Friday, June 8, 2012

What's Your Favorite Position?

After my last post, I was asked to elaborate on why you should not give birth on your back, and to provide more information on better birthing positions. That is what this post will be about!

So as I mentioned in that last blog, birthing on your back is just not a good idea. I will say, some women are comfortable giving birth on their backs, and they feel in labor that it is the best position to be in. To that, I say more power to you! The point I want to make here is that there are much easier, more comfortable, and more ergonomic positions to be in; but by all means when you are in labor please do what is most comfortable for you. It is different for everyone, and hospitals requiring one position for all women is absurd.

So, let's look at why giving birth on your back can be so problematic.

1. For some reason, we picture our birth canal as being a straight line. While there are some positions that make the birth canal straighter, it isn't necessarily a straight line. When you are on your back with your feet in the air, it is far from being straight. It actually begins to resemble a "J". Because of this, you will end up having to push against gravity. When your baby nears the end of the birth canal, you will have to start pushing him uphill, just like the crook of the "J" if it were laying on its side. This picture shows a woman on her back giving birth, but is rotated to show the "J" effect.

2. When you lay on your back, you are putting pressure on your tail bone, which can close your pelvis slightly, as can putting your legs in the air, which folds your pelvis forward. Try it; lay flat on your back and put your feet in the air. It may make more sense if you actually feel it. If you aren't pregnant, imagine how uncomfortable it would be with that round baby belly, to boot. These things combined can close your pelvis up to 30%, making you and your baby have to work much harder to make it around your pelvic bones. This can also raise the risk of shoulder dystocia with your baby; a pretty serious complication in which the child's shoulder gets stuck behind the pubic bone. I won't go too much into that on this post (I will write a separate blog on labor complications if I see enough interest in one) but PLEASE look into it and know your options. Do NOT let your doctor pull on or twist the baby's head, EVER. Simply shifting your position will often free the shoulder and allow your baby to continue his decent. Discuss your options with your doctor, and ask how he or she typically deals with shoulder dystocia when if and when it becomes an issue. (It isn't extremely common, but it is always good to know your options.)

3. If you have been pregnant or you are pregnant now, you know that you are not supposed to lie on your back after the first trimester. The weight of the baby puts pressure on your nerves and arteries, and can slow your and your baby's heart rates. So why is it that it is all of the sudden okay in labor? Studies have shown that laying on your back in labor can reduce the baby's heart rate, and slow contractions due to a lack of oxygen flow to your uterus and your baby. This can lead to emergency interventions that in many cases could have been avoided. This is especially the case when you think of just how many factors begin to work against you; your pelvis is closed so you are pushing harder, but you have your feet in the air and you are having to push uphill. The pushing phase in this position can take a long time, meaning higher odds for slowing that baby's heart rate from being on your back for an extended period of time. Then all of the sudden, the doctors are telling you that you NEED to get the baby out because it's heart rate is dropping, which is every mothers nightmare while she is in labor.  (Scary example, I know. But it happens all too often.)

So, laying on your back can make labor last longer and be more uncomfortable, and it can lower the oxygen supply to your uterus and your baby which weakens contractions and can slow heart rates. Why is that our standard birthing position in hospitals??

Here are some birthing positions that are much better for mom and baby during labor:

1. Squatting: Many pregnant women know the squat pretty well; it is a great exercise in pregnancy and is recommended by most doctors and midwives alike. During labor, it not only opens your pelvis up an extra 15-20%, but it also can shorten the length of your birth canal, speeding up your birthing time. (Hooray!)

2. Hands and Knees: I couldn't handle this position in labor, only because I was just too exhausted to hold myself up. Many women swear by it, though. It also opens your pelvis wide to help the baby move down, and puts gravity on your side as it faces that "J" curve downward. This is another position that most pregnant women will know from their pregnancy exercises; cat/cow, anyone?

3. Standing/Squatting on a Birthing Stool: This is how I had my son! I know everyone is different in labor, but this was the ticket for me. I tried several different positions, I even tried laying on my back (which lasted all of 1.5 minutes, I hated it!) but the second my midwife suggested the birthing stool, all systems were go. It was so much more comfortable than the other positions I had tried, and I could tell that gravity was helping me out. I was able to sit and relax my body between pushes. I also felt like I had full control of my abdomen and uterine muscles while I was pushing; something that was severely lacking while I was on my back.

4. Birthing Tub/Pool: Again, this is one of those that didn't work for me, but oh how I wish it had! Everyone has seen the photos or heard the stories about how beautiful water births can be. The only reason I didn't like it was because I really needed to feel grounded, but even us big pregnant ladies float in a pool. The reason I didn't like it is the reason most women love it, though. Because our bodies are buoyant and float, the water takes a good amount of the weight off of our muscles and joints. Women who do enjoy the pool say that the water is a great pain reliever; I have even heard that it works better than an epidural for some women who have experienced both. You also have the freedom of movement; you can just sway in the warm water, sit on your hands and knees, squat, or recline. And trust me, it is better to move around than to sit still for too long.

I know most of us as women have been taught to be modest, and in some cases we even feel shameful of our bodies, which is extremely unfortunate. Reading these suggestions may make some women uncomfortable and worry about looking funny or strange while they are in labor. Believe me- when you are in your birthing time, you aren't going to give a rats ass what you look like, but to everyone around you, you will look like a goddess.

I hope this helps to any of you preggo ladies looking for advice, or to those who aren't pregnant yet and are just trying to get their fill of information beforehand (good for you!! Empower yourself with baby-birthin' know-how!).

If you have any questions or requests for a blog topic, or you just want more information, please don't hesitate to ask. I don't know everything, but I have learned a lot on my quest for information. If I don't know, I can find out for you! Thank you to my readers! Your support means the world to me.

Stay informed!

** I will be switching to WordPress soon, so keep an eye out for that! If you follow me here don't forget to follow me there!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Get the Hell Out of the Hospital (Or Learn to Own Your Birth)

This is something that has bothered me for a very long time now, but I have recently come to the point where my blood may start boiling over if I don't say something about it.

When exactly did women lose their respect for their bodies? And how is it that most of them don't give a damn?

Someone told me a story of their grandchild's birth recently, and it went like this:
"The baby was turned upside down in the birth canal, so every time she had a contraction, the little baby's nose was squished and she couldn't breathe! So the doctor had to save her, and he grabbed the forceps, turned her right side up, and pulled her out. Thank god he saved her life." 

Can anyone tell me just how many things are wrong with that story? 
1. Babies are supposed to be "upside down" or facing your back. It is the best position a baby can be in during labor. As the baby is born, he or she will slowly turn themselves to get their shoulders around the pelvic bone.
2. Babies don't breathe in the birth canal!! They are still receiving all of the oxygen and nutrient rich blood they need from the placenta. I couldn't believe the doctor told her that. 
3. The doctor wasn't "saving her", he was making the birth go faster, and making things easier on himself. He was more ready to injure the baby or the mother before he would just let her give birth in her own time. 

That last one is where my real problem comes in. Doctors and nurses in hospitals who scare women into believing something is wrong with their child, just so they can take over the drivers seat and control birth itself. How disgustingly sad is that? They absolutely know the maternal and neonatal death rates in this country are the 3rd highest in the developed world. They absolutely know that those numbers are mostly due to unnatural medical interventions during birth. Yet they carry on regardless, ignoring statistics, just so that they can make it home in time for dinner. If your labor is induced, your chance of needing an "emergency cesarean" go up 50%. The cesarean rate in this country is upwards of 30%! One in three women getting a c-section when their bodies are made to give birth is absolute insanity. Laying on your back during labor is the WORST position you could possibly be in for birth. Laying on your back closes your pelvis by a whopping 30%. This position not only makes pushing near impossible (the woman is pushing uphill, with the baby behind the pelvic bone), but it also increases the risk of an episiotomy and/or an emergency cesarean (because at some point in time, the doctors just don't want to wait anymore). The only reason the hospital requires you to be in that position during labor is so they can see your vagina, which is totally unnecessary most of the time (trust me, you can't really see anything down there until the last few minutes!), but when it is needed, they should be able to look no matter what position you are in. It isn't your job to make the doctor more comfortable. It is their job to allow you to be comfortable in a very uncomfortable time. Being in a squatting position, on your hands and knees, or in a tub free to move around can speed up your labor and pushing time! You'd think that is exactly what the doctors would want you to do, but they do everything by "the book" (which hasn't been updated since the 1900's, it seems) just to avoid liability.

The doctors also must know about the importance of skin-to-skin care after birth. The baby does NOT need to be measured, weighed, wiped off, and cleaned up before being given to the mom. That first hour (especially the first hour, but several hours and days, really) after birth are critical for mother & baby attachment. The baby needs to be with his mother. It is a necessity. The mother's beating heart is a comfort to the child (since he's been listening to it for 9 months), and helps to regulate his own heartbeat. Her body heat will raise or lower in order to help the child regulate his own body temperature. Sometime in that first hour, the baby will wiggle around and find the mother's nipple to begin his first feeding. All of this is facilitated by the hormone rush that happens for both mother and child directly after birth. If the child is taken away too soon and misses that time window his temperature will not regulate under the heat lamps and he will need to be swaddled. It is insanely hard for a newborn baby to eat without his hands. Because they can't see well, they have to use their arms and hands to help them feel around. Imagine trying to eat with your hands behind your back and a blindfold on. The baby will miss his first feeding, causing his blood sugar and heart rate can drop. Then he will take a trip to the nursery, which means MORE separation for mom and baby. Once all of that has happened, breastfeeding can be extremely complicated, as the baby was likely given formula in the nursery, or it has just been too long and he cannot figure out a good latch, be it from exhaustion or stress from the trauma of separation (and YES- it absolutely is traumatic for a newborn to be separated from the only person he knows in a brand new world).

I just recently learned about brachial plexus injuries. They occur in 5 in 1000 births, meaning they are more common than down syndrome or spina bifida, yet I had never heard of it. It occurs when the doctor pulls on the baby's head during labor. This snaps or tears the nerves running from the brain to one or both of the arms, leaving the child paralyzed in that limb, often for life. Shoulder dystocia is a contributing factor, which is when the baby's shoulder gets stuck behind the mother's pelvic bone. Although there are much safer ways of alleviating this problem (the Gaskin maneuver calls for simply rotating the mom's position, which opens up the pelvis and releases that shoulder. Remember what I said about laboring on your back?) doctors ignore the proven safe route and pull on the newborn's head. I don't see the sense in that. They know that it can cause severe birth injuries, yet they continue to do it, I assume to speed up the process.

Doctors know all of this, yet it happens every single day. 

And what is worse, is that most women just let it happen. I can't tell you how many women I know that don't want to know the facts about hospital birth in this country. They would rather just "get the epidural" or "choose a cesarean" than give birth naturally. The other thing is- pitocin makes birth more painful, causing unnatural contractions that your body was not built to handle. Yet women often take drugs in the first place thinking they make the whole process easier and smoother. So why are women so clueless, and why are they okay with being clueless?

I'm sick of hearing about how the media and society caused this lapse of reason in women's minds. I absolutely agree with it; birth on TV is nothing like birth in real life, and it is VERY scary on TV. But frankly I am just tired of excuses. TV shows should not be where women get their information about the kind of birth experience they can have. When I found out I was pregnant, all I wanted to do was research. I wanted to know the safest options for everything- from car seats to first foods, diapering to baby soap. More than anything else, I wanted to know about the safest and best options for the birth of my child. I can't help but (maybe naively) feel that every woman has that intuitive notion that birth is in fact important. The way you give birth and how you and your child are made to feel in that time will affect you and you child for the rest of your lives. A child's own life path is paved at birth. The brain is a very sensitive organ, and if it experiences trauma that early in life it will hold very deep scars, of which many scientists wonder if they will ever heal. So why is it that women still just take the drugs so easily? Or elect to have a major surgery as if they were getting a dental exam? It is preposterous to me.

Here's my thought on it; if you want to ignore the facts about what is safe or unsafe for your child, then you shouldn't be having children at all. If you can't grow up, educate yourself, and put your child's needs first, then you aren't doing your job as a parent. Period.

I wish I could get inside the heads of all of these women and really make them hear me. You absolutely have choices in birth, but if you just submit and do what is easiest for the doctors, things will never change in this country. If you don't educate yourself and take control of your birth, you are hurting yourself, your best friend, your sisters, and your daughters.

I can't tell you how confident and powerful I feel after giving birth at home, and all I had to do was let go, and allow my body take over. As women, we have these superpowers. We can create human beings in our bellies, nourish them with an organ that we build especially for them, give birth to them all on our own, then feed them with a milk designed specifically for their personal needs (it differs with every child and changes composition to suit them by age!), and help them grow and mature until they can fly on their own. Yet we give it all up; we hand over our powers to someone else. Most women hand over their powers to the doctors and nurses, and let them take control. Some women hand their powers over to their religion, instead of taking the credit for their own creation. Many women just ignore them altogether, and never feel just how powerful they really are. I absolutely believe that every woman on this planet (excluding the very few with serious medical issues) can give birth naturally. They can feel their bodies working, follow their own intuition, and birth their babies without the constant "coaching" of medical staff. If every woman did just that, can you imagine how powerful and confident women would be as a whole? Can you imagine the difference that would make in the world we live in? The things we would change, the things we could fix?

Birth is of absolute pivotal importance in this world, and it is about time we started acting like it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Oliver Meets the Great-Great-Grandparents

Did you know that having an infant makes it really hard to find the time to write a blog? Huh. Yeah, me neither.
Sorry for the delay!

About 2 months ago I took a trip to Mississippi to visit my great-grandparents. My great-grandmother has been dying to meet Oliver. She called me all the time when I was pregnant; I tried not to call her too often because when I did she would answer the phone with, "IS THAT BABY COMIN'?" I didn't want to keep getting her so excited.
She would tell me the same stories over and over, about how when she had my great-uncle at home, the doctor came to her house and laid down on her bed saying "I'm tired", in an effort to make her angry. He told her babies come faster if their mothers are angry in labor. She told me how she was never ill while pregnant with my grandfather, but she was horribly sick with my great-uncle. "I could've sworn he was going to be a girl!", she said. She told me about her mother, who was a midwife. The town doctor wouldn't attend a birth unless my great-great grandmother was there with him, and in many cases she attended births on her own. Maybe midwifery is in my blood....

Needless to say, she was overwhelmed with joy when she finally got to meet her great-great-grandson.

...And Oliver thought she was the funniest person in the world!
My great-grandfather is very gentle and quiet. He never says much, but when he does it means something. He was elated to meet Oliver as well; he just held him and stared, smiling for a while. He finally looked up and me and said, "Kristen, you done good."

My great-grandparents are going on 88 years old. Mamaw and Papaw, as we call them, have been a huge part of my life as far back as I can remember. Every holiday of every year, I have seen them. Not to mention countless visits in the summers just to be with the family. They've always been around. I also knew my great-great-grandmother, Papaw's mother. She died at 94 years old when I was about 6. I still remember her very clearly.

I say all of this because I didn't know until my teen years that this is abnormal. I thought everyone was as close with their families as I was; that everyone had great-grandparents. Now I know just how lucky I am, and how amazing it is that I have the family I have.

Mamaw and Papaw just met their children's children's children's child. Can you even imagine? If Oliver had kids, and they had kids, and then their kids had kids, and then their kids' kids had kids! Five generations are now together in my family again, and my great-grandparents started it all.

I can only hope that my son will get to know his great-great-grandparents as well as I do. His feisty, brave, fireball of a great-great-grandmother, and his quiet, intuitive, hilariously funny great-great-grandfather. Oliver baby, you're one lucky little boy!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The New Mommy Curse

This is going to be somewhat of a rant. People piss me off.

Today I realized something. Our society has NO respect for mothers, and no comprehension or concern for the needs of an infant.

I was called for a paid focus group (on toilet paper of all things), and the meeting was today. I took my almost 3 month old son with me, because he is an infant and is exclusively breastfed. I have been taking him with me wherever I go since he was born for that reason. I never had any reason to leave him at home; he is very well behaved and I'm the one with the boobs to feed him with.

This focus group was exclusively for mothers. Every woman in that room had children, but I was lead to believe I was the only one with a baby. I was actually told at first the study was only for women with older children, but they later told me they needed me to come in because they couldn't find enough women that qualified.

Anyways, they ended up overbooking and since I was one of the ones that didn't technically qualify, they paid a few of us and sent us home without having to even participate.

Let me reiterate that-
I didn't even participate in the study. Never even set foot in the room.

This evening I missed a call from Oklahoma. The woman on the other end of the line left a message, in which she said someone told her I brought a BABY?! (sounding as if she were surprised babies actually existed). "This building isn't for children; it's for adults only. We don't have childcare, and since there isn't anything for your baby to do it was really unfair to him that you brought him with you."

Okay. Now you're on my bad side. Excluding bars and strip clubs, I've never heard of an "adults only" building. Not to mention- we were in a hotel. A hotel that doesn't allow babies? Huh.

So I wrote her an email back.

"Hello "C". I just got your voicemail and wanted to apologize. But just to clarify, my son is only 2.5 months old. He doesn't need child care, nor was I expecting it. I brought him with me because he is so young and he is exclusively breastfed. I'm used to taking him with me wherever I go for that reason. I know that there is no way of knowing this from your position, but I wear him in a wrap and he sleeps unless he needs to be fed, which I don't think is very disruptive. I'm not sure how being with his mother is "unfair" (as you put it) to my son, he isn't a toddler looking for things to get into and toys to play with. If anything, he was in the best place he could've been. Surely a newborn wouldn't have sabotaged your survey, so I'm just confused as to what the real problem was.
I'll remember that, though."

Bitch, please. Don't insinuate that I am a bad mother for not leaving my infant with a babysitter, as if that were a better option. Don't insult my intelligence by assuming I was expecting your company to have someone there waiting for me to hand my child over to (because I am obviously incapable of taking care of him myself).

Look, I understand that there are some places you shouldn't bring children to because they can be disruptive. I agree with that; don't take your baby to a movie premiere and expect everyone to enjoy your company. If your toddler has been pitching fits all day, then don't take him out to a restaurant if you can't typically get him to calm down (or you aren't going to try). But seriously? A freaking toilet paper survey and I was in the wrong for bringing my sleeping INFANT?!

What did she expect? I just can't wrap my head around it. If her excuse was that she doesn't offer childcare, but we didn't need childcare, what the fuck was the big deal??

SO it got me thinking. Why is it so taboo for women to keep their babies with them, right where they should be? I just don't get it. Why is it that leaving babies at home with someone else seems like a better option for anyone involved? I know many people reading this will say, "duh! Because babies scream and disturb others." Well, A. get over it, it isn't the mother's fault that a baby cries, and B. I am not talking about those not-so-great parents who roll their shopping carts through the grocery store just letting their children scream and cry while doing nothing to console or distract them. I'm talking about women and babies in general.

For example: Ever since I became a mother I worry about going out to eat. I am still not so comfortable breastfeeding in public, but I do it because babies have to eat, and I love my son and will do what is best for him. But you know what doesn't help? When the people sitting at the next table gawk at me and the waiter whispers to his coworkers while staring me down. Mind you- I wear two shirts and a nursing cover if I have to feed my son in public. The thought of strangers looking at my boobs is bad enough, so I just avoid it. So it isn't like they are gawking at the sight of a tiny baby breastfeeding (which I still don't think should be a big deal), it is the mere thought of it that brings people pure disgust. WHY?? Why is it that doing something so natural and so necessary as to feed my own child is so appalling to some people? You don't get a say in the matter. Why are some people so quick to crucify new mothers for mothering their children?

Why is it so horrible for me to have my sleeping baby with me in a waiting room that some bitch in Oklahoma has to call me and tell me what a terrible thing I did?

It's discrimination, pure and simple. People expect all children to be horribly behaved, and they expect that the mothers will do nothing about it. Ironically, when a mother tries to be a mother and do everything in her power to give her child the best start- she is still met with unapproving glares.

People say they want the best for our children, but how are we supposed to give them our best if they are quarantined at home every time we leave the house?

Wake up America. And keep your nose out of everyone else's business.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Oliver's Belated Birthday Story

I cannot believe it has been almost two months. My little boy, although I swear he just arrived yesterday, has now been here for two whole months. I have been trying to figure out how to start this post since the day he was born. How do you convey such a feeling? How do I explain the power of his arrival? The automatic shift in my heart and soul the moment he was put into my arms? I have NO idea. But I am going to attempt it.

And as fair warning, I won't be skipping the details. So if you are squeamish.. I don't want to hear about it.

I had a plan, as most new mothers do, for how I wanted my birthing time to be. Who I wanted there, what I wanted the room to look like, what kind of energy I wanted surrounding myself and my new baby. Although a lot of what I had hoped and expected to happen did happen, a lot of it was completely different. The one thing that was the most important to me about my birth was that my mom was there, and that was one of the things that went exactly as I had hoped.

On January 14th, my "due date", I woke up to a text message from my mom saying she had shipped me a package and to be looking out for it that afternoon. I thought it would be baby clothes or something; she had sent me several packages since I had been pregnant so it was nothing out of the ordinary. Later that day, I had completely forgotten about said package (which is what you do when you are pregnant; forget everything), so she called to see if I had gotten it. I was trying to think if I had seen any UPS trucks around, and was on another planet entirely when a car pulled up in my driveway. I kept talking to my mom while trying in the back of my mind to figure out who I knew with that car, when it hit me.

"Did you just pull in my driveway?!"

It was awesome. One of the best surprises I have ever gotten. I had been so anxious about whether she would make it for the birth. I hated the idea of her driving down from Virginia in a panic because I had given her the "I think it's time" phone call. The fact that she was able to come to town and just hang out until then was SUCH a relief.

That week we spent a lot of time walking. We went to the Dekalb Farmers Market, which was my favorite part. I had a woman there tell me my baby was coming that night, I believe it was the 18th. I smiled, but I was SO tired of people telling me, "I bet today is the day!" and "It's a great day to have a baby!" and even, "Would you just have that baby already?!" I was the one that was pregnant and I wasn't impatient, but it seemed like everyone else had an agenda they needed to attend to, and that I was messing up their schedules. Comes with the territory, I suppose. On the way home from the farmers market, I remember telling my mom that the 21st just kept popping up in my head. I didn't know why, but I kept thinking 1-21-12. Damn, I'm good.

I woke up on the morning of the 21st at about 8am and had NO idea what was happening to my body. I had this strange, uncomfortable sensation in my belly. It would become stronger and weaker in little waves, but all in all the feeling was there for about 15 minutes solid. It wasn't what I had imagined a contraction would feel like, so I just blew it off as another random pregnancy symptom and went back to sleep. I woke up again at 10am and the same thing happened, this time until around 10:30. Nick woke up about that time and I debated telling him. It wasn't that I didn't think he could handle it, or that he would get too excited, I just HATE feeling like I am being monitored. I knew he would be on edge and wondering if it was go time or not. Unfortunately, when another one came about, I couldn't help but get somewhat of a contorted look on my face and kind of adjust to get more comfortable. He jokingly asked, "oooh, was that a contraction?" I don't think he had been expecting me to say, "actually... I think it was."

I told him about how they had been coming and going since I woke up. I didn't know how long it would be from that point, many women say they feel early contractions for several days before actually beginning active labor. So I asked him to not pass the message onto his family, and told him I wasn't going to tell mine yet either. I didn't want everyone calling all day and checking the clock if it was going to be forever. (The only person I did tell was my mom, but she was the LAST person that would ever bug me about labor, she knows me too well. Besides, she's my mom.) And I really did feel like it was going to be forever, because it was the first and only sign I had gotten of my labor happening at all. These were the first contractions I had felt, I hadn't had any bloody show, my water certainly hadn't broken or leaked at all, and I never really had a nesting phase. You know- all the things they tell you to expect at the beginning of labor.

Now, that last one was a shame. Here I am in true labor, albeit unknowingly, and my house was a mess. The room I was supposed to be giving birth in was a wreck. So, with my contractions steadily building, I started cleaning. Nick came to help around 2:00pm, he had made plans to record with his band that day and I told him to go do it. I didn't want to give off the vibe to his band that something may be going on, nor did I even think anything was going on. When he did come upstairs, he saw my giant pregnant self on all fours on the bed, rocking back and forth through a contraction. He asked if I was okay, and I said, "I can't get the sheets on the bed. Can you help me?" He probably thought I was nuts, but he knows more than anyone; once I set my mind to something, it must be done. Despite how I was feeling, that room was getting cleaned.

We finished most of the cleaning around 3:30pm, just in time, as my contractions started to get pretty uncomfortable at that point. Nick went back to recording, I told him to tell his band mates we were going out to eat around 8:00 (just a white lie!) so they needed to be gone by then, but that it was probably time to warn our families that something was indeed happening. I went downstairs and told my dad. The plan had been that he and my brother would run our last minute errands. I was told it is always good to keep some quick foods handy in case the midwives and other birth help get hungry; some births take quite a long time. I also needed some electrolyte drinks and juices for myself.  So they left for the store around 5:00, again, under the impression that they probably had plenty of time. It was around this time that I called my midwife Debbie and my doula Nicole, just to give them a heads up.

So, I was alone; exactly how I wanted to be. And it was great.... until about 7:00pm.

My contractions were definitely closer together and much stronger, but they still weren't that bad. I was just suddenly flooded with emotion. My mom came by and I just started crying. I was trying to explain that it wasn't the pain; I was just being bombarded with the realization that my son was in fact coming. That my long wait was finally over and I would get to see him and smell him and touch him. I was overcome with the fact that although I had no control  over what was going to happen during my labor and the birth of my child, I knew everything was going to go perfectly. I had no fears and no worries. That is one of the many things that empowered me that night; I can honestly say that I wasn't afraid at all.

My dad and my older brother Cory got back around 8:30pm. They got the hint that things were moving along, so they went upstairs and vacuumed my room and set up our birthing pool. My dad had called my little brother in Orlando and told him to go catch a stand by flight, but there were no more until the next morning at 6am. I knew he would be upset, he had his heart set on being there with us for the birth. I was sad too; my brothers and I are very close and I wanted them both to be there.

By about 9:00pm, I decided it was time to call my chiropractor, Katrina. I wanted everything in my body to be aligned, so that things would go as smoothly as possible. She got there around 9:30pm, worked her magic, and left sometime around 45 minutes to an hour later. I swear she is the reason my true, active labor started.

I called my midwife again and let her know where I was at. I remember being so afraid to tell her to come over. I had heard of so many women who ask their midwives to come over and they end up being in that early stage of labor for hours upon hours. I felt like active labor should be more intense than what I was feeling, but I was so frustrated at that point because I had no idea what I should be feeling. I remember telling her, "well, they have been about 5 minutes apart for a while now. But I just don't know... I feel okay. I mean I don't really know if this is it or not, so... I don't know..." And yes, I am pretty sure I said 'I don't know' that many times, because that is exactly how I felt. I didn't know what active labor was like, I didn't know how much pain I was supposed to be in. I had been led to believe (like everyone else) that you KNOW when it is time, the pain is that unbearable, but it wasn't. I could tell she knew she should be there, but she just told me not to hesitate to call her, that she could be there any time. I was, in fact, in active labor that whole time. She could read me like a book, I think.

It was about 10:45pm at this point, so I ran upstairs to shower while I still could. I remember being able to relax in the shower until the end. Around 11:00pm or so, I couldn't get comfortable through my contractions while I was standing in the shower. So I said goodbye to that wonderful hot water and got on my bed. My mom brought me some soup and I tried to eat it, but I couldn't. Out of the blue I found myself having contractions that were only 1-3 minutes apart. It seemed like the jump in duration came out of nowhere (which is why I think it had something to do with my chiropractic adjustment), but I welcomed it. At that point I was tired of wondering if anything was going to happen that night, and now I had my answer. Once my contractions were that close together, I knew without a doubt that I was in labor, that my body knew exactly what it was doing, and that my son would  be with us soon. My heart skips a beat just thinking about it.

I finally gave Nick the okay to call Debbie and Nicole and ask that they come over. He had wanted to call them for some time, but I just hadn't been ready. He was taking the dogs out and calling his mom as well at that point, so I sat in the bedroom with my mom just trying to figure out what position was the most comfortable during contractions. I wasn't in a lot of pain, but the feeling was just... icky. I really don't know how to explain it. It was a lot of uncomfortable pressure, and just like every woman in labor has ever said, it really feels like you have to go to the bathroom. Rightfully so, all of your muscles are shifting downwards, so it makes sense that it would feel that way. Sitting on all fours felt great at that point, my belly could just hang below me which took a lot of the pressure away. Luckily Oliver was at the front of my belly the whole time, so I didn't have to deal with any back labor.

Just as a side note, I never looked at a clock again that night, so from now on I am either guessing or going by what I was told. My midwife kept a record of everything, but I only asked for a few key points.

Debbie and her assistant Lacey arrived at around 11:50pm, and she wanted to do a cervical exam to see how far along I was. I kicked everyone else out of the room, because at that point I still cared about people seeing me naked. That went out the window pretty quick. After the exam she asked if I wanted to know where I was. I said no, because I didn't want to hear "2 centimeters" and get discouraged. (I found out later I was already at 6cm). Everyone came back in (I suppose I should clarify, by "everyone", I am referring to my mom, Nick, Nick's mom Natalie, and Lacey) and I went back to my all fours position, switching between that and laying on my side. Debbie and Lacey started to fill up the pool, but realized it needed more air. They asked if I would mind the noise from the air pump before they started. I thought that was really nice. At the time it was perfectly fine with me, but a few hours from then I think it would have made me crazy, so I can appreciate that they thought to check.

Nicole, our doula, had gotten there by this point and was reciting our hypnobabies scripts. I would go so far into my mind and internalize during contractions that I honestly can't say whether or not the hypnobabies had any effect on my birthing time. I also blame myself, I hadn't started my hypnosis earlier on because I didn't know if it was time or not. By the time I tried to use the hypnosis ques, it was too hard to really focus.

I can't tell you how much time passed, but the pool was ready for me and I needed to pee. That was one of the last things I wanted to do; sit on a toilet. The thought of being unsupported scared me to death. Once I did, however, it wasn't so bad. Emptying my bladder made the contractions feel much better, as did changing my position. Once I was there, I had several contractions on the toilet. They were coming so fast I was afraid to get up and walk away in case I started to have another one. My mom sat in front of me so I could just let go of my body and lean on her. Hilarious as it is, I think the bathroom was my favorite place to be during my labor. It was just the two of us, and it was so quiet and comfortable.

When I did make it out of the bathroom, I went straight for the pool. I have seen and heard such wonderful things about water birth, and I so wanted that for us. I got in the water and immediately changed my mind. The warmth felt wonderful on my muscles and joints, but that is probably the only good thing I can say for myself. The moment I got in the water, it became a struggle. When I would have a contraction, I would try to find a comfortable seat. Since my body was floating, I would drift. I couldn't sit still and it drove me nuts. I became ten times more uncomfortable than before while I was having contractions. Not only that, but I have a huge pet peeve about breathing hot air. I feel like I am suffocating. So at a time when I needed to breathe very deeply, I really needed cool, fresh air. Instead, I was breathing in hot steam. UGH. That was terrible. When my contractions would go away though, the water felt great. And for anyone wanting a water birth- please don't let my experience deter you. Everyone feels different in labor!

I spent what seemed like about twenty to thirty minutes in the pool, and then I had to pee again, so I sat on the toilet for a few more contractions and went back to the pool. This time, Nick got in with me. It wasn't so bad then. I was able to lay back on him and when I needed to be still I just held onto him to keep me steady. I felt bad, but at some point I had to ask Nicole to stop reciting the hypnobabies ques. I needed to internalize and I suddenly found them very distracting. I asked as politely as I could, but I don't think it would have mattered. That is the great thing about Doulas (and anyone else who attends births), they know not to be offended! Then it was just the hot air that bugged me. Needless to say, being bugged by anything in labor just doesn't fly, so that was the last time I got in the pool.

From then on, I switched between the bed and the toilet for the rest of the night. My contractions had gotten so strong that being on all fours, or any other position where I had to hold myself up, was nearly impossible. Not only was I uncomfortable, but I was beyond exhausted. I have never been so tired in my life. When my contractions were only one and two minutes apart, I would sleep in between. I would fall asleep so quickly and deeply that I would wake up at the onset of another one and have to figure out where I was and what I was doing. In labor, all of your blood and oxygen goes to your uterus and away from your brain, causing some of that exhaustion. I can't even explain how tired I was. Those were the moments when I thought I couldn't do it anymore. It wasn't because of the contractions or the discomfort, it was the exhaustion. I kept saying, "I just don't think I can have another one... I'm too tired." Luckily I had such a great support team to remind me of my strength. I can see how women are pressured into things in the hospital. I don't think I would have allowed any interventions, but I did feel very vulnerable and weak at some points.

So- as I was saying- I had been switching between laying in bed and sitting on the toilet. Sometime probably around 4am, I was on the toilet and noticed parts of my cervical plug were beginning to pass. I didn't really know how to feel about that; I felt like it should have happened long before, and it made me feel like I had so much farther to go. I sat and waited to see if there was more when I suddenly gave a big push. It was totally involuntary- my body just did it. It surprised me and felt so strange because I had absolutely no control over it. When I felt like I could make it out of the bathroom, Debbie wanted to check my progression again. I told her I still didn't want to know. I found out later that I was at 8cm. at that time. My body was probably pushing to try to complete the opening of my cervix, but it wasn't time to have a baby yet.

Now, since I didn't want to know how far along I was, I was unaware that my body wasn't ready to birth my son. But there I was, starting to get really excited, because in my head I thought I would soon get another one of those pushing sensations and be on my way to having my baby in my arms. Please, ladies- try not to do this. About an hour after that initial push and not having any others, I started feeling pretty discouraged. I felt like all I was doing was laying down, sitting on a toilet, trying to stay comfortable, and trying even harder just to stay awake. I know and I knew then that it is a process, you just have to let your body labor. But I got myself excited when I should have just been following my own cues.

It was probably somewhere around two hours later (at about 6am) that I felt like things were finally moving along. I was on the bed and it happened again! I was lying on my back and I suddenly started pushing, but it didn't feel right. I'm not really sure how to explain the feeling, but it was like pushing against a brick wall. My body was trying to push, and I would just let it, but it didn't feel like anything was happening. About two or three big pushes in, my water finally broke. I thought, "Yes! Now he can really start moving!"

I gave a few more pushes on the bed as they came. They certainly weren't steady, let alone strong enough to push out a baby. I am pretty sure that these were, again, just my body finishing the dilation of my cervix. Around 6:43am, I really got the urge to push. My body had found its rhythm and I felt a rush of strength pulse through my veins. I didn't want to be on the bed, I needed to be upright, so Debbie pulled out the birthing stool and sat it right next to the side of our bed. I rolled myself onto it with her help and Nick sat on the bed behind me so I could hold onto his knees. Poor guy... I think I almost broke his kneecaps.

My body seemed to be moving very slowly and methodically. I didn't push consistently. It was nothing like you see in the movies where doctors and nurses are screaming "PUUUUUSH!!" I just let my body do the work and helped it along, probably only pushing every other minute, sometimes a little longer in between. That made me feel so safe and powerful. My body knew what to do and I trusted myself completely.

I didn't, however, feel any more energized. I had physical strength back, yes, but my brain was still beyond exhaustion. I remember at one point, Debbie whispered something to Lacey along the lines of "yeah, you better go and give her a call." I blame the mommy-multi-tasker brain, because I don't know how I heard what she said, or why I was paying attention in the first place; but I felt really worried and looked at her and said, "is something wrong?" Thinking she was talking about calling someone for backup or something. Who knows? I didn't even know what I was thinking at the time. I could see it in Debbie's face too; she looked at me as if I were crazy for even being concerned about a phone call while my child was only minutes away from birth. I don't blame her, I felt crazy after I asked. She told me everything was fine, and it was about another client. I then made the mistake of asking if Oliver was actually coming...

At this point, Oliver was doing what most babies do as they come down the birth canal. They move down, and go back up. Two steps forward, one step back. So the answer at that time was no, and that I still had a ways to go. She answered my question in the nicest way possible, but all I heard was, "You haven't progressed at all and this is going to take FOREVER!!" Of course she didn't actually say that; but that is how my brain interpreted her kindness. My body then kicked into overdrive. I knew that the average pushing time for new moms is 2.5 hours. I remember thinking there was NO way that I would be pushing for that long... my baby was being born and I was going to make it happen. I gave it everything I had. I surprised myself during every push, I had no idea where that strength and power was coming from. I pushed and waited, and pushed and waited, following my body's rhythm so I could avoid tears and stitches. At one point I just reached my hand down, and I felt the top of his head. He really was coming! And soon! I just kept my hand on his head as I pushed from then on. It was so motivating to feel him so close, and to know then how much further I had to go.

About 10 minutes before he was born, I remember Natalie (I think it was Natalie, but I am honestly not sure who it was at that point) coming into the room from getting me water, and I heard her say something about my little brother being there. I cried out, "Kevin's here??!" Remember how there were no flights left that night?Apparently, he had gotten in his car and driven up to make sure he was there with us. Our bedroom is over the garage where he came in. He heard me growling and grunting through the pushing and he asked my dad, "Has she been like this the whole time?!" I thought that was cute.

The only time I really felt what I would call pain was when his head was crowning. The ring of fire is no joke. It burned, almost in the same way a rug burn on your knee does, just much worse (obviously). For me though, the way I was standing and the way he was being born didn't put any pressure on my perineum. It was all at the top. I started calling for help (as if anyone can help you birth a baby); I had seen the midwives support the perineum on videos of other women's births. Then I realized... wait... I know where it hurts. I can do it myself. So I slowed down my pushing even more and held my hand right where the burning was to help with the stretch. Debbie kept telling me to stand up because the way I was leaning back was contributing to the burning, but I was too afraid to. I felt like I might hurt him since he was right there in the birth canal. But I stood up a little taller and leaned forward. Of course she was right, it relieved a massive amount of the pressure I was feeling. I believe it took about 10 minutes for his head to crown completely. Once it had, I gave one more big push and at 7:19 am on January 22nd, after only 36 minutes of pushing, my baby boy was born.

I wanted to reach out and grab him and pull him to me but Debbie stopped me. He had his cord wrapped under his arm (he was born with his arm up by his face) and around his upper torso. She had to get Lacey to help her hold him so she could quickly unwind him from it, and right when he was free he came straight into my arms. That was without a doubt the most incredible moment of my life... words can't even begin to explain. I have no idea what was going on around me. I don't know what anyone was saying or doing. This little person was in my arms; a person that I made. We were complete strangers, and yet we knew each other better than anyone else. I had gotten to know him so well and yet I felt like I was starting over in that moment. He was (and is) my best friend, the person that I love more than anyone else on this earth. I suddenly knew what it was to be a mom. The fierce protective instinct that kicks in, the overwhelming love that floods your heart. Nothing else mattered. I would gladly take a bullet for him a million times over.

His breathing was rather sped up from having a little extra fluid in his lungs. Debbie wanted to give him a little oxygen just to help him along. She didn't want him to leave my chest so she took the tube off of the mask and just let it blow in his face. It stayed a little faster than normal until the following day, but he was fine otherwise and it went away on its own. I was just so grateful to have been at home. I knew that (even though he was perfectly fine) if we had been in a hospital, he would have been rolled straight to the NICU for 12 hours or more just for observation. The thought of that still breaks my heart today. Fortunately for both of us, that wasn't the case. He didn't leave my chest for around two hours. After that, Debbie quickly did his newborn exam (on the bed right next to me so that I could still be in contact with him), Nick held him so I could pee, and then he came straight back to my chest (where he then stayed for the better part of a week =] ). I was checked too, and because I followed my body in that pushing stage, I had no tears and needed no stitches. (PHEW!)

Debbie told me that my transition period could have been extended because of the position of the cord on his arm. Essentially Oliver was pulling the placenta down with him, so my uterus had to work harder to push them both down together. If I had been in a hospital and received pitocin, my body may not have been able to keep up with the unnatural contractions, causing the need for emergency intervention if my placenta detached too early. In more ways than one, being at the hospital would have caused me more issues and grief than good.

He latched on to feed sometime in the first hour or so. He had a terrible latch at first (as most babies do), but I was fascinated watching him root around and figure out what to do on instinct. His tiny little face would light up when he would find my breast, like "Yay! I did it!". It was incredible!

After our birth team left, Oliver's grandpas and uncles came up to see him. I was so exhausted I could barely function at that point. I had been in labor for about 24 hours and had a 3 hour transitional period before I was able to push. But oh, it was so worth it. I would have another home birth in a heartbeat. I felt so at ease and in my element, and my son was born so peacefully. He didn't get hauled off in a cart to be weighed, washed and wiped off before coming to my arms. He didn't have to sit underneath a heat lamp. He didn't get passed to nurses and doctors. He had been attached to me for more than nine months, and he belonged in my arms. He has been the happiest, most content baby since his very first day on earth, and I contribute that in a large part to the way he got here.

I couldn't have imagined a more perfect birthing experience. Yes it was the most difficult thing I have ever done, but it was so simple at the same time. I just had to keep reminding myself not to fight it; all you have to do is surrender. In those moments when I felt like I just couldn't do it anymore, I gave in and let my body take over. I followed its lead and let my mind take a backseat for once. I surprised myself more and more through every passing minute; I had found this strength in me that I didn't know existed. It truly was the most empowering, beautiful, enlightening, mind blowing experience of my life. I wish the same feeling for every woman, no matter how her child arrives in this world.

I am so grateful for all of my readers. I feel like there is so much more to this story, but I'd have to write a novel to include it all! If anyone has any questions about my experience, or if you would just like to know more about home birth, please comment below or message me through my facebook or my personal email. I'd be glad to answer and help where I can! Please share this blog with your friends, now that this long one is out of the way I have many more to come. =]

Stay tuned for a cloth diaper related giveaway!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Built to Birth

34 weeks now.... Only a few more to go!

I know I say this a lot, but seriously- It is kind of scary how quickly time goes. Luckily I left myself with plenty to do in these last few weeks so I can keep it that way.

Nick and I have been talking a lot about what I am going to do for income when Oliver is born. First; I'm going to stay at home for a couple of months so that I can give him all the attention he needs. Then, I am going to take the first steps towards doing what I have deemed a dear passion of mine: midwifery.

As some of you may know, I was about to start this journey before I became pregnant myself. It was kind of ironic, but then speaking with my midwives, whom I was talking with about apprenticeship beforehand, apparently it happens all the time. Your body goes into baby making mode if you surround yourself with new babies and information on babies, moms, and birth. So... whoops.

Truthfully, it was great timing in my eyes. We had been talking about how much we wanted kids of our own, but we were just too afraid of not being ready (when are you ever really "ready", anyways?), and then BOOM! I was pregnant. I feel very fortunate for it being so easy for us. I know the kinds of struggles that so many women go through to have children of their own, and it is not something that we look at lightly in this family. It is such a profound feeling, that we are so eternally grateful for, to be able to have children of our own.

ANYWAYS: So before I got pregnant, I drowned myself in information on birth; from the emotional standpoint, the physical, the mental, and everything in between. How it affects the mother as well as the child. How it can be the most empowering, beautiful, sensual, and important event of a woman's life, or one of the most traumatic and unfortunate. I think the strongest sense I got out of all of this information besides my passion for sharing all of it, was that I suddenly understood just how misinformed most women (especially American women) are about childbirth.

In this country, women are taught from a very young age that childbirth is painful. That it is scary or shameful. Most women honestly believe that their bodies are not even capable of birth; that somehow, their pelvis is too small to birth their babies, or their body doesn't know how to push a baby out, or the worst: they aren't strong enough to have babies.

Let's make one thing unavoidably clear here before I go any further. If you are a woman; if you were born with all the lady parts and pieces, YOU CAN GIVE BIRTH. You can have a baby just fine on your own. You don't need help. Now, of course, this is excluding any women who have legitimate health reasons for not giving birth naturally. And I do mean legitimate. More often than not, the reasons given to women by their doctors for them to not give birth naturally are for the doctor's benefit, not for the woman's safety. As backwards as that sounds, it truly is what birth has boiled down to in this country: a business, and nothing more.

How many times have you heard that a woman's baby was "just too big to be delivered vaginally"? Did you know that women all around the world give birth to 9, 10, 11... even 12 pound babies every day? And no, it doesn't mean that their bodies are permanently scarred for the rest of their lives, or that they will be somehow injured in the process. Your body will not make a baby that is too big for you, unless you have issues with gestational diabetes, or another related disorder. Very few women actually have pelvic bones that are too small to birth their babies; when they do it is typically related to a birth defect (which would have caused other issues, meaning you would be well aware before giving birth) or to a broken pelvis that did not heal properly. We are not all born incapable of birthing babies. How do you think our species survived for hundreds of thousands of years without medical interventions and cesarean sections? And yes, you can try to argue that more women and babies died in those times, but in most cases that was due to unsanitary conditions, infections, and disease; NOT the act of giving birth or some physical barrier innate in our women.

Unfortunately, although medical intervention for birthing may have started out with a purpose (to give birth a more sanitary and safe environment) it has evolved into something drastically different. Hospitals are one of the dirtiest places to give birth. Hospitals are where people go when they are sick. They can try to sterilize completely, but wouldn't you feel better knowing for sure you are in an environment that hasn't been exposed to TB and staph? I know I do. On top of that, the interventions used so routinely by doctors these days CAUSE more c-sections than they prevent. If you receive pitocin to induce labor, you are twice as likely to need an emergency cesarean section as you would have been if you had gone into labor naturally. Not only that, but hospitals are a business. You can't have a 24 hour birthing time at a busy hospital. They want you in and out so they can get someone else in that bed. Unfortunately, this means that pitocin is becoming EXTREMELY overused, practically to the point of it being a normality. It is sad, really. There are countless numbers of women receiving drugs and unnecessary surgeries (that are MAJOR surgeries, this isn't getting your teeth pulled.) that could have been avoided in the first place. You know laying on your back is physiologically the WORST position to birth in?? It closes the pelvis and causes you to have to push your baby against gravity, as your pelvis is then tilted upwards. No wonder so many women have such a hard time having babies in that position. You know who benefits from that position? Not the baby. Certainly not the mother... but the doctors. Because then they can see what is happening. Then they (god forbid) don't have to be in an uncomfortable position to observe (which is really all they are doing) your birth. Come on ladies!!! Where is the logic??

Birth should not be a scary event. It shouldn't be traumatic. Yet when all women are exposed to when it comes to birth are shows like "A Baby's Story" and "I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant", it becomes understandably hard to be confident in our bodies. If you take nothing else from this bog post; remember this. Trauma and drama sell. Beautiful, easy, comfortable, confident births would get horrible ratings, because there would be no "edge of your seat" kind of action, no emergencies to speak of. So please, when you see women writhing in pain, being told their babies are going to die if they don't give in to emergency intervention, know that there were probably plenty of other births that were filmed for the show that went smoothly and quietly, but you will never see them because of the lack of drama they depict. Not every birth is scary and traumatic. Watch this one and see:
Many of you may have seen this video already. This woman is a chiropractor in Canada. She filmed and aired her birth through a live internet feed for anyone to watch. THAT, my friends, is confidence. The sounds  she makes are not that of pain, they are from the intensity that comes with birth. Yes, it is very intense. It is a huge thing your body goes through, and I never want to imply that it is easy. But if you listen to her when she speaks, it is almost comical. At 6:41, she has just about birthed her baby's head, and she calmly says, "The head is almost out." She calls her daughter to come and see. She even giggles! She isn't reaching out for someone to help her, or looking for guidance. She follows her body and knows that she is safe. In that place, she can relax. When she actually births her baby around 8:42, she doesn't even make a peep! She ended up having a beautiful, fast, accidentally unassisted birth in the quiet and comfort of her own home.

This may seem like such an anomaly to so many people, but it really happens all the time! Sure, many women are still not as confident and relaxed as she is, and yes, many times in the heat of birthing time women get very scared. Especially with first babies, that is to be expected. It is a brand new experience, and it IS so intense and powerful, it can take over our emotions. But that is just it; it is OKAY. It is okay to be nervous. We just need to keep in mind that we CAN do it. That we just need to listen to our bodies. That even if it is your first time, you are not clueless. Your body and mind were quite literally BUILT for birthing.

I know at this point I am just ranting. I tend to do that when I start talking about something I feel very passionate about. I just feel like it is high time for women to wake up. Open your eyes and look at the situation logically. Trust your body, don't fear it or it's power. You and your baby made it this far on your own; you don't need help now!

If you are expecting, I just ask that you do your research. Know what you are getting into with how you will give birth. And by all means; go to a hospital! Have a hospital birth if you just aren't comfortable with home birth. But be prepared to be pressured, and know how to deal with that.

Until my next obligatory rant on babies and birthing... sheesh. Take care of yourselves.

(Oliver now has the hiccups, so I will take that as his way of saying, "So long, folks!")

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Utterly Amazed.

In just three days, I will be 30 weeks pregnant.

Can anyone tell me how I ended up here?
Where did the time go??

Don't get me wrong, I am so excited. Like, butterflies every morning, dreaming of tiny fingers and toes every night, obsessing about my SON (oh my something bigger, I have a son!) every waking moment kind of excitement.

Although I am anxious for him to be here, I am very thankful for the mindset that I have for myself. Many moms get so used to the idea of a "due date" that they obsess over that day, and the days leading up to it; as if it were literally a delivery date set by fed-ex, and they can some how be assured that their little booger will be sitting on the doorstep by noon. I suppose too in most cases, this really is the case for women. Thanks to inductions and elective c-sections, you can choose your baby's birthday if you feel like it. (I hope anyone reading this who is pregnant or TTC will NEVER choose to do either of these things unless medically necessary.)

On the other hand, my brain has been hardwired to know that Oliver will be here anytime between Christmas and the end of January. And I am okay with that. It is exciting to me, not knowing; letting HIM choose his birthday. Did you know your baby releases a cocktail of hormones when he is ready to arrive? So, literally, your baby CHOOSES his or her birthday when it is best for him or her to arrive. I know most of you moms who just LOVE to give "advice" are itching to finish this post so you can scroll to the bottom and comment on how I "won't know till I am HUGE" and how I will be "begging for someone to get him out" because I am just SO uncomfortable. Well, save your breath, negative Nancys. Because I really, honestly, truly don't give a rats ass. I am well aware that I will be achy and tired and over the whole pregnancy thing, anxious about when he will decide to show himself. That is fine. I have a philosophy about pregnancy, that has seemed to work out really well for me so far. Ready to have your mind blown?

I STAY POSITIVE. I don't feel sorry for myself for CREATING LIFE. I know and trust my body to do what it is supposed to do, to nourish my growing baby in my belly until he is strong enough to join the outside world, and then to use my body to nourish him some more as he grows even bigger and stronger. I am just a passenger. I follow my body's cues, and will follow my baby's needs when he arrives. I will say, my aches and pains have been substantially lower than some, because I follow a strict chiropractic regimen, eat healthy, drink tons of water, and take care of myself. It helps a lot. But I honestly believe what has made this experience so enjoyable and so beautiful to me, is the outlook I have.

Sure, some days I look at my stretch marks, my wide hips, my round belly, and think, "Holy shit! I'm huge! Waaaaahhh!" But then I remember why my body looks this way. That the fat cells and extra water I am storing will soon be passed to my little boy so that he will get the nutrition he needs. That I can just as easily get my body back later, as long as I continue to take care of myself. That they are JUST stretch marks. My mommy lines. They tell a story, but they don't change what I am made of, or who I am.

I know some people will be offended by this post, as if I am saying "anyone who was/is pregnant that doesn't think like I do is ignorant and stupid", because people like to think they are being attacked by everything they see if it is contradictory to the things they chose or are choosing to do for themselves. I assure you, that is not my goal. I just hope someone can see this and feel along with me the utter otherworldly amazement that comes from building a human being. Bones, teeth, a complex circulatory system, and a brain that can comprehend it's own existence. A beautiful and perfect jigsaw puzzle of cells and stardust that MY body put together in just the right way. And yours did too! Be thankful and be amazed. Because it is truly amazing.

I can finally feel the shape of his little feet and hands when he kicks and punches. It makes me tear up every time. It is SO real now. Luckily for me, every time he gets hiccups, they are pretty low. He has been head down for quite some time. Hopefully he will just continue to stay that way!

I just had to make a post today, because on days like these when I am just so dumbfounded by my body, and the overwhelming love I feel for this little boy, I have to share with someone.

As the weeks draw to a close, I will continue to keep you all posted. Hopefully a little better than I have been....

Love and happiness to you all,

Oliver's Mommy. ( EEP! =] )