Saturday, November 29, 2008

Jackson Cole is here!

He arrived Wednesday at 2:45pm, after 9 hours of labor and 30 minutes of pushing. Cole was 9lbs. 4oz, 21 1/4 in. long, and he has dark hair! I will write out an extended birth story soon...I went into labor on my own early Wed. morning, and the birth was without any interventions or medication. Don't ask me right now whether I'd do it again LOL - but we're just delighted that God saw fit to answer our requests as He did! The recovery so far, compared to the cesarean, has been great. I couldn't believe I could walk after just 5-6 hours, and took a shower the next day...

Cole is a good-natured baby so far. Very alert, laid-back, easy-to-please (mama milk and a clean diaper!). Graeme is fascinated by his baby brother. He likes to give him kisses and is very gentle with him. He also is enjoying nursing! I feel a bit like a milk-machine right now, but I know we'll all settle into a routine soon. Graeme really impressed us with how well he responded to everything...he rose to the occasion like the big boy he is.

Enough chat - some pictures!




Saturday, November 22, 2008

Blessings...

...no baby yet, so the biggest blessing is yet to come :-)

But at my appointment on Thursday, we had an OB who we really like. She had a c-section with her first, then 4 VBACs with her next children...so she is both supportive and understanding about the issues surrounding a VBAC. She wanted to know how sure we were of my due date - if we knew when conception was. I explained to her that I was still nursing, and had no idea when conception was, as my cycles were still so irregular. (She told me she actually tandem nursed with a few of her children, which was cool, because that's not exactly a mainstream concept!) She was able to strip my membranes, and said I am 75% effaced and the cervix is very soft - 2.5 cm dilated still. The baby's head was nice and low again.

So she went to talk to Dr. Taylor, the head OB, and came back and said we could schedule an induction for either Monday or Friday. We first said, "Friday, like tomorrow?!" No, she meant NEXT Friday - as in, I'll be 42 weeks and 5 days next Friday! We were shocked. That would not happen in most hospitals, but she was very relaxed about it. She is also of the opinion that this baby isn't a gigantic one, definitely not in the 10lb range like Graeme was (who knows, really, but, hey!) so they're comfortable letting me go that long.

We *almost* went with Monday, but are still convinced that it is much better to let my body go into labor on its own as opposed to induction, so we set it up for Friday. She told me to pig-out on Thanksgiving dinner and come in at 5am on Friday morning :-) (She's the attending OB both Monday and Friday. We'd love to have her deliver our baby!)

The membrane sweep caused me to have contractions 5 min. apart for 2 hours early Friday morning - I called labor and delivery, assuming they would want me to come in, but they said to wait to see if they got any closer together...and sure enough, I went back up to bed and they faded off. I was disappointed - thought that was "it" for sure!

So I am continuing to learn that if your body is not ready for labor, nothing you do can force it to "go". As Ivy said in a comment recently (I loved this!), God has the baby's birthday picked out...and He's the only one!

I continue to have spouts of prodomal labor...it can be quite intense, which tends to get me excited. So I'm striving to basically ignore anything, so as not to exhaust myself!

I can't imagine what it's like to go into labor early, or to not have any contractions until, boom, it's the real thing!

I told Mark that with our next baby, I'm going to determine what I think the due date is, then add 2 weeks to that date! That way I don't stress myself or anyone else out about being "late". LOL!

I'm not "late". I'm exactly where my body is designed to be. So we wait, with expectation that God will continue to lead and provide.

Oh, and my doula decided to cancel her out-of-town Thanksgiving plans just to be available for my possible induction on Friday! I didn't expect her to make that choice, but was very grateful, as we really have a nice connection, and Mark and I both feel really comfortable with her. That was just an added blessing!

Monday, November 17, 2008

'Nother update...

The non-stress test was fine. The little guy kept moving around, but fortunately the tech had a sense of humor and just laughed and kept adjusting the fetal monitor. I was only supposed to be hooked up for 20-30 minutes - ended up on there for an hour b/c the doctor was delivering a baby...so that was a little uncomfortable.

I was amazed to see some of the mainstream medical practice "in action" - this is my first experience with all the medical intervention stuff, since we worked towards a birth center/home birth last time...I will admit that I fervently hope to have a successful VBAC this time so that I feel more comfortable with a home birth next time. It's so much more enjoyable of an experience.

The dr. didn't even check my chart to see that 1) I was a VBAC and 2) I was Group B Strep positive. She came in the room and said, "Let's schedule an induction! How's tomorrow?" - I then told her I was a VBAC, and she quickly retracted that offer - "Oh, well, we don't like to induce a VBAC, so we'll wait, then." There was an intern with her (aren't you typically asked if it's okay with you to have an intern examine you? I wasn't even asked...). They did an ultrasound to check my fluids, which were great, more than ample amount of fluid. Then the Dr. did a vaginal exam, then had the intern check and asked what he thought my cervical position was. He said - 4cm and -3 station. No way! she replied. "She's only at 2cm and I can't even feel the head!" She proceeded to check me AGAIN! So I was given 3 vaginal exams - only giving more opportunity to sweep that GBS bacteria into the uterine area (sigh!). If I make it to Thursday, I will be checking in advance and specifically requesting only one vaginal exam, please!

So she could not sweep my membranes again, which I was hoping for, b/c the head had gone back up, and if she did the sweeping, it could push the head even further out of the birth canal.

Now, the positive is that none of this really means anything. It's funny how dr.s feel like they just have to have a number to tell some kind of "progress". The reality is, mamas go into labor at all kinds of dilations - so someone who might be 1cm dilated could go into labor the next day and have a 6 hour labor...and someone who is 4cm dilated may take 18 hours to get to 10cm!

It was a fun trip (tongue in cheek!) that basically told me nothing helpful, except what I knew, that baby and I are doing fine :-)

She even suggested that I jump up and down to get the baby's head further down. That was pretty funny. She was serious, bless her heart!

Hoping we don't make it to Thursday for another non-stress visit...but oh well. We have a week before the "final straw" - they will induce me on Monday if nothing happens before then. Prayerfully, we won't make it to that point :-)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Update...

...the brief version: Nothing is happening :-)

The longer version: Sweeping the membranes didn't hurt nearly as much as I remember from last time. Dr. Fugate said it was b/c my cervix has really dropped, so it was easier to access. Apparently I misunderstood last week and I was only at 2.5cm dilated last week, this week it was a very stretchy 3cm.

We had the "what to do next" discussion. She feels baby is around 8.5lbs by now...I'm sure she's close! I gained 5lbs in one week, which is what happened with Graeme - those last 4 weeks, I gained 5lbs every week! Okay, I'll admit that I indulged a few times this week (had ice cream for the first time in weeks LOL!), but not enough to cause a weight gain of 5lbs!! I don't know what it is about my body. I've felt a little swollen some days, so a bit of it may be water retention. Sigh.

If I make it through the weekend without labor, I go to the hospital for non-stress tests next Monday and Thursday. Thursday, Dr. Taylor, the head OB, will see me and discuss our options. There are two: 1) They do a teeny bit of pitocin to kick-start contractions - or break my water, or both. I will be interested to see what he thinks about that. Dr. Fugate felt comfortable giving me just a bit of pitocin, but I recall Dr. Taylor being rather hesitant to use it, as it does increase my risk for a uterine rupture. I'll be doing research on that in the coming days. 2) schedule a cesarean.

I woke up quite discouraged, as nothing happened overnight. I visit several forums that support natural birth and VBACs...and I read posts all the time about natural induction methods - and it seems I am quite in the minority as far as this stuff just doesn't seem to work for me. With Graeme, I learned that if the baby doesn't wanna come out, nothing you do will get labor started. But I was sincerely hoping that this time, since I've been having contractions off-and-on for, what, 4 weeks?!, that maybe the membrane strip would be what I need. Now, it could still help - maybe today, right? But it is easy to get into the trap of hoping and longing for labor to happen all day - whether I'm having some contractions, so I think "This is it!" or with the membrane stripping: "Surely something will happen now!" Honestly, I was hoping to be one of those like I've read about - that 6 hours later, they're in labor! What is up with my body?! Castor oil, cohosh, EPO, walking (and walking and walking)...hey, even the pineapple and the eggplant parmesan - none of these things seems to do anything for me! Mark jokingly suggested jumping up and down on a trampoline??!!!

Most of all, my struggle is trusting God. It is a constant battle within my heart and mind to submit to the Truth - God's Words to me - instead of believing the doubts, fears and frustrations that fill my feelings. Many times, I *know* the Truth, but my *feelings* don't match, and I have to really do battle within my spirit. I thought this morning "What can I do today to keep my spirits up?" And it occurred to me the answer was in The Spirit - not in boosting my "spirits". I humbly ask that ya'll would pray for me, that the Spirit would have full reign over my spirit.

Mark has a way of encouraging me so well, and his words yesterday helped me. As the verse says,"God's ways are not our ways; His thoughts are not our own". And further, God's way is always best. If God knows that a vaginal birth is the very BEST thing for me and our baby, He will cause my body to go into labor at just the right time and in just the right way. There is no mistake in God's way of doing things. Mark showed me that I tend to focus on the wrong parts of this - I focus on how I want it to be, and second-guess and doubt when it doesn't seem to work out my way...but isn't my body in God's hands? If He wants me to go into labor, I will. If the end result of all of this is once again a c-section, no one has failed. We did everything we could this time around to support a natural birth...and if God does not grant us one, there is a reason for it, whether I ever see it or not.

It is hard to know which "side" to take this time around. Yes, Graeme was a big baby. But from all accounts, my body can handle it. The midwife-model of care believes that in most cases, our bodies do not make babies "too big" for the woman's pelvis (obviously there are exceptions). [Pessimistically, I have to ask: when do you begin to believe that you are an exception??!] My 5'3" mother birthed two almost 10lb babies naturally...both post-date by 3 weeks. So from the midwives perspective, I have a genetically greater chance of going post-date and having a big baby. Some woman "cook" babies longer.

From the medical community, we have the perspective that going past 42 weeks statistically increases your risks...the longer you go past that point. Dr. Fugate tried to do the scare-tactic on me - basically that the reason I couldn't birth Graeme last time was that he was "too big" for me, b/c I went so late (how does she know this?). However, my surgical report states that I was +3 station (that's as low as the baby can be without his head being out!) and 8cm dilated - I had actually gotten to almost 10 when we were pushing at home. The doctor offered forcep or vacuum delivery as options - but he felt that b/c of the funky position Graeme's head was in, being OP and kinda wacky, he felt a c-section was the best option. So the needed changes this time were: keep baby in a good position and try to clear my diet of things that might contribute to over-growing a baby (I've worked hard at this, but what can I say?!) Since we've chosen a hospital birth, they won't LET me go 43 weeks, unless I were to simply not show up for a schedule c-section! That's part of the pressure I'm feeling.

We definitely learned a lot last time. The trouble is knowing what knowledge to apply when. Meanwhile trying to keep it all in the perspective that "God's way is best".

So, though I definitely ask you to pray that God would grant us a natural, vaginal birth with a healthy mama and healthy baby, I also ask that our thoughts, feelings, and decision-making would be guided by the Spirit of God, who alone knows what is best for us.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tomorrow....

...I go to the dr. and she's going to sweep my membranes. (Info here and here)

According to the research, stripping the membranes is a relatively safe and usually effective means of inducing labor, **if** the mama's body is ready for it. I will mention that my midwife did this with me when I was trying to induce Graeme's labor, and it wasn't the "magic" that one would hope for. This pregnancy is quite different, of course, the baby is in a good position, I'm already at least 3cm dilated (prob. 4 by now!) so I feel fairly positive about it. Pray for me, as I'm actually a wimp when it comes to inflicted pain. I was surprised at how much of a trooper I ended up being during Graeme's acutely long labor. The pains of labor are at least productive and have a little being wrapped up in them...inflicted pain is entirely different, in my opinion! So I don't like the membrane-stripping :-( But if it works, it's totally worth it.

I spent the afternoon and evening preparing a double-batch of lasagna and two chicken pot pies for the freezer...I figured I might as well do some meal preparation, as most everything else is as ready as it's going to be.

Thanks to everyone who's reading who is praying and thinking about us. We appreciate it so much! :-)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My All-Natural Household Cabinet (Part 1)

Emily's post inspired me to create my own list and product review of the natural bath and home products that we use. I always find it interesting to read what other people use, so hopefully this helps someone :-) I run a Frontier cooperative through my yahoo group (see link on the left side) - it allows me to purchase many products I would not otherwise be able to afford...anyone is welcome to join the group! I won't be running another co-op until probably January, maybe December...depends on how adjusting to baby #2 is going. My friend, Bridget, runs them too - we alternate months.

Bi-O-Kleen Products (I purchase these on Drugstore.com b/c Frontier does not carry them. Once you purchase from Drugstore, you get credits for purchasing, and they often send incentives to get you to buy again, and with the free shipping, it turns out to be a good deal.

Bac-Out - Love this stuff! I use it for any elemental stain/odor issue, whether it be laundry or carpet or kitchen. Sprayed on poopy diapers, it helps neutralize odor and starts the cleaning process while they sit in the pail. Sprayed on Poco (our chihuahua's) stains on the carpet, it neutralizes the odor and effectively removes stains. I squirt a bit in an especially dirty load of laundry, such as in my kitchen towels (we use un-paper towels, so sometimes there's dried milk, food, etc. on the towels) or diapers.

Automatic Dish Powder
This is the *best* natural dishwasher powder! It smells fabulous, you only need to use 1T., and it works wonderfully.

Soy Cream Cleaner for Bathroom and Kitchen
I like this, too, though it's not as exciting as the other Bi-O-Kleen products I've used...If you like a cream cleanser, this one is great. I use it mainly for sinks and toilets. The smell is not as wonderful as the other Bi-O-Kleen products, which is probably why I'm not as excited about it LOL! But it works fine, so I'm not sure what else I should expect.

Dishwash Liquid, Lemon Thyme
Mmm, another yummy smelling Bi-O-Kleen product! I will say that it doesn't suds very much, which does not mean it's not cleaning - suds are a mental thing for us, really. So it's a little thing that I have to admit I miss when I use this. I also feel like I have to use more than I think I should, to feel like things are clean. I recently tried a "fresh and natural" dishwashing soap from the grocery store - I think Palmolive brand - and honestly, it does clean better than this product. So I'm not sure that I'd get it again. I'd probably recommend the Dr. Bronner's over this for dishwashing...but this one smells great ;-)

Oxy-Bleach Alternative
With GSE, this contains naturally deoderizing agents, and it works almost as good as bleach for whitening. I often soak any white shirts that have stains in the sink with a scoop of this. I add 2T to my diaper load every few loads, to freshen and whiten. Like all the Bi-O-Kleen products, it smells fabulous :)

Life Tree Fresh & Natural Bathroom Cleaner
Just got this a few weeks ago and I cannot rave about it enough! Made with Tea Tree Oil and Lavender Oil, it smells wonderful - as I clean my bathrooms, I am treated to a relaxing aromatherapy experience! With no harsh chemicals or smells to worry about, I feel fine if Graeme "helps" me clean the bathroom (which is an added bonus - he can start learning at a young age!). And it works! I was frankly quite surprised at how well it works. Now, I haven't tried it to remove mildew or anything, as we haven't had too much of a problem with that here, but as an all-purpose bathroom cleaner, this stuff is awesome. In the Frontier co-op, it was around $3.00, which is quite reasonable. I am planning on trying some of their other products.

Dr. Bronner's Liquid Soap
Another deal I buy from Frontier, Dr. Bronner's works for lots of things. I've used it as a dishwashing soap, mixed my own kitchen spray with it, mop floors...I like the new orange scent for the kitchen. I will say that the castille after-scent is a little strong for me - so when I used it as a spray, sometimes it would annoy my nostrils. So I actually don't reach for it a ton, compared to some of my other products - however, I know of a lot of people who "swear" by Dr. Bronner's.

Deep Steep Liquid Hand Soap
This is a recent area I decided to make a change in - I've just been using Dial liquid antibacterial hand soap for our sink soap. But, after recently reading on how the over-use of antibacterial products is adding to the increase in anti-bacterial-resistant strains of bacteria, I decided to try to "naturalize" this area of our household - since Deep Steep was on sale last month at Frontier, I decided to try it. I have three scents: Rosemary Mint (kitchen), Tangerine Melon (guest bath), Lavender Chamomile (kids bath). I like all three for where they are. The scents are exactly as described. The Tangerine Melon, however, is the most yummy smell - it got raves from my dinner guests last week! I think they were making excuses to use it LOL! Definitely a beautiful hand soap.
I will also comment that first, I transferred us to using bar soap at the sink - but it just makes such a mess. I was using it in the kitchen as well, but realized that it was not the best choice for washing up after handling raw meats - the bacteria will sit on the soap and multiply...so though I valiantly tried to do the bar soap thing, it just isn't my favorite.

Alrighty, this turned out to take a bit, and we need to get lunch, so this will be Part 1! I'll come back to post bath/body products. :-)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Early Christmas present - BRIO!






So our son is definitely all-boy. We found a Brio train table with a full set of tracks and lots of trains on Craigslist for $200! (Exactly like this one) Came with, I don't know, 50+ pieces of track; several buildings and stations and bridges and stuff; and maybe 25+ trains/vehicles! Considering some of the trains themselves are $50 and the stations and such are $20+ each, and all the track...we were SO excited to find it!

It's in great shape (the only catch is they GLUED the track together - it's like hot glue or something, so it comes apart fairly easily and is cleaning up fine - but I would have never imagined to GLUE the track together! That's the whole point, right? Creativity? Design?) It will be part of his Christmas present from us and I believe one of his grandparents wanted to contribute :-)

Graeme needed NO instruction. He sat by the car for the longest time, taking each train out of the bag, one by one, playing with it, making "choo-choo" sounds...he was completely focused and amazed! The timing of this is perfect, as he has just in the past few weeks started *really* "playing" with vehicles, legos, stuff like that - putting them together, making noises, scooting them around - spending lengthy amounts of time doing this. So this track is going to give him hours of play for many, many years to come - and his brother I'm sure will enjoy it too!

Quick baby update...

Saw the OB yesterday. She wanted to strip my membranes, which I declined - maybe next week (appt. is Thursday) if I haven't had baby by then. I don't want to risk my water breaking quite yet if my body isn't ready.

I'm 3cm dilated, 50% effaced and the baby's head is quite low...so, definitely ready to go! Baby's back is right in front still. She's still saying he's not huge yet, so that's good, though who knows, really.

I can tell you my hormones are saying they're ready - I'm struggling with being easily irritated and irrational (more than usual, that is ;-) I'll have contractions every once in a while, like this morning, kind of off-and-on all morning. Nothing serious though.

Mark's whole platoon is on "baby-alert" LOL! Even the commanding officer of Quantico is aware (I'm sure not holding his breath or anything, but the whole chain of command is aware...) They're taking up a collection for a baby gift. Mark doesn't know that many in his platoon right now, so I think that's awfully nice of them.

Please continue to pray that this little guy will make his appearance sooner rather than later; that we will have patience and wisdom with each decision we have to make during the process; that I will feel better soon (I've got a cold/achy bug of some sort just showed up today) to have strength for the labor; and my "dream/desire" is to have not necessarily the shortest labor or easiest (though those would be awesome!) but to have a SAFE, NATURAL delivery. I would love to not tear very much. I would love to only have to push an hour or two. I'd love to have the baby during the daytime so Graeme doesn't have the trauma of trying to go to sleep with a stranger (he's still nursing to bed, so this is going to be interesting...). And I, obviously, greatly desire to avoid a c-section this time :-) So minimal intervention is the key, as well as going into labor sooner - the later I go, the more they talk about wanting to do something (even though I haven't even hit the due date yet!)

Ok, that wasn't so short LOL! Hope to have a new one to share pics of VERY soon!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Verse for today

Proverbs 21:1 "The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will."

Kingdoms rise and fall according to God's providence. I'm thankful to be reminded this morning that all things are in Christ's control - the King of all kingdoms and Lord of all men!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Picking up sticks

My son's latest fascination: collecting sticks! The way Graeme says it is more like "tic". We got him out of the car from church (after he took a nap on the way home - hence the half-awake look) and he proceeded to walk around the yard (even though it was "coooooohhhhold") and collect as many sticks as he could cram into one hand.


And here's a video so you can hear some of Graeme's latest verbalizations :-D

video