Saturday, August 29, 2009

Homebirth and Courage: You don't have to be a hero

I'd intended to write one post comparing my two births, but then realized it would be a book, not a post. Therefore, I am breaking it up. Right now I'd like to write about courage and how it played into both of my births.

During my pregnancy with Ivey, upon revealing to others my desire for a homebirth, I was told no less than 20 times how brave I was. This is commonly said to women who birth at home, so I wasn't surprised. (In some cases it is probably a polite way of saying have you lost your MIND?!) But taking it at face value, it didn't fit. I wasn't trying to be a hero; I was just doing what was best for our family and, actually, what was easiest for us. After the birth, people were more thoroughly convinced of my bravery. In particular, people who had experienced or witnessed childbirth with pain meds were impressed that I'd endured without them. Their comments were confusing for me, though, considering what an easy time I'd had compared to my hospital birth! I thought back to Suzi's birth and realized that although it was ten times as painful and traumatic as Ivey's, no one had told me I was brave. In fact, I felt a little like a failure after Suzi's hospital birth. That birth required so much more courage than Ivey's homebirth did, and courage of a different sort.

For Ivey's birth I had a tough decision to make. Would I go with the same type of OB care that I'd had with Suzi, or would I go with a midwife and hope for something better? After what happened with Suzi's birth I realized that, unfortunately, a woman has to study like she's pursuing a college degree to truly optimize her birth experience. Nagging questions regarding Suzi's birth swirled in my head. Were the things that had gone wrong my own fault, or due to some deficiency of my body? Were some things poorly handled by my doctor and nurses? I talked things over with knowledgeable friends, read books, watched films, and found blogs and articles online. I did most of this before Ivey was even a twinkle in Jordan's eye, so by the time we realized we were pregnant we were already 99% sure we were going with a midwife. It took courage to make a break from conventional prenatal care, even though I knew in my heart that a midwife was best for me and the baby. One day when I was about six weeks pregnant, my morning sickness suddenly came to a halt and I began to wonder if it might be a sign of a miscarriage. I panicked, and we went the only place we could think of--back to our old OB's office to beg for an early ultrasound. Ivey was fine, of course; we saw a healthy flicker of a heartbeat and were so grateful for the doctor's help. I had mentioned my desire for a homebirth, though, so after the ultrasound we sat through a lecture in his office. He told us of a homebirth-turned-hospital-transfer he'd seen recently, during which the mother came in screaming for drugs and ended up with a c-section after what he said would have been a shoulder dystocia. The mom and baby were both fine, but he insisted things could've easily ended differently. The words dead baby were uttered--something you should never say to a pregnant woman. We prayed about it and I realized that my previous hospital birth was definitely not what God had intended. I knew that anyone who would use scare tactics to change my mind must be pathetically lost from what is right, and that since I knew God wanted me to have a homebirth, I should trust Him to keep me and my baby safe.

The concept of homebirth was a stretch for both my family and Jordan's. Although we were both born naturally (meaning without pain meds), we were both born in a hospital. Jordan's mother is a nurse and my mother is a natural-born worrier. While his mother (and grandmother, and father, etc) kept bringing up how Jordan had been born with the cord around his neck, my mother busied herself asking questions of the what-if variety. She came to the initial meeting with our midwives and got a long list of questions out of the way there. Afterwards, she was mostly satisfied with our midwives' competency and supportive of our plans to have a homebirth. Various other family members, acquaintances and strangers, however, continued to pester us with negative comments and questions they didn't truly want answered. It was exhausting and unproductive for us to deal with them. It takes courage to stand up to friends and family and to accept unfounded criticism.

Then our insurance refused to cover the homebirth, and that was hurtful in several ways. We knew that if we ended up transporting to the hospital during labor, we'd be responsible for the entire out-of-pocket cost of a homebirth as well as the portion of our hospital bill that our insurance didn't cover. It stung to learn that our insurance company (we are on the SC State Plan) could do something as unfair as refusing to cover a perfectly valid and safe birth choice, but they can. We decided to have our homebirth anyway.

In my own mind, such a drastic change required me to accept that something was wrong with Suzi's birth. It wasn't easy to accept that my baby's birth could have been better, but the more research I did the more obvious it became that this was true. This is something many women must accept, and I believe it is the main reason women are always telling birth "horror stories." My midwife pointed out recently that we seek out a birth experience which will confirm what we already believe about ourselves. As an extension of that, I think some women tell their birth stories hoping to confirm things about themselves. Some women want reassurance that their birth was going to be the way it was no matter what; that there was no way, for instance, to avoid an induction which led to a c-section. In my case, I told my story looking for reassurance that I could have had a better birth if it had been managed better. I wanted to believe I had made poor decisions, not done enough research, or maybe even been a victim if it meant I could have a second chance at birthing naturally. I've read the stories of (or have met) some other women who have planned homebirths after bad hospital experiences, and this seems to be a fairly common sentiment.

With Suzi, I wanted a natural childbirth and I did try for one, but I was too naive to realize what I needed to do for this to happen. I planned a hospital birth with an OB who was skeptical, at best, of my ability to birth naturally. Despite our perfect attendance in childbirth class (it was the hospital-sponsored one) and all my reading (I must've read the wrong books) things did not go the way I'd envisioned. If you'd like to read the whole story, it's here.

It takes a lot of courage to walk into a hospital knowing that you and your "progress" are about to be judged. To wonder which doctor you might get. To be hooked up to machines and confined to bed. To lose the ability to labor in exactly the way you wanted. The hospital can be utterly distracting for a laboring woman during a time when she needs to concentrate like she's never concentrated before. It takes a lot of courage to (in a single evening) allow the fingers of five different strangers, some male and some female, to be inserted into your vagina. When and if a woman reaches the pushing stage, it takes courage to have her vagina put on display under a spotlight as though it's about to perform in a Broadway musical. Women are expected to quietly accept these unacceptable conditions of a hospital birth.

There were at least ten people in my L&D room during the pushing stage. I pushed for over two hours so some people left and others came in. Once I received the "okay" to push (I had an epidural so I had no opinion on when would be best to start) a nurse said, "just a minute--we've got to get a few things set up." It took two or three people to assemble the staggering collection of ominous metal objects that were evidently necessary for my birth. They laid them all out on a table at my feet, and then removed the bottom half of my hospital bed and brought down the lamp, which seemed brighter than the high-beams on my minivan. My doctor decided to try for a vacuum delivery after I'd been pushing a long time, which involves using a plunger-like device to reach into the vagina and pull the baby out by the top of her head. I wondered what it could possibly do to my baby's head and neck. It takes courage for a woman to trust strangers to get her baby out safely, particularly when it seems everything is a big emergency.

So far I've mentioned parts of my own birth, which are common to many women. But what about women who have c-sections? First there are scheduled c-sections for which a woman must sit and wait, knowing what is about to happen to her. Then there are emergency c-sections, which not only require a woman to be cut open while awake, but also to suddenly face that the birth she hoped for is not going to happen, which can be devastating. In either case, most women lie behind the blue curtain acutely aware of the major surgery that is happening on the other side. After the ordeal is over, most of them do not even get to hold their babies right away. In some cases women are put under general anesthesia and this is probably even worse. This happened to one of my friends and a couple of hours passed after the birth before she even got to see her baby. There are so many other women who go through terrifying births--mothers of preemies, women with high-risk pregnancies, and women who were previously sexually abused, to name a few.

And I am brave for having a homebirth? Once we'd made the decision to have our homebirth, actually having the baby took very little courage because I wasn't afraid. I loved knowing that Carey, not only my midwife but my friend, would be coming to help us and not just whoever was on call. She acted as though everything was as normal as it could be as she set up her supplies with a sense of urgency, but not emergency. Instead of making me constantly wear two restrictive monitor belts on my belly, she checked Ivey's heartbeat intermittently with a handheld doppler, and I didn't even have to get out of the tub for that. Both our midwives waited quietly during my pushing stage, and if anything had to be said they whispered it out of respect for my zone of concentration. In the comfort and familiarity of my home, my labor seemed to fly by. It never really registered as painful, because I didn't fear what was happening. My husband was much more helpful at the homebirth because he didn't feel brushed aside by doctors and nurses and wasn't scared for me and the baby like he was in the hospital. When we discussed how things had gone, he told me he was glad we had not gone to the hospital because everything was made to seem like an emergency there. My favorite part of the homebirth was how we were allowed all the bonding time we wanted with our baby. All the tests and measuring were done in our presence, and were put off until we'd had time to welcome our daughter. We never had to worry where she'd been taken or what was being done to her. It felt so safe and perfect.

It's just a myth that to consider having a homebirth a woman has to be brave, and I wish more women knew this. I frequently don't feel brave at all (you should see me at the dentist) yet I had an amazingly successful homebirth. I feel that God gave me the birth experience I had so that I can tell others about it. Now that I've experienced birth both ways, if I ever have to go back to the hospital, that will require courage.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Ivey's birth story

Here it is... Ivey's birth story. If you need more perspective on why we made the decisions we did, you may want to go back and read Suzi's birth story--which is unfortunately a little different.

By the time Tuesday, August 11th rolled around, Jordan and I were past ready to have the baby. We’d prepared everything already so I was bored and uncomfortable when Jordan went to work every day. We’d also fielded bunches of questions from relatives and friends regarding when the baby would be coming and what action we planned to take if she took “too long.” I never forgot that being pregnant is a miracle, but it was wearing a little thin. The longer you have to think and the more negative comments you have to process, the more you worry. I was trying to just enjoy the last few days of the pregnancy spending time with Jordan and Suzi, but it was hard. If you’ve ever gone past your due date you understand.

So on August 11th I was feeling a little sorry for myself. I was staying home while Jordan worked and trying to be at least a little bit of fun for Suzi. I was tired of being stuck in the house, but it was just too hot to go to the park or for a walk in the neighborhood. We had been to the local mall fairly recently to walk, but it’s so small and hardly has any shops we like, so it wasn’t a very long walk. I called Jordan and told him I’d like to go to the much nicer two-story mall that’s an hour away. We only go on special occasions or to look for a particular item we can’t get somewhere closer. We decided to go as soon as Jordan got home from work.

We put Suzi in the umbrella stroller (so that I could actually get some exercise; she’s pretty slow still) and walked. The first shop we went in was Tea Junction. They served tea at a bar and also sold all sorts of different teas and tea accessories. I found an adorable little blue teapot with a built-in strainer and decided to buy it since it was on sale. When we went to the checkout with it, a man sitting at the bar asked me when I was due. I told him about a week ago. When you tell people that they look at you like you’re a three-headed snake. Then he said “Wow, I hope you don’t start having contractions here! I assured him I’d have plenty of time to get home. The lady who worked there asked if I’d been drinking red raspberry leaf tea, and I realized I hadn’t had any in a few days. Some people say RRL tea can jump-start labor, although others contend that while it is excellent to drink during pregnancy for several reasons, it won’t do a thing to bring labor on. We bought the teapot and I made a mental note to make some RRL tea in it when we got home—just in case.

The rest of our mall trip was fun. We did a little early Christmas shopping and then took Suzi to Chick-fil-A for dinner and ice cream. After we ate we let her run around the nearly empty mall until it was closing time. She was in such a good mood and was being really sweet. We had fun and forgot about Ivey’s “tardiness” for a little while.

When we got home we made a pot of RRL tea for me and I drank it. I also checked Facebook and saw a suggestion from a friend to go up the stairs two at a time. I did that a few times, and then we watched TV for a while and went to bed.

I had a few contractions here and there during the night, and had a feeling that labor might be starting soon. I just didn’t know if that meant a few more hours or a few more days! By 7:00 am, it became apparent to me that they seemed to be falling into a loose pattern and weren’t going away. I told Jordan and then sent him off to work. With Suzi I’d asked him to stay home and it was hours before things got serious. We decided he’d probably only work a half day, and wouldn’t go back to work after lunch.

At 8:00 the contractions were still irregular, but were 5-10 minutes apart and getting stronger. I called Carey (our midwife who is finishing up her apprenticeship) just to let her know it probably wouldn’t be too long. She told me to do the rotisserie, which is two contractions on your right side, two on hands and knees, two on left side, and two on your back. This helps spin the baby into a favorable position that is optimal for pushing and also lessens back pain. She told me to call her when the contractions were consistently five minutes apart, as that’s when we’d need to call Amy (our licensed midwife from Labors of Love Midwifery) so she’d have time to arrive from an hour and a half away.

I called my mom to let her know what was going on and to ask her to pick up Suzi. The contractions were getting more intense and I realized I’d probably need to concentrate on them within several hours. She said they’d pick her up about 9:30, so I took a shower and got both of us dressed while we waited. My parents left with Suzi around 9:45 after taking one last belly shot of me (which is extremely flattering, I know).

I was happy to be alone. I turned on the birth playlist I’d made and lay on the couch to start the rotisserie. The first song was “Across the Universe.” I was so excited and felt at peace working through the early part of my labor alone with my baby. I sang along for Ivey with some of the songs. But as I lay there, I realized I was waiting a lot longer for a contraction to come along than when I was up walking around. This took the wind out of my sails. I knew that in real labor contractions kept coming no matter what you did. Were they going away? I didn’t want to think about having to call Carey, Jordan and my parents to tell them it was a false alarm! Not only were the contractions further apart when I was lying down, they were also much more uncomfortable when they did come. I decided to get up and take care of a few things I needed to do before the birth. I called Jordan at work to tell him it may not be as soon as we’d thought, and that it’d probably be fine for him to work until 2:00. I figured when he arrived he could help me finish up the chores we had to do before the midwives came.

It was about 11:00 and I was hungry, so I had a sandwich. Then I tried to finish up a little laundry and used a piece of flannel-backed vinyl to make a runway from our bed to the bathroom. As I ran around straightening up and cleaning, I realized that I’d forget what I was doing during the contractions. By 12:00 I had to totally stop what I was doing and lean against a table or door frame to get through the intensity of them. They were still sort of irregular, but when I wrote a few down I noticed they were mostly 2-4 minutes apart. I called Jordan and told him it’d be better if he came home by 1:00 just in case. Then I called Carey and told her I didn’t want her to have to sit around at my house forever, but that I didn’t want to wait too long to call either. She said she’d be there in about 45 minutes to check on me and even if it wasn’t time yet, it’d be fine. The next contraction took longer to come, probably because I was nervous they’d go away. I continued to run around the house preparing for the birth, and they fell back into their 2-4 minute pattern.

Jordan arrived home about five minutes before 1:00, and I was glad to see him coming! By this time I’d stopped bothering to write down my contractions. They were 2-3 minutes apart and were getting intense enough that I needed comfort measures to deal with them. I got down on my hands and knees and leaned on my birth ball, rocking back and forth until the intensity had peaked and the contraction was ending. It felt so hot in the house and I wanted to put my hair up. The contractions were close enough together that I had to hurry so I wouldn’t get caught with my hands up in my hair when one started.

I had put together this lovely basket of labor tools—tennis balls, vibrating massagers, heat packs, massage oils, candles—and I asked Jordan to bring it downstairs for me. We only ever used four things out of it: a vibrating massager (my lower back seemed to get tighter and tighter with each contraction and we wanted to loosen it up), the flaxseed heat pack, a little wooden rolling pin (counter pressure), and some “nukkles.” All these were for my lower back. The rolling pin and the heat pack both get a gold star. My contractions were mostly, but not all, in my back. I felt them all the way around to the front. Around this time I also started vocalizing to deal with the intensity. If any of the neighbors had heard me they might have thought someone’s cow was dying, but vocalizing is an excellent way to manage contractions. (If you’d like to see examples, watch The Business of Being Born or Orgasmic Birth.) It works.

By 1:00 Carey hadn’t arrived yet, so Jordan called her to find out how far away she was and to see if we should call Amy or if she already had. She said she’d call her and would be there in about ten minutes. Meanwhile, I was suddenly feeling discouraged. During my last birth when the contractions were much stronger (in the hospital), I’d been checked for dilation and hoped to be an 8 or 9. Instead the nurse told me I was only a 7 and it could be three more hours before I was pushing. This memory came back and I started crying as I told Jordan. “What if Carey gets here, and they’re already this hard, and I still have all night to go?” He told me that this time was different and that probably wouldn’t happen, and reminded me I still had the tub upstairs. (Birth tubs are sometimes called liquid epidurals or “aquadurals.”) I felt a lot better thinking of that.

When Carey arrived around 1:15, the contractions were consistently 2-3 minutes apart and about a minute or more long. She suggested we do the rotisserie again, although I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to handle the two contractions on my back. I started the rotisserie downstairs and we ran upstairs after the first couple of contractions. As I finished up the rotisserie in our bedroom floor, Carey and Jordan moved urgently about making up the bed and getting things set up. They started filling the whirlpool tub for me. When it came time to do the last two contractions on my back, I felt an insane amount of pressure coming down from inside. From this point on, everything was new to me—I’d had an epidural with my first birth and had never felt any of it. During the last contraction on my back, I said “Aaah! It feels like she’s coming out! I don’t want her to come out while I’m on my back!” Carey told me she wasn’t going to come out yet, so I finished up that contraction and Jordan and Carey got me as far as the toilet, our ultimate goal being the tub.

I leaned on the toilet bowl like I was going to puke and thought about Bill Cosby. I thought I might actually puke, so it wasn’t a bad place to be. I did a few contractions there, but Carey suggested I try for the tub. It was hard to think about moving at a time like this and I thought maybe I’d be just fine right there in front of the toilet. I looked at the water in the tub and wondered if it was warm. I felt so hot already that a tub of hot water wasn’t where I wanted to be. I put my face on the side of the toilet and thought thank you, toilet bowl, for being cool on the side. You’re the only one that understands me, my wonderful toilet bowl. As the pressure built, I started having the urge to push. Really, my body decided to push on its own. I looked down and my belly was visibly tensing up during the peak of the contractions. My body was going to push with or without me. At this point Carey told me I was probably just finishing up dilating, but it started to feel very wrong that I was still wearing pants. Carey said she thought I’d be more comfortable in the tub, and so after the next contraction I ripped off my pants and jumped in with Jordan and Carey’s help.

She was right; the tub was nice. The water wasn’t too warm and I sort of squatted there facing the window. It was raining outside. I thought about how nice it was that God had given me a rainy day to have my baby on, because I love the rain and it also made it a lot cooler and a little darker in the bathroom. I wondered if the rainy day wasn’t what Ivey had been waiting on. I wouldn’t call the tub a miracle replacement for an epidural, but the contractions were definitely bearable. I was beginning to stretch out for the baby’s head as I pushed through more and more of each contraction. I knew that directed pushing, which they practice in hospitals, caused a lot of perineal tears and was happy that I could take my time and push when my body told me to. I continued to vocalize in a new and louder way through the contractions. Some people might find this method of coping with labor unattractive or unladylike, but it’s practical and natural. I found that it wasn’t only comforting but it maximized my pushing efforts. Carey, Jordan and Amy (who arrived while I was pushing) thought it was fine and said I was doing a good job. Anyway, this is another advantage of homebirth. In your own bathtub with just three people watching, you can do what you want and not feel too silly about it.

The whole time I was in the tub, between contractions I wanted to take naps. You’d think two minutes isn’t long enough for a good nap, but it was like my body was shutting everything out and closing down so that when the next contraction came it would be ready again. Those little powernaps made things a ton easier, especially by the time I was seriously pushing. Eventually I asked for my tub pillow so I’d have something to lean on. Every time when I woke up, Jordan and Carey were still sitting there just watching and waiting. I said at some point that I wanted something cold for my face. It still felt too hot! Jordan ran down to the fridge where I had stashed a gel mask, but it smelled sickening like perfume so I didn’t want it. He kept wiping my face with a cold washcloth instead.

After I had pushed for a while, Carey said my bag of waters was bulging out and I could feel the baby’s head through it. It was so strange. First the balloon-like membranes which had never ruptured, and through the water inside I could feel the top of my daughter’s hard little head. I was so glad my water had never broken. That was a traumatic part of my first birth experience and I knew it could have been a major emotional setback during this birth if it had happened too early. We talked about the possibility of Ivey being born in the caul—with the membranes still intact. It rarely happens and is considered by many a special, perhaps even lucky, occurrence. We discussed whether or not to break my water or to leave it, and it was eventually broken, but I never noticed.

Around 3:45 Carey gave me a little pep talk. She said I’d given myself plenty of time to stretch out for the baby and that I was ready, so when the next contraction came I should go ahead and try my best to push the baby out. I pushed hard, only when it felt right, during the next three or four contractions and at 3:58 pm, Ivey was born! At the end of the biggest push ever, just as I thought I might explode, I felt sudden and intense relief. I heard Carey announce that the head was out, and looked down and saw Ivey’s fine black hair swaying in the water. Carey checked for the umbilical cord around Ivey’s neck and it was there, but was easy to pull over her head and out of the way. On the next push my baby was out. Carey scooped her up out of the water and laid her on my chest.

She looked around with her big blue eyes, but didn’t cry until several minutes later. I held her and felt so proud. It was my favorite five minutes of my life so far. I had done it, and here I was holding this beautiful little girl. Jordan said right away that she looked like my dad; she had his eyes and ears. She was smaller than I’d expected—a good bit smaller than Suzi had been. I held her and admired her with Jordan as Carey and Amy drained the tub and got things ready for us in the bedroom. The placenta came out mostly on its own about 15 minutes later, and I got out of the tub and into bed, still holding Ivey. I didn’t bleed much at all, so none of the meds we’d gotten prescribed for the birth were necessary.

About 20 minutes after she was born, we cut Ivey’s umbilical cord. It was white and limp by this time. Amy clamped it and Jordan cut it while I held her in our bed. Then I nursed her for the first time. Next Jordan got to hold Ivey (finally) and I went to take a quick shower. When I came back Carey and Amy left the room and let us have family time alone for at least half an hour. It was so nice to just sit together and process the amazing events that had just taken place as we gazed at our perfect baby.

Carey and Amy came back to do the weighing, tests and paperwork. I did have a very small tear but Amy said it would heal on its own without stitches. I was so happy because with Suzi I’d been cut (about a 2nd degree episiotomy) and I was afraid I’d tear because of it. Carey and Amy aren’t allowed to stitch moms up (isn’t that nuts?) so I would have been facing a trip to the hospital if I’d had a bad tear, and that was the last thing I wanted. Ivey got an 8-9 on the APGAR (she was a little bluish when she was born) and we found out she only weighed 7 pounds and 6 ounces—nearly a pound less than her sister! She was 19 ¾ inches long. We called our parents to tell them the news, and they were excited and ready to come see her. My mom was especially excited because she’d gone all day without a scrap of news. She’d expected me to call several times and let her know what was going on, but I was hardly in the mood to do that as fast as things ended up going!

Amy left after the tests, paperwork and clean-up were done (yes, the midwives do the cleaning up). She said I made birth look easy, which made me feel good even though it hadn’t felt easy the whole time. Carey stayed until my mom came. As she was leaving, I told her thank you and that she had been awesome. (It hadn’t been only the birth itself. During the entire pregnancy there were numerous questions answered over the phone. Lots of informative and inspiring books lent. Hour-long prenatals with unrushed chatting. She’d even once stayed at our house talking until around midnight just because I had some concerns I needed to talk through.) I told her thank you and she said it was her honor.

Having been on both sides of the fence—one birth in the hospital with an OB and one at home with a midwife—has given me new perspective on the “homebirth debate.” Soon I plan to write another post comparing my two experiences, but for now I just wanted to focus on our homebirth experience. It was wonderful.

Special request

This one's for Theresa, who wanted to see Suzi and Ivey's newborn pics side by side (they're going to be one on top of the other, it's the best I can do with Blogger).

Here is Suzi...

And now Ivey...

Same outfit, same age. Think they look alike? To me, they look totally different. Suzi had a bunch more hair, obviously, and her eyes were darker. My mom said today that Ivey looks like me when I was a baby, which makes me happy. It makes sense because I look like my dad and Ivey looks like my dad, too. Here's a close-up:

Both equally sweet and adorable, but so different! It's great having two beautiful daughters.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

It fell off while we weren't looking

Like my belly button?

Hanging out in the sunshine on the quilt Theresa made her

Ivey's umbilical cord fell off this morning. Jordan brought Ivey, wearing a little gown, upstairs for me to nurse her. When he came back down, Suzi was sitting in the recliner holding up a small brown object. She asked him what it was and he said "I don't know... what is it?"

"It's Ivey's belly butt!" And that's what it was alright. We saved it. I have the rest of the cord too. When Jordan encapsulated my placenta he had to dehydrate it, and the instructions also told how to save the umbilical cord this way. It's in a hard little coil, put away in a satin bag. I don't have Suzi's, but this time I'm glad to have the cord that connected me and Ivey for so long.

The placenta encapsulation process was not bad at all. It took Jordan two days (because the dehydration part took hours) but he did it all on his own. He never got nauseous or grossed out. I think it's really cool that he did it for me. It's hard to say if the pills are working yet, but I do feel a ton better than I did last time in several ways.

Breastfeeding is going beautifully this time. This is what happens when instead of a nurse with a nipple shield you have a midwife who is "the breastfeeding guru." I am making more than enough milk and Ivey doesn't need to nurse for very long until she's full. Even though I have a top-of-the-line Medela Freestyle, the other day I wanted to pump (just because I was so full and Ivey wasn't hungry) and I found the double electric nature of that pump to be a bit too cumbersome for my needs. Jordan and I purchased a $35 manual Harmony pump at Target and... I am mildly horrified to say that I like it better than any of the others I've tried. That's including the Symphony, which we rented at a cost of $70 a month for two months and the single electric Swing which we paid over $100 for. Most people love the electric pumps but I just don't take well to a machine doing what my baby ought to be doing. I have more control over the manual pump and have actually had more success with it! Crazy, huh? Since I was pumping anyway and Ivey certainly doesn't need it, we gave it to Suzi. She was very happy and told me to please make more.

We took Ivey to the doctor yesterday for her first visit, and the nurse practitioner was impressed that she'd already gained back her birth weight at just five days old. She said many babies take two weeks to gain it back. The NP also commented on how alert Ivey seemed for such a young baby. I think credit for this goes to her gentle birth! (The story is coming soon, like in a day or two. It took me several hours to write it last night and now I just need to read over it one more time and add pictures.)

I don't think I ever mentioned it, but everyone has mostly agreed that Ivey looks like my dad. She has his ears for sure and I think she also has his eyes and forehead. I am kind of hoping her eyes will stay blue, but if not maybe they'll be light brown like mine. We think she has my mom's nose and lips, but she changes a little every day so it's hard to say what she'll look like later.

Nighttime has been a bit of a challenge for us. Ivey sleeps well during the day, but at night she fidgets and makes little noises. I am such a light sleeper anyway that I hardly ever get into a deep sleep. Jordan's been so sweet to let me sleep in while he takes care of the girls for a couple of hours, but soon he'll be going back to work. We need to get Ivey's days and nights flipped back around where they belong!

Ivey smiled a big smile and laughed today for the first time. One time she laughed while she was awake and her dad was holding her, and later she did it again in her sleep while I had her. It was like she was having a funny dream.

We introduced her to our dog today and I think everything is going to be just fine there. Phibby is so laid back. She looked at the baby, at my (no longer huge) belly, and then at the baby again like she was thinking oh, so this is your puppy! Ivey's eyes got big when she saw Phibby.

Thursday is Jordan's first day back to work and my first day staying home alone with a newborn and a toddler. My mom has cleared her day so she can help me if I need her, but I was really hoping to be okay on my own. I'm a little nervous! Any tips?

The birth story is next! It's long, boring in parts, and TMI in others. Just a little disclaimer before you get halfway into it.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Ivey is here!

I will be posting a full birth story, but I have to write it first. It'll be a good one though! For now, just wanted to say that Ivey Deidre was born at 3:58 pm on Wednesday, August 12. She was born in our whirlpool tub at home, and it was perfect. She weighed 7 lb 6 oz and was 19 3/4 in long. She's a gorgeous little angel and just wants to be held all the time (so that's pretty much what we do). Big sister Suzi loves her and is so excited. We are so happy to have her here!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Makes My Monday: Be still, piggies! And don't! Move!

I just finished painting sweet Suzi's toenails. We don't have much left on our to-do list anymore. I know we only have a few Suzi-spoiling days left before her little sister arrives (she is now four days late), so we've been trying to spend time with her doing what she wants while she's still an only child.

I think I did a pretty neat job--those are some tiny toes! When I finished, I told her to tell those piggies to be still, so she pointed her little finger and told them. She can handle keeping her feet still, but we haven't tackled painting her fingernails yet. (Besides, the fingernails wind up in her mouth! Yuck!)

She's getting to be so independent. This morning I went to try and help her in the bathroom. I asked her if she was finished and she said "No... You give my privacy." I didn't realize turning two would come with so many changes!

Hot pink puts me in such a good mood. For more happy Monday posts, go to Makes My Monday at Cheryl's Twinfatuation (and link your own post up, too)!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Ready whenever she is...

Pretty soon Suzi will be able to get closer to me again.

Yesterday morning when I woke up, it felt and looked like Ivey was several inches lower than when I went to bed. I felt closer than ever to going into labor and even had several convincing contractions during the day, but they didn't get longer, stronger or closer together. We spent the morning going to yard sales, probably for the last time for a while. It was a great distraction and a way for me to get a little walking in. The find of the day was a pair of drums for Suzi. I wanted to get a picture of her playing them, but she was asleep when I got around to finding the camera, so her daddy said he'd fix that...

Anyway, when she's awake she loves them even though she's really too little for them yet.

This morning I woke up and felt less labory than I did yesterday. It is looking more and more like Ivey has a chance of being born on her Papa's (Jordan's dad's) birthday, which is August 11th. When he first suggested it I was thinking there was no way she'd be that late! Now it seems like she may be even later. I just have no idea!

I went for a walk this morning and we've spent the rest of the day at home with Suzi. Since I don't have any books about homebirth, I showed her pictures of someone else's homebirth (on Facebook). It's so cute when I tell her "see, this is the midwife" and she repeats it back to me: mid-a-wife?

The aggravating part is that I keep cleaning things over and over and over, because I could go into labor at any time. I clean them, and then I don't go into labor, and then before long they're dirty again and I'm afraid I won't have time to clean them before the baby comes. In a few days when we are holding our beautiful little newborn, this will all be funny. For now I better get back to cleaning. I've got laundry and stuff to do. I probably won't blog again before the baby is born unless I can think of something interesting to talk about, because I'm sure this is getting boring. I just keep thinking that the post I'm working on is going to be the last one, kind of like when I'm cleaning the bathrooms.

Friday, August 7, 2009

A real date while we wait

Yesterday I remembered what Jordan and I had done right before labor started with Suzi, and I superstitiously suggested that we go to a movie again. With Suzi, we went to a movie (either Shrek the 3rd or Spiderman 3) to get our minds off the waiting and I ended up having a couple of good contractions at the theater. Then I went into true labor within a day or two. We figured it couldn't hurt to have one more date anyway, so my parents kept Suzi and we went to see My Sister's Keeper.

I was surprised how much I liked it. The trailers portrayed it as a Law and Order type thing and it wasn't. To me, it wasn't about kidney donation or law. Those were minor themes and it was more focused on relationships, family and what it might feel like to be a young cancer survivor. In the first few minutes I thought I might regret having gone to it, because there were a couple of scenes depicting toddler-age girls being subjected to scary medical procedures, and all I can think of when I see that is Suzi. (I'm pregnant, so I can have a bawl-fest at home for free over something as simple as Bi-Lo running out of vanilla frozen yogurt.) Other than that, it was an amazing movie. Sad, of course, but amazing. I recommend it, but take lots of tissues.

We also saw our midwives yesterday, and they assured us that the baby was doing well and that most women, when left alone, will go to 41 weeks or more before having their babies. Of course, these days even a day over 40 is considered an anomaly because early inductions and scheduled c-sections are so commonplace and encouraged. We'd love to meet Ivey and discussed some options to get things rolling, but we agreed that we have another week or so before it will become advisable to start taking action. At that point we'd consider breast pumping, membrane stripping, things like that. I am not doing castor oil; I hear it's really nasty! Right now I don't want to do anything, even "natural" things. She's actually only a day late and it doesn't feel right at this point.

So I am continuing to clean and organize and wait. The house hasn't ever been this clean, so that's one good thing. Every night I wonder if this is the night!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Due Date Eve

Here we are on the eve of our due date (the later one, I mean) and no baby yet. My widget in the sidebar was set up for 8/3 and it has now begun to count the days back up. (Stop that! We are getting closer, not further away!) Everything is pretty much done except for things that have to be done right before the birth (like food preparation). In light of these circumstances, this was a well-timed post from Linda, one of my midwives. Despite my best intentions to be patient, I really am ready to meet my baby now and Jordan is too. We aren't taking any desperate measures or anything--I mean, these few days of waiting are just a teensy sliver in the grand scheme of our lives. Ivey is doing fine and we are prepared to wait. It does make it a little harder this time because the birth itself is going to be amazing and I'm excited about that, too! My mom blogged about the waiting as well if you'd like to read it. I don't personally have any belly shots or anything to share right now, but here are some pictures I meant to share a couple of weeks ago. These are the girls' beds.

An Arm's Reach Co-Sleeper for Ivey, which will be attached to the side of our bed once she arrives.

And this is Suzi's little toddler bed that her Daddy made her. It's so low to the ground that she can sometimes roll out and not even wake up! It is currently at the foot of our bed, so if she has a nightmare (about monsters, most recently) she can come cuddle with us. People are always asking about our nursery, but we don't have one. We have a playroom for the girls, but we'll all sleep in the same bedroom for now. It works for us.

I thought I'd shared pictures of the playroom before, but I don't think I did. It was my first major act of nesting a couple of months ago, and here it is...

This room was previously quite cluttery and useless. (By the way, that is my belly cast from Suzi on top of the bookshelf. I never painted it but now I kind of like it the way it is!)

Now I am going over to my parents' house to wait a little more, and we are going up to the Tamassee DAR School thrift shop this afternoon. Should be a nice distraction! Hopefully I'll have baby pictures to share soon...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A quilt for Baby Ivey

After my sad last day at work, there was a package waiting for me (well, actually it was addressed to Ivey) when I got home. If she had wanted to open it, she could've come out a little earlier, right? So I opened it and this was in it...

I had a hard time getting a picture of the whole thing all by myself.

I love this quilt! Our friend Theresa made it and it's beautiful and just perfect for Ivey. I have a feeling Ivey's going to prefer less pink and more neutral or bright colors. (Or maybe it's just that I will?) It's nice for her to have some things of her own, too. Her quilt makes a lovely addition to the cradle (which was Suzi's) next to the Sleep Sheep (which is Suzi's).


Now whenever she's ready, she can come on out and we'll wrap her in it! Stay tuned for a week or two...