Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My First Birth

Holy moly...I don't even know where to begin!  Sunday, January 16, 2011...my first doula-baby was born! 

Since doing my training workshop this fall, I decided to take on one private client with a co-doula/friend in addition to my volunteer work.  I'm not committing to private clients now because of my work and home responsibilities, but something about "B" and her doting husband, wouldn't let me say no!  And, just for me, she gave birth on a Sunday so I didn't have to miss a thing!  And, as luck would have it, the hubs had the kids in Michigan for the weekend, so I didn't have to worry about them either.  Fate?!?

I got the call that "B" thought her water broke on Saturday morning while I was at Costco.  She was a week past her due date and I literally almost left my cart mid-aisle to head straight for the hospital, forgetting everything I learned about how long the laboring process can be with first time moms!  As I got my wits about me -- somewhere between buying 200 rolls of toilet paper and enough batteries for my kids' toys for life -- I learned "B" was not contracting and her doctor was letting her labor at home until that evening (yeah doctor!)  I told "B" I would come over in a few hours and see if we couldn't get her labor started on our own, trying to avoid Pitocin, if we could.

I got to her house at about 1 p.m., and she still wasn't having any contractions, but was steadily leaking fluid.  We tried to jump start contractions by having "B" try nipple stimulation (T.M.I.? Sorry!) for the next few hours.  By 3 p.m., nothing had changed and her doctor asked that she head to the hospital at 6 p.m. to get confirmation that it was in-fact amniotic fluid and get induced.  I went home to wait...and wait and wait.  I honestly jumped 10 feet every time my phone rang.  She got to the hospital and they let her try for 2 hours to get labor started on her own (again, yeah doctor) with a breastpump.  But, no go.  She got the Pitocin at about 9 p.m., and was 1.5 centimeters.  We decided she would call us when her labor got intense or when she got to about 4-5 centimeters.  And, all night I waited... and waited and waited...and slept for about 11 minutes.  She texted at about 3 a.m., saying she got the epidural.  She was only 2.5 centimeters, in pain and very, very tired.  "B" never had it in her birth plan to go au natural...so I wasn't surprised.  But, I was a little personally disappointed because I so wanted to witness a natural birth -- but hey, I'm a doula to help people have their perfect birth and she wanted peace and to be "present" in the moment. 

I woke up on Sunday at about 5 a.m.  I almost couldn't stand the waiting anymore.  She wanted us to come when she was about 5 centimeters, and she was only at 3.  I took a shower, blow dried, made muffins and two loaves of banana bread, went to the grocery store and the produce market, made two loaves of bread in the bread maker and meals for the week -- all by 11:30 a.m.  I had so much nervous energy and was just so excited to get the show on the road.

FINALLY, I got the call to come to the hospital at around 3 p.m.  The last time they checked her she was at 4 centimeters and finally having steady, strong contractions.  Phew, I was starting to get nervous they were going to make her have a c-section since it had been so long since her water broke.

I loved the energy in the room, the minute we walked in.  "B" had her epidural turned down, so she could feel the contractions and breathe through them, but wasn't too uncomfortable.  We helped her by playing with her hair and rubbing her very sore legs -- which were achy, mostly from being in bed for so long!  After not too long, I had a feeling her labor was progressing as her contractions were intense, long and very close together.  Her labor had definitely reached a peak...I was guessing she was at 7 centimeters.

At around 4:30 p.m., the doctor came in and examined "B"...she was at 7 centimeters (gold star for me).  The baby was OP, meaning backwards facing "B"'s pelvic bone.  This can slow labor and be pretty uncomfortable, so the doctor recommended we help her get in some positions to help turn the baby (third time, yeah doctor!).  So, we spent the next hour helping "B" get on all fours and do a side-lying position, which was great to experience.  At about 5:30 p.m., the doctor came in again and she was at 9 centimeters ...I had a feeling about this one too..."B" went from being super hot to really cold and was shaking and nauseous.  Sure-fire signs of nearing transition, getting ready to push.  It was fun seeing what I read in my books, actually happen!  And...the baby had turned!  Whoo-hoo, it worked! 

"B" was starting to get uncomfortable with the urge to push at about 6:30 p.m., and the doctor came back in.  I got to hold a leg while she was pushed.  "B" was a champ and took the moments between pushes to relax (I should say so, after nearing 32 hours of labor).  I SO remember that feeling -- when I could hear AMB and the nurses chatting -- but it just sounded like mumbles, as I melted into the bed, trying to muster the energy to go on.  I tried to be cognizant of this and contain my excitement and nervous energy, but it was hard. 

She pushed for about an hour (it felt like 5 minutes) and the actual moment was surreal.  It happened very fast at the end...and then, there she was.  Her husband got to tell her it was a girl and "B" got her wish to hold the baby right away, skin to skin, with the routine exams happening on her chest.  We stayed until she could breastfeed for the first time and the time came for some quality family time. 

Then, my co-doula and I...we went out for a celebratory drink!

I was surprised by the lack of blood during the actual birth and then by the amount of blood post-birth.  I was shocked by the unique one-of-a-kind smell of amniotic fluid and the little tool the doctor used to stitch her up, a little fish-hook looking thing.  (I'm glad I didn't know this before I gave birth.)  I was amazingly, pleasantly surprised how eager her doctor was to do things more naturally -- I think my jaw visibly dropped open when she recommended positions instead of other interventions to turn the baby!  But, you can also tell the nurses are trained to help their patients not be in pain.  It was like she couldn't handle "B" not pushing her epidural button with every contraction, every wince of discomfort.  I was surprised with how tired I was and how much my feet and muscles ached...and I was only there for about 7 hours.  I know a lot of that was due to nerves and the fact that I was on high-alert since the moment her water broke, but I was bone tired none-the-less. 

I'm very glad this was my first birth.  "B" had a team of help, including her husband and my co-doula and definitely didn't need all of us...but, that almost made it better for me.  I could sit back and learn a little more, take it all in, mentally capture the images and scene so I can determine what my style will be moving forward.

I couldn't really write this post right away. I had to take it all in, process and wrap my arms around what an amazingly awesome experience it was. Yet, at the same time, for some reason, I was disappointed.  I think I built it up in my head so much, that when it actually happened, it was a little anticlimactic.  I was expecting really heavy-duty emotions, but didn't really get that.  Perhaps it was because it wasn't my baby or a family/friend's baby or that I was so focused on just trying to be helpful and not get in the way, that I wasn't exactly sure my place.  And, I was also not prepared to be so tired...it almost felt like a hangover that I needed to sleep off.  And, for some reason, which surprised me, I didn't want to tell the story 100 times like I thought I would, like I wanted to after my own births.

But, now, I know I made the right decision to have birth work in my life.  I learned a lot from this experience and now I know what to expect next time.  I won't have those "first time" jitters and understand my place in the process.  I shouldn't get emotional, that's not my job. 

And, now that I had time and a clear head to reflect, I smile remembering when "B" and her husband told us they couldn't have done it without us and thanked us countless times for all our help.  But, in the end, it was me who was beyond thankful.  Thankful that they trusted me, with my inexperience and my visible kid-in-a-candy-store excitement, to witness the moment that will forever change their lives.  It is amazing to think that years from now, when "B" is telling her beautiful little daughter about the day she was born -- I will be there in their memories, always. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Food Issues?

So, my deep thought of the day is...when do food issues/obsessions really start? 

Why, you ask?  Well, my little girl -- all of 23 months -- has a little food obsession. I realized it tonight when we were reading Pinkalicious and before I even got through the first page, she kept telling me "dinner" and "eat." I realized she wanted me to flip directly to the page showing the family eating dinner. We never made it to another page. And, when we read "The Very Hungry Caterpillar", the only page she wants to see, is the one with all the junk food on it.  When she gets hurt, she cries for "nem a nems" (the M&M look-a-likes we keep for occasional treats) and could survive on jelly (which she cleverly licks off of the whole grain bread) and dippin' sauce (BBQ sauce, but hey, at least I buy the kind sweetened with Agave!).  She gets giddy at the mere thought of dessert and will eat just about anything if that means she can get something sweet at the end of a meal.  And, anytime the word birthday is mentioned, she just looks at us and says, "cake?"

Stop rolling your eyes will you.  I know she is so little -- but I can't help but get a little twinge of worry.  I never, ever want her to have to deal with food issues or, worse, be like me...spend her days preaching to her family about the merits of healthy living, while having difficulties doing so for herself.

I get nervous that my desire to keep my family safe by encouraging a healthy lifestyle and far from chemically-laden and over-processed foods will backfire and instead I'll drive them into having a unhealthy relationship with junk food.  I've tried to keep my obsession with every morsel of food that touches their lips in the "normal" ranges, but I can't deny that sometimes I get a little loony-toony about the whole thing.  I think I strike a good balance between making healthy choices a majority of the time with letting them just be kids -- but maybe not?

And, more than anything, as hard as it is to admit, this is my issue, one I deeply don't want to pass on to my daughter.  For as far back as I can remember, food (normally not the most nutritious) has always been something I get excited about, remember, plan for and my source of comfort. 

So, yet it is possible that this obsession could manifest into her becoming a world-renowned chef.  But, I think the lesson here is that while I could continue down my comfortable path of hypocrisy it would be better for me to realize that it's my job to be a better role model, get healthy for her, show her that food is a joy and wonderful, but there needs to be a healthy balance and, gulp, show her that exercise can be fun. 

Boy, do I have my work cut out for me!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

2011...Here We Come!

I love the holidays but, boy am I glad they're over! We are a Chrismukkah family...so it was pretty much non-stop gift-giving, over-indulging and routine upheaval for a solid month! Chanukah was super early this year, so I felt by the time we reached New Year's Day, the holidays had overstayed their welcome. I think the whole family was ready to get back to the good 'ol routine.

But, holidays 2010 were also pretty amazing. MDB really "got it" this year. He was able to express the gifts he really wanted and it was fun to see his face when his wish came true. And, thanks to him, we are now the very proud owners of every single Thomas train and Cars movie car! Santa the grandparents definitely didn't disappoint! Ellie (for some reason, Lulu, my nickname for my daughter didn't stick and I now call her Ellie or Ellie-bird...I know, poor kid) had a great time just soaking it all in. She LOVED opening presents and we loved hearing her say Happy Hak-ulah (for Chanukah) over and over again! And, personally, as a Jewish mom, I got a kick out of hearing MDB tell us on Christmas morning that he couldn't open his presents until we lit the candles.

And, what did the hubs and I get for our trouble? Yep, we are now the proud owners of a VERY LARGE train table...which now serves as our very formal and completely non-functional coffee table! Next year, I am asking Santa for a playroom!

So, what will 2011 bring? I'm not a big New Year resolution person...for some reason, they never seem to stick. And, my resolution has been the same since my teen years -- lose weight, get in shape. Whatever.

So, instead, here's what I am hoping my blog post in January 2012 looks like:

Wow, I can't believe how calm, patient and less anxious I was in 2011. I'm so proud that I accomplished my goal of making subtle and meaningful changes in my life to be a better wife, mom, family member and friend. I spent more time with my niece and nephews, even when planning was difficult and I made sure my friends and family know how much I care about them, deeply, more often. And, I never let a day go by when I didn't remind AMB how much I adore and love him!

This year, I watched with joy as my wonderful children turned 4 and 2. I'm eternally grateful that I spent more time living in the moment with them, knowing how quickly time passes. I'm so proud of the amazing human beings I'm helping to raise and continue to love them more and more every single day.

In 2011, I helped dozens of women realize their true birth experience and even helped some accomplish their goal of having a drug-free birth. And, I got to witness the most amazing miracle -- my new baby niece enter this world! I can't thank her parents enough for letting me be a part of their momentous occasion.

Professionally, I'm so proud that I lived up to my new title as VP and continue to love my job as much as I always have!

I couldn't be happier with the decision the hubby and I made of where to live!  I knew we would make the right decision, the one best for our family. 

I loved being a part of D & L's beautiful wedding, helped celebrate AMBs 35th birthday to make up for my supposed lackluster effort for 30, laughed a lot, spent more time in the 'burbs, had some amazing, life-changing vacations, blogged more, worried less, held my friends' new babies, read more and made sure to see my friends as much as possible!

Oh, and how could I forget, I did it...I am officially in shape and healthy. I worked out when I didn't want to and made choices that better reflect a mom teaching her children a healthy lifestyle!

Here's to you 2011...I love new beginnings!