Sunday, August 24, 2014

Waiting Out Baby (Im)Patiently

WARNING: I am going to talk about 'woman stuff' so if you are squeemish please exit now.

There is a song called Tick Tick Boom by The Hives. I feel that song. Well, at least the chorus. Stupidly I thought this being pregnancy number two I would have more patience... let nature just unfold. Nature is a cruel mistress and my body just loves to screw with my head. Not only did I start having Braxton Hicks contractions at 14 weeks but I also started to show real signs of labor at 33 weeks by losing my mucus plug and discovering I was already 50% effaced and 1 cm. Now I have daily rounds of stronger contractions that always lead to nowhere and the baby dropped about 5 days ago (while I was walking in a store no less) and I have swelled up in the past couple days which caught me by surprise and my poor wedding band paid the price. I have nested about as much as I can, I don't think I have ever kept the laundry this ahead ever! My room is spotless, birth kit sitting ready to be pulled out at a moments notice. I have rested, I have kept busy, I have bounced on the ball, walked through the mall pushing a stroller, lifted heavy stuff, cleaned, worked on a puzzle, gone to bed early, googled labor signs 1000 times (funny they always stay the same!). Seriously, I feel the madness starting. Sure, I can reason that my efforts are futile, the little booger will come when he gosh darn pleases. But, really? Why does my body need to tease me with being ridiculously ready for labor without actually going into labor? Yes, my due date is 3 weeks away... see my point! It's like packing for a trip 3 weeks in advance, dumb and frustrating cause you have to wait and stare at those bags.

Now, if I were a midwife I would just say that my body just likes to prepare early, relax and just let nature take it's course! Take a walk, a bath, have a glass of wine, etc., etc. I got it.

Please understand, I do not wish anything ill to happen to my baby, he can and will cook until he's ready. I am not complaining out of dislike of pregnancy, matter of fact I will miss being pregnant shortly after I give birth! It is a most sacred time, no one else can feel what you feel when you get kicked in the liver or the little one has hiccups. Your body does the most amazing things in pregnancy and in a matter of hours it will evict the nine months of hard work into the world only to go back to it's original state in a matter of weeks or months. Pretty freaking cool if you ask me. And, really, most of my frustration is because I just want to meet the little guy! Ok, being able to bend over would also be a nice perk. So as to avoid ranting again I won't post again til I give birth. Until then I will just:


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Preparing For a Home Birth

I am planning my second home birth. When I planned and prepared last time I thought I had it down to a science. Well, I was only 21! Three years and a whole lot of humbling life later and I have kind of come down off the birthing high horse. A lot of this has to do with the birth experience that I had with my daughter (which you can read about here). While I was very open minded to just letting the process unfold on it's own I was completely unprepared for its entirely in every way but having the supplies ready. I had a very long active phase, unusually long pushing phase and finished it off with an ambulance ride to retrieve my stupid stuck placenta (anyone else heard of a chorion accreta?). While my birth was beautiful in it's own way, we really didn't plan for the 'what ifs' or even stick to what few things were on my birth plan. Really. No music, no massage or other comfort measures, no walks. Partly this was just how I was feeling. After laboring all day (early labor), once I entered real active labor late in the afternoon I just withdrew into myself and didn't really know how to communicate or let anyone try to help me. I was hard to read and because of this I ended up laboring much longer than necessary. It wasn't awful, but looking back it was kind of a hot mess! Yet at the same time it was birth in it's most simple form (minus the placenta thing). I will go over both how I physically prepare and how I am preparing my birth team to best support me through this labor.

The first thing you need (besides an awesome midwife) is a place to birth in. A home birth seems pretty self explanatory but take some time to find where you gravitate to when you are stressed in need of comfort. For me it's my bedroom, for others it may be their living room or even somewhere outside like a porch. While it is good to have this place in your mind's eye, be open to this location changing while in labor (you wouldn't believe how many babies are born on toilets!). After you have decided on your birthing room there are some things you will want to do to make it ready:

-Clean. While you will want to do a good deep clean (or have a friend/ family member do it for you) around 37 weeks of your whole house, there are some special considerations for your birth room I have found promote a more peaceful environment. The first thing I started to do is organize and clear out any clutter or storage that is not essential. In my case I have a basement at my new house in which to store all that I am clearing out, but others can either just brutally purge, make use of storage in a room you don't use much or at the least clean out a closet and use that. Clutter has been proven to induce stress and even sleeping disorders and it also just makes your room harder to keep clean. After you organize, do an extra good cleaning and maintain it with touch ups until birth. For me this has been moving furniture to get dust bunnies of gross proportions, washing my window, vacuuming extra extra well, and wiping down my walls for cobwebs and smudges. The second room I highly recommend making an extra effort in is the bathroom(s). Not only will you be in it a lot but your birth team will be needing potty breaks too! Really get your tub and shower clean in case you labor in them and remember to wash the floor and toilet good because most mamas end up throwing up at some point.

-Gather your supplies. Your midwife will give you a list of supplies or instructions to order a pre-made birth kit from a supplies company that will contain all of the 'medical' items. You will likely also be given a list of 'household' items to collect. Here is what mine is:

2 sets of old sheets
cheap plastic shower curtain
4 towels
8 washcloths
3-4 baby hats
newborn outfit and diaper
8 receiving blankets
new roll of paper towels
roll of toilet paper
3 trash bags
small bottle of olive oil (unopened)
flashlight with fresh batteries
heating pad
crock pot
large cookie sheet or tray
2 large stainless steel bowls
package of maxi pads
baby carseat (installed in your car)
honey sticks*
Vitamin Water*
instruction sheet for Montana Man and in case of emergency*
nursing tank and pads*
camera with fresh batteries and extras*

(* items that are my own additions)

During labor and birth items

Baby's first outfit. All the extra hats are for when the first few get birth 'stuff' on them!

Something for me to wear right after as well as things I will need in the following week.

All of this and my midwives' medical kit are packed neatly into a tote. If you are packing in a tote it's a good idea to put things you will need first on top like your sheets and plastic shower curtain because you will need to make up your bed as soon as you go into labor. After that you can either slowly layout things if your labor is still mild or leave it to an attendant. It's a good idea to scope out a good flat surface in your birthing room for everything to be laid out, mine is a large bedside table and the cookie sheet that can follow me around. The midwives also bring a few bags of their own things and an oxygen tank.

A nice and appreciated touch in case you have a long labor is little thank you kits for your attendants. I am hoping to have things gathered like Larabars, single wrapped facial cleansing towelettes, lip balm, something to freshen breath, etc. As someone who has attended a long birth that ended the next morning, I know how much you need a freshening and pick me up after hours of serving the mama. Might not be a bad idea to also keep your towels clean in case your midwives want a shower before rushing off to another birth or going home to crash.

Make a simple plan and put it on the fridge. Trust me, if you write out even an elaborate birth plan and don't put it somewhere obvious, in the throws of labor you and your partner will completely forget. We did last time! Even if you want to keep it super organic and just go with the flow, think about practical things that your brain won't while in labor land. Like, if you go into labor in the middle of the night... unlock the front door so your birth team can just come right in. Other things to consider might be checking animals are fed and watered, the clothes washer is empty, you have toilet paper, you have snacks. These are things you think you will just remember but trust me, you won't. Let your list speak for you! Attendants will appreciate a "go to" when you are busy with contractions.

Have a meal plan! Please, please, please, think about this ahead of time. Whatever you would feel like eating after, say, the stomach flu is most likely what you will want to eat after birth. And, trust me, no meal will ever taste so good after you pushed your child into the world! I personally like breakfast food and will be preparing waffles that can be heated up in the toaster. After you think of what you want to eat, think of an easy meal to put in the crock pot or in the oven when labor starts or shortly after for everyone else. Check with your midwives ahead of time for allergies or preferences and go with a simple something. Keep ingredients either in the fridge or all made in the freezer so someone else can take care of it with written instructions. Having simple snacks like fruit, canned soup, crackers and cheese and nuts are also nice for quick fuel ups either for mama or birth team.

Ok, you might be reading this and be a little annoyed about how focused I am on preparing for the birth team... I mean they can just fend for themselves right? Yes and not so fast. Unlike at a hospital your midwife has no idea when she will be attending a birth and sometimes she will be going straight from one birth to another with no time to restock her own care kit. Sure, you are paying her for a service but I would hope you would see her as a friend coming into your home. With a little thought and preparation ahead of time you can create an awesome birthing environment not just for you but everyone there to serve you.

Yes, the changing table really does hold everything the little guy needs! Clothes, cloth and disposable diapers, blankets, etc. Everything is washed and put away.

Two 'luxury' items I love for a newborn: a co-sleeping bed for between the pillows in the big bed and my Boppy pillow.

And, last but not least, enjoy this preparation and adopt a positive attitude! Generations of women have prepared for their births and newborns with glad hearts and anticipation. As a few of us bring back 'the old ways' lets also bring back the old attitude that children are both a blessing and worth celebrating and show others that is how we feel. Show appreciation for those supporting you and their heart will be that much more giving in return. One of the things that always stayed with me from reading Spiritual Midwifery was how Ina May talked about the mother's attitude during labor and how it effected everyone else. It's hard to want to be kind and supportive to a negative and whiny person despite whether they are a laboring mom or not. Be open about your fears in the weeks before and during birth. If the pain is overwhelming you, just say so! But, honestly, I found I was so much stronger in my long labor by not allowing myself to say anything negative even in my head. Because of that I never felt like it was beyond my capacity. It was pain yes, but it had a rhythm which I learned well. Embracing your birth story as it happens is something no one else can do but you.

Monday, August 4, 2014

It's August? Already?

It seems it's been a few weeks! I was on a good roll of weekly or more postings but as I expected, I ran into a lack of motivation and brain power to keep up my pace. At this point the days are going so fast I am having a hard time remembering what day it is, it all runs together in my world! Thank goodness for calendars. In order not to bore you I will just post some pictures and give a summary of the madness that is my life.

Eighth month belly

I am 33 weeks and now see my midwives every 2 weeks and just had a prenatal last Wednesday. Baby is head down now but is favoring being posterior at the moment so I am trying to remember to lay on my left side to encourage him to lay on my left side too. Being posterior means that he is facing forward and has his back pressed against mine. While this is not a problem for us right now, in labor it can create quite a lot of unpleasant things like back labor (think of having a bowling ball being pressed with unnatural force against your tail bone from the inside, it hurts like nothing else), a slower labor and much more effort in pushing. Posterior isn't dangerous or really "bad" but it is nothing us mom's who forgo pain medication want to experience! So I am praying and working on getting him to cooperate. Other than that I am measuring right on track, no major things to complain about and am generally functioning a lot better than I expected for this far along. Only about 4-7 weeks to go! I will be doing a post on how I am preparing for my second home birth and what my hopes are for Labor Day (not the holiday, the one where I give birth silly).

This one Rutgers is loaded! The other is catching up.

The garden I have kind of slowed down with. Everything is growing but I badly needed to do some maintenance including a good dose of watering for the indoor plants. All the potted plants outside are getting regular water with the plethora of rain storms and showers we have had but I have neglected the indoor plants a little in the past couple weeks. Everything needs a fresh dose of liquid fertilizer and inside needs a good soaking. I am harvesting a few beautiful ripe Glacier tomatoes now as well as Northeaster pole beans, all my carrots were pulled this last week (I chose to harvest them at what I call the finger size), Swiss chard is still cranking out 1-2 full cuttings a week and the leaf beet really needs a good harvest. Cucumbers are thriving and should be giving us fruits to pick by mid to late this month. My onions are going to be a bitter disappointment this year I am afraid, my fault as they have not had enough full sun to bulb properly. Some have made tiny bulbs about the size of a large marble but most are still strait and no thicker than a fat pensils.


San Diego Pastes

The chicks are 8 weeks old now and are growing like crazy. Most of them have successfully feathered out completely but there are a few that are struggling with this and look a little like awkward teens. I lost two of my Buff Rocks to a mystery ailment that involved a swollen or blocked up sack in their necks, fluffed feathers and sleepiness. They died within 3 days of first symptoms. I have no idea if this was a contagious illness or it was merely a coincidence but they died within a week of each other. None others so far have seemed to come down with what ever it is. One of my Partridge Cochins was damaged either during sorting or shipping from the hatchery and has a malformed leg. Because of this she was being picked on badly as well as my little rare breed Silver Polish who both ended up with open wounds. I separated them from the rest of the flock and since then with more attention to entertainment, I have not had anymore bad pecking problems. I will keep 'Gimpy' and 'Weirdo' in their own space until most of the roosters have gone to the butcher. I will send them by breed not only to make it more manageable money wise (30 birds would cost about $90 all at once) but also so I can keep track of what breeds preformed the best in meat production. The Light Brahmas will likely be the first batch as they are the largest and most in numbers (which I won't do until after I have recovered fully from birth). I will be extremely thankful when we have a freezer full of organic homegrown meat again!

The barn is kind of a mad house

And, last but not least, the house. We have been approved for a construction loan! Thank you and praise to Jesus! While we have a bit of a process to complete until closing, we will be closing hopefully sometime in September and getting back on the fast track. Obviously this means we will not be in our house before the baby comes but we should have the ok to move in before Thanksgiving or sooner depending on... well it's construction so everything! I do see why people who have the means hire crews to build their house! Building it yourself takes about four times as long. But, at the end of this we get to live in a house where we are reminded of the achievement everyday and for what most people pay for a tiny fixer-upper. The best part is we have designed it to be exactly what we want and to be low cost in utilities, a blessing beyond words here in Maine.

I plan on finishing up some more projects in my room and then I will do that home birth prep post!

Til next time.