Saturday, February 4, 2017

Della Jane's Unique Birth

Birth Stats...
Estimated Gestational Age: 41 weeks
20 hours ruptured membranes and inactive labor, 3 hours very intense active labor
8 lbs. 10 oz.
Unmedicated, Home birth, Water birth, 5th birth

39 weeks

Our amazing New Year's Eve dinner... all alone!
The last week of my pregnancy was hard (the last month had been) and I was so ready to have labor start and to see my baby! On December 31st my parents came and picked up our 6 older children because I was so tired and feeling so bad, to give us a break and let me get more rest. I was so stressed out about going overdue, fearful and also just physically struggling. I kept trying to make things happen, and that was obviously not working well! 

January 2nd (almost 41 weeks overdue) I woke up at about 5:45 am to go to the bathroom, getting back into bed I felt a small gush of liquid and realized my waters had broken... it was a slow leak. The night prior I had lost my mucus plug, it had actually fallen on the floor when I stood up from the toilet with a flop! It was huge, I laughed at how large and creature-like it was!

Well, "sorta soon"!

I tried going back to bed but fluid kept slowly coming out and mild contractions started and were about every 7 minutes apart... so I made my bed for delivery (with layered sheets and water proof pads) since we planned a home birth, our 3rd one. I got my sweet little scripture/meditation signs hung up around the room, picked up and generally did a little nesting of my birthing space. I was so eager to meet our baby!  At least I knew that it would come… sooner or later. At 7 am I got up Tim because usually I get started and have the baby within about 4 to 5 hours. I told him he might want to shower and get us breakfast before I would presumably naturally transition into active labor... ha! 
41 weeks

At 9 am everything abruptly stopped. No contractions… nothing! I called our midwife who said she'd come over at noon to check my progress (dilation) and talk "herbal induction". I was a "stretchy 3, almost a 4 and we thought I just needed to be pushed a little over the hump into active labor. I started an herbal tincture and labor seemed to resume... moderately intense contractions every 5 to 8 minutes... I was hopeful we were on our way to having a baby by dinner time! After my last dose at about 4 pm everything slowly ground to a halt again. I was so disappointed and discouraged! With my 3rd my water had similarly broken spontaneously and I entered labor with no problem... I was so confused why my body wasn't cooperating! I tried to rest, which was a joke because I was so anxious and wound up. Honestly, I can’t even remember what I did from about 4 to 8 pm? We did watch Wonder Years, which helped take my mind off things, I tried using my breast pump to stimulate oxytocin and I think I took a bath too.
Ready and waiting!
Tim helped me do the “side-lying release" on spinning babies, at about 8 pm my labor started on its own again, which was encouraging ... but it would only keep going only as long as I was active... I kept it going by walking, climbing the stairs and sitting on a birth ball until 10 pm but we were both getting tired. I felt like I'd already been through labor, I was tired and achy, and felt “done”. I could hardly imagine all the work I really had before me! I was very discouraged. At our midwives encouragement we went to bed and called the whole thing for the time being. She reminded us that we had plenty of time to still have the baby (the whole “time limit” thing of having broken waters) and she assured us that my body would just start up on it’s own and to surrender to what was happening and to stop trying to make it happen. I complied and went to bed.

Laborland. Beka our amazing midwife looks on.
While sleeping I’d wake and have a contraction every half hour or so. I got some decent rest. At 1 am I had a sort of stronger one, another at 1:30 am and then at 1:45 am I felt like a freight train hit me! It was probably the most painful contraction I've ever had and it just kept going and going and going, ... Tim came to my aid, as he had been resting in the adjoining room. I was very vocal about the intensity of the contraction. After it passed my entire body immediately started shaking uncontrollably and my jaw chattering! It was intense! Tim took my vitals and my BP was crazy high... we both just looked at each other like "for real?" It had been just below or at a mildly concerning place for the last month of my pregnancy and had slowly inched up the days before my water broke. I had NO other signs or symptoms of pre-eclampsia, but we kept an eye on it. Perhaps that crazy jump into active labor made it shoot up?  Tim thought I might be in transition (or feared that) so he immediately called our midwife who lives just around the corner from us. She said she'd be on her way and to get me in a hot bath to relax until she arrived. Our secondary midwife was also called and she got on her way.

I got in the bath but was SO fearful that labor would stall... yet again. I kept thinking that we’d call the midwives, they’d arrive and the labor would flop again. I told Tim I needed to get out of the bath due to this fear… he told me he thought I needed to stay in and to stop worrying so much! It, thankfully, didn’t stop. Beka arrived, set up more of her stuff, and just observed me. 

Finally here! It's a girl!
The waves were so incredibly intense it was like getting pounded by a tidal wave. I was trying so hard to find focus and meditate on my planned thoughts of perspective and even just control my breathing. It was a struggle and took my entire being. I labored in my tub from 2-5 am, the entire delivery. We had to refill it once  because it was getting cold, but it was a great help to me yet again. I'd labor in varying positions... reclined, sitting up, sort of squatting, all fours and back again... moving helped position our baby who was engaged, but high and moving positions too during the whole thing, which didn't feel great.  During my tidal wave contractions I would moan, remind myself "open", "out", "down into my arms" and try to visualize my opening relaxing cervix. Tim would give me sips of water, I drank 3 glasses during labor, and cool my head with a cloth. He kept telling me "it's only been an hour, you're doing amazing, that one did so much work, you know you're good at this, you've done this before..." All affirmations that I needed to be reminded of as I felt frustrated at the intensity and how this labor felt nothing like my other labors. 

Well, look at you!
At one point I asked for my progress to be checked as I really wanted to know when we could move on to pushing... I was 8cm, almost 9... but given the clear to "follow my body" as little pushes with a multipara (mama of many) can push the cervix out of the way... I did. After about 45 min I felt strong bearing down instincts and pushed quite aggressively several times. I checked myself and baby was NO where to be felt... I nearly cried! Beka checked again and found a cervical lip on one edge. She suggested laboring through 3 contractions on hands and knees to remove it... I did and amazingly they were very gentle contractions in comparison to what I had been feeling prior! After that I went back to pushing and my new labor mediation became "it's ok if you split in two... you won't, you'll just feel like it"! Haha! It was strangely encouraging to me. The first few pushes did nothing and I looked at my team and said "What is going on? It's not coming down!" I was so mad! I've literally pushed twice with some of my children! Tim suggested I try a modified hands and knees (with my tail more down in the water)... I was skeptical... but trusted him. Trust had been my word for labor and I realized I needed to apply this. 

Sweet relief! Baby on the outside! Thank you Lord!
After a few pushes in this position the baby got over the “speed bump” in it's way and over my pubic bone and came barreling down in one MASSIVE and long contraction! I was able to push from public bone/pelvis to head fully out in that one contraction, several pushes. I was seriously yelling/crazy grunting during this whole thing... it was crazy intense and also I was just surprised and unprepared for it. But, I soooo badly wanted to be done and have the baby out that I went with it! I was totally embarrassed however that I was so loud! Thank goodness our kids weren't around. 

After the head was out I got a rest and asked Beka who was assisting with the baby's head 
behind me if the baby was ok if I waited, she said yes. It took several pushes to release the rest of the body, which was odd for me, it usually just sort of slips out with a hearty push... but it soon did. Beka caught the baby and as I started to sit back the baby was passed between my legs to my waiting arms! I grabbed it up and said "I'm so glad you came out!!!" Then looked to see what it was... a girl! Our 5th daughter! I was happily surprised. I had totally thought the baby was a boy, but I had nothing but feelings of gladness to welcome my baby. Della Jane was covered in vernix from head to toe, I was given a shot of pitocin to help me not bleed too much and I got out of the tub... which I had totaled out in my massive push... it was SO gross! 
Joy our assisting midwife.

Della Jane
 (with some nice bruising along her brow)

Della's twin... look at it in comparison to the size of the chux pad!
They got me settled in bed, I delivered a massive placenta I affectionately called "Della's twin"... it was the size of a dinner plate and approximately 1 1/2 inches thick! The midwives jokingly said it's why Della was so happy and unwilling to be born “on time.” I remarked that no wonder I was cranky the last few weeks... I was carrying that around! I lost a fair amount of blood when it came and they wanted me resting in bed for a week due to that and my elevated BP, which took it’s sweet time coming down.

8 lbs 10 oz

Della Jane and I had wonderful skin to skin time, we had an uninterrupted hour as mama, daddy, baby, I got Della nursing while the Midwives got us food, switched the laundry, did dishes and picked up... as well as cleaned the "poop tub!" Bless them!

I couldn't do it with out you.
They did the newborn screen and their paperwork. They hung out and observed mostly me (due to the BP) until 11 am. Beka came back the next day to check on us. 

Oh! And Della had a 14 1/4 head! That said, due to pushing on hands and knees I didn't tear a bit... I had torn with all my others... I was very pleased about that and it made healing amazingly easy! I felt like that was kind of my reward for such a crazy labor. Della weighed in at 8 lbs 10 oz and was 19 inches long. 

Sweet baby girl!
When all was said and done this mama who's use to 4-5 hour labors ended up with a 20 hour long early or sporadic labor and had a 3 hour active and crazy intense labor... basically, a tiring long labor and a short intense labor all in one! It was NOT what I expected, but it was still good, I got to be at home and we have a healthy baby and I'm doing pretty good with amazing care! Very 

My Prize!

(photos by Foteem Photography)

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Welcome Sweet Baby Girl!

On January 3rd a little someone came to visit!

She was born at 5:19 am

Measured in at 8 lbs. 10 oz.

19 inches long!

All sweetness and complete joy!

Della Jane Miller
Our bright and gracious gift from the Lord!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Coming Baby, Coming Lord

A sweet friend recently sent me this Word encouragement in this time I'm in, 

"Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 21 When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you." - John 16:20-22
Recently, my motto, meditation, and nearly every breath has been partnered with the words "Lord, help me. Lord bring this baby soon. Lord allow it to come. Lord, deliver me from this." I know, I might be being a bit dramatic, but people, it's where I'm at. And I question if this isn't most women's late pregnancy thoughts.

I realized that this refrain is very fitting for the Advent season. 

While my focus is on the coming of a baby, and not directly spiritually related, I began to wonder were those Mary's meditations prior to her travel, "Lord, I don't want to have your Son on the road... please let him come now!" Or did she know she needed to get to Bethlehem to fulfill the prophecy? Were her words instead, "Oh Lord, please help me, sustain me while we travel... keep this baby from coming before your appointed time?" But, both held the anticipation or expectancy of the COMING of the incarnate Rescuer. They just held a different focus and perspective.

Aren't we, as Christians, really to be about both of these prayers as we look to the coming of our Lord? 

"Come, Lord Jesus, come!" we pray, meditate and say with every breath... and yet we also say, "Lord, please help us as we wait, sustain us until your appointed time of coming," because we know that none know the hour or time and the Lord's delay is a delay of mercy for those who are lost.

In our home we are focused on really one singular thing... readiness. It's nearly my obsession. Boxes have arrived filled to overflowing with (not Christmas presents) but will all manner of medical supplies, I've cleaned my room and bathroom and sanitized my tub more than is humanly possible, we all get our laundry done promptly so it's not backed up, we attempt to keep a full fridge (which is hard around here) and we keep things spotless and clean in anticipation for a small guest's arrival. Oddly, this guest could really care less how clean our house is or if we have the car seat installed yet, and would make it's self quite at home with a swaddle blanket, diaper and a warm chest to nuzzle on. But, we make ourselves ready... because we know the time is drawing close... not because we think we can actually, really, ever "be ready" on our own. 

We look for signs and are aware of current events. Tim will ask each morning, "How are you feeling today? What happened with you last night?" I google random things like "is a backache a sign of labor?" or read articles entitled "Signs of Labor You Shouldn't Ignore..." When signs of labor persist, then delay... We lament and rejoice. I look forward to the pain of labor knowing it will be of little consequence to the good I'll receive in the gift of a child.  My sorrow is present when some days I think, "How will I ever make it to the end... its so far away???" and dissolve into tears ... then an hour later I think "He (or she) is coming soon... it's not that far away!" As people of faith when we feel anguish and sorrow and the ever present prodromal labors that tire us and wear us down, at the struggle of sin and of the earth... yet at the very same time we know it's in preparation for a greater glory... its the glory of a joy that NO one can ever take away from us! In that we rejoice.

When baby does arrive we won't be thinking that we made it happen... it will just happen all of a sudden... when the time is fully done. 

Advent is a time of waiting... a time of expectations... and a time of entering in to both sorrow and rejoicing. It's a sweet time and also a time of struggle. Perhaps this is what is meant when we read, "Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart." At it's core Advent is a time all about treasuring and pondering. 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

How To: The Last Month of a Pregnancy

As I write I'm 37 weeks and 3 days pregnant or 2 weeks and 4 days until my due date, which I will tell you means absolutely nothing! But, when one is this far along one tends to count the days.

If it's been a hard one (or is currently hard) this is for you. If it's been a joy and you feel ok letting baby stay put as long as their little heart desires... happy day... keep reading too!

A little about me...
I am about to have my 7th baby... yep.
#1 was 13 days overdue
#2 was adopted at the age of 5
#3 was born on his due date (what a considerate child!)
#4 was 9 days overdue
#5 was adopted at the age of 1
#6 was 4 days overdue

... and we will just see what happens this time around. But, as you can see I've had my share of days (and "extra days") in late pregnancy. I've learned to cope... and when I haven't coped well, I learned things then too. Like ugly crying is totally ok. Just tell your children, "Mama is having a hard day, don't worry, I'll feel better after I am done." And you will.

My current status:
I am dog tired. I was up from 3:30 to 6 am with very strong Braxton Hicks contractions, a wiggly baby who wouldn't be settled and general discomfort. My pelvis feels like it's splitting in two every time I walk, and I have heartburn all hours of the day. Plus, (and maybe most of all) I just want to hold my baby and see who he/she is. And... I still have several (likely) weeks ahead of me and that is really discouraging me right now.

So without further delay, here's my list of ideas of ...
How To: The Last Month of Pregnancy!

Don't Focus on your Due Date... and tell anyone who is (including care providers) to step off...

Here's some pretty undeniable facts about why due dates are a load of bologna. The fact is you're likely to safely deliver the two weeks before or the two weeks after any date you or a care provider determine is a "due date", and typically, when a baby chooses to come on it's own is going to be the healthiest and easiest way to deliver them... not a forced induction your body isn't ready for or capable of (of course there are reasons and exceptions to this). If inductions need to be scheduled realize you can always call your provider and ask for a few more days... or make a "deal" with them. It's your body.

If people keep asking "Have you had that baby yet???" Send them this.

A watched pot never boils, as they say. With that in mind, let's move on...

Consider all the things you can be doing... while you wait.

The last month of pregnancy is best spent doing the following...

- Resting. Sleep in girl! Sleep til' noon, if you can. If you can't then move down the list...
- Prepping for baby... get your house spotless and savor the beautiful order. But, don't over do it.
- Enjoying time with your mate. Go on a date... or 4.
- See a movie... or 4.
- Read a book, because your hands will soon be full and holding a book and a baby is harder than you think.
- Stock up on supplies so you don't have to go shopping after baby arrives.
- Practicing a pain management technique. Even if you think you'll get that epidural... don't be fooled, you will be in pain... prepare yourself.
- Take a walk.
- Eat dates.
- Do squats.
- Make some freezer meals and stock up on easy prep food for postpartum.
- Make "Padsicles".
- Go to a La Leche League meeting... nursing might be difficult and getting support will help.
- Read some good, positive birth stories... HERE.
- Make some birth "affirmation" cards to post in your birthing space.
- Go see a chiropractor.
- Get a pre natal massage.
- Do yoga.
- Make sure your camera is in working order and learn how to take better photos.
- Make something, knit, sew, craft, write... be creative.

One of the most overlooked parts of the last month is making a plan for postpartum self-care...

The finish line isn't birth and getting your baby out... while that's important. The goal is overall wellness and your birth (baby's) and yours as a mama.

How are you going to take care of yourself? Learn about "lying in". Consider this plan...
3 days in/around your bed or room
3 days in/around your couch
3 days in/around your house

Investing in concentrated healing will help you SOOOO much in the long run. You need to realize the overall big picture of healing and restoring your body and the sacredness of time you have to set aside with your baby and family as you all adjust.

Set yourself up for postpartum before hand.

It's ok to rest, take it easy and not be "super woman" postpartum, you don't need to prove anything to anyone ... you have a literal gaping wound on your insides... and you and your little one need to adjust to life. Give this time what is required of it.

Give yourself GRACE!

This is my motto these days. I feel like I'm failing everyone and being a huge flop... relationally, physically and mentally. I'm just out of whack. But, the reality of my situation is that I'm exhausted, hurting, mentally preoccupied and sort of all focused relationally (emotionally) on this baby. I am in the last days of growing a HUMAN BEING! While 255 babies are born each minute around the world, that doesn't mean that we should dismiss the personal impact of such a sacred and wonderful act.
"Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world!" - John 16:20-22
If it's hard take care of yourself and realize this wonderful truth... they always come out. Each minute there are 255 new human beings to prove it! One way or another.  Rest in grace and let it be what guides you through this season of time!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Advent ~ 2016

Were studying the BIG PICTURE of God's redemptive plan... it's good news!

Everyone... almost. One is still cooking away. 

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Eli's Birth Story

Birth Stats...
Estimated Gestational Age: 40 weeks exactly
5 hours labor, 3 total pushes
7 lbs. 7 oz
Unmedicated, Midwife hospital, 2nd Birth

We decided to have our 2nd child at our local hospital, after having our 1st at a free standing midwife run birth center in Tennessee. We had just moved to a western town, with very open ideas and a long history of midwifery influence. Natural birth and breastfeeding are a fairly normative thing here. We felt confident that the hospital would be both safe and less likely to push unneeded interventions on us. We worked with a well established midwifery practice that practices hospital births. At the time we were also still slightly fearful about home birth or didn’t see it’s benefits. I enjoyed my experience with Southwest Midwives but also found that they did less to help me stay well and healthy and low risk than I had experienced at Lisa Ross Birth and Women’s Center. This frustrated me when I became anemic and when I had regular pregnancy issues. But, overall they were wonderful to work with!

I had a very easy pregnancy that whizzed by. It was slightly eye-opening to go to the required hospital tour and “class” (it was a joke) to see that we were really getting more of a hospital experience than we had before or really intended on. However, we charged ahead because the hospital allowed for the midwives to do water births (in the one tub they had, if you managed to be able to “get it”.) 

The day before my due date I lost my mucus plug and felt crampy. I called my parents who lived 8 hours away and told them they might want to come because we all planned for them to take care of our 2 year old while we were at the hospital. They rushed down. It was a cool late April day and I spent most of it rocking in a rocker and playing with Addie. At one point we walked with Tim over to the camp rec room to change lightbulbs and I had to stop walking and just wait the contraction out. 

My parents arrived at about 5pm and we ate a quick bite of food before going in to “get checked” by the midwife on call, Mary Louise, a veteran midwife who looked very much the part… half grandmotherly, half hippy with long gray braids. She was awesome! At 6pm I was at 4 cm and they said they would admit me because things were happening. 

I managed to get the room with the water birth tub! Thank goodness! It was a busy night at the labor ward. I didn’t get to see my midwife much at all during my birth, which was probably the saddest difference for me between my true midwife assisted 1st birth and this 2nd which felt more like an obstetrical model of care birth. I was handed off to a nice labor nurse who was South African. I remember thinking, “At least her accent is soothing.” She was helpful but busy too. At one point the poor woman next door to me was screaming like a mad woman… I mentioned to my nurse that I felt really bad for her and didn’t she have help. She said that she came in complete, after a fast first labor and they didn’t have time to give her the epidural she had planned on having. It made me so sad she didn’t have options to help her. 

Tim and I walked laps around the labor ward… we were the only ones. Everyone else was in bed and I wondered how in the world they could manage to stay put during labor! I’d make a round, go poo and then make another round. Later, I sat on a birth ball or sway by my bed … at some point the nurse check me and I was amazingly at 7cm and she said “I was allowed to get in the tub now…” I thought that was strange… it wasn’t about what I needed, but about arbitrary rules of how far dilated I was. I got in. It only filled half way before the plug would automatically pop up... at that level it wasn’t very effective … or hot enough. But I managed. 

My midwife checked on me once. Not quite there. Then my nurse came in, took a hook and with out telling me broke the bag of water. I was watching and was like “Hey! What are you doing?” Then she said, “There’s a bit of meconium in the water… you’ll have to get out” Which there wasn’t at all… (I later found out that the nurses didn’t like to deal with the water births and would often break the water without the midwife's present to claim there was meconium to require the mother to get out, weather or not here was was any in reality). Soon my midwife came in an checked me and I was getting “pushy”. The nurse was insistent that I “had to get out” per hospital requirements. The midwife “allowed” me to have a few more contractions in the water. Then they basically lifted me out of the tub and I thought “I’m going to drop this baby out of my on the way to the bed…” Sharing this with the midwife she hustled me to the bed were I literally pushed two or three times and out shot a much smaller baby than my 1st. It was nothing like pushing with my 1st.

The whole thing was sort of surreal-ly easy in comparison, and perhaps part of the reason I had opportunity to judge and critique the hospital experience. The baby was announced, “It’s a boy!” and he weighed in at a very amiable 7 lbs. 7 oz. 7 gms.  We named him Elias Carl after a bit of debate. He as born 20 minutes after 12 am. and really all I wanted was a glass of juice and a goodnights rest with my new baby at that point. But, the hospital had other plans… hearing screening, taking him for a bath (after midnight???) and all manner of requirements! 

As I’m getting patched up an orderly (man) walks right in and starts mopping… I asked that he leave, thankfully my midwife demands he come back later… he did, it was when I was trying to nurse my baby for the 1st time. It was just bazaar. My labor nurse says good bye and a my night nurse walks in. She proceeds to wake me up every hour all night long to take my vitals. Finally, I ask her to let me sleep because obviously I’m fine. It wasn’t fun. We try to sleep… Thankfully Elias does sleep and is amazing! 

We expect to see our midwife in the morning and a pediatrician and get cleared up and get to go home the next day… my after care nurse tells me “she doesn’t have time to help me take a shower” and I might pass out, so I’d have to wait to bathe after birth until I get home (so, I guess I can pass out alone there???). Lots of people coming in and out and just acting nosey in my opinion. I keep thinking, “Who are you? And why are you in my room?” 

Finally, my man tells the next nurse (who was a lot nicer) that we are going to leave by 2 pm and what do we need to do to make that happen… she helps us get out. We drive home… My mom sits and makes sure I don’t pass out while showering… we have a great meal and go to bed and sleep like rocks as Elias only wakes a few times that night. 

Personally, it was a slightly annoying experience, but probably an overall IDEAL hospital experience. I was well cared for (other than not being allowed to shower), not pushed into any thing unnecessary, and our overall wishes were respected. It was just different than what I had experienced before and I could feel the difference. 

On the way home Tim said, "I think we should have our next baby at home..." 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Life the last (few) months

I guess I've been busy!
Last post was in mid September!

Busy is an understatement.

I'm not even sure where to start.

For one... I'm HUGE. Baby is 35 weeks along and I really can't imagine how I'm going to make it to my due date. This one has been a doosy (that's an understatement as well). I've never before felt like I would want to be induced (I still don't) but for real... I can't imagine still being pregnant on December 27th. Lots of prayers for the Lord's help going up all day... and night.

We've taken another trip to Washington to lay my father in law to rest. That was hard, but very sweet.

We've worked a ton on our house. Wish it was almost done... but it will be a long process. We hope to be in it by the end of next summer.



Camp stuff.


Running back and forth to property.


Grocery shopping.

Learning lessons.


It's full. It's good.