Monday, November 8, 2010

I'm here!

Breaking radio silence...

Well, it's been a gloriously normal week! I've had nothing to write about because I've been living a normal life! What a treat that was!

I had great days Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of last week. Sunday morning I was sick again, and then from Sunday afternoon all the way until this morning (1 whole week!!!), I was sickness-free!!! I had a couple of bouts of "almost" but they went away on their own.

It was wonderful! The first several days I really struggled with fatigue, so I pretty much did nothing but sleep, but by Thursday, I felt like myself. I ate chicken and salad twice a day, every day (I hadn't been able to keep down either in months), I exercised, I went to work, I socialized with friends, I made it through an entire worship service at church, I even made it through 3 days without napping! It was WONDERFUL!!! It was such a wonderful gift of rest from the Lord, and restoration to all parts of me-my mind, my heart, my body, my soul, my spirit. I really think that this was a precious, precious, GENEROUS gift from God.

Today I woke up and it was all back with a vengeance, but I even think that was God's timing. I asked DH to hang out with me a little this morning--we have this tradition on Monday mornings where start late. We wake up together (which only otherwise happens on the occasional Saturday) and we get up at a reasonable time but then we just lie in bed cuddling, talking about our week, digesting the weekend, eating breakfast together, etc. It just starts the week at a much slower pace and for both of us, it's one of our favorite parts of the week. It almost feels a little bit like it's stolen, because Mondays are "supposed" to be so harried and busy. We've noticed we both have a better outlook on the week when we make this time for each other. It's not much, and we always hate when it ends, but it's ours. We just take our time enjoying a last few quiet minutes together before the week starts. Well the sickness started as soon as I woke up this morning so that sort of ruined our routine this morning. DH is self employed so he sets his own agenda. I asked him if he could do his at-home part of his job first this morning so that if I got a wave of relief, we could still have a few minutes together. He said yes. I proceeded to be sick for a while, clean it all up and go sit back down.

Shortly thereafter, I noticed something smelly (my nose works in overdrive these days). Sweet DH set out to investigate and determined that ALL of the plumbing-showers, toilets, sinks, dishwasher, washing machine and even outdoor drains at the house had backed up and liquid was rising back up into everything. So he set out working on it. He tried our "green" remedies first with no success, so he ended up having to the orange big box store for something more heavy duty. He tried that a few times, too. He finally said "I give up" and set out to call a plumber. WHILE he was on the phone with them, I heard the "burp" that a drain makes when it suddenly starts draining and simultaneously, all the levels started going down immediately. We've since run the dishwasher, washing machine, both toilets, all the sinks, and both showers with no problems, so we think it's fixed. But isn't that cool? If I hadn't have been sick, DH would have surely been off and running this morning like normal. He wouldn't have been here to fix the plumbing. And if he had been here, he'd have been in the driveway painting a car (which when in process, can't be stopped in the middle) so he wouldn't have been able to drop everything to run to the store or to immediately deal with it. With my oversensitive nose and gag-reflex, I wouldn't have been able to do anything here by myself, and the levels of water probably would have just kept rising, making a gigantic mess. And more than that, if I HADN'T been sick, then I'd have been at work too, and we could have come home to a really big mess. Then when we were about to call a plumber, everything just "happened" to start working again. So, though it was weird, I'm actually grateful I was sick. It kept both me and DH home so that the problem could be dealt with right away. But, it was definitely a comedy of errors. I'm sick, I can't use the plumbing, and the smell of everything is making me MORE sick. Poor DH was so sweet and forbearing.

DH also learned to never put rice down the drain. He put some down the garbage disposal the other day--and today our system decided it didn't like it and it had a little NVP of its own. There was rice everywhere--in the sink he dumped it in, but also in the shower, in the bathtub, in the drain out back--it was actually kind of funny. The nice thing is that it does seem to be incident-specific to the rice, so hopefully, it doesn't mean our whole system is going to break on us. And I'm so grateful DH was able to fix it--it just took $15 of big box store plumbing solution and some elbow grease! He's so handy!

We had our first childbirth class tonight. We chose the Bradley method, not because I'm sold yet on unmedicated childbirth, but because from everything we learned, it gives the best education about what's happening to you during labor and birth. As I shared last week, I'm definitely a "knowledge is power" kind of person--I always do better with more information, not less. I figured if I at least knew what was happening, I'd feel more confident in whatever I did decide. I definitely know I don't want an induction or a C-Section. Beyond that, we're still learning and deciding. The thought of a giant needle in my back freaks me out, as does being strapped to a bed and monitors, but the pain of labor freaks me out, too :P So I figured that arming myself with information would be the best way to go so that whatever we decide, I'd at least feel like it was OUR decision, and not one made out of ignorance or fear.

The class was...interesting. It's definitely one sided. I know it's to be expected but it makes me nuts anyway. I almost feel like I have to take a "rah, rah, rah, hospital births are AWESOME and doctors always do the right thing" kind of class just to get the other extreme and maybe find the balance that's right for me in the middle. Does anyone have any recommendations on good, accurate information on a more clinical birth experience? I feel like in all cases my choices are either fear tactics-from each sides toward the other (unmedicated birth advocates seem to tell you that all doctors and hospitals are out to get you and if you listen to them you don't love your baby, and doctors and hospitals seem to tell you you and your baby will die without their care and how dare you consider leaving yourself in the care of some hippie), or you get the "our side is infallible, don't question us" stuff. And honestly? I hate that kind of information dissemination. I hate it in big things and little things. I feel like they either prey on your fear or your ignorance. And frankly, if what you have to sell is that awesome, then you shouldn't need to resort to those tactics.

The truth (talking little t truth here, not Absolute Truth) is almost always somewhere in the middle of both extremes. I wish there was some resource that just laid everything out--all the pros, cons, and neutralities of all your choices. No agenda, no bias, no exaggeration or understatement. Just the facts, ma'am. But, who would ever make money that way?? :D So anyway, if anyone DOES know of good NEUTRAL books, videos, or other resources, I'd love to have them.

It's also pretty....crunchy, shall we say? And let's just say that I'm not and leave it at that :D

I'm just going to have to really pray over this class. I feel like it could really be a trap for me for my two big pitfalls-fear, and guilt. Fear because I honestly think they try to scare you out of some hospital procedures. I hear stories of them passing epidural needles around the circle so you can see how big they are and promptly freak out. They quote c-section rates of hospitals and say how much better babies born their way are. Honestly, I feel backed into a corner in situations like this. I feel like I end up making a decision out of fear, rather than empowerment. And I wonder-what if I DO end up needing or wanting something outside the Bradley allowables? Will I feel disappointed in myself? Will I feel guilty? Will I feel I have the tools and courage I need at that time to deviate from my plan if need be?

Bradley is big on nutrition. As pregnant women should be. But I can't check off all the stupid little boxes on their chart. HG is just a different ballgame. You think in terms of what will stay down. You don't get the luxury of choosing the most nutritious thing or the thing that rounds out everything else you've eaten that day. The teacher and the book laid it on a little thick tonight about how bad it is for you and baby if you're not eating this and that every day and it looks like it's part of the curriculum every week. And Bradley is anti-medication in general, not just medication during labor. Well, the zillion pills I take a day to stay functioning kind of throw that out the window. So, I just have to keep telling myself that all of that is well and good for a normal pregnancy, but I am just responsible for MY pregnancy, and doing the best I can with it. God knows that, I know it, DH knows it, and hopefully one day baby Matthew will know it too. But the Jen-guilt-monster was really shouting from the back of my head during all this "See, look at all the bad stuff you're doing!!"

That all makes it sound like the class is awful, or awful for me. It's not. I think the teacher and the other students are really nice, and I do think I'll learn a lot and that in the end, I'll be better prepared for WHATEVER birth experience we have, even if it's 100% not-Bradley. I just think I need to really practice active filtering. I did learn some new things to try with stretching, relaxation, exercise, etc, and DH is so earnest in going along with whatever I need, whatever they suggest he try, etc. And I think I'll learn a lot about what actually happens physically and physiologically in labor, even if I ignore everything else they say.

I guess this is a good lesson in parenting. I'm sure we'll run into this same kind of stuff with vaccines ("vaccines will kill your baby!" v "without vaccines, you'll kill everyone else!"), with discipline ("spanked children grow up to hate their parents" v "children who aren't spanked grow up to be hellians!"), with education choices ("kids who go to public school end up corrupt!" v "homeschooled kids are sheltered and weird!"), etc, etc, etc. :D Honestly, I get so afraid of making sure I'm not making a fear-based decision, that I just run around in circles! I really think my head is screwy sometimes :P I wish I just knew everything about everything, and could write perfectly neutral books on all this stuff so that tightly wound people like me could have a resource! =D

So anyway, THAT was a tangent.

I've been sick again tonight, so I probably should go to bed before it gets any later-getting too tired is just asking for trouble.

I'll end with what's been happening with Matthew:

27 weeks:
Your not-so-tiny-anymore brilliant baby (about 2 pounds and 14.5 inches long!) is slowly rotating in preparation to “head out.” Obviously, this doesn’t happen overnight, but when you start to feel an unfamiliar pressure on your cervix, you’ll know you’ve got a fully flipped baby locked and loaded for the countdown to their birthday! Even now, at the beginning of the third trimester, their little lungs are already capable of breathing air while the pulmonary vascular system can provide sufficient gas exchange and the central nervous system can generally regulate rhythmic breathing as well as their basal body temperature. For what it’s worth, at this point in a healthy pregnancy a premature child (with intensive care) could easily win on the show: “Survivor: The Early Years.”

And 28 weeks:
You know how you’ve been feeling a bit like a barn with legs? Well, that feeling won’t subside before… well, you know, when you finally give birth. For the time being, you’ve got yourself a baby in the business of collecting fat and lots of it! In spite of the dubious joys of being a human-barn, this baby fat business is very serious and you’ve got to put up with it because it’s going to keep your little porker warm and healthy after birth. Other good stuff from inside: their eyes are doing lots of blinking this week because they’re now able to respond to light and dark. Also, their industrious little bone marrow is now a major construction site for developing red blood cells, while their super-cute adrenal glands are actually producing androgen and estrogen—which will stimulate your hormones to begin milk production. Can you say, “Moo?”

And lastly, here's picture--28 weeks! The third trimester! I can't believe it! My weight still hasn't changed (still weigh the same I did the day of transfer) but when I look at the pictures side by side, I can finally start seeing a difference, and I think I'm graduating to full-panel maternity pants instead of half panels. And my goodness, I can FEEL a difference. This kid is killing my back and tummy muscles! That's one awesome thing about Bradley--they teach and instruct DH to massage me whenever I need it, and he's a sweet enough guy to do it! I see lots of massage in my future--how can I get that to continue after birth ;)

Hope you all are well!


  1. I am so happy you had a sickness-free week- answered prayer, for sure! You asked for information on birthing methods- and as you've discovered there are many. I can tell you my personal experience and what I observed as a NICU nurse who attended many high-risk deliveries as well as floated to L and D and post-partum many times.

    First of all, I am not an advocate of home delivery. Many people have safe home deliveries with happy outcomes, others do not and if you're one of the others... My second pregnancy would have been a great candidate for home delivery prior to labor. And then about 12 minutes prior to delivery turned into a high-risk delivery requiring my baby to be intubated immediately after birth and her airways vigorously suctioned. If my child requires that kind of care, I want her in the best possible place to receive it. As a NICU nurse, I witnessed the same thing (normal delivery suddenly requiring intervention) often enough to want a hospital birth. Absolutely most births require not much more than someone to catch the baby... but... and I admit my training plays into that..

    We used LaMaze for both deliveries and it worked like a charm for us. As you mentioned with Bradley method, there was a lot of "this is THE right way" propaganda. But what I liked about LaMaze (at least 25 years ago :)) was the emphasis on discussing ALL the options ahead of time with your doctor... diet, meds or no meds, episiotomy or not, IV or not, monitor or not... and how he will facilitate your desires with the hopital. They (LaMaze) did not push any agenda and were receptive to the idea that not everyone will be able to do a medication-free delivery. Both of our hospital labor/ births were as non-invasive, home-like as possible in a hospital. We used a birthing room, had some of our own belongings (pillows, blankets, pictures, etc) and felt comfortable there. Not using a fetal monitor was not an option (for the hospital... liability issues) but the nurses removed it whenever I wanted to walk around. In fact, they encouraged me to move around a lot. The hospital respected my desire for a medication-free delivery (like you the idea of a needle in my back gives me the willies... no medical basis, just fear) and used other comfort measures. They let me know I could change my mind- but no pressure. My advice is talk to your doctor and to the hospital. Find out how rigid their "policies" are, how many deliveries per week are medication-free, whatever is important to you.

    As a NICU nurse, I observed most people don't take or use any birthing method class (again, 25 years ago- although many were available... my "favorite" was the underwater birth...) and 2 days post-delivery most had no complaints- they were just happy to have a bundle of joy to hold. I think God, in His infinite wisdom, gives us labor and delivery amnesia about a lot of the details.

    My advice- go with what is comfortable to you. And stay clear of anything (at anytime) that tells you you must do it this way or you are a bad person and will harm your baby. Nothing works for every person in every situation. Do not feel guilty about what you are eating or not eating... or exercising or not exercising. You and your doctor are the best judges of what is right for you and Matthew. Whichever plan you use, take what works for you and run with it. Leave the rest behind. Perhaps more important than "the plan" is the instructor... find one who understands YOUR needs and desires and is willing to work with you.

    Sorry for the long comment. I loved being a NICU nurse but hated seeing parents feel intimidated or inadequate through a process that should be joyful.

  2. We took a class offered through Kaiser, which is our hospital. I don't know if all hospital classes are this way but they just presented the facts about labor, the pros and cons about different interventions, and taught the mom and her partner different relaxation techniques, which they said are helpful even if you want medication because my understanding is that you have to get to a certain point before you are allowed to have medication anyways. They weren't pushy about whether or not you decided to have pain management during labor and Kaiser's c-section statistics are supposedly lower than most hospitals. That being said, the underlying assumption was that you were going to come to the hospital to have your baby, but I knew I wanted to have my baby in a hospital because it was way more affordable for our situation, if nothing else, so that assumption didn't bother me.

    As far as the pain goes, I decided that if it got bad enough that I couldn't do my breathing any more that I would try a shot first. I also decided that if the pain was bad enough that the idea of a needle in my spine didn't terrify me anymore, then I'd get an epidural. My plan was very flexible because you don't really know what you are getting yourself into and how you will handle it until you've done it. You also don't know if your labor will be long or short. I felt that I could get through it better without meds if it was a faster labor and delivery but that if it was really long I might need them so I could rest before pushing. The way I figured, I'm not anti-medicine or anti-pain medication. If I have a headache, I take tylenol, so it wasn't a philosophical consideration for me but a practical one.

    That being said, I got through my first labor with only a shot and had no meds with my second labor. The thing that helped me to not be afraid is that the pain just can't get worse and worse forever. Your brain can only process so much pain before it won't let you process anymore. Recovery is harder for me because when you're in labor you're kind of in the zone and you have all the hormones helping you and there is a definite end to your suffering. The patience required to deal with all the little aches and pains and get your strength back afterward is a bigger burden to me.

  3. Hey Jen, on books . . . generally, the most balanced person I've found on baby issues is Dr. Sears. I don't agree with him on everything (I don't do delayed vax, for example), but he tends to give both sides a fair shot. He's a medical doctor, but he's also a big attachment parenting guy, so . . . medical AND crunchy. Also, on sleep issues, I found the Baby Whisperer book to be best - she wasn't all "let your newborn scream himself to sleep for hours!" but neither was she "all sleep-training is from the devil!" I really appreciated that about her.

    That said, probably the best thing to do is to read sources from both sides and then make up your own mind. Pretend they're consultants that you're paying for their opinion - in other words, YOU are in charge. YOU are the employer here.

    And fwiw, I didn't like my Bradley classes either. :) That was mostly because of outdated information though; I'm hoping they're not all like that!

  4. First of all, you're looking great!

    Secondly, you know my birth story with Audrey and why I'm having a c-section for my second, I just don't feel like typing it all out.

    I think for me, with her birth experience and the complications that we both had, medication was a God-send. It was not evil, and I don't have a permanent badge tattooed on my forehead that says "I had an epidural after 18 hours of induced labor and then had a c-section". I did extremely well without the medication up until the point when I NEEDED the medication.

    Just remember, listen to your body. Have Todd be your advocate. If you want medication, by all means have medication (it doesn't have to be an epidural) if you don't, then don't. I'm with everyone who supports you, please don't let the Bradley instructor or anyone else tell you that what you have chosen or are choosing to do is/are bad for your baby (outside the typical smoking, drinking, etc).

    As for classes, I didn't take a Bradley, but I did do a day long birthing class at the hospital where I delivered Audrey. The instructor was a nurse who also taught Bradley (and covered a little bit of it) but was also very matter-of-fact about medications, inductions, complications, c-sections, etc. Without that class I would have been woefully unprepared for my original c-section so I was very thankful I had that information under my belt.

    I'd recommend looking at one of the hospital sponsored classes to supplement your Bradley, since I think you need to be educated and informed about all the possible outcomes of labor and delivery.

  5. I couldn't agree with you more:

    "So I figured that arming myself with information would be the best way to go so that whatever we decide, I'd at least feel like it was OUR decision, and not one made out of ignorance or fear."

    A great doula and/or midwife will take the time to educate you on the birthing process (without an agenda)--not to say that you need to replace your OB. A doula is an awesome resource that can be used together with an OB.

    I've had two births and they were polar opposite experiences. One was a fantastic un-medicated hospital birth and the other was an pitocin-induced nightmare of a hospital birth. An important note is that they were at two different hospitals. Much of your experience, unfortunately, will depend on the hospitals policies (legal concerns). The latter hospital did not take the time to educate me on the risks of pitocin and narcotics used during labor--I would guess that's because they weren't giving me a choice. It had been one whole hour since my water broke and the contractions weren't starting on their own yet.

    My daughter paid the price with a scary 16 day stay in the NICU that probably would have been avoided if it weren't for my bad uneducated decisions. We have yet to see the long term effects on her of the drugs used during labor. I do harbor much guilt over this--not because of something that anyone with an agenda had told me--it's based on my own research from articles in medical journals demonstrating the effects of the drugs I took.

    This isn't intended to scare you--I just wanted you to know that you are right on track with learning as much as you can about the process now so that you can make informed decisions later. One book that I loved is called "Childbirth Without Fear" by Grantly Dick-Read. It was originally written a long, long time ago, but it is amazing just how true the basics still are today.

  6. Hi, Jen!!!

    So glad that you have been having some good days!!!

    Okay, random thoughts.

    Birth is an extremely, extremely, extremely polarized world. Honestly, I don't know of much middle ground. One book that comes to mind is Dr. Sears' "The Birth Book." But otherwise, I think you would just have to read books from both sides and come to your own middle ground. I've got a list of some of my favorites on my blog, though they are definitely geared toward natural birth.

    For something that is definitely natural-birth-geared but is also extremely evidence-heavy, try Henci Goer.

    Re: Bradley

    - Don't worry a bit about the diet sheets. I never paid any attention to them. Most teachers simply don't know where an HG mama is coming from, and frankly, while nutrition is of course important, with an HG pregnancy, the name of the game is survival - and baby Matthew will be just fine. Caleb was as healthy as a horse, and he was gestated with little more than Ensure and Jello, LOL!! You are doing an awesome job; don't worry about it. With my first pregnancy I did the diet sheet for a few months; with my second I didn't bother at all.

    - Most couples I know of who take Bradley start out disliking the class and then come to really like it at the end, so you guys might follow that pathway too. Two great things about Bradley that I've noticed: #1 - When you are in the hospital, if you have typical caregivers, they'll pretty much give you only the hospital-ish information/data/risk info. With Bradley, though it is a bit one-sided, you will then have the other side of the issues already in your head so that you won't be the victim of one-sided information. That's a plus regardless of whether you do natural or non-natural methods. #2 - One of the great benefits that L. tells me about continually is the fellowship/friendship of other moms/couples who have children the age of your child. Her group got together to do BBQs, had moms' nights out, etc. etc. etc., and they are still in touch 5 years later. With my class? Ha! After four quick classes, we were just starting to know first names when the class was over, and we said goodbye - and I've never been in touch since. I've always been envious of that!

    Oh, and re: the fear stuff - you are SO right; it doesn't stop with birth. It's just getting started. There are so, so, so many issues that are fear-based, and it can be very discouraging as a parent. Frankly, I have to stay away from some discussions (i.e. "you deserve to be shot if you have your sons circumcised" v. "you're a bad parent if you don't circumcise") - it just goes on and on and on. This will be good prep for entering the parenting wars!!

    Okay, off to do what I should be doing! Love you!!!

  7. p.s. Something else that came to mind. One really great method of self-education for birth (and which is fairly unbiased because it's all over the board) is just reading lots of birth stories and watching lots of birth videos. That can really give one a feel for "Oh, I would like that!" or "Oh, I really DON'T want that!", and it's also a great jumping-off place for research ("I wonder why they did that?" or "I wonder what that was?"). That's actually where I got started being interested in the subject, and I learned a ton that way.

    Here's a good site for birth stories:

    And I've recently started a "Beautiful Birth Videos" sidebar on my birth blog, but unfortunately it's not very extensive yet.


  8. Jen, We took the Bradley classes and felt so much more informed about all of our options when we were done and we felt like we understood the birth process so much better. IT took a lot of fear out of it all-not that I still wasn't a little scared when my labor started.

    Even after laboring for 24 hours with no drugs, doing everything we learned in our Bradley classes, Adam was in distress and we had a c-section, so no amount of classes, planning, etc...can 100% prepare you. We feel that we knew exactly what we were in for and how to communicate with out midwife and Dr. better.

    Our Doula was amazing amazing amazing. She made EVERYTHING so much easier-even the early laboring hours at home. I know you have interviewed one, if you aren't 100% comfortable with her, try another. I know the one you talked to was an apprentice, which will save you $...and she will be in touch with and have access to experienced Doulas for her questions. Our Doula has attended over 1,000 births, so she was truly so knowledgeable.

    What you will learn in the Bradley classes is invaluable, so stick with them-I know they can tend to be a little crunchy and a little one sided, but you will come out of it being SO GLAD you did.

    A funny story-Steve wasn't all that keen on the classes, and didn't do his homework and 1/2 paid attention in class(I think he took the class to make me happy) forward to 3 weeks before Adam was due and he panicked and kicked himself that he hadn't done the work and he went into full on "study labor quickly before the baby gets here" mode. I teased him every day!

  9. "So, I just have to keep telling myself that all of that is well and good for a normal pregnancy, but I am just responsible for MY pregnancy, and doing the best I can with it. God knows that, I know it, DH knows it, and hopefully one day baby Matthew will know it too."

    In regards to this, like it or not, Matthew will probably never care or even ask if you had a medicated delivery or not. You may tell him all you endured to bring him into the world, even throw it in his face when he's being bratty, but I doubt he will ever ask. Maybe someday if his wife or sister is pregnant, but I wouldn't expect him to think about it before then.

    Don't buy into the whole my way is better than your way thing. Labor and Delivery and the subsequent child-rearing thing is one of the most challenging and rewarding experience of a woman's life. We all need to support and accept one another and not let the bottle v. breast, epidural v. no epidural, vaccines v. alternative vaccine debates divide us. I know you'll get educated and make the decisions that work the best for your family.

  10. Oh LOL Jenn, I know he won't care about his delivery method--I just meant that if God forbid, something ever did go wrong, that he'd at least know that we did the best we possibly could.

  11. Jen, are the other Bradley teachers in your area? All Bradley instructors are definitely not created equal. ;) I know one in my area who really strives for balance (c-sections are to be avoided but AREN'T WE GLAD THEY EXIST WHEN WE NEED THEM!?) and straight up education. But there are a couple of others who are green/crunchy/all meds are bad/all doctors are evil. :)

    Anyway, if you've already paid and can't get a refund it probably isn't a huge deal, but just know that the METHOD (bradley) doesn't have to be so one-sided.

    So glad you've been feeling better!

  12. Glad you are feeling good! YOU LOOK GREAT! HUGS!