For the Pumping and Working Mama

**I originally posted this on my personal blog almost a year ago. This my work, not someone else’s just in case you feel like you’ve seen it before. Maybe you have. ;)  ***

December 2013:

I’ve been working and pumping for almost 4 months now since returning to work in August. The first two months really were a huge learning curve as we struggled with a nursing strike, weight gain, and using the wrong-sized flanges. I thought I’d list out what has worked for me as a pumping mama. I hate it and I think I always will, BUT…I love that my baby girl is still getting my breast milk and that my supply has been great since day one. Things I’ve learned in the process…

  • Prep the night before: I have to make sure that I am washing and drying my parts every night otherwise my morning is totally rushed trying to get everything cleaned and organized.
  • Keep your pump in the same spot: Like most mamas, I am super forgetful especially when I have so many other things I’m trying to think of as we leave the house. I always put my pump in the same spot on the kitchen counter ready to go so that I won’t forget it in the morning.
  • Don’t forget anything! I did this once–thought I had the little white valves in and nope…weren’t there. Thankfully I work in a hospital and was able to find some!
  • Do things while you pump: I like to watch you tube videos. I catch up on Ellen and Conan, two shows I don’t get to watch regularly. I also like playing a game or updating Instagram. This all distracts me from what I’m doing.
  • Make a few videos of you nursing your babe: I love watching some videos of Evie nursing while I pump. It helps the let down, it makes me smile and releases more oxytocin. This too makes the pumping process more enjoyable.
  • Eat and drink: I often have to pump on a regular break so I make sure to have a full water bottle and something to at least snack on. You need those extra calories and hydration for all the pumping you’re doing.
  • Don’t pump at home…unless you have to. I keep the pumping just for work and have rarely had to pump at home. This makes nursing more intimate and helps me only associate pumping with work. Then I dislike it less. :)
  • Lastly…just keep reminding yourself that you’re doing a great job! It’s tough work pumping and working. It can be exhausting and interrupts your day. So much of my time is dictated by when I need to pump but I’m totally used to the routine now. It takes time to get comfortable with it all so just keep hanging in there if you’re still trying to figure it all out. I does get easier!

half way

The semester is already almost half way over! And I just started a new class on Monday. It’s an accelerated Microbiology class that is 100% online. My A&P class is also totally online. I love doing my classes this way, though it makes for a very busy schedule as I have to lay everything out so that I can complete assignments and exams on time. Both classes are covering the same thing right now so studying is actually easier and more effective because I am learning it twice in two different formats. After these classes end in December, I will be applying for nursing school! Truly cannot believe this day is nearing. Wow!

In other news, work is going great. I feel like almost every day I can learn something new. I experienced my first postpartum hemorrhage about a month ago. As far as PPH goes, it was a rather atypical situation and I’m glad I was able to experience one that would not normally present the way that it did. The amazing part was that, though it was scary, I did everything I was supposed to. I work with such a great team of nurses that we all flowed together to get control of the situation and treat the patient. It was amazing to watch and experience. The adrenaline rush was overwhelming. And the best part? It didn’t scare me away from this profession! In fact, it only made me want it more. I bonded with my patient as we helped her out of a scary situation and it only made me want midwifery even more.

Have a great weekend! I am still taking submissions for birth stories. None on the board right now so send them along!

Sarah

Notes from a Reasonable Direct Entry Midwife

Sarah:

Incredible letter/article. These words are words I hope to embody one day as a CNM.
“Though I believe deeply in parents’ rights of choice regarding both care provider and setting for the births of their children, I also believe that midwives have a core responsibility for self-identifying our own limitations in training, experience and skill as care providers for higher risk pregnancies.”

Originally posted on Academic OB/GYN:

Today I had the pleasure of talking shop with my brother’s mother in law, Joni Dawning, a very experienced direct entry midwife in Eugene, OR.  Joni has been attending births for over twenty years, and she has been a great resource to me over the years I have known her.  I hold her in great respect, as she is the kind of midwife that I think is a great resource to her community.  She provides a service to her clients that is greatly desired, but at the same time sees herself as a part of a larger system of birth service provision that includes hospitals and obstetricians.  Unlike some direct entry midwives (or CPMs in some communities), she respects the limits of what she can offer, and does not see a hospital transfer as a failure in any way.

Recently in Oregon there have been some deaths during attempted breech…

View original 1,134 more words

Check these out!

Hello!

I have seen some great articles, videos, and randomness around the internet lately. Here are some of my faves. Have a great Monday!

Dear Mom who has decided to give birth at home- The writer talks to you like you’re best friends hanging out at a coffee show and she is genuinely curious and concerned about why you’d chose to have a home birth. Great questions. The comments has an interesting discussion going on too. And it’s quite snarky, just warning ya.

A Love Story 8 Years in the Making- I am a HUGE fan of Casey Neistat. He is an incredible videographer and this video just brings happy tears to my eyes!

10 Reasons I’d Never Ever Have a Home Birth- I’m sharing this more for all the statistical links within the post than anything else. If you’re considering home birth, this article has great info.

9 Ways Childbirth Looks Different Around the World-Super cool article about different traditions and practices around the world! I have taken care of women who have some of these cultural practices and it’s incredible to learn and witness something different.

That’s all for now! Please feel free to share other articles and links you think I’d like to see. Also, MORE birth stories please! :)

The Pressure to Breastfeed

photo by 2M Photography

photo by 2M Photography

It’s no surprise to anyone in the birthing community that breastfeeding is being more heavily encouraged. More hospitals are obtaining an official “Baby Friendly Hospital” status, which means that baby will be placed skin to skin, encouraged to nurse within the first hour, room in with mom, and breastfeeding encouragement throughout the mom’s stay. She is given a pumping kit to use and take home as she tries to help her milk come in. Sometimes, mom may use a spoon or syringe to feed baby the tiny drops of precious colostrum while they both continue to learn how to latch and nurse. This all sounds wonderful, right? Sometimes, it’s not. Sometimes, breastfeeding is just not going to work. Or maybe it does, but mom feels frustrated or is in pain. There are a laundry list of reasons why breastfeeding may or may not work out. Here is the one thing you need to know, my friends, that ANY amount of breastfeeding is awesome, even if it is only for one day! You did it!! Don’t you let ANYONE discourage you or tell you that you “failed” at breastfeeding.

Below, is a story that a mom shared on a motherhood group I’m apart of on Facebook. This group has nearly 1000 members. Of all the stories and questions I’ve ever seen there, this story struck my heart. Right to the core. I was instantly weeping for this woman. With her permission, I am sharing her story below. As a warning, this may trigger something you’ve experienced. It involves breastfeeding, three-stepping, and post-partum depression. I have talked with Chelsea a few times since she shared her story and she’s an incredible mother!! I feel honored to share her story. I know she is not alone. If you or someone you know has experienced something similar, please share this post.

***

This is the saddest thing I will ever write…ever. It makes me even sadder that I want to share it because that means that someone else is just as sad and needs to hear this to validate their sadness and hopefully feel understood. I felt completely misunderstood and like a flat our terrorist in my community of Colorado Crunchy Mothers when I “failed” at breastfeeding.
It all started out so well. I am a yoga teacher, fit, fertile, and was READY to have a baby! I got knocked up on my first try after getting my IUD yanked and man was I ready to be a Mommy! My husband and I moved out of the city back to our small town “community” of friends and family and my other family known as my “yoga family.” As the cosmos would have it we all got pregnant within WEEKS of one another. A bunch of us would gather at our studio for our prenatal yoga classes then waddle down the block to gorge on ribs and cake, feeling blissful about being able to indulge during our pregnancies. Ahhh, bliss! We all talked about our plans to chant mantra during our contractions and some of us wanted home births some of us too scared to do so BUT, would totally have a Doula there, no matter what to tell our Doctors (who have a PHD not a Doula Cert) to shove it when we beg for pain meds. Yes, we all had a plan…

Then we all signed up for a “Goddess Breastfeeding Course.” Wowza was this some crazy informational stuff; there was even a PowerPoint presentation! I bought a copy of Ina May’s “Guide to Breastfeeding,” and read it cover to cover. I was ready. Ready for my “as natural” as possible childbirth and my breastfeeding success! I even went as far as being a bit of a snark to new Mom’s in my “Welcome to Motherhood” Facebook group who were “struggling” to nurse. I think I even said something like…”read this book and it will fix all your problems,” or “don’t you know how easy this should be? It is our gift to our babies..blah blah fuck me, blah.” So yeah, I was a psycho preggo bitch who had not a CLUE what the hell I was up against. So that is how it went for my second trimester. Prenatal yoga, ribs, boobs, birth, yadda yadda. I felt good.

Then my crotch started to hurt, like hurt nonstop and I started to not be able to walk as easily then one day I fell. My back went out and I fell on the floor and was stuck there for hours before my husband came home and found me. This was the beginning of the end…the end of all of my prenatal dreams, my mental health, my nursing efforts…my everything. I was diagnosed with SPD, which basically means my vagina was expanding too much. Ouch, huh. So, I was put on pain meds for the remainder of my pregnancy and was also restricted from yoga, exercise and existing in the world altogether. Depression set in, and it got really scary.

My midwife was concerned and wanted to put me on anti-depressants during my 36th week but I refused, worried that it would get passed along to the baby in my milk, because I was still going to nurse damnit! I knew deep down I was headed for a C-Section but I kept it secret and kept up with my crunchy friends and their amazing pregnancies. They all felt sorry for me but told me to hang in there, they will BE THERE FOR ME. Famous last words.

After 3 months of misery I went in for a prenatal visit to find out that we needed to go ahead and get baby out. My fluid was low and I was in so much pain it wasn’t really worth the wait anymore…we were a bit scared. I went in the next morning with all of my loving family by my side, my amazing husband who had put up with my craziness (crazy was just starting by the way, he had no idea what was yet to come) and checked into the hospital, ready to go. Within 45 minutes my son was out, squealing and totally folded in half, frank breech and 7lb 8oz. I was so happy to have him OUT! I was reunited with him in recovery very fast and we started nursing right away. It didn’t even hurt and I got this insane drunk love feeling that rocked my world…I was hooked.
That first day would be the only day that I felt this way…

In Colorado, we had the flood of the century the day my son was born in September. It was national news and my doctors were running around like chickens with their heads cut off treating patients from surround hospitals that were not accessible. We began to fall through the cracks. I had amazing nurses, amazing! They all helped with the latch which was not going well and were all sympathetic to my fatigue and even showed me how to use my breast pump which we were seeing some colostrum come out of. However my son was not amazing, he was miserable. He screamed nonstop for the first 3 days of his life, only stopping out of sheer exhaustion and what I can only imagine defeat from not being fed. He began to turn yellow and look thin but I was in such a haze I didn’t really notice. Then the nurses started to raise their eyebrow at my mental condition. My midwife stopped my husband in the hall and said “watch her, I am worried…” I was a mess…my mother came to my side and begged me to rest but no, I had to get this nursing down, I had to it was vital. Everything else had been ripped from me; I had to get this right.

A new nurse came in the last day I was in the hospital. She was pregnant and so sweet. She took one look at my situation and suggested we “supplement.” I had been warned of this phrase, RED ALERT! NO! My husband was beginning to get angry and he is cool by nature. He made the call, he gave my son his first bottle of formula. My son sighed and cooed and drank it up like his life depended on it, which it may have. Meanwhile, I had not gotten a weight on my son since his birth, and we were about to be discharged. I asked the nurses to weigh him and I heard gasps from all of them. “That cannot be right, weigh him again.” Silence. “Oh, my, god.” The lactation consultant came over and said he had dropped 20% of his body weight to 6.4lbs and we had to alert the pediatrician right away. The pediatrician who had signed our discharge papers, the one who SAID we could go home. My poor baby, he had morphed from a healthy glowing bundle to a yellow, eyes clenched shut, stiff, stressed infant that was not happy…I decided to give in. We gave him formula the rest of the day and they let us go home, and we had a follow up the next day. I snapped a picture of him at the hospital on our way out in his going home outfit, and to this day it haunts me. He looks terrifyingly unhealthy and I save it as a reminder of how far we have come.

At the follow up they gave me what is called a 3 step plan. This plan means you nurse, supplement and pump…EVERY single time you feed. Around the clock. So, I had my hospital grade pump rented from the pharmacy and that is what I did for 3 weeks. I was delirious, I was so drained I couldn’t even muster up the energy to leave the house, eat or shower. I sat on the couch with my boppy, baby, pump and tiny bottle of formula. The rare times my son was satiated from nursing only gave me small triumphs that kept me going. Meanwhile, my Crunchy Mom Friends were all having their babies and their boobs were turning into Pam Anderson boobies and flowing milk and oxytocin bliss all over the place. Mine were not. Mine were pitifully producing hardly anything and that blissful feeling of drunk love was lingering and then soon gone.

This went on for another 3 weeks…It was then I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. My midwife took one look at me and said here is a prescription and you need to go buy formula, lots of it and use it. This has to stop. You cannot sustain this. I had just come to terms with this on the long ride home when my family arrived to see the baby. I heard a knock at the door and my neighbor bum rushed me and grabbed my son and looked dead into my eyes and said, “How is nursing going?” I quietly replied that I was trying but was having a tough time. “Awe, well don’t give up, it is the best thing you know. You have a good looking husband, a beautiful son why are you so sad?…blah blah blah,” I tuned out after that. My sister in law braced me and I excused myself into my bathroom where I wept for the millionth time, cursed god and grew even further from my son emotionally.

Meanwhile my friends were also giving me the same guilt trip but not a ONE came over to check on me or ask me how I was doing emotionally. I was falling apart. I even received an email from a friend (a man friend) saying I was a child abuser for using formula and that I was setting my son up for failure…this person has a Master’s Degree…and is an asshole.
This was it, I shut down I lost it. I was still 3 stepping my nursing and it was becoming exhausting. The only time I actually saw my son was to nurse him. Other than that my husband would take care of him or me…which was exhausting for him. I would send him to buy formula because I was too ashamed to do it myself. I would hide in my car and mix bottles of formula and hope people would think it was pumped breast milk I was giving to my baby. I started seeing a therapist at this point and taking medication.

I had become a total stranger in my body. I didn’t even recognize myself. I also gained more weight than I had during pregnancy because I was eating all the crap my friends suggested, taking supplements that made me sick and was NOT sleeping or taking care of myself. I was a train wreck for the first 3 months. On the day my son turned 3 months old I sat in bed and looked my husband in the eye and said, “I need you to tell me to stop, I need you to say Chelsea, stop this and it will all be ok.” So he did and I cried and died a little inside.

Later my friends and family would say things like, “you tried harder than anyone I have ever seen! You did your best.” The only people who told me I was a success was my husband my mother and my new friends who were not crunchy. “You did it for 3 months! You did it! You succeeded, not failed!” I still didn’t buy it until around 6 months postpartum. The fog started to lift a bit and I was dried up so my son wasn’t screaming every time I held him and I started to make bottles like it was second nature. They no longer felt like hot torches of failure in my hands, they felt comforting! I thought how amazingly lucky I am…to be able to have access to formula for my son. I am thankful to have the means to afford formula for my son. How thankful and blessed I am for that.
I changed myself forever during this process. I purged the judgmental, know it all person and turned into a humble, kind, grateful person who wants more than anything to advocate for new mothers struggling with mental illness and breastfeeding challenges. That shit is no joke. I was on the verge of being put into an institution and my doctors thankfully decided I was sane enough to go home and safely take care of my baby after they saw me at my 3-month postnatal checkup.

I have made new friends who feel for me and can appreciate my struggle and not judge me for how I feed my child. They judge my character, my authenticity as a person, as a mother and for the love I show when I feed my baby and when I do all the things Mommies do for their babies. I am a mother, I may not be perfect but I fought someone else’s war. I fought a war not meant for me. I fought out of fear, the fear of not fitting into everyone’s ideals of motherhood. That is my only regret. I do not regret switching to formula, I do not regret ditching those crunchy nut job friends and I do not regret the negativity I got from others…I regret the fear and letting that rule my first few months of motherhood.

That is the saddest thing that has ever happened to me. I’ve written it now, and I hope that someone out there reads this and I hope you are not as sad as I was. Know that you are loved, so loving and amazing. You create your reality with your baby; do not let fear create a chaotic, judging environment. I am happy to say that today my son is awesome, in every way possible! He is 18lbs 4 oz and is almost 9 months old and is the light of my life. I am hoping by sharing this story I can shed the last of my pain, let it go…air it out. My son said “ma ma” today and looked at me. I cried and knew it was time to share this.
Now go mix up that bottle Mama, and love that baby.

~Chelsea

Eli’s Birth Story

October 2

I woke up feeling crampy. I remember telling Geoff it felt like my period was on its way (which I know is ridiculous, but I was crampy, with lots of backache) I was some what uncomfortable throughout the day, and thought maybe my body was starting to get ready for labor.I asked Geoff to walk with me, so we went to Wal-Mart because it was cool and dark out by the time he got home. We walked around for an hour or two and I was just really uncomfortable. When we got home, I had a cup of  Red Raspberry Leaf tea and took some evening primrose oil (I had been doing both for a few weeks, because they are both supposed to help with labor in different ways) so I drank a cup of tea and we went to bed. I thought I was having contractions, but I was feeling it mostly in my back and hips. I was able to get to sleep with back rub from the hubby.

October 3
I woke up at 2am with a bad gall bladder attack. I went into the bathroom and vomited several times and took a percocet and zofran. I vomited again shortly thereafter, and took another percocet and woke Geoff up. He decided we needed to head to the hospital because in the past, the percocet had not been enough to get the pain to a tolerable level. We got to the hospital around 3am and they checked me into labor and delivery (standard procedure for pregnant women). The nurse tried to check me because I was having contractions on the monitor, even though I wasnt aware of them. I was in a massive amount of pain, so she wasnt able to get a definitive measure of my cervix but thought I was about a fingertip dilated. I ended up declining pain meds at the hospital because the percocet finally kicked in, and I was feeling better. I felt stupid for going in, but in the end our experience has been that at home meds dont usually work, it has had to be IV pain meds because of the intensity of the pain. We left the hosptial at approximately 5 am and went home to sleep. Geoff fell right asleep in bed, and I curled up with him and my cat and tried to sleep. I slept for about 45 minutes or so, and woke up with back labor. I got up and made myself a pillow nest on the couch and put in a movie to try and center myself. I made myself some hot apple cider and toast and laid down on the couch. At around 7am I called my mom and chatted with her for about an hour. It was a really meaningful conversation for me, in the quiet of the morning there were no distractions or background noise on her end, which can be extremely difficult because they have a busy house :o). My mom said then that she thought I was in labor and that he’d be here by Wednesday, but I dismissed it and thought we were just warming up because I wasnt expecting him til after his due date (October 13). My mom and I made arrangements for her to come up on Monday because I wanted the company really badly and sometimes there’s nothing like time with mom. I was planning to have her come up and we could walk, and just hang out because I wasnt feeling great. After we hung up, Geoff woke up and we spent the day hanging out and resting from our looong night before. My contractions starting picking up around dinner time and lasted through the night. Geoff and I spent the whole night going from the bedroom to the living room to the bath tub on my hands and knees and so on. My contractions were irregular, and I was only feeling them in my back. Geoff spent the night providing counter pressure for the increasingly uncomfortable contractions I was having. We laid on the couch from about 11pm until 5am and watched Netflix while I worked through each contraction.
October 4

 

I spent a lot of time on my knees, bent over the ottoman while Henry ran back and forth between me and Geoff, worried about my groans and sways. I felt so powerful and womanly swaying and vocalizing through the contractions. Around 5am Geoff suggested a hot bath. I spent about an hour in the tub, trying to relax and welcome each contraction. At this point I was trying not to get my hopes up because my contractions were still very irregular ranging from 2 minutes to 10 minutes apart. At 7 am, as the sun was coming up, Geoff made some coffee and we decided to go for a walk. We slipped on our slippers and hoodies over our pajamas and walked around the neighborhood for half an hour. That walk was one of my favorite parts of the day, the neighborhood was very quiet, the sun was still low in the sky and the air was cool and we spent the time talking about our future son and labor and delivery. We discussed our hopes for our son, and about how we want him to grow up to be a sweet, loving, respectful man who is strong and hard working. I felt so close to my husband in those moments. I had a few contractions as we walked, and I stopped and held onto his neck and swayed through them. When we got home we rested some more and waited for my mom. My mom got here around 9:00am and suggested we call my midwife and see if we could go in and get checked. I was resistant because I didnt want to go in and be told I was at 1/2 cm and go home, it was a false start. Nevertheless, Geoff insisted so we called and made an appointment for 11am. We finished picking up a few things around the house and made sure the bag was packed just in case. We got the doctors office, and Terri Gross (one of the four midwives at the clinic) saw us. It took a while to get in so I spent 20 minutes on my knees, leaning over the back of a chair with contractions off and on. When we got back into the exam room, Terri checked me and excitedly announced I was at 6cm, 100% effaced, and +2. I was thrilled! We headed over the hospital! On the way, I called my dad and texted my siblings with the good news. Geoff called his parents and sister, who helped spread the word that we should have the baby that day!! Once we got checked in, I realized I forgot to bring a copy of my birth plan. I told my nurse that, and explained to her that I wanted a natural childbirth, I would prefer not to be asked what my pain level was or be offered pain meds. I also stated that if I got to the point where I was asking for pain meds, I was open to alternative means. This may have come back to bite me…Somewhere in there Geoff called Katie (our doula) and she arrived a few hours later. Once she got there we settled into a routine of me laboring while walking around the room, on my hands and knees leaning over the back of the bed and so on. My labor was all in my back and my contractions were getting quite strong. Katie had some great techniques to help me cope, including the use of a rebozo wrap, which went around my hips and allowed her to simultaneously help squeeze my hips, and put counter pressure on my intense back labor. I am not really sure how long we labored like that, because my sense of time disappeared.

At some point I decided to get in the tub and put on my swim suit. While I was in the tub, my brother and Geoff’s sister got to the hospital. They were able to come in a visit for while, since I was sort of dressed. Laura sat with me for a while and her and Katie kept my shoulders and hips warm with wet wash clothes while I lay on my side in the tub so they could help apply counter pressure. I dont know exactly how long I was in the tub because at this point my sense of time sort of disappeared. My midwife, Kelly Jean came in and checked me and said I was about 7cm and station +1. I was not progressing very fast at this point and becoming frustrated. We kept laboring, walking and doing counter pressure. My mom went out and got the family at some point to come in and say hi. Geoff’s dad, his dad’s girlfriend, his mom, stepdad and sisters where all there. I only saw them for a few minutes because my contractions were getting really strong at this point.
 

We continued laboring together, Katie providing constant counter pressure and Geoff and my mom offering moral and emotional support. I cant give a definitive time line at this point because, like I said, my sense of time disappeared. At some point Kelly Jean came back in and wanted to check me again and I declined, because I knew I hadn’t progressed. I was getting frustrated and exhausted at this point. I had been awake roughly since 2 am Saturday morning, and we were now at 6 pm Monday night. My contractions were getting increasingly intense, but not becoming more regular. I think around 8 or so Kelly Jean came back in and decided to check me again. I was at 8 cm at this point and starting to feel despair. She thought breaking my water might help labor pick up so I tried to get comfortable on my side in bed so she could. This is one part of my birth experience i am not sure I would repeat. By breaking my water, I doubt the baby had any chance to turn, but at the time we werent sure what his position was. Once she broke my water, she was able to tell he was occiput posterior.http://www.birthingnaturally.net/birth/challenges/posterior.html That basically means he was facing my stomach instead of my back, so the back of his head (the occiput) was against my back, so it makes entering the birth canal extremely difficult. If they hadn’t broken my water, maybe he could’ve turned…but maybe not. He had a long time with lots of contractions to turn and didnt so there’s no telling what would have happened if we hadnt ruptured my membranes. My contractions became MUCH stronger at this point, and I was becoming extremely discouraged because I wasnt progressing very quickly and my contractions were starting to become unbearable. Before this point I was able to groan, moan and make throaty, low noises to cope through them, but at this point I was screaming. I have never felt anything so intense in my life. I started begging for it to end and was screaming for some one to make it stop. I finally asked for pain medicine, much to my own chagrin. I felt my hopes for a natural  birth experience slowly draining away at this point, but I could no longer cope. The gave me a shot of something, and it helped for all of two contractions. I tried to keep laboring, but the pain in my back was becoming so intense I couldnt deal. My midwife suggested I get back in the bath tub to see if that provided any help, and I agreed. I dont know how long I was in there, but my mom sat with me for a while so Katie and Geoff could step out. I started becoming afraid of contractions at this point and remember being overwhelmed with the intensity of them. I got out of the bath tub and had a few contractions while sitting on the toilet. For some reason, my midwife wanted me to try laboring on the toilet but I HATED it. That was the worst position for me, I had to be either on my hands and knees or standing, I couldnt bear to sit through them. I remember holding onto the rail in the bathroom watching my legs shake. At this point, I was butt naked and remember registering some embarrassment that my doula and good friend was seeing me naked but mostly I didnt care. My legs felt like jelly and somehow I got back to bed and begged for the epidural. Kelly Jean suggested a sterile water block in my back at this point to help with the back labor, because it was supposed to act like counter pressure. My poor doula and hubby. Their wrists, hands and arms had to ache by now from the intense pressure they were applying. We tried the water block and it made it worse because they couldnt put pressure on my back anymore because it would undo the water block. I decided I had to have the epidural. I always thought once I asked for an epidural, it would be instant, but its not. It seems like it took at least an hour between finally convincing them to give it to me (remember I told them not to offer…yeah) and then I had to have at least half a bag of fluids in me and so on. Finally the anesthesiologist came in and I was sitting on the bed in a tank top and nothing else and I didnt care. He was really kind and helpful and got the epidural in place quickly and efficiently. He didnt do it too heavily, thankfully because once he left my midwife turned the lights off and told me to try and rest. I collapsed into bed, exhausted. Katie let me lay there for a few minutes or so and then told me I needed to get up on my hands and knees. I was able to do this even with the epidural, I still had control over my legs. She was hoping if I kept turning the baby would turn. At this point I became aware that his heart rate was dropping. My blood pressure was really low and I felt like I was going to black out. Katie helped me get on one side then the other so the epidural didnt pool on one side of my body. Kelly Jean came in and put two monitors on us. One under the scalp of the baby to better monitor his heart rate, and one next to his head to measure the strength of my contractions since I could no longer feel them. My contractions were getting less intense, which at this point told us that my labor was stalling.  I was really distraught and Kelly Jean and another nurse came in and were surprised to see me up on my hands and knees, but were concerned about the baby. My blood pressure was very, very low and the baby’s heart rate was no longer indicating he was responding positively to the contractions. In fact it was the opposite, as my contractions peaked, his heart rate dropped. I was scared for my baby. They put me on oxygen to help my heart rate and blood pressure, and some where in here Geoff stepped out.

 

 He came back and saw me oxygen and he became really upset and concerned about both me and the baby. My dad arrived at the hospital shortly after and I remember him coming back to see me, and holding my hand. All I could do at that point was lay there and hold my dad’s hand and try not to cry. I was so distraught at this point and discouraged that I had labored for so long for nothing. Kelly Jean came back because she was worried about the baby, she said we should monitor him for a few more minutes and see what happened and then decide whether to go forward with pitocin or a c-section. At the words “C-section” my heart went through my stomach. That was the last thing I wanted, but at the same time it meant my baby was so close to being in my arms and out of harms way. His heart rate continued to not respond the way we wanted and we made the decision. They told me two people could come back with me. I was torn. I knew Geoff would be there, but I didnt know if I wanted Katie or my mom to be the other one. I wanted my mom there because she’s my mom and I didnt want her to miss anything but Katie had been so supportive and she is an RN, so I felt safe having her there to lean on. We decided to have Katie and Geoff accompany me into surgery. The got me prep’d and wheeled me back. I dont remember the trip down there really, I just vaguely remember them transferring me onto the board and upping the epidural so I could go through surgery.

The curtain went up and Geoff sat by me and distracted me through the beginning of the surgery. Katie took some pictures for us and once our son was lifted out, Geoff went with him to see him be weighed, measured and cut the cord. Katie stayed with me as they sewed, stapled and otherwise put me back together. I could hear my baby crying and I started crying. I wasnt responding well to the anesthesia and started shaking violently and feeling very nauseous. The wonderful doctor who did my epidural and Katie worked together to get me stable and stop the shaking. Once I was ok, Geoff brought our son over for me to see. I remember crying my eyes out because he was incredibly beautiful. I wanted to kiss every inch of his tiny face.

They took him away again and Geoff went out into the recovery room to show him to our family. The wheeled me into recovery and I could see my whole family standing outside the window waiting for me. They had to put up the curtain at this point though because I started vomiting again. Once I was OK, they let everyone come back a few at a time to see me. My mom and Geoff and Katie were back there for a few minutes and I took the baby and held him to my breast and like magic, he latched right on! I could feel my heart swell at this little miracle in my arms. I had to have help holding him because of the epidural, but I felt my life change as I held my son for the first time. Eventually everyone came back for a few, and left, and they moved Geoff and I to our room. Katie accompanied us for a few to make sure we were OK and then she left. In hindsight, I am glad I tried everything I did before the epidural and c-section. I am sad that I failed in giving birth to my son naturally, but am thankful that we were in a safe place where we were able to use the miracles of modern science to deliver my son safely. It was worth it in the end and I am thankful everyday for this precious baby boy.