Welcome to One-Quarter Acres

Here's a chronicle of life on a plot of land right smack in the suburbs in Minnesota, whose owners would much prefer to be in the middle of nowhere.

Friday, March 23, 2012

How the Veggies happened

Radish is planted

The story of Radish and Broccoli (later to be known as Josie and Ozzie) begins with round ligament pain. "Funny," I said to myself as I rolled out of bed and felt those familiar twinges, "That only happens when... Oh shi-." The cabinet had a pregnancy test. I took said pregnancy test and confirmed my suspicions; I was with child. I woke my husband up and we alternated giggles with swear words and kisses.

Getting pregnant was not in our plans at the time, and it took me a little while to get used to the idea of welcoming a third baby into our family. One of the immediate repercussions of pregnancy was that I weaned Ike; he was two years old and, having nursed Nora through my pregnancy with her brother, I was not about to go through that again. Since he was basically only nursing down to sleep, and not daily, at that, this transition was easy.

I was tired through the first trimester, as I normally am, and started feeling movement pretty early - around 11 weeks. Through our early prenatal appointments, with the same midwife who attended Ike's birth, it was noted that I was measuring a bit ahead and the baby seemed posterior, but that was not unlike my last pregnancy. The "t" word - "twins" - came up in the appointment we had before our scheduled ultrasound, and we talked about what would happen if I did have two babies dwelling in my uterus, but my midwife wasn't making any predictions.

After much consideration of in-utero names, we decided upon "Radish," for no other reason than it amused Matthew and I. At one point we took a prophetic photo at the Minnesota Children's Museum of my belly in front of radishes planted in Mr. McGregor's garden: TWO radishes, not just one.


We ended up not having an ultrasound when I was pregnant with Ike mostly because there was nowhere to make that happen if we were outside of "the system." This time, though, we were able to go to an independent imaging outfit, and insurance even covered it in whole. We were at about the 25-week mark when we hauled our family in for a look at the baby. Almost immediately upon placing the wand on my belly, the tech said, "Are you aware that you're having twins?" I laughed like a crazy person off and on for the rest of the appointment, and hit a stunned-looking Matthew every once in awhile. The big kids didn't quite get the significance of the discovery, but the adults in the room were pretty excited (and the parents were a bit terrified).

I'm grateful that we live in a state where we don't have to circumvent the law to have a midwife attend a twin birth at home, though we needed to change our plans slightly and hire multiple midwives. My midwife pulled in her mentor (Jeanne), along with one of her apprentices (Amber), and we had a big team assembled for the twins' birth. We continued to have as many prenatal appointments as usual, but some of them took place at the second midwife's home office.

Funnily enough, this pregnancy was quite comfortable for me. My exhaustion, heartburn, hemorrhoids (what, didn't you hear that pregnancy is really, really sexy?), etc. were all not as bad as with my singletons. My blood pressure was awesome throughout the pregnancy, and I admired my lovely, non-swollen feet up until the last few days. The only point of anxiety was how Broccoli (named by Nora) was not as active as Radish and rather shy when we'd try to find his heartbeat, but both things could be explained by his position (breech and posterior) and demeanor (he's a laid-back dude).

"Harvest" nears

Even though my job is not physically taxing, the last few weeks were hard. I ended up working remotely rather than dragging my increasing girth to work on the bus and, by week 34, I took short-term disability leave. I nervously counted down the days until February 22, the "good to go" date for having a homebirth, then rejoiced when week 37 hit. At that point, my body decided to do a little preparation. Little bits of mucous plug (remember: sexy) started making their way out. I'd have regular contractions that weren't too intense but were definitely doing some sort of work, happening 7 to 8 minutes apart for an hour almost every night. All of this early labor kind of stunk, even if I knew it was laying the groundwork for a nice birth. I soldiered on. By which I mean I complained on Facebook a lot, made my husband get me ice cream, and sat with my feet up because moving around required my enormous belly to overcome the pull of gravity and gave me the sensation that babies were going to fall right out of my pelvis.

And when I say "enormous belly," I do mean enormous. My fundal height was "full term" at 28 weeks. I hit 60 cm at my last prenatal appointment, two days before my water broke at 39 weeks gestation.

I still haven't gotten my hamburger

The scene: A ridiculously warm and sunny Saturday afternoon in March. The big kids had just been whisked away to their grandparents' and my husband was pulling down Christmas lights in a timely manner. After spending the morning on the couch, nursing a bad cold, I stood outside in my bare feet, sunning my belly and talking to the babies. Matthew and I decided to get a hamburger, and I was wrestling with whether or not we should do an enormous grocery run and try to cook some food for our freezer. I had this urge! But I was in such pain I doubted I could get groceries! But we were not ready until we had food prepared! I was going to reassess after our late lunch.

Halfway to Culver's, at around 3 p.m., I felt a big "twang" in my belly. We hypothesized that a baby was pulling its umbilical cord tight and strumming it, which cheered Matthew, as we need a bass player for our family band. I said that I wouldn't be surprised if that was my water breaking, but wasn't going to shift around to find out, and we should continue on to our hamburger. A minute later I felt a contraction, which huuuuuurt, and I begged Matthew to turn around the car and head home. We were bad citizens of the road and Matthew called Vanessa and Laura (a friend of mine who was going to observe and take pictures). I sent some texts in between contractions. And I talked about how I still wanted a hamburger (emotional signpost: If you can talk about hamburgers longingly while you are having contractions, it's still early in your labor yet).

When we got home I gingerly got up from the seat of our new van, in hopes of preserving its upholstery and dignity. I succeeded, and the gush hit the ground (and my legs and sandals). I hobbled into the house, stripped off my clothes, asked for water and the necklace put together at my blessingway, and got into the waiting birth tub. Vanessa arrived minutes later, as she was very nearby when we'd called. I asked her if the amniotic fluid was a good color (it was) and told her the hamburger story as I weathered some contractions, which were much gentler in the water.

The other two midwives arrived not much later, but things were already pretty serious. I was hanging on the edge of the tub, in my own birthing world. I ended up finding a break where I could be pleasant and greeted them, and then it was back to work. Laura arrived at some point, but I didn't notice her until she had settled in. I was surrounded by people, but, thankfully, I didn't care, because I also wouldn't have had the wits to put together a coherent request for them to get the heck out. Vanessa occasionally asked if she could listen to the babies with a doppler, and asked if she could pour water on my back. I consented, and didn't actually like the sensation of water being poured on my back, but, at the same time, it seemed to draw contractions out of my body, and since I was already eager to be finished, I was happy to have the help.

I won't lie, being in labor hurts (for most women). It certainly hurts me, and my mental monologue included wishes that I had taken a Hypnobabies course from a friend of mine (Lindsay at Elleos Birth), but since I'm hearing impaired I'm not sure it would have even worked. I thought of her peacefully birthing moms with a bit of envy, though. I wasn't peaceful, but I am happy to report that I swore a lot less this time than I did when Ike was born. I am growing as a person. There was a lot of "This hurts!" "I don't want to do this anymore!" "Why does it have to hurt so much?!" and "OH GOD."

But it is still a beautiful thing to give birth, especially the sort of hands-off birth my midwives gave me. I have no idea what my dilation was at any point, because I wasn't checked. My body plunged into active labor and followed its own blueprint. At some point, I started pushing, though it wasn't really me consciously pushing. At 4:33 p.m., Josie was born into her daddy's hands, possibly with her hand by her face, which would account for how damn much it hurt to get her out of my body. I flipped over so I could sit up, held her as close to me as her short cord would allow, and marveled at how much vernix covered her body and how very fat she was.

It wasn't long after she was born that I felt more contractions, and lamented having to do it all again. Josie was handed off to her father to be cooed over while Vanessa gave me encouragement and shined a flashlight into the pool to keep an eye on things. I was repeating to myself that the second twin is easier, and at some point, I felt the urge to push again. I was a lot calmer while Ozzie made his way out, both feet first, 29 minutes after his sister. And, it was true, the second twin was easier. Ozzie was a bit floppy and not willing to make noise, so the midwives worked on him while he was on my chest and I sat there looking a bit scared. It became evident at some point that he was a-okay and just unwilling to make a squawk (he still takes his time getting mad and does not have the vocal projection that his sister does).

But then, it was placentas time. I dislike pushing out placentas. I disliked this part even more than pushing out babies, and that might have shown in how long it took me - 1 1/2 hours after the birth of each baby for the associated placenta. The contractions were uncomfortable and weird; it felt like my entire torso, with this floppy, awkward uterus, was involved. I was scared to push still more out of me. Eventually, Josie's arrived, and Vanessa suggested I get up out of the tub. She and Jeanne supported me as I gradually made my way out; my legs were very weak. Once out, they held onto me and directed me to the plastic-and-chux-pad-covered futon nearby. I fainted on-route, which was pretty cool, and after getting settled and being fed a spoonful of honey followed by shepherd's purse tea and finally getting little Josie on the breast (she took it eagerly and expertly), I felt crampy and Ozzie's placenta slipped out after a few gentle pushes.

And then, I was done, at about 6:30 p.m. It passed in a wink. I had one little tear, and two huge babies: Josie was 9 pounds, 2 ounces and 21 1/2 inches long; Ozzie was 8 pounds, 14 ounces and 21 1/4 inches long.

I didn't cough once while in labor, but it picked back up afterward. Coughing with no abdominal muscles while holding onto two just-born babies is not fun.

13 days later

I am typing this covered in babies. Thanks to a giant My Brest Friend Twins Plus pillow, I can plop two babies on my chest, prop up a netbook and my elbows, and type away.

Recovering from having twins was harder than I expected, though why I expected it to be easy I cannot tell you. It took several days before I could walk around without feeling as if my lungs were being crushed by my ribs, which were moving back into place. My pelvis is just now beginning to feel intact and somewhat more stable (i.e., I can move my legs apart without it seeming like my pelvis is splitting in half). My legs are getting stronger; apparently hauling around a huge stomach does not keep your muscles in shape like proper exercise might do. My nipples feel lovely, thankyouverymuch, after about a week of toe-curling soreness from so much use by two babies who are learning to nurse (and their mom who is learning to juggle them).

Awesomer babies could not have been asked for. They usually sleep and nurse at the same time (so far). They eat well, and are growing fat. Their older siblings love them, with Ike delivering kisses on a regular basis along with dangerous levels of toddler enthusiasm ("Do not crush the babies" is said often). I have not gone bonkers caring for two babies yet, but credit for that goes to my husband and the wonderful helpers we have had, who have fed us, cleaned up accumulating messes, held babies at times, and entertained the big kids.

Let this story be put out there as another voice of hope for twin moms out there who don't wish to be treated as high-risk simply because of the number of babies they're carrying and who may desire to give birth in a way different from what doctors have decided is best. Here's one more story about twins being carried to term, choosing their own birthday, being born vaginally even with one twin breech (and at home, even!), without a hospital stay away from their parents, and successfully breastfeeding.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Ike is born

Ike was born in 2009, at home. It was lovely. This was written a couple of days after his birth.

Ike's birth story really begins a couple of days ago. I'd been struggling with not only the idea of having to give birth (because OW) but the idea that I would need to be a parent to two children. Early Thursday morning (the 13th) I woke up in the middle of the night with a revelation that, hey, I can do this. Later that morning I told Bunny (as Ike was called while baking) that he could come any time, because we were ready. I may not have been entirely done nesting, but it seemed insignificant now that the emotional stuff was squared away. I did have a reflexology session on Wednesday (a freebie as part of a class final, so nothing labor-triggering was done, specifically), which totally infused me with a sense of calm and centered me, and I wonder how much that had to do with it. Also on Thursday, I woke up with a strong urge to burrow somewhere dark and be left alone until I had given birth (to which Matthew responded with, "Oh no! I need to go boil water!") and we finally figured out the names we liked.

Thursday night around 10 p.m. I sat on the birth ball and knit for a bit while watching TV. Matthew had gone to bed early and I was alone with my knitting and bread baking in the oven. (I felt really energetic that evening, obviously, and had attributed it to remembering to drink my red raspberry leaf and nettle tea.) An hour later I felt the baby very obviously drop in my pelvis and my belly was so low. And then some contractions started up. They were mild, even pleasant, and regular. I alternated between doing figure 8s with my hips while standing and sitting on the birth ball; I didn't think anything would come of these but wanted to make them work a bit. About 12:30 a.m. I decided to get some sleep, figuring that they'd peter out. I ended waking around 4, having had just an occasional contraction. I emailed Vanessa, my midwife, to update her, though I figured I'd probably have prelabor like that for possibly days.

Then, 45 minutes later, while playing Bejewled Blitz on Facebook, I felt a POP. I got a little giddy, stood up, and sure enough, dribbled fluid everywhere. I went to sit on the toilet and called out to Matthew that my water had broken. Poor dude shot out of bed looking little panicked, but quickly set to work calling Vanessa and his boss and setting up and filling the birth tub, which had only been dropped off the day before.

While Matthew was on the phone, the contractions started up - 45 seconds long, 1.5 minutes apart. Like with Nora's birth, the awful part was my pelvis feeling as if it would split in half. I walked around a little, discovered sitting on the birth ball or toilet was excruciating, and settled with kneeling with my arms on the couch. I was getting very nervous that Vanessa wouldn't show up in time, since she had sent and email with the tub instructions when Matthew called and said she was going to go back to bed and I very quickly went from being excited to very serious (yay emotional signposts). Luckily, she couldn't sleep and we kept having to pester her about the tub anyway, so she arrived within a half hour.

When Vanessa showed, she changed the bedsheets and got me into bed, which was miserable. She suggested I sleep and I said there's no way that would happen. She also said that sometimes this happens early on - things are really, really intense, but then they even out and you can deal with it better. I whined, "Don't tell me that!" because the last thing I wanted was to think this was going to be anything other than a really quick thing. Kneeling on the bed stunk, too, so I got out of bed and went back to the couch, after declaring that I just do it anymore (could I be more textbook?). The contractions kept up the same pace the whole time, increasing in intensity. I got through them by attempting to relax (as if), swearing, whining, and bearing down ever so slightly (but not pushing quite yet).

I had invited two doula friends along for the ride and both Vanessa and Matthew kept asking if I wanted to call them. Nope. I wanted to be left alone, husband and midwife included. I'm afraid I make a snappish laboring woman and those two were subjected to much attitude. My apologies.

The tub still hadn't filled by this point but Vanessa asked if I wanted to go in. Heck, no. I wasn't moving, no matter how uncomfortable it was to kneel on the floor. Shortly thereafter, I announced that I was going to push, but went into "vulnerable and needing reassurance" mode and cried out for Vanessa to be by me. As it turns out, she WAS by me; I was so far in my own world that I couldn't hear her talking to me. I asked her permission to push, to which she said I could when my body wanted to, and I asked if it was all going to be okay, to which she responded that it would. Pushing was pretty intense, though more pleasant than just dealing with contractions. I made lots of noise, and I wasn't sure what I was feeling at all, though soon Vanessa had announced that the shoulders were out. Soon after, I felt his body spiral out of me and he was passed to me through my legs. His cord was short so I held him a bit awkwardly, but there he was, a little man just like I had hoped for! It was immediately apparent that he looks like his daddy. Vanessa told me today that she had seen Ike's head crown, then go back in and spin around, so he decided to be born anterior, thank goodness. Good baby.

Possibly due to his quick arrival, he had issues with goo in his lungs. Matthew cut the cord a little sooner than planned so Vanessa could work on him (just keeping his face down and head below his butt); it took awhile and his wee face was a little blue, but eventually the mucous cleared and we got him nursing. He certainly loves boobies.

Having experienced a very, very fast labor with Nora after my water was broken, I knew I could probably expect similar this time around, although I had no idea what to expect leading up to it. I am so grateful for my midwife, who was just what I needed - very hands-off (no cervical checks the entire pregnancy or labor!), trusting of my body, reassuring when I needed her to be, and calm. It is also so nice to be recovering at home, where it's quiet and calm and comfortable. It was all wonderful. Our living room rug might disagree with me on that point; it took the most abuse of any of us.

The birth of Nora: A drama in four acts

Note: This was written a few days after Nora's birth in July 2007. Since then, I've learned quite a bit, not only about how birth tends to be handled in hospitals, but about how this particular birth was handled. It was an experience that, while it ended up producing my sweet and wonderful girl, has also produced a lot of anger (at myself, my midwife, and the culture of maternity care in the U.S.). I could give you a whole list of things I would've done if I had known then what I do now, but it is what it is.

Revisions and notes are in italics; it doesn't tell the whole story to offer the sanitized version.

Cast of characters:
Me = mommy
Matthew = daddy
K = certified nurse midwife
E= student midwife
A = doula

The scene:

For the last few weeks of my pregnancy, my blood pressure was being monitored, as it was gradually creeping up. At week 38, I was put on modified bed rest, and a week later I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia after protein was found in my urine. Sunday, July 15, K called to say that she was diagnosing me with pre-e and that she would set up a time for me to be induced the next evening, pending the results of Monday's checkup.

To add more context, my blood pressure has always been on the high side of normal (120/80); my blood pressure was creeping up from that to 140/90, which is the threshold at which providers want to make a diagnosis of pre-eclampsia. I have also since learned that it's very normal for women to have at least some protein in their urine toward the end of pregnancy. Aside from swelling, which would be better attributed to being pregnant during July and living in a house with inadequate air conditioning, I had no other symptoms of pre-eclampsia. During the time period leading up to being induced, my midwife also told me I should stop consuming sugar (though I passed the gestational diabetes test with flying colors) because my A1C level was at the high side of normal. She also requested that, for reasons she didn't explain, I get a biophysical profile. I initially consented, but after sobbing in the car for awhile, went back in to tell her I wasn't going to do it, because I didn't feel it was warranted. In retrospect, it seems clear that she had lost trust in my ability to be pregnant and give birth, even if I hadn't, and was eager to set the scene for induction for a "big baby" or pre-eclampsia or... anything.

On Monday morning we went to K's office expecting to take her advice to induce that evening, but the plans changed after the appointment; K wanted us to go to the hospital right then, after stopping home to get our bags and tie up loose ends. Since an exam showed that I was 2 cm dilated and 75% effaced, we could skip a cervical ripening agent and start Pitocin immediately; we'd hopefully have a baby soon after. Somewhat reluctantly (given how gung ho I am about natural childbirth), I agreed. K stripped my membranes while I was there, so I had some delightful cramping after that appointment.

After we got our things taken care of, A met us at our house, and we began the two-block trek to the hospital. We got to labor and delivery around 1 p.m. and were told we'd need to wait; there were no rooms available. We joined another woman and her family (they'd already been waiting an hour) in the rather uncomfortable waiting room, and finally got into triage at about 1:30. The fetal monitor was strapped onto me and I was instructed to lie on my side (something I was all too accustomed to, having been on bed rest doing the same thing for almost two weeks). They fed me, some time passed, and we got the go-ahead from K to start my IV of Pitocin.

This was induction attempt #1. Hours later, I was having regular contractions but not feeling them, and another exam showed no progress from earlier in the day. K and E came to discuss my options, and they strongly favored admitting me and trying a cervical ripening agent overnight. Again, I agreed somewhat reluctantly; I felt a little bit betrayed at this point, since K had seemed so confident that it would work the first time, and I felt strongly, as well, that my body wasn't going to produce a baby unless it was ready to do so.

We were transferred to a much, much nicer room with a somewhat more comfortable (though that's not saying much) bed. After I was allowed a shower, on came the fetal monitor once more. Around 9 p.m., K and E placed Cervidil on my cervix and told me that I'd need to stay on one side for two hours and recommended that I take something to help me sleep. I attempted to bypass that, but the pain in my hips was so distracting that I ended up taking four of something-or-other. It didn't knock me out like the morphine they wanted me to take, but I did get some sleep. Since the fetal monitor had to be readjusted every time I switched sides, my hips were still not happy in the morning.

Induction attempt # 2 yielded the same result as #1 - nada. My cervix didn't change at all, so K suggested pressing on, this time using Cytotec. This should pack a wallop, she said; the wallop for me ended up being "maybe 3 cm." As in, I was now maybe 3 cm dilated. Induction attempt #3: FAIL.

This, by the way, was after she asserted that babies who are induced because of pre-eclampsia end up coming out FAST, like they know something is wrong. This is a statement I've heard echoed by other people whose philosophies fall all over the spectrum of maternity care, so I can believe it. But it also leads me to believe that neither me or my baby were in any danger whatsoever. Even if we were, since I was so close to my due date (two days before, precisely) and showing no severe symptoms, my midwife could have taken a wait-and-see approach. Pre-eclampsia, while it is certainly to be taken seriously, is generally less of an emergency when it occurs later in pregnancy.

During this time, I was pretty darn uncomfortable and unhappy. I was confined to bed, both due to my high blood pressure I really should call it "high blood pressure," including quotes, while relaying the story, since my blood pressure was, and always had been, under 120/80 while I was lying on my side during this fiasco and the weeks prior. I asked my midwife the question, "If I really had high blood pressure, wouldn't it be high regardless of my position?" and she ignored me every single time I asked. and the constant fetal monitoring, except for brief stints to the bathroom, and stuck on either my right or left side. We did figure out that placing pillows under and around me helped increase my comfort level somewhat. I was adamant that if I were allowed to get out of bed on occasion - not to walk around, just to stand up - that this would start chugging along. Unfortunately, each request was shot down. Of course, I was told I could do whatever I wished, but it was strongly recommended that I stay on my side. More accurately, I was told I was at a high risk for having a seizure and my midwife didn't want to have to put me on magnesium sulfate. My response was, "I'm in a hospital. Isn't that the BEST place for me to have a seizure if I'm going to have one?" No response to that, of course, just repeating that I should stay in bed. But it was about to get unhappier!

K and E came to me around 3 p.m. with their last-ditch effort: We'd restart the IV Pitocin and break my bag of water if the contractions weren't enough to change my cervix on their own. I really, really did not want my water broken at any point, largely because I tested positive for Group B strep and didn't want the baby exposed to that any longer than she needed to be. Once those waters break, you're on a timeline, and I also have heard that Pitocin-induced contractions are pure hell after your water breaks. The alternative? I could go home and we could try again in a day or two, but that brought with it additional dilemmas: What if I got sicker? What if the baby was put in danger? K refused to go ahead with the plan if my answer remained at "It pains me to say it, but yes," so I had to work it up inside me to fully commit to the plan. I got as far as, "I guess," but, for me, that's commitment.

The Pitocin was restarted shortly after 4 p.m. This time I was feeling contractions more frequently, and feeling those more strongly, but it wasn't enough on its own. K's backup OB was called in to help break my water, as the baby's head wasn't quite in the correct position. (A was impressed with the consideration shown to this, as she hadn't heard it before.) At around 5:30 p.m., my water gushed its way all over the darn place; that was a pretty awesome sensation. To complicate matters for yours truly, they placed an internal monitor in to measure my contractions and also one on the baby's scalp.

Did anyone ask before placing either internal monitor, or even give a heads-up that it would happen? Nope. It was announced that it was done after it had been done. Again, this was something I was very concerned about because of the Group B strep issue, but apparently I was the only one who thought about that. To add insult to injury, I really, really, really had to pee at that time, and if I had known anyone would be shoving wires into my uterus and baby, I would've used the bathroom first. Instead, I had to squat onto a bedpan in front of everyone. The internal monitors were just one part of my birth plan that was ignored; in fact, the whole thing was ignored the moment I consented to induction.

Every contraction I felt until this happened and been bearable - pleasant, even. Once the baby's head hit my cervix - whoa, mama. They came hard, and they came fast. I was told that I was having a contraction every two minutes, but those were the fastest two minutes of my life. A helped me breathe through each one (sending the breath down through my cervix and envisioning it opening), though I realized it would be more helpful to go through each one by myself, when I could. Matthew stayed off to the side, which I appreciated. There were so many people going in and out and touching me and there was so much noise... It was tremendously overwhelming, and if I had time between contractions to catch my breath, I would've lashed out very, very strongly.

At some point, K came to tell me that my liver enzymes were elevated. That is, I was getting sicker. Just another thing to add to the list of things to freak out about.

I had the pleasure of reading through all of my records when I got a copy to give to my new/current midwife. All my labs were fine the whole time.

I was so, so mad that I couldn't move anywhere, because it HURT. The problem was that the baby was coming down very quickly, so between each contraction I felt very intense pressure in my lower pelvis. I didn't have time to compose myself between contractions. There was begging (from me) for drugs. There was the typical "Let's just wait until this contraction is over" response. (I wanted to yell, "BULLSHIT, I KNOW WHAT YOU'RE TRYING TO DO.") While I was able to get through most of the contractions fairly well, there were plenty of panicky ones in there.

K came to check on me and reiterated what she said earlier about my liver enzymes being elevated, as I really, really wanted to get out of bed. Then she said, "We're going to repeat the bloodwork at 9:30," and I think that - along with the acceptance that the contractions were going to hurt so I might as well suck it up - was the turning point for me. It also might've helped that E went home just prior to that, with the intention of returning. For some reason, I didn't want her around when I gave birth.

I had this very strange contraction that felt like my uterus was having its very own earthquake. I told K, "This feels very different." She said, "Different how? Pain or pressure?" and went for her gloves as I said, "I don't know - both?" She checked me and I was at 7 cm. Commence frantic scrambling on her part. She explained that she was getting a bunch of people together to help with the baby. I think I cut her off midstream with my sudden urge to push. I keep remembering the tone of her voice, because it struck me as funny and so matter-of-fact, when she said, "You're pushing, aren't you." She checked me and I was already at almost 10 cm, and this time things got REALLY frantic. She was concerned about shoulder distocia, so they wanted to tilt the bed up and get me near-vertical. She let me push as I wanted, though, all but the first couple of times.

And, oh, pushing felt good after that. It was a very odd sensation that I didn't have much control over at all; I couldn't imagine having someone attempt to control whether or not I pushed. Between contractions, I had a blissful period of rest. The pushing wasn't too bad, although I did scream once, attempting to keep my voice down and low (unlike the lady in the next room, who screamed bloody murder for a good hour; I'm so glad I couldn't hear that).

I was almost vertical, my feet in stirrups, and was instructed to grab onto the backs of my legs; a couple of people helped to hold my legs back. K was literally counting down as the baby came out, and I had about ten people around me yelling for me to HOLD MY BREATH instead of blowing it out. I was a little too focused to care what the hell they were yelling at me. The nurse I really disliked was the only person I remember being yelled at by, and she kept yelling even as I got the baby out. Take that, you annoying nurse!

What I remember most about pushing, now, was that I had about a dozen people around the bed, and the nurse who was by my head stuck her face directly in mine and SCREAMED at me not to scream during contractions. You can imagine that I felt very supported...

Oh, and all this talk about shoulder dystocia? The baby practically flew out of me, without assistance.

I didn't enjoy the next part so much. They took the baby to the corner of the room and did whatever they usually do to babies. Matthew sort of ran around being happy and snapping pictures like a Japanese tourist (that part was cute, not bad). I sat around with my blood pressure getting automatically monitored while I was attempting to see my baby and getting stitched up (two minor tears - four stitches - and a couple of skid marks) and having blood drawn and having my uterus massaged and clots pulled out. I very much wanted my baby, but I didn't get to hold her for almost a half hour. Grr.

This was despite asking - and begging - "please let me hold my baby." At several points, she was in a small plastic bassinet across the room without anyone around her whatsoever, screaming the whole time.

Eventually, I got to hold her, and she was perfect. And then we got a recovery room and spent the next couple of days having everyone and their neighbor popping in at almost all hours and me being entirely unashamed if they happened to catch me with my boob out. Serves you right!

Nora had quite a few visitors. We ran into her aunties Annie and Amanda on the way to our recovery room. Grammalinda stopped by sometime the next day (we both slept through that visit!). Smae and Al and Grandpa Frank came by later that day, too, and our neighbor Susan, who works in the hospital, visited right before we came home.

Things are going okay. Matthew and I are a little in shock that we're actually parents, but we agree that we're doing pretty well. Matthew's such a proud daddy and has already showed her off to the neighbors and enjoys dressing her up. Nora is a very heavy sleeper; that's both a good and bad thing. We're all well-rested at the moment, but it makes it very difficult to wake her up to nurse regularly.

Breastfeeding is a hell of a lot more difficult than I anticipated. My 42DDs are only getting bigger, but my small nipples aren't growing much. It's difficult for Nora to latch well, particularly on my right side. I'm going to haul out the breast pump to make sure that one's getting the stimulation it needs (though whaddya know, she just nursed for a good 20 minutes on that side). I haven't seen any direct evidence that my boobs are producing anything, but we've had lots of wet diapers. There were lots of poopy diapers while we were in the hospital, but I don't think we've seen one since we've been home. We've been using cloth diapers in order to tempt fate and to get rid of the poor little irritated bottom she has thanks to all the disposables.

Breastfeeding wasn't helped by the hospital staff, certainly. I saw a lactation consultant twice for about five minutes each time. The first, she breezed into the room, introduced herself, grabbed my breast and squeezed a nipple to show me that I had colostrum, and helped me shove the baby on the breast. If Matthew hadn't been paying attention, I would've had no clue what I was doing. As it was, I didn't have a clue anyway, and none of the various nurses we had were helpful. At least no one suggested giving a bottle, though one nurse did suggest putting formula on a nipple to convince Nora to try to suckle. The lactation consultant came by the next day and was cheery and encouraging but not helpful. We finally had a decent, supportive nurse right as we were being discharged (which took forever, and we sat around for hours before getting the all-clear), though her idea of support was to make sure I got the "breastfeeding support kit" that had more cool stuff than formula; there was just one can instead of several. It is through the miracle of the internet (that is, Kellymom), a whole lot of hardheadedness, and my husband's support that we managed to make breastfeeding work.

I do think we're well on the road to getting to know each other, though, and it's pretty darn awesome.

Sowing of a sort

What have I been doing with the last eight months? Growing TWINS. That's right, in my uterus. To say we were surprised might be an understatement. The pregnancy wasn't exactly planned, and we found out I was carrying twins at 25 weeks, during an ultrasound we had just to put our minds at ease about things in general. This pregnancy has probably been the most comfortable one I've had yet, and they could arrive any day now.

I was scolded for suggesting that I start yet another blog to be a "mommy" blog, so it's about to get more mama-fied in here. So I have a spot to put them, I'll be adding the birth stories of my other babies, and hopefully the birth stories of "The Veggies" (Radish and Broccoli, for now) will be added soon, 'cause mama's getting a bit more uncomfortable each day.


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