Friday, January 27, 2012

The Peaceful Birth of Piper Joy...A Journey

If you want to skip to the birth story, go to part 6. :0)

I wanted to start this with a disclaimer:
I struggled with a lot of fears in all my pregnancies..Let me rephrase that, I wasn't afraid of any thing in my first pregnancy. I had been raised in a home where child birth was an exciting and normal thing. My Mom had 5 relatively cut and dry vaginal births. I was born at home. I knew I was capable of natural birth, and nothing else was really an option.  A cesarean birth was never something I thought I would ever experience. I was unprepared for the machine that is most large teaching hospitals. I went through every intervention in the book. I ended up with a cesarean.
With that cut across my abdomen, a whole new world of fears was opened to me. Fears I ignored and wrestled through with my first VBAC baby. And finally truly faced this pregnancy. I finally found healing. Is there more to do? Always.
 I mention cesarean birth in negative terms, because my experience was very negative. I also mention baby loss, and death, things that I experienced or I saw become reality for others. I also share the steps I took to find my own personal place of comfort if I were to experience it too. The book Birthing From Within talks a lot about worry and fear. And what a GOOD thing it is, if you use it.
This pregnancy was my journey of learning to use it, explore it, and really walk out all scenarios. It was my discovery of where I needed to be to find peace in whatever - even the unthinkable.  It was really hard, but I explored it...and found healing.
I went from a woman who had lost all trust in the medical establishment.. Some one who (honestly, sadly) would choose a dangerous or unhealthy situation over repeat surgery (not that my first HBAC was that scenario- but had things not gone smoothly, I wonder...) I moved to a place where I could fully embrace the thought of another cesarean birth. I went from never ever, under any circumstances, being okay with a hospital birth again...To planning one, and being 300% ok with whatever that would bring me.

This pregnancy brought me so many gifts. It was a lot of work. I took a lot of time alone and a lot of space. This was my journey, and very personal experience and fears. And its conclusion is part of my story. Each baby brings something unique to a mothers journey...a gift in its own right. My first baby gave me my voice. She taught me to hear my true feelings...that happiness isn't the only emotion, and to speak my mind.
My second baby taught me some times you just have to do some thing scared, and embrace grace and hope for a better season. She also taught me how strong and beautiful my body is. And to respect birth and the process it brings you...And learn from it.
Piper taught me to explore and find what I need to have peace. If I have any more babies in the future I'm sure I'll have other (or more of the same) fears to's about putting one foot in front of the other and finding peace for you, in that season.

In a nut shell: After 27 days of insanity making prodromal labor: Piper Joy was born. January 26, 2012 at 5:55pm 7lbs 6oz and 20inches long.

The Long Version: Part One: Jacob leaves us...And Piper comes too.

To tell this story we need to go back to February 2011. We got pregnant. We lost the baby in March. It...hit me hard. I named him Jacob, and I still miss him. I've had other losses...Big losses, hard losses, my Dad died after a two year battle with brain cancer. He was 49.  It was horrible. I'd even had another early miscarriage. But this one felt like a punch in the gut. That baby belonged to me.
Onto the TMI...
I historically have LONG cycles- especially when breastfeeding (which I was): I'm talking, 40-70 day long cycles...Which means weeks and weeks with out ovulating. Which is both great, and frustrating because: well it's all irregular and you have to be extra vigilant if you're trying to avoid pregnancy.  One April day, just a 11 or 12 days into my first post-loss cycle, I was in the bathroom and had an "oh crap" moment. I was ovulating- like 3 weeks earlier than "usual". And I had allowed a "freebie" (no barrier) a few days before. I just knew it...I was pregnant. And I wasn't ready. At All.

2 weeks later: The dollar store test said it all: Piper was in there. And so started a journey I desperately needed to be on...

Part Two: In Which I Try on Everybody

For my miscarriage care I had used a group of MW's at a FSBC (Free Standing Birth Center) about an hour away. They were who I was planning to use for the pregnancy and birth of Jacob. Through my loss they were great, compassionate, kind, supportive. But when I got pregnant with Piper- it just felt wrong for her birth.
For one thing, I was due in January AKA, dead of winter. The thought of an hour long drive turning into 3 hours in a snow storm, in labor...No thanks.
But I wanted to feel it out, so I called them up at 10 weeks (yes, I was in a bit of denial about the pregnancy...) and asked if they could get me an u/s for dating and for a prenatal ASAP.  They could send me for an u/s, but they couldn't see me until I would be (by my guess) 18 weeks along. After my loss: that just wasn't happening. I needed to have a prenatal care. Pregnancy after a loss is just different, especially if you found yourself expecting before you were "ready" (are you ever ready?).

Important note: have a scar on my uterus from the cesarean birth of my first baby (Riley Joy) 4 years ago. Which means doctors are a little more funny about "due" dates.  I didn't want any one pushing an arbitrary due date on me, or trying to get my baby out sooner than needed. I wanted to have my behind covered. Even though I was fairly certain on the date (or at least week) of conception- I wanted to have a piece of paper to prove it.

We went and saw "Newby" (Piper's in utero nickname) healthy and busy measuring 10 weeks- just like I thought. I can't say the relief that flooded me when I finally saw her moving around on the screen..I think it was the first time I started crying at an u/s (I'm just not one to cry like that).

I was starting to feel more accepting of the pregnancy, and felt like I needed prenatal care and support ASAP. A good friend of mine mentioned a HB MW out of R (city) that was fantastic and had 3 HBAC (home birth after a cesarean) herself. I had met this MW at an ICAN meeting and just remembered really liking her. I called D (the MW) and asked her some questions...But she was also an hour away- and her back up provider was almost 2 hours away. I decided to walk away and find some one else.

I called up the HB MW I used for my first VBAC baby (Amity Joy)...We had a few prenatals, I even went ahead and secured her for the birth. But some thing wasn't sitting right. Again, she was over an hour away and the January thing wasn't sitting well for me- what if it snowed and she couldn't make it? But more than that, I just wasn't having a peace about the birth.

I called D back (this was a few months after our last talk) because her name was on my heart- I don't know why I wanted her at the birth...Or maybe- she was the catalyst - and my heart knew that? Anyway, she said she couldn't take me on, due to client load. But that her good friend J (another MW- who had been apprenticing and assisting in the area for a few years and was now taking on clients) was located very close to me. D recommended I give her a call and maybe meet up. I did... And J was perfect for us. Ryan (hubby) and I were so impressed by her and we knew she was right for this birth. I don't think I even asked her that many clinical (what's your experience, bla bla bla) questions (I'm friends with a lot of doulas in the area and had gathered enough info about her to be impressed and excited). I just knew she was who I needed. We hired her at 27 weeks into the pregnancy.

Part Three: In which I'm scared to do some thing I have to do.

Losing Jacob changed some thing for me...I tasted a little bit of what it means to lose a child. Some thing that hit even closer to home as I had become heavily involved in my local ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) chapter and was fairly plugged in (albeit, more vicariously through good friends) to the "birth community"... I was hearing a lot of the crazy stuff that was going on in my general area. Defacto bans at hospitals... Forced/court ordered cesareans...Mothers being treated badly/disrespectfully in hospital situations when they transferred in from a home birth for hospital care. Crazy sad, messed up things were trickling around. And that was locally, nationally I was hearing even more crazy and heart breaking stuff (thank you, internet).  Over the previous18mos period I was, for the first time, really being exposed to some hard realities: babies dying. Ugly things happening, Add to that, the grief I felt over my little loss, and for the Mamas whose arms were empty...Changed me.

Babies died. My baby couldn't die.And if that were to happen, I had to know I had set up every thing every thing to cover any scenario. Mothers are incredible. No Mama should ever lose a the hand of a surgeon...or because the scar on her uterus caused issues. Or because, some times it just happens. And no Mama should be treated badly for the decisions she makes for  her body. Whether it's a VBAC or a repeat, a home birth or an unassisted birth, or hospital birth... All mothers deserve awesome, informed, and respectful care...But it doesn't always happen.

The whole expereince was a reality check, my baby deserved the best care and coverage possible. I needed an OB. I just did.My decision to birth at home - or even just VBAC again-  could not be allowed to effect the care my baby received. And if some thing horrible did happen: I had done my part as Mama to protect her.

My c/s birth was horrifically traumatic. It was a dark ugly shadow over my second pregnancy...Which happened "so soon" (10mos) after the first. I was terrified of being on that table again. Terrified of being an object to a means (getting baby out), instead of an active participent. My VBAC was hard. It was long. It was empowering. But I did it FREAKING scared. Terrified of being on that table... And maybe even to the detriment of Amity's safety...It's just not okay to be that afraid. But I did it. And I would do it again.

But  I had to find an OB.

Part Four...Back It Up...
Back up to 20 weeks pregnant...We went to my (former) MW's [unofficial] back up OB's practice for the 20 week anatomy scan. I had asked if I could have a prenatal with that OB as well and talk about getting care in the case of hospital birth. I was blind sided at this meeting. This OB had 3 home births herself, she was supposedly very home birth supportive (as much as any OB can say they are in the current climate). She's not VBAC friendly though. I get it, there are risks (smaller risks - in most cases- than repeat surgery though!) - I get that she can't legally support my desire to birth at home. But the amount of times the words "you die", "dead baby", "leave your other children because you're dead", "selfish VBACing at hme...risk to all midwives..'  were said was just uncalled for. I cried the whole way home from that meeting. Wept for the Mama's who've lost their babies... And for the ones who couldn't find support to birth safely they felt they were supposed to, becaue they have a scar on their abdomen.

That meeting rocked me, and drove home the fact: I needed to switch my way of doing things. I really needed to plan two separate births, not try to find "back up" but go all out with both plans...And decide when the time came what I would do.
I needed to do the whole nine yards, the tour, registration, walk through what would happen in the case of another cesarean Walk through what a vaginal birth in the hospital would look like. I needed to know my baby would have a wonderful birth no matter what...  I needed a surgeon I trusted.

Part Five: In which I dive in and do a brave thing scared.

I took a few weeks and interviewed other OB's. Finally at 30 weeks pregnant, I  realized, I'm out of time: I called a (very) local OB (very close to my home) and just signed on with them. As far as any one could tell J (my new MW) didn't exisit, and I had completely ended my professional relationship with my former MW at 26ish weeks. I called and explained that I didn't have care any more and I knew a lot of people who had had babies with them (my MIL had 4!) and had had great experiences.

That office rocks. I have no idea if they viewed me with suspicion, they didn't ask many questions of me... And I kept my answers simple. But either way, they took great care of Newby...I mean Piper, and me. And they restored my respect in OBGYN care.

At 34 weeks Ryan and I toured the hospital and pre-registered. I asked about this hospital (a different hospital from where I had Riley) handled cesarean births...I asked about their mother- baby practices. I was both impressed and encouraged. I really walked out and planned this hospital birth. I honestly didn't know if I wanted a home birth and /I was excited to have this opportunity to embrace a hospital birth.

So we were covered...We had prenatal care coming out our ears, and I felt peace I would labor at home- like I would with any baby- as long as possible and see how it unfolded...If I felt like I wanted to be in the hospital: I'd go. If things moved fast and there wasn't time, we had experienced hands there to keep us safe.

And either way, Newby, I mean Piper, was protected (as much was in my ability to do so). I really liked doing it this way, if I was just planning a hospital birth, I wouldn't have some one at home all that time monitoring her heart rate (intermitently) and making sure every body was okay.  I really felt good about this plan. Really good.

Part Six: Baby Time...HA!

Saturday December 31, 2011 a special day, the 4 year Birth Day of my entrance into Motherhood...And Riley into this world.. I woke up that morning feeling kind of off, but was determined to celebrate with my Birthday Girl. We dropped Amity off at Nana's and took Riley to her first movie (The Muppet Movie) and out for an ice cream sundea at Friendly's. I was having strange (and strong) contractions all that day, I kept drinking water in the hopes it would make them go away...I took a nap with the girls that afternoon and woke up feeling awful. Contractions felt weird and were making me run to the bathroom...I started to get nauseous. I started to dry heave... At some point mid-dry heave I felt a gush and the baby dropped down ( I felt her, it was a weird sensation!). I looked down at my pants and they were wet and slippery. My water had broken at the onset of labor with both my other babies, I was in shock. I called my MW and she said to keep an eye on it and she'd be in touch... Contractions and "clean out" continued all that afternoon....and night... and the next day. At some point J came over and checked on us and did the litmus test: it changed color (meaning there most likely had been some sort of leak)...She said we'd monitor it.  Monday morning we sent the girls to my Mom's for the day to see if we could get labor going. I had been a little leaky those 2 days, but really very minimally. I had so much peace about the situation and wasn't concerned at all about it. I knew leaks happen and can reseal and it just didn't seem like a big deal.

But I had been contracting a LOT, I was sore and tired and wondering if my body just needed some space to get things going. So that morning (still Monday, 1/2/12) Ryan went into work for a bit and after the girls were off with my Mom.  I turned on some worship music and walked around and belly danced through contractions. One song in particular hit me hard, like a wave washing over me: Jesus started to speak (via Jesus Culture).

"Come away with me...Come away with me... It's never too late...It's never too late...It's not too late. I have a plan for you. I have a plan for you...It's gonna be wild, it's gonna be great...It's gonna be full of me."

I heard him singing this over me, felt His comforting presence. I spent the hour with Him, letting him love on me...crying.. Sharing my stress and fears about this pregnancy and birth. I felt Him say this was going to be wild...It was going to be very hard... It was going to be an intense time of healing. It was going to be LONG (I didn't want to hear that part)...And He was going to teach me what it was to Come Away. That I was going to need it as a parent to these 3 precious souls...

Part Seven: It was Long, Freaking LONG

Labor got intense that Monday and then fizzled. I didn't have any more leaking (at some point early that week I noticed I was completely dry...And was actually lacking most "labors coming soon" discharge). The thought was, that it was a high leak that resealed. I decided I was fine with that, and I practiced good hygiene and decided to just play it by ear. It felt right.  

Oh I wanted to add, when I went to the OB at 33 weeks they did some tests and discovered I had a fairly (really, actually) advanced UTI/bladder infection. I was starting to feel yucky and run down and when they told me that I had infection I went "oooooh, duh!" and I got on antibiotics right away (around 34 weeks). After the antibiotics I added  some heavy duty probiotics (supplement), and kifir and raw milk to my diet to build my gut back up. At  my 36 week appointment they did the swab for Group B strep and I was negative, they also tested me for a few other things (that I knew I was negative for) and any other infections as well as another clean catch: I was all good= no problems! That was all in 2 days before this whole thing started. So when I had the question about leakage I had that clinical information to go by as well: I was in a very good place. And had I not hired the OB's I probably wouldn't have discovered the UTI until a week or two later when I finally would have given in and called my GP to get checked out (I hate making appointments/phone calls it's a definite erm...struggle of mine).

So all that, but mainly instinct, told me that everything was okay... And I felt comfortable waiting.

And so labor insanity continued, it was hard. It got intense 2 or 3 days a week for the next 3+ weeks. Infuriating and exhausting. It would act just like real labor, start out slow and easy, and then get faster and harder until I'd actually text J and let her know...And then a few hours later, fiiiiiizle.
At some point in there I decided to splurge (it's not exactly in the budget) and go to my chiropractor and get an adjustment...I hadn't seen her much since Amity was born and we had a really great visit. She evened me out and right after that adjustment I felt Piper drop even more, walking was now very painful. But I figured, it's all part of the process right? Some where in here we (ie me) did a vaginal exam (limiting them, just in case) and my cervix was very easy to reach,  I felt that I was thinning well and around 3ish centimeters (by my guess)...That encouraged me.
It wasn't all bad...I mean sleep didn't happen easily, and I was tired. Those weeks will always be precious to me. We were more intentional about our time with the girls... And there was a definite shifting going on in that time. We were making room for Piper, each in our own way...And I certainly got a TON of projects out of the way!! It was all part of the process, and a better plan than I could have come up with. It was what we needed. Even though it was hard.

But 41 weeks found me still pregnant. I was just getting over a nasty cold, exhausted and DONE.
How Low can ya go?

January 2012 is up there on my "hardest months of my life" list. Parenting (oh not so well) 2 young children while super pregnant and dealing with constant prodromal labor, sucks. If it weren't for my Mom coming daily after work to get me through, and DH taking some early days... Would not have made it. So thankful for those two precious people!

And so we waited... Nothing was making this happen...Oh I was still laboring, but it just wouldn't go over the edge. I went and got Chiropractic adjustments, accupuncture -though they felt great - weren't getting this kid out! It seemed no amount of working through fears (though wonderful and necessary- I had a lot), talking to baby, walking, belly dancing, praying, begging, crying, weeping, gnashing of get the picture- the kid was just REALLY happy in there. And I was so ready. And yet, Piper didn't feel all that big, and I knew on some level she really did (obviously) need that time to bake. I wasn't -even on my most labory days- willing to do too much. Even with the question of the water leak, I held back...I just knew in my heart the time was meant for rest, and not work. In the center of it all,  I knew, this child had to start the process...I wasn't going to push it. I wasn't willing to do any thing drastic. And I so I waited.
It was such a roller coaster, up down up down. I would surrender, I would fight and cry, I would surrender and joyfully wait...I would fight and cry.

One of the songs that really ministered to me during those weeks was by Sanctus Real "Whatever You're Doing"

It's time for healing time to move on 
It's time to fix what's been broken too long
Time make right what has been wrong 
It's time to find my way to where I belong
There's a wave that's crashing over me 
All I can do is surrender

Whatever you're doing inside of me 
It feels like chaos somehow there's peace
It's hard to surrender to what I can't see
but I'm giving in to something heavenly

Time for a milestone
Time to begin again
Revaluate who I really am
Am I doing everything to follow your will
or just climbing aimlessly over these hills
So show me what it is you want from me
I give everything I surrender...

It's time to face up
Clean this old house 
Time breathe in and let everything out

And that, is really the story of the journey...The beginning, and the end...Which leads me to:

Part Eight: Let's get this show on the road!
 January 25, at 41w and change, I went into the OB for an appointment and an NST.  I consented to a check (first vaginal exam with the OB's- they were seriously so hands off, it was great) I was a "stretchy" 4cm and 80% effaced and the NST said I was having contractions every 3-5 min (nothing new). Piper was a very happy and doing great so the OB said it was whatever, she offered to induce me (I certainly was favorable for it to work!) but was fine with letting me  "wait it out". She didn't think it would be long. It *had* to be soon... I had had bloody show that weekend, and contractions were getting so intense they were keeping me up at night.

I left the appointment feeling secure in the knowledge that I'm made the right decision for now...But TIRED.

Part Nine: Okay SERIOUSLY NOW!

Thursday January 26, 2012. That day found me DONE. I mean, "just sign me up for a repeat" DONE. The contractions were getting stronger and I was needing to vocalize through a few an hour...They were waking me up out of sleep and leaving me moaning. Around 4 a.m. that morning I texted my Mom and told her (essentially) "it's today, no matter what". Around 7a.m. my Mom came and got the girls, who were all packed up for the long haul and "weren't coming back until this baby is OUT!".
Around 10 in the morning J came to do a prenatal. She walked in the door and I started crying, "today has to be the day...It has to be...I can't do this any more. If this baby doesn't come today I'm going in for an induction..." I wasn't kidding.  She checked me, I was 5cm, "very very thin and whoa really really soft," Piper was at 0 station and well applied (as she had been for about 2 weeks- yeah, I was miserable).

So we talked about my options. It was decided: pumping for an hour (10 on one side, 10 off, 10 on the other) and then an hour of brisk walking. She left caster oil with me if I wanted to try that later... And we'd talk about AROM (artificial rupture of membranes) later that day if it was some thing I felt like doing (though J, honestly didn't feel it would come to that).

I didn't want to do caster oil unless it was my only option to get things going. So I sat with the pump and bounced on my trusty balance ball, and watched Fraiser episodes with Ryan (we just grew up enough- or some thing- to find this show funny..?LOVE it!) And we laughed and laughed and laughed...I think the laughing helped on so many levels.

After pumping we headed to the park and walked and joked, laughed and talked. After our walk we went to a local health food store/deli and ordered Tuna sandwiches- oh my word AMAAAAZING. It was kind of funny, the lady working behind the counter actually was a Mama I met at the chiropractor the week before...She went 10 days late with her first baby and she could comiserate. "Oh wow, your baby is still in there, huh?" We chatted- turns out she had a home birth as well. When she handed me my sandwich she said, "I put some extra birthy vibes in it just for you." :0D So That's what did it... A tuna sandwich from HA's cafe! :0D
Anyway, we ate our lunch and went home and I did another round of pumping, bouncing and laughing and contractions were 2-4min apart and getting intense. Around this time Ryan started setting up the tub...

I texted J around 2ish to let her know what was up with the contractions, and she said she'd be right over. In the mean time I walked and swayed and worked through contractions...I was still pretty happy.

J got there about 30 minutes later, and checked me.  I was 5 (still) but completely effaced and my cervix was even lower and baby was at +1 station... Also she said I was so stretchy she could stretch me anywhere with how flexible it all was in there. I had been starting to feel my bag of waters bulge during contractions and she could feel it too. We talked for about 30 minutes about breaking it. Note: Riley's labor was "augmented" with AROM and I think it directly lead to my having a cesarean birth. It was some thing I swore i would never EVER do again. And yet I found myself considering it... I attribute this to healing, big time.  We decided to wait until D would arrive in an hour (yes, the original MW, D!!! She doesn't often assist J but it worked out that there were no other MW's available!!!! She was at my birth!!)  and see how we felt then.

I thought for sure labor would fizzle once J arrived (???) I don't know why, I just thought this couldn't be it. And I felt bad that D was driving all that way- it was probably going to be hours and hours and hours yet.  My weeks of prodromal labor had kinda conditioned me to be a bit of a wet blanket. :0#

And then things got intense.  My pants started to annoy me, I changed to looser ones...Then my underwear was annoying me...I found bigger ones... Then my socks weren't right...Then I felt a little queasy... Contractions were every 1-2 minutes and I was vocalizing and or crying with each one. I was mainly crying because they were overwhelming and big. And because I couldn't believe that they were real, and my body was doing it! and then I was crying because- what if it wasn't "it"??? I was so happy, and sad, and all over the place and weepy. I stood against the side of the couch for contractions while DH either came to hold me during contractions, or was hurrying to finish getting the tub filled (so glad we did that earlier, when he set it up I was sure it wouldn't get used- ha!).

During one particularly hard contraction I realized my pants felt wet: that slippery warm "oh it's my water!" wet like a few weeks before. I mentioned it to J. Around this time I stopped vocalizing, it wasn't helping me...It was making me want to panic.(J said at this point I was getting up on my toes during contractions and she was thinking that I was in transition)... I started a breathing technique the assistant taught me at Amity's birth... Iiiiin Out out ouuuuuuuuut. I did that 3 or 4 times with each contraction and it gave me some thing to *do* to concentrate on. It also made me feel like the contractions were effective. Like I was breathing out of both my mouth and out below.

Around 4:20 (so after about 20 minutes of the breathing) I announced that I needed to get in the tub, the contractions were all in my lower belly and I was feeling an immense amount of pressure. I got in the water and floated: relief.

My contractions immediately spaced to every few minutes and were a little easier to manage. I suspect I was complete at this point (we never checked) because the contractions changed from being the burning "open" sensation to this awesome pressure in my bum and tail bone. J checked me Piper at points in here...But I was still gearing up for the long haul. I wasn't even convinced I'd been through transition yet...Sure it was SUPER hard and intense work...But I don't know. I guess I was in denial? I just remembered it all being like a freight train with Amity.

I think around 5:00pm - just after D arrived- I felt a massive pressure and need to pass gas (I thought) I tried, and WHOA! HUGE bubble of amniotic fluid came wafting out- so neat! A few contractions later I had the same thing happen, And yet, I still wasn't super convinced that things were really happening (???)...3 weeks of prodromal labor really can mess with your mind. For the most part Ryan was busying himself keeping the water warm. And I think D and J were in the bedroom talking and finishing getting stuff together for the birth.

And I was alone...And it felt so right. Eventually (I think when Ryan told them that I thought m water had really full gone) every one was sitting quietly around the tub. I felt like I was the most boring birthing Mom ever. I didn't need any one, I didn't want any one talking, I didn't need encouragement or coaching. I was just floating in my own little world. And every one was sitting on the edge waiting silently.

Contractions were huge, all encompassing. When I felt one coming I'd lift my self up to a full float in the water and would sway/twist my hips. I'd breath and float and wait for it to pass...Riding it out.  I remember wanting to complain that it was really hard and I was done. I remember wishing there was some thing I could do to make it be over. I wondered if I did some thing else if it would be easier. But I couldn't bring myself to change positions. And anytime I tried talking, I'd want to panic.  I just had to "Come Away". I started to pray when I felt a big one coming "Jesus, thank you...Hold me...Holy Spirit, show me who I am in you..."

I was just there, and he was with me...He was holding my face in His hands and whispering, "It's okay... Breath... These can't be stronger than you, this is you...this is you....this is you...You're fantastic...You're doing it... Don't think about any thing but this moment. Stay here...You're doing it...You're here, in this moment...this is you... be here."

I might at one point been whispering "it's's's you.." and "oh wow oh wow oh wow..." I remember thinking "I hope they don't think I'm saying "oh ow", it doesn't hurt it's just so big." :giggle

I continued to float and dance my hips side to side, floating on my back, bracing my head against one end of the tub and my feet against the other... And then it hit. This lightening bolt of ...I don't know how describe it...But suddenly I couldn't relax through the contraction- some thing was happening.

At first, I was sure I just needed to throw up "Oh Transition is here, finally!", I thought. (HAHAHAHA) I had 2 convulsions where some thing just ripped through my body and I guess I was grunting. It didn't feel like pushing. Ryan said J and D saw what was happening and jumped up at that moment and started grabbing gloves and blankets and towels. I said, "I think I'm going to throw up" and asked for the bowl. I honestly didn't think I was any where close to having the baby. I rolled to my hands and knees and grabbed the side of the tub and suddenly, I was being turned inside out. Wait, what?!??! I'M PUSHING?!?  Oh it didn't feel good. I wouldn't say it hurt, but it felt weird and big and I had no control over it. I pushed and J said "Hannah, reach down and feel your baby's head."

Wait, what? The heads out?!?! There was no ring of fire (though maybe a little stinging?) and I felt her soft fragile little head down there. So soft and squishy. At this point I was scared it would be forever until the rest of her would come out I remember saying, "Oh please get it out!" and J told me I was doing great and to push again with the next contraction...I did and I felt Piper's slippery little body slide out. INCREDIBLE.

When Friendly came out it was so intense and fast I didn't feel any thing but burning and power. Being in the water I could really feel every thing. I quickly flipped my leg over her and pulled her out of the water to my chest. Her cord was so short she barely reached high enough on me to keep her face out and every one was trying to support us up and out a little.

I had been looking forward to that moment for almost a year, holding the fresh new life, it was incredible. After a minute I peeked between her legs and saw what I knew was true: It was a girl. I started yelling "Oh a girl! Girl! a GIRL!!!! Oh Piper Hi!! Oh hello Piper!! Oh I'm so glad it's you!" (we caught all of this on video- I'll hopefully post the birth video soon).

It was perfect, just perfect.

Eventually we got out of the tub- the placenta fell out when I stood to get out. Every one helped me dry off and get set up on the couch. We had a bit of a time getting Piper situated, we hadn't cut the cord yet- and she was still attached to the placenta. She was angry, she wanted milk and it took a good  bit of practice to get her to latch on- she wanted her fingers and couldn't understand why food wasn't just coming to her as it had been before when she sucked on her fingers inside of me.

After a nice long nursing session we did the newborn exam.

7lbs 6oz and 20 inches long. 
Perfect 13inch head, no molding. 
Every thing was perfect.  

I had no tears, or even any bruising- I feel fantastic...At one day postpartum I feel better than I did at 3 weeks  postpartum with Amity! Though I've been in bed ever since I got out of the shower, and don't plan on leaving for another 6 days.

After the exam I got my shower and got out just in time for big sisters to come home and meet Piper.

I feel like Piper has brought the balance we needed to this little group of girlies, I am so excited to have two big helpers around - and they are both so excited to see every thing she does. We're all so in love.

I can't say how thankful I am for this journey...for the growth...the peace and the gentle, surprising, and just absolutely amazing birth experience. I can honestly say, that was some of the most difficult work I have ever done...It wasn't physically hard like it was with Amity. It was mentally just took every thing I had to stay in that zone with Jesus, my doula. It was the most over powering and biggest thing I have ever experienced. And I am so thankful for it.

I am also just blown away and blessed by the Mamas I've met around the world (thanks to message boards and  support groups) who were lifting me up and encouraging me the whole long month. I felt your prayers...And I thank you.
Piper Joy- 4 days old. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

41 weeks...

You now what? Going past my guess date- going a whole week past my guess date-isn't as bad as I thought it would be. Does it suck? Oh yeah...But mainly that's been because of the wicked cold I caught in my 41st week. Having a cold when pregnant is bad. Having it past your guess date? Freaking awful. Having 2 sickie cranky preschooler/toddlers all day alone, while sick, dealing with prodromal labor and so very pregnant? Freaking HELL.

Last week was up there on my list of "worst weeks ever" : It hasn't been the farewell time to this pregnancy that I hoped for...Not relaxing or pleasant at all. That said, I can't imagine how much more miserable this time would be if I hadn't keep so fit and healthy this pregnancy...I've eaten really well...I've listened to my body and heart the last few months... I've continued to run/walk/jog/dance daily through my entire pregnancy and I think if I hadn't stayed limber and strong (I can still touch the floor almost flat handed with out bending my legs- whoa!): this would have been the most miserable experience of my entire life.

As it is, I still think I was more miserable at 38 weeks with Friendly than I am at 41 with Newby.'s a toss up- I'm pretty miserable.

And I'm really ready. Like- get this child out of me NOW I'm losing my MIND! ready.

I'm 4-5cm and very effaced, Newby is well applied, and engaged at 0 station (oh yeah)...I started having bloody show on Saturday...and had more yesterday... I'm contracting and they are getting increasingly stronger.

And yet I wait.

Okay, actually I changed my mind ...I am way way more miserable than I was with Friendly. The emotional roller coaster of the last few weeks is wearing on me...Add preggo hormones, getting over a cold, dealing with littles who have been in limbo for over a month (make that WELL over a month)... Yeah this has been hard. I'm ready. I'm done. I'm ready.

Today I try some thing I never thought I would: acupuncture.

Newby, I love you - I like having you in there (really, I love it- I still am not tired of feeling your wiggles- even the painful ones!) ...But time to come out! Mama is desperate to hold you, see you, feel you, snuggle you...I promise we're not as crazy as we sound- and I know you'll fit right in!!!


Friday, January 20, 2012

Birth Art

 I have been reading through Birthing From Within ...It's really good, very confirming that a lot of the work I've been doing this pregnancy (just purely on an instinctual/ as Jesus seems to nudge level)...Before I read her explanations of the birth art "assignments" I went ahead and did my own. It was very interesting to read- after the fact- that some of my pictures resonate with other common themes in these kinds of drawings.

This one is called "Pregnant Woman" - how do you see your self when pregnant?
 I drew a tree trunk with my body deep inside this tall ancient deep tree...My legs and my opening are deeply rooted and firm. I am inside the tree. I feel very safe and strong and rooted, supported and ready for the birth ahead.. I also feel very closed into myself. I have closed up my little world and dug in deep. Hiding. Waiting. The colors in my abdomen represent my womb: strong and powerful full of life and hope. My breasts are full and ready...The blue also representing life-giving and nourishment.

The next picture you were supposed to draw how you feel pregnant. I just did this..No real thought, and it was very eye opening.
Pregnancy Journey:
 The circle on the bottom left with the small red heart in it represents me in early pregnancy. I didn't realize this at the time but I put 10 big curves in this pathway: 10 months of gestation. The color isn't very good in this picture- so you'll have to take my word for it. But the first 2 curves have a grey film/fog over them..Those represent the fog I felt, the grief from losing our baby in March... And the fog I feel over life in that time due to morning sickness. the reds and oranges represent frustration, anger, the purple represents power and growth, the black grief, and despair...Worry that the journey will end...And at other points in the path- worry that it won't end (especially after the last bend). The yellow represents hope and constant change...The blue nourishment and life. Eventually at the end (like now) Newby fills me, I feel so full of her/him and that is effecting and pushing every thing outwards- changing life from inside out. And then the promise: the black line. This journey ends and 2 paths continue. Birth. Life moves forward

Labor and Birth:

When I think about giving birth I think of quiet....dark... only dim lights. I drew a mother on her hands and knees her womb and breasts are blue: are healthy and full...the purple and red in the womb represent strength and power...The yellow: her baby's life...the red heart, her baby's soul. There is a line attaching our hearts...I made her hair yellow and purple and brown: life, hope, power, grounded...A smile of joy on her face. Her eyes are closed waiting. She is on her knees in surrender. She is surrounded by warmth and power and the work only she can do...But there are life lines going to her heart. The 2 red hearts in the "lights" above her represent the children she already has, connected to hear heart... They are connected to an empty light waiting for the baby to join them on the outside. The 2 green hearts and lines connected to her head (and I would say her soul: :mind, will, emotions) are her birth team. Green represents truth and wisdom:  they speak truth and wisdom to her. She feels safe and protected with their voices blessing her head.

The large glow in front of her with the largest heart represents her partner..He has the strongest line to her heart - it crosses the gap the strongest. But even so there is a line that he can't cross. The colors surrounding her represent the warmth, the work and the Holy Spirit...But she alone is the only one who can do this... Alone in her safe place, waiting ...surrendered. Open and willing.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Beautiful Journey....

I'm feeling crummy today...and by that I mean watering eyes, sneezing, fog zombie head, extremely cranky and overly pregnant.

This morning has consisted of me sitting on my balance ball reading my kindle [fire] (a huge surprise gift from hubby last Tuesday!) and sniffling, snarfing and pretty much letting Sesame Street (via netflix- God bless my brother in law: best Christmas gift ever) babysit. At intervals getting up to do my part: doling out snacks for the kids at intervals, and pretty much begging them not to whine or fight eat this....and this.... oh look more food?

Yeah, not my finest morning.

But in my morning "off" (or my very off morning) I've had time to read over this blog- or at least the past few months- and it's been a joy. I can't believe what 2011 brought me. Literally, in awe of the incredible, challenging, exhausting, beautiful year. I think it brought me the spiritual and emotional growth of any other year in my entire life...And I knew it was just the beginning. Reading over this post, written almost exactly a year ago, wow.  I knew God was birthing some thing big in me...And He continues to work: I never dreamed it would be like this. I never dreamed I'd be here. (I never dreamed I'd be so pregnant, just sayin. :0)

2011 brought major life changes, saying good bye to frankly, a bit of a nightmare living situation. And physically moving into the new season in our lives. It brought some super hard big changes for me (and eventually our whole family) when I decided I needed to step away from church...It brought baby Jacob... and losing him . It also brought baby Newby, a very special person who I am still longing to truly meet face to face. And her presence inside of me has brought so much healing, so many challenges, so many blessings. I am in awe.

Oh when I think about last spring, yikes. That was the most physically exhausting, emotionally draining and challenging time. Parenting two little children, every one over extended... Every thing shifting- changing. It all was just so BIG... Ryan and I really both together and separately coming into our own...In how we related to each other, in priorities as parents and partners. We both look back at that time and go "what were we thinking?" and "Wow, God is so good." Don't get me wrong, we still have a long way to go. But God did some big things last spring, rocked our world.. Boats still rocking.

I was reading over painful situations and realizations.  Bitter sweet endings to very loved chapters...

It brought learning to embrace me- how my personality needs to parent, in this season...And being OK with it. 
(and this) 

 I feel like any thing I would say about all this would be an understatement. And the girls just woke up from their nap so I need to run. I know 2012 is going to have it's challenges, I am nervous about adjusting to 3 kids. Nervous about how I will find the new balance. But I feel like I'm better prepared because of the gifts 2011  brought us.

And I really have to go... Two little girls sitting next to me on the couch... The big one melting down because the smaller one is singing softly (and expressly to annoy her older sister).

Such is life... here's to 2012! Bring it on!!! (and Newby, that means YOU!)

Still Waiting for Newby..

And waiting...and waiting... I have had several "this is it" labory days...And then fizzle. Ah, the joys of prodromal labor!

I am 40 weeks and change, and  decided to get checked: I'm 3-4CM very soft and thinning well...Baby's Occiput Anterior [OA] which means her back is running right down the middle of my belly. It turns out that my anterior placenta -which we found with the doppler yesterday so cool!- is right in the LOA position so it's hard for baby to lay right there: But Newby's head is "well applied" and s/he's sitting at 0 station (OOOUCH!)... Mama is waddling, tired, hurting and ...I have a nasty cold. Yup! This miserable prodromal labor process just got a bit ( A LOT) more miserable.

And the kiddos have the cold too, which is a mixed blessing... They are both very lethargic and still (ah, and not talking non-stop, I appreciate this) a little feverish- so TV is a great activity and they don't want to go out (which is good because there is no way I am taking them out alone right now!)... But they are also extra clingy, whiny and all the things I hate about when they get sick (read: fighting with each other and extra irrational...Example: Friendly had a ginormous meltdown because DADDY turned on a light for her instead of Mommie. sigh.).

I'm done and I'm ready. We'll see if the brownies I had last night will work...

They're just over-priced gluten free brownies from the health food store...But on the pregnancy board I'm a part of: it's a tradition for Mama's past their guess date to eat "birthing brownies" [nothing special in those either- it's just a silly tradition - and who doesn't need the excuse to eat chocolate???] and climb up on the fridge to bring on labor... Hey, I didn't create these traditions...But some times these things work! ;0)

I think I will attempt the fridge climb this evening- with DH here to spot and document. I hope this baby comes out soon. I'm very over being pregnant. I feel like I've been pregnant almost exactly a year...Insult to injury, really.

Newby, seriously Mama is DONE. COME OUT PLEEEEASE!!!!!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Prodromal Labor...A lesson in taking life as it comes.

I think the hardest thing about the last weeks of pregnancy, is the unknown. And the most infuriating thing is when you deal with "Prodromal Labor" (some call it false labor, I like to call it practice).

This is my second pregnancy to deal with this lovely process- though I've never dealt with it this intensely. The thing is, with Friendly my contractions were only in the evening.  Almost like clock work I knew when they would start and could guess around when they'd end.

This time? Constant. Several good contractions an hour and a constant period-like ache and cramping. I have lots of stuff coming out of me -like early labor- and I can feel my cervix changing (though haven't checked it//been checked- I don't want to know...I'm afraid I'll feel no change: which just puts me in a bad place emotionally. That and trying to reduce amount of contact of things going in there). The late afternoon and evening are definitely the most intense, sending waves of pressure through me that have me vocalizing and making me feel like the air is being squeezed out of me.  It's exhausting. And yet, even with the strongest ones, I know they aren't the kind that will get baby out- they are powerful but not the powerful that means I'm on the roller coaster and I'm not getting off with out it ending in a baby.

Which is frustrating.

I've been dealing with this for 9 days now, some days have been easier and less intense, other days I was sure I was nearing the top of the roller coaster ready to slip over the edge and then. *ding* I come out of that zone and  realize, my car is still just leaving the gate. It's really hard to keep a good perspective when you're dealing with some thing you have so little control over. Your body jerks you back and forth and in the end: you don't really know how close you're to meeting your baby. Hours? Days? Weeks? It's really unfair.

And yet, with every intense bout of contractions- I find my heart growing...I realize new facets of things I need to work through...From past births, between my husband and I, attitudes and disappointments... letting go...accepting...Preparing for the new season ahead.

And with each day that goes by I (yes, find new levels of discomfort- the joys of the end!) I also truly do get one day closer to holding my baby. I give her (or him) the gift of another day to benefit from being inside...Another day for her little nervous system to develop, her gut to prepare, her lungs to prime and practice for her first breath of life.

For whatever reason, this is the process and the labor my body and heart need. Would I choose it? No. I'm honestly just wishing there was a magic button that takes me to the end. To that moment of snuggling that sweet and wet little body... A magic button that means I can get off the ride completely.  But I can't say how thankful I am...For the new perspectives. And for the practice of being intentional to be in the moment.

I tend to live my life with the future- the next step in life tends to be more real to me than the present. I'm always living for what's next. This prodromal labor? I have to be present, I have to focus on the joys of the moment- of watching my belly wiggle with baby, of knowing s/he's in there and healthy and preparing to meet me. I can't live for even a few hours from now or I tailspin into despair.

I will meet my baby... I will finish this ride...It will will will happen.

This is a gift...really. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

In Which...I Despair

I'm 39 weeks. And I am pathetic...Or at least, I feel completely pathetic.

I've been dealing with some level of prodormal labor since about 37weeks. I expected that the last weeks would be full of some extra braxton hicks contractions...maybe a few bouts of "practice" labor...Probably even a bit more intense at times- it's what my body seems to do at the end. It's what it seemed to need with Friendly.

But this is ridiculous.

I don't want to go into too many details because I think some readers would freak. But let's just say, I was 95% certain labor was starting 8 days ago.  EIGHT FREAKING DAYS AGO!!!!!!!!!!!!! And every day since then I have been laboring... Many many hours of the day... Most hours of the day. I've thankfully been able to get a lot of good rest and a lot of pretty decent sleep. I've been able to eat and drink well...Newby has been doing great and getting lower by the minute. I have been able to continue to take my cal/mag/EFA's/PNV's and listen to my body. I've been blessed to get the time alone I need (at least when hubby's not working) and my children have been entertained by the TV while I let my body work.

Besides taking a few walks for exercise (some thing I've done the entire pregnancy) and to get outdoors,  I have not been doing any thing to "get things going"...My body has been asking for a LOT of rest, and I've been listening. And given that I'm not to my guess date yet, I haven't wanted to rush Newby- I want to respect this process.

But. I'm starting to think some thing is broken. That this is never ever going to happen and I'm going to go through another 2 or 3 weeks in hell and end in a cesarean birth (which I do not want).  Friendly wasn't born with out a lot of work on my part and some synthetic juice (orally) too get things to "the next level".

And I'm starting to think it's just never going to happen for me.

Every day gets harder... The waves get more intense (when I think they can't possibly with out throwing me into transition)...I feel like I'm on my period times ten...Nasty cramping, aching and pain...Hours of "cleaning out"... This baby just won't budge!!!!

I am so done. I wish there was more I could say, but that's it. I'm DONE.

And the horrible part is? There is nothing I can do but wait...Wait and hope this nightmare ends soon.

If there is one comfort in this horrible process it's that I got to finish Newby's late-Christmas gift.

It really is DONE...I took this about 20 minutes before I sewed every thing else on.
And this is what I made the girls for Christmas this year:
Dotty Dogs

I don't know what I'm going to do with myself today with all those knitting projects behind me.

Every thing is done. 
24 organic prefolds prepped and ready...Wraps are prepped and ready...
Woolies are prepped... and ready!

Dresser and crib... Are ready. 

Every thing is DONE.
Except this stupid pregnancy. (insert little emoticon throwing a tantrum).

And to recap: that is why I'm pathetic. Because I'm not even to my guess date and I've been in labor for 8 days... I feel like crap. 

And I'm out of things to do. 

I'd be fine to go to 42 weeks if this freaking crap would stop. I'm so done.

Hear that?


And yet...I know in a month this will all be a bad memory...In 20 years it will be some thing I gently cast back in Newby's face  (oh yes, shaming...In this I will!)  "I endured ________ days of labor to bring you into this world..."

In the grand scheme- what's a day of discomfort?

But I'm still freaking done. So freaking done. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Working...Processing. THREE

This week has been a special week. I just keep pinching myself a bit- could I really be so blessed to have this time?

I've been processing a lot lately. Past births, upcoming changes...It's a lot. And on so many levels I feel like I've come to a place where I can embrace what I am given when it comes to Newby's birth.

I feel so much peace about my birth choices and birth team. I feel like I've worked really hard to grow into this place. To state what I need. And I feel blessed to have a Hubby and a team that wants it to be what it needs to be.

I've been labory all week. Starting on Saturday night and continuing to right now I've been in and out of some intense hours of labor...It's all working me towards bringing sweet Newby OUT. It's been a peaceful exciting week...Some times frustrating. But with each bout of labor, I realize some thing else about this birth and some thing else about the changes ahead...And I can let go or work through things a little bit more.

But I think I'll wait to share all that in the actual birth story (don't worry I've been writing it all down! :0).

Tonight I've been waking up with contractions and I'm feeling close. I am feeling at peace about that. Don't get me wrong, there is a definite part of me that hasn't hit the place of total surrender. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed and nervous about the hard work I know that's ahead of me. I'm really excited for things to get "really real"! But I remember what it was like with Friendly- freight train intensity- loss of all control. It was amazing and the biggest hardest thing I have ever done. And I'm scared to climb that mountain again... Actually I *am* climbing the mountain...I'm almost to the top, it's coming down the other side- the part where the breaks don't work and you just have to let go: that's the part I struggle with. It'll be happen, I'll rock it, and come out the other side with a precious new person.

Like I said, each bout of labor I've had- I face some thing else. Tonight I have the number THREE staring me in the face.

Three kids. Three.

I'm nervous. I know I'm hormonal and pregnant and tired from all the work my body is doing to support this baby and prepare for the work ahead. I can rationally think: I won't be 9months pregnant when I am going through these big world rocking adjustments. I'll have milk (aaaah, prolactin  is magic). I won't have the same hormones flooding my system...The ones that make me want to hibernate and put all my senses on overload in 5 seconds flat.

I feel sad for the changes ahead. I feel like I enter a different reality when I'm pregnant, become very internally focused- especially the bigger the baby grows. I feel a bit disconnected with my family. I know once Newby comes out it's going to be me coming out too (slowly at first), coming back in ways that I have been missing- for almost a year! I'm nervous about the changes.
Last night I was sitting in my room just thinking, I'm not going to have this alone tome once Newby comes out. Right now my body does every thing hands-free!  I am never really alone- but I don't feel like much is demanded of me (well my bladder and blood sugar might have a few words on that...).

Newby is going to be another external force...Another some one needing me. And I feel pretty inadequate...really inadequate. I'm not the person I want to be when I'm in stressful situations. Will we make it through in one piece??

And Friendly, my current baby, she's already being rocked. Her little self knows she's being displaced- and boy, is she making it clear. I wonder- if I can barely meet her needs now- barely comfort her sore and worried little heart...How am I going to do it with my ARMS full of a baby- not just my belly??

I had a really o truly o panic attack about it the other morning. It was awful. Hyperventilating nearly passing out crazy panic attack. Friendly had been awake for hours (?) clawing, clinging, talking about the baby...sharing (in her little 2 yo way) her big feelings about Newby coming. "Daddy hold new baby, I yourw baby Mama...You hold ME." I felt like she was rejecting Newby, and Newby is part of me- and t hurt. I felt like I was just putting this awful burden and change on her- she didn't ask for it. I was so tired - I've had several bad nights where I was laboring and needing to get up to move through contractions... And I didn't want to be with Friendly, I wanted to sleep. I was also being rocked by a few contractions during this time and needing to get up and move my hips. DH was beyond tired and frustrated as well- and his losing it- some thing that doesn't happen often. And it just made it that much harder for me (he had every right to be frustrated...But he's usually so even keel it was making this hormonal preggo Mama panic too!). And I freaked- HOW am I going to do TIHS with a infant?? HOW? What if we all went crazy? What if we lose it? What if our kids get hurt? What if they end up in therapy because we decided 3 was a good number to try out...What if we can't hack it?

I know it's normal. I had similar feelings (actually much more guilt ridden and ambivalent ones) when Roo and I made this transition. But it doesn't make it easier. I worry some one is going to get lost in the shuffle. I worry I'll get lost in the shuffle.

The rational and Truth filled voice in my heart says "PEACE, you'll be okay." and I know we will. I know that the first few months will be every one trying out different places, new boundaries, rearranging pieces of our lives...It'll be stretching, it'll hurt some times, it'll suck others...But I know Newby belongs in our home and in our lives...S/he's already such a part of our family- reacting to her sisters voices- waking up when I sing to them... calming when I rub her back (erm my belly). I can feel her happiness and the little jump she gives when her Daddy comes home and kisses and talks to her. I know we're ready...It's time. And spring will arrive, and so will we...As a more adjusted family of 5...Hitting our groove (as much as you can with a baby in the house) and moving forward.

We'll all be OKAY. I'll be OKAY. If there is any thing having two little has taught me it's: step back and look at yourself...It's okay.

There are a lot of other things my TWO littles has taught me, and I'm excited for what THREE brings...Three will be good.

So Newby, Mama's in no rush- I know there is an exact moment you're supposed to arrive...And I'm excited. But I'm also enjoying this process and last leg of the journey with you. You've taught me so much.  I love you... Take your time, we're in this together.

My theme song of the week has been "Come Away" by Jesus Culture. I'll share more about that in the birth story...But I'll share the video of the song here.

"I have a plan for you...It's going to be great...It's gonna be wild...It's going to be full of Me...Come Away with Me...It's never too late."