Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Attn Pregnant Readers: Recommended Reading, Listening and Drinking

If you are pregnant and considering a drug-free birth, love hearing other people's birth stories or are interested in learning about midwives, I highly recommend that you read Baby Catcher by Peggy Vincent. It follows the career of Peggy Vincent, a midwife who practiced in Berkeley in the 80s.
In Baby Catcher, she shares stories from the many home births she attended. All these births were, of course, drug-free, and because this was my goal from the beginning, I have found all these stories inspiring. You could say that reading this book is how I 'pump' myself up before going into labor. Reading it reminds me that my body knows how to give birth and that it is possible to give birth without the use of drugs or serious medical intervention.
I love this book. I have read it during each pregnancy and it is now one of the ways I prepare for childbirth. But with pregnancy three I kept forgetting to go to the library and check it out (why do I not have my own copy!?). As my estimated due date approached and I slowly began to get things ready for the new baby, I realized that I had not yet read Baby Catcher--and that was when I started to panic, "How can I possibly have give birth without reading Baby Catcher again?!" I finally got to the library, checked it out and read it quickly, within a week. Afterwards I felt ready for birth. The stories I read reminded me that many others had given birth naturally and showed me that every birth is different. And that each woman finds her own way (and oh how varied those ways are) of going through labor and birthing her baby. And that I would find my own way though as well.
(Side note: While laboring at home, in my room, for Baby 3, this book was on my night stand, right at eye level when I would get into my favorite position for riding out a contraction. I would look at it and think, "All those women in there did this, I can do this too!" or "Oh, I really want to read that again, right now. I wonder if I could manage that?" I never did manage to read while laboring, but I do wish I had gotten in two readings before starting labor--it really is that comforting and inspiring.)
Another must for Thteed childbirth is the album Comfort Zone by Steven Halpern. We picked this up on the recommendation of our hypno-birthing instructor. It's very relaxing music and definitely gives your laboring space a calm atmosphere. There are no words and each song blends into the next. The composer, Steven Halpern, composes this music specifically to elicit the relaxation response in listeners. And for me this is definitely true, as soon as I hear those first few notes on the first song I start to relax. We have played it throughout the entire birth process and during the whole time in recovery with all three babies. Each time someone on the hospital staff has commented on this music and how relaxing and soothing it is. I can't imagine a birth without it. If you are planning a natural birth, I really think music can help you--maybe not Steven Halpern, but I am sure you have some favorite music that helps you relax.
Those are my two musts for birth prep and actual laboring. After it's all over and the baby is in my arms the thing I must have is cranberry juice, with ice. Can't get enough cranberry juice while recovering, I wish the nurses could have brought me a pitcher of the stuff, would have saved them a lot of walking.
So to sum up: Baby Catcher before, Contraction Master at the beginning, cranberry juice after, Steven Halpern throughout.
Millions of BC-CM-cj-SH fans can't be wrong!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Little Lord Steed: One Month Old

Happy One Month Birthday Little Lord Steed!
It seems like just yesterday that I was feeling his slimy squirmy, vernix covered body against mine. And on the other hand, it feels like so much longer......
At one month old Little Lord Steed weighs 8lbs 7.6oz and is in the 60th percentile for length. Though he is much bigger than he was, he still seems very tiny to us. He has a very tiny mouth and an excellent sympathy-inducing frown. He doesn't do much but eat, poop (watch out for the poop fountain), pee, look around a bit, and cry, a lot. He is dearly loved by his parents but especially loved by his brothers who are constantly asking if they can hold him.
Little Lord Steed has made a very handsome addition to our family and we are glad to have him.
Now, a short timeline in pictures, since we finally got a new camera (let me tell you, the photo documentation of this kid is waaaay out of hand).

Fresh Delivery, first photo ever!

9 hrs old

1 day old

1 week old

One Month old!

Happy One Month little baby, we are glad you are part of our family.
We hope we can continure to ease your transition to Earth life.
I promise, it gets better.

Yay for ME!

I like to think that I generally don't brag that much. I'm not sure how true that is, but please excuse me while I now brag and toot my own horn: The birth of my third child was completely drug-free! Heck, they didn't even put a hep-lock in!

I'm pretty proud of myself and also pretty amazed. I had always known that my body could do it--I have just never been fully confident in my ability to get my brain out of the way and let my body give birth to a baby. My brain gets thinking, wondering if I can really make it through, tempting me, telling me there is a way to bypass all the discomfort of those contractions. Reminding me once I'm in the hospital it will be so easy to ask for that epidural, it'll be quickly administered and all pain will quickly go away. I am so glad and proud of myself that I did not give in to temptation and ask for that epidural--having done so would have always haunted me; knowing that my desire to fully experience the miracle of childbirth was not fully reached because I gave in to my brain and gotten the epidural.

With baby one, we had read about the downsides of epidurals and I was anxious to avoid them, but the induced labor was proceeding slowly and the baby was in trouble and I couldn't focus and finally I asked for an epidural. Which ended up being fortunate as it sped up the emergency c-section that became necessary less than thirty minutes later.

Baby two: I took a couple shots for pain, but the last mile of labor moved so quickly that I was denied the epidural when I begged.

But this time.

This labor and birth were hard but I must say that I handled it well. Especially when you consider that Theric and I did zero direct preparation for this birth.

When I was pregnant the first time, with Big O, I decided I wanted a drug-free childbirth and that we would use Hypnobirthing as our method of reaching that goal. At the time, the cost of the Hypnobirthing classes was (for us as poor college students) huge. But the instructor promised it would be worth our time and money. And it most surely has been. The techniques learned there have served me well with all three labors--even when we did not review or practice them! Amazing! The Hyponobirthing relaxation techniques have stuck with me for five years and are still effective--Theric and I just slipped back into our roles. Those classes were money well spent!

From the beginning of labor at home (which didn't exist for labor one and went fine with labor two) to the drive to the hospital (a disaster with labor two) to triage (the end of my control with labor two and my greatest concern with this labor), I remained in control. I let the contractions pass through me with a bit of swaying and moaning.

This labor was never guaranteed to go well. The kids did not drop immediately to sleep but stayed up making a lot of noise in their room, which made relaxing more difficult. Theric spent the beginning hours on the computer, trying to get some work issue straightened out. (Then I let him nap for an hour because he looked so exhausted from playing with the boys all day and knowing I would need him fully awake and focused later on. Thank goodness he could sleep and monitor my contractions at the same time.) Halfway to the hospital we had to take a sudden detour when our freeway was closed. And through it all I was calm and in control.

Or so I'm told. I did not always feel in control, but Theric tells me I seemed calm and centered throughout.

I made it through triage (where they did not give me a hep-lock, something I was dreading because I found it so distracting last time) stopping often to sway through a contraction and was then wheeled to my room, where we worked for the baby. For most of the time we were alone, just me and Theric, contraction by contraction, focused on my unplanned mantra, Waaaave as the waves passed through me, bringing the baby closer and closer. When it came time to push, the midwife came in and delivered the baby. Everything went smoothly. (Which is not to say I enjoyed the ring of fire.) Then a squirmy, crying, slippery, vernix-covered baby was placed on my chest. And I marveled not only at him but at what I had accomplished. A goal set five years ago, finally achieved. Euphoria. To quote the midwife, "You are amazing, a rockstar!"

Then after I had held Little Lord Steed long enough and allowed them to weigh and wash him, we were moved to maternity where I popped as many Vicodin and ibuprofen as they would give me.

Girl's got her limits.

Besides. What else did I have to prove?

published one month to the minute of the baby's officially recorded arrival