The Natural Bud

Blossoming into a Healthier Lifestyle


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It’s Around the Corner

 

 “Well, this is the calm before the storm.”

Calm Before the Storm Photocredit: timbeaux.com

Calm Before the Storm
Photocredit: timbeaux.com

As of Friday, August 1, I’m 37 weeks pregnant.  Technically full-term.  Our next appointment with the OBGYN is this Friday.  If I don’t deliver by then, we will further discuss the possibilities surrounding induction.  God has provided several ways for us to begin feeling more prepared for Benjamin’s arrival.

Honestly, I don’t know if you can ever feel completely prepared … but here are several of the little undeserved blessings God has poured out on us….

Tours & Consultations 

We had four appointments between Thursday, July 31 and Friday, August 1.  All three doctors we met commented that reaching 37 weeks is quite an accomplishment, in light of the polyhydramniosis.  (Polyhydramniosis: Since our baby isn’t practicing swallowing, there is more amniotic fluid around him than usual.  Mine measured 37; normal is below 25.)

 

Photo credit: Food Matters

Photo credit: Food Matters

In the past two weeks, we’ve finished consultations with several specialists.  Two weeks ago, we met with a neonatologist (a sweet Italian lady) and toured the NICU.  The NICU is far more attractive than I had imagined, and it helps to have a picture of where our baby will be the first several weeks of his life.  We weren’t able to get a tour of the labor and delivery rooms, but a friend who used to work at the hospital sent me a video tour of them.  They are beautiful also.

Last Thursday, we had a fetal echocardiogram and met with a cardiologist (no serious concerns as of now; they will look again after he is born).  She asked if I was still sleeping well at night.  Later in the day, we met with the pediatric surgeon, Dr. Middlesworth, to discuss common scenarios and what he would likely do.  Dr. Middlesworth stood out as more a grandfather-type than a doctor.  He sat down with us and explained everything very softly and slowly, using simple terms.

Waiting Room for Prenatal Visits

Waiting Room for Prenatal Visits

We haven’t met a single doctor who has seemed in a rush to get to the next appointment.  Each of them sits down, asks us what we already know about the baby, and proceeds from there.  When they finish talking, they sit quietly and wait for us to ask all of our questions.  The ultrasound techs and doctors who look at our sonograms laugh as they watch Benjamin move around – like they see him as an adorable baby, not just part of their job.  Each of the specialists – the neonatologist, the cardiologist, and the surgeon – has drawn a diagram for us so that they can explain scenarios more clearly.  We couldn’t have asked for better care.

 

Family Picture after Church

Family Picture after Church

A Place to Retreat 

The hospital in Manhattan is an hour from where we live in Staten Island.  A church in New Jersey graciously agreed to let us use their mission home for the month, which is only 15-20 minutes from the hospital.  This alone significantly reduces the stress involved with planning to get to the hospital.  It’s a beautiful, fully-furnished house, so we’ve only brought a few living necessities for the month.  My sister, a certified professional midwife, is also staying with us for a few weeks.  With the extra help and reduced distractions, we’ve been able to focus more on resting, growing in our marriage, and preparing for Benjamin.  I’m not supposed to pick up Jonathan (our toddler), so I’m even more thankful for the extra help.  My sister has helped tremendously with meals, etc., and I’ve been free to play with Jonathan every day, read, and journal.  Jonathan is having a blast here, playing all day and going outside with daddy in the evenings.

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From Home Birth to High Risk

After much research, prayer, and discussion with our medical caregivers, we decided to deliver our first baby at home.  God provided for my aunt (an experienced midwife) to catch the baby and on April 16, 2010, our son was born surrounded by a few close family members.

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Someone asked me later if I planned to deliver all of our babies at home. After thinking about it, I had to say no.  Jonathan’s birth was the best I could have imagined and giving birth at home would be ideal, but I don’t know how every pregnancy will go.

When I answered the question, it was only hypothetical.

Now I’m 36 weeks pregnant with our second baby boy.  On our first sonogram, a couple of concerns appeared but the doctor didn’t seem alarmed. They could easily be mistaken and they wanted to do another sonogram.

It wasn’t long before we determined that we should deliver at the hospital. Our midwife would still be there – the same midwife who did all our prenatal /postpartum care with Jonathan.

God is good and gracious in everything He does. Sometimes He allows trials to happen suddenly, and He provides grace and comfort through it. I’m glad He allowed us to learn a little bit at a time.

After the many tests and changes (including a 3D sonogram and a fetal MRI), here is some of what we know… Our baby will need immediate medical attention to save his life.

Last month we were transferred to a high risk hospital in Manhattan.

3D Sonogram

Our second son has an esophageal atrasia and a fistula.  Basically, he will need surgery soon after birth, both to prevent him from choking and to enable him to swallow.  He will be in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at least a few weeks, possibly 2-3 months depending on the severity of the blockage.

We appreciate prayers as we continue to prepare mentally, spiritually and logistically.

Many of our ideals for birth will be impossible this time, but God is still good.  He continues to remind us how truly blessed we are here.  We’re in a place with some of the best medical care possible for a situation like this.  God has provided so much support through friends, family and medical caregivers.  .. And we still have a living, active baby inside my womb.

Psalm 139:14 "I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are your works, and that my soul knows very well."  photocredit: iamannekehn.blogspot.com

photocredit: iamannekehn.blogspot.com

“I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.” Psalm 139:14

*I had considered starting an entirely new blog for this journey, but it seemed appropriate to share here… showing the partnership between natural alternatives/nutritional support and necessary medical intervention.*


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Home Birth Part 3: Baby Arrives

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Stage 4: Push

Eventually I asked them when it was okay to push – Aunt Joan said push whenever I felt like it. She also said if I wanted to, I could try to feel for the head. I felt something – round and rubbery – “that’s not the head, is it?” (I thought it would feel harder; I guess it felt soft because the amniotic sac was still around it.) “Yes, it probably is.” So Aunt Joan came to check, and said it was the head.

Contractions were getting more painful and I was ready to push. I had already started pushing during contractions because they had become more intense and it relieved the pain a little. But at this point they were actively coaching and helping me with pushing. Jason and my mom got on each side of me, and Aunt Joan was in front of me to see the progress of the baby moving down. Whenever a contraction would start, they would encourage me, “Push.” I was standing up and squatting, with my hands on my knees. (The position with most pressure on thighs – apparently a lot on your arm muscles, too, as I found out in the next few days 🙂 Jason and my mom were also supporting me from each side.

I was groaning loudly as I pushed, which I thought helped. Aunt Joan said, “Push.” They were all telling me that I really needed to push during contractions. I felt so frustrated – “I thought I was pushing!”

“It’s okay, you can do it.” Aunt Joan explained that instead of letting the air out in a groan, I should keep the air in and use it to help me push. (She explained later that a lot of women do that during pushing – let air out in a shallow groan – where they expend energy that doesn’t help.)  My mom was saying to use the air to push down.

Soon I started holding my breath so I could push better – then my mom was saying “breathe,” but I was thinking, I have to hold my breath to push the right way. If I took the time to breathe I would just be groaning – which they told me wasn’t actually pushing. I did breathe after the contraction though.

“You’re doing good. That’s it.” Eventually, Aunt Joan said I could look down and see the head if I wanted.

Jason: “There’s the head. I see the head. I see the head!” (so cute)

It gave hope to see his head. I could only see part of his head, so it looked like his head was really small – too small for a body; it occurred to me – that is definitely not his whole head. We must’ve pushed for at least 30 minutes that way, because Aunt Joan said I pushed 30-45 minutes. Finally, Aunt Joan said to squat down (what she called the “high squat”? in her letter to Aunt Laurie). I knew I’d be more likely to tear if I delivered from that position, but I had also practiced that squat a lot during pregnancy. I knew I could stay in that position more easily… and I really wanted the baby to come out! It had started to feel like he would never come out (especially at the point where they were all telling me to push when I thought I WAS pushing). So I squatted down and pushed. Aunt Joan said, “You’re doing good. Just two more pushes.” That gave me hope!

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A few more contractions/pushing, and Jonathan slid right out. I know Aunt Joan was holding and maneuvering him before she set him on the floor, but I didn’t notice any of that. All I remember is this baby suddenly in front of me, lying on his back, flailing his arms and screaming. I immediately noticed that his lip quivers when he cries. Among my numb first thoughts was, Please help him to get cuter. But I knew we’d have to love and take care of him anyway; and we would love him – he was ours. As it turns out, besides being all wet, he was just puffy from birth!

I stared at him, not sure what I was supposed to do. Then I guessed I should pick him up, so I reached for him. Aunt Joan: “Careful with the cord.” Oh yeah, he was still attached to the placenta. I held him against me. I tried to nurse him, but he was screaming too much and didn’t care about nursing then. His lip was quivering; I thought he was cold. Someone covered us both with a towel (his lip was still quivering).

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After I held him a little, Aunt Joan had me set him back down so she could cut the cord. She asked Jason, “Do you want to cut the cord?” It was curly and a really pale shade of yellow, with some deep blue lines through it (looked kind of like an old-fashioned telephone cord). I only vaguely remember seeing Jason cut it – I remember hearing everything more than seeing it. Maybe I leaned back and closed my eyes for that part. Then Aunt Joan sat on the side of the tub, and gave Jonathan his first bath 🙂 Someone video taped it. After that, everyone left with the baby, except Aunt Joan.  She coached me how to deliver the placenta.

Eventually Jason and Aunt Joan helped me get to the bed.  I had a small tear so they brought Jonathan to distract me while Aunt Joan sewed me up.  He was upset so it helped to focus on comforting my new baby.  I finally could eat some soup and then slept.  It was only two hours before Jonathan needed to nurse but it was the best two hours of sleep I’ve ever had!

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Home Birth Part 2: Active Labor & Transition

Stage 2: Active Labor

By around 1 p.m., Aunt Joan stayed in the bathroom most of the time. At one point, I asked if they wanted to watch a movie (thinking it would help distract me), but then when Jason went to look for a movie on his phone I didn’t feel like watching anything. During active labor, Jason was using his “contraction app” on his iphone, and he would ask if my contraction had started – when I started groaning. Finally after one contraction, I said (nicely :), “If I’m groaning, I’m having a contraction.” Aunt Joan laughed, and reminded him that when I don’t want to talk/joke anymore, it’s getting into active labor (although at that point I still was able to laugh about it – between contractions).

My mom was in and out for a while – bringing me food and water, and doing whatever was needed. I got in and out of the tub – some of the time I would get out and do more sway/dance moves, then get back in. After one contraction, I felt nauseous again and actually did vomit. It was a relief. I prayed for strength and told God I didn’t think I could handle contractions back to back, I was so tired. He was so gracious. For a long time, I was able to sleep in the 7 minutes between contractions. Even though I was groaning and yelling, and in pain, throughout the labor I thought it didn’t seem bad for a first labor – progressing quickly, able to sleep in between contractions, etc.

Stage 3: Transition

Finally around 4-5 p.m., I started saying, “I can’t do this anymore.” Aunt Joan said, “this is good.” I knew it meant I should be getting close.
Some of the comments I made during/after contractions: “let’s adopt the rest.”
As I got toward transition, I kept saying… “I can’t do this anymore.”
Jason: “Yes you can, your body was made for this.”
Me: “Pray for me.”
Mom: “We’ve been praying for you, but we’ll pray out loud.” At this point I was out of the tub, leaning against her, doing some of the dance/sway moves. She prayed out loud for me.
Me: “God, help me.” (or just “help me.”) “How can I do this?”
Jason: “Your body was made for this”
Me: “I don’t know how I can do this.”
Aunt Joan: “I know this spot, this is a rough spot.”
Mom: “It’s okay, the baby’s coming soon”

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Since I was apparently in transition, we decided to get Lois on FaceTime (my younger sister, who was in the Philippines studying midwifery). (My cousins Ruth & Hannah were watching, too, but they stayed out of the screen most of the time); Lois muted her phone because she didn’t want us to be distracted by their commentary. (I was kind of curious to hear them though!) Once in a while I would look at her and smile (not during contractions). She only unmated it to say I was doing a good job. 🙂
I was in the tub most of the time (kept getting in and out). They had said near the end you can’t get comfortable. Anyway, the hot water and dance moves helped. I completely forgot about Bradley visualizations and quoting Scripture (I’m sure that would’ve helped!). I tried to help Jason remember how to massage my muscles (big strokes). Anyway, he was sweet – doing everything he knew to help and encourage me. He told us later that he felt bad because he was saying, “You can do it!” and in his mind he was wondering, can she do it? is this deceptive? But he knew they needed to bump up the cheerleading.


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Home Birth: God’s Grace Lavished On Us

Well I hadn’t planned on this being my next post, but thought those who are attending the “Pregnancy and Essential Oils” Class would enjoy reading my birth story.  I wrote most of this journal entry in the days after our baby was born – simply a mom’s record of what happened.  (I didn’t write much here about the way we used essential oils, since I’m trying to keep blog posts concise.)

To clarify, I do not believe every woman must do a home birth or natural birth; in some cases that would be unwise.  I’m thankful that it worked out for us, and thankful for the beautiful birth story God gave us. I couldn’t have asked for better memories.  It’s a long story, so it will be posted in three parts.

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Stage 1: Labor Begins

Monday morning, around 4-5 a.m., I began feeling contractions. I’d been having Braxton Hicks for at least a month; once in a while they would feel a little stronger and actually hurt a little. Because of that, at first I assumed they were Braxton Hicks. However, the contractions continued consistently. I told Jason, “I think I’m having contractions.” He reminded me to ignore them and try to sleep. That’s what Aunt Joan had said to do.

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I ignored them until 6-6:30 am, when they became too consistent and uncomfortable to ignore. Lying down made them hurt worse, so I just got up. I called my dad and told him what was happening.  Aunt Joan said when she gets to that point, she can’t sleep, so “just try to get something done.”  She said if it got to the point where I couldn’t concentrate, then I should come over. I didn’t want to wake Jason up any earlier than necessary, especially on a Monday morning (his first day to sleep in) – so I started getting everything together before waking him up. (note: Jason was working night shift at the time.)

Contractions were somewhat close together and consistent, though not too painful yet.  When a contraction came, I would sway my hips like I learned in the dance class, then continue working.  Around 7:30 a.m., I stood by the bed to wake up Jason. I thought I’d have trouble getting him up- he opened his eyes, and I told him that I had lost the plug. He sleepily asked, “what plug?” I re-explained to him what Aunt Joan had told me about the plug.  “It means the baby’s coming.” Jason smiled really big and immediately got up. He was so cute going around the house, making sure we had everything we needed.

Breakfast

We called to let my parents know we were coming over, and when we arrived my mom asked what I’d like for breakfast. She asked if I’d like scones, and I smiled. “I thought you’d like that.” Mom made blueberry-almond scones and red raspberry tea, plus a zucchini-egg omelet and potatoes. Then we all ate breakfast around the table together – Dad, Mom, Aunt Joan, Jason & me.

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Contractions still didn’t seem too bad, so Jason & I were gonna try to take a nap in my parents’ bedroom (we planned to have the baby in their bathroom). Mom had the bedroom and bathroom all fixed up – the rooms looked beautiful. There was even a purple chair/pillows in the bathroom by the window, plus a lamp and little stuffed animal on the table beside it. I told Jason, “I feel like a queen.”

Jason: “You are.”

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I lay down in bed to sleep, and Jason was about to lie down when my dad called to ask for help with something. (My dad didn’t know.) So Jason went downstairs, and about that time the contractions started hurting more.  Not bad, but badly enough that I knew I wasn’t gonna sleep. I got ready for labor – put my water-clothes on, got my wrap, got in the tub and turned it on. I pushed up the lever to plug the tub, but it wouldn’t fill up. My mom came up and jiggled it, so it filled up. The water had been hot, but by the time the tub was filling up, it was cold. My dad told them how to fix it, and Jason/my mom would take pliers and turn the screw that was in the faucet, to make it get hotter. They were able to get it really hot, which helped 🙂 All of that was around 11-11:30.

Jason would be with me, I wouldn’t have contractions, and then as soon as he left I’d start having a contraction. He only left 2-3x, and that was when we thought I wasn’t into hard labor yet. But when he came back the one time he could hear me groaning (I hoped he would, so he’d come back :-).

Soon after that, Jason came into the bathroom to stay awhile.  I would have a contraction, feel nauseous during it, then afterward want to eat something – mom went to get me soup, then by the time she got back with it I’d had another contraction and didn’t feel like eating. I asked if they had something like applesauce, so I did eat that. I was exhausted, so in the minutes between contractions I was dozing to sleep. I would groan and almost cry, more because I was so frustrated that I hadn’t been able to sleep the night before. I asked God to help me. I knew He could still give me the strength I needed for the day. And I did hope and pray that this baby was coming by evening.