Lucas’s Birth

There’s no “pretty” way to write about a birth. Or at least, I’m not capable of it. Here’s a real, slightly stream of consciousness account of the birth of Lucas Aron. Our second home birth, our second child…the next chapter of our great adventure. 

After yet another long, uncomfortable, sleepless night, I awoke to Ali climbing over me and creating a nest for herself on what space was left on the couch. It wasn’t until I felt a tap on my shoulder that I was fully awake.

“Hey, it’s Father’s Day.”

I gasped and apologized, realizing I had completely forgotten that it was Father’s Day. I had no gift, no card. No meal prepared. Nada.

My poor man. He was so forgiving. He just wanted to spend some time doing things he liked around the house. I said sure…I will try my best to keep up with Ali.

A half hour later, we were all sitting on the couch, eating breakfast. We had broken down our dining table to make space for the birthing pool. After Aliana’s early arrival, we made sure to be ready at 36 weeks. The pool was inflated and in place. Our towels were washed  and clean. We had our birth box in the baby’s room, all items accounted for. We were all set to meet the baby. But he took his time!

Shortly after breakfast, I thought I felt a contraction. At this point, I had been having contractions for about two weeks. I must have forgotten what Braxton Hicks felt like, because I had been having them for a while and never knew it. For at least a week and a half, I had been having contractions ten minutes apart for two hours. Much like my first labor, I was able to sit quietly to manage them. We would text Michelle, our midwife, just to keep her informed. But the tapered off, each and every time.

At this point, I couldn’t believe that I’d made it to 39 weeks. I had finally accepted that I would go full term. But this contraction felt different. I quickly felt the need to scoot forward to the edge of the couch, then the urge to stand was too great. I walked it off, making sure to take deep breaths while imagining the contraction’s apex and release.

“Andrew……”

That felt different. That one didn’t feel quite right.

“Just letting you know, I think I had a real contraction there.”

The look on his face was hilarious. His shoulders fell, and he glanced at the pile of papers he had begun to shred.

“I guess I’ll start to put this away.”

Could this be it? Could it finally be happening, or am I going to keep being pregnant?

We quickly found the answer to this question. Not five minutes later, another contraction. Same intensity. Same need to keep moving.

It’s 8:45 am.

It’s time to call the midwife.

We’re on the phone and I have another contraction. She trusts me to tell her if I need her to come right away. I told her I thought I would be ok for a little while longer. She said she’d prep her things and wait for our call.

I called my mother, waking her. I also woke my sister in California, to just let her know the baby was likely to make an appearance that day. Mom didn’t believe me that I had just started labor. She must of thought I was calling her late in the game like last time. I remember telling her quite sternly, “Mom, I just had three contractions in the last fifteen minutes. You need to get up and go!”

I don’t know if the fact that I didn’t take another birthing class helped or hurt me this time. I mean, I remembered what I learned, and I had been reviewing my Bradley workbook over the last few weeks. I used what I remembered, but my labor was advancing too quickly for me to integrate the contractions. I spent some time leaning against the couch. I spent some time leaning on the exercise ball. But they were coming on quickly, and stronger each time. At one point, I just sat on the toilet in hopes that the gravity would help the situation, I had forgotten that it works way too well, though. Andrew had called Michelle to check in, He knocked on the door, I opened it a crack, and heard him ask if I wanted to speak to Michelle. My only response was to slam the door in his face! I couldn’t count my breaths let alone hold a conversation. Michelle took that as her cue to make her way to our house.

Funny (to me) detail. I got tired, so I opened the door again, and leaned against it while still sitting. Andrew leaned in to check on me, and placed his toes on mine. I moved my foot, but he just put his back on top of mine. I think this was his way of sympathizing with me, and letting me know he was there for me (up until this point, I had been laboring on my own while he topped off the air in the pool, and straightened up the bedroom and kitchen). As a woman in labor, however, this was the least helpful thing he could have done. I yanked my foot out from under him again while gritting my teeth, “get the eff off of me!”

10:30 am

The next thing I remember, is Michelle coming through the door quietly. Aliana is so excited to see her, she wants to take her upstairs to see her room. Michelle is able to hold her off long enough to check on me and see how things were going. We wait until a contraction subsides and I ask her to check my progress. As soon as she was done I have another contraction, but this one felt wet. I thought my water had broken and I was momentarily excited, but it was only my mucus plug. Slightly disappointing, but Michelle announced that I was 4 cm dilated, but that contraction likely pushed me past 6. This was happening so fast!

Faith, who I really should just start introducing as my sister, came over. She was incredibly helpful with Ali, and resumed her duty as birth videographer. It was around this time that I felt like I needed to get into the pool. Andrew filled it up, and I quickly got in. I tried to integrate the contractions, but they were so strong, so close together, I felt like I barely got a break in between them.

We prepared Aliana as best as we could. We read books, we watched natural birth videos of cats, dogs, horses, and some human births. We talked about how some mommies need to make noises to help their bodies get their baby out. I let her know that I had to make a lot of noises to get her out, and that I might make a lot of noises to get our new baby out. Ali was very excited to watch her baby brother’s birth, but she got really nervous  with how much I was vocalizing. She mostly stayed out of the way, preferring to be in the living room watching a movie. She did come into the kitchen to check on me once in a while, and I remember catching a glance of her peeking in flapping her hands. She’s anxious, I thought to myself, but I couldn’t spare much more thought to make sure she was okay.

Because I actually got to test for group B strep this time, I found out I was positive, and I opted for antibiotics again. I know this is one detail that conflicts with many others that I know who have chosen to have unmedicated births at home, but with my medical history, I err on the side of caution. I have been very lucky to have a midwife who helps me become informed of the choices I have and supports the decisions I make. It’s one of the reasons why I love her so much. Michelle is not only an amazing birth provider, but she’s also a teacher, counselor, friend, and certainly family.

Like my first labor, I wasn’t able to finish the whole dose of antibiotic. I couldn’t quite feel a pressure they way you would think when it’s time to push. I just felt my contractions getting longer and longer, so I began to pull in on my belly as I did with Aliana. I thought I could feel crowning, but then there was a pop! and the feeling was gone. My water broke! I don’t know if my bag was actually hanging out or not, but I swear it felt like his head had come out. Though that was disappointing, I knew that he was only so much more closer to coming.

Ali was pushed into this world two hours after my water breaking. Lucas….it had to have been under an hour.

The contractions were coming on one after the other. I kept moving, swinging around in the pool, at one point practically hanging out of it with my butt in the air. I seriously could not keep control of myself. I was trying so hard to work with my body, but my body had one mission. I kept trying to control it, but it was telling me to let go, let it do what it needed to do. I wasn’t blocking it, by any means. I wanted to work with it so bad, to be a part of my body as it went through this amazing transformation. But I couldn’t. I was afraid. I didn’t want to be in pain. The thought that kept me going was the little girl in the other room. I did this for you, I can do this for your brother. Don’t fight it, meet it head on.

I want to say that I finally reached my breaking point, but I don’t think that’s quite right. Deep down inside, I knew I couldn’t be ‘broken,’ but I was also so tired of trying to be in sync with my body. I needed a break, so so badly.

Another contraction, another push. I could feel him coming, the burning sensation that comes with crowning. Jesus, it hurt. It burned. Got to get it out to catch a break. Once his head is out, I can breathe, I can take a moment to regain my strength just get it out getitout getitout getitoutgetitoutgetitout.

I let all my air out and cry, “It won’t stop!” This contraction will not end! It keeps mounting, growing bigger and bigger. Keep pushing keep pushing keep pushing. A deep breath, hold and bear down. I open my eyes and see a flicker of something round in the water below me. I push and reach down to touch his head and suddenly my son is in cradled in my arm. I sit back against the side of the pool and pull him up and out against my chest. “I’ve got him!”

12:30 pm

His eyes slowly open and close as if he’s waking from a long, peaceful nap. He was totally chill! Like he hadn’t just journeyed out into the world. We begin to call Ali over and she rushes in. I had to do a double take when I caught sight of her. My baby girl suddenly did not look so little anymore. At that moment, I was so overjoyed with the two greatest gifts I’ve ever received. I’ll never forget the moment, when all pain was gone and only joy left in it’s wake.

Lucas remained quiet but he was by no means struggling. Though pictures taken in those moments show him to be blue, he was actually quite pink in person. He was just, relaxed! He passed his apgars with flying colors.

Getting the placenta was super easy this time around. I merely looked down into the pool and noticed a bit of a red cloud forming around me. Michelle reached down while I gave a light push and out it came, intact. We took a similar journey from the kitchen to our bedroom, where Lucas and I were cleaned up. It’s 12:45 when my parents walk through the door, barely missing it!

Unlike last time, I tore a little and needed two stitches. This boy practically shot out of me, my body didn’t have time to stretch and adapt around him. He was measured and weighed, Andrew held him while mom got me a snack. I’ll never forget the next couple of minutes, where I sat on the edge of my bed next to my midwife in silence, just the two of us, sharing a pupusa. Both of our jobs had been completed; now, the feast. It was one of the most emotionally and physically satisfying meals I’ve ever had.

We started the day on the couch, planning the day ahead. We ended the day on the couch, holding the greatest Father’s Day gift anyone could receive, and one I can never ever top.

Lucas, I was so scared to be your mom. I didn’t think myself capable of being a “boy mom.” Today, as I stare at your sleeping face, I cannot picture my family looking any different than it does now. You’ve taught me so much — patience, excitement, strength. Thank you for choosing us to be your family. We love you so, so very much.

Ode to the Button

Your shape was decided in 1987
And 23 years later have received
An unexpected makeover.

Once an innie, now a flattie,
You’ve revealed your true shape within,
Like a lotus chip, your compartments now
Reveal spaces previously unknown in your natural state.

Soon, the flattie will become an outtie,
and you’ll poke through my clothes.
No popper stopper for you (sorry Jeff),
I promise to embrace your changes gracefully,
And allow you to finally see the sun.

ps: the hair you've sprouted grosses me out.

 

The Bradley Method – Week 1

Here goes!

It’s official, we’re more than ever on our way to childbirth (naturally)! We had our first class of The Bradley Method this morning and it was pretty awesome. I’m going to keep the details generic so as to protect the privacy of our teacher and classmates, but we’re both very excited about the info we’re going to get. We were actually surprised at how prepared we were for the class. In our own research we’ve gathered a lot of preliminary knowledge that I believe will be a great foundation for further learning in this class. Granted, Lilly has paved the way for all the research and learning, but I’ve been right behind her as the supporting husband. I’m sure Lilly will write about her experience as well (she’s cooking now), but I wanted to put in my own two cents.

The first thing we noticed was that we were the youngest couple there which kind of made us feel like we were the high-schoolers who oopsed and now have a baby on the way, but that’s really not the case and we felt very welcome by the end of the class.

After being married a solid year we both agreed a child was the next step so we started trying. Low and behold, two months later the half-dozen preggo tests Lilly took were ALL positive! I’m confident we’re doing the right thing and look forward to building lasting relationships with some of the other couples in the class. For nearly everyone there this is their first child which makes it really interesting because everyone is basically on the same page.

PICTURES! annnd The Bradley Class Starts Tomorrow!

Hey everyone, we’re busy-bee’s as usual but I’m stopping by to show you some pictures. First off we have Ziggy who managed to crawl into the cabinet and stick his tongue out at us.

Get Out!

Next we have Lilly looking for her kitties. She won this awesome nursing cover from designhermomma.com and was looking for a cat to be her “test subject.”

She wasn't having much luck...

Finally, Lilly was able to snatch up a cat for her dry run; however, Dean wasn’t having any other it and wanted OUT immediately!

... and Dean said, "GrrrrrRrRrrrrrRrrrrrr"

P.S. Our Bradley class is starting tomorrow morning, so I’m sure we’ll have a follow up after the class, stay tuned!

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth

24 weeks (6 months)

I have a book that I would love to share with all of you. I neeeeeed to recommend it to the women following our blog, whether you plan to have children in the future, are currently pregnant (let me tell you the Kahrs family is very fertile right now), or have had children. Every woman needs to know what’s written in these pages. Seriously educate yourself and make your own decision on the care you want but you need to know what’s out there and why those treatments are available and any possible repercussions.

But first – we need to work on the lighting in the nursery. Here’s my favorite picture this week:

i hate the lights in the room. it’s too orange-y yellow for me, and andrew insists on turning on this floor lamp that I hate and already told him is going bye bye but he doesn’t listen. but i loveeee this room. I don’t know if any other parents have experienced this but her room is my favorite room in the apartment. I just walk in there sometimes, especially when i get home from work and it instantly wraps me in this feeling of love. funny part is that andrew loves hanging out in there and is trying to keep his computer in the room. i tease him because his favorite room in happens to be mostly pink 😉

Anyway. I heard something interesting yesterday. A coworker of mine was commenting on how big I got over the weekend (i took monday off) and was telling me about how big she was with her last child. Don’t ask how we got to this part, but she said “…and then the doctor was pulling my placenta out…” and inside i’m thinking what? the doctor pulled your placenta out? isn’t it supposed to come out naturally a few minutes later (like in every vaginal birth i’ve read about? oh wait… I’ve mostly been reading about natural childbirth)

I’m laying in bed later that night doing my reading (Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin, Certified Professional Midwife from The Farm) and sure enough, the great Ina May brings this up! apparently it’s something that doctors do in hospitals today, and can actually cause harm to the mother (including hemorrhaging). When they pull on the umbilical cord to tug it out they can actually cause the umbilical cord to detach, and the placenta will stay inside, which in turn can make them take more invasive measures to get it out. The placenta and remaining cord are supposed to come out naturally 15-20 minutes after the baby does. Your uterus keeps contracting until it expels the placenta. There is no need to intervene when it comes to the afterbirth. If I didn’t realize it before, it suddenly stuck that there really is nothing that some doctors won’t do and how far the misconception that a woman’s body doesn’t know what it’s made for has really come in the medical world.

(for example, in 1985 some US publication actually recommended that all women be forced to have cesarean for every birth. seriously! no more vaginal births, whether we liked/wanted it or not!)

This is just one of the books I’ve been reading, you can find it here. I began this book shortly after I found out we were pregnant and not having a miscarriage. It’s really short, but I’ve put it down numerous times to read other books (Spiritual Midwifery which I haven’t finished yet, Labor of Love, some book my obstetrician gave me, and What to Expect When You’re Expecting which I hated so much i didn’t even finish. I’ll explain why in another post) and honestly has been by far one of the most informative texts ever.

The book is split in two parts: part one are birth stories (both home and hospital births) and part two is about childbirth, current and past methods, what kind of care is out there to choose from, what intervention/induction methods exist, common induction medications and their effects including harmful side effects just to name a bit.

I’m only about 40 pages away from finishing it (shameless promotion here: I love love love my nook from barnes and noble) but it is by far one of the best books I’ve ever read. I can’t recommend it enough. I thought the movies we watched were mind boggling, but this really took the cake. She has so many citations from medical texts, journals, and books it’s all validated that the information presented is out there, it’s just not easily accessible to people like you and me.

I can’t wait to see what Ina May has to say in her first book, Spiritual Midwifery, as I’m still only halfway through the birth stories in part one.

I have certainly been educated to a point where I feel comfortable knowing what to ask for (for example double layer suturing in case that I do need to have a cesarean) if I were to get transfered to a hospital. I feel empowered. I am more confident than ever that my body can do this, but just in case it needs help, we’ll do this right together.

Continued Baby Prep and Spontaneous Date Night

Seeing as how we have no money at the moment I spent the day taking care of chores/tasks I’ve put off long enough. I’ve slowly been trying to sift through all of our stuff so we can focus solely on Baby when she arrives. Today was filing cabinet day as well as usual household chores. I pulled out all the useless stuff from our filing cabinet and shredded an entire garbage bag full of random documents (bills/receipts/memories of bad financial decisions). I also washed about three days worth of dishes and tossed everything from our freezer straight to the dumpster (came home Friday to the freezer door open and EVERYTHING defrosted… damn cats, I know it was them).

Pretending to help me build a bookcase, but secretly thinking about how him and Dean are going to ruin all the food in the freezer.


Dean acting confused as to why he is in jail. He knows why, oh he knows.

Around 5:00pm Lilly was passing out from shear boredom having spend the day doing laundry, eating, and watching the Jersey Shore (I watched with her. Neither of us are proud of this). Then she suddenly got a huge hankering for some fried mozzarella. Learning from a previous night when I denied her of her food craving, we IMMEDIATELY got dressed and headed over to Carabarra’s for appetizers (swipe credit card). It was a really fun time. We sat at the bar and watched all of our food prepared right in front of us. Realizing it was our first date in quite some time, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and even ordered dessert (ice cream covered in caramel and roasted cinnamon-sugar pecans). Mmmmm.

I’m glad I was able to make Lilly’s night; however at 9:00pm it has come to an early end. We’re so full it has become bedtime, and yes, we both know it’s a Saturday night!

P.S. Preview of BabyGirl’s bedding is below

BabyGirl's Bedding!

Reason number 54890987 living in Troy ended up being amazing

Hi. Remember us? yes we’ve been away for a few weeks, life kept us busy. Between finally getting the car repaired from the accident to the morning sickness coming back with a vengeance and feeling like my body has been fighting coming down with the bug going around we were kinda busy.

I owe you two belly pictures, and after that I have an awesome story to share.

 

20 weeks 6 days

 

22 weeks 1 day

 

So, we’ve been cooped up at home finishing the baby’s room and I’ve been begging Andrew to take me out just to see other people in existence. We went to the mall yesterday to visit our friends Kristen and Allan (they own an awesome wine shop called For Love of Wine at the mall. We’ve known them since they opened and have developed a wonderful friendship), ran into an old college buddy of mine that lived in the same dorm freshman year, got my wedding rings cleaned (and was told by our jeweler that it’s still safe to wear them so i’m back to wearing them again) and just people watched for a bit.

So today, I tell Drew that I want to go to the Farmer’s Market in Troy because a) we haven’t been since November when we took Mom and Dad and b) more people watching, and most importantly c) I was really craving a Jamaican beef patty. I need to learn to stop asking for cocoa bread because they don’t bring it to the market, but they do have it at their restaurant. After eating we walked around a bit and made our way downstairs and we’re just about done with the circuit when I spot a familiar looking guy taking a picture of the band that played (which btw, ten times better than the Black Eyed Peas). He had the most adorable little baby in a baby bjorn and a pretty sweet camera. I paused.

“Hey, Andrew, wait….I think that’s ‘Adeline’s Daddy'”
“Who?”
“The guy, the daddy blog, when we were researching Michelle…”
“No way, really?! Let’s go talk to him!”

Me says no, leave him alone, he’s just trying to enjoy his day. Can you believe it, ME, shy?!?! I was intimidated. Here’s this dude we’ve never met, yet read his blog when we were researching our potential midwife. His blog helped cement to us that Michelle was the right pick and would provide the best care for how we wanted to give birth to our child. (Don and his wife gave birth to a beautiful baby girl named Adeline in October while in a birthing pool in their living room, with Michelle as their midwife.)

Andrew quickly pulls me over to him and starts up a conversation. Don was very gracious and told us a bit about his experience, and how Michelle has become a very good friend even after the birth of their daughter. Talking to Don was so comforting, and just confirmed that we’ve made the right decision (I must emphasize, for us, because everyone should choose their best birth). Probably the funniest bit, he introduced us to his neighbors, Elizabeth and Andrew, who had a baby named Lily (probably spelled that way, I don’t want to assume that they also spell their daughter’s name like mine) 3 weeks apart from Addy. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to talk to his wife, who was upstairs, but it was so great to get a chance to meet someone else who has a relationship with Michelle and are extremely satisfied with the care they received and have a wonderful little baby.

It’s amazing the people we’ve been able to meet and the things we’ve had a chance to do all because Andrew and I chose to go to RPI. The City of Troy has brought us so many opportunities and continues to give us these wonderful gifts, including each other.

I definitely recommend you go and read Don’s blog, he is also a graphic designer and writes the sweetest little stories about being a first time father. It would be wonderful if we could continue contact, it would help us so much to know other first time parents in our vicinity!

If there is ever one place Andrew and I will be able to call ‘our first home’, I can say without a doubt it will probably be Troy.

Another little treat for you. We finished preparing the crib for our sweet pea. We walk into the room a few hours later to a little surprise from our resident Satan’s Spawn.

 

Ziggy, this is not the new cat bed!

19 weeks tomorrow

18 weeks 6 days

weekly photo

so, andrew said i’d post pictures of the baby’s room this week, but i am not going to until the painting is finished. Because the old color is still visible in half of the room, i am totally hating how it looks right now. so, i’ll provide in progress photos as well as the end result when we get there, unless i’m feeling generous and decide you deserve a peek.

i’m just hoping that in the end i don’t regret the colors. the green went from a sagey green to a minty green. and don’t get me started on the pink. i must admit that the pregnancy has addled my brain. i am forgetting the simplest, stupidest things. i don’t feel like myself, or as peter wiggin said in the ship, “I am not myself you see.”

ten points to you if you know what i’m referring to.

Transitions

18 weeks

 

Last night's weekly belly photo

transition (noun): movement, passage, or change from one position, state, stage, subject, concept, etc., to another.

Pregnancy is a time full of transitions. Some you’re prepared for, and others you aren’t. But the best you can do is roll with it.

I think I may have felt the baby move this week. Not quite sure, but it’s a feeling that has only come few times. It feels really different than the usual rumblings and gurgles I’ve become used to since I got pregnant. It feels like something is in there nudging me. It’s funny because so many people have told me so many different things about how it feels, and this feels like nothing anyone has told me about.

I’d like to continue thinking that it’s the baby reaching out to me, saying, “I’m here mommy, you’re not alone!” but it could also be wishful thinking. I’m anxious for an outward sign of life, some encouragement that this period has a purpose.

While I continue to experience transitions (some wanted, some expected, others neither) I must remind myself that regardless of everything, there’s a little gift waiting for me at the finish line.

All that matters at the end of it all is the light shining, beckoning me to come and claim it as my own.

I can’t wait.

Women who say they enjoyed every minute of pregnancy, did NOT have morning sickness

(For continuity’s sake, today is Week 7 day 6.)

Notice I haven’t actually written here yet? Yeah, it’s because I couldn’t get my head either out of the toilet or off my pillow long enough.

Okay I’m exaggerating, I’m only averaging about 1.5 times a day, but still. It’s pretty detrimental to my day, and leaves me slightly weak. All I want to do is nap afterwards. A few time’s I’ve actually avoided throwing up by simply falling asleep. And what’s with it being called “MORNING sickness”? it should be called ALL THE TIME SICKNESS. I’ve had tons of suggestions from well meaning mommies but nothing has really worked for me. At this point, I just smile and say thank you, I appreciate your trying to help. Ugh…

Let’s talk about the fun stuff though. I’m going to get pretty graphic, so if you don’t want to read it, please don’t continue.

My body is changing. Last time something like this happened, it was puberty, now it’s something entirely different yet the same at the same time. I’m getting pimples in places I’ve never had them before (mostly on my face). My boobs are growing, and I won’t tell you which one is suddenly bigger than the other (okay fine, it’s the right one). My pants don’t close!

The good side is that there’s this awesome thing out there (there’s different kinds but this is the kind I bought) called BellaBand which can hide unbuttoned and unzippered pants and also helps keep them from slipping down (which, with this extra width I’m carrying is not very likely). This is super helpful, because it looks like I’m wearing a camisole under my shirt, so I’m not dressed inappropriately at work. This also means I can hold off on buying maternity pants for a bit more, since really, it fits everywhere else, just not where baby is sitting.

Tomorrow, my uterus will be the size of a grape fruit and baby is the size of a lima bean. Note that the uterus in it’s natural state is only the size of a plum, so quite a bit of growth in just two months!

I’ll leave you with a picture from two weeks ago. This is my 6 week’s belly photo. as you can see, it’s not very noticeable yet, and the only difference I can even tell myself is by my pants not fitting. but we can at least begin to tally how my mid section will change week to week.

6 week belly