Thursday, August 18, 2011


Today Warren woke up to birthday cheers! He is officially 7 years old even though I have been referring to him as 7 for a few months now. There seems to be no end to the celebrations. I let him off school today, allowed him to pick out his own special breakfast (fruity pebbles-he insisted on cereal despite my willingness to make chocolate chip pancakes, waffles or whatever he wanted). He got a special birthday lunch with daddy and tonight he gets to open his package from Grandma and Grandpa.  Tomorrow night we will be having a family birthday party for him with all of his cousins. I am making these Lego men pops and a lego block cake.  
I could definitely wax eloquent on how quickly the time has flown, how I already barely remember him and what he was like as a baby (was he really ever that tiny?) and many other maternal musings but I will try to hold myself back.
I do have to admit that the older my kids get the more and more I enjoy them.  I really love age 7.  He is still so willing and wanting to please and love his parents (hopefully something that will never go away even if it changes with different stages) and he is also able to hold his own in a conversation.
This past year he has learned to ride a bike without training wheels, build lego creations all by himself without needing any help from us, enjoy chapter books that have very little pictures, play the piano, and all around become more and more of a little man.
So here's to you Mr. Inquisitive! Happy Birthday!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Safe at Home Pt. 2

Shortly after our experience with Warren's birth my sister-in-law and her husband announced that they were expecting and that they were planning on having a homebirth. My mind was reeling with questions. First of all, why would they attempt a homebirth with their first child? She didn't even know how she was going to labor or what might happen. How could that be at all safe?  I could only imagine a rustic woman coming out of the woods and showing up at their door completely unqualified to assist in any way.
They seemed pretty determined to persist on their course and even started explaining to me how they felt my C-section was not necessary.  Although they were planting small seeds of doubt that would later be irresistible to my drive to know how, why, and what could have gone differently, at the time I dismissed their comments as them just not truly understanding the situation we were in.
When my sister-in-law did have a healthy baby at home with no complications it was as if we all breathed a sigh of relief. Something similar to the feeling we would have had after hearing that she went bungie jumping but thankfully ended up just fine.  In our minds it was just a fortunate coincidence that she and the baby made it through unscathed.
However, before we entered our journey with #2 I had to figure out what my options were.  We had just moved to a city which we discovered was very opposed to VBACs even in the hospital.  By this point I was convinced that I wanted another shot at a normal delivery.  I started reading books on VBACs, homebirths and anything that would help us in this process. My husband and I also started attending a homebirth class taught by a midwife that attended our church.  Yes, I ended up reading my share of very hippie, earthy, free spirited books.  I couldn't necessarily argue with what they were saying but their lifestyles were so very different than mine that I certainly couldn't give the books to anyone else to read.  I did however, find one that changed my viewpoint entirely. That book was Ina Mays Guide to Childbirth. Ina May was the quintessential hippie of her time but she is extremely knowledgeable about birth and brought whole new insight to my formerly cynical perspective.
Initially my husband was extremely nervous about the idea of having our 2nd at home but when we started looking into our options we realized that was our only choice. There was no other way for us to have a chance at a normal delivery otherwise.
Shortly after our decision we found out we were expecting and broke the news to our family and friends that we would be using a midwife and having our baby at home instead of going to the hospital.
Reactions to this news were diverse but with some explaining we were able to alleviate some fears if not all of them.  The biggest reaction was the fear that I had had a C-section before. What if something went wrong?  What if my uterus ruptured?
I can't say that we were blind to these concerns. Of course we had asked ourselves those questions countless times before we made our decision. Would this really be safe?  What would we do if something really did happen? We had to be convinced that homebirth was our safest option before we would ever pursue it.
One of the most comforting things about homebirth to me and my husband was the fact that our midwife would be with me through the entire labor. We would not get that kind of attention in the hospital and we were convinced it was extremely important for me to have someone who would be so involved that they would know when and if something did go wrong.  The minimal amount of intervention was also something we knew we had to have.  Most of the uterine ruptures after C-section happened in hospitals when the formerly sectioned woman received pitocin or some other uterine stimulus (this is extremely dangerous to a woman who has had a C-section).

Since that time we have had 2 babies at home and are preparing for our 3rd homebirth in a few months.  People often say I am brave for having my babies at home. They assume I have an extremely high tolerance for pain or that my labors are not as hard as others. This is definitely not the case. With our 2nd baby we learned that I labor long and hard.  My labors for both babies have lasted more than 24 hours from the starting of more intense regular contractions and after my 3rd baby was born I was completely convinced that our family would have to stay at 3.  I could not imagine going through all of that again. I am certainly not brave and labor is extremely painful; however, there is nothing like having my babies at home.  It is safe. No one is pressuring me to follow a time clock, no one is suggesting that "we move things along". Instead my husband and I work together through the entire process. I could not do it without him.  We read Bible verses, go on walks, and work through it all together.
I'm not saying that homebirth is for everyone but it certainly is something that is worth looking into.  There is no harm in exploring all the options before bringing a life into this world even if in the end your decision is that the hospital is the best place.  I mostly write these things to encourage those who have had a c-section before, that it can be done.  You can have a normal, natural delivery with the rest of your children. My 1st baby was 6lbs and my "small" pelvis was able to deliver 2 8lb babies naturally with very little pushing.
I know this is a very sensitive subject but I am thankful for all the progress that has been made regarding homebirth within the last 4 years and I hope that natural birth continues to become the more trusted option in the future.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Safe at home

My husband and I are one of the few couples in the U.S. that have chosen to have their babies at home with a midwife.  We were not always this way. In fact when we first got married I would have never believed we would be where we are today.
It wasn't until 6 months after our marriage when I found out I was pregnant that things started to change for us. Of course at that point we were considering no other option than the hospital. I knew that I wanted as little intervention as possible and so started devouring any book I could get my hands on about labor and delivery and anything else that might go along with babies...having them or otherwise. I was introduced to the Bradley method and thought if I could just relax enough I would have a relatively painless childbirth.  We were naive in all sorts of ways but hopeful and eager to meet our new little man...a piece of me and a piece of my husband all in one. What could go wrong with parents so dedicated and eager to do everything right?
The Dr. I had chosen for Warren's birth was at the time the best possible option anyone who had decided to go as natural as possible could imagine. He seemed very "all natural" and even encouraged me to steer clear of the epidural showing me videos on how it can make the baby lethargic and unresponsive after the birth. I had even heard rumors that he had assisted in a home birth in the past.
At 38 weeks things started to change. Of course I was extremely eager to have the baby and my Dr. was going on vacation around my due date. He was concerned that I would go into labor when he was away. He also started noting that I had a small pelvis and said because of its size and the position of my tailbone labor would most likely be long and difficult (this was not encouraging and started things out with fear instead of hope).  I was already 3 cm dilated so we were all thinking I would probably go early.  At that appointment the Dr. chose to strip my membranes to see if he could speed things up a bit. I did not fully realize what he was doing at the time so once I returned home from the appointment I looked it up to find more information. I instantly regretted allowing that to happen. That evening around midnight my water broke but I was having very little, if any contractions. This is where all the scenes from all the TV episodes and movies flashed through my brain and I assumed normal birth was like that (example: lady on TV about to pop, water breaks, everyone panics rushing her to the hospital with only seconds to spare, baby is born looking like a perfect 6 month old and all are healthy and happy).  Needless to say with these thoughts we felt an urgency to get to the hospital ASAP. The best thing was (in my mind) that even though I didn't have strong contractions I was guaranteed a spot in the hospital and my way of thinking was hospital=baby no matter what my body was doing at the time.
Once at the hospital there were the monitors, an IV for group B strep antibiotics, miles of ground covered walking around and around the nurses station and much stress as I started to worry that I would never go into full fledged labor.   We decided to give it a try. After all I was progressing very slowly and was on a time-line enforced by the hospital.  Even with the pitocin I was determined not to get an epidural (that being my last "all natural" holdout). I labored with pit for more than 6 hours very much nearing my 12 hour labor limit.  Still only one or 2 more cm dilated. Finally, the Dr. enters suggesting a C-section. At the time he explained again that I was probably just too small and there were some women that were just not able to have babies vaginally.  I wept over my inadequate body and wept over the process we had undergone the whole night before and the whole day only to end with a C-section. Thoughts of my future inability to have children flashed through my mind and I was crushed at the thought that our aspirations to have 6 children might be over.  There's no way my body could undergo 6 C-sections.  Ben and I were both weeping as they wheeled me to the operating room truly believing we had no other option (and at that point we might not have).  So my husband watched the baby being "born" behind the curtain and I struggled to deal with all that I was feeling.  After all I should be happy that we had a healthy boy right? I was of course, but it was just so much different than I expected. 
Thus began the first step in our quest to figure out what the future would hold for me and my babies.
To be continued......