I decided to get back on here as I wanted a place to write out my pregnancy story. One of the pages in Naomi's baby record book asks you to write down you birth story and then gives you 5 lines to explain the whole event. I've never been known for my brevity, so I thought it would be nice to give the full story and just tape it to the page as 5 lines certainly wouldn't cover it. In fact, one blog doesn't even seem to cover it, so I'll do this in two parts.
In the Beginning:
People were very surprised to hear that we were pregnant as were we since it happened so quickly. So quickly in fact that it shocked me. I thought it would take a couple months and I'd still be able to hide the pregnancy enough that I could play softball that year. Within a couple days I started dealing with extreme fatigue and nausea. I would fall asleep so early in the evenings but never wake up feeling refreshed. My mom asked me if I had mono. I said, "no." A little while later she suggested that maybe I had a thyroid condition since I was so tired all the time. You can see the video of when we broke the news to my parents HERE.
I thought my first trimester would never end. I didnt know how I would cope with being pregnant for 40 weeks as I couldn't stay up past 730pm. My great "clean eating" diet of no processed sugar or dairy that I had been on successfully for 2 months became a diet of white bread, Eggos and cereal with milk. I couldn't fathom the idea of meat or vegetables. I never threw up, but was constantly nauseated. It was fabulous. *insert sarcasm font*
A friend of mine who was pregnant said, "Don't worry, it goes away. In my 2nd trimester I felt so good, I thought I could be pregnant forever." I thought she was crazy because I was convinced that I'd feel this way for 40 weeks. And then one day I woke up and was fine...just like that. A friend at the gym commented that I must be feeling better because 'I no longer look grey.' Apparently how I was feeling was also how I was looking.
I wanted to live as normally as I could. I felt like getting pregnant was our decision and no one should have to "suffer" through listening to me complain about pregnancy related symptoms. This resulted in me just not wanting to talk about being pregnant (to most people). I found people's excitement for me being pregnant very strange...especially strangers.
I was terrified of gaining weight that I would never lose. I wanted to be strong and feel strong throughout my pregnancy and had a goal of continuing to teach classes at the gym till 30 weeks. (I made it till 24 weeks teaching BodyPump, and 27 weeks teaching BodyVive.) I also had a goal of not gaining more than 30 lbs. I did really well in staying on track with this until the last 3 weeks where I gained about 6 lbs in water alone. ...which I was ok with given I knew I'd lose that very quickly.
A friend of mine used midwives for her baby and it was highly suggested to me to try to get in with them as the standard of care that you recieve is so amazing. I didn't really understand the difference but assumed these people knew what they were talking about.
I was concerned though as I thought midwives would want you to have a natural, drug free childbirth and that was not in my plan at all. (Side note: Midwives push neither of these options, rather they are all about ensuring you have information for all options to make a decision about your care).
When I got pregnant my idea of "labour" was getting pain meds before I even left the house (I know thats not possible) and spending a few hours playing Sudoku on the Ipad while sitting in a hospital bed hooked up to an epidural. I was quite open about this and had no desire to talk about alternatives. I spoke to many friends explaining my rationale for why a homebirth is the most ludicrous thing one could do. One of these friends ended up having an unplanned home birth. I was shell shocked and felt a bit betrayed as I thought we had the same opinion on this matter, but in the end, her story was probably one the most inspiring things that helped me.
I applied to get in with the midwives, but was put on a waiting list. After week 13 I figured it wasn't going to happen. When I first started meeting with my OBGYN, I knew I wanted a doula. Even though I knew I wanted drugs, I felt the doula would make the experience better. I met with a few doulas, one of which suggested I read Ina May Gaskins book "Guide to Childbirth." This was also suggested by my friend (spoken about above), with the disclaimer, "I know you want an epidural, but it's a really good book." After the second recommendation from the doula, I purchased the book.
To say the book changed my pregnancy world completely would be an understatement. By the time I finished it, not only did I not want drugs, but I knew that I could and wanted to have a natural childbirth. It was truly a redefining moment for me in my journey.
I also watched the documentary "The Business of Being Born," which set in my mind even more so the implications of unneccessary medical intervention. So when the midwifery clinic called me when I was 26 weeks pregnant and said that they had availability for me to be under their care, I was absolutely thrilled.
I wanted to be as prepared as possible and do everything I could to ensure I was ready for labour and delivery.
Exercise - I was able to keep quite active throughout my whole pregnancy and I know the benefits of focused exercise is well documented.
Acupuncture/Naturopath - Through my search for a Doula I came across the services of Dr. Corinne Brown who provides doula service but is also a Naturopathic doctor. She had pre-natal services that I was a part of that included holistic herbs, acupuncture and and moxibustion which helps prepare the body for labour and then helps stimulate the body for labour and reduce complications and need for induction. I met with her weekly from around 34 weeks on.
Hypnotheraphy - After reading Hypnobirthing, I thought it would be beneficial to work directly with a hypnotherapist. To truly explain the benefits of this would be difficult but I found our sessions both relaxing and empowering. I had 2 sessions of hypnotheraphy with Kathleen Milligan at Action Hypnosis. Her services were wonderful and she provided me with cds to continue my practise at home. She encouraged me to talk with the baby and pick a date for delivery as well as talk to the baby about how long the labour would be. We had chosen Sept 26. (She was born Sept 30). And we had decided on an 8 hour labour. (More of that in part 2).
Massage Therapy/ Chiropractor - I was also blessed to have a great benefits package at work that covered me to have bi-weekly massages and chiropractic care right up until my delivery.
Physiotherapy - The final thing that I did to prepare for my delivery was sought out the services of a pelvic health physiotherapist. Courtney Pigott at Lifemark Physiotherapy did a great job in helping me learn about what muscles I needed to strengthen and if I was doing the right things to prepare my body. I had 2 pre-natal appointments with her then 2 post-partum appointments where she helped show me how to break down scar tissue from stitches, checked for diastasys, pro-lapse and suggested ways to help with any incontinence issues.
Despite all these things, the best thing I did was surround myself with people who felt the same way I did about childbirth. Those who encouraged me about my choice to have a natural birth and who had positive and amazing birth stories.
Re-Framing the Experience:
I found sometimes when women talk about their birth experience they are trying to "one-up" each other about how bad it was. I thought if anything, I wanted to be able to "one-up" how great my experience would be. ( I realize that this is a very UNPOPULAR way of making conversation amongst other women).
There were a few thoughts I had would remind myself of consistently:
1.) Think of contractions as "intense", not painful.
2.) I need to work with the "intensity" of contractions. They are helping me, not injuring me.
3.) This is natural, normal and not a scary process. (*Western media has tried to tell us otherwise through movies and tv.)
When I mentioned these ideas and what I read I would be given the old 'you wait and see' look. People would share their experiences with me and when they were negative I would just kept repeating to myself, "That's not going to be my story." When fear would get to me about whether I could really do it, I would think "That's not my thought," and would refocus on positive thoughts. A friend of mine sent me well wishes saying, "I hope you have a very uneventful labour." I had never heard anyone say that before and it was a great thought to focus on as well.
The Final Days:
I was off work the last two weeks before my due date. This gave me a chance to finish up her room, sew her swaddling blankets and recieving blankets and do all the things that I knew I wouldn't be able to do as easily post-baby.
I started going for walks with a friend who was due around the same time as I was. (When I did classes at the gym, the instructor would have a slight look of fear as if I would go into labour in their class). The midwives told me the baby was already in a good position, so the walking was more for the benefit of exercise and enjoying the beautiful fall days with my friend than about putting me into labour.
Everywhere I went people would ask, "How do you feel?" or "When are you due?" (I'm not sure why the typical "How are ya?" turns into the "How are you feeling?" when you are pregnant. It had to be the most annoying question!...and I'd get asked it at least 5 times a day!). My whole pregnancy seemed to go by so quickly, but the last month seemed to drag on and talking about it never helped.
I had already decided that we would wait the full 2 weeks post due date before considering an induction. I knew that if I had to be induced all bets were off to have a natural childbirth. Being induced would make me have all the symptoms of being in labour without the happy hormones that help you get through it. And as I had discovered through much research, the chances of having to have other interventions due to being induced were also greater. I really wanted to stay away from that whole scenario if I could.
...and that leads me to Naomi's birth day. You can read about that HERE.