Sunday, July 31, 2005

Birth Story

The Miracle of Lochlan’s Birth

On Saturday, July 30th, in the wee hours of the morning-2 AM to be exact-I was experiencing contractions. The past week I had had Braxton Hick’s contractions which were so minor that sometimes I could only tell that I was having one by seeing my stomach contracting (by seeing the outline of the womb or the baby’s back). On this particular morning, the contractions were quite painful, similar to menstrual cramps and were in regular intervals by ten minutes. I was only able to sleep in the ten minutes between contractions. Each time I had one, I would squeeze Nick’s shoulder to help me focus on breathing instead of the pain. Finally, at 6 AM, I decided to get up, frustrated that I could not sleep. I ate breakfast and then checked the internet to determine the difference between Braxton-Hicks contractions and labor pains. I was surprised to find that the Braxton-Hicks contractions could be painful. From what I could glean of the website, it seemed that I was having Braxton-Hicks contractions but I was not entirely sure.

I decided to wake up Nick around 6:30 AM to explain that I was having contractions. We deliberated calling Peggy, our midwife. We decided to wait a while and see what happens. Sure enough, around 7 AM, the contractions were getting to be further apart. This made it easier for me to go back to bed to sleep for another hour and half. After I woke up, I continued to have contractions but the times between them varied between 5 to 10 minutes and the duration was never longer than 30 seconds. Because of the contractions and the possibility of the baby being born soon, we went ahead and did the pregnancy belly cast that morning. It was a good thing too since the contractions became stronger through the afternoon.

Nick called Peggy around 2 PM because the contractions were getting to be more intense and were five minutes apart even thought the duration continued to vary between 30 seconds and 50 seconds. Peggy said it sounded like early labor and said for me to rest as much as possible because we would have a long night ahead of us. I asked Nick to ask Peggy about calling my mother to come over or to wait. After asking me how far away my mother lived (4 ½ hours, in Maine), Peggy said it was up to me. I decided to wait a little while. Three hours later, it occurred to me that Mom would probably want to drive over in the early evening rather than in the middle of the night. I had several contractions while on the phone with her since I could not talk while having the contractions. When a contraction came, I would ask her to hold and then continued to talk to her once the contraction passed. Mom said she had better hurry or she would miss the birth. I told her not to worry since we still had plenty of time.

By this time, I was really trying to get through each contraction. Nick did mention that it was probably false labor. I was irritated and said to him to please not say it was false labor. I was determined that I WAS laboring! Nick kept himself busy cleaning the house. He was over the moon that the baby was coming. Earlier, he had no motivation to clean but once he realized that it really was early labor, he got to work. I spent most of my time on the couch chatting with friends on AIM and updating the blog. There was not much else I could do. I could not read my library book because each time I had a contraction, I would have to reread what I read. It was very difficult to follow the storyline. We also tried the finger-brushing technique that we had learned from Carolyn Lewis, our hypnotherapist while I kneeled on the futon. It distracted me from my focus on getting through the contractions and actually made the contractions so much more painful! The kneeling position was not working for me either.

My contractions felt like painful menstrual cramps. I now realize that those darn-awful menstrual cramps I had in high school really prepared me for the painful contractions that I had. The best way I can explain what the contractions I had were like is that it was like climbing up and down a mountain. When a contraction began, the pain would become more and more intense until it reached its peak and then it would gradually decrease. After five minutes of calm, the contraction would begin once again. Sitting down was just too painful for me while having the contractions. Each time I had a contraction, I would stand up on my toes and lean over with my hands on the couch. I breathed out while repeating a mantra in my head that I had learned from Mind Over Labor by Carl Jones: “Ooo-pen….ooo-pen…” I was imagining my cervix like a flower opening. This continued to be my mantra for the entire time I was in labor.

Nick and I were supposed to pick up the birthing tub from one of the midwives’ house later that week but since the baby was early, we got directions to Emily’s house so that Nick could go pick it up. I was a little apprehensive about laboring alone at home but Peggy said that I would be fine. Nick left around 5:30 PM to get the tub and to pick up some food for dinner and breakfast for everyone attending the birth. When he came back about an hour and half later, he brought a bouquet of beautiful flowers. I was so touched. It meant a lot to me that he was thinking of me and the hard work I was doing laboring.

Meanwhile, I corresponded with Peggy via e-mail to give her my stats on how far the contractions were and the duration of the contractions. This went on until finally around 8 PM, she asked if I wanted her to come over soon or give her a call later in the night. I was really ambivalent because I had no idea how much longer I was going to labor for. Since this was my first baby and I wanted her to check my dilation, I told her that I would prefer her to come as soon as she could. We had a bedroom set up for her and Emily to rest. Peggy then said she would be arriving in about an hour and half.

Nick got the birthing tub (actually, a Rubbermaid horse trough) set up on a tarp in our living area and made pizza for dinner. It sounded good to me at the time he suggested the idea but by the time it was ready, the idea of food was nauseous for me. I had to eat something so Nick warmed up a cup of tomato soup for me. When I sipped it, I felt sick from the smell after taking several sips and pushed it away. I just stuck with water and crackers. By this time, it was around 9 PM and I was using the yoga ball while I ate and read a magazine that had come in the mail that day. The yoga ball was easier for me to use since it became too difficult for me to get up from the couch each time I had a contraction. With the ball, I could lean forward when I had a contraction. The magazine was also more tolerable to read than a book since the articles were short. After a while, I could not tolerate the ball any longer so I moved to the rocking chair. I rocked between contractions and when they came, I used my arms to push myself up, slightly off the chair.

Mom arrived from Maine shortly after 10 PM. Mom’s arrival gave me the motivation to get up and walk around to show her the house which she has not seen in a long while. We had made some changes since then. I was surprised that I was able to go upstairs because I had not felt well enough to go upstairs since that morning. It was a little difficult to do this while having contractions but for some reason, my mother’s presence made it easier to cope through the contractions. I continued to use the “Ooo-pen” mantra. Why change something that was working? After showing my mom the house, we went back downstairs. It was nice to chat with Mom to help keep me busy between contractions. If I had a contraction while we were talking, I would turn away, close my eyes, breath out and repeat the mantra until the contraction went away. At one point, Mom rubbed my back during a contraction and I had to tell her, “Please don’t do that. It hurts worse. I’m sorry.” She was totally okay with it and asked if she could rub my back between contractions. I said that would be fine. I felt so bad that the two most important people in my life-Mom and Nick-could not physically comfort me but their presence meant a lot to me.

Since the midwives were late, I decided then to take a warm bath to keep myself busy. Nick filled the bathtub for me and lit some candles to create a warm and comforting atmosphere for me. Soon after, the midwives arrived. Peggy came into the bathroom and checked the baby’s heartbeat with a Doppler, checked my blood pressure, and took my temperature. Everything was okay. I then asked Peggy if she could check to see how many centimeters dilated I was. She said she would do that after I got out of the bath. I rested in the warm bath for a short while longer and then decided to get out. Peggy and I went into my bedroom to check how far dilated I was and it was 4 centimeters! I was thrilled because I had been worried that I would not be dilated at all or be only 1 or 2 centimeters dilated. When Peggy took her finger out of me, there was a little blood and mucus which meant that the mucus plug which sealed my cervix was coming out. That was good news.

I got dressed and went back downstairs to chat with Mom when it occurred to me that we had not called the interpreters! We called Cheryle and Kathleen and left messages on their voice mail. Cheryle called back after midnight saying that she was stuck in Boston with work until the next evening. Kathleen did not call us back until the next morning. After leaving messages with the interpreters, I decided to eat a bowl of cornflakes cereal (I had not had anything to eat since lunch!) while the midwives got their equipment set up for the birth. They made up the futon with clean sheets, then a plastic sheet over that and another set of sheets over that. Peggy informed us that we could start filling up the tub in a couple of hours. It would take about an hour to fill it up. Then around midnight, the midwives went up to the office/guest room to rest. My mother also went up to rest in the baby’s room, used as a guest room as well. There was nothing much to do except wait. That left Nick and I to labor together. I was exhausted and laid on the futon to rest as much as possible. The contractions were getting stronger. I remember thinking about people who are in chronic pain and how if they can live with it, I could get through this labor with breaks between contractions. I had to remind myself not to clench my teeth or cling on to anything too hard. After each contraction, I reminded myself to meditate the way Carolyn taught me by letting my body become loose like a rag doll and repeating the mantra: “I am calm, I am safe, I am relaxed” in my head. This helped me relax before the next wave of contractions hit me.

Nick turned off the lights and took the dogs out before joining me on the futon. When Mylo, our husky, came back in, out of habit, he jumped onto the futon and on me. Being a clumsy dog, he probably did not realize that I was laying down on it. As a result, he scratched my back, which hurt me. I told Nick: “Get him out, I don’t want him here.” Mylo’s energy was too much for me to handle while I was laboring. I lost it then and there and started sobbing because of the pain from the contractions, from my back being tensed and from the scratch all overwhelmed me. Nick lay down next to me to comfort me and try to get a few winks while I squeezed his hands lightly during each contraction. This helped me cope with the pain. Nick’s physical presence was necessary for me, more at that time than since the labor started. At one point, Nick reached out to touch my belly, as he always did throughout my pregnancy, but I flung it out of the way because it only turned my focus on the pain. Thankfully, Nick did not take it personally and continued to provide his hands for me to hold during contractions.

After a while, it was becoming extremely uncomfortable having contractions on the futon. I asked Nick for the time to see how much more time until we were to start filling the tub. It was only 1 AM, about another hour to go. I told Nick that I wanted to get in the tub so badly so he began filling it up. It was hard for me to go through the contractions without being able to hold his hands while he got the tub ready. The contractions were still about 5 minutes apart and about 45 seconds to 1 minute long. A few times I had contractions about 3 minutes apart; I stopped timing them after hours ago, around 6 PM. It was not necessary to time them; it was more important to get through them. Once or twice, I even had one contraction after another-OUCH. Nick filled the tub with warm water while I anxiously waited for it to be ready for me to get in. Finally, I could not stand it anymore and just got up from the futon, stripped and got in while it was still filling. The water was so warm and felt really good. The contractions were much more bearable while I was in the water.

But then, Nick noticed that the tub was leaking. Shit. I stayed in while he tried to fix it. The tub had a hole near the bottom for emptying. Apparently, the rubber seal was loose causing the water to drip onto the tarp. I told Nick to go wake Peggy and see if she could help him fix it. Being the typical guy, he said he would figure it out on his own since he did not want to bother Peggy. Looking back, I should have told him that we paid Peggy out of our own pocket therefore she should be assisting us! After a couple of minutes, the water was pouring out and spreading all over our living room hardwood floor. I told Nick in a no-nonsense manner that this was out of his hands and getting worse so he was to go upstairs and get Peggy to help, PERIOD. The water problem was too big for him to handle alone and I needed him to be with me so I could get through the contractions. Nick relented and went upstairs to wake Peggy. Emily came down instead. She could not figure out the problem so we discussed draining the tub and refilling it in the garage. I said it was fine, as long as I was able to use the tub. Thank goodness it was summer, not winter! If the tub leaked in the garage, it would not be a problem. Luckily, Nick had cleared one side of the garage very recently so we did not have to worry about cleaning it to make room for the tub.

I decided to go upstairs and use the bathtub until the tub was ready. Nick got the bathtub ready for me again. While I was waiting in the tub downstairs, Emily told me that I was doing a great job. Peggy had told me that earlier too but I did not feel like I was doing well. It was hard for me to tell because I did not know how far along I was in labor, never having experienced it before. When it comes to compliments, I am usually modest about it. I tend to not know how to respond to this one because the usual ‘Thank you’ did not seem to be the correct response to this compliment. In response to Emily’s comment, I said, “Really?” What else could I say?!

When the bathtub was ready, Emily helped me out of the tub and went upstairs with me to make sure I settled in okay. I asked her to get my water bottle and the magazine I had been reading earlier, to keep me busy. So she did that. Then I labored alone in the bathtub for what seemed like hours while Nick and Emily were cleaning up the water mess. Reading the magazine between contractions helped keep me busy. I was so exhausted that I started falling asleep between contractions. Finally after about an hour or so (I had lost track of time at this point), Nick came up to check on me and to bring me a Recharge energy drink. I told him to please stay because I did not like being alone while in labor. So he stayed. I was glad he did because the labor was becoming more painful. I breathed out and said my “Ooo-pen” mantra but at the peak of the contraction, I was more vocal (not screaming): “OW OW OW OW OW.” I even gasped at the peak of the contractions since the pain was so intense. It was at that point that I was very vaguely thinking about hospitals and epidurals and wondering if I was nuts to take this natural birthing route. I also remember saying to Nick, “I don’t think I want to get pregnant and go through this again.” He gave me a sad look, being empathic towards me for the pain I was feeling. Looking back, I realize that it was hard for me to get through the labor because I had NO idea when it was going to end. It seemed like there was no end in sight. Now I know that there is one and I can mentally prepare myself better next time.

Peggy then woke up and came in to check on me-the baby’s heartbeat, my blood pressure and temperature. Everything was fine. She said I was doing well though I did not feel that I was! Then she checked to see how many centimeters dilated I was. I was 7 centimeters dilated! A part of me felt relief because hospitals tend (from my understanding) not to give women who are 6 centimeters dilated or more an epidural. That gave me all the more reason to soldier on since it was “too late” to back out and get an epidural. It was strange to look back and take note of the state of my mind at that time. I had never planned on getting an epidural and Nick knew not to let me change my mind. All this took place in my head, my inner voices battling each other. Nick knew none of this until after the birth. So I soldiered on.

At last, the living room was cleaned up and the tub was filling in the garage. My back was KILLING me though I was not sure if it was because it was back labor that I was having or because of my uncomfortable position in the bathtub. Every time I had a contraction, I would use my arms to push my butt off the floor of the bathtub. It seemed to make the contractions more tolerable for me. So the tension in my back could be from those push-ups. The bathtub was easier to labor in compared to the futon but the water did not cover my belly and did not allow less strain on my back when I did the push-ups. Eventually, I noticed that parts of the mucus plug could be seen floating in the bathtub. I was excited because that would mean my water would break soon. I had been wondering when my water would break. So far, I had not felt anything yet.

I was missing the tub badly and anxious to get back in it. Around 4 AM, Nick helped me get out of the tub and walked with me to the garage where the tub was still filling. When I got there, the water was too hot to the touch so I had to stand around in the cool garage waiting for the tub water to cool down. I tried sitting on the yoga ball but it hurt too much to sit on it. When I had a contraction, I had to lean on Nick to get through it. Peggy also came up behind me and used both hands to put pressure on my pelvic bones to open them. It felt so good! The midwives asked me if I wanted to go back in the house to warm up. I said no because the cool air felt good after being upstairs in a hot bathroom. I stubbornly got in the tub and asked Nick to turn on the cold water to cool it down a bit. He did so even though the midwives were concerned that the water may become too cold by the time the baby is ready to be born. They monitored the water temperature while I labored on. The contractions were still painful but being buoyant in the tub made it more tolerable. Also, my back didn’t hurt anymore so I knew that the bathtub was the cause of the pain in my back earlier. Not long after, I started to feel that something was happening-the head moving down lower. When Peggy listened to the baby’s heartbeat once again, Nick pointed out to me that the baby had definitely “dropped” lower. I looked down at my stomach and saw how low it was.

At that point, I felt that Mom should be there since it seemed that the baby was coming soon. The midwives said we still had a long way to go but it was up to me if they should get Mom or not. I deliberated with myself and finally decided to follow my instincts (as I had earlier when deciding to have Peggy come over that evening or wait until later). The midwives fetched my mother and it was a good thing since I was feeling the urge to push. That confused me for a moment since I still had not felt my water break. I moved up from a sitting position to a squatting position to make it easier for me to push the baby out. When I felt a contraction coming, I allowed myself to bear down as gently as I could. I could feel the head moving downwards. I reach down and felt the head just inside the birth canal. I told Nick I could feel the head and asked him if he wanted to feel it. He was not sure where so I told him to put his fingers inside the birth canal since the head was just an inch or so inside. I thought it was really cool to feel the head and it reassured me that the baby was coming. Then another wave of contractions came and I pushed again. When the head started to come out, I felt this burning pain, also known as the “ring of fire,” from the baby’s head crowning. I had wanted to do EVERYTHING possible NOT to tear so I asked Peggy what the best position to avoid tearing was. My back was flat against the tub so Peggy told me to scoot forward a little bit so that my pelvic was tilted outward. She also told me to rest my feet on the plastic moldings on the bottom part inside the tub. So I did that and I felt more comfortable in my new position. When another contraction came, I pushed. Again, I felt the burning and tried to hold back pushing so I could just push a little at a time to avoid tearing but my body was insistent on pushing. I tried closing my legs a little but it did not really stop my body from working to push the baby out. So I kept on pushing despite the burning. Once the head came out, the burning stopped. Another wave of contraction came and I pushed again. The baby shot out so fast, like an underwater torpedo! I was so shocked. It all happened so fast that I did not remember or did not see clearly who caught the baby. Later, Nick explained he caught the baby and immediately handed the baby to Peggy who then quickly put the baby on my chest. I noticed the cord was in the way, kind of wrapped over the baby’s shoulder but not around the neck. Once the baby was on my chest, I could feel it crying so I knew that the baby was okay. What joy!

Peggy wrapped receiving blankets around the baby and put a cap on its head. I was so happy that the baby had finally arrived and could not believe how fast it came. I was also relieved that it was all over with. Then I was like, “Wait a minute! What did we have?” I opened the blankets and saw a penis and testes! A boy! Nick and I were so surprised! All along, we thought we may be having a girl although the last few weeks of pregnancy, I was starting to get the feeling that it was probably going to be the opposite of what I thought-a boy. It was still a wonderful surprise! I have to say that it was one of the best parts of the whole birthing experience-finding out the sex of the baby. Nick and I kissed our baby Lochlan and kissed each other. Then we posed for pictures. We examined our newborn son, touching his fingers and his head.

Peggy then informed me that we would have to go inside the house where they had turned on the heat because the early dawn was a bit chilly. I held Lochlan while Peggy and Emily put pads between my legs and I walked in the house to sit on the futon made up with extra waterproof pads to prevent the blood from staining the sheets. I sat on the edge of the futon while they prepared to help me deliver the placenta. A special U-shaped stool was set up for me to sit on while Peggy kneaded my stomach to urge the placenta along. This kneading was extremely uncomfortable, even painful. I tried breastfeeding Lochlan as the midwives were working on me but he was not interested because he was alert and looking around at his surroundings. I have to admit that I was a little bit annoyed that the midwives were rushing the birthing of the placenta. I had wanted it to happen naturally. Breastfeeding helps initiate contractions which help push the placenta out. Since Lochlan was not ready to nurse, I went along with the midwives and pushed the placenta out then they helped me sit back on the bed to rest while they cleaned up. The placenta was really interesting to bloody yet so inspirational because it gave life to Lochlan all those 9 months I carried him. And it continued to give him nutrients and extra blood even outside of my body. I had requested that the cord NOT be cut until it had stopped pulsing for that reason.

After settling back on the futon, Lochlan was finally ready to nurse. He latched on beautifully and suckled non-stop for more than an hour! I then had the opportunity to look at my surroundings. I could not believe how much blood I saw on my legs and on the waterproof pads. I knew most of it was from the placenta so I was not worried about it. Peggy then checked me to see if I had any tears. I was happy when she reported I had none! After hearing the news, I remarked to Mom that even with childbirth, I still never had any stitches! Instead, I had what they call “rug burns” on my labia. I was really surprised that I did not tear since Lochlan had come out so fast. The midwives told me that I had only pushed for a total of 15 minutes.

Emily then said that the cord was ready to be cut and handed it to me to feel it to see if it had stopped pulsing. I felt it still pulsing so I told her to wait a while longer. Meanwhile, Nick and I could not stop admiring our little boy. We could not believe how much hair he had! During my pregnancy, I had really bad heartburn and people told me that it meant the baby would have a head full of hair. I doubted the old midwife’s tale but now that I saw my little boy had a head full of hair, I had to wonder! Nick took lots of pictures and when the cord had stopped pulsing, he cut the cord. The placenta was wrapped and placed in our freezer. We had plans to buy a tree to honor Lochlan and the placenta would be planted with the tree to provide it nutrients as it had for Lochlan when he was in the womb.

After the clean up of the equipment and towels, I handed Lochlan for Nick to hold for the first time. Pictures were snapped. Then Mom held him for the first time. More pictures were snapped. The midwives thought I should be wearing a shirt so Mom found a tank top for me to wear. Then it was time to check over Lochlan-check his body, measure his length and weigh him. Overall, he was a very healthy baby. He was so mellow throughout the whole check up. Nick then put a diaper on him and dressed him in his first outfit. Then it was time for me to shower and clean up. Thankfully, we had a walk-in shower with seats built in on the first floor. It made it easier for me to sit and shower. I was feeling light-headed from the rapid weight loss and blood loss. It was also interesting to see my belly without the baby in it. It was so soft and so loose, as if I had a pot belly. I am in total awe of my body and all the changes it has gone through the last 9 months and the changes it will continue to undergo now that the baby has arrived. After my shower, I got dressed and while feeding my son, I got on my laptop to announce his birth and post the pictures, just three hours after his birth. Everyone had breakfast made by Nick and the midwives left about an hour later. Emily, before she left, said that Nick and I were a good team. I thought so too. Nick went above and beyond his duty as a husband during this important event of our lives. I am eternally grateful. Alone at last, Nick and I were able to spend time with Lochlan as a family of three for the first time. =D

Birth Announcement!

Nick and Keri are proud parents of:

Lochlan Etu
('from the water' and 'boy born under the star sign of LEO')
Born at home in the garage! (tub was leaking water in the house)
July 31st
5:05 AM
7 pounds and 7 ounces
23 inches tall (!)
Head of brown hair
VERY healthy and VERY mellow! =D

Below are pics from the birth...we will post more, especially ones of Lochlan's hair! Plus, I will type up the birth story for you all to read! It was an AWESOME experience! =D Many thanks for your well wishes prior to the birth!

Love & Light

Peggy is checking the baby's heartbeat while a contraction is beginning...

The baby is coming...

...and the baby is here!

At last, three of us! =D

Saturday, July 30, 2005

4 cm dilated

Mom arrived around 10-ish and midwives arrived soon after. We are having a big slumber party! =P I was in the bath when Peggy arrived so she checked me over. Baby's heartbeat is fine, my blood pressure is a little higher than usual but nothing to worry about now and 4 cm dilated! At least it's something! =P 6 more to go...sigh. It's gonna be a long night and day, possibly. Will keep ya'all posted. =D


I just got off the phone with Mom...she's on her way over from Maine. I figured that she would not want to drive in the middle of the night so I asked her if she wanted to leave now just in case the baby is really coming. She's very excited! I had two contractions while I was on the phone with her. She said she better leave or she would miss the birth! I told her to relax, we still have a long night ahead of us. =P

Nick is FINALLY excited! He's in a cleaning frenzy now. Earlier, he did not feel like cleaning but now that it seems that the baby is coming, he has the energy to do it! =P I wish I could be as excited as he is but right now, I'm too busy coping with pains from the contractions.

Thank goodness we did the body cast thing this morning! I had a few contractions during the process but I managed to get through them. =D It takes two days to completely dry so after that we will put spackle (plaster) on the cast to make it smooth and then paint it. After painting it, we will put shellac over it to preserve it and finally hang it. When it's done, we will post pics...that is, if we have time since the baby may arrive before then! =P Here are pics:

All done! And just in time, too! =P

Nick trying on boobs and a belly for size... =P

Contractions continue...

The contractions have come closer together and are more intense now, although they are still 30 seconds in duration. I had Nick call the midwife to check in. She advised to rest and take a warm bath and drink fluids. We are to call her when the duration of the contractions are one minute long, every 3 to 5 minutes. Nick seems to think this is false labor. However, he's not the one in pain!!! Argh, here comes another one...

I know yesterday morning was definitely false labor since the contractions only lasted a couple of hours. Today is different because I've been having contractions for 14 hours now. I think the baby is coming this time. We will keep you all posted. =D

Never mind

I didn't need to call the midwife since the contractions became further apart around 7. So annoying! =P I went back to bed to grab a few winks and woke up just now. Still having Braxton-Hicks contractions but nothing regular. However our baby has been VERY active since yesterday...moving around like nobody's business! I think it is as anxious as we are for it to come out! =P

Restless night...

I woke up with contractions at 2 AM and the contractions have been coming steadily since then. I would wake up to a contraction, fall asleep for ten minutes only to wake up to another contraction. Strangely enough, I had a dream somewhere in those ten minutes of sleep I had between contractions. I dreamt that I was at Micki's house (an old classmate of mine from MSSD who I haven't spoken to in years). It turned out that she was pregnant too and about to give birth. Regan was there too to help clean the house and set up everything for Micki and I. Meanwhile, Micki had on a skirt for easy access to birthing and she was gathering the materials she needed for her birth. In the dream, I was having contractions at the same time in real life. So weird.

Anyways, Micki was planning to have an unassisted childbirth (no midwife) and I was surprised she wanted this. The next thing I knew, she had her baby but when I asked her where it was, she said Peggy (my midwife) had him because he was born blue with the cord around his neck. I looked over in the kitchen area and saw Peggy holding a VERY blue baby. She turned on the kitchen sink faucet and ran water over the baby, rubbing its back. Within seconds, he turned pink. I informed Micki that the baby was fine, pink in color. I also told Micki how lucky she was that I was laboring too so that Peggy would help her with her baby. Then I woke up to another painful contraction. What a strange dream! =P

It's now 6:30 and the contractions are about 7 minutes apart and getting stronger but still last only 30 seconds. I'm not sure anymore if it's just Braxton-Hicks because they HURT and have not tapered in any way. I'll call the midwife in a few hours and see what she thinks...true-biz labor or no? Ahhh, here's another one.....

Sheeeit. I need to wake up Nick and get the pregnancy body cast done just in case the baby is really coming! =P

I'll post again after I call my midwife.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Early signs of labor?

I've been having Braxton-Hicks contractions (feels like menstrual cramps) pretty consistently since 6 AM this morning (it's now 8 AM). It only lasts about 30 seconds every ten minutes. Now the time between contractions has been 15 minutes so I have to assume that it's not time yet. Shucks! =P

Some people have told me that they are jealous that I'm still pregnant because they loved being pregnant and could go on being pregnant forever. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE being pregnant but I am jealous of those who have their babies now!!! Ooooh, here's another contraction...30 seconds.

Anyway, I am so looking forward to having the babe in my arms...very SOON. =D

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

A day full of appointments

I saw Stewart, the acupuncturist this morning. All is good. He feels that my qi is much stronger now so the herbal pills he gave me (which look like rabbit poop, I swear!) seem to be working. Then Nick and I had a quick visit with Peggy, the midwife, since we had an appointment with a pediatrician, Dr. Rebecca Collman, shortly after. Everything is fine, according to Peggy. She noted that the head felt a little bit lower than it was last week. Hmm, interesting. The baby hasn't dropped though! =) Just moving down slowly, taking its time. ;)

Then we met with Dr. Collman, asked her some questions about her philosophy on different issues. One issue that we really needed to make sure that she was okay with was our resistance to vaccinate our baby. We are doing everything possible to educate ourselves on vaccines and feel that if we choose not to vaccinate our baby, our pediatrician needs to leave us alone on that issue, instead of pressuring us, like some of our friends have experienced. Upon meeting Dr. Collman, she seemed really nice and did not dress as a doctor would (white coat, stethescope, etc). She has her own office with her own secretary so our baby would see only her, not an array of doctors if the regular one was not available. On vaccines, she said that she would give us information about it but would not pressure us or ask us to find services elsewhere if we decide not to vaccinate our baby. So that was good. While we prefer to have a family practitioner so that our family would have one doctor to see, we cannot find one close to home and on our insurance's list of practitioners. For now, Dr. Collman will do.

I have talked to many people about vaccines and what choices they have made for their children. They have all been varied. While we are aware that vaccines save lives, we want to make sure that the particular vaccine is absolutely necessary before injecting our baby with chemicals. Some vaccines like Hep B is unnecessary, in our opinion, because Hep B is a sexually transmitted disease. Our baby is too young to receive such a vaccine and it can be put off at a later age. Some people don't realize that they have a choice in spreading out the vaccines so that the child does not have to have several shots at once.

I am aware that some states require children to be vaccinated before they are enrolled in school but we are very, very fortunate to live in Vermont, where there is a waiver form that parents can sign if they have not vaccinated their children. Schools are not allowed to discriminate those who received vaccines and those who did not. So that is not an issue for us at all. At this time, we feel that our baby does not need any vaccination right away. The only vaccination we would consider (as of now) is the tetanus vaccine (usually combined with Diptheria and Pertussis:DTaP). If we decide to go ahead with this shot, it would be at a much later time because the risks for infants getting a tetatnus infection is very low. Also, we would request for that vaccine alone, not combined with other vaccines.

So PLEASE educate yourselves on vaccines...from MULTIPLE perspectives. By reading ONLY materials that are in favor of vaccines, you are not educating yourselves. It is necessary to read materials that are BOTH in favor and not in favor of vaccines (or any other issue). I apologize to be hard-pressed on this but it is very frustrating for me when people throw their opinions at me when they have knowledge from only one viewpoint on the topic.

Our country, the United States, has a reputation of concealing information that we have the right to know about. Sometimes to gain a different perspective on a controversial issue, we have to do research outside of the US to find the information. Mothering magazine does a GREAT job on presenting both sides of controversial issues regarding to raising children. Check out their articles! =D

Sunday, July 24, 2005

First boat outing this summer (for me)!

Nick and I had a great day today with Kate and Dan out on the boat on Lake Champlain! Since Dan goes fishing several times a week, Nick has joined him a couple of times this summer. However, this was my first time in Dan's boat ever and my first boat outing this year! The sun was shining and there were no clouds in the sky. Getting in and out of the boat without a dock proved to be a challenge for me being 9 months pregnant but we managed by being creative! =D

Nick, the not-so-avid fisherman. =P

Dan, the AVID fisherman. =)

Sunset Island, where we pulled up to explore and swim.

My belly helps me float! Speaking of which, Bambino loves it when I'm in the water. However, when I get out, Bambino kicks in protest. I think we are gonna have a waterbaby! =D

Our friends, the engaged couple: Kate and Dan. =)

The parents-to-be. =)

Nick had fun exploring by the old railroad causeway where he saw HUGE fish and tried to lure them to Dan's lure. =P

Cruising up the Lamoille River.

The fisherman caught one but the fish swallowed the hook. Yikes. Dan had to cut the line and throw the fish back in with the hook. =(

Me at 38 weeks!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Midwife home visit

Today the midwives came to our house for a home visit. As usual, people are usually in awe of our house and what we have done to it. =) I will have to post pics of each room sometime soon for everyone to see. We love seeing reactions from people. ;)

Anyway, all is good. My Strep B test came back as negative so that's one less thing to worry about. Peggy looked over the stuff I gathered together for the birth and everything seems to be in place. I just have to get a few more things, which I will do this week. Oh, I finally started feeling Braxton-Hicks contractions last weekend. It really doesn't hurt at all; my stomach just feels tight and I can see the outline of the baby's back. It happens a couple of times a day; nothing regular.

I asked Peggy today about what we would do if labor doesn't start on its own. She said that she has a couple of remedies like herbs, acupuncture, etc. I'm not too worried because out of the 400+ babies she has delivered, only ONE had to go to the hospital to be induced after they tried EVERYTHING possible at home. So that's good news for me. =) Oh, what a small world...Peggy also informed us that at the top of the hill from where we live (5 minute walk), a woman is having a home birth, too! At some point, Nick and I will have to go over and introduce ourselves. The woman is due a little later than me but it's nice to know that she's close by so that if we both go into labor, it won't be a problem for Peggy to go back and forth. =) She has two assistants and other back-up assistants for such cases though.

The time is drawing close and I know it's hard for some of you to be patient but please be patient! Everyone is getting excited, including us! I promise that if something is happening, we will post ASAP. =D

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Busy day!

Yola, my former dance teacher at MSSD and her two friends were in Montreal for a wedding so I invited them to stop by our house for two nights. Today was a busy day because I gave them a round-about tour of Northwest Vermont: the Vermont Maple Outlet, Smuggler's Notch Ski Resort, the Notch cliffs and trails (see pic), Stowe Ski Resort, the Shed Brewery (for lunch), Ben and Jerry's ice cream factory, Burlington's waterfront and finally Church Street, a pedestrian street downtown Burlington. When we got back to my house, we met up with Nick and then zoomed off to Brewster Falls to cool off and relax before a BBQ dinner. As you can see, I've been quite busy so if there is a lull in posts, it does NOT mean that I'm having the baby! =P We will definitely post when the baby has "dropped" and post updates on my labor progress and finally the birth. That's one HUGE advantage of having a home birth...the internet is at our fingertips. ;)

The "Notch" which is has a road that goes "through" Mt. Mansfield and links Smuggler's Notch and Stowe ski resorts. There are trails and caves with beautiful views. This roadway (Route 108) is closed in the winter. We didn't hike...just parked and took pics. =)

Yola and I posing in front of the Ben and Jerry factory. The guy who took the picture was so funny...he kind of whispered to me, "I think you are pregnant." I looked down at my belly and replied, "Yes, I think so, too." =P

Sunday, July 17, 2005

37 weeks: 9 months today!

Only three more weeks left, give or exciting! At 37 weeks, this means that the baby is considered full-term so this is great news! =) I decided to take my 9th month pics at the local swimming hole that we frequent which is only a 15 minute's drive from our house. The river is so beautiful and it's a really nice place to cool off during the hot summer months! Enjoy the pics! =)

Brewster's Falls...a gorgeous place to cool off!

Nick taking a leap of faith. =D

9 months and still going strong...

I'm beyond the beach ball look, I think! =P

Nick is pulling his weight as the father-to-be by holding up my belly. =P

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Fun weekend so far...

Regan (my best bud and 'sis' since 4th grade) came up Friday morning for a visit. She helped Nick and I clean our house in preparation for a gathering of Deaf women I was hosting at my house later in the evening. Our brand-new Cajun Red couch arrived JUST IN TIME for this gathering so I was thrilled out of my mind! =)

A couple of us Deaf women wanted to have a monthly get-together where we could just chat and have some estrogen time without men or children (except for nursing mamas). This was the first gathering and I have to say, it was a great success! We had a lot of good food, laughs and to my surprise, a baby shower! It was really sweet of the women to throw one for me. =) I am looking forward to the next gathering next month...hopefully Bambino will arrive before the 18th! =D

Then Saturday, Regan, Nick and I met up with Zoie and her dad. It was good to see Zoie again before she goes to summer camp for two weeks. She and Nick had a ball shooting water at each other. After leaving Zoie's dad's place, Regan, Nick and I went to find Dano and it turned out there was a block party with a band and free food. We hung out there for a while and then went for a swim at a local hotel. Then it was home to relax...along with my Harry Potter book #6! =)

Tomorrow (Sunday), I will post my 37 weeks pics. We will post a pic every week from here on until the baby is born. =D

Enjoy the pics from Friday and Saturday:

Tilly-Pilly is just TOO cute for words! =D

I'm enjoying the surprise baby shower. =) The pics from the baby shower are a bit blurry cuz it was on the wrong exposure setting. Oh, well.

Some of the lovely ladies. There were 7 of us total...three were planning to come but couldn't make it at the last minute. We still had a great time! =)

Three of us.

This has got to be the most goofy pic of me yet! Regan was trying to take a pic of me with my dress fluttering in the breeze and I was being sarcastic about it but didn't realize that she snapped a pic. =P

Regan and Zoie hamming it up for the camera. =)

Regan insisted on a bathing suit portrait of me at 9 months. =P

All of us, including the dogs have settled quite comfortably on our brand-new couch! =)

I wasn't ready for the camera but I'm putting this pic up on the blog cuz you can see the outline of Bambino's back on my tummy! =D

Friday, July 15, 2005

Random pictures from last weekend...

Enjoy! =D

Taken early Saturday 7/9: my sleeping family =D

36 weeks along!

Taken Sunday 7/10: using the yoga ball to reduce my back pain while waiting for our ever-chronically-late friends, Sara and Travis, so we could go to the river for a swim! =P

Taken on 7/10: a Dog(s) Day Afternoon

Dano FINALLY moved out so we were able to paint the room he was using last weekend and use it as an office/guest room. Since I had picked up so many cans of paint from The Home Depot ("oops" paint costs only 1 penny or 1 dollar, depending on who marks the price), we decided to use the "oops" paints and some left-over paints from the other rooms. The left and right walls are painted a darkish olive green and the front and back walls are painted light yellow. Then I had the idea of painting different color squares to line up with the shelving unit. Tada! My work of art. =D

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Bambino's womb position

I forgot to mention that Bambino had been in the exact same position for the past three or so months: its head down, its little butt pushing in the middle of my belly, its face facing my butt, and its right heel always poking out on the right side of my belly. Imagine my surprise when I saw a heel poking on the left side of my belly two days ago! I was like, 'Huh?' I felt around and realized that Bambino has flipped sides. Its body position is now kind of facing towards my left side as opposed to my right side. The important thing is that its head is still down! =D Nope, Bambino has not "dropped" yet. You can be sure that I will post it on the blog the moment that happens! =D

AWESOME website to check out!

Thank you, Clare, for sending the link on one Hungarian woman's water birthing experience at home in pictures! I LOVED the pictures. They made me cry because the whole birthing process was just SO beautiful! It was just what I imagined my own birthing experience to be like. =D I sent it to my mom who also loved it and cried even though she didn't know this woman. I think the pictures gave her some inspiration and positive feelings about my upcoming birth experience which she plans to attend. I hope the pictures inspire you all, too! =D

[Hungarian woman's water birthing experience at home]

Acupuncture visit

Today, I went to see Stewart (Peggy's hubby) for an acupuncture session. After the session, he was a little concerned because I had seemed weaker after the treatment and spots of blood emerged after he took out the needles in my legs (never happened before). The reason for his concern is that my qi (n : the circulating life energy that in Chinese philosophy is thought to be inherent in all things; in traditional Chinese medicine the balance of negative and positive forms in the body is believed to be essential for good health and it's important to have it) is weak. If it continues to be weak, I could lose a lot of blood during labor/delivery. So Stewart gave me some herbal supplements to prevent that from happening.

I thought it was interesting that Stewart sensed my qi was weak since I feel fine...just hot because of the humid weather and tired from little sleep at night. I usually wake up in the middle of the night very alert and unable to fall back to sleep. So I would turn on a night-light and read a book until I feel sleepy again. This has been happening nearly every night the last week. Also, I feel like a pancake, having to flip sides a couple of times during the night. When I'm moving from one side to another, I'm grunting and groaning now. Heh. Other than that, I don't have any physical discomforts. I don't even have swollen feet or stretch marks. My mother never had stretch marks so more likely I won't. Maybe that's the trade-off I get for having BAD acne during my teen years? =D

I forgot to mention in yesterday's post that Peggy explained that because the baby is now gaining body weight, I should avoid sweets. The sweets will only cause the baby to gain excess weight and it would make labor/delivery more difficult. I don't eat a lot of sweets in the first place but damn, I love the occasional cookie or dish of ice cream. *sigh* I can be patient for a few more weeks. ;)

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

36-weeks check-up

We saw the midwife, Peggy, today. Everything is fine, as predicted. =) From now on, we see her every week until the birth. One new thing that happened today was that I was swabbed to be tested for Strep B. Apparantly, this is a common bacteria and can be prevented from passing on to the baby if the mother is tested positive. Hospitals tend to hook the mother up to an IV. Peggy explained that she COULD hook me up to an IV if I wanted to but all of her mothers who were tested positive had a "wash" instead. The wash consists of different liquids (I'm not sure which), a homeopathic remedy to cleanse the vagina of the bacteria right before the baby goes through the birth canal. This wash is just as effective but less invasive than an IV. I told her that if I'm tested positive, I would rather have the wash.

I'll find out the results next week during the home visit. Peggy and Emily (the other midwife) will come to our house for the weekly check-up to become familiar with the route to our house and become familiar with our house (birthing tub set-up, bathroom, sink, etc). Cheryle and Kathleen, the two "aunties" (who are interpreting the birth) are planning to meet us at our house too. After the midwives leave, Cheryle and Kathleen will stay on for dinner. It will be fun having them visit with us! =D This weekend I will post 9-month pics. Patience, Clare! ;)

Monday, July 04, 2005

Happy 4th of July!

We had a nice time today. After packing in the car some stuff I left in my mom's barn in Maine, we drove back home to Vermont. On the way, we stopped by to see the "Aunties," Cheryle and Kathleen, who are going to interpret at Bambino's birth. It was a short but sweet visit. We wanted to get home so we could grab dinner and go see our town fireworks. Fairfax is a SMALL town but their fireworks were great! The best part was being able to park our car and spread a blanket beside it then zooming off right after the fireworks were over. It was NOT even a five minute drive, even with "traffic," if you call it that. =P Hope everyone had a happy 4th! =)

Emerald sky

This is my favorite pic that Nick took.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Family lunch at DiMillo's in Maine: Us with my bro Bryan, Mom, step-dad Rich, and Grandma Forbes. Grandma recently moved into a nursing home in Maine from Rochester, NY. I had not seen her since I brought Nick to meet her when we were in Rochester maybe 5 years ago. I'm sure we will be seeing her more often now that she's in Maine. It's nice to have family close by! =)

At DiMillo's, a "floating restaurant" with the view of Portland Harbour behind us.

A sign posted on the island.

Enjoying the walk around Mackworth Island where Governor Baxter School for the Deaf is located.

Fairie Village

A creative fairie house

Beautiful view of the Atlantic from Mackworth Island

Saturday, July 02, 2005

"Ooohhh, something is happening here...?" I inquired. Regan threw an impromptu baby shower for me at Conrad's (my former soccer coach and now our friend) house, where he was having a BBQ gathering. I had just seen my mother and was shocked that she was in Conrad's house, of all people! I didn't see Kirsta's knowing look until I saw this wonder she wanted me to "help" her bring down her Dr. Pepper. =P

Isaac (this is the little preemie whose pic I posted back in March) and his mama, Kirsta, with my Mom who is SO ready to be a grandma! =D

We played some fun games. In this game, everyone took a length of toilet paper, guessing my waist size. This is Mom using Regan as a model. Cheater! Kirsta ended up makes sense since she gave birth the most recently out of all of us! =P

Tilly in the middle of the festivities and among tattooed ankles.

Nick measuring his TP strip...he cheated by tearing off one piece as he was measuring me! =P