Healing from birth...

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Healing from birth...

Ella was born 9 weeks ago and while I had a rough birth experience, none of it seemed to matter because I was so in awe of my little girl. I was in a state of complete euphoria. However, while by no means have my feelings for my daughter changed (being a mommy is the best thing in the world!), over the past couple of weeks feelings have surfaced surrounding Ella’s birth. I feel disappointed to say the least, and during my most “down” times, I feel completely traumatized by the experience. This is my first attempt at thoroughly explaining Ella’s birth so forgive me if it’s broken up over time, or jumps from thought to thought. I’m hoping with time it will flow… if not here then in my memory.

Having worked in the labour and delivery unit of the province's only women's hospital, I had a deep appreciation for the power of the human body, although I had also experienced how the medical world can undoubtedly influence the course of a child’s birth… for better or for worse. Some of us (being the nurses and physicians) encouraged and supported women in their quest to birth naturally, while others were total interventionists. I remember one co-worker stating, “I can help any woman get through it without drugs.” I loved the simplicity of her statement and I idolized and looked up to her as a nurse who would really support and encourage a natural birth plan. On the other hand, a nurse who became a good friend of mine believed in IV’s, epidurals, c-sections following previous c-sections and often raised an eyebrow at written birth plans. I watched some amazing births, some medicalized, some not… it totally depended on what mattered to the woman. What I did realize (as I was pregnant during part of my time there before I changed jobs), was that I knew the different outcomes and I wanted a natural birth. Women who laboured without drugs and gave birth vaginally just seemed so much better off in the end (or rather the beginning J). I wanted this for myself and my baby, but in the back of my mind I always had a feeling it wouldn’t go that way… maybe I sabotaged myself, but I didn’t have any trouble picturing the upcoming experience. The only trouble was, I always pictured myself in the OR being cut open rather than the nice vaginal delivery I was hoping for.

There are two pieces to my birth story that I cling to… things that make me feel better about the experience. I went into labour spontaneously at 41 weeks and 3 days (an induction was planned for the following day!) and my water broke on it’s own.

That was sad to even write down. I only feel ok about two pieces of my beautiful daughter’s birth. Hmmm… thoughts aren’t flowing anymore, I’ll pick up later.

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As I mentioned, I was scheduled for induction early on November 10th - a round of cervadil, followed by more cervadil or pitocin if I was “favourable”. Having worked in L&D I had watched the pitiful success rate of women being induced from a stand still, and I went home on the 9th hoping I would go into labour on my own… well, actually I went shopping to buy a baby swing, and then to my in-laws’ house because they were closer to the hospital (DH and I live 2 hours away). So after the quick shopping trip, we went to DH’s parents’ house and got settled in. Somewhere between Survivor and Grey’s Anatomy the painless contractions I had been having for the past week really picked up. After several hours they were about 3-5 minutes apart and I really had to work through them, although I felt totally calm and very proud of my body for doing what it was meant to do. I had avoided the induction I didn’t want! Eventually, DH suggested we go to the hospital and I agreed, hoping with all my might that I’d be more than a fingertip dilated and I wouldn’t become of the women I had all-to-frequently sent home to walk.

After a not-so-fun car ride to the hospital I arrived at the birth unit’s early labour assessment unit. I was five centimetres, Yippee!! I started getting some nausea, but I felt in control and empowered that I had made it to that point with no desire for drugs. My natural vaginal birth was in sight. At that point I was able to envision my birth outside of the OR. I pictured delivering the baby and holding her to my chest… and my nurse’s brain even envisioned the stitching up of a tear.

I was admitted to a room and I was left alone to change into a hospital gown. In the bathroom I had the strongest contraction yet. I squatted on the floor and worked through it (squatting seemed to be a nice position). I left the bathroom and felt my water break and gush down my leg. I was so excited. It was all going so smoothly.

Something I haven’t mentioned yet - the nurse who met me in the assessment unit was the same nurse I had made friends with and the same interventionist I described in my previous post. On one hand I was comforted by a familiar presence, on the other I knew her ways and dreaded the inevitable. She would offer a ton of interventions, and she was pushy about it by nature. This was the first time I should have made a different choice. I should have requested a different nurse. I needed that nurse that could “help any woman through a drug free labour”, but I didn’t request the change out of fear that I would offend my friend.

So my water broke on it’s own… and that was the last moment during Ella’s birth that I felt in control and excited.

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I know this doesn’t follow the actual sequence of events but, last night I was laying in bed and thought about how grateful I am that breastfeeding has been successful. Ella was given formula in the NICU because her sugars dropped. I was in recovery at the time and they gave DH the option of formula or an IV. He opted for the formula of course, but why didn’t they offer to allow me to breastfeed? Or even give me the option of feeding her the darn formula? She was only there for observation, why couldn’t they “observe” her in recovery while I fed my baby? I was just so glad to have made it out of the OR that I didn’t have the presence of mind to request these things.

After I left recovery, they wheeled me into the NICU to see my baby. I was touching her through the little hole in the incubator when the nurse asked if I wanted to hold her.

Of course I did. The NICU nurse even said something about breastfeeding, but quickly followed it with something about her sugars and that formula would bring them up faster or she would need an IV. So I could choose to breastfeed and she would get an IV, or she would get formula. Not wanting to feel like a selfish Mommy, I agreed to more formula. So before I held my precious one, they topped her up with formula and she promptly spit it back out. Of all the pictures my DH took of our princess, he didn’t take a single shot of her getting formula and I’m so grateful. I feel sad when I look at the pictures, and it would only add insult to injury to see me 2 feet from my baby and she’s getting a bottle of formula she didn’t want. So after an amazing few minutes of getting to snuggle my wee one,

I was taken to the post-partum floor and wouldn’t be allowed out of bed until 8 o’clock that night (she was born at 10:52am). However, once I was made to go to the bathroom, I immediately asked for a wheel chair and the nurse and DH took me to the NICU where I got to breastfeed my baby. She was a wonderfully eager little nurser, and it felt soooooo good to finally feed my baby. She had received 3 bottles of formula that evening and her sugars were still low; after I fed her throughout the night they didn’t give her another bottle of formula. With the assistance of my DH, we travelled the 2 floors down to my baby 3 more times that night to feed her. The interesting part is, she was supposed to come to my room at 8:30pm, but they couldn’t get a hold of her doctor to release her. So all night, between my trips to feed my baby, every little sound in the hallway woke me up because I thought it might be Ella coming from the NICU.

As I started, I am so grateful that breastfeeding has been successful. I had some issues with blisters when she was 5 days old, but with some guidance on her latch they healed within 24 hours. Without being able to feed my baby in this way I think the birth would have totally robbed me of my femininity and my identity of what makes me a woman.

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Returning to the birth, once I was changed into a clean gown and settled in the room (at about 1am) my nurse, lets call her April, wanted to hook me up to the fetal and contraction monitors for a strip to make sure the baby was fine following my water breaking. As I lay in the bed, the contractions worsened. Why couldn’t she listen to the baby with a Doppler while I did my own thing out of the bed? I was doing well as long as I was able to squat and breath… well, moan… through the contractions. I’ve just realized as I’m writing this, that for the rest of the labour and birth, I didn’t leave that bed until I was rolled onto the stretcher in the OR. She hooked me up to the continuous fetal monitoring about 10 minutes after I entered that room and I remained laying down for the next 19 hours. How did this happen you might ask? Well… as I mentioned, once I was laying down the contractions worsened considerably and it brought on a wave of nausea and vomiting. April spouted off that the anaesthesiologist was busy doing a section and was lined up for another section following the current one. She said she could likely get him to come between the two surgeries to start an epidural. I told her that I was fine so far and didn’t want drugs. She barely acknowledged what I said and pulled out the IV supplies stating, “well, I’m going to get this started so it’s already up and running when he’s ready.”
It makes me so sad to write about this part, I believe it was the turning point of my labour and I’ve spent the last 2 and a half months believing that I ruined Ella’s birth because of it. I stuck my arm out for the IV and the slippery slope of a medicalized birth had begun. With the increase in intensity of the contractions since laying in the bed, along with the nausea and vomiting, in this moment of weakness when all I needed was a firm “you’re doing great, keep going”, April said, “Do you want something for pain?” And I said yes. She gave me IV fentanyl. It dulled the pain for one or two contractions, but all it really succeeded in doing was making me faint and groggy and unable to get up and walk. The nausea worsened and therefore I was given at least 2 different kinds of antiemetics through the IV. These made me drowsy and edgy at the same time. She brought IV fentanyl twice more (or three times?) as soon as I was able to have another dose. All of this to someone who rarely even takes a Tylenol, and has never even sniffed a gravol. This point of the labour I barely remember, everything was a fog as I drifted in and out of consciousness. I know my husband was beside me and April was flitting in and out of the room talking about things I was barely able to process. The whole thing reminds me of a spy movie where the main character is drugged into submission and made to do and say things to the liking of a “bad guy”.

And then I remember the red cart being brought into the room. The red cart is filled with all of the anaesthesiologist’s supplies to start an epidural. “Good News,” says April, “I got the anaesthesiologist to come between his two c-sections, and he will be here in a minute.” At this point I was thinking, didn’t I say I didn’t want drugs yet? But there I was, pumped full of man-made morphine, and to tell you the truth I was slightly relieved at the thought of the epidural, at least my head might clear a bit if the fentanyl stopped.

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The epidural was a hell all of its own. It took him dozens of jabs, three separate catheters and 2 and a half hours to get it started. This is two and a half hours of being told to “hunch over” and “be still” while contractions are coming every 2 minutes. In hindsight, why didn’t I tell him to take his epidural and kindly let me be? Eventually he got it in the right spot I guess, because the pain of labour went away… and so did all feeling from my armpits down. Most women have heaviness in their legs but can still move them, not me. I could wiggle just one toe on my right leg. I had to be moved around the bed by my husband and the nurse (a new nurse at this point, April left at 7am at shift change). I was absolutely dependant on the people around me to lift my legs and help me around the bed, how pathetic is that? And to top it off, I had 3 separate in and out catheters to drain my bladder.

During the whole epidural process, my dilation had stalled at 6cm. Why do you suppose that was? Could it have been the complete inability for me to relax? No, it was apparently thought that I was stalling because of a lack of hormones. My contractions were still strong and coming every 2 minutes, but at one point I looked up at the IV pump and there it was… pitocin. They had felt it was necessary to start pitocin. It dripped for about 20 minutes before some late decelerations in the baby’s heart rate gave us a scare and they turned it off. My innocent little baby, who depended on me for the last 41+ weeks was under attack from a barrage of narcotics and antiemetics, and she was letting us know that the pitocin was just a little too much. I didn’t even take a Tylenol when I was pregnant, and at this point during labour I was definitely making up for it just when she truly could have done without it.

By about 8am on November 10th I was fully dilated, but not experiencing any desire to push or increasing pressure. The baby’s head was still high after 2 hours of being fully dilated and I was subject to a rough manual exam by the doctor on call. She announced that the baby was OP (facing up) and that was the reason that she wasn’t descending. She then allowed her medical student to repeat the exam for experience since I couldn’t feel it anyway. How humiliating. So then I was given their options to proceed. I could go have a section, or I could try pushing and then likely end up with a section anyway and possibly in a hurry because she was already showing signs of stress (drops in her heart rate and some meconium at this point too). I started to cry and the medical student asked what was wrong. I could only muster saying, “I’m just so disappointed.” I tried a couple of pushes but I was so frozen that my legs were flopping off of the bed without someone holding them and I couldn’t feel anything. I agreed to the section.

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Quite a bit of time has passed since my last entry. I've had time to process a lot of the birth, and I don't think about it as often as I used to. It was a disappointing, scary situation, but I have learned to accept it and I am moving on by planning for my next child's birth (I don't know when that will be, but I know I want more children). I have confidence that my next birth will be vaginally, and if something goes wrong, and I end up with another c-section, the birth is going to be on my terms. I will be far more pro-active and assertive in my desires. The next birth will be a positive experience. (telling myself this over and over helps in the healing process.)

Now, to continue with the birth story... warning! may be a little graphic...

After agreeing to the section, it was only a matter of 30 minutes before I was being wheeled down the hallway toward the OR. DH was dressed in his scrubs, and truthfully he seemed relieved that it would be over soon. I had to be slid onto the OR table because I was so completely frozen, and soon I was prepped and draped for the procedure.

After several minutes, I was finding it difficult to breath. I knew this was a common experience during a c-section. The spinal medication can make it feel like your chest wall muscles aren't moving, giving the feeling of not breathing. I was telling myself this in my head, but when it actually happens, it's very scary. This feeling passed a bit, only to be replaced by nausea and vomitting. By this time, the freezing had travelled up to my chin. My arms were falling off the table's arm rests because I couldn't feel them and I certainly couldn't move them, and my throat was paralyzed, making it impossible to swallow. Let me tell you... this was the worst part of the whole process. I was throwing up, but without the "heaving" because those muscles weren't working, so it was slowly trickling out. I could spit most of it out, but was breathing in some of it because I wasn't able to swallow, or cough it up. I thought I might choke to death before they finished the section. My dear sweet husband sat by my side with one of those suction tubes like the dentist has, and kept holding it to my mouth to suck out what I couldn't swallow.

Finally, they said the baby was out and I heard them say 10:52am. I heard one tiny, gurgling cry, then nothing. The pediatric team took her to the warmer and started to work. (I couldn't see any of this behind the drape). Later I was told (after much prodding), that her heart rate and oxygen levels were always great but she had to be bagged and given Narcan (counteracts morphine type drugs) to start her breathing. I called out, "why isn't she crying?" and they told me that she just needed a little help breathing. After what seemed like forever, she let out another cry and I knew that she was ok. She had an apgar of 4 at 1 minute after birth and an apgar of 9 at 5 minutes. They brought her over to see me before taking her to the NICU for observation. Maybe because she was all wrapped up... but I only remember really noticing her eyebrows and how perfect they were.

Her first good cry...

The first time I saw my beautiful baby... emesis basin and all...

I told DH to go with her, and he spent the next three hours while I was in recovery going between me and Ella, and he updated me on how she was doing. I must say, at this point I was on cloud 9. My baby was perfect and I was healthy (and could swallow again!). I even told DH that I wanted 10 more babies just like her.

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Once Ella was brought from the NICU to my room the next morning, I was REALLY enjoying my lovely little baby. She was very good natured and an eager little nurser. DH roomed in with me for the 3 day stay, and helped with the baby. I'm thankful for him because I was in a lot of pain. After the first 24 hours I was taking only tylenol and ibprophen because the tylenol with codiene wouldn't let me sleep and made me feel dizzy when I closed my eyes. It took me a good 10 minutes to get out of bed and go to the bathroom.

Other nurses will likely understand this... as a nurse, it's always a little uncomfortable caring for another nurse. There's this fear that they may be judging you and your care. Having worked on this mommy/baby unit during nursing school, I knew their procedures and protocols surrounding care of the post-partum mom, the newborn and breastfeeding. During each 12 hour shift, the nurse is supposed to check for breastfeeding positioning and latch at LEAST once per shift, as well as checking fundal height and baby's vital signs. Well... I could check my own fundal height and firmness and I knew the baby was doing great, so it didn't bother me that they neglected these tasks. But, I could have used a little support in the breastfeeding department. My positioning and latch were checked once during my entire hospital stay and this was by a nurse doing a research study, not a nurse that worked on the floor.

During my last day in the hospital my left nipple was getting pretty sore, and by the next night (at home) I cried during one entire feeding. Thankfully, a wonderful woman who worked for the LLL happened to call during my second day home to check up on me. She came right away to help with Ella's latch. Something as simple as getting her mouth open a little bit further fixed the problem and my nipple healed within 24 hours. It has been breastfeeding bliss ever since.

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It has been therapeutic to put my birth experience down in writing. I highly recommend it to anyone who is having a rough time dealing with their experience. As I mentioned before, something that also helps me is planning for the next birth.

Originally, my husband was not open to having a vaginal birth next time. He was afraid of all the things that many people believe are true of a VBAC. I explained to him the benefits of a vaginal birth... the decreased recovery time, better baby outcomes, etc.. I think the statement that began to change his mind was the fact that a planned cesarean still has a higher incidence of complications then a VBAC. With Ella's birth, he only witnessed the trouble during labour, and then the c-section put an end to it all. I think of the birth totally different. I see the labour as being perfect and the a cascade of medical interventions ending in the ultimate intervention (the section) being the problem. I think I've got him on my side now... but the true test will be when I'm pregnant again and the VBAC is just around the corner.

It scares me a little to think that things could end up the same next time. I could go through hours of labour, the baby could be unable to descend and start to show signs of stress, and I'll have another section. However, even if this happens, the birth will be on my terms. I'm not having a sceduled section before my baby is ready to come, I'm not giving in to interventions unless I deem them necessary, and I will be in control of the situation. No one will push me into anything I don't want. I've had a tough birth experience and I'm going to treat it as a learning opportunity. I learned how birth has been medicalized, and I know what I want done differently next time.

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An older relative on DH's side said something strange today. She said, "You're young, I thought your hips would open right up and spit that baby out."

Not only was that a strange thing to say, but I was slightly offended. She went on to talk about her own labour and delivery, and how it lasted like 24 hours and she pushed for hours and hours after that and then her son was born OP or "face-up" just like Ella. And then she said that back in those days you didn't have a choice to just give up.

And how does this story help me? Maybe it helped by making me feel even more deficient in some way. Maybe I could have pushed my baby out if I didn't "give up". Maybe this story made me feel like crud 5 months after the fact. Thanks a lot lady.

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I think I'm ovulating this week. Suddenly I want another baby. Oh the wonders of the human body! Career-wise, it would be a poor decision for me to get pregnant again so soon. I started my current job pregnant and I can imagine the gossip if I left for maternity leave shortly after returning.

However, while I know that I want more children, the current desire will likely pass. Since coming off the birth control pill several years ago, I've become very "in-tune" with my body and my cycles, and I find it amazing how much ovulation can influence a woman. I guess it's part of the reason why humankind has flourished!

So just in case my fertility is returning, I've started charting a little to see what's going on, and as a method of natural family planning. I actually loved charting while TTC, so I've been looking forward to starting up again. If af doesn't return within the next several weeks, I'll stop.

So here's my ticker...

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I like to have my life planned out, whereas my husband is a more... whatever happens, happens personality. So while I had him trapped in the car I was able to ask him when we could start trying for baby number 2. We both agreed on the summer of 2008. If we conceive quickly, Ella would be 2 and a half when she gets a sibling, and that seems like a good period of time between babies.

I know it's a while away, but I'm so excited that I have my next TTC journey to look forward to, and a positive birth experience to plan for.

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I've been thinking a lot lately about my physician, and I think he sort of neglected us in labour and delivery. Don't get me wrong, I know docs usually only show for the pushing part, but I feel like my husband and I had a good relationship with him, and we were left out in the cold with people we didn't know and who didn't know our plans for birth.

I know we could have written a birth plan, but I've watched nurses and doctors scoff at them and basically say, "yeah, right.", so I didn't write one. A doula would have been useful, but where do I find an experienced, trained doula (I would have nothing less) in small-town, rural Canada? I gave birth in a big hospital, but only because I was willing to drive 2 hours to get there, adding in meetings with a doula was just not possible.

So how does this guide my plan for next time?
1. I can't rely on the support of my doc to get me through labour, (duh!)

2. I think I will write a birth plan, regardless of what the staff may think,

3. and if I live in a different area, I will have a doula. If I still live in an area without access to a doula, I will do the best I can to correspond with her via the internet and the telephone and meet with her when it's convenient.

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Deciding to write a birth plan last night made me think about pain relief during labour. Short of general anesthesia, I was given a lot of drugs during Ella's labour. The frustrating part is that I was doing great until I got to the hospital. I was watching my husband play football on the playstation 2 and I told him to finish his game before we left. At this point I was 4-5 centimeters dilated and had been having regular contractions for several hours. The car ride to the hospital sucked, but I even checked myself in at the hospital and walked to the labour assessment unit. As long as I could squat and breath through the contractions I felt like I could handle things very well.

The first few minutes I was connected to the external fetal heart monitor created a dramatic change in my experience. I suppose it could have been a coincidence that at the same moment I was forced to bed, was the same moment my pain intensified... but it's unlikely.

I think I view labour leading up to my admission at the hospital as a very positive experience. I remember being uncomfortable, but I also remember being so happy that my body was finally "in labour" and doing it without augmentation or induction. The pain was there, but it was a good pain (if that makes any sense). It was there for a purpose and by agreeing to (or not opposing to) the drugs I feel like I ruined a beautiful birth.

So next time will I get pain relief in the form of medication? Not unless I need a c-section. I can do it without drugs, I know I can. I think water might help me a great deal. I didn't have a chance to think about getting in the tub last time, but next time I will plan for it. Through out my whole life, and certainly through out my entire pregnancy, I loved laying in the warm water. I find it deeply relaxing, and so I certainly think I can carry that into labour and possibly delivery. I also think that having someone there to tell me I can do it naturally will help. For Ella's birth, my husband knew I would rather labour drug-free, but he also knew to not argue with me if I wanted drugs (what a good hubby, :)). However, in my point of weakness, a little encouragement could have gone a long way, and next time I'll ask for a little argument from him on the subject. Wink

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A lot of women who have had bad experiences with c-sections, harbor resentment within their scar. Their scar represents the removal of their child through, sometimes traumatic, circumstances.

I was never angry about my scar. My belly is so covered in stretch marks that the tiny scar is barely noticeable. It was very thin in the beginning, and over several months post-partum it turned a red color, and is slightly raised. When I pressed on it, it almost felt adhered to the underlying tissue. It was uncomfortable to move it back and forth slightly. I imagined it being adhered to my uterus, and what it would feel like for these bonds to break during a subsequent pregnancy.

Just over the last few days I've noticed the scar seems smoother, and it "slides" freely over the underlying tisse when it's pushed on. It doesn't feel "attached" anymore. I guess my body is just healing, but it made me realize that I did resent my scar... just a little bit.

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I went to my breastfeeding/mommy group last night (which I highly recommend to any mom, it's a great place to talk about anything). I was talking with another mom about her c-section, and the group leader told us about her birth. It was her second baby, and she had arrived at the hospital after a quick onset of labour. The desire to push came on very quickly and she described sitting up in bed and her baby crowning with the doctor on a different floor of the hospital. The nurse had her hang onto her baby as she was coming out, while the nurse removed the cord from around her neck. She then lifted her own baby up to her chest and hugged her close.

She told the story with this far-off happy look on her face. It was such a positive experience for her. The birth sounded amazing, and I had trouble sleeping last night because I kept picturing what a beautiful delivery it must have been. To just reach down and help your child into the world. No drugs, no IV, no doctor, just the mom, her nurse and her baby. Wow.

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I've asked myself a thousand times before that if I have a beautiful, healthy, wonderful baby girl why her birth should bother me in such a way? Afterall, many women lose their babies in circumstances beyond their control, or their children have various health problems (as a nurse, I've been witness to these experiences, and as a mom I simply can not imagine).

After thinking about this question for the past 5 months, I've come to realize the true reason why, regardless of my healthy baby now, the birth continues to sting. She was not a healthy baby during the last part of labour, and she was not a healthy baby immediately after delivery.

She had to be given narcan to counteract narcotics, she didn't start breathing on her own (she had to be bagged), she had to be suctioned for meconium, her blood sugar dropped, she had a tonne of mucus in her lungs and her first apgar score was only a 4.

The thought of these things breaks my heart. I may feel traumatized and violated by the circumstances surrounding Ella's birth, but I may never have felt this way if she came out pink and screaming.

My beautiful baby was limp, blue and not breathing, and that is a terrible thing to think about. :cry:

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**This is copied from another place on pregnancy.org, it is something I still think about and wanted to record it here as well...

My husband is very queasy when it comes to the body. I fully expected (and so did he) that he might faint during Ella's birth. His plan was to stay near my head and try not to see anything that might make him want to run. When the time came however, he was really there for me when I needed him. He held my hand, told me I was doing great and he didn't even come close to fainting after seeing some pretty graphic medical procedures.

So by no means would my husband mean to hurt me and I completely saw the innocence in his question when the other day he asked, "in medical jargon would Ella's birth be called a "birth" because it was a c-section?" I stared at him for a few seconds before my eyes welled up and I muttered, "yes..". Since then I've struggled with his question. If my husband... with his university degree and his infinite sensitivity and love can ask such a question, how many other people out there don't consider a c-section a "birth"?
My baby was born and therefore I've always referred to her coming as a birth no matter what opening she came from but it's made me doubt this otherwise simple, basic thought.

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Does the term VBAC bother anyone?

Vaginal birth after cesarean doesn't sound so bad to me, but there's something about VBAC that drives me nuts. It becomes a label.

I just want my next birth to be natural and normal... not a VBAC. I know as soon as I walk into that hospital I'm going to have that term stamped on my chart. I might as well get it tattooed on my forehead and save myself the trouble of explaining.

I'm sounding a little harsh and angry about this... but I'm not. I'm not angry, just irritated that no matter how hard I work to achieve a vaginal birth that I can feel good about... it's still going to be associated with a c-section. The staff will see "VBAC" or "previous cesarean" as soon as they look at my chart... I bet it will even be posted on their white board listing the names of women giving birth. It might look like this...

Rebecca (G3P1) - 9cm, 100% effaced, +1 station. VBAC! (added in some great labour progress there... heehee)

I just feel like people will say,
"oh, a VBAC huh... so when will the section start?" or
"hmmm, a VBAC, why didn't she just get a nice planned section?"

It just drives me crazy, hopefully I'll get over it soon.

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There are some wonderful women on this board who have had traumatic birth experiences, but I have trouble finding anyone close to me in real life that have had similar experiences. I would love to have a close friend that knew where I was coming from and knew how I felt. i would never wish a stressful or dangerous birth on anyone... but they are so common these days, and it's strange that no one talks about it.

When I ask someone about their child's birth they usually make a comment about the pain, how long it lasted, and how they felt seeing their little one in the end. There may have been circumstances they weren't happy with or that scared them, but very few mention it. Maybe the hurt has faded over time and isn't really remembered, or maybe they think those circumstances are "normal" or to be expected. Maybe birth has been so medicalized that people see something like a c-section as an often inevitable end to pregnancy... or that a blue, drugged baby that needs to be bagged is ok, as long as they're healthy down the road...

I know how much it has helped to write out my feelings, I just think it would further aid in healing to talk about it with someone who understands and is close to me.

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I'll never really know if it was the baby's posterior presentation with her fist by her face or the presence of narcotics and pitocin that lead to the c-section. My heart tells me it was the drugs, my brain tells me it was likely a little of "a" and a little of "b".

So this gives me two avenues of attack. I need to focus on a drug-free labour... and then there's the pesky problem of a posterior presentation (ahhhhh... alliteration... :)). Research shows that a previous OP presentation, ups the chances that the woman will experience the same thing in subsequent deliveries. Personally, I believe my problem happened when my water broke on it's own at 5cm dilated. Ideally, a woman's water breaks in late labour when the head is very firmly pushed into the pelvis. There's nothing I can do about my water breaking on it's own... but there are exercises that I can do next time to encourage an occiput anterior presentation. Activities on my hands and knees are supposed to help, like scrubbing the floor. Pelvic rocking exercises (again done on all fours) can also encourage proper presentation.

The most important part for me might be positive self-talk. Telling myself that the baby will be in the right position to be born vaginally, and I am doing everything I can to work toward a vaginal delivery. Believing in my body again will be important.

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As I wrote in a previous post, I think my fertility is returning, but I don't think I've ovulated yet. Well.. I hope I haven't, because DH and I haven't been very careful. I really don't want to be pregnant for a little while, but we are terrible for consistently using birth control, and my choices are limited because I am nursing.

How would I feel if I took a test tomorrow and turned out pregnant? Happy... but I wouldn't be looking forward to all the, "You're pregnant again already?!" Maybe I shouldn't care so much about what others think, but I live in a small town and I would have to listen to comments like that constantly!

I'd also be afraid that being pregnant again so soon would dampen the possibility of a successful vaginal birth. Maybe I should ask my doctor about the time-frame he goes by. I've heard everything from waiting 2 years following a c-section right down to not needing to wait to try a vaginal birth.

Also, sometimes I remember the nausea and vomitting of pregnancy with vivid clarilty... and that makes me uneasy... lol!

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What is wrong with Atlantic Canada?! Midwives are still not regulated and therefore not allowed to practice independently here. It's like we're back in the stone-ages... only midwives were allowed back then! Grrrrrr... Apparently, in 5-10 years the proper laws will be in place and midwives can settle in here, but by the time that happens I might be finished having babies! It's even crossed my mind to move before I get pregnant again to a place where I can have a natural/normal birth in a birth centre or even in a hospital... but with a midwife.

I just feel like many midwives have a philosophy of care that is closely related to my own. I need someone who believes in a woman's body and the ability to labour and give birth without all the "extras". I need someone who will walk into the room and just know that I can do it, and support me in that quest. Not someone who will walk into the room, look at the continuous fetal monitoring, hang an IV to get things going and then discuss the possibility of a repeat cesarean...

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I put my temperature in my chart this morning and fertility friend gave me some dotted crosshairs. I haven't had a post-partum af yet, and my temps did this little rise earlier and nothing happened... but seeing those lines and the bd-ing timing made my heart flutter a bit.

I'm very confused about what's going on with us right now. We don't want to be pregnant again so soon... and yet we're doing nothing about it! We aren't TTC, and yet we aren't not TTC either. Everytime I talk to dh about it he gets this "I'm not listening to you" look on his face, and doesn't want to talk about it (it=the fact that we're really not taking any precautions, and I could get pregnant again). Other times I'll joke about it and he'll say, "Why? Are you pregnant? Are you not telling me something?"... he asks with a nervousness in his voice, but I also detect a hint of excitement. If he would like another baby, I wish he would just tell me. And they say women are complicated! Smile

Hmm... now that I re-read what I just wrote it seems a little obvious that he does want another baby, but thinks it's too soon... so if it happens by "accident" then the timing is out of his hands. Or maybe I'm just looking into it too much. lol!

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I asked DH outright if secretly he wants another baby right now. He didn't really say yes or no, just side stepped the question. Yesterday he did say that now that Ella is no longer an infant, he can picture having another one, and he even said he would like to have 2 or 3 more! I've always wanted a big family and said 4 children seemed like a good number, but I could never get him to agree! So it's awesome that we're both on the same page at this point. It was a huge thing for me when he said he wouldn't mind having more then 2 children!

And on an entirely different note... I've done something I thought I would never do.. I've started using cloth diapers along with disposibles. And I think I'm in love. If you've never looked into it, there's an entire world of super-cute washable diapers out there! And I can easily see it becoming an addiction.

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I'm thinking about the birth more lately... with all the talk about baby #2, I think it's sinking in that before long I'll be faced with some tough decisions, and trying to create a positive birth experience.

I can't decide whether I'm angry about the birth, or disappointed. I tend to lean toward disappointed. I believe the hospital staff could have been more supportive and encouraging rather then pushing drugs and augmentation, but ultimately I blame myself and that causes disappointment. I could have been more clear about my wishes and desires, but in that moment of weakness when I was in pain and throwing up, I caved and let them do things to my body that I didn't want. I needed to be strong, and I wasn't, I felt totally weak and powerless. I hear women talking about their birth as a moment of triumph and strength, and all I felt was weakness and defeat. That's a good way to describe my feelings... defeated.

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"Unassisted homebirth" has been a topic of discussion a lot on my birth board lately. It means that a woman gives birth at home with no trained professionals present, and sometimes completely alone.

I would never go this route for my own birth, but I have been spending a great deal of time reading birth stories on the internet of these deliveries. There's something about a woman reaching down and helping her own child into the world that is so amazing to me. I daydream about giving birth in this way... no drugs, moving around as I see fit, pushing only when my body tells me to and being without fear during the entire process. Pain yes... but with no fear. Of course, my daydream also includes a health care professional standing by and intermittent monitoring of the baby via doppler... but the health care provider is only there as a support person and helps catch the baby on his or her way out.

This would be my ultimate goal. A hospital birth that is essentially "unassisted"... I think before the next birth I will practice the line, "please leave me alone". Smile

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I've been really emotional over the last few days. I cry at commercials, at talk shows, and just looking at my baby. I feel silly even putting this in writing because I'm likely not... but I feel pregnant. In a few days I'll likely post about the home pregnancy test that was a glaring negative... but I can't get the thought out of my mind. It doesn't really make sense... I don't think I've ovulated since dd was born, but it's hard to know for sure. I think I'll buy a test tomorrow.

Or maybe I'm about to get my first post partum period, and I'm pms-ing. Smile

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Happy First Mother's Day to me! Smile

I woke up this morning to DH and baby looking over me in bed. They bought me a sweet little diamond ring that says "MOM", a matching wall plaque and candle, a mommy mug and a card from each of them... I love my family.

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So, I ended up buying a couple of cheapy pregnancy tests and a clear blue one in case something showed up on the cheapy. Last night I took both no-name tests and both times the faintest-of-faint lines showed up after about 8 minutes. I have to hold them in a certain light to see it and it may just be my mind playing tricks on me... here's a pic, you likely can't see anything unless you try really hard and lean back from your monitor.... heehee

The lines are most likely evap type lines because the tests are so cheap, but it made me want to take the clear blue this morning (+ or - test). They always worked well for me before. So I POAS and set it down on the counter. As the control line showed up, so did a test line! My knees went to jello, my heart started racing, my hands were shaking like mad and I was thinking, "oh god oh god oh god".... but as I continued to watch, after about a minute the line got fainter and fainter and pretty much disappeared. Here's a pic...

So, I don't know what to think. In that moment when I thought I was actually pregnant I almost felt panicky... but I was mostly thinking about what other people would say. In my heart I knew it was likely too soon, but I was ecstatic... and now that it looks like I'm not pregnant, I'm a little disappointed.

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Just as an update to the previous post... I took another test yesterday morning and it was clearly negative. I had my hopes up a little, so I was bummed, but I can still look forward to TTC again in the not-so-distant future.

I had a doctors appointment today. I asked about getting a prescription for the pill. While I would be super excited to get pregnant again right away, dh needs a little more time and it will also be nice to not play the testing game as I did this weekend. Although I don't intend on starting the pill until af shows up naturally... the longer I can go without her ugly face the better! Smile

And even better news from my doctor's appointment... he doesn't believe in necessary "waiting times" between a c-section and a vaginal birth. So I can get pregnant whenever we're ready and I will have the go-ahead for a vaginal birth plan! Yippee! I had this fear that the hospital would have a 2 year wait policy or something and I would miss it by a month and be denied the opportunity to try. So I'm glad that won't be an issue...

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I'm usually in awe of wonderful birth stories and love hearing them, but last night at my breastfeeding group it was different. One woman there just had her second baby a month ago and she was telling the pregnant woman about how amazing the birth experience was and she was telling them not to worry about it.

I felt sad. I would love to tell my pregnant friends about a beautiful birth to encourage them, but I have nothing but rotten things to say about labour and delivery. I always tell them about how wonderful it is to be a mother and how amazing it is to look at your baby... but unless they specifically ask, I don't mention her birth.

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I think I've been compensating for an anything-but-natural birth by doing more "natural" things with Ella now. I always knew I would breastfeed... but I never imagined making my own baby food (I hate cooking), and I'm even using cloth diapers approx. 50% of the time (I hate doing laundry), I've stopped using a lot of household chemicals and harsh cleaners, I'm a proud "baby-wearer", I co-slept until she preferred not to... etc. etc...

As I was scooping baked sweet potato into a freezer tray tonight, this suddenly occurred to me - I feel like I owe it to her. She deserves the extra work for what she went through during her birth. Things got totally out of control and in the meantime I felt unable to protect my baby. And as a mother, it was devastating. Through simple tasks like mashing a whole banana instead of opening a jar... in some way I feel in control and I am protecting her... even if it's a very small gesture in the grand scheme of things.

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I know she'll never remember her birth... but it makes me so sad that her first view of the world was a hard surface with several masked people surrounding her and staring down at her. She was jabbed in the leg muscle with a needle, she had air forced into her lungs and a suction tube down her throat. Her first moments should have been on my chest, she should have heard her mother's voice and been held close and hugged. She should have been allowed to latch onto my breast.

It feels like I've taken a huge step backwards lately in processing her birth. I'm thinking about it more often again, and especially what I described above. I keep telling myself that she won't remember... but does that mean that immediate contact and breastfeeding only matters to the mother? I don't think so... it benefits the baby too, and my baby didn't get that. Sad

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OMG, I love my baby.

She's just so freakin' cute, and sweet and she smells so delicious. I love kissing those buttery soft cheeks, and her hair is so delicate and smooth. Some days I just can't get enough of her.

Motherhood is amazing.

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My dh and I were sitting in the livingroom last night and out of the blue he said, "you know, I was thinking... I want to just let it happen." :shock:

He's talking about baby #2. He knows that due to breastfeeding it could be a while before my fertility returns, but he also knows it could be any day now. And he's prepared for that! Yippee!

So I'm not sure that we're officially "TTC", but we are officially "just letting it happen". (in my mind, that's TTC... heehee)

I also had a reading done by Cheri (she predicts family/pregnancy related events through her website) and she can see a little boy with chubby cheeks and sandy-coloured hair in my future :). She sees March as either my birth month, the month I conceive or the month I find out I'm pregnant. That means I could get pregnant within the next month (making me due in March) or I'll be pregnant by March... if she's right Wink

So I've made a new ticker to mark the date we've officially begun to "just let it happen"...

ETA: I'll leave this ticker, but BFP at the 7 month mark! Smile

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It seems like my feelings surrounding the c-section come and go in waves. One week I feel terrible about it, the next I feel so optimistic about the next birth that the section is overshadowed.

This week I feel great. I feel ready to take another shot at a vaginal delivery. I feel empowered and able and I don't feel afraid. During my pregnancy with Ella I always had a feeling it would end in surgery, and right now I feel like the next birth will be vaginal. I can picture "dancing" my baby down, feeling each contraction and bearing down as my body demands. I picture birthing in a squating position on the floor and feeling my baby crown and then come from my body. I get to hold the little person against my chest and I cry because we've done it... we've birthed without drugs and cutting... and it is amazing and wonderful.

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I'm starting to feel the need to get into shape. I've never been athletic... or overly active in any sense of the word really... lol! I was a bookworm rather than a jock, and my "clutziness" has never worked to my advantage in organized sports.

However, I can't get it out of my head that I need to get in shape and drop a little weight for my next birth to be a success. I'm at about my pre-pregnancy weight, but other than during pregnancy it's the biggest I've ever been. I feel frumpy, saggy and weak. I don't think I could do a sit-up if I tried, and last I checked, strength helps in the pushing-out-a-baby department. Wink

So I'm weighing in at about 169lbs... and 145 sounds like a good birth-a-baby number to me. So I'll round it up a bit and say I want to lose 25lbs. This is my new project. I think it will help keep me from obsessing about "just letting it happen" for baby number 2.

The plan...
~ Cut down on "treats". I eat WAY to much junk food. I crave it! I can eat a whole box of cookies in 24 hours, I eat a chocolate bar a day and it needs to stop.
~ Exercise more. I've already started walking with a couple of friends, but it needs to be at least 3 times a week. I also would like a new bike so I can start biking again! It's the one physical activity I really enjoyed in the past and I lost ten pounds just biking around town in the summer before my wedding... so if it worked then, it should work now. So time to start saving some $ for a new bike!

ETA on Jan 10th/08: I lost 10lbs by November, 2007 and that's where the weight loss ended.... for now. :roll:

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I just wanted to thank the women that have taken the time to send me a message about their own traumatic birth experience and to say that they understand. While I would never wish these experiences and feelings upon my worst enemy, it is nice to know that I'm not alone in the world feeling this way.

(((HUGS to the hurting Mommas out there)))

:giveflower: :comfort:

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Last night I was thinking about the recovery period at home following the c-section. I had forgot how often I cried out of frustration for the first couple of weeks post partum.

I didn't have that typical feeling that the incision might rip open, but every movement caused pain. It took 20 tiny movements just to roll over in bed and getting out of bed required a strategic game plan. It was frustrating to say the least, and if it wasn't for the support of my husband I would have been seriously restricted in my ability to care for my newborn. After a while, I would start to feel better and I would increase my level of activity.. only to be in 10 times as much pain by the end of the day.

I cried a lot. Not because of the pain itself necessarily, but because I was frustrated that I couldn't do anything normally. This period of time lasted about 14 days. I don't know what I'll do if I end up with another section for baby #2 and I have a toddler running around... but what do I need to worry about? I'm not having another section. Wink

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Cheri22 got back to me with the rest of my reading...

"Cheri22" wrote:

As mention I am seeing a BOY coming your way.

When it comes to your son would tell you that i See him as someone who is very good with people. Is awlays himself and never feels the need to try and be someone that he is not. I see him with light colored hair and light colored eyes and a very easy going genuine smile.

I think that you will find that he is someone who is pretty much up for anything, is always willing to go out with a friend and try something new is going to have a wide variety of interests and seems to be good at pretty much every sport that he tries. I see him being closer to 5'11 in height with nice broad shoulders.

he is someone who I would consider a good "mentor' people feel comfortable coming to him for advice, the respect his opinons and often gives advice that he himself would follow. I think that you will find that your son is someone who is very easy to talk to, listens well, and often is helpful when in a situation that you can't solve on your own. I see your son as someone who too is a bit "spiritual" and really does believe in alot of things. Always has hope and his positive nature to "lead" him and finds ways of coping with stress so that its not overwhleming.

When it comes to career paths, I see him working in a recreation centre often teaching various kids programs, or sports related programs. He also volunteers at a local "office" for boys who need guidance. usually ones that are close to having to goto "juvie" or had a run in with the law. hes a " mentor" someone that they can look up to and he offers guidance. Trying to connect them with people that can help them achieive their goals.

When it comes to marriage I see him closer to 23, they will have one boy of thier own.

My future son actually sounds a lot like my husband. Smile

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I'm finding that I can think about my dd's birth more often now without all of the hurt and negative feelings (it's been 7 months today). I think I'm actually coming to terms with it in a lot of ways... and I owe it to discussing my feelings here and planning for my next birth.

Maybe through this negative experience I've even grown as a person. I feel able to stand up for myself and take charge of situations that have the potential to negatively affect my life.

And as I mentioned before... breastfeeding remains my steadfast "natural parenting" accomplishment. My little one has been nursing for 7 months strong today, and I'm so proud of us.

Happy 7-month-birthday my princess.

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If (and when ;)) I achieve a vaginal birth with my next baby... I wonder how I'll prepare/feel about a third pregnancy? If space/finances permit, we would like to have a large family.

I wonder how disappointed I would be if my birth stats ended up.. section, vaginal, section... oh gawd! I've never really thought about this before now, and I just don't know how I'd deal with it. Would it be like achieving success and then having it taken away? Or would the vaginal birth always be a positive memory that would carry me through the disappointment of a second section?

It seems so daunting to know that I might be fearing another section for the rest of my "family making" years.

*sigh* I don't know how to work through this thought...

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I feel like I've hit a stall point in my healing process.

The prospect of fearing a section for not only the next pregnancy but any future pregnancy is daunting. And as I write, I realize the operative word there is "fear". If I work on getting rid of the "fear of a section", then it won't affect my planning and anticipation of future births.

So how do I get rid of the fear? How do I empower myself to not fear a section when the possibility of having one is real?

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i just received a sweet pm from another member who read my journal. She has negative feelings surrounding her child's birth, which was vaginal.

I think I also need to prepare myself for the posibility that a vaginal birth may not turn out as I dream it will. Maybe the pain will be traumatizing (as I've heard from several women), or maybe the baby's outcome right after birth will be less than perfect. I guess I've put a vaginal birth up on a pedestal, and I need to consider the fact that things can still go wrong and I may still be disapointed.

However, the most important thing I'm working on is the ability to take control of whatever situation I'm in, and this is bound to improve either birth experience... I hope.

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I'm having some very strange dreams lately. The first one involved my cousin (who is not pregnant by the way). She went to the bathroom and her water broke and her baby crowned and was born. In the dream I was so excited about her awesome easy birth and she was like, "yeah, it was fine." She had this blah attitude about it while I was pumped. At the same time I was kind of jealous because I had recently ended up with a section and I wasn't even asked abot trying a vaginal birth, they just sectioned me.

My next dream I was laying in the bathtub and I was telling DH that I thought I was pregnant. As I was saying it I felt and saw the baby move and said, "see look! The baby is moving!" and he agreed that I was pregnant. The funny thing was I knew I was only like 10 weeks along, but it wasn't odd to me that I could see the baby moving. Very strange.

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I've been caught off guard with my emotions over the last couple of weeks. I'm having sudden intense feelings about my birth experience, and then it's gone as quickly as it started. For example, I went to a book reading about with the author of "The Birth House" (it's about a midwife in training during WW1), and during the reading I though I was going to cry. Just the notion of a natural, drug free, woman centered birth nearly brought me to tears.

The intense feelings aren't always sad or angry. Often I have this overwhelming desire to "save" women and help women before, during and after the birth of their children. Increasingly I have the desire to pursue midwifery, lactation consulting, doula training, and to just talk to women about their births. I've always been obsessed with pregnancy and all things related and I feel like it's time to steer my career in that direction... and I'm so excited!

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So af has made her post partum debut! I could be on my way to ovulation in just a couple of short weeks. It's exciting, but a little scary at the same time. Ella is such a good baby, and having 2 must be soooooo busy! Smile I'm sure it's all worth it though...

Maybe once I'm pregnant I'll worry about the actual birth, but right now I'm really calm about it. I'm resolute in the fact that I won't be getting pain or nausea medications as long as I'm labouring, and I just feel ready for a second shot at the birth experience that I want.

I've been talking a lot to other women (mostly during night shifts at work) about their birth experiences and I'm really enjoying it. I've even found another woman (who is also TTC #2) who had a very similar birth experience. She laboured with pain medications, had an OP baby and ended up with a c-section. She is also hoping for a vaginal birth next time and has swore off ever getting another epidural. I'm secretly hoping that we both conceive around the same time and we can support one another in our next pregnancies and births.

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I think it's possible that I ovulated last night. I've had some watery cm the last few days, a temp drop (which I often get before o), and I also had some mild cramping on the right side of my lower abdomen as I got into bed last night. So we'll see what happens over the next few days... hopefully I'll get an obvious thermal shift.

On a different note... I'm just sick over the second loss one of our dear p.org members experienced recently. I just don't understand how things like this can happen. I'm so sad, but angry at the same time. If there is a "higher power" I don't know how he or she can let something like this happen.. She of course has my thoughts, sympathies and anything else... but I'm just so confused as to why one person who is so sweet and strong and loving can be forced to endure such loss, not just once, but a second time. I'm just heartbroken for her...

I feel like this journal is filled with my own sense of loss, but it pales in comparison to what she is going through and I'm embarrassed and ashamed of my complaining.

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Where has the time gone? My sweet little girl is 10 months old and quickly becoming a toddler instead of a baby. She's so close to walking, and she has such a little personality now. She's a ham in public... she loves to entertain and is so curious about everything. She also has a bit of a temper when she's tired. Smile

I can honestly say that I'm feeling much better now, maybe even "healed". I've come to terms with the birth, I know what went wrong and I've identified the things that I can change. I spend a lot of my quiet time (especially when I go to bed and before I fall asleep), daydreaming about my next birth experience. A couple of notions really stand out for me... I picture labouring in the water, a birthing ball being important and helpful, listening to music, having the room warm and dark, and I also picture my husband there, but I would love to have a doula. As I may have mentioned before, I live in a very small rural town, and I will have trouble finding a trained doula. There is a lady I know however, who had her two girls naturally, and is a bit "crunchy" on the lifestyle front. More and more I'm picturing her present at the birth... however, when I do get pregnant again, I might be a little scared to ask her. What if she thinks I'm weird? What if she thinks, "OMG, I'd rather be anywhere but there!"... it could make for an awkward situation if she's less than thrilled at the prospect.
I know there's lots of time before I actually cross this bridge... I'm just enjoying this pre-pregnancy planning phase. Smile

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I think I'm 3 DPO right now, and if so, the BD timing was pretty good. Hopefully in a couple of weeks I can really start planning my 2nd birth experience. Smile

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Joined: 05/24/05
Posts: 944

Well, onto pp cycle #2. It's a bummer, but it's not the same feeling as when I was TTC my daughter. Having a little one as a distraction helps, and I know it's not a guarentee, but I always have it in the back of my mind that I've conceived twice before so with time it should happen again... that's what I'm hoping anyway. Smile

Over the 2 years I've been a member of preg.org, I've had so many great experiences here. There's a wealth of knowledge just waiting to be tapped and you really get to know the other regulars...
Recently I've made contact with a doula who's close to the hospital I birthed my daughter... I met her here at preg.org and I'm looking forward to getting to know her a little better and maybe someday she'll join me in the birth of my next little one. Smile

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