Archive for January, 2012
Some smiles…

Here’s our little guy, grinning away at 27w3d:

Labor Preparations

Since almost the beginning of this pregnancy, I’ve been feeling a bit of fear about labor.  It seems silly to be scared now, because I felt significantly less fear and apprehension prior to my first labor experience.  But after going through a very rapid and intense labor with Holden, followed by a protracted and difficult recovery, I’m finding that I really need to deal with my fears, and soon.

I wrote about Holden’s birth back in June 2008, but I never really talked much about my recovery after his birth.  Holden’s labor and delivery was rapid—he was born after only 6 hours of labor.  I never had any signs of early labor, and when my labor finally started, the contractions were a minute apart from the get-go.  I felt like I had no time to “ease myself” into the rhythm of labor, and by the time I got to the hospital (only a couple hours after labor had started), I was at 8 cm.  My labor basically started in the transition phase, and as labor progressed, the contractions just seemed to stack themselves closer and closer together, to the point that there was essentially no break between them.  I don’t think I mentioned this in my birth story, but I distinctly remember laboring in the tub at the hospital, and having an excruciating pain in my right hip (very low down), that would persist between each contraction.  The pain in my right hip was almost worse than the actual contractions.  I recall mentioning this to my midwife, and her replying very casually, “Oh, that’s just his shoulder.”  It wasn’t until after Holden was born, that I learned that he was in an asynclitic presentation, meaning that his head was tilted to the side, like this:

Do you see the position of the baby’s shoulder?  That’s EXACTLY why I was feeling pain in my hip.  My midwife knew he was asynclitic, based on her experience and how things were going with my labor, and she did everything in her power to get him into a better presentation for delivery.  I remember pushing and pushing and pushing, with my contractions coming one on top of the other, with seemingly no progress for quite some time.  Rob said he could see part of H’s head, but it just wouldn’t budge any further (being sideways makes things difficult!)  When it came down to those final moments after an exhausting 2-hour stint of pushing, my midwife had to do an episiotomy because H’s heart rate was decelerating, and I just couldn’t seem to get enough space for him to come out, no matter how hard I tried.  It’s not common practice for our midwife group to perform episiotomies, but given the circumstances, that was the only way to get Holden’s little sideways head out of my body.  My midwife seemed almost haunted by what she had to do, and I didn’t even know I had an episiotomy until after Holden was born. I had a 3rd degree tear that required lots of stitches, and LOTS and LOTS of recovery.   The initial weeks were very difficult, but one thing I haven’t mentioned here before is that the tear took a full TWO YEARS to completely heal.  It was two years before um, relations, were tolerable again.  That’s a long time.  I am lucky that things are healed up now, and my midwife says it looks good—no scar tissue, not even any real evidence that I had such a massive tear.  My fear about my labor this time is that I will have another asynclitic baby and will have another horrific tear.  I know that having one asynclitic presentation isn’t predictive of having subsequent asynclitic presentations, but the rough recovery that I had with Holden is enough to instill fears that I didn’t have the first time around.

I believe that my midwife had no choice.  I don’t blame her for what she had to do, and of course, I feel enormous gratitude that she was able to get Holden out alive and healthy.  I’m grateful she got him out without the aid of forceps, vacuum, or c-section.  I don’t think that my birth experience was awful or traumatic, and I don’t think that my episiotomy and tear were avoidable.  But I do feel some fear about tearing again—I have fear about having another two-year recovery period and I feel fear about long-term pain.  These next few weeks are going to be about getting past this fear so I can have a labor and delivery experience that I can feel good about.

More on asynclitic presentations can be found here.

Fetal grinning

At 27 weeks, I had an ultrasound to check on the location of my placenta.  The news is good—my placenta is out of the way, and I can proceed with plans for a natural birth.  The absolute best part of this particular ultrasound for me was the fact that our little guy was SMILING.  He had one arm tucked up under his head and a leg up by his forehead, and a HUGE grin on his face!  We got a few screenshots of his beaming face, which we will no doubt have to post.  They estimated his weight to be around 2 lbs., 8 oz.  He is an active little bugger, which the midwives comment on during every appointment since it’s so hard to maintain his heartbeat with the doppler.  He does seem to be constantly wiggling around, which I hope is not foreshadowing for hyperactivity.

I’m now at 29 weeks.  Since my 27 week appointment, I haven’t gained any weight (I’m still up 20 lbs from my pre-pregnancy weight), and my fundal height hasn’t changed.  I’m still measuring 27 weeks even though I am 29 weeks along.  The midwife explained that it’s probably because his head is down and he is engaging in my pelvis already—his position may be “throwing off” the numbers.  Engaging in my pelvis already??!  I’m not ready for this!  I also got my pre-registration packet and birthing center questionnaire for my hospital stay.  Already??!!!  Really??!!  Didn’t I just find out I’m pregnant?  And now all of a sudden I only have 11 weeks give or take, before he gets here?!  Shit.  I’m also starting to get Braxton Hicks, and I’m starting to feel pressure when squatting or otherwise kneeling down towards the ground.  I’m wondering if I’ll dilate and efface early like I did with Holden.  With H, I walked around at 3 cm dilated, 80% effaced, and 0 station for about a month before he was actually born.  I remember my last midwife appointment with Holden I was at 4 cm, and I was convinced he was just going to drop out of me at any moment.  Now of course, it didn’t actually go down that way!  But I *was* very uncomfortable and felt pressure almost all the time during the last 4-6 weeks before he was delivered.  But then I got lucky and had a fast 6 hour labor.  So I wonder if things will go similarly this time around.

We’ve picked a name (we’re 95% sure of it), and Holden has even finally come around to it.  He vehemently protested our choice at first, but he seems to be embracing it at this point.  I’ve been trying to focus on spending some quality time with H while it’s still just the two of us.  Things won’t be the same once his brother gets here, and I want to soak up all of our fun Mommy-Holden dates to the aquarium, library, etc.  Last week he had his final ENT appointment, and was released from his care for good!  The ENT said his ears look great, and he shouldn’t have any further problems.  I treated H to a day out on the town after his happy appointment.  We went to the mall, walked Church Street Marketplace, bought him a new reading lamp for his bedroom, bought him a book from our favorite used bookstore, and had a leisurely lunch.  He is my little buddy, and I am sure going to miss our special times together.  I can’t believe he’ll be a couple months shy of his 4th birthday when his brother gets here.  ACK!  You know what all of this means??  It means I am growing up and getting older, too.  I. can’t. deal.  Just kidding.  I’ll get over it.

Today:  Read some articles for work.  Eat grilled cheese with Holden, made with yummy, honey whole wheat bread from Great Harvest Bread Company.  Clean out baby’s closet because it is a hot mess in there.  Drink hot chocolate.  Make lasagna rolls for dinner.  Eat more yummy bread.

Tomorrow:  More jury duty:(

Holden [heart]s Bowen

Holden ♥s Bowen

Oh yeah, I got this…

What a great week!

I started my new job on Tuesday.  I work 2 days a week, and so far, so good.  I’m still in the very early learning stages of the job, so I don’t have deadlines yet (or any kind of tangible stress), but all signs point to this being a very good fit.  I don’t remember if I shared much (or anything) about the job, so here goes:  it’s essentially a 2nd postdoctoral position, where my sole responsibility is to do research.  Broadly, the research area is clinical neuroscience, which means that the studies are all conducted in humans, (e.g. this is largely new territory for me).  The specific research area I am working in is chronic pain, which is also new to me.  The primary investigational technique I will be using is fMRI, a technique with which I have very limited familiarity.  So basically everything about this opportunity is new, fresh, and exciting.  Right now I am trying to come up to speed on the methodological and statistical aspects of fMRI, since my supervisor wants me to become the programming and data analytic guru of the lab.  In 2 days at work, I’ve dabbled in two different programs for fMRI data analysis, I’ve figuratively banged my head against the wall while becoming acquainted with Linux, and I’ve done some not-so-light reading on statistical modeling for fMRI data sets.  There is so much I don’t know, but I’ve been in this position so many times, of not knowing, that it’s almost comfortable to me, and I almost find it easier to find faith in my cluelessness because I know it will be temporary and one day I will be conversant and fluid in this area.  But it will take some hard work.  And that’s fine.  Ninety percent of learning something new is about figuring out what you don’t know.

Let’s see—- other news from this week:  I had my glucose/anemia/urine screening completed.  My glucose levels are looking good (a HUGE personal relief for me because gestational diabetes significantly increases the likelihood of developing diabetes later in life, and I have a very strong family history of diabetes, so whew!  SO thankful and relieved that turned out OK!).  My iron levels are also good.  Another relief.  The not-so-great news is that I have ANOTHER urinary tract infection.  This is my 2nd one during this pregnancy.  They prescribed a 7-day course of antibiotics, which completely deplete my energy levels.  My provider also said that we would have to discuss the possibility of me being on antibiotics for the rest of the pregnancy, to ward off future possible infections.  I don’t like this idea at all, so I’ll talk to my midwife at the next appointment to see if there are alternatives.  This week I also have a follow-up ultrasound to check on the location of my pesky low-lying placenta.  So…lots of things going on with our little boy.  This hasn’t been the super smooth pregnancy that I had with H, but hey…different pregnancies, different kids.  It’s just all different this time, and I shouldn’t keep comparing them.

On the house front, I’m making progress with our little guy’s new room.  I have a closet door left to paint, and then we’ll be ready to move in his furniture, hang his curtains, and make some art work for his room.  Three more months until our little guy gets here, so there’s still plenty of time.  Other than that, nothing new.  Just keeping up with my yoga and my running (which is starting to morph into brisk walking on the treadmill).  Treating myself to some fiction-reading time each night, and cooking healthy meals every day.  Things are good.