Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Birth Plan

What kind of birthing experience do you want? Do you plan on giving birth at a birthing center with a doula and midwife? Do you plan on giving birth at home? Do you want to deliver at a hospital? Do you want an epidural or do you plan on a drug free birth?  What about a water birth? Who do you want in the delivery room with you? These are all important questions you need to think about before giving birth.

If you already have an OBGYN then you will most likely have to go where they deliver. If you would like to use a midwife or doula, ask around in your community for what your options are. Not every city has a birthing center, but you can have your midwife or doula with you at the hospital.

There are a lot of options out there and it is important that you are well educated on all of them.  This is YOUR birth…not your doctors. Just because your doctor tells you something, does not always mean you have to do it that way. Ask questions. Find answers. Have a plan!

As important as it is to have a birth plan, it is equally important to remember that there can be unforeseen complications, and the birth plan you put so much thought and work into, can go out the window in seconds!!

Let me share my birth experiences:

With Eli I knew that we would give birth at a hospital and that I wanted an epidural.  I consider myself a pretty strong and tough person, but I was fully aware that giving birth to a child was going to hurt. My personal opinion was why go through all of that pain when the doctors can relieve some of it without affecting the baby?  So when my water broke and we arrived at the hospital and the nurse asked, “Do you plan on getting an epidural? “ I did not hesitate to say YES! The epidural did not hurt at all. The anesthesiologist described it as a bee sting, which is exactly what it felt like. It did not take long at all and was not a big deal. Was I nervous? You better believe it, but I knew that it was going to help BIG time, and that it did!! People who haven't had a baby or who have gone natural always ask "did it hurt?" And I always say that getting the epidural was by far the easiest part of the whole process! 

Because I had tested positive for group b strep (GBS), I had to go to the hospital as soon as my water broke. I would have liked to labor at home longer, but that was not possible. With GBS, you have to be put on an antibiotic right away. The longer you receive the antibiotic, the better chance your baby has of being born healthy.  I was 3 cm when I was checked in triage and dilated another cm within an hour I was there, so they admitted me (around 9:00 pm). I was progressing as normal and at 7 am was 8 cm.  When I was checked again at 10 am, I was still at 8 so they administered some pitocin. (Pitocin is a drug given though an IV to increase contractions.) Pitocin is not your best friend like the epidural is. Pitocin can bring on the contractions FAST and STRONG and H.U.R.T! After a few more hours I was at 10 cm and ready to push. This is where I wish I would have known to ask if the baby was low enough to start pushing. It wasn’t like on tv or in the movies and I was feeling a “need” to push the baby out. Just because I was finally at 10 cm, didn’t necessarily mean my body was ready to delivery the baby. (mistake #1)
The nurse raised my bed almost as high as the ceiling and explained what to do. I was ready… let’s get this baby out! After 2 hours of pushing, the baby was still not close to being delivered. My doctor was not on call and therefore I had another doctor coming in to check on me. She would check to see how things were progressing and then mumble something to the nurse and then leave. The nurse would have me start pushing all over again. I wish I would have known to ask the nurse if I could change positions. (mistake #2) Instead of being on my back, could I turn on my side? What about holding on to something to help push? I remained in the same position the entire time I pushed and I believe that I could have done better if I had been moved. Finally, my doctor arrived, and did not bring the news I wanted. I had been pushing just over 3 hours when he walked in and said that he didn’t think I was going to be able to deliver this baby on my own. It was looking like a c-section. I wish I would have known to ask more questions at this point. (mistake #3) Truthfully, I was exhausted beyond words and did not feel as if I had any strength left in my body. I said “okay” and away to the OR we went. As I was sobbing away, I kept thinking, “This was not how I imagined the birth of our first child to go at all!” In the end, a healthy baby boy was delivered, and even though he had the biggest cone head ever (for being lodged in my pelvis for 3.5 hours) he was still perfect in every way. Did I forget about the whole experience in that second? Heck, no! Would I do it all over again just to have a baby, you better believe it!

With Miles, I knew I wanted to attempt a V-BAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). I researched and researched and knew that it was a safe option because I had fully dilated with Eli.  I also asked my doctor a million questions and knew that my chance of uterine rupture was less than 1%. Many years ago, v-bacs were considered risky, but today, v-bacs are considered safer than a repeat c-section. Near the end of my pregnancy though I could sense my doctors attitude changing. Around week 38, he said he didn’t feel like my chances of having a successful vbac were very high. Why, I asked. His response was because the baby hadn’t dropped. I left that appointment very disappointed, but when I started talking to other women and researching online, the baby doesn’t usually drop until right before birth. So the next week, when he said the same thing, I asked him. He said that he feared I would be going through the same ordeal as with Eli and didn’t want me to endure the same pain. This fear made me agree to schedule a c-section. He wanted to schedule it at week 39, but I didn’t want to, so we came to a compromise. We scheduled the c-section for a few days after my due date. If the baby came before, I would labor on my own. If he didn’t then we would do the planned c-section. I prayed and prayed and thankfully, 1 day before my due date, my water broke!

With this birth, I had again tested positive for group B so we had to head to the hospital early on. When I arrived I was 5 cm and scared to death if I was going to be able to push him out. I did not want to have a repeat experience of last time!  I had to sign some consent forms and the doctor on call (in triage) did some type of test (more like questionnaire) which gave me results of having a 60% successful vbac. I had read online that if you received an epidural too early that it could stall labor, and I did not want to have a repeat of delivery #1. The nurse in triage told me that it would on stall it, if any, by 30 minutes. After I was admitted and taken to the delivery room, my contractions were getting really, really strong. I asked to walk around, but because I had the IV in me, hospital policy will not allow a laboring patient to walk around. I could hear my sister in laws voice inside saying “walk, walk, walk…get that baby moving!” I asked if I could speak with the anesthesiologist and about 20 minutes later she arrived. (Good choice #1) In speaking with her, she informed me the same thing the nurse did, in that it would only stall labor by 30 minutes, and in fact, since I was attempting a vbac, she would recommend going ahead and getting the epidural now, in case of an emergency c-section. She went ahead and administered the epidural and finally I had some relief. Next, I met the doctor on call, who later on would become my hero! I fell in love with her seconds after speaking with her, because she was so supportive of my wanting to do a vbac. She asked so many questions about my last experience and could not believe that they let me push for over 3 hours. She said that her limit was 2 hours. (insert angels singing here)

This time I dilated to 10 fairly quick and thankfully, without any pitocin. The Doctor explained that even when I got to 10 cm, she was not going to have me start pushing because she wanted the baby to naturally lower himself. (HELLO!!! THANK YOU!!) She said to me “Why would I have you do all that work and waste all of that energy, when your body can do it naturally?” (Good choice #2)  After several hours, the nurse said it was time, and she set everything up. This nurse had much more experience than my nurse with Eli and immediately had me changing positions every half hour or so. She would ask my input along the way. This time around, I was not afraid to speak up. (Good choice #3) If the position didn’t feel like it was working, I would tell her and we would find one that did. I loved her! After almost 2 hours, I was making good progress, but the baby was not on its way out. The Doctor came in and said she was going to sit with me and stretch my cervix while I pushed. (Good choice #4)

For the next 1.5 hours, this woman, who I’d never met, sat and worked with me. She never left my side and continued to encourage me along the way. Finally, the head was through my pelvis, and I knew I was going to be able to deliver him naturally. Words cannot express how happy I was. Miles was 1 pound larger than Eli. My Dr’s reasoning for me not to be able to deliver Eli was that he was too big. Well, there you go Doc! I was so thankful that I did not give in to my doctor’s wishes and go with a c-section simply because it was what he wanted to do. Sure, it would have been a whole heck of a lot easier and faster, but that wasn’t what I wanted.

I am so thankful that I listened to my body and that I stuck to my guns. I asked questions and didn’t make any quick decisions based on my emotions. I believed in myself and I did it!

I couldn’t and still can’t help but think about how differently my birth could have gone with Eli if I had only known the things I know now. That’s how life goes and I learned a lot of lessons from that experience.

The point is to have a birth plan and to remember that your plan can change within seconds. The most important thing is the end result, which is a healthy baby. If you end up getting an epidural even though you wanted to go natural, you are no less of a woman. Nobody is going to think less of you because you had one. If you end up having to have a c-section even though the thought never crossed your mind that is okay too! Again, just because you didn’t “push” him out, does not make you any less of a woman!

So, be prepared!! Be prepared for ANYTHING!! No two births are exactly the same. Your body has never done anything like this before so neither you nor the medical experts have any idea how your body will respond.  Know what you want, but be flexible. If you have to do something that wasn’t in the plan, but is required to get your baby out healthy, then do it. That’s the beginning of your life as a mom. Making sacrifices!

Sunday, July 10, 2011


I am BIG on schedules. Maybe it is the teacher in me or maybe it is my type A personality, but I whole heartily believe in having a schedule for your little one(s) and sticking to it as best you can.

With both Eli and Miles the nurses in the hospital put them on a 3 hour schedule from the get-go. They would come in every 3 hours to remind me it was time to feed so when we came home I always continued on that same schedule. Now, I should state that if my baby were to act hungry before the 3 hours I would not deprive them of food and would of course feed them, but that was rarely the case. Just because a baby cries does not automatically mean they are hungry. Sometimes Miles would get fussy around 2.5, but would be perfectly happy if I gave him the pacifier for 30 more minutes. If the pacifier didn't soothe him and he attacked my finger, then I would go ahead and feed him as I knew he really was hungry. This helps establish the clock in their little bodies. As I've mentioned before, I also did the eat-wake-sleep routine, which I also believe in. You want your little one to take in a FULL feeding and they can't do that if they are falling asleep while eating. If they just get a snack, then they are going to wake up sooner and want to eat again. They will also wake up more during the night.

Anyway.. back to the schedule. I think a schedule produces happy babies! Both my boys are so happy and a big part of this I believe is because they know what to expect and feel safe. (not to say that babies who aren't on a schedule aren't happy). Don't get me wrong...I do not follow the clock by the minute, but try to stay around the same timeframe. This is easy for me for several reasons. (1) I stay at home (2) We still haven't met a whole lot of people in Lexington so I don't have a lot of play dates lined up, etc (3) It doesn't bother me to not leave the house for an entire day (as long as it isn't for a week straight)

Here is what a typical day looks like for us:

7:00 Miles is awake and eats then has play time
7:30-8 Big brother joins us
The rest of the morning is spent playing, a little school time, snack time, outdoor time (weather permitting) running errands.
9:30 (or so) Miles will take a nap if we are home. Most days I try to be home, but if I need to run errands or want to take Eli to the park I always go in the morning. Miles will sleep in his stroller or in the car, and is perfectly happy with that
11:00 Miles wakes up and eats again...then play time
12:00 Eli eat his lunch and then we play really hard until naptime!
1:00 Both boys go down for a nap (this is when I do everything around the house that needs to be done such as laundry, cleaning, prep for dinner, blog, etc) I NEVER miss this nap!! This is their longest nap of the day and if they do not get it, then I end up with 2 VERY grouchy babies for the rest of the day and as a result, do not sleep good that night
3:00 Miles is up and eats again followed by playtime
4:00/4:30 Eli wakes up and usually has a small snack. Followed my more play time!
5:30/6:00 Daddy comes home!!!! YIPPEEE!!!
6:00 Eat dinner
7:00 Start Miles bedtime routine. Miles eats and goes right down to bed
7:30 Begin our night time routine with Eli. Bath, Book, comes back downstairs and drinks some milk while watching a show
8:00 Eli goes to bed!


As I mentioned, the times listed are estimated.

There are nights that Eli is not always in bed at 8 and now that he is older, he can go without a nap and be okay. But because I am home with them ALL DAY long, I need those few hours at night to myself. I love to sit on the couch with a good book or snuggled up to Ryan watching our favorite shows. I am so thankful to have the opportunity to stay at home, but it isn't easy. There are days when I get so tired of cleaning up spills, changing diapers, folding laundry, cooking dinner, etc... so I need those few hours without being "mommy!" If I didn't have that downtime each night then I'm not sure I could make it through the days. So, having early bed times is a must have for me!

Do what works for you. I know that not everyone has the luxury of staying at home so you are not able to stick to a schedule. If that is your situation then I would at least stick to a nigh time schedule when you are in control.

Some of you might have more of a social life than we do (haha) so you are not home to give naps. That is fine as well, but I would suggest having one time during the day that you are home and can give naps

Having a nigh time routine is very important to start from the beginning. (well...I usually start once they are a few months). By doing the same thing every night (such as bath, bottle, book) your baby will know what is about to take place and will go to sleep easier and nothing is better than a baby who goes to sleep easily and stays asleep!

Friday, July 1, 2011

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Inside the womb!

Did you know that inside your womb the noise level reaches 90 decibels? To give a better picture of what 90 decibels sounds like:

  • the level of background noise in an apartment next to an elevated train
  • a motorcycle 25 ft away
  • subway train
  • heavy traffic
  • back hoe
Because of this reason I have found that using a sound machine can really help a newborn feel as though they are still nice and comfy in your womb. Newborn babies are not used to a completely silent room, therefore the more you make their sleeping space like the womb, the better they are going to sleep (in my personal opinion). This is why babies also love to be swaddled in the beginning months as well!

Here is the sound machine that I use with both of my boys. Our neighborhood is still under construction so there is construction equipment going by all day long and can be pretty loud. The noise machine really blocks out all of that noise. I have loved these and have not had any issues with them. It even has a picture projector. I bought mine at Bed, Bath and Beyond with a 20% off coupon, but Target sells this exact one as well.