I have noticed a shift since the beginning of 2018. My two nurslings aren’t nursing as much any more. This is hard for me. I have looked forward weaning my children. My breastfeeding journey had not been an easy one. However, as the time nears, I also don’t want this time to end. I think as with many things, it is because it highlights that this era of my life is ending. My littles are leaving babyhood and toddlerhood behind. So to honor this time, I wanted to write about my breastfeeding journey. It isn’t necessarily happy, but it is mine.
My breastfeeding journey started in 2008, when my eldest was born. I wasn’t prepared to breastfeed. I knew next to nothing about it. I figured since it was natural, it would come naturally. It didn’t. I briefly saw a lactation consultant in the hospital. However, she came in when everyone was sleeping, and my daughter wasn’t hungry.
Looking back, we had a latch issue. All I knew at the time was that it hurt, that my nipples were cracked and bleeding, and that neither the baby or I had any idea what we were doing. I tried to seek out a lactation consultant, but my first child bulldozed me. I was totally unprepared for this shift in my life. I was caught in survival mode.
I remember when she was three weeks old in the early hours of the morning, I was sitting on the couch in the living room, crying, holding a crying baby, exhausted, and having NO idea what to do, or how to make the pain stop. My mom came and took her from me, made her a bottle, and sent me to sleep. Except I couldn't sleep. I cried because I was failing at feeding my child. If I had known that babies went through a growth spurt at 3 weeks that might have helped put things in perspective enough to keep going, but doubtful.
No one living with me knew how to help, except to make a bottle. Nursing is about supply and demand. If a baby skips a feeding on the breast, the breast will make less milk. While making a bottle would sometimes help in the moment, it didn’t help in the big picture. So over the course of a week we seriously struggled. I had made up my mind that I was going to stop. Even though, by the time I made the decision, it had gotten better than it had been previously. However, I was afraid of the experience I had just been through. So I went through with my decision to quit breastfeeding. I nursed her exactly a month. I was devastated and defeated.
In between my first and second child I learned a lot about birth and breastfeeding I gained the knowledge about supply and demand and the growth spurts, that I had been lacking with my first child. We had also moved. I had decided that to combat the pain that I had nursing my first, I was only going to nurse on one side per feeding. She could hang out at that breast as long as she wanted, but one boob was going to get a break every feeding. This worked out well for us. During growth spurts she might take in both breasts during a feeding, but pretty much for the entirety of our nursing relationship this is how she operated.
Breastfeeding isn't supposed to be painful. Uncomfortable in the beginning sure, but toe curling pain, no. Except, for me, it was painful. At her one week appointment the lactation specialist with my doctors office gave us a nipple shield. My daughter hated nursing with it and would just cry.
But I was prepared! I knew what to do! I was going to go to the La Leche League meeting and see what seasoned breastfeeding mothers had to say. So I took my one week old out to go to this meeting, and no one was there. I walked around, thinking maybe there was a back door, or maybe they had a booth at the farmers market right there, but no. I left in tears, checking the time and location on my phone several times.
Ok so local support didn’t meet anymore, and we wouldn't see our family doctor until she was 4 weeks, but it was ok! I knew what to do! I was prepared. There was an IBCLC in Canon City 2.5 hours away. I took all the money we had, and put it in the gas tank, and took my 2 week old to see her. The IBCLC told me that my daughter had a vorcaious suck and to come back if it didn’t get better. I went to my car and cried. I drove all that way, got no real advice or path forward, and I couldn't afford to go back.
At every opportunity I told care providers that nursing was painful, for months. Nurses, doctors, the ladies at WIC, I told people I was in pain, and no real help was forthcoming. I felt like because I didn't plan to stop, and I was just willing to bear the pain, I was ignored. I always wondered if I would have gotten different care if I said I was going to quit. Would they have tried to get to the source of my pain to keep me breastfeeding?
I self diagnosed that she has a lip and tongue tie, At the time, as far as I was aware, the only person of repute who was able to revise a lip and tongue tie was 4 hours away in Denver. She was never revised. I nursed her for over two years in pain.
When she was around 20 months we moved briefly to Colorado Springs. I was pregnant with her brother and had the feeling I was in this forever. We called a local lactation consultant who came to the house and had her evaluated for a lip and tongue tie. It was confirmed and I was given a list of dentists who performed the procedure to revise the ties. We saw one that took our insurance, and he told us that he didn’t feel comfortable revising her unless we put her under at the hospital. Deciding that would be more traumatic than proceeding as is, we kept on keeping on.
I had started going to the La Leche League meeting at the East Library. It was wonderful for those with toddlers. At the time there were lots of mons tandem feeding. Thinking about how painful breastfeeding was would put me into tears. What if I had two that were painful to feed?! It caused me a lot of anxiety I would say things like “I really don’t want to breastfeed another one. Can we give him a bottle from day 1? Even though I was feeling this level of desperation, I knew I would breastfeed again.
My middle child has always had a connection to nursing. My oldest and youngest loved their pacifiers. My middle wanted nothing to do with them. She didn’t take bottles. Even as a young baby she would drink maybe an ounce from a bottle in a 6 hour period, just enough to not be starving until I got home. Even now when it is bedtime she looks forward to her noms. Nursing has been her one constant. She clings to it, and I don’t blame her.
Once her brother was born, between the two of them, milk was abundant and it hurt so much less than the dry nursing during pregnancy, that the pain was hardly any pain at all. Starting about 8 months ago, except during the last week of my cycle when progesterone is high, we have been for the most part, pain free.
I will say, we deserve it. It took over 30 months of nursing to nurse her pain free. There were so many tears. I have long said that I used the relaxation I learned in my Birth Boot Camp Comprehensive series far more in breastfeeding her, than during her labor and birth. During those two years I would reach out in various groups that I was in on Facebook asking for I don't know what Information I already had? Support? Permission to quit? Which I got plenty of each, all coming from a place of love. I just kept going, one feeding at a time.
When my son was born his latch didn’t feel right. He didn’t have a deep latch. Confirmed lip and tongue tie. I was really sad. I didn’t want to deal with this again. I decided to go to the Le Leche League meeting in town. I took my newborn out, where the LLL web page told me to go, and there was no one there. The group no longer met at Rawlings, but at Lamb. Except how would you know if you were an outsider trying to find a meeting? I left again, in tears. All I wanted was to have community to talk to about this.
I definitely had reservations about my two week old having lip and tongue tie revision, but the last two years of my life had traumatized me. If there was anything I could to to have this little one nurse pain free, I would do it. My husband went in there with him. We did the stretches and he had a bit of reattachment. Overall his latch improved and I have nursed him with relatively little pain for over 16 months.
However, as he has gotten older, I haven’t produced as much as he would like at night. He would complain by pulling my hair, and slapping my face. After about a month of me pleading multiple times night to leave me alone, and in general causing a scene 2-4 times a night in the middle of the night, my husband began to give him bottles of cows milk.
My supply is dropping, I am not producing the amount per feeding I was. On one hand, I am happy not to be up as much at night. On the other, I know where this is leading and I just don't know if I am ready. Being a breastfeeding mom became a huge part of my of my identity. It is hard to realize that won't be me anymore. I am not really sure where I am going from here in the weaning process. I have just had the feeling lately that this is the beginning of the end of this chapter of my life.
It is hard for me to go through change. Change is, however, inevitable. I know in my heart that I don’t want to nurse my son the same length of time as his sister. There are new things I want to do in my life, that will be easier if my body belonged completely to me again. I look forward to doing these things, while acknowledging these transitionatory moments are still really hard.
We celebrated my eldest child's birthday party this weekend. In honor of the growing being she is I am sharing her birth story.
I woke up in early labor around 5 AM on Monday morning. I was experiencing mild cramping sensations. At the time I wrote it off as end of pregnancy discomfort. I went back to bed, and dozed on and off until 9 AM. I spent the day putzing around. I started to reread a book I had recently read. The cramps got stronger throughout the day and eventually became time-able.
I called my mother and my husband around 1 PM to give them a heads up. My mom rushed home. My husband came home a few hours later after wrapping up at work. The cramping sensations had evolved into contractions.
We nibbled on food around 5 PM, but I wasn’t particularly hungry. My contractions were closer together at 3-5 minutes apart. However, they had no length or real intensity. My mother was nervous that I simply had a high pain tolerance, and would just have my baby on the kitchen floor. So we left for the hospital. Even though I wasn’t ready to go, I was worried my mother was right.
We got the the hospital about 7 PM and got checked into triage. I was monitored until 9. The triage nurse didn’t like my contraction pattern. They had moved to 2-4 minutes apart, but still lacked length and intensity. It was at this point that we were told I could be admitted, but that there was no hurry and that we should stay in triage for a while. Really we told them that if we could, we wanted to stay. I was making my mom nervous prior to going to the hospital. I felt like going home and having to come back in a few hours wouldn’t have helped anyone. So we walked the halls until we were admitted to a labor room at 10:30ish.
Once in the room my parents arrived and brought my husband food, and coffee. I was handling my contractions well. I felt like I was doing great. However, when my water broke at 12:15, I was not prepared for the change in intensity of my contractions. Around 12:30 my nurse walks in, and I had my husbands arm in a death grip. I was begging him to take the pain away.
I had the notion previous to labor that I was going to have a natural birth. However, neither my husband or I had the tools for the moment. I was unprepared. I ended up requesting IV medication. I felt like it would be an in between of a natural birth and an epidural. I had the idea that it was just going to take the edge off.
When the Fentanyl took effect, it was horrible. I was really disoriented. I was uncoordinated. The contraction sensations were different. Before, when I didn’t have the medication in my system I could feel a contraction coming and work through it. Even if I didn’t handle it well, I worked through it. I knew the contraction would end and I could take a deep breath. However, after the medication, I couldn’t really comprehend what was going on, outside of myself. Every contraction felt like an attack, because it came seemingly out of nowhere, it lasted forever, and the sensations of the drugs didn’t go away when the contraction was over. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I was sweating, even though my husband said I was freezing. I thought I was communicating that I wanted to call the nurse. All I was saying was that I wanted to go home. All I wanted to do was sleep in between contractions, so I could get away from the feeling of being drugged.
I asked for an epidural at some point during that experience. In the moment it was amazing. I was physically and emotionally tapped. I had no more to give. All I wanted after that was to sleep off the whole thing. I had never had pain medication like that until that day. I had no idea my body was going to respond like that.
While I was getting the epidural I remember asking the anesthesiologist if my feet were supposed to feel like they were asleep. He chuckled and told me that’s what I was supposed to be feeling. I had no idea! I thought I would feel nothing. I ended up napping for a few hours, and everyone let me be to rest.
My nurse checked my cervix a bit before 5 in the morning. I was completely dilated, and it was time to start pushing. It was hard because I was so tired still, and I couldn’t feel to push. I had no idea what I was doing. Eventually I was told to push like I was pooping. Which was apparently more effective than whatever I as previously doing.
I was supported for the next hour by my nurse, and husband. For the most part, pushing felt like a nonevent to me. I was told when I was having a contraction and coached when to push. The doctor on call, whom I hadn’t met until that point, came into my room about 10 minutes before my daughter was born. She caught her at 5:56 in the morning on November 25th. She was placed on my chest in a blanket. We spent some time together as a new family, before she and my husband went off to bathe her, and I got settled in with some much deserved breakfast.
Hey everyone. I spent quite a bit of time getting to know many of the doulas in Pueblo this year. I thought it would be fun to let you get to know them too! First up is Emmy Harmon. She an Lacey Albrecht make up Your Birth Story Doula and Birth Services.
Tell me a little about yourself as a person?
I am pretty reserved until I get to know people. But once I do I am pretty open. I am also pretty open minded and flexible.
If you feel comfortable, would you tell us a bit about the births of your children?
My first was induced at 41 weeks. I was “allowed” to labor for only 8 hours by my OB. He decided that I needed a section with no distress or other factors that made vaginal birth impossible. With my second I was much more educated on what my options were and opted to drive 1 hour each way for prenatal care and birth so that I could have a VBAC. I went into labor at 39 weeks and achieved my VBAC, though there were many other factors that made me unhappy with that experience. My third child was an unintentional unassisted home birth. When we realized that my labor was progressing rapidly we didn't have time to make the hour drive to the hospital and our local hospital has a ban on VBAC'S so going there was not an option for us. My 4th child was also induced. I had some health issues that made continuing the pregnancy past 37 weeks very risky. At just under 37 weeks I was induced. As I progressed my babys heart rate was dipping drastically during contractions but recovering well in between. When I was checked for dilation the nurses and my OB found little fingers in the way. Despite efforts to move the fingers back, baby’s entire hand ended up coming out of my cervix ahead of her head. At that point continuing to labor became dangerous and we opted for a cesarean.
Why did you become a doula?
I became a Doula because of my own birth experiences. I trained as a doula after my first VBAC. I realized that having an experience that families were pleased with could be very difficult without the support of someone more knowledgeable and experienced with birth.
What was different about the reality of doula work, that you thought would be different?
It is very difficult to create a birthing community when so few people are aware of their options. Many are also unaware of what a doula is or does.
What do you love now that you didn’t expect to love about being a doula?
I love being able to help families have birthing experiences that more closely align with their vision of birth. Sometimes things don't go as planned but that doesn't mean it can't be a positive experience.
What free advice would you have to give to a pregnant woman to help prepare herself for birth?
Research everything. Be informed because you are the one in charge of your birth.
This is the birth story of my middle child. Considering it is the end her birth month it feels appropriate to share this, and squeeze it in on the last day of the month. This was my first natural birth, and my first birth that my husband and I prepared with a Comprehensive Birth Boot Camp series.
I am not quite sure where to start Evangeline’s birth story. I think because it affected my mentality it begins at 37 weeks. On September 5th I had my first bout of prodromal labor. The contractions were 4-5 minutes apart and didn’t stop when I took a bath or went to sleep. I labored that night for 9 hours.
While it faded away, I realized that I held tension in my feet during contractions. My feet hurt so badly the next day. It reminded me what contractions felt like. I can only describe them with the visual I used of a balloon blowing up. They started somewhere below my belly button went down to my cervix and then up to the top of my uterus. It also however gave me the expectation that I would have a baby any time. Compounded by the fact that my doctor was running unnecessary tests on me which filled me with a lot of anxiety I wasn’t in a very good mental place. But for the next week nothing continued to happen.
Saturday the 13th I had prodromal labor again. This time they were farther apart but still there. I thought “I am not saying this is it but I am not saying it is not.” I thought it was more likely that this was it because they didn’t just start at 5 minutes apart like the other ones did. I walked around a bit but they went away. I got in the shower and cried. I text my doula Katie about how discouraged I was. I felt frustrated that I kept putting people on alert just for it to go away. She told me that my body was so beautifully preparing for labor. I held onto that.
The next week I started losing my mucus plug. It wasn’t large chunks just tiny bits at a time. In fact I was in denial. I kept telling myself it was the same cervical mucus I had been experiencing my entire pregnancy. Then finally on day three of it I told myself that the mucus had never been greenish before and that it was in fact my mucus plug slowly going.
Saturday the 20th I woke up at 5 am having contractions again. I determined from the get go that I was not going to be excited. I did contact Katie asking her what she was up to that day, telling her that I was being optimistic that it would be a good day to have a baby. She told me she had a lot of homework to do and would have to make herself do a certain amount before she could be there for me. (I completely understood. I knew when we discussed her attending my birth that she might not make it. That she might have a test or something school related that would make it so she couldn’t attend.)
I didn’t time my contractions really at all that day. I glanced occasionally at the clock but they were completely irregular. 30 minutes 10 minutes 20 minutes, an hour apart, seemingly random. I went about my day. I did the dishes, attended Mari’s friends soccer game (where my nose got burnt and I got raccoon eyes,) and tagged along and supervised the weeding for ASU cares day. At one point I was joking with Katie that my blind date didn’t know if they were interested. My morning contractions had slowed down but I had bloody show. I was getting mixed signals.After eating a picnic lunch of pizza with everyone who actually worked hard weeding the playgrounds I admitted to myself I was discouraged that the contractions weren’t going anywhere and went to get a pedicure from one of my close friends. I wanted to pamper myself. I needed to pamper myself.
Our apartment backed right up to the college's football stadium. I got back to my house around 4pm, and the stadium had already started playing their usual pregame music for the football game. (Which really I am sick of hearing Radioactive over and over again.) It was 3 hours before the game and I felt like it was unnecessary to start playing the music so early. Plus I was getting cranky after being up since 5 am. So I laid down despite the music and tried to relax.
Around 6 pm we went to get subway. I wanted something that wouldn’t give me heartburn and something that no one had to cook. (After all, all my dishes were clean.) We got back to the apartment and my back was hurting so I did some pelvic rocks and tried in general to relax my lower back. I text Katie again and told her that I was still sporadically contracting. Still more bloody show. As usual I had no idea what was going on with my body. The linear nature of Maribelle's birth did not prepare me for the stop and start of prodromal labor.
I went out back, and as usual we watched the football game from the dirt lot behind our apartment. I took a couple of blankets out there and sat on my exercise ball contracting erratically throughout the first half. By the end of the first half my back was killing me. Right under my shoulder blades. I came inside telling Drew I was in so much pain I was going to cry or throw up. It made no sense why that part of my back was hurting when it should have been my lower back.
So he got out the back massage chair and I sat in it for the 15 minutes it runs before I laid down and rested again. I don’t know how long I rested for I think I fell asleep at some point. The friends we were watching the football game with brought Mari home. She started crying (mostly just overtired) and I went in there and read her bedtime stories. She fell asleep and I got into the bath. My back needed relief!!
I got in the bath and my back felt amazing. Admittedly I pretty much always took my baths somewhere around 100-102 degrees. I just wanted to relax. So I did. And then I started getting contractions while laying on my back in the bath. I noticed my back was just tensing up again and again so I decided to get up. Our bath is quirky and filling up the bath to keep it at the water level I wanted it at was getting annoying.
It is about 10:30 pm at this point. The lights had been turned off and Drew was in bed. So I grab my iPod to listen to some of the relaxation/affirmation tracks I had acquired and decided to join him. At 11 pm Katie text me and told me to keep her posted. I told her that they were getting a bit stronger but no closer together. I wasn’t timing them so this was all based on feeling, and that I was starting to have to focus during them but could relax well between them. The fact that I got her text at that moment I thought was interesting because that was about the time where I decided being in the bed was not working for me at all. One of my affirmations was telling me that I was floating down a slow river and I thought “No, no I am not floating on a river.” So I got out of bed. I hung out for a few contractions in the little hallway by all of our bedrooms/bathroom amazed at how much better my back felt when I stood through the contractions.
I headed over by my computer to the entry to our kitchen. I also decided that, well, maybe I should time them. So I opened up the contraction tracker I downloaded on my phone. At 11:30 (feeling a little bit guilty because I was sure she had just gone to bed) I text her telling her that they had gotten a lot closer together. That it made me feel a lot better to vocalize through them, and that I would probably be waking up Drew soon. I didn’t really feel like I needed help. I just did not want to be alone anymore with my own thoughts. I was having a really hard time deciding to make the call to tell people this was it. Agonizing would be a better term. I didn’t want to pull Mari out of bed for nothing. To rob my friends and family of their sleep if it led to me just going to sleep at 3 am disappointed again.
Half an hour later I got a text from my Katie telling me to let her know if it was go time. Again I felt like her text was perfect timing. I had just made the decision to wake up Drew. I had spent the last 15 minutes telling myself after the next contraction I will get him up, that I would let him sleep through one more contraction. (For 3 contractions.) I remember feeling so full of guilt that he had only gotten two hours of sleep. But after 5 minutes he was up and buzzing around. I text Katie back telling her that I was waking up Drew and notifying Mari’s caregivers. That I couldn’t do this by myself anymore. Drew started cleaning our apartment like a bit of a maniac. To be honest I was a bit annoyed, but had given him no other direction and didn’t know what he could have done for me even if he had asked.
I got another text back asking if I wanted her to meet us at the apartment or hospital. I told her to meet me at the apartment that I wasn’t quite ready for the hospital. It was true I wasn’t. I wasn’t ready mentally. What if I was only at a 2? I also wasn’t ready physically. I still had stuff to gather for my bag. She asked me how close together my contractions were. I told her 3 minutes sometimes 4. Not willing to admit to my mental state I did admit to needing to get some things together.
It was at this time she called my phone. She and her husband had been praying and he told her just to call me. I had two thoughts when my phone rang. The first was that it was Katie, the second that it was my mother and she had gotten a feeling so she called me. I was pretty dang glad it was Katie because I couldn’t have lied to my mom that I was in labor even if I didn’t want her to come down for it. Katie told me she was going to make herself some coffee and be right over.
Drew continued to clean the apartment. Since I had woken up Drew I spent my contractions laboring over a rickety TV dinner stand and vocalizing. In fact I was kind of manic about it. I had to get back to that little table before my next contraction. I needed that little table. At one point I called it my island. (It was hanging out in the middle of the living room.) Katie showed up about 15 minutes (maybe? my timing got fuzzy) after her phone call. I remember the contraction after she showed up she and Drew were just staring at me. It threw me off my rhythm. I told them to stop staring at me (not quite sure how I phrased it or if I was even nice about it) and they did. Drew changed up tactics and started getting Mari’s bag ready to go to our friends and getting the last minute things for our bag. Around 1ish I told him to contact Adam that Mari needed to leave. She had slept the whole time but something in me was telling me she needed to go.
During this time I had random thoughts during my contractions. One of them was that I didn’t need to worry about Mari if I had a homebirth after all she had slept through so much of me making noise. There were other random thoughts always having to do with labor but irrelevant to my labor. He got her up and dressed and out the door. She came and gave me hugs and kisses with her little stuffed dog clutched in her hands as she walked out of the house. In between contractions I would be having conversation with Katie. We don’t get to hang out much and so I was trying to catch up in between contractions. I noticed that my contractions were much harder to stay on top of if I didn’t get in my labor cloud after the tightening before the pain started. I wanted to talk to her so it was hard to cut myself off or cut my brain off listening to her if I had another contraction coming.
I don’t know how to describe my labor cloud it was just a place in my head I would go during contractions. There I could be both analytical and not present at the same time. I could remind myself to keep my shoulders loose to keep my tone low through my vocalizing. That I wanted to be 9 months pregnant instead of 7 months pregnant. (Which came from my birthing class about being relaxed and whether or not someone was handling contractions well.) I would have realizations but not be able to do anything about it. During one contraction I realized gently swaying back and forth wasn’t doing it for me any more I needed to bend my knees and move into my contraction. But I couldn’t do anything about it during that contraction it was too late.
After Mari left I know I started getting louder. I know my contractions started getting longer (but not all of them) At one point I sat on my birth ball I think I was there for 2 contractions? It might have only been one I distinctly remember one. I was on the ball and wham it hit me. It was the only double peaking contraction I had. At one point I went from sitting on the ball and I shot up to a standing position. It was the most painful contraction I had. I didn’t manage it well at all. Katie started helping me then I leaned on her during a contraction at one point. Drew got home from dropping off Mari. I felt strangely tired and sat down on the very edge of my couch. Shifting my island so it was right in front of me. I knew sitting cockeyed would have been horrible during a contraction. I don’t remember if I contracted with my head resting on the tray or if I just rested there in between contractions. For the record Drew dropping off Mari took 20 minutes total. I think Drew was home for about 3 contractions when I pretty much said it is time to go to the hospital. During those contractions Katie started massaging my back. Pressing on it something. She was messing with the muscles. Which was perfectly fine with me.
I toyed with the idea of walking for a few seconds. We live so close and it would help labor progress. I had also heard that contractions in the car were hell. It was only a 3 minute drive (I had previously timed it) but I didn’t want car contractions. Well I had one. It was probably my least graceful moment up until that point. I was calling the car all sorts of names. There were swear words involved. Drew actually apologized to the car telling the car that I didn’t mean it. Now it was funny but at the time I was like “REALLY?!” We got to the hospital and I had a contraction in the parking lot. I loved the car at that moment it was stable and there and I could lean on it.
We got inside the ER (All other entrances are locked) and the guy at the front desk was ignoring us. I vaguely thought about faking a contraction to get his attention (he just had to open the doors so we could access the other parts of the hospital) when I had another contraction. I don’t think I had another one until we got to the labor and delivery floor but maybe? We ring the bell to get into the unit. Go to the nurse’s station state my name provider etc. confirm I am in the system. I think I said something like “Yay I exist.” I wasn’t aware of it at the time but it was 1:55 AM. I think I had a contraction by the nurse’s station. The CNA introduced herself. Walked us to my room. I got the biggest one because L&D was full. Which I remember being funny to me because I remember commenting to my friend how the L&D here is never full. I made the comment that I could see my house from the windows. (Not quite but I knew I could see the apartment complex.)
I was told to get into a gown, which I declined. I changed into my old navy skirt. I had envisioned myself laboring in it every time I imagined labor. I remember being perfectly ok with stripping down and changing into my skirt in front of Katie and Drew but the CNA made me uncomfortable so I went to the bathroom. Being uncomfortable with the CNA also made me uncomfortable laboring the way I had been at home. I had a silent contraction in the bathroom. (Really overall just a bad idea.) But I had just gone pee and I didn’t want anyone coming in to make sure I was ok when I didn’t have anything covering my butt.
I got out of the bathroom and had another contraction underneath the TV. I may have had one here before changing? Maybe I am confusing the two. I know I stared at the hospital bed with dread. I did not want to get on that thing and be monitored I did not want to get a cervical check. I really really did not want to lay down for all of this. So I climb up on the bed in my skirt and lay on my left side. She told me to lay on my back. I stayed on my side. She got the heart rate monitor hooked up. I had a contraction. I was pushing. Wait what? Why was I pushing? It is too soon to push. But I was grunty and pushy. I told the CNA “I am pushy and I don’t think I should be yet.” She went to get the nurse. This is where it gets REALLY fuzzy. SO I will just type out what I remember and the impressions I got. I don’t know when the next 2 or three contractions happened. The nurse came in to do the cervical check. I told her “Hi I am Carol.” I felt like she should know my name before she stuck her hand up my vagina. Really I feel like I should have at least been taken out to dinner first but time was of the essence. In the end I wasn't checked, Evangeline was basically crowning. They got me on my back at some point. I may have been pushing up with my feet and hips into somewhat of a bridge position at some point. I was trying to escape the pain. I know I was pushing, and being told not to push, and laughing hysterically in my head how could I NOT push? I didn’t make the conscious decision to push in the first place. Katie was trying to get me to blow instead of push but I just couldn’t manage it.
The next impressions I have were of total chaos. People were running in and out of the room rushing around.
“Get Dr. T in here NOW.”
“I need to I.V. her.”
We don’t have time for that GLOVE UP GLOVE UP NOW!”
[Hahahahaha <- Me in my head.]
“She is coming! she is coming!” <- me on repeat out loud.
“You are doing amazing. You are doing so good.” <- Katie in my ear
[Love is a burning thing and it makes a fiery ring.] (Yes I did have Ring Of Fire go through my head while I was experiencing the ring of fire. Brought to you by my labor cloud I guess.)
“I can’t do this I can’t do this I can’t do this.” <- me on repeat out loud. (It did happen, just not during transition)
My water broke with a splash, and then her head was out. I remember just relaxing. The uncontrollable urge to push was gone, and then an octopus fell out of me. And then said gooey octopus was put on my chest.
The Dr. didn’t make it. She comes rushing into the room “I was a minute away. I was on the floor. How did I not make it?” She comes over to me. “Hi I am Carol.” “Hi Carol I am Dr T.” the nurse laughed and told Dr. T that that is what I said to her too. Up her hand went into me. Drew said that was the most pain he had seen of me thus far that night. I had a teeny tiny tear that didn’t require stitches but damn her hand up there hurt!! They clamped the cord and handed Drew the scissors. (This may have happened before the Dr. Checked me) He belatedly remembered that we wanted delayed cord clamping. But under the circumstances I completely understood.
I remember getting a shot of Pitocin in my thigh. I remember them taking the baby (who was still then nameless and thus still baby in my head) over to be weighed. Then the nurse did fundal massage. I made the comment that they should call it fundal torture instead of a massage. The nurse laughed again. I was not laughing. I was being tortured. I remember asking if the placenta came out all in one piece. (It did.) I remember hearing the moment the Vit K shot happened. And she was back on my chest. I don’t know if my sports bra (which zipped up the front that I got for this specific purpose) was unzipped when she was given to me the first time or second time. But she laid on my chest and hung out for a good long while. She had her first feed and then fell asleep.
I gave her to Drew. Got up went to the bathroom changed into my nursing tank while the nurse made the bed more comfortable. Then she was back into my arms. The eye goop was applied to her closed eyes. (I had intended to wipe it off. I don’t have any STDs that would require the goop. However it is state law that we have it. But was told not to wipe it off. So I didn’t.) And then we were left alone to begin as a family of 4 instead of 3.
My impressions of the birth were multi-faceted. The words scary and intense are almost interchangeable but not quite. It was very intense. It was fast! 20 minutes from the time that it was verified I existed in the system to baby in arms. There were people rushing around everywhere. But that part wasn’t scary. They weren’t rushing around because baby needed to be out now but because baby was coming now. It was scary I think because I wasn’t prepared to be where I was in labor. I was prepared to be at a 7 when I was checked. I never felt like I had gone through transition. Although looking back it probably started with that contraction on the birth ball. Until I felt the overwhelming need to push I never lost my modesty. Everyone says you won’t care when the time comes but 15 minutes before baby was out I still cared. When I went pee I never felt like I had to poop I went in the bathroom to change and thought “Might as well go pee. I will be on the monitor for a 20 minute strip.” I remember thinking how cool it was that we got a big room because we would have the space for me to move around and for me to labor. I remember thinking that it was cool that because of the room’s position on the floor that I had no neighbors to freak out if I got too loud. I was prepared to labor for hours still.
Until I started pushing I felt pretty on top of my contractions. I could single out the ones that I didn’t cope with well. I never hit the “I can’t do this” wall that I expected to. I was scared because it did happen so fast. With Mari I had an epidural. I was told I was complete and that it was time to push. I wasn’t concerned with the time but it took me an hour. This time it was primal. I was terrified that I was pushing too hard too fast and I would tear horribly. In fact I was certain of it. I count have stopped if I wanted to. I don’t remember wanting to. I remember wanting it to be over. I remember thinking I wanted to be on my side not my back. I had really hoped to not be on my back this time around. However I wouldn’t have been able to move off my back of someone didn’t help me and I didn’t have the wherewithal to ask. But most everything I didn’t want to happen didn’t happen. I didn’t want an I.V. My doctor and I agreed to a saline lock but I really didn’t want that either. They didn’t have time for either. I didn’t want to be monitored a lot. I think they got like a 5 minute strip. I didn’t want a lot of cervical exams. I didn’t want to wear a hospital gown. The things that I did want kind of got thrown out the window such as not being on my back and then I wanted delayed cord clamping. I did get to delay the eye goop though which was high on my list.
I feel like my daughter’s birth was highly intuitive. I think there was a huge head game to it. Whether it was just me knowing my body and what needed to happen or maybe it was me allowing myself what needed to happen as things were unfolding. It is said other mammals when they feel threatened their labor will stop and they won’t continue to labor until they feel safe. Maybe this is the same concept. Not that I felt unsafe at any point but I feel like I didn’t let myself go into true labor until the people I wanted at my birth had assembled. I had a hard time deciding when to call in my team but once I had things took off. I don’t feel like it got real until Mari left home. I knew we had to leave for the hospital when we did. Would I have had a homebirth had I stayed at home any longer? Maybe. Maybe my body would have waited till I got to the hospital had I waited another 20 minutes. Either way she arrived with flare.
Spinach had been around for a really long time. The earliest references to Spinach were fro the Sassanian Empire, which rules fro 226-640 AD. Through sophisticated irrigation techniques Arabs brought Spinach to the Mediterranean.
2 cups of spinach is 3 milligrams of Zinc. ¼ of your daily requirement.
Here in Colorado Spinach enjoys a pretty long growing season. A variety of Spinach grows well in Colorado including Savoy types such as Bloomsdale and melody and Semi-Savoy such as, tyee.
Spinach is high in iron, zinc, vitamins A & C, as well as folate and magnesium. Of course, like other leafy greens, spinach is a good source of fiber. It also contains antioxidants.
So basically spinach is good for you. So what do you do with it? One of my favorite ways to eat it in a salad.
Basically anything you would use lettuce for, you can substitute spinach. I don’t use any type of lettuce in my tacos any longer, just spinach. (This is simply a taste preference.)
1 cup of spinach contains 260 micro-grams of Folate. A pregnant woman needs 600-800mg daily.
One of the best things about spinach is that is cools down A LOT. Raw spinach cooks down to hardly anything.
What is your favorite way to eat Spinach?
Food Spotlight is a series dedicated to my discovery of the foods I eat, and the nutrients that are in them. I do not have specialty in nutrition. Anything that appears on my blog regarding food is from research I have done. If you have more accurate information post it and your source. I love new information!
To celebrate Pueblo’s breastfeeding families Pueblo WIC held a celebration in honor of World Breastfeeding Week at the Pueblo Mall. It was a lovely event that included a Big Latch On that made the event exciting and fun.
Here we are getting ready for the latch on!
A Big Latch On event is slightly strange to describe. To promote and support breastfeeding everyone takes their nurslings and latches on at the same time. It was fun. It gave me a sense of comradery, sitting with these women I have never met and nursing our babies. In my case I tandem nursed my children for the first (and probably last) time. I nurse both my infant and two year old, but not together. I really should have sat on the floor poor Eva was hanging off my lap so uncomfortably.
Pueblo WIC did a fantastic job. With this event. We received tons of swag from WIC and the various vendors, and there was a raffle to on some goodie baskets!
I ran into Lacey Albrecht and Emmy Harmon from Your Birth Story Doula and Birth Services. I had the pleasure of sitting next to Emmy and her little nursling during the latch on.
I also got to chat with Sharon McDougal C.P.M. again
Elmo was there. Poor Eva was really scared. It was a bit of a parenting fail. I did not prepare her for a 6 ft Elmo. On Sesame Street puppets are smaller than people. I think she was expecting puppet Elmo. (She asked to watch Sesame Street last night, so she isn't traumatized for life.)
We left after making our rounds. It was nap time for the bubs, and Eva was afraid Elmo would come back. Overall I think this was an excellent event and will be back next year for sure!
I have a fellow Birth Boot Camp instructor who is a School Food Consultant. She posted this article on Facebook about a month ago.
I have definitely had experiences like the one described in the article. Recently I was in a little market in downtown Denver, Marczyk Fine Foods. They have a little deli that makes sandwiches. I had no idea what so many of the menu items were. I ended up not like the herbed goat cheese on what I got, but I tried something new. This got me thinking about food, and how much I do not know about it, and how very little I have eaten of it.
So I am going to start a blog series surrounding my exploration of the foods I eat, and I am going to share the information I learn here. Perhaps it will be valuable to someone else as well. Stay tuned!
So how is knowing your your cycle works cool? (If you haven't read it here is Part 1)
You can use this information to help you get pregnant.
I have used Fertility Friend for charting my cycle since 2009. Then on the computer, now on the app on my phone. They have a basic course in charting that will help you get to know your cycle better. When charting your cycle the first day of a woman’s period is Cycle Day 1. Knowing that ovulation occurs when a woman’s estrogen levels reach a certain threshold, it is safe to say that not all women ovulate at the same time. However when a woman’s due date is calculated using their Last Menstrual Period the model assumes that all women ovulate on Cycle Day 14 of their cycle.
This chart shows a woman who did ovulate on Cycle Day 14. She got a positive pregnancy test at 16 days post ovulation.
It can be helpful to know exactly when you ovulated, so that you can have a more accurate due date. If you ovulated later than that, it can make a difference when, at the end of pregnancy, due dates become a big deal. You might be facing an induction when, if calculated by the day of ovulation, your baby isn’t even sue to be born yet.
This is my chart from when I got pregnant with Malcolm. I stopped taking my temperature after the plummeting temp. It was too nerve wracking for me to keep taking it. I ovulated when an "average" woman would be expecting her period, making my due date 2 weeks off of the date my Last Menstrual Period would have provided.
You Can Use It For Birth Control
If you do not want to use commercial birth control, for whatever reason, this is a good way to know your body. I would strongly recommend checking out a much more in-depth look at how using this method could work for you than the Fertility Friend course could provide you.
If you are looking for something with a religious slant, the Couple to Couple League is a Catholic Organization that has various types of classes:
Live Classes - Scheduled live, in person class with instructors. (At the time of writing this, there was no live class in Pueblo. There are some however, in Colorado Springs.)
Live Online Classes- Live, online course where one would interact with instructors through scheduled class times.
Self Paced Online Course
While I am not Catholic, my introduction I got to Natural Family Planning was. The resources I got were Catholic in nature, and they helped me learn a lot about my body.
I love Toni Weshler’s book, Taking Charge Of Your Fertility. When I realized my cycles were outside the realm of normal, I needed more help than my previous resources could provide me. So, I purchased Taking Charge Of Your Fertility on Amazon. It is a book that is, I believe, essential to someone who is using this method to avoid pregnancy. They have an app. I haven’t checked it out, but they have one.
You will be able to closely predict when her period will arrive.
So really this is number one for me. Because the Follicular Phase all depends on the level of estrogen, it can vary in length. However, a woman’s luteal phase is usually fairly constant. Mine is usually in between 12-14 days. With one outlier in either direction. This is important because many women do not have a 28 day cycle. They might ovulate earlier or later or have a shorter luteal phase. Knowing exactly when you ovulated can help a woman be prepared for the arrival of her period. Knowing when she ovulated can also keep a woman from buying unnecessary pregnancy tests. I usually ovulate around day 21 of my cycle. If I went off the assumption that women have a 28 day cycle I would always think that my period was late, when really it wouldn’t be due to arrive for another 5-7 days. A lot of unnecessary money and worrying.
My fertility is coming back after having my son. I recently had an experience in which, because of my cervical fluid, I had assumed I had ovulated. So I was waiting and nothing, more waiting, more nothing. I started taking my temperature again, in hopes of understanding what is going on. I really do love knowing my body, and what it is doing. It makes me feel better. Plus I don’t want to worry about being caught with white pants on when my period is going to start!
Until I was 21 I didn’t really know what my body was doing during my cycle. I got my period and moved on. I had heard that women ovulated 2 weeks after their period starting, but that was it. In the summer after my oldest was born I had had it with my Mirena IUD. I had been having cramps that ranged from mild, to putting me on the floor. It also effected my mood in a negative way. So I decided on a hormone free birth control. I was skeptical about the copper IUD. After my experience with my Mirena, I did not really want something that sat in my uterus.
I stumbled upon natural family planning. I read a lot of material online. My friend Melissa was very helpful when I was first figuring it out, by providing me materials to read, answering questions, and has answered questions I have randomly asked since.
I use the sympto-thermal method of Natural Family Planning. It uses cervical fluid, and your basal body temperature (your temperature right upon waking) to determine fertility. How does it determine fertility? Science. Women’s bodies are so cool. When a woman ovulates her temperature rises.When you collect this data, you can get some really useful information from it.
So why does a woman’s temperature change when she ovulates? Hormones. There are 4 different hormones involved in a woman’s menstrual cycle. The first is the Follicle Stimulating Hormone, which is released by the pituitary gland. (Which is in the brain.) Girls are born with the number of eggs in their ovaries they will have for their lifetime.
The eggs are housed in a follicle. When FSH is released during a woman’s cycle it causes about 15 eggs in each ovary to mature. The follicles of these maturing eggs begin to produce estrogen. When a woman’s body reaches an estrogen threshold, the pituitary gland produces the third hormone, Luteinizing Hormone. The surge of this hormone causes whichever of the maturing eggs that has become the largest to be released from the ovary. At this point, the follicle that housed that egg caves in on itself and becomes a corpus luteum.
This image was taken from Encyclopedia Britanica for more information about the Corpus Luteum visit their site here.
This then produces the fourth hormone progesterone. It is this hormone that is responsible for the temperature shift. One cannot tell whether or not you are fertile from your temperature. One cannot get any information from just a single temperature reading. It is a pattern in which one can tell if ovulation occurred. This separates a woman's cycle into two parts. The Follicular Phase before ovulation, and the Luteal Phase after ovulation.
This is where other signs of fertility come into play. The main one is cervical fluid. Unlike men, women are not fertile all the time, just the days around ovulation. During this time a woman’s body will produce a fluid so that sperm can easily reach the egg. Throughout the month cervical fluid will change from dry, sticky, creamy, wet/slippery/egg-white. It is his sign accompanied by the thermal shift that indicates that ovulation occurred. Another sign of fertility in cervical position. A woman’s cervix changes position throughout your cycle that a woman could feel with her fingers.. There are other secondary signs as well. Some women feel cramping, others breast tenderness. Some feel an increased sexual desire around the time they ovulate.
So, now that we know what is happening, why is knowing this cool? Check out Part Two!
Omega-3 Fats and Pregnancy- 7 ways Omega-3s help you and your growing baby
A pregnant individual needs lots of nutrients to help grow a baby. One of the most important nutrients a growing baby needs is Omega-3 fats. A baby extracts Omega-3 DHA from their mother’s blood. During the last three months, when the baby’s brain is growing the most, naturally the baby takes the most DHA.
So how do Omega-3s help a growing baby?
Omega-3s help at the cellular level. DHA/EPA make the cell membrane healthier, conditioning cells to be selectively permeable- keeping the bad stuff out, and letting the good nutrients in.
Omega-3s serve as food to the baby’s brain cells. Myelin coats nerve cell fibers. It is mostly fat. The more Myelin, the better these cells can work. Cells that make Myelin have high nutrient requirements. Omega-3s feed these cells.
Omega-3s help the baby’s brain make connections. They make activity between receptors and neurotransmitters more efficient. Furthermore, hydrogenated oils (such as margarine and shortening) and other factory made fats can interrupt this process.
Omega-3s also help pregnant individuals during pregnancy and postpartum. Omega-3s can help lower blood pressure, promote tissue healing, and can lessen dangerous blood clots.
There are studies that suggest that pregnant individuals who consume more Omega-3s experience less depression prenatally and postnatally. During pregnancy and breastfeeding the baby’s nutrients come from said individual, which may lead to depression resulting from a DHA deficiency.
The most concentrated to get Omega-3s is through eating fish. If you cannot stomach fish, a good fish oil supplement can help you. If you adhere to a special diet, there are many other ways to get Omega-3s.
If you are unsure, consult a Dr./Nutritionist to make sure you are getting the required nutrients for your growing baby.
I do not have specialty in nutrition. Anything that appears on my blog regarding food is from research I did. If you have more accurate information post it and your source.