since I received my epidural, so he placed an order for pitocin to be added to my IV, which sounded like an excellent plan to me. By then, I was ridiculously sleepy but couldn’t stop itching long enough to take a nap.          
          Around 7:00 AM, I started to feel some pain during my contractions, and I fussed at Clay to wake up. My epidural had stopped working well, so I used the self-pump twice; however, the medication that was added was not strong enough to stop me from feeling my contractions. My mom paged my new nurse (there had been a shift change) and explained the situation to her. My nurse paged the anesthesiologist that had just begun the morning shift. When he came to check my epidural, he asked me if I was really feeling pain. I felt like punching him in the face and asking him if he was feeling any discomfort, but I controlled my sarcasm. Thankfully, he kept any further questions to himself and administered a bolus to my epidural that soon provided me with relief.
          Unlike earlier when I did not feel my contractions, I could still move my legs. With this added bolus, I could not make my legs move an inch; however, I was too exhausted to care as it was nearing 8:00 AM and I had been awake for over twenty four hours.
          Because I was still at 6 centimeters, my nurse suggested propping my legs up with a pillow to allow the baby more space to move completely down. At this point, I didn’t care what she did to me as long as I could sleep. As I was finally feeling comfortable again and the itchiness was not too severe, I snuggled down in my pillows to attempt to finally nap.
          At 8:20 AM, Dr. Morrell came in to check me, which I grumpily allowed him to do. He discovered that “just a lip” of my cervix was left. Apparently, my nurse’s pillow trick had worked well. My doctor instructed me to try to push once, and then I was completely dilated. Instead of being overjoyed, I was a mixture of anger and annoyance. All I wanted to do was sleep!
          The labor and delivery and pediatric nurses began to ready my room and break down my bed while my mom engaged in a long conversation with Dr. Morrell. They discussed how he had delivered my youngest brother and how I was in the room when he did. They found it ironic that nineteen years later he was delivering my baby.
          At 8:29 AM, I started pushing. After having a completely natural delivery with Keaton, I was taken aback by how different this experience was, because I had no urge to push. Although I didn’t want to feel the pain of pushing, I wanted to know that what I was doing was effective. I was too sleepy to spend over an hour pushing like I did when I labored with McLain. After my first push I questioned the doctor if the baby was really coming down.  I was assured that he was but was skeptical that I was being told what I wanted to hear.  
          Despite being able to feel no sensation as I contracted, I pushed with a vengeance. After nine minutes, I saw a slimy, little head start to emerge. I reached out and stroked my baby’s wet cheek as he took his first glimpse of this world. The doctor quickly delivered my slippery boy and placed him on my chest.

         For the third time in my life, I fell in love with a little man as soon as I laid my eyes on his beautiful face. Baby Collin Xavier stole my heart Sunday, April 17th at 8:38 AM. I cannot imagine my world without him and am so grateful that God chose me to be his mommy. 

~Shared by Ashley B.