acupuncture, family, gratitude, parenthood, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC

birth story

Baby E is fed and sleeping so this is my moment to write his birth story! He’s in his newly-set-up rocker, with a gorgeous hand-knit blanket that just arrived from my sister D, and if he wakes I’m going to try gently rocking him with my toe while I keep writing, as I read that Louis Erdrich does–she says it’s pretty easy to have a newborn as a writer. We shall see…

Eight days have now passed since the birth and I want to get this down asap–we’ll think of it as the stream-of-consciousness Blog Edition, and I will refine and perfect it later for Baby E’s consumption later in life.

So, let’s begin where I left off–last Saturday, when we were preparing to check in to UCSF. All homey methods of labor induction (acupuncture, walking, spicy food, castor oil) seemed to have no effect–I had no signs of labor at all. The delay in our check-in time to the hospital from 8am to noon to 8pm helped me make the transition mentally to preparing for this new scenario in the hospital. I felt oddly calm, and focused on the benefits of being in the hospital–sometimes all that monitoring and state-of-the-art medicine can come in handy.

I had spoken with my midwife the night before and she walked me through what to expect with induced labor. I would go through a first step of medication (Misoprostyl or Cervidyl) to soften and prepare my cervix. This would take 12-24 hours. Once ready, they would start the Pitocin.

So, we were glad to start in the evening because we could knock out those first 12 hours while sleeping. Still, we packed books and Scrabble and all of our electronics thinking we’d get off to a slow start.

We were admitted at 8pm. It was much calmer on a Saturday night than during a weekday when I had been there for non-stress tests. We were shown to our room which had a partial view of the city at dusk.

I filled out a bunch of paperwork, including papers for the baby on which I was the signatory “parent” (gasp!), and decided to start with Cervidyl, which they described as like a tampon they would stick in and then wait. OK. They checked me at this point and I was less than 1 centimeter dilated, just the width of a fingertip. I called Em, my midwife, and she said to get some rest–we had a lot of work to do the next day.

(E’s eyes just opened but he looks pretty happy. Trying the Louise Erdrich toe-rocking method. Easy.)

I felt some cramping as I went to sleep, and proceeded to get up probably once an hour to use the bathroom. My mom slept soundly on the pull-out chair/cot. The clock on the wall proceeded onward. Everything was quiet.

At 5am, (uh oh–red-faced crying baby…one diaper change later and he is now on the boob. This is a little awkward but doable, Louise.) I was uncomfortable enough that I could no longer stay in bed, although I was hesitant to say what was happening since I’d been maybe feeling contraction-ish twinges for like two weeks and nothing ever turned out to be anything. Soon, though, the nurse came back in and said, “It looks like you’re having some contractions.”

In fact, she determined that I was going into labor without Pitocin. Huge victory at this point–of course, my fear was that Pitocin-induced contractions would be way too strong and start the inevitable spiral of hospital interventions…  and I seemingly had kicked off labor without it.

I texted my doula and she said she was on her way. We were moved into Labor Room 5, a huge corner room facing the entire skyline, East Bay, and the trees of Mt. Sutro. One of the last things I did before things really got going was to take this picture of the sunrise and text it to my sister D in Chicago:

labor room 5

 

We set up the birth shrine, covered the TV with a sheet. My doula arrived at 6:45am with soup to put in the refrigerator, a sitz bath tea, and a necklace for me that she got 15 years ago in Benin. She told me to set my intention on the necklace (“healthy mom and baby”). I feel like I was in ‘serious’ labor pretty quickly, although throughout the day was confused about the definitions of “early” and “active” labor (and active labor turned out to be much later)–very soon I stationed myself on a birth ball and was vocalizing through contractions.

My dad and sister showed up for a bit, which was nice. By the time they left, I was entering the naked phase which lasted the whole rest of the birth process–the only thing I wore was this halter top of rough fabric that held two circular monitors, one for the baby’s heartbeat and one for contractions. It was the nurses’ primary obsession to keep these circles in place, through many baths and position changes and moving around the room, which annoyed me, but also reassured me that we knew all was well with the baby. (Baby is now back in the rocker and I’m rocking it with my toe again. He’s moving his arms around–and his eyes are open. This writing may not last long as my mom is on a walk…)

Those early hours of labor are a blur…I think it was pretty doable, but felt like real work. I was being told all day that I was progressing steadily so I just progressed steadily. We did the birth ball, hands and knees, child’s pose, the bath. (Just did the 5 S’s of the Happiest Baby on the Block and now he’s swaddled and sleeping again. Man, I picked his fussier time of day to write but I’ll keep going.)

It’s hard to say how I “felt” through these hours–I was just “in it.” I was very present and my body felt strong. It felt intense from the beginning, although you never know how much more intense it’s going to get. They asked me if I wanted to be checked but said they didn’t feel it was necessary since my contractions were obviously progressing, and I said no thanks.

Coincidentally, my good friend M had gone into labor at the same time, and because she had also engaged the services of both my midwife AND doula, it was quickly determined that since I was already in the hospital and she’d be starting at home, she’d get the midwife and I’d keep the doula. Since I was already in labor when I heard this, I just accepted it and moved on–I was so happy to have my doula and my mom and the kind nurses. I knew M needed Em.

In other coincidences, my doula had a THIRD client go into labor and check into the room next to mine. Because this client was 22 years old, she was in and out in like 5 hours, so this was hardly a blip on my screen–my doula left for 30 mins for the birth and then she was back. Around 5pm, my doula’s backup came by, and when she came in the room, I noticed that I was able to have a whole cheerful conversation with her. Which I wouldn’t have been able to do in any of the previous hours. Which seemed not good.

I’d been throwing up multiple times and they had finally given me fluids and anti-nausea medication–I kept saying I felt so much better and chalked it up to that. But it wasn’t that.

It was clear things were slowing down as we approached 12 hours. My doula suggested we dance to move around and get things flowing again. I suggested the song “Happy,” knowing that this song should totally piss me off in labor–yet, there I was dancing through the whole song and not having any contractions. And it wasn’t pissing me off.

A doctor came in the room to say that my contractions were slowing down and we should talk about “augmentation.” Oh god, I thought, here we go. I had thought I was out of the woods and nope. I asked to call my midwife and had a whole phone call with her without contractions. She said I could go one of two ways–if I felt my body needed to rest, I could take a break, rest, see if my labor started back up on its own. I’d need strength for the pushing phase. On the other hand, I was already 12 hours in and in the hospital; if I felt strong enough, I could use a tool the hospital offered: Pitocin. They’d start me off super gradually and maybe I could just pick up where I left off and keep going. I wouldn’t lose any of the progress I’d made. They checked me and I told them I didn’t want to know how many centimeters. I now know that I was 4 cm and 70% effaced at 6:35pm. I had asked the doctor to consult with my doula and my doula would ‘translate.’ I didn’t want to feel the discouragement of the number after so many hours of hard work. Ultimately, the doctor wasn’t happy about not consulting directly with the patient, and my doula didn’t like having information that I didn’t have. (After that, I let them tell me the number.)

I told Em on the phone that while I did feel sleepy, my body felt strong. I wanted to keep going. They started the Pitocin. And, sure enough, within an hour, my contractions were back to what they were and the show was back on the road. (Baby E is gumming his swaddle and making complainy noises. He started crying and his Mimi picked him up and took him into the other room.)

Then we started the long night of gradual gradual progress–by 10:40pm I was 5 cm and 80% effaced. I asked to be catheterized because I’d been drinking all day and could never pee–they first said no, you’re just dehydrated. But I insisted and they got 1.5 LITERS of urine! And I had to be catheterized a few more times through the night.

To try to get things going faster, they turned up my Pitocin a bit and broke my bag of waters with what looked like a crochet hook. It made me a little sad that it didn’t break on its own but I quickly moved on–a small sacrifice.

I kept going and kept going, the contractions getting really intense. The best way to get a mini-break was to get in the warm bath, so I did that many times. My doula was so present, her big blue eyes right there when I looked up. She helped me dive under the waves, connect with my baby, told me over and over that I can do this. My mom was a total rock, even as my suffering intensified. (Right now she is dancing the cha-cha with Baby E.)

Nearly 4 hours after that, I was checked again at 2:20am: I was 7cm and 80% effaced. Such slow progress! Ugh ugh ugh! Starting to get really really frustrated! Starting to think I couldn’t do it. Starting to seriously doubt myself and the whole natural childbirth plan. I started to become desperate. I was so tired. My UCSF midwife, the one I saw for maybe two prenatal visits, happened to be working that night and she became another important rock in the room, total strength. I wanted to get back in the bath, my only respite. She mentioned on the way in that the bath won’t slow down “active labor.” Oh, so I’m finally in “active” labor at this point, I thought, as we approach the 24 hour mark.

Sure enough, the bath felt good but did not lessen the contractions. She sat on the bathroom floor beside me as I alternated between comatose sleeping and big, hard, anguished contractions. I started to say I didn’t think I could do this. She said, “You can totally do this. You ARE doing this.”

I got out of the tub and, in my memory, I crawled back into the room. I think in reality I walked in but ended up on my hands and knees somehow, and I felt so desperate. I was saying I can’t do this, that I was frantic, that I just wanted the epidural. My audience wasn’t really going to budge on that one–they looked at me blankly for a moment, then with compassion, then said again, “You can do this.” I was furious. But I kept somehow, somehow, kept going, one contraction at a time.

The midwife said, well we do have this drug called Fentanyl that can take the edge off, it lasts about an hour to an hour and half. And I said YES, bring me that, thinking OK good, maybe this is all I needed. They brought it in, hooked it up to my IV, and I felt lightheaded for a second, then the next contraction hit. It honestly didn’t take the edge off, at all. Still, lightheadedness was something… And I kept going. By 5:20am I had progressed to “almost 8.” (Yes, that’s right–between 2:20 and 5:20am I progressed from 7 to “almost 8.”)

At this point, I just felt beaten. Em says that this is when I surrendered. I told my mom and my doula to go ahead and get some sleep–there was nothing more they could do for me. They were utterly exhausted. I got in a side-lying position on the bed, the only position I could manage, and the Fentanyl allowed me to sleep for two minutes at a time between contractions. For this, I thank that drug, because although it didn’t make it less painful, I think my body could regenerate just enough. There were almost no thoughts. No more visualizations, no more mantras, no more words or ideas. I couldn’t think of myself or the baby. The only thought I remember having was to call the nurse and ask her to bring me the nitrous oxide setup and specifically not to wake my mom or my doula–it would be our secret! But somehow I didn’t hit that call button.

That last hour was the purest, most intense physical experience of my life. Just huge waves that completely obliterated me, punctuated by sleep. And, at around 6:30am, just as the second sunrise broke across the city, I had the blessed urge to push. “Mom! I have the urge to push!” She had the nurse on the line 4 seconds later, the nurse had the doctor in 4 seconds after that, I was checked, and I was 10 cm–complete!!! Oh, hallelujah! Let’s DO THIS!!!

Everything changed–I was giddy. My doula had gone to the cafeteria and I texted her: “Ready to push come back!” I also texted Em and she was able to come. Doctors and nurses and midwives were assembling in the room and I was getting a primer on how to push–my doula said, “It’s going to feel like you’re pushing a giant boulder out of your butt.” (It totally did.) Gather all the energy of the contraction at the beginning, and, when you’re ready, give it everything you’ve got.

I ended up on my back on the bed, holding my knees in the air, and the sun streamed in, and this incredible team of birth goddesses made a U around the end of the bed–my doula, my mom, a medical student named Kacy who held up my iPad like a mirror so I could watch, a new midwife, the OB who would catch the baby, awesome/amazing nurses, and Em walked in just in time! I actually said, “this part is going to be fun.”

The mood was like a party–after the dim and dark hours of labor through the night, it felt like a different room. Sunshine and the talents of modern medicine and midwifery and family and love all gathered close.

When my first big contraction came, I gave it all I had–and the team totally freaked out, telling me I was a champion pusher and they could see the head already! What?!?! Yes! It has dark hair! Incredible! Just keep doing what you’re doing!

So I did–I was yelling in that gutteral way you see in movies and just pushing like gangbusters, harnessing the freight train that was rushing through my body, like no other sensation in the world. And the baby moved down, and down, and down. They were all so encouraging and clearly having a blast. And, honestly, so was I.

This was the high point, the whole pushing phase, I was totally empowered and animal and in my body. The head started to crown–they were pouring mineral oil over the top and holding a warm compress to my perineum and cheering like a crowd in a stadium. I could see his head emerging on my iPad and it was so motivating!

At some point, Em said, “K, REACH DOWN AND PULL OUT YOUR BABY!” and I did, and his whole body slipped out of me and he was on my chest and I was hyperventilating and laughing and saying “oh my god” a million times and he cried right away and looked at me with his EYES and grabbed my finger with his HAND and everyone was crying and he was perfect. They were wiping him roughly with towels to get him to pink up and suctioning his mouth and nose and it was a short umbilical cord so I couldn’t get him very high up but I could kiss his head and say, “I’m your mama! You’re here!” and he cried and was adorable and HUGE. He was born at 8:51am on May 19, 2014.

(He is back in the rocker sleeping peaceful now, thanks Mimi. And I’m sitting here crying, reliving his birth.)

We stayed like that for a long time, I have no idea how long, and eventually I cut the cord myself (!) and they took him across the room to do a few things and my mom went with him. I overheard someone say “10 pounds, 2 ounces,” and was completely blown away–none of us EVER thought I had a 10lb baby. In fact, thank goodness none of us knew, especially me. He came out long and strong. All his checks went perfectly and they brought him back to me. My mom went to my dad and sister in the waiting room that it would just be a little longer and they could come in–fortunately they weren’t in the room for what came next.

The docs were acting a little nervous about my placenta. Because he was so big, his placenta was also big. Then they were reassured, “there it is,” and it was born 14 minutes after the baby. And, when it detached it caused a hemorrhage. My doula got in my face with her big blue eyes as the room filled with twice as many doctors and said, “So, there’s an issue with the placenta, it’s totally going to be fine, we have the best team working on this, and you and I are going to just stay right here and focus on the baby.” I stayed calm as they put all kinds of new meds in my IV to get my uterus to clamp down and stop the bleeding, which they did quickly, but not before I lost a lot of blood.

So that was scary but because they resolved it so quickly, and I was on Cloud 1,000,000, it felt more like an addendum to the whole experience. I’m just so grateful that it was quickly resolved and I made a quick recovery.

They cleaned up the room and brought my family in and there were tears and photos and we called my sister D and welcomed our new family member. We ordered food and marveled over this little (not so little) guy who was just impossibly cute for having been born just hours before.

They moved me to a smaller room and my family left and I spent hours just staring at him, the rest of the day slipped away and I barely even slept. He was and is perfect. A dream come true. I am grateful for every moment with this beautiful human as I complete one epic journey and begin an even bigger one.

Welcome, Baby E. (and, on cue, he just woke up.)

xo

 

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Uncategorized

E is born!

I’ve been in the love cocoon, sorry for the delay!

My beautiful son E was born at UCSF on May 19, 2014 at 8:51am after a long but uncomplicated labor surrounded by a team of guardian angels and love, weighing 10lbs 2oz and measuring 21.5 inches–a big boy! He is long and strong with dark brown hair, big eyes, and a mellow demeanor as we learn about each other in these sweet early days. I’ve been getting very little sleep as we do cluster feeding through the nights but am still powered by the euphoria of birthing this amazing guy and welcoming him into my world!

I have so much to tell you about the birth. My doula took detailed notes on the play by play and once I have those, and the baby gives me a little free time, I’ll write it up. I can only say that it was E’s perfect birth and the experience will be teaching me the rest of my life.

Babes is wanting my full attention again. Much more soon and thanks for all the well wishes! xoxoxo, Mama K and Little E

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family, gratitude, homebirth, meditation, outdoors, parenthood, single mom by choice, SMC

a slight delay

So when I got up this morning I had two voicemails from UCSF letting me know that they needed to postpone my arrival because all the laboring rooms were full and I should call back at noon.

That felt great–I requested an omelet and sausages from my dad, drank a Recharge, did an hour or so of pumping (just in case), and went back to bed for a couple of hours.

When I called at noon, they told me to come in at 8pm tonight. Whoa!

So now we have the whole day, which honestly feels like another gift. It felt jarring to go from trying trying trying to get labor started yesterday to packing for the hospital. Now I’m catching up with myself. And, given that today is my last day for a legal midwife-attended homebirth (in CA it cuts off at 42 weeks, which is tomorrow), it’s nice that I won’t have to wonder what might have happened if I had just waited. The birth tub still stands at the ready in case something crazy happens.

This timing means that maybe we can get a decent night of sleep during the first phase. My mom will stay on the pull-out couch, and my doula and midwife will join whenever I need them, probably tomorrow morning.

This moving starting line is quite the mental trip! When I think about the road that got me here it just seems so surreal that the culmination of the whole experience, my baby’s birth day, just keeps getting pushed out–he is now bordering on the cusp of Taurus and I never considered that his birthday could or would be as late as 5/18 or even 19! Or that my parents would be here 2.5 weeks before his arrival, or that my blog would receive its all-time highest number of hits, or that he would not already be a weeks-old baby upsetting the quiet of my apartment by now. He seems perfectly happy in there although sometimes it feels like he’s rapping on my belly saying, “Hey, help me out!”

Today, we will eat, walk, do yoga, meditate, consider any last items to pick up. Have a nice dinner and enjoy the breezy, cool fresh air.

And then it will be time to have a baby, right universe? 🙂 (Meanwhile, OK to pause on lighting those candles!)

I forgot to tell you this yesterday: I’ve been pulling Goddess cards each night for both me and the baby. Two nights ago, I pulled the following cards, which are now added to the birth shrine:

For me: Aine–Leap of Faith. “Take a risk, and put your heart’s true desire into action!” Message from Aine: “Procrastinating about your dreams won’t make them go away. Neither will it make them happen. Indecision is the death of the soul’s burning passion to improve, grow, and learn. Don’t worry about making a wrong decision. Instead, worry about making no decision at all! Then take time to pray, meditate, investigate, research, go on nature walks…and make your decision. Once made, the universal energies will immediately support your decision, and doors will successively open as if by magic. The magic, you see, is that you’ve set your mind to accomplish something. And this intention is what sets you on your magical journey. Trust that the universe will support you in all ways. Trust that your intention is clear and right for you. And then take a leap of faith and jump fully and squarelyinto the midst of putting your dreams into action. Don’t hesitate or delay a moment longer!”

For the baby: Cordelia–Go Outside. “You have been indoors too long. Go outside and get some fresh air.” Message from Cordelia: “Being cooped up is not the natural way for inhabitants of this exciting planet to live. Believe me, there’s plenty to see and experience when you exit your four walls and roof. A daily venture outside will not only revive your spirit and soul, it will give you hope and faith in this planet’s very existence and future. You’ll see all of the goodness that’s in store within nature: the flowers ready to unfurl, the leaves that are sprouting, the birds that hop about, and even the wind that affectionately caresses you. Don’t let another day go by without stepping outdoors into this most entertaining and exciting of environments!”

All is as it should be. xo

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tomorrow

Dear World,

Well, we’ve come to the end of the waiting-at-home road and I now have a hospital bag packed and will be checking in first thing in the morning at UCSF. At 41 weeks and 6 days, my midwife’s recommendation is to induce labor. Today was my last effort to trigger it with castor oil, the breast pump, and electro-stim acupuncture, and no dice. Labor does not feel imminent, so it’s time to turn to the wonders of medical technology for help before risks go up at 42 weeks.

Of course it’s disappointing after all the patient waiting we’ve done these past weeks to allow labor to happen naturally. And to kiss goodbye a home birth unless it gets rolling in the next few hours. But I always was careful to say “I’m planning a home birth” because I know how often circumstances require a transfer. We all go into this with the unknown of how it will turn out, and now I’m starting to see how my baby’s birth story will go. All I care about is a healthy baby and mom–my transfer is merely happening on the front end.

I’ve done my best and will give my best this weekend. I have snacks, books, Scrabble, important items from my birth shrine, probably one of the best midwives in the world who has faith in both UCSF and me, an amazing doula, my dear mom who says this is going to be fun, my sister and dad visiting, my neighbor who is a nurse in L&D and is working all day tomorrow, and all of you lighting your candles. I feel you out there! We’ll get to meet this little guy very soon.

If I find myself with free moment to write, I will. It seems like there’s potentially quite a bit of waiting.

He is moving super dramatically as I write this. I think he’s excited too.

Time to rest up. Love to all and thanks for your sweet messages both real and telepathic.

Love,
K

family, gratitude, homebirth, meditation, Mother's Day, outdoors, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC

Happy Mother’s Day!

We started the day at UCSF for our first non-stress test to check on how the babe is doing. It was a little surreal to be in the Labor and Delivery unit of the hospital after all the expectation that I’ll be doing this at home–felt very busy like an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Everyone was very nice. Every single nurse and doctor I saw was a woman. They put me in such a tiny room that my parents had to wait in a (tiny) waiting room and it was really hot and I thought for a moment I might be too claustrophobic to stay in there. They strapped on the big belts and I heard the baby’s heartbeat for 20 minutes, as well as big static when he was moving, which was often. They came back and said his heartbeat was ‘perfect.’ Measured the amniotic fluid and it was a 9 (they want higher than 6). The doctor said his head is “massively down.” So, everything checked out and we were sent home. It felt great to get a good report. I have another appointment on Wednesday.

In the afternoon, we took a nice urban hike in the warm sun with a cool wind. We got a picnic’s worth of food at Bi-Rite and headed up to Alamo Square to lay around and eat and people watch. It was so relaxing and lovely. I am so BIG. The cashier at Bi-Rite said it looks like I’m “about to explode.” It’s nearly impossible to put on my shoes and makes me out of breath. When it was time to go home, I almost pulled down my dad who was trying to help me get up off the ground!

I’m sleepy after getting a no-sleep nap this afternoon because the baby was kicking so much. My mom suggested a bath which is such a fantastic idea so that’s where I’m headed.

But, first, I at least wanted to say, in a sleepy and probably inarticulate way, how much I love and appreciate my mom. WOW has she (and my dad) taken the bull by the horns in this baby-prep-mode and embraced the whole process of this waiting period. I am so lucky that my parents are here! I basically didn’t even get a card together this Mother’s Day, but I know that more importantly we are spending this exciting time together. Thank you, Mom, for all the nourishing mama cooking, for running and organizing the kitchen, for scrubbing the floors like Cinderella, for being game for any length of walk, for watching episodes of Call the Midwife while I weep over the births. And soon: for being here for my baby’s birth and all the help I’ll need afterward. I am so grateful.

Meanwhile, I must also acknowledge the equally enormous contributions of my dad, who is responsible for installing many fixtures, ordering and assembling needed items, getting the washer and dryer up the stairs and functioning, all kinds of chauffeuring and parking, omelets, Waldorf salads, expertly filling and emptying the birth tub, and more. Thank you, Dad!

Finally, without trying to be comprehensive because I’m excited to take a bath and then probably go to sleep, I am sending love and gratitude to all the mamas in my life–the SMCs, the homebirthers, those pregnant and trying to get pregnant, the dog-mamas and cat-mamas, the aunties, and those who just plain love and nurture their loved ones in a way that makes the world go round. Actually, I think that is comprehensive. I wish for all of this wonderful nurturing energy to be acknowledged and appreciated today. Love to you all.

I’ll go out with my 41 week belly shot and I know enough not to jinx it by saying it’s the last one. (Check out my amazing shadow.) I’ll be over here meditating and sleeping and buttering this baby up. xo

Image

Buddhism, family, gratitude, homebirth, Mother's Day, parenthood, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC

ready

Dear Baby Boy,

We’re ready for your arrival. We’re so excited to meet you! Here’s what being ready looks like on the outside:

20140510-222407.jpg Here are your new clothes, laundered and folded.

20140510-222703.jpg Here’s where you will spend many hours with Mommy, nursing.

20140510-222901.jpg Here’s a little birth shrine with items that will keep me feeling strong and reminded of you.

20140510-223046.jpg This is how Mimi organized the food that will nourish you through me.

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20140510-223216.jpg This is the new apartment-sized washer and dryer funded by generous benefactors, to keep all your baby clothes clean!

20140510-223348.jpg And the birth tub, which keeps us reminded every day that you’ll be here soon.

I’m ready in my heart, too, to move you through me and into this outside world. I will miss this lovely not-quite-one, not-quite-two symbiosis, but I also feel that you are strong and ready to make your grand entrance. It’s going to be more hospitable for you out here, baby. I’m working with my body through yoga, walking, and resting to offer you safe passage and I believe you also have some mysterious work of your own to do to make it possible. We’re ready! So let’s do it. Mothers Day would be fine, or whatever day this week works for you.

With love and great anticipation,
Mom

acupuncture, anxiety, gratitude, meditation, parenthood, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC

‘late’

Well, here we are 4 days past the due date and babes is still acting pretty comfortable in there.

First, I should say that all is well! I feel great. I’m sleeping and eating well, walking, swimming, doing yoga. These days are still precious gifts of mental/physical/material preparation. AND I’m still within the range of normal: first-time Caucasian moms on average go 8 days past their due date. As you know, I am both a first-time mom and Caucasian, and I always thought/knew we would go late. So I’m honestly not too surprised to be here.

On the day after my due date, I went over the protocol for the next two weeks with my midwife. It’s crazy how on 5/3 he would have been “early” and on 5/5 I was already “late” and walking through all the possible complications and interventions. Damn the arbitrary due date! Yet, I reminded myself that even though this baby will most likely be born on a normal and perfect timetable of his own creation, we did need to walk through what-ifs now that we know he won’t be early or precisely on time. (It should be noted that, as a rule, I am neither early nor precisely on time either.)

So–this week, nothing really changes. I keep resting, eating well, getting my heart rate up for an hour a day, drinking pregnancy tea, taking Mother’s Blend and black currant oil, relaxing. Not stressing. Doing kick counts and taking fetal love breaks.

Starting at 41 weeks (Sunday), I need to go in for non-stress tests at the hospital to make sure the baby is still thriving. They check the variability of the heartbeat and the level of amniotic fluid. This can lead to a thumbs up and come back in a few days, or, if the results are not optimal, a quick induction. If nothing happens by the end of next week, we’d try natural (castor oil) and then finally hospital (pitocin) methods of induction to ensure that I don’t go past 42 weeks. So that’s the roadmap.

It’s a relief to have the plan although tough to so quickly be thrust into the mindset of being ‘late.’ (Even though ‘normal.’) Again–being ‘early’ would have completely thrown me and made me feel unprepared, yet ‘late’ makes me feel a bit like an overripe piece of fruit. I have seen this so often from an outside perspective–the mom goes past her due date and is just done, over it, uncomfortable, and all-around cranky. I remember thinking (in that way that you know you don’t really understand because you haven’t experienced it), ‘Why is she so cranky? She knows the baby will come soon one way or another and all she has to do is relax and watch movies…’ In yoga, the teacher often asks whoever’s at 41 weeks if her phone is blowing up and she nods and rolls her eyes and the teacher gives her strategies for telling people to back off (like sending them to haveyouhadthatbabyyet.com).

I now have four days of insight into this genre of living with uncertainty and managing the expectations of the outside world. I have the huge bonus of not being uncomfortable which means my own reserves of patience are pretty full. And baby is doing all his kicks so I’m not overly worrying about his well-being. The anticipation is growing but the days feel peaceful and luxurious and lovely.

What stresses me out is my phone. Every time I look at it, there’s another text or email or voicemail. Now, you guys know me by now– I love hearing that people are thinking about me and sending good wishes. This is always welcome and I have many times been the one impatiently waiting for news on the other side, sending tentative “thinking of you” texts while trying to avoid any hint that I’m actually “checking in” (which I probably am). You really want to know that the mom and baby are OK and sometimes it gets unbearable to hear nothing. You start feeling like the ecstatic new mom may have forgotten to deploy the basic stats in a birth announcement and is now ensconced in a love cocoon that will prevent her from remembering her outside world and their burning need for information. And you want to know the name and see a photo and be assured that all is well. I know. I’ve been there, even in the past few weeks!

It’s the questions (“Do you have a baby yet?” “Sooooo?” My favorite from J, “When is he coming!!! We are all waiting for him!!!!’). And any expectation of me calling back. I know these are also fueled by love and good wishes, but I then have to convey a disappointing lack of news and speculate about something I can’t predict, which turns out to be stressful for me. Which I know is no one’s wish.

So, here goes me asking for what I need. I humbly ask of my beloved community to please send frequent love and good wishes and ‘thinking of you’ texts and voicemails and blog comments which will be code for ‘I’m dying for news over here and love you and the baby so much my heart may burst!’ and I promise to get the birth announcement posted on the blog as soon as my new mom life makes it possible.

I’ll be over here focusing on being rested, fueled, and stress-free, and also getting things rolling with daily acupuncture and meditation and walking and generally getting my head in the game. And having chats with Baby Boy about how exciting life is on the outside. (“Here’s your new bed, and here are your new clothes, and here’s your Mimi and Chacha, and here are the beautiful woods, and over there is the Golden Gate Bridge.” etc.)

One thing we all know for sure: he’ll be here soon. And I can’t wait to introduce you!!!

xoxoxo

family, gratitude, homebirth, outdoors, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC

due date

May the Fourth be with you!

I’ve had this date in my mind since the end of August–it seemed so far away!

I woke up feeling agitated and like I needed to finish the entire to-do list once and for all, today–clean, declutter, finish thank yous, test fill the birth tub (I heard several birth stories the day before that all featured some kind of drama around the birth tub and difficulties getting it full in time for the big event). I felt like the panicky feeling was mostly hormonal but probably due-date-related. We decided to walk to Off the Grid in the Presidio for lunch and the fresh semi-foggy air felt so good, really reset my mood. We got fancy food truck food, peoplewatched, looked out at the sailboats on the bay.

My family is so amazing. I can’t even believe how much everyone has already done to help–this is a full-on project and everyone has jobs. My parents have so much energy. This weekend, the pantry got organized, the kitchen counter is finally visible again, the bathroom got scrubbed, a beautiful new light fixture got installed in my bedroom, a new towel rack got installed in the bathroom, a new smoke alarm is up in the hall, the birth tub has been test filled and is in the process of having the water pumped out, meals got prepared and cleaned up, and I got rides here and there. The only thing I did myself was to finish my thank you cards. Big relief.

This weekend, I’ve been able to nap, walk, do yoga, attend a homebirth collective birth stories potluck, attend an SMC monthly meeting. It’s so luxurious after holding together the massive to do lists more or less on my own to this point

We were all sitting around last night talking about the whole journey, and my mom reminded me what I said to her when I called to say I was pregnant. “WE DID IT!”

This is truly a village effort and I’m so grateful. Thank you.

I’m tired after participating in a prenatal yoga video shoot today–need to get to bed. But I did want to mark my due date and share today’s belly shot. I’m so glad to have made it to my due date. I know baby boy is ready anytime and we’re ready for him. And, meanwhile, I’m glad for each peaceful day, getting readier and readier.

And smelling the roses along the way.

40 weeks