On July 24th it will officially be six months since I gave birth to Natalie. I can state the obvious and say ” a lot has happened since this time last year”, but I think that goes without saying. What I can do is reflect on the changes not only physically, but mentally and emotionally. Birthing a baby changes you and raising one tests and strengthens you.
My Birth Story
It took us over a year to get pregnant with Natalie. I remember it was Mother’s Day weekend 2018 when I took a pregnancy test and got the positive result. During my pregnancy the days/weeks/months that followed seemed to drag on until my due date, January 18th. In hind-site it went by all to quickly and I wish I paused a bit more to really soak it all in.
January 18th came and went. I was naively hoping she’d come a few days early or right on the day. January 23rd I had my 41 week appointment at 11am. My doctor and I had come to the decision to induce me on the 25th. At the hospital I had planned to deliver at he was on call that day so I was happy he would be delivering Natalie. I had been dilated to 1cm for over a week and not fully effaced. I went home excited and impatiently waiting for the 25th. I did some errands and chores around the house and around 3:30pm I decided to lay down and watch a show. Nearing 4pm I began to feel crampy. It wasn’t all over my abdomen and I was under the impression I’d feel labor pains everywhere. I had Braxton Hicks before so I summed it up to that. After 45 minutes they were still consistent and did not go away when changing positions. I decided to time them and they were about 7-8 minutes apart and lasting about 30-45 seconds. Around 5:30pm they began spreading farther apart. The next few were 15-20 minutes apart. I told my husband that I had thought I was in labor, but now that the contractions were further apart I wasn’t so sure. Near this point I had sat up from laying down and felt a plop of fluid come out. It wasn’t a gush or trickle and was not dramatic at all. I went to the bathroom and it wasn’t a lot of fluid and nothing more trickled out. Perhaps it was a leak? I had no idea. Around 7pm things ramped up. My contractions began to be 3 minutes apart and lasting 45 seconds to 1 minute. My husband loaded our truck with our hospital bags and we headed to the hospital. My husband was skeptical about labor and thought for sure we’d be back home that evening.
When we got to the hospital I was triaged. They informed me I was dilated to a 3 and had some pooling (meaning my water did break, but not fully due to baby positioning). At 8:30pm I was admitted to the hospital. The doctor on call that day I had met before when I had gone to labor and delivery for spotting earlier in my pregnancy. I was relieved because I really liked him and the interaction we had that previous visit.
The contractions got stronger and stronger. I requested an epidural. They wanted me to get a bolus if fluids and some lab work done first. It felt like forever until the anesthesiologist came. The process of the epidural seemingly took forever. Once placed I was told it could take a few minutes to take effect. 45 minutes went by and I still felt everything. It had numbed my butt cheeks, but that was it. I felt everything still. It failed. The anesthesiologist removed the initial epidural and tried again. An hour went by and still nothing. At that point I was told there was no other option for pain and I’d have to have a natural birth. The pain was so intense I didn’t even have a thought of what this meant. I was to focused on the pain and trying to take it contraction through contraction.
Once the anesthesiologist left the nurse checked me. It had been a few hours since my last check and I was convinced because of the pain I had to be at least an 8, but I was only a 4. I had no idea how I was going to make it. After awhile the contractions became extremely intense and I became nauseous. They gave me some anti-nausea medication IV. I was so hot and my sweet husband spent most of my labor fanning me while coaching me to breath and trying to wipe sweat away with a cloth. Moments later I kept hearing the nurses say “tachy-something”. I couldn’t make out what the “something” word was but I knew tachy meant fast. They then called the doctor in. What was happening was my uterus had began contracting at an alarming rate. Since my last check (in which I was at 4cm) and hour and a half passed and when checked again I was a 9. Suddenly the room was full with nurses preparing the room for delivery. I remember feeling relief. I had no idea how I could muster together anymore strength and my labor was almost over. Seconds turned into minutes and minutes turned into hours and trust me – I was counting every single one of them. My contractions were one right on top of the other, but there was one quarter-sized piece of my cervix that was in the way. My body was involuntarily pushing periodically. One of the nurses then administers Fentanyl IV. Getting Fentanyl was not something that was discussed with me. Looking back in the thick of my labor I would have, and likely could have, said yes, but just don’t recall it. However, like my two failed epidurals it did not give me any pain control. What it did do is in the brief moments between contractions I would pass out and sleep. My husband said I would wake at the start of a contraction, scream/breath and then fall toward the bed snoring. This gave me a mental break from laboring which I am thankful for. Instead of contracting and then stressing about the onset of the next contraction I was resting. Fentanyl did nothing for pain and is short acting.
Around 4:45am I was told I could begin pushing. The nurses around me were wonderful coaches. I never thought I’d be in to Doulas or that I would need that kind of support, but those nurses acted like Doulas. They counted for me, encouraged me, held me up when I felt I had no strength left. My husband was wonderful support, but we both were rookies in the birthing-a-baby department and grateful for the extra attention from the nurses. They attached a monitor to Natalie’s head because her heart rate was decelerating and attached the vacuum to hold her in place when I was done pushing so she wouldn’t slide back and delay my progress. They told me when I was crowning and asked if I wanted a mirror. I declined which in hindsight wish I didn’t. I heard horror stories of “The Ring of Fire”, but didn’t feel it. I pushed for about an hour but it felt so brief. I remember feeling her head come out and the rest of her sliding out and the amount of relief I felt. I remember her being held up and quietly looking at me like she knew exactly where and who I was. She looked at me and, if she could, I’m sure she would have said “relax mama. I’m here and you can rest”. My husband cut the cord and she was laid on me for a brief moment before being whisked away to check vitals at my bedside. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. She was beautiful and she was finally here on January 24th, 2019 at 5:42am.
The next day they drew blood work on Natalie. We were told it was routine and not to worry. Her blood work showed a remarkable increase in her Bilirubin levels which isn’t that uncommon in newborns. Bilirubin is the product of your body when it replaces red blood cells. The liver breaks down the Bilirubin and it is excreted in your stool and because Bilirubin is yellow – it causes jaundice when levels are high. Extremely high levels in newborns can cause brain damage. They decided we would stay another day, put Natalie under a photo therapy blanket in our room and recheck the levels in a few hours. That time came and went and her levels were getting higher and higher. One guess as to why this was happening was because Natalie had severe bruising on her face from when she passed through the birthing canal and her body couldn’t keep up with the dying red blood cells. This on top of my lack of milk supply at the time was leaving her malnourished. We began mixing formula with the Colostrom I was producing and fed via the SNS Method. For those who don’t know what the SNS method is – it’s a bottle you hang upside down and the formula/pumped milk drips down out of a tube that you tape to your nipple. It allows the baby to latch on and get the colostrum/milk in your breast while getting formula.
On January 26th in the wee hours of the morning I was woken up by the nurses. They were moving Natalie to the NICU. The photo therapy blanket wasn’t enough and she needed more lights, IV fluids and more support. I sobbed and sobbed as they took my baby away. I felt so helpless. I began alternating my time between my room to rest and the NICU to feed and be with Natalie. My blood pressure began to sky rocket as soon as Natalie was moved out of our room. At one point it reached 180 and the nurses placed an IV to give me medications. Those worked, but without the routine medications it would just go back up. My poor husband was so worried about both of his girls. Looking back I really feel sad for him and what he experienced, but at the time I was to focused on Natalie to care.
Natalie’s stint in the NICU was short. She stayed 2 days and we were discharge after 6 days total in the hospital. In comparison to some – that’s nothing. My heart now literally aches to every mother who has had to sit bedside in the NICU praying for their baby. The NICU nurses are nothing short of amazing as well. I felt completely at ease with the care Natalie received, but I was more then ready to get home and navigate my way through the first weeks of motherhood.
Reflecting back on my labor and delivery I feel great about it. I look back fondly at all the staff that took care of us and those all to brief first days of having a newborn. I have this overwhelming feeling of sisterhood to all mothers now and am a different, better person because of Natalie. I know not all women get the ideal labor experience and some are left traumatized. If you are one of those women, feel free to reach out to talk about it and to vent if needed. You are not alone.
Navigating through motherhood has been an adventure and I couldn’t have picked a better partner to embark on this journey with. I have, again, placed this blog on the back burner as we adjusted to parenthood. My hope is that it will be more in my mind as the year goes on including a post soon on my recovery and those first hazy days at home with a newborn.
My Birth Plan
I am a planner and I cannot help it. Not only do I like to know the who, what, when, where and why’s, but more often then not I like to plan the who, what, when, where and why. So needless to say pregnancy is teaching me a lesson or two about plans and how to roll with the punches (and kicks and twirls).
- Is this a teaching hospital? Can I expect interns/students to be present during my delivery?
- Is skin to skin immediately after birth an option?
- Is their the option of delayed cord clamping?
- what happens in the event that my baby is in distress and requires NICU attention? Do you have the setup here? Or will they be transferred to another facility? Will I be in transport?
- What security measures are in place to protect me and my baby?
- Eating and drinking light foods
- Taking walks and stretching (until I receive an epidural)
- Minimal cervical checks, unless medically necessary
- To labor until at least 7cm dilated then get an epidural
- To not receive pitocin (unless absolutely necessary)
- Fetal monitoring
- To labor in water if I choose to
- Low lighting
- Just my husband in the room with me
In birth (pushing) I’d prefer:
- To deliver out of water
- To be offered a mirror to see the baby crowning
- To be helped/guided when pushing if their is slow progress
- To catch the baby myself if possible
- Cord to stay attached until it stops pulsating
- My husband to cut the cord if he chooses
- To be shown my placenta
- For all newborn exams and procedures to happen with me present
- No mother/baby separation if medically possible
- To be informed of all procedures that are being performed on my newborn
- To have my baby room with me
- To keep my baby with me until she has breastfed successfully on both sides (if medically possible)
- Administer erythromycin eye prophylaxis
- Administer Vitamin K injection
- Apply the pulse ox to my baby during newborn exam
In case of a cesarean birth I’d prefer
- To be awake
- To have my partner with me during birth
- I understand if general anesthesia is needed my husband is unable to be with me.
- I do not want extended family or friends to meet my newborn until I have recovered and have had time to bond with my baby (My husband is excluded from this).
- To have my hands free
- To place baby skin to skin as possible after birth
- For my husband to stay with the baby at all times after birth
- That someone is with me in recovery
My birth plan used to be a lot longer. However, when we finally selected the hospital I took out what was standard care in this hospital. This way they just see the bullet points of things that are not routine practice. I hope this post helps anyone that may be confused on where to start in their birth plan. If you have any questions feel free to message me using the contact tab. I’d be happy to send you my full list of questions I had for the tours.
Things I learned in my first trimester
I have been around a lot of pregnant women in my life. Whether it was a sister, cousin, friend, best friend or co worker – I have been exposed. My own pregnancy made me realize how much of it does not get shared which leaves many of us first timers surprised and wondering if what we are experiencing is normal. It’s odd to me that I can learn through a message board lessons that a dear friend is to embarrassed to share. Pregnancy is not luxurious. For me it’s full of discomfort and fatigue. I cant help but love it though. Knowing as my belly grows my daughter is in there. I have so much love in my heart for her already it makes it all worth it. Below is a list of things that I learned in my first trimester.
Symptoms start right away
I first had a feeling I was pregnant when I felt like I ran fourteen marathons by the end of one work day. To top it off I got one (just one!) nosebleed. I remember even telling my co worker, as a joke, I think my body is thinking it’s in false pregnancy. This comment came from trying for over a year and being on Clomid. One night I even woke up thinking I was having period cramps so I got up, took a Pamprin and went back to bed (hello implantation!). It isn’t always like the movies where you are hugging the toilet. Frequent bathroom breaks, gas, heartburn – they all happen in the first trimester. Who knew (not me)!
Bloating while on your period is nothing in comparison to bloating while pregnant
I felt like I looked and weighed 15 pounds heavier. My clothes are tight, but until very recently I had no baby bump. I had a fairly flat stomach before pregnancy so I thought it would continue to be until my cute little bump started growing. In reality you can look like you ate a bunch of donuts and that you are up a few pounds until your bump starts to take shape.
Ultrasounds aren’t at every doctor visit
If you are like me and are considered a low risk pregnancy – don’t count on seeing your baby every doctor visit. You have the initial to confirm the pregnancy and heartbeat and then the 20 week anatomy scan. I had my 16 week doctor appointment and found this out. Luckily my doctor could sense my disappointment and did a quick one so my husband can see our daughter move.
Pregnancy can cause low blood pressure
You always hear about high blood pressure, but I never realized you can get low blood pressure while pregnant. This can cause symptoms such as feeling faint, dizziness, feeling clammy and lack of concentration.
You can be generally uncomfortable all the time
I found out I was pregnant after I woke up and was generally uncomfortable. I knew something was up based on how I felt that last few days. Throughout my first trimester I was hot, then cold. I felt tired, but restless when I laid down. Bloating was no joke and my clothes began feeling snug before I could even announce my pregnancy to people. I became introverted and a big home-body. Even now at 17 weeks 3 days I prefer to not be out and about socially.
The first trimester was certainly an experience. Due to my low blood pressure fatigue is lasting well into the second. My bump is starting to form and I am counting the days until I feel my daughter move inside me. Pregnancy so far has been different then I ever could imagine, but I am so happy to be expecting it makes it all worth it.
Yesterday I spoke with my employer about my maternity leave. When it comes to boss’ I am very fortunate because mine is very family oriented and just all around super kind. However, I feel like I left the conversation feeling more concerned then when it started. This feeling had nothing to do with my boss. She is more then willing to give me the time I asked for (20 weeks). The concerned and uncertain feelings comes from how much I didn’t know about maternity leave in general. You have a baby, get unpaid time off work, come back and that is that!….WRONG! I have never felt more naive then I have in this pregnancy. I had no idea that I had to pay my own insurance premium after a certain amount of time. Now that I know it makes total sense; I just didn’t give that a second (or first for the matter) thought.
Heather-Maple Loop Pass
The Pacific Northwest is one of the most beautiful places you can live. We have a little something for everyone although sometimes it feels like there isn’t much room left up here for anyone (thanks Amazon!). My husband and I try to frequent the trails when the weather permits (which is harder to do now that we are home owners and there is yard work to be done!) or try to camp multiple times a year. I’m happy to say pregnancy hasn’t stopped us from camping! We are going on our fourth trip this summer this weekend!
I am officially in my second trimester and when I look back on my first I cant help but feel like I was lazy. I cant be to hard on myself because I was giving my body what it needed – nutrition and rest. Since my fatigue is wearing off I got super ambitious and dragged my husband and good friend on a hike in the Northern Cascades. We hiked the Heather-Maple Pass loop. Just shy of 4 months pregnant I feel the gain was intense, but the views were worth it once we reached the peak. It was 7.2 miles round trip added to a 3 hour drive home. It took us a bit longer then it would have if I wasn’t pregnant, but it’s important to give your body rest and not overdo it.
I love living in the pacific Northwest and I love being outdoors. It was really great being on the trail and I cannot wait to share these experiences with my daughter.
Weighing in on weight gain
The other day I was chatting with a friend about weight gain in pregnancy. Based on my height and body my doctor said ideally I should gain about 25-35 pounds. My non-pregnancy diet is pretty routine (during the work week at least) and for the most part healthy. I’ve tried to keep on the same track during my pregnancy with the occasional detour to whatever is going to satisfy my sweet tooth craving.
Based on the scale I’ve gained roughly 5lbs in my first trimester which puts me right on track. I’m short with hardly any midriff so 5 pounds on me looks a lot different then those who are taller. Already almost none of my summer clothes fit. During this conversation with my friend I mentioned how Summer time is so brief in Seattle I really do not want to spend money on a bunch of maternity clothes that I’ll just have to pack away in a month.
When I first found out I was pregnant I quit the gym. I lifted weights and because it took us so long to get pregnant I did not want to take any chances. My doctor says it is OK for me to do my routine workout just go lighter on the weights but I am afraid. For two years I worked out and ate right to get to my goal and it’s really hard to see something you dedicated yourself to go away in less then 4 months. My conversation was overheard by an acquaintance who just had a baby. She basically read me the riot act. “Your baby needs you fat, your baby needs you to gain weight, you worry to much, why do you care”..etc. First of all let me stress – I am happy to be pregnant! It’s not something that just happened for me accidentally or happened in a matter of a month or two. It was a long and emotional process for me. However, I am allowed to be frustrated as I try on my clothes and have none of them fit and I am allowed to worry that I am making the right choices for myself and my baby. This does not make me a bad future mama. I feel the media and society have this idea of what pregnancy should be – a glowing, expectant mother with a smile on her face who is emotionally steady, always put together and no insecurities or second guesses. I can only speak for the first trimester so far, but the reality is, my reality is, that you hardly feel cute, you look like you indulged on a box of donuts more then you look pregnant and if you can lift your head off the pillow you’ve conquered the day. I find myself being my biggest critic during this pregnancy and it’s all so new and foreign to me. Gaining a healthy amount of weight during pregnancy is very important. Why do I feel so judged when I still monitor what I eat and the amount? It’s definitely more then my pre-pregnancy self. Why is it anyone else’s business? Even if I wasn’t pregnant – why is my weight anyone else’s business?
The first trimester has been hard. As I head into my second I find myself a little more (emotionally) steady, a little more awake, a little more confident and feeling a little more like my old self. This weekend Seattle had a heatwave. I tried taking advantage of my new found energy and tried to walk as much as possible for daily exercise. I attended a wedding, had friends in town from California and strolled along Alki Beach. It was a weekend I needed: busy and full of people I care about. It was a nice reminder to take it all in and step back to see the bigger picture.
Living This True Life
In March 2018 I started a blog that I was really excited about called Non Senza Vino. This excitement was met with difficulty as it was hard to give 100% of myself to it. I eventually lost all enthusiasm with it. Part of this loss of enthusiasm was because I found out I was pregnant in May of 2018. My first trimester robbed me of motivation and completely knocked me flat on my back in a deep snooze. Fatigue is no joke!
I’m currently ending my first trimester and find myself slightly more awake and slightly more motivated, but I still felt very unattached to my original blog. Pregnancy brings a lot of excitement, change and, for me at least, a lot of fear. I love my life and worry about how much it will change. I also didn’t have the most attentive parents and worry that I’ll somehow not show up for my children in the way they need me to.
This blog is a promise to myself to be present in the everyday with my family and my children, but still hold onto me. To grow as an individual but also as a family unit. I want to inspire and encourage others while enjoying life’s little moments. Thus the birth of This True Life. A way to ground myself while navigating through motherhood, marriage and whatever else comes my way.
The first 6 blog posts on this site were when it was Non Senza Vino. I decided to keep them because I still believe in their content and hope you enjoy them.
New Orleans Travel Guide
Last March I planned a 30th birthday trip to New Orleans. I invited all my close friends to fly down from Seattle with us. I have family in Houma (which is an hour south of NOLA) who also made the trip into the city.
I am totally type-A personality. As everyone was booking flights and hotels into the city I realized we all are getting in on different days and/or different times and that, as big as our group was, would be interested in different ventures around town. With that in mind I decided to do my research. I had been in New Orleans a few time so I used that as a outline. With my past visits in mind I also looked into more things to do. I ended up making a PDF file that I emailed to all my guests.
All my guests found this extremely useful. It was a nice way to show gratitude for them showing up to celebrate my big 30!
My husband and I just booked another trip down to see my family and I am beyond excited. I embedded the PDF file, so if you are headed to NOLA – enjoy!
Spring Barrel 2018
- Bonair (They do a case mix and match sale – $100!)
- Maison De Padgett (great ports and dessert wines!)
- Owen Roe (first time visit and it was delicious! Their Pinot Noir is worth noting.)
- Silverlake (Live bands, food trucks and good wine)
- Airfield (always a favorite. Love their bombshell red)
- Bartholomew (Located in Kennewick, so not near most of the wineries, but worth the drive!)
My total haul this year was 25 bottles of wine. That’s a new record for me. Now I just have to organize it all! Out of all the wineries and wines tasted I would have to give a BIG shout out to Bartholomew! Their wines were SO good. Their Malbec and Petite Verdot were unbelievable. They do have a tasting room in Seattle as well for those on the West side of the state!