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.

Lucas

Patience, and then all at once.

That’s how Lucas’s story begins.

It seems like Aliana wasn’t even two when people began to ask us when we were going to have another child. This is such an invasive question, and one that broke my heart a little bit each time. But that’s a different blog post. Maybe another day.

We waited three years before truly discussing adding a second child to our family. For me, it felt like long enough. We got to enjoy Aliana exclusively, got to experience all of her milestones and accomplishments together. But I knew that I wanted to give her a sibling, particularly close in age. She was always asking, too. And from my personal experience of having a large age gap between my sister and myself I wanted her to grow up and have a relationship with her sibling. So last summer, we decided to give it a go.

It took a little longer to conceive than it did for Aliana. Any woman trying will tell you of the disappointment month after month, but thankfully, the day before my birthday, I learned that I was pregnant.

This is where it gets a little interesting.

For the last two-three weeks, my grandfather had been in the hospital with what turned out to be terminal cancer. Unfortunately, he passed away the very same evening I tested positive. It was weird, and maybe a little morbid, but the reminder that life continues even when others are lost was soothing to me.

I wanted to plan a crazy reveal for my family, but felt that it would be best to share this balm with my mom. So, when she and dad called me the next morning to wish me a happy birthday, I gave them a present instead. She thought it was a trick, and asked Andrew if I was joking. She started to cry and I could hear dad laughing in the background. It was honestly the best birthday ever for all of us, and something that I think strengthened my relationship with mom.

It sounds weird, but the superstitious Guatemalan in me thinks it’s all connected.

To recap the pregnancy: it was incredibly different than my first. I had little to no morning sickness and did not lose weight my first trimester. I was so happy and praised God that I did not have to suffer through that agony again. I suspected that we were having a boy based on how much easier it was this time around. It quickly became clear that I was going to have a much bigger baby this time. My hips began to hurt not long into my second trimester, and continued through to the end. I started to see a chiropractor to help with my pelvis and ligament pain, and it helped tremendously.

We were also preparing for another homebirth with our fabulous midwife, Michelle. Honestly, I know that choosing a midwife is such a personal choice and you really have to find one that just vibes with you in every single way, but I cannot begin to describe to you how amazing this woman is. I am not exaggerating, I literally have tears in my eyes just thinking about the wonderful gift she is and the blessings that she has brought to my life. She is a great nurse and midwife, but most importantly friend. She will forever be a part of our lives.

As I grew larger and larger, I began to prepare for another early birth. I had been experiencing Braxton-Hicks but they didn’t feel how I remembered, so I didn’t recognize them. Then, I started to feel real contractions, particularly at night: ten minutes apart, but mild, for two to two and a half hours every few nights. I would text Michelle each and every time, “it might be baby time!” Boy, was I wrong.

I said hello to weeks 37 and 38 for the first time, and these practice labors continued. I downloaded a contraction counting app but they always tapered off after two hours. Coworkers were losing out on the baby pool left and right. It became customary to greet me with “I hoped I wouldn’t see you today” instead of “good morning.” I started to sleep on the couch for additional back support. And it was there that Andrew woke me on Father’s Day a little after seven to let me know what he had planned for the day.

I felt awful because I had completely forgotten it was that day. I hadn’t even bought him a card! He understood though, and didn’t feel any less appreciated for it. So we planned for him to spend his day doing his favorite things, starting with shredding old files and cleaning and sorting out our filing cabinet. If you know him well, you know the satisfaction he gets from this, the weirdo.

But Lucas had other plans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Birth Story Part 1.5: Post Partum

One Month Old. Photo by Samantha Whitman Photography

Before I continue the part two of Ali’s story, I was reminded today
that there will be a huge chunk missing if I don’t speak of the moments
immediately after birth and its’ affect on my body and the emotions I experienced. This entry was really hard to write, because describing your emotions is never easy. I didn’t really edit this post, but rather just let the words flow straight out of my mind. I hope you understand what I am trying to convey. I apologize for the HUGE tangent as well.

This next part is kind of Andrew’s favorite. One of the first things he
tells people about the home birth experience is what I did a few minutes
after Aliana joined us. But to find out what that is you’ll have to keep
reading below.

Continue reading

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.

 

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.

Well Folks, Punxsutawney Phil was Wrong Again

I’m currently sitting in BabyGirl’s room. It’s around 7:00am on Monday morning and the snow continues to fall outside.

It's not over yet...

I’m really happy BabyGirl won’t be born in the middle of winter and that Lilly’s most pregnant days will be after all of the snow has melted. I feel like a winter birth is a lot of work for both mommy and baby especially when frigid temps and thigh-high snow is uncomfortable enough for the average person. It’s funny how things work out. When we began trying we didn’t really think about when our baby would be due, honestly we didn’t think it would only take two months before the pee-stick read preggo, but it happened, and God couldn’t have picked a better time of year.

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!

Why do we cultivate a fear-based culture in the US?

23 weeks, 2 days

this week’s belly photo

Note to self: what you say today may come back and bite you in the ass.

The reaction that really struck me the most when we began to tell people that we were pregnant or (to the few we shared this with) were planning to get pregnant within the year (boy did it happen fast) came from mothers:
“Whatever you do, get the epidural! Don’t even try to put up with it.”
“Get ready for the most painful experience in the entire world.”
“You have no idea what you’re getting yourself into.”

Then, I would place the reactions of the ignorant and insensitive (and by ignorant, I mean those that have never experienced birth and have only witnessed it from movies and television, not actual birthing videos or documentaries):
“Are you scheduling your c-section?”
“You’re gonna be a screamer! I bet I’ll hear you all the way from here!”
“You better warn your neighbors, they’re gonna think you’re Linda Blair with all that screaming!”

I kept asking myself, Seriously?!?!

First, I’m sorry, I don’t really understand why the need for hazing from experienced mothers. Is that really necessary? Are we pledging a fraternity here?

You’re gonna have to click more to continue reading. This will be a very long post.

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In Case You Missed It

If you didn’t make it into our address book this year (I supposed last year at this point), here’s what you missed…

Our extremely well thought out, very precisely planned announcement of our pregnancy is displayed below. Through blood, sweat (mine), and tears we produced this quality piece of Christmas cheer and managed to mail it before the 25th! If you’d like to receive one next year, just send us your address! It’s always nice to keep in touch via snail mail!

Merry Christmas!

We kept the pregnancy a complete secret from ALL extended family and many of you on Facebook (sorry guys!) until we hit the 3 month mark. We did however spills a few of the beans and told people at work and other friends we see on a regular basis. I couldn’t believe how hard it was to not tell the whole world. But, now it’s out in the open, we’re at 20 weeks I believe, and Lilly is definitely feeling the pressure of our growing baby.

Speaking of which, we are a little nervous at the moment because she’s been experiencing lower abdominal pain (but it’s not the abdominal muscles) since her car accident. From what I’ve gathered is there are two tendons that hold the uterus “in place.” Before pregnancy they are very small, 1-3 inches long; however, during pregnancy they are 5-7 inches long, stretching as the baby grows. They may even get longer but I’m just the husband, I really have no idea. Anyway, the pain Lilly is experiencing to a point is normal, but we’re being cautious and keeping a very close eye on it in the event it’s not so normal. My assumption is that because these tendons are stretching, they are already sore. Throw a jolt from a minor T-bone car accident, and you possibly hyper-extend these already strained tendons. Maybe they’re ligament, I don’t remember, but I know there are two of them. In any event, I hope my wife and baby girl are doing okay and that the soreness will soon subside. As always, we’ll keep you posted and ask to be included in your prayers for a healthy mommy and baby.