Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Carmella Joy's Birth Story

Carmella’s Birth Story/Timeline

First off I want to address the importance of not having high/set expectations of how you will deliver your baby. I was gearing up to deliver vaginally and really really wanted to do it naturally (without drugs). I read up on natural child birth, took the class on it, looked into hiring a doula (even though my husband wasn't a fan of the idea) and was trying to mentally prepare for this kind of labor. When that didn't end up being the case for me, I was pretty disappointed and it affected the progression of my labor/delivery.  Because of my history and what happened in my previous pregnancy, my doctor stressed she wanted to be overly cautious and didn't want me to go past my due date. She urged me (and I felt pressured) to be induced in my 39th week. Although I had the opportunity to object, after deliberating for awhile I agreed to set an induction date, and hoped she would just come earlier and on her own. I do regret not going with my gut and sticking to my guns about letting her come when she was ready...but I've learned my lesson for next time (hopefully) and still consider myself lucky to have delivered her vaginally. Plus it's important to remember that in the end all that matters is baby arrives safe and sound. 

So anyway here's how things transpired to the best of my memory...

Sunday 7:30p.m.- Jason & I arrived at Beaumont for my “scheduled” induction to begin. We checked in at triage and were taken to a bed with a curtain. A resident did a quick exam, and told us I was dilated to 2cm by his measure. He then also did an ultrasound to check baby’s size and told us she was measuring about 8 pounds! My reaction was, yeah right, she can’t be that big! He then also proceeded to tell me we probably would be skipping the step of prepping the cervix my doctor told me would happen and going straight to starting Pitocin. I told him that wasn't the plan that came from my doctor and he said you just have to trust us. Whatever Dr. Wu! **Word to the wise, if you aren't comfortable with something the doctors want to do, tell them you need some time before you make a decision so you can give yourself time to process and dont have to make a rash decision.  

9:00p.m.- Next we got checked into a labor & delivery room, got settled and met our first nurse, Jamie. We went over my preferences (from my birth plan) and I was hooked up to a fetal monitor and IV. She also informed me I couldn’t eat—clear liquids only; which was another thing different than what my doctor said and did not make me happy!
10p.m.- They started me on the first oral drug that "ripens" the cervix. The nurse told me I was having contractions early on, but I couldn’t feel them for the first few hours. By what I would estimate was halfway through the night I was having contractions that felt like mild to moderate menstrual cramps. Enough to feel uncomfortable and unable to sleep but not bad at all in comparison to what was to come later. In between contractions I felt the baby moving around quite a bit. Needless to say, I couldn’t sleep. 

~1:30 a.m. I snuck a granola bar out of my backpack because I was starving and I figured I had a long way to go. Jason also brought me popsicles from time to time when he was awake. Not much else to note about that first night into the early a.m. I remember texting my sister-in-law a lot since she was up in the middle of the night with my two week old niece and watching TV ( the Olympics). 
4:00a.m.  Up to just 3cm by this point and Pitocin is started in the lowest dose; Contractions start to get more intense. 
7:30am-The nurses shift change occurred and we met our new nurse Kendel. Not much change in my labor other than stronger contractions due to higher doses of Pitocin. 

8:30a.m.-Labor is progressing due to another increase in Pitocin and contractions continue increasing in intensity and becoming more and more painful; 

9:15 am-dilated to 4cm, serious contractions from them upping the dose; I start to vomit in between contractions which seem to be coming every couple minutes. I ask my mom to leave the room because things are getting rough and having her there makes me feel like I should hold back in front of her, and I can tell it's uncomfortable for her to watch me in this kind of pain. 

10:30am-still at 4cm and contractions are at the absolute worst yet. I try using the bouncey ball and getting in the shower to get me through contractions and hold off on the 

10:45a.m./11:00a.m. After a couple hours of pure hell, I decide an epidural is absolutely necessary and request it ASAP. Within a few minutes of them giving it to me, I feel enormous relief physically and am able to relax. Contractions become practically painless. I also feel woozy and tingly, like how I remember feeling when being on strong pain meds. Like I was almost too comfortable and numb.
11:30a.m.- My parents and parents-in-law come in to see us since I'm feeling well enough for visitors. I try to take a nap but am unsuccessful. Apparently when I was just about to drift off to sleep my blood pressure would drop too low, which would/could lead to baby's dropping as well, so they decided I needed to stay awake. So much for that NAP! 

12:30ish- No change in dilation when they check me. After about 3 hours of what seems like no change or progress, I become very frustrated that this isn't going like I think it should be. It seems like things are not moving in the right direction and to me that felt like our girl just might not be ready to evacuate! I ask the nurse if it's possible to stop all the drugs, wait for them to wear off and take a break so I can eat, rest and regroup. She says NOPE! There's no turning back now...which was a letdown but at the same time I think it allowed me to let go of expectations and come to terms with what was happening in the moment. I had to accept I couldn't control the situation and needed to just let things happen. 

1:30p.m.- Jason leaves to get lunch, meanwhile my water breaks after I change to an upward position (with assistance) in bed.
1:45p.m.-A doctor came in to check on me and baby since heart rate was hard to read and it ended up being because I was at a 10 and she had started to drop into position! I quickly ordered Jason back up STAT. But as it turns out, we had to wait for awhile as they wanted me to feel the urge to push, both during contractions and during the in-between time. 
2:45 p.m.-A midwife stops by and suggest we start doing some practice  pushing...she talks me through some positions/techniques and I start doing some pushing ... which goes well and when they see some forward progression we move on to full blown pushes
3:19p.m. Carmella Joy enters the world and minutes later our lives change forever when we get to hold her for the first time!

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Confessions of a Preggo Lady :-)

For anyone out there who’s been curious how my pregnancy has been going, here’s a brief synopsis! I’ve been blessed to have a happy and healthy pregnancy and I’ve hit 39 weeks. The second trimester (~week 14-27) was awesome and I fully recommend taking advantage of that time to stay as active as you can and to get things done that you may not be as anxious or comfortable doing when you get well into the third trimester (like the nursery). It’s the sweet spot so to speak…where morning sickness and fatigue has faded away, you get a great source of energy back and your belly isn’t quite big enough yet to cause you very much discomfort. That’s not to say that the third trimester is going to be awful though. I was surprised at how good I felt for the majority of this too. I really couldn’t complain about anything until around 37 weeks. And even since then, there’s days that I feel good, content and pretty much no different than being a non-pregnant person. Those are mixed in with days, usually at night, that I have felt pretty uncomfortable…where neither sitting, standing or laying was working well for me. But all-in-all, I feel lucky to have had everything go smoothly.

Here a few things I did that I think really made a difference in me having such an easygoing pregnancy:
  1.      Stay active however you can for as long as you can. I went on a walk almost every single day of the first trimester (it was summer), a majority of the second—up until snow was on the ground and temps were too cold to go outside—and throughout the third trimester (which was winter for me) I found ways to move inside whenever I felt up to it. I suppose it’d be even easier for those with a treadmill or gym membership, but since I lacked either, I chose to do prenatal yoga routines at home and go to the mall or other big stores like Target or Meijer and walk laps or weave through all the aisles to get my steps in. I occasionally mixed in some strength training exercises using lightweights for arms and doing lots of squats. Stretching regularly was also extremely beneficial to my hips, legs and back as they started to feel stiff and often cramp up later in the pregnancy.
  2.      Everything in moderation. When I first found out I was pregnant I was in the middle of a detox that had me eating cleaner than I ever had my entire life. I did my best to finish the 30 days of it I had committed to, making slight alterations to be safe, but once that time was up I slowly regressed to eating many things I had just spent a ton of effort eliminating from my diet. But I took it all in stride. For one, many of the foods I had gotten used to eating all the time starting sounding repulsive all of a sudden (like chicken, sweet potatoes, kale, cashews) and secondly, I knew I had to still fuel my body with something to get me through the nausea—not to mention develop a growing fetus. So I let carbs back in. Not long after dairy followed and within a couple more weeks processed snack foods were in the rotation as well. The key was I would let myself indulge if I was craving something but I kept myself from going overboard. And the thing I recommend always abiding by is to take note of the amount you eat. Any time I ate beyond the point of being satisfied, like being overly full, I regretted it later. Especially when baby gets bigger and is pressing on your stomach and everything else down there…making gas and bloating twice as bad as having it without a baby in your belly.
  3.    Staying regular. Typically an uncomfortable thing to talk about, especially for me personally, but gut health is a big part of your overall health and I’ve heard lots of women and sources say that constipation can become a big pain in the butt (literally and figuratively) during pregnancy. I was worried because of all my past problems that I’d be a top contender for this. Surprisingly, I was able to maintain regularity for the majority of my pregnancy. A couple things that I think helped were: drinking lots of water (morning, noon and night), eating six small meals/snacks every day (an apple was usually one of my snacks), taking my prenatal vitamin and a fish oil supplement at night right before bed (which usually seemed to aid in delivering a BM come morning) and lastly as I already mentioned, staying active. Even a 10-minute walk can help and is better than no activity at all.

4.     Listen to your body. Some days you may not feel like doing anything, while others you feel like you can’t sit still. If it seems like way too much effort to exercise in your free time, take the time to rest or nap if it feels good. And don’t feel bad about it! If you can manage the aspects of your life so that none of them become too overwhelming at once (or at least not more than one part), your body and mind will thank you for it. Stress has such a huge impact on every aspect of our health. I know it’s often not possible to avoid stress in some situations but it’s so important to recognize when it’s becoming potentially harmful to you and take a step back to see if there’s any way to alleviate some of it.  There’s almost no situation where you can’t at least step away for a few minutes, take a break to get some fresh air, reassess how to move forward, change direction or do something else entirely and come back to it.   I can’t stress enough how much I feel being active and minimally stressed has helped me feel this good this long. Exercise helped me keep discomfort and back pain to a minimum AND get nearly full nights of sleep until the very end, with the exception of getting up to pee once a night—which I’m pretty sure becomes unavoidable.

Some other thoughts…
·      Now that I’m in my final days and looking back, I wish I would have documented more of the pregnancy and my feelings about it throughout. I think I was so set on getting to the end (or the full term mark) and anxious to know things would be okay with our baby that I was mostly wishing time would go faster instead of enjoying each part of it. Each pregnancy, each life really, deserves to be celebrated. And although at times I felt myself holding back on bonding with this baby because of fear or worry, I don’t think that would make it any easier if something were to go wrong. And it doesn’t make me any less human for having those worries, in fact it probably makes me more like any other parent, wanting the absolute best for my offspring so much it hurts. 
    Don’t worry about what other people say. Some times you might have to completely ignore it (Cue: "You're HUGE!" in reference to your growing belly). But do expect people to ask you questions like: When are you due? How far along are you? Is this your first? Boy or girl? What names do you have picked out? Over and over. And be prepared for them to share their opinions whether you want to hear them or not. I wish we would have not shared any names we liked with anyone at all because I did not always appreciate people’s reactions or opinions of ones we liked. People are nosy! But just because they ask doesn’t mean you have to share. 
    Educate yourself. On the pregnancy as a whole but definitely about childbirth and your options. You’ll have lots of questions throughout the process and it’s always better to be prepared than in the dark. Keep track of your questions so you can ask at your appointments. I’ve found that some doctors of modern day medicine tend to recommend what’s best/convenient for them. If your gut is telling you something different than what your doctor recommends don’t be shy about voicing your concerns and standing your ground. I’m in favor of natural childbirth at the hospital and looking back, I wish I would have found a midwife instead of a traditional OB who is so quick to turn to drugs whether for induction or an epidural.
    Childbirth. Let’s change the stigma/stereotype! It bothers me that through movies, media and word of mouth most people (myself included before learning more) have an awful perception of what childbirth is like. Sure it’s not going to be painless or an easy stroll through the park but I have read and heard about many experiences that were very positive and in fact pretty much the opposite of what you’d expect in a birth. Even while striving to prevent horror stories from altering my feelings on childbirth, I still must remind myself to keep an open mind on all aspects of the process. Drugs for pain and induction, cesarean deliveries…all are not among my preferences if I could choose my ideal delivery but that’s the thing, a lot of times things don’t go to plan and you don’t have a choice. So I’m trying to stay flexible. Keeping in mind that as long as the end result is a healthy baby... the journey there shouldn’t matter. 

Well, that’s all this preggo brain can muster up right now. If you have any tips to share for having a healthy happy pregnancy or birthing experience… feel free to leave a comment!