Take this and call me in the morning

I got my first batch of Chinese herbs from the acupuncture clinic this week. The instructor told me she didn’t see a crucial need for me to take them (because I’m appearing quite healthy – yay!), but it certainly wouldn’t hurt if I did. So she gave me the option to try them if I wanted. She put in some herbs for keeping my blood pressure down and boosting my liver function, and said she has another herb to add the next time around that’s for my uterus (I think?), but it may start causing contractions so she wanted to wait until I’m at least 36 weeks. My instructions were to cook them up in 4 cups of water, then divide into 6 parts – drinking 1/6 in the morning and at night for 3 days.

They honestly didn’t smell that bad while still in the brown paper bag – sort of “new agey,” but not nasty. HOWEVER, when I finally got around to cooking them up this morning – LOOK OUT! – oh my, did they ever stink (as did my whole house)! The smell sort of resembled dirt and pot (but not in a good way).

I was disappointed by how much liquid was left after boiling them for 45 minutes too. I figured a lot more would burn off, thus leaving me less to drink. But no. There was still quite a bit remaining that I was supposed to gag down consume.

I decided to get it over with and take the first swig (while Jody stood by with the camera to capture my reaction – before and after). As you can see by the look on my face, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be (though I think I look like I was going to cry or bust out laughing). I didn’t run to the toilet and hurl and I didn’t spit it back into the glass. πŸ˜‰ I mean, it was not a good-tasting drink by any means, but it wasn’t *that* foul. I think the smell was worse than the taste. So I successfully drank down my first 1/2 cup of Chinese herbal tea today and have lived to tell the tale. πŸ™‚

Added 10/15/06 8:37 p.m.: Just found this interesting info about wolfberries (which are the red berries in the pic) on Wikipedia: “Wolfberries and Lycium bark have long played important roles in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), where they are believed to enhance immune system function, improve eyesight, protect the liver, boost sperm production, and improve circulation, among other effects. In TCM terms, wolfberries are sweet in taste and neutral in nature; they act on the liver, lung, and kidney channels and enrich yin. They can be eaten raw, consumed as juice or wine, brewed into a tea, or prepared as a tincture.”

A bit overwhelmed and out of sorts

I haven’t blogged the past few days because I’ve been feeling a bit out of sorts. I’ve been having a lot of apprehension about the thought of having two kids in a short amount of time and wondering how in the world I’m going to have enough of myself to go around. How will I be able to take care of everybody and still care for myself?

I know mothers have been doing it for centuries and I will get through it, but I still have anxiety about it all. I worry that Ava will feel neglected after being the center of my world for the past two-plus years. I worry that baby boy won’t get the attention that Ava got while she was a baby. I worry that nobody will get any sleep and that I will be a walking zombie for months on end.

And, rationally, I know all of these fears are perfectly normal. I know that Ava won’t get the amount of attention that she’s used to. I know that baby boy won’t get the same attention that Ava got as a baby. And I know that sleep will certainly suffer for a while. But I know that we will all live through it, even though there will be hard times.

I also know that Ava and baby boy will have the attention and affection of each other throughout the years and that they will share a special bond unlike the bond they share with me or Jody – and that makes me smile. πŸ™‚

Part of all of this worry comes from the fact that I have had the role of primary caregiver at night for all of Ava’s life. When she wakes up at night even now, mommy is who she wants. Even though she night-weaned 6 months or so ago, she still wants only mommy to rub her back or cuddle her back to sleep. (Don’t get me wrong. Jody is a great daddy and helps out a lot, but in the middle of the night, only mommy will do.) I don’t know that I will be able to continue with this role once baby boy is here since I feel like he will have the greater need for me (nursing) in the middle of the night. I anticipate this meaning a lot of tears for a few nights while Ava adjusts to daddy having to comfort her back to sleep and that is hard for me, but I know we will all get through it.

I know that I need to accept help when it is offered or even *gasp* ask for it. Today was actually a good example of me realizing I needed a break and asking for help. Because I’ve felt a bit overwhelmed the past few days, I decided to call my sister and see if she could take Ava out to the park for a while so I could have some time just to myself. She was more than happy to help out and I got some practice some relaxation, watch “LOST” (which Jody taped for me last night since I was out at an acupuncture appointment) and get dinner started. It was wonderful and very much needed. πŸ™‚

I’m also realizing that there’s no way to predict how the first few weeks/months after baby boy joins us are going to go, so there’s no sense wasting time worrying about it now. I have to remember to live for today, and that’s it. Much easier for me to say than to put into practice, but maybe if I make it my mantra, I can do it.

Anyway, thanks for listening to me ramble as I attempted to sort out my thoughts. πŸ˜‰

A pic post – Veggies, a belly and a silly girl

The trip to the farm this Saturday was a lot of fun. We, along with about 10 other families from our AP group, rode a hayride around to various spots on the farm where we got to pick a variety of vegetables. I thought we came home with quite a bit ourselves, but one of the other families with us weighed their produce once they got home and they had 125 lbs. worth! The couple gave us all sorts of suggestions for freezing and otherwise storing them so I’m sure most of that will get consumed in their house over the winter. πŸ™‚ (Oh, how I wish I had a chest freezer.)

The day was sunny and quite warm at about 80 degrees (though it cooled off considerably Sunday, and today was only in the 40s and rainy). Unfortunately, I didn’t have my batteries in my camera the right way (doh!) so I didn’t get any pics of the lil miss picking veggies or eating them (tomatoes and carrots) along the way. She had a lot of fun though, as did Jody and I. πŸ™‚

After the veggie-harvesting hayride, we went on a little “train” ride and Ava spent some time bouncing in one of those big bouncy castle things, as well as feeding some animals in a petting zoo.

As for all of our veggies, I made a recipe for Chicken Pumpkin Stew for dinner Sunday night (which used some of the pumpkin, carrots, and potatoes), after I spent much of the day washing, peeling and cutting carrots to be frozen, and washing potatoes to be stored. My fingernails actually turned orange from all the carrots. Sheesh.

I finally took some new belly pics today (at 34 1/2 weeks).
Here they are:

For comparison, here are the belly pics I took at 28 weeks. I really need to do some more shots like those (with the backdrop and all), but I will probably wait until 36 weeks.
And lastly, here is Ava (on 10/4/06) “sleeping” under daddy’s “covers” (i.e. under his shirt – which he is still wearing!). LOL – What a goof, er… a couple of goofs actually. πŸ˜‰

A whole lotta random stuff (about babies, bowels, nesting, a gripe, and the farm)

I had my 34-week midwife appointment yesterday. Everything is going well. I’m not thrilled with my weight-gain thus far (39 lbs!!), but my midwife isn’t concerned at all. I actually gained about 50-55 lbs. with Ava’s pregnancy (I hit 200 lbs. Eep!) but started that pregnancy out weighing 20 lbs. more than I started this one, so that makes me feel a little better. Plus I feel a whole lot healthier this time around and have been eating pretty healthy (other than indulging my sweet tooth now and then), so that’s reassuring.
We heard the baby’s heartbeat with the stethescope again, and, my midwife, Jody and Ava could all hear the heartbeat just by putting their ear up against my belly. That was pretty cool. I was wishing I could bend myself in half so I could hear it that way as well.
Our next midwife appointment is in two weeks and is actually the “home visit,” where my midwife and the midwife she works with come out to our house to a.) make sure they can find it, b.) go over some logistics about the birth (like where are we setting up the birthing pool and make sure we have all of our birthing supplies) and c.) make sure everyone (who will be present at the birth) has an idea of what their role will be during the labor and birth. After that visit, it (baby boy’s birth) could really happen at any time. It’s overwhelming and very exciting to think about.

Two more aquaintances/friends recently had healthy baby boys at planned homebirths. I’m anxiously awaiting their birth stories as inspiration for what lies ahead for me. πŸ™‚

Caution – TMI about bowel movements ahead.
Last night, out of the blue, I was hit with some sort of flu-bug. I had horrible diarrhea and felt like I was going to puke (though thankfully never did). In the meantime, my belly was all crampy and it was like one continuous Braxton-Hicks contraction. It was miserable. I started worrying about baby boy and thoughts of preterm labor went through my head. I decided that if it all kept up I’d definitely give my midwife a call, but thankfully the whole miserable experience only lasted about 2 1/2 hours and I was feeling ok by the time I went to bed. It was handy that my sis was already over (to watch “The Office” with me), because Jody was out and she kept Ava entertained while I was indisposed.

I’ve been busy with a lot of nesting lately and have got the “kids’ room” pretty well cleaned up and organized. I say “kids’ room” in quotes because it’s really just a room that houses their dresser, closet, some toys and books and a glider and ottoman. We got rid of the crib long ago after it was determined that it was something Ava was never going to use. And I recently sold off the crib bedding as well.
I think we are going to use that room to put the birthing pool for the birth so I want it to be especially nice and relaxing for me to labor in. I plan to buy some cheap frames and put up some more pictures on the walls. Now I just need to figure out which pictures.

Why is it that so many clothes, blankets, etc. for little boys have to have sports stuff on them? I ended up buying a gender neutral receiving blanket for baby boy today rather than get a blue one with a soccer ball on it. I don’t have anything against sports (I even enjoy a good hockey game), but I don’t feel the need to bombard my son with sports images from the moment he is born. :oP So I got him a yellow blanket with an aligator, palm tree, bird and butterfly on it. I know for that matter I could just use the pink ones we have from Ava, but I guess I can’t let go of gender stereotypes completely.

Tomorrow we, along with a bunch of other families from our AP group, have a date at the farm to go on a hayride and pick vegetables, as well as visit the petting zoo. We went last year around this time too and had a great time. I think Ava will enjoy it even more this year. πŸ™‚ Last year we came home with a ton of veggies including 7 pie pumpkins. I don’t know that we’ll go as crazy w/ the veggie picking this year, but it still should be a lot of fun. πŸ™‚

Hope you all have a nice weekend. πŸ™‚

β€œWhat Baby Needs” – book recommendation

I took some time away from the fam last night for an ANO (Amy’s Night Out). Of course, I found myself at Borders looking for a book to buy for Ava, but I also spent a good hour of “me time” finishing up my copy of “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth.” What an excellent, uplifting book!

Back to my story…I was looking for a good book to get for Ava about becoming a big sister. The first book I picked up talked about bottles and feeding the baby milk and showed the baby sleeping in it’s crib, etc. It was obviously not the book for our family. The next one I saw was by Mr. Rogers and it was a lot better-suited for us (even had an actual picture of a mommy nursing a baby), but still not quite what I was looking for.

Then I saw a book by Dr. Sears called “What Baby Needs” and I had a good feeling this was the book for us. The book starts out with a message to parents about the transition a child goes through becoming an older brother or sister and makes a lot of good suggestions for involving the child. Then the book itself shows the mommy breastfeeding, and later the daddy giving the baby a bottle of mommy’s milk, as well as baby sleeping in a cosleeper next to mom/dad’s bed, and the baby being worn by both mom and dad in a sling. “What Baby Needs is a warm look at how life in the family changes to accommodate the needs of a newborn, and the care an infant requires. The focus is on things like what the older child can do that the baby can’t, and how to make friends with the baby.” I didn’t buy it last night, but am going to order it on Amazon (and save a few bucks). There’s also a companion book called “Baby on the Way” which I wish I would’ve known about earlier, but oh well.

So there are my two Attachment Parenting(AP)-friendly book recommendations for families with a new baby on the way. πŸ™‚

A blast from the past – Ava’s birth story

A few of you have asked to read Ava’s birth story (back from June 2004), so here it is. I must warn you that it’s VERY, VERY long and somewhat graphic.

AvaÒ€ℒs birth story Γ’β‚¬β€œ recorded July 1, 2004

The entire weekend, June 19-20, 2004, I wasn’t feeling very well. I felt kind of achy, like maybe I was coming down with the flu. I was tired too and tried to sleep as much as I could.

On Sunday night (or actually early Monday morning) around 1:30 a.m., I started having surges (HypnoBirthing-speak for contractions). Jody was sleeping in the basement that night, as he’d come down with a cold and didn’t want to get me sick or keep me awake with his coughing. I started roughly timing the surges and they were about 5 minutes apart and definitely tolerable. I stayed in bed for a while, trying to sleep, but not being able to. I kept timing my surges for a while and they stayed pretty consistent at about 5 min. apart. I finally decided I should get up and finish packing my bags, as I definitely wasn’t ready to go to the hospital should the need arise. I also decided to take a shower, which felt nice.

Around 4 a.m., I went to the basement and woke up Jody. My surges were still coming at about 5 min. apart, sometimes closer together. I told him I thought we should go to the hospital and he seemed surprised and definitely excited. We decided to hang out at home a while longer. We ate some food (I had part of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich) and I sat on the birthing ball. We decided we’d try to wait until the main entrance to the hospital opened at 6 a.m. (Monday, June 21) so that we could go in that door and bypass the emergency room entrance. In this time, my surges got closer together and then stalled. I sat on the birthing ball in hopes of getting them going again. They did start up again and, while they weren’t really consistent, we decided to go to the hospital and get checked out anyway. The worst that could happen is they send us home. So Jody packed up the car and we drove the 5 min. or so to the hospital. I’m glad it was a short trip, because it wasn’t a very comfortable ride.

Some time after 6 a.m., we went up to the Birthplace and I told them I thought I was in labor. They put me in triage and started me on a contraction monitor and a heartbeat monitor for baby. My surges kept coming, but weren’t very regular. Some were stronger than others but nothing was more than I could handle. The nurse tried to check me to see if I was dilated but because of the position of Ava’s head, she couldn’t reach the opening of my cervix. And it was quite painful to me for her try to get to it.

The triage nurse encouraged us to walk the halls in hopes of getting me to progress. We walked around for about 30 min., then came back to triage and ordered breakfast.
Around 9 a.m., I called my sister Carrie and let her know where we were and told her I’d let her know if they admitted me. By this time, the surges were few and far between and I was pretty sure we’d be sent home soon.

After my blood pressure starting running high, the nurse called my doctor who instructed her to draw blood because of my history with swelling in my feet. Not long after, the news came they wanted to admit me. I thought this was really odd considering my surges had pretty much stopped, but I was excited at the fact that we were getting to stay and hopefully we’d soon have a baby.
After we got settled in our room, a nurse came in and told me my doctor wanted to induce labor. Induce? I couldn’t believe it, but no wonder they wanted to admit me. There went my plans for a natural birth. We talked a little bit about our options for induction. Pitocin seemed to be what they were leaning towards even though it was the thing I least wanted. I asked if we could have some time to discuss it and she said yes, reluctantly.

I was dumbfounded as to what was happening. How could I have a natural birth if I was hooked up to an IV on Pit? I told Jody I wanted to talk to Susan, my HypnoBirthing instructor, to see what she thought and hopefully get some words of encouragement. So Jody made the call and talked to her first. She mentioned to him that based on what he described regarding my condition, that it sounded like I was on my way to developing HELLP Syndrome. This was the first time Jody had heard of the syndrome it would turn out that I did in fact have. (HELLP syndrome: A syndrome featuring a combination of “H” for hemolysis – breakage of red blood cells, “EL” for elevated liver enzymes, and “LP” for low platelet count – an essential blood clotting element.) I talked to Susan as well and she reassured me that even if I was on Pit, I was still in control. She encouraged me to listen to my HypnoBirthing cds and perhaps do some fear release work with Jody.

It took 4 tries for them to get an IV started on me and the only person who was successful was the anesthesiologist. The Pitocin drip was started around 1 p.m. I was reassured that they would increase it very gradually and I tried to remain confident that I could still labor pain med-free. I was told I’d have to stay in bed on my left side, except to go to the bathroom so I planned to make frequent potty breaks.

It didn’t take long for the news to come that they would have to start me on another drug, called magnesium sulfate, in order to prevent seizures. And that once I was on that drug, I could no longer get out of bed as it messes with your muscle control. That news hit me really hard. Not only was I on Pit, I was now completely confined to my bed and I would have to have a catheter! (In severe pre-eclampsia [HELLP is a form of pre-eclampsia], magnesium sulfate is used for short periods of time – 24 to 48 hours – until the baby or babies can be delivered, which is the only “cure” for pre-eclampsia.) While on magnesium sulfate, they also have to monitor the amount of urine that the body produces to make sure the kidneys aren’t failing. Side effects from the mag sulfate are: Flushing, Nausea, Vomiting, Palpitations, Headache, General muscle weakness, Lethargy and Constipation. It also burns a lot when the initial dose goes into the IV. The side effects I experienced were flushing and muscle weakness. I also think the drug messed with my memory and caused time distortion – or maybe that was just from labor itself or from sleep deprivation as I went a total of three days with hardly any sleep at all.

The insertion of the catheter was like no pain I’d ever experienced. I honestly had no idea what to expect, but it was worse than just about anything imaginable. As soon as the nurse started to put it in, I started bawling my eyes out. I couldn’t help it. I cried uncontrollably the entire time she was putting it in. Once it was in, I was fine, but oh my gosh, I never want to have another one for as long as I live.

I remember breathing through the surges the best I could. It helped to have Jody or my sister hold my hand and stroke my arm (which is a HypnoBirthing technique for relaxation). It didn’t take long for the surges to start getting very intense and I began to question whether giving birth without pain meds was going to be possible. Jody kept telling me I could do it and reminding me of the reasons we wanted to do it that way, but he wasn’t the one feeling what I was feeling. I decided to ask the nurse what my options were for pain meds. She mentioned there were a few they could do through the IV that could take the edge off or there was the epidural. However, due to my falling platelet levels, she wasn’t sure an epidural would even be an option. I asked her to check into it just in case. In the meantime, I tried a few of the drugs in the IV. They made the beginning of the surge slightly more tolerable, but then all of a sudden I’d be in the middle of a very strong surge from out of nowhere. That wasn’t any good at all.

The anesthesiologist showed up in my room later in the day and explained that because my platelets were too low, I could not have an epidural. In a way, I’m very glad this decision was made for me. I knew that I truly did not want an epidural and, even though I was feeling a lot of pain, I would and could get through this.

I don’t know when the back labor started, but I do know it was very intense. Thankfully, my nurse started applying counter-pressure with each surge and showed Jody and Carrie how to do it as well. The counter-pressure helped a lot. It got frustrating for me though when a surge would start and they didn’t apply the pressure right away, but they quickly caught on that this was something I needed and paid closer attention.

At 5 p.m. the nurse told Jody that it would probably be around 2 a.m. that I’d be fully dilated and then after that we’d have another hour or two of pushing. It scared Jody that it would be that much longer since he knew I was in a lot of pain. However, by 9 p.m., I was at 5 cm and by 10:30 p.m., I was at 7 cm. By 11:15 p.m., I was at 9 cm and the nurse said I could start pushing with surges if I wanted to and they started setting up the bed for the birth. It felt really good to be doing something (pushing) after spending the last several hours just lying there, trying to make it through each surge. The pushing really felt good to me. I no longer was feeling pain like I had been with the back labor and the intense surges.

For the last hour or so, before the serious pushing began, my labor nurse massaged and applied hot washcloths to my perineum (as I had asked for in my birth preferences) to help prevent tearing. At some point however, my doctor told me she knew I didn’t want an episiotomy, but she was sure I was going to tear if I didn’t get one. So I told her to go ahead with it, and I ended up with a third degree episiotomy.

I’m not sure how many pushes it took for little Ava to be born (it was about 45 min. of pushing), but she entered the world and was “caught” by her daddy at 12:06 a.m. Tuesday, June 22. Jody also cut her umbilical cord. Ava was born in perfect health and scored 8/8 on her APGAR.

We had asked that Ava be placed directly on my chest (skin to skin) right after birth; however, they put a sheet down on me. It was there briefly until Jody asked them to remove it. We also asked that she not be cleaned off until we had some time to bond with her, as we didn’t want her first sensations in this world to be an abrasive cloth wiping her off. We wanted her to feel us first. One of the first things they did after putting her on my chest was start wiping her off, but both Jody and I immediately told them to stop. We held her together as a family of 3 until I started feeling light-headed and they reclined my bed so that my head was lower than my feet. I, apparently, had a lot of blood loss with the birth, and had to be given a shot of heparin to stop the bleeding.

I stayed in the hospital until Friday, June 25. I had to remain on the mag sulfate until around 11 a.m. Wednesday, June 23. By Thursday, I felt well enough to get out of bed and take a shower and by Friday I felt strong enough to go home, yet I was still very weak and any activity quickly drained me. My doctor told me it would be about another week before my energy would start coming back and that I should start taking iron supplements to build my red blood cell count back up.

While this certainly wasn’t the birthing experience I expected, planned for or wanted, I feel absolutely blessed that everything turned out as well as it did given the circumstances, and that little Ava was/is such a healthy baby. Jody and I are truly blessed to have such a wonderful child.

It’s the little things

Tonight I am thankful that our upstairs toilet is working again. After two days of it being on the fritz and requiring manually filling the tank in order to get the darn thing to flush, it is so nice to have it fully functional again, especially for a woman who’s 33 1/2 weeks pregnant and peeing several times a night. πŸ˜‰

Hooray for hubbies who get the honey-dos done – at least the important ones. πŸ˜‰

We had a nice weekend around here. On Friday, Ava and I had a picnic lunch with my sister at a park, then watched a birth video together. I made a new (to me) crockpot recipe for Chicken Taco Soup for dinner that night. It was pretty tasty and easy.

On Saturday, we went to a baby/kids’ stuff sale in the morning and I got a few fall clothes for Ava and a couple more clothes (bigger sizes) and lots of socks for baby boy. That evening we met up with friends for a fall festival and had a nice time listening to live music and just hanging out. Ava had a blast running all over the place and laughing at her friend Creed’s antics. πŸ™‚

Today Jody and Ava hung out together a lot while I worked on a photoshoot from last weekend. They went to a pond, fed ducks and geese and walked around. I managed to sneak in a relaxing bath while they were gone and listened to my Hypnobirthing cd – something I really need to do more often since this birth is right around the corner!

The kiddo is in bed now and Jody and I are going to try to catch up on the Smallville episode we missed this week. (I taped it while watching My Name Is Earl and The Office.) So nighty-night. πŸ™‚