welcome lucile joy! (a birth story)

Our daughter is here! Little Lucy Joy entered the world at 9:21pm on Tuesday, August 19th. It’s only taken me seven weeks to get around to writing this blog post. Someone likes to be held a lot, and that’s just fine with me. We are finally settling into a routine, or as much of a routine as we can have with a newborn…

Reading over Lucy’s birth story, I realize that it is mostly about Leo; It was really Leo and his birth that drove me to want a VBAC so badly. A little backstory…

Leo was an unplanned c-section. After seeing “The Business of Being Born” I knew that I wanted a natural birth. Lenny and I took hours and hours of Bradley Method courses, I think we were probably qualified to deliver babies after all of the coaching and reading that we completed. But throughout the class there was a clear message that all interventions were bad. There was even one class devoted to talking to your doctor and nurses when they are trying to “push you” into interventions. Pitocin only benefited the doctor and epidurals were for wussies- the message was clear.

And there I was at 38 weeks pregnant with Leo when my water broke (at the mall in front of a crowd- but that’s a story for another time). And nothing happened. No contractions. And after 24 hours my doctor told me I had to start pitocin to get my labor going. I consented, but I promised myself that I would not get an epidural. Guess what? After 12 hours on the pit (when I was already at 10 centimeters but nobody had bothered to check me), I BEGGED for that epidural. There were a few really big mistakes made by the hospital and the doctors, but to tell the truth, I think that I mentally gave up the second that they started the pitocin. I had already “failed” at natural childbirth in the eyes of Ricky Lake and our Bradley Class. A very long 38 hours after my water broke, Leo was born via c-section. We were so in love with our new baby that it took a few weeks, even months to realize that we weren’t happy with our birth experience.

With a new doctor, a new hospital and a new mind set- Lucy’s birth was a completely different experience. My goal was to have a natural birth, specifically a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarian).  Because I did have a previous c-section there was a (small) risk of my uterus rupturing and my doctor really wanted her out by week 40, but he was very supportive of my desire for a VBAC and a natural birth. The last few weeks I was pregnant I was extremely focused on trying to push myself into labor- I tried everything long walks, herbs and oils, acupuncture, Thai massage, eating a whole (upside down) pineapple. Nothing worked.

I was determined to have a VBAC and as week 40 was rapidly approaching I made a decision that surprised even myself. I wanted to be induced. All of the “induction” methods that I had learned in my natural childbirth class weren’t working. One thing that I did learn from Leo’s birth is that pitocin works on me… and once I hit that 40 week mark, I would lose it as an option (most doctors don’t want to induce a VBAC after your due date as the risk of rupture is greater).

I met with my doctor and he was on board with my decision; Lenny and I walked over to the hospital from our appointment knowing that we were going to have our baby that day. It was a pretty calm day. I had an IV drip but I could get up and move around. We watched a lot of day time talk shows and local news. We checked in with my parents who were with Leo. I caught up on celeb gossip with a few US Weeklies. Every time my doctor came by to check in he did something to get my labor going from scraping my membranes to finally breaking my water- none of that was comfortable but the pain was pretty brief. They kept turning up the pitocin and the contractions were getting stronger and more frequent as the day went on but they weren’t too bad. The doctor had told me to ask for the epidural when I “really needed it” so I had that sort of vague statement in the back of my mind as the day progressed. You can see from the below selfie that we were having a pretty fun day in the hospital.

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It was about 7:30pm and Lenny was hungry for dinner so he went to grab something to eat down the street. We had said goodbye to our first nurse and met the evening nurse. Things were progressing slowly. I was watching “Extra” and talking with my mom to see how Leo was doing. I really had to pee and I was going to wait until Lenny got back because each time I got up I had to unplug the IV drip and cart a whole load of wires and tubes to the bathroom with me, but I decided I could handle it on my own. Something about that walk to the bathroom kicked things into high gear. By the time I got back to the bed, which was about a 15 foot walk that seemed like 15 miles, I went right for the nurse call button and asked for the epidural.  By that point I was shaking like crazy and there was little relief from the contractions.  Even though I was miserable I was excited because knew that I was in transition.

Everything after that was a blur… Lenny came back, the anesthesiologist came and gave me my epidural, the doctor miraculously showed up right after and checked me and it was time to push.  This was the part that I was the most scared about. With Leo I pushed for hours and hours and was eventually told that my pelvis was too small and that my baby couldn’t fit.  This time, it was different. I thought about Leo and how hard it would be if I wasn’t able to pick up him up or drive him to school for six weeks and I used that as my motivation.  I gave it my ALL and after only 20 minutes Lucy was born! I’m not going to say it was easy per se, but this birth was a dream compared to the last… we were home with Lucy with in 24 hours.

I guess the lesson that I learned is that there is no “right” way to have a baby.  The most important thing is being informed and in control of your birth.  I am very happy with the decisions we made on August 19th and, most of all, so happy that sweet Lucy is here.

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(written in several five to ten minute increments while Lucy sleeps in her swing and Leo is in school)

 

things not to say to a pregnant woman…

 

OK, so maybe I am a bit sensitive… but aren’t all pregnant ladies a bit sensitive?  It seems like everything that anyone says to me regarding my size or pregnancy in general is really pissing me off these days.  I mean, I know that I am pregnant.  It hardly seems necessary for everyone to be pointing it out all day long.  What to they expect me to say “Thank you so much!  I had no idea!  I better get to the doctor before I become one of those TLC specials!”  I find that people go out of their way to compliment pregnant women on their appearance…I’m not sure why this is necessary.  I’m carrying a baby, not walking the red carpet at the Oscars- I’m not waiting for every person I encounter to make (an insincere) comment on how I look.  Below are a few examples that have been ticking me off lately…

 

1.  “You look great!”- What I hear them saying is, “I’m only telling you that you look great because you obviously feel like crap.” I know I don’t look great- the dark circles under my eyes have formed their own dark circles, my face is in a constant grimace from my daily annoyance of heartburn and back pain. I’ve looked better.

 

2. “You must be due any day now” or “You look ready to pop.”  You might as well say, “You’re the size of a house!” This comment is especially annoying any time before 39 weeks.

 

3. “You hardly look pregnant at all”-  Well, I guess I like you better than the “ready to pop” guy but what I am hearing is…”You’re obviously pregnant but I’m just tell you this because I have no idea what to say.”

 

4. You’re so small–  This I think means “Congrats on not getting really fat during your pregnancy!” This is the one that gets me the most these days, because of my gestational diabetes and the fact that I have a small human sitting on my stomach have been on a pretty restrictive diet for the past few months.  So yes, I am “small” compared to my last pregnancy when I was able to enjoy things like milk shakes and carbohydrates but I’m hardly enjoying my new diet.

 

5. “You don’t look pregnant from the back at all?” This is by far the weirdest compliment I have heard.  WTF? Am I supposed to? Why are you looking at my ass?

 

Here’s my advice.  If you are compelled to compliment a pregnant woman, trying something like “I love those shoes.” Just to be safe…

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Here’s an “artistic” shot of me at 36 weeks.  Not small… and what’s up with my belly button?

(not so much) fun with gestational diabetes…

So it turns out I have gestational diabetes.  I was surprised when I “failed” my first one hour glucose test, but I heard that it was very common to “fail” the first one and do fine on the second one. Friends asked me a lot of questions like “Did you have coffee that morning? Eat a lot of sugar in the days before?” Yes and yes, there seemed to be a ton of anecdotal explanations as to my high glucose count.

So I ate carefully the days before my three-hour glucose test; even though I was really craving a Mexican coke and the blueberry poppy-seed cake from The Village bakery. I fasted for the recommended 12 hours before I went to the lab.  If you have never been subjected to a three-hour glucose test… it doesn’t really sound that bad, but trust me it’s not fun.

After fasting for 12 hours I went to a lab where they drew my blood, no big deal.  Then they gave me a bottle of fruit punch flavored “drink” and five minutes to chug it.  The drink taste more like a syrup concentrate that you would use to make fruit punch, but again, no big deal.  Then they draw your blood every hour… for three hours. The lady next to me at the lab told me that she failed her first test too and that she walked around a lot during her three-hour and passed, so I decided to try that.  Here’s where I knew something was wrong; about halfway out the door of the lab I started to get dizzy. By the time I was outside, I was unable to walk around the block.  I had to stop and crouch down, then lay down on a bench for a minute before I was able to make it back to the lab.  One hour after you finish the drink, they draw your blood again… I told the lab nurse how I was feeling when she made the draw. “That’s not good,” she said, “have you been eating a lot of sugar?”

The next hour was even more painful. I wanted to throw up but the nurse warned me that I may have to do the test again if that happened so I held it in and went back to lay down on the bench.  Normally, sleeping on park benches like a transient isn’t really on my list of acceptable behavior but I was too dizzy to sit up; but you gotta do what you gotta do… After the next blood draw the lab nurses had me lay down on a cot. Luckily, I fell asleep so the next hour went quickly.

Over the next few days my friends reassured me that I had nothing to worry about… my weight gain has been minimal in this pregnancy and I didn’t have gestational diabetes with Leo. But they were wrong, and I was wrong.

It turns out that how much you exercise, sugar you eat, and weight you gain really have nothing to do with it.  You can’t “cheat” the test by eating healthy the week before or going for a walk after you drink your glucose fruit punch.  In my case, gestational diabetes is caused by the genetic make-up of my placenta.  The good news is that I have a mild case, and there is something I can do about it;  I can control it with diet and exercise. So even though I was diagnosed well over a month ago I am still learning how to manage my glucose levels, and figure out what I can and can’t eat.  A few bites of cheesecake after a low-carb meal seems to be OK while a handful of trail mix can send my glucose readings into a frenzy… When I was pregnant with Leo, I was a total glutton; eating giant sandwiches for lunch every day and chocolate malts every night. Now I have to limit things that I would normally consider healthy like whole wheat toast and strawberries.

With this baby, I know I need to be more careful.  Especially since I am attempting a VBAC (more on that later), size really does matter. So I work out almost every day, I watch what I eat and I prick my finger and wait with trepidation at each reading of my glucose meter and hope that I am making good decisions for my baby.

(written while Leo naps)