Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Birth Stories, Part Two - Faith

My big plan for the birth of my second child was “birthing center.” I figured there would be the chance to have my unmedicated birth without the potential of Petocin! When I discovered that the only two options in Greensboro was hospital or home – I honestly was initially scared – of both options!

Homebirth / waterbirth was never in our initial plans, but once we prayed, researched and committed – it seemed like the most natural thing in the world. So instead of packing my bag to prepare for the birth, I gathered birth supplies. I had complete prenatal care with Sarah, my midwife about the same frequency as my OB (only spent more time talking with her). She loaned me her birthing pool which we kept at the house until “time.” (see the side of the tub in the pic)

At 37 weeks I was very excited – perhaps too much so! I went into labor early – unfortunately at one point my husband is across the International Date Line! Sarah suggested some supplements and to try to calm down! Labor didn’t continue and once his conference over, Pete flew home. At 39 weeks I’m a “watched pot.” Family came to visit for Gracie’s birthday with the hopes for a birth. Nope.

Over the next ten days, contractions would begin and quit. Three days over the due date and Sarah suggested that I send everyone home (except my sister to watch Gracie). Our family left and that very evening contractions began. I looked at Pete and said, “Is this it?” We’ve had so many false starts - I didn’t even want to call our midwife. So we went to bed. God’s graciousness toward me – the contractions stalled and I had a great sleep. The next morning – my water broke! So we called Sarah. We called family (and said please don’t come yet). I labored mainly in the living room – talking and eating and watching TV. I sat on a towel so I wouldn’t mess up the couch. Early afternoon I began to really feel “uncomfortable.” Sarah asked if I wanted to go upstairs and get in the tub. I said I didn’t want to move. She said then it was definitely time for the tub.

Pete went upstairs to operate his very coolly engineered shower / hose system so that the baby could be born into filtered water. The water was cool (about 10 degrees below body temperature) and felt good! I was uncomfortable so I wiggled a lot. Sarah reminded me to get on top of the pain, take some deep breaths and grunt if I needed to. Oh I grunted. I guess it was more of a deep chest gurgle. It felt good (albeit loud). As the contractions intensified, I asked Pete in the tub too. He did a “superman quick change” into his swim trunks and got in there with me.

I held the handles of the tub pulling up – simultaneously pressing down on Pete’s knees (poor Pete’s knees). Sometime in the late afternoon / early evening the labor changed. I said I wanted to push. Sarah asked if I wanted her to check my dilatation. I said yes, but was so fidgety and uncomfortable that she couldn’t reach. She suggested I push just a little and tell her how it felt. I gave a little push and it felt really good! So I was given the okay to proceed. One very big difference from the hospital was the concern for my perineum. Sarah gave some counter pressure as I pushed to lessen the likelihood of tearing. She also told me to back off if I felt any stinging. With Gracie I was encouraged to push full on as hard as possible and through the pain.

It took longer than I expected from the point of “seeing the head” to getting the baby all the way out. I was much more connected to what was happening and could reach down and feel the head between contractions. With Gracie I pushed laying on my back without any clue what was really happening down there. Once the shoulder wiggled out, Sarah told me to sit back (I didn’t realize she was setting me and Pete up to catch). One more push and up pops a baby. This kid was buoyant! When I held the baby up, the umbilical cord was between its legs. I was so sure I was going to have a boy – I figured the cord was just hiding the package. Nope, no package – a baby girl! I was honestly shocked on three levels – she’s a girl, she’s huge (8 lbs 9 oz compared to Gracie’s 7lbs 8 oz), and she has long black hair and a lot of it.

We both got out of the tub, dried off and Faith and I lay on the bed. I was shivering so they wrapped us up in a quilt. Faith laid on my stomach and chest for a good while and nursed well. After a while, Sarah weighed her and did her apgar (which was high). Family arrived a few hours later. Gracie was able to see her sister and hold her all here at home. It was a peaceful transition for our whole family. After Sarah checked us – she said good night and went home to her own family. She came back the next day to see how we were and then again a few days later. Home – water – birth – would love to have more babies and have them all this way!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Birth Stories, Part One - Gracie

Since I have had both an unmedicated hospital birth and a home birth - I have been meaning share my experiences with each. The first installment is my firstborn which was planned for in a carefully chosen hospital.

* * * * *
July 12 - Monday morning around 5:30 a.m. my water broke. We were so excited. Contractions were regular at about seven to ten minutes apart and Gracie was on her way! We called our doula (Colette), our parents and close friends. Colette came over to our house and we decided to wait until the contractions were strong and regular before heading over to the hospital.

Around 10:00 a.m. - Contractions stopped. I ate, took a nap, took a walk, took a shower - still no contractions. We watched a movie, ate some more, walked on the treadmill - still the contractions were few and not regular.
Around 5:30 p.m. we decided it was best to head on over the hospital. We arrived at Allen Bennett Hospital and was given a beautiful room. Those in the Greenville, SC area - this is the hospital to have a baby! The room had recliner, table and chairs, rocking chair, big bathroom with a big Jacuzzi tub. As soon as I was allowed, I was in that tub! We asked to be allowed to labor naturally (without being induced) with the hopes of avoiding anything unnatural with the delivery.

Later that night, the contractions became very regular - 5 minutes apart and were a bit more difficult than the earlier ones. Pete and Colette took turns rubbing my back during the "uncomfortable" part. This went on all night. As best as they could - Pete and Colette tried to sleep in turns.

The next morning, I was checked and was still only about halfway dilated. Dr. Cowart said that we needed to go ahead and take the Petocin. I was pretty scared at that point. My commitment to go unmedicated was being tested. Around 10:30 a.m. Tuesday morning (7/13) they started the Petocin. Unfortunately, that meant that I was on the monitor constantly (belt around my tummy) and had an IV and could no longer enjoy the Jacuzzi tub.

The Petocin is some tough stuff. Contractions were being artificially created and came on top of each other. I was close several times to asking for the epidural, but Pete and Colette kept encouraging me. By early afternoon, the contractions were so strong, that only Pete had the arm strength to press in on my back and relieve some of the "discomfort." We prayed and prayed and the progress seemed so slow. Pete and Colette were starving and would try to run quickly out to the outer room and grab literally a bite of sandwich before coming back for another contraction.

Around 5:30 p.m. (yes, 36
hours since my water broke) I was told that I could finally push. I had been at Allen Bennett so long, that Dr. Cowart was no longer on duty and Dr. Helmrich was going to help deliver. I was exhausted. Pete and Colette were dripping with sweat from holding me up and giving counter-pressure on my back. However, when I could push - Praise God - it was nearing the end! From the childbirth class I knew it shouldn't be but maybe a half hour. But…I pushed for three hours! At 8:40 p.m. (after almost 40 hours of labor) Gracie was born.

She was immediately placed on my chest and given an opportunity to nurse but she did not nurse very much – I think she was exhausted too. We held her for about an hour off and on as the nurses measured and weighed her and was being stitched back together (just tearing, no episiotomy). When the sewing was done and my modestly restored – the families were invited in. Roughly 500 photos were taken – mostly in the hallway so I didn’t see my child for probably an hour. But I was too busy eating to really notice. One aspect of a hospital birth is nothing but clear liquids – for over 24 hours of being there I was sustained on Sprite. I dined on cereal, chocolate pudding and Dr. Pepper (yes, this was almost 5 years ago, LOL).

Gracie was finally brought back in and nursed some m
ore and fell asleep. My mom stayed with me that first night so Pete could get some much needed sleep. Gracie slept all the way until around 6:00 a.m. I was sore, but finally rested and nourished. And after the first night, Gracie slept like a regular newborn – short periods and lots of nursing.

Overall – the hospital was positive. The nurses were all (well, there was one I didn’t care for, but she wasn’t there long). They were very respectful of our birth plan and not once were we offered an epidural. And both OB’s that were apart of the birth were great. For my first child – I was glad that I was able to have an unmedicated hospital birth.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Seriously! I haven't shared the money story???

One thing I know for sure - going natural is a whole-encompassing process. you think you're just changing your eating habits to be healthier. Then you realize that how you clean affects your health. Then you realize how you sleep (what you sleep on) affects your health - sometimes critically. I would like to propose that how we use and view money and material possessions is just as critical to living a natural life.

In the Dr. Pepper years, my husband and I enjoyed the fruits of our careers. We spent money, borrowed money and lived highly off of "cream of something" casseroles and eating out. In one year of marriage, we created close to $70,000 in debt (plus a house purchase). Oh yeah, we had school loans, borrowed a down payment from parents and of course, we accidentally bought a timeshare.

Seven years later (yup, doing the math - we've been married eight years) we are debt free! It was not easy. We sold our house and now we rent (which we really love renting). We were both working for the first part of the journey so everything I made (after giving to the church) went against the debts. Later, when we went into the ministry, we were still not out of debt, but we kept saving what little we could to put toward the debt. Our main resource was Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey. We highly recommend!

Our pursuit of natural living fits so well with a traditional view of money. I like the depression-era saying of "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without." Every time we "repurpose" something we already have, or find something cool on freecycle, or discover a treasure at the Salvation Army - we are living that natural life. Our great-grandparents made butter, wore all cotton clothing, used cash to buy things. That is beautiful picture of where I want to be.

So here's a little bit of practical to go along with the inspiration. We use cash for most catagories that "get out of hand. As much as possible goes on auto billpay and the debit card is hardly used except for gas (safer to pay at the pump with kids in the car). Each of us "manages" certain envelopes for the areas we use the most.

My envelopes: groceries (our CSA prefers cash anyway :-), home furnishings (aka Salvation Army & craigslist), children's clothing, Hair/ grooming (I manage three heads of hair), supplements, gifts (I am the primary shopper, but I just hand Pete the money we had budgetted when my birthday, Christmas or Mother's Day comes up) and my personal money which goes for my clothes and whatever I would like (magazines, coffee, etc).

Pete's envelopes: Home maintenance (we rent, but there are always "projects"), car maintenence, technology (in our house there has to be a technology budget ;-), dating (pays for babysitting and eating out), activities/trips (we go visit family 3+ hours away fairly frequently), vacation, and his personal money which is the same as me - clothes and the occasional indulgence.

We like each having oversight for the envelopes. If we make an online purchase or accidentally forget our cash and we use the debit card, we have to put the cash into an "Oops" envelope. That cash is then recycled to the next pay period when we refill the envelopes. Just starting out, it took a while (months) to work out the system to function and make sure we had the right amounts in the envelopes. We're still tweaking things and as "seasons change" so do our budget lines and amounts. Happy natural finances!