This blog has been a long time coming. I'm currently still in the midst of HG. I just haven't had the oomph to get into something that has been so difficult for me and is draining in every single way. However, I got a kick in the pants today to sit down and focus. I'd like to share a bit about my experience with HG, Hyperemesis Gravidarum.
What is Hyperemesis Gravidarum?
Unrelenting. Debilitating. Traumatic. Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is severe nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. It occurs in only 1% of pregnancies, so the majority of the population and most doctors have no idea what it is or what to do about it. It can set in 2- 5 weeks after conception. What it isn't is morning sickness in a normal pregnancy. Worse and different than food poisoning. HG is incurable, often undertreated, overlooked, and stigmatized. No one knows what causes it, although there are theories.
It follows no pattern. There's no way to know who will get it. Although it often runs in families. You can be young, older, pregnant with either gender, healthy, unhealthy, thin, fat, any race, doesn't matter. HG doesn't discriminate. You can have a "normal" textbook pregnancy and the next one get HG. You can have it once in one pregnancy and not in other pregnancies, or you can get it again and again, sometimes worse than the previous HG pregnancy. It doesn't even follow a pattern day to day when you're battling it. Some days are ok, good even ( typically once you're on fluids and meds), or total hell. I'll say there are far more bad days than not, and even on a good day you're bound to be battling aversions or nausea or fatigue. This is HG.
You lose weight or don't gain weight, but some women still gain weight, even without eating and constantly puking. There aren't safe foods or drinks, it's a guessing game day to day. What you could eat one day you can't eat again. Smells are off. Nothing tastes the way it should. You either have too much saliva or not enough. Puking into the bathroom sink while brushing your teeth, unable to tolerate the brush in your mouth or the taste of toothpaste, mouthwash, or even the taste of your toothbrush. You lose control of your bodily functions while throwing up often peeing and crapping on yourself. Bloody noses from throwing up so hard. Passing out from throwing up so hard. Throwing up acid, bile, and blood because there's nothing else left to puke up. Cursing into the toilet between vomiting spells, crying, collapsing onto the cold bathroom floor. Social isolation. Exhaustion. Bed rest. Muscle loss. This is HG.
HG can cause severe dehydration, organ failure, ketosis, malnourishment, decay and loss of teeth, and metabolic imbalances, and some babies don't get enough water to survive in. Even in the past recent decades there were women dying from it, because they were told it's all in their heads. Still today, in 2019 we're still told it's all in our head by some providers. This is HG.
This is not morning sickness. This is not the "princess disease." Which by the way she's a duchess. Not sure what I'm referring to? Duchess Kate suffered with HG, and it made headlines. Comedian Amy Schumer suffered with HG. That made headlines. My heart goes out to both women and all women with this illness. It should make headlines and be talked about. But it isn't a trend or the popular thing to do or have. And it's always been around.
This is my third pregnancy and my second with HG. My first pregnancy was 16 years ago with my son and it was so easy ( pic of us in 2004). I had no idea how hard pregnancy could be. Sure I got tired, and had a little discomfort in my growing belly. I had a cesarean because he was transverse and wouldn't turn. I threw up all of 2, maybe 3x with him. Once after taking some vitamins before I knew I was pregnant. The second time after eating some food at Chicago Connection, and the third time because I had a cold and stomach bug in February that year. I didn't have HG. I didn't even get morning sickness. A twinge of nausea, and I mean a twinge in the first couple weeks after discovering I was pregnant. It was like, " aw, how cute. I feel a little nausea." I didn't even need a saltine. I worked 12 hour days on my feet as a server at the Olive Garden. I walked a couple miles to work and back most days. I went swimming a couple times a week.
Fast forward 12 years to 2015. My son now 12. Recently married to my long time partner of 9 years at that point. We immediately tried for a baby. Bam, pregnant with the first attempt. I was elated, over the moon. I had wanted that second pregnancy for 10 years. For 10 years I kept saying I know I have a little girl just waiting for me. I was in tears full of joy to learn I was pregnant. Within a week of finding out I was absolutely, terribly ill. However I had never heard of HG and assumed I was having morning sickness. Which by the way is so misleading in itself. Morning sickness happens at any time.
I knew before I got pregnant with my daughter that I didn't want another hospital experience if I could help it. I wanted to be with midwives and in my home or a birth center for my birthing time ( labor and delivery). I didn't want an OB or anything overly clinical. I wanted to have a natural, "normal" experience. I say "normal" because normal can be so subjective. I just knew I didn't want to give birth in a hospital again. I adored my midwives from the first meeting. They were kind, loving, experienced, and intelligent. I felt totally safe and trusting of them. I mentioned at my first appointment that I wasn't feeling well and was told to try Unisom and b6. I'll get to that in a bit in more detail. I gave it a shot and it helped to take the edge off a bit, but I was still really sick. I did keep down some food and fluids, so I never had to make a hospital trip. I was gaining weight. My midwife said it sounded like I had HG, and she explained briefly what it was. I looked it up and was filled with anxiety. The meds, the side effects, hospital visits. I didn't want anything to do with it. So I kept popping Unisom and B6, sleeping away the first 16 weeks of my pregnancy. Crying, puking, feeling weak. Staying dehydrated, and not digging further into what HG was because I was scared. At 18 weeks HG ws totally 100% gone. Boom, just like that I felt like crap all that time, then gone. I was so thankful. But that pregnancy wasn't done throwing me around yet. That's a story for another time. I do think though, looking back, knowing what I know now, that having HG and probably letting it slide too much and too scared to treat it further, that it worsened things that were to come.
These photos I took of myself were just a couple days prior to my daughter's birth. I was depressed, anxious, and out of patience, crying all the time from having such a difficult pregnancy. I just wanted it to be over.
My birth experience didn't go as I had hoped. I ended up transferred to an OB, luckily a really good one, and one week before I had my daughter she took me into her care, and I had yet another cesarean.
My husband and I had talked about wanting two children close in age. My son was so much older and i knew I didn't want our daughter to grow up as an only kid like my son. So there was talk, but after my pregnancy and having another c section, I was just filled with trauma, anxiety, and no desire to get pregnant again. I was scared. So I put it off. Knowing I really wanted to have one more child, feeling it deep down, feeling like I had one more girl waiting in the wings. I kept talking it over with my husband time to time, both of us wanting to, but I just couldn't give the go ahead. He was totally understanding. He took care of me with my pregnancy with our daughter, and saw what I went through. There was a lot of talk about adoption. I just couldn't get past the conflict in my heart about the trauma I faced with our daughter and the desire for another kid. I felt stupid for even thinking about going through another pregnancy. I felt selfish for wanting to have my own child and not adopt. In the same breath I loved the idea of adopting too.
May of this year came along, and at the last minute just before my ovulation phase started I said, " let's just do this. One time. One shot. If I get pregnant, I get pregnant. If not, we adopt." My husband chuckled a bit and siad, " ok babe, whatever you want to do." I told him this time if I get sick again I would do whatever it takes to survive HG and anything else thrown my way during pregnancy. I wasn't going to put my head in the sand. I wasn't going to let fear stop me from doing what I needed to do. I made peace with that. Knowing I may not have the experience I wanted for so long to just have a regular pregnancy, healthy, vaginal birth, with midwives, and in a home environment. That's ok. This time I wouldn't place any expectations. I gave myself grace and understanding, because if I didn't I knew it would devastate me.
Sure enough by 11 dpo I was nauseous.. I was nervous HG was starting. I had nausea building up for 4 days until I started bleeding. I bled for a week, unsure if I was miscarrying, and told that perhaps I might need to be ready to hear that. How the hell does anyone prepare to hear that? I don't know. It was breaking my heart that week, but then I got good news that my HCG levels kept going up. My blood tests were confirming it.
Pics from my two ER visits in one week in July this year.
Two days after getting that news HG kicked in hard and fast. Like an evil monster lurking and waiting for the perfect moment to pounce. Just when I thought ok, I can be happy and move forward, boom, HG says, nuh uh, time to fight. HG came on harder, faster, and with more than my last pregnancy. This is when I learned real fast that HG has a spectrum.
June 30 I went in to the ER for my first round of fluids. I was shaken up. I couldn't stop puking. I was vomiting all day, and in the two hours before going to the hospital I threw up 18 times alone. 18 times in two hours. I had been puking for 14 days straight. I had aversions to everything. I couldn't handle any smells. I couldn't eat or drink. I could barely pee. I couldn't take it. This is where I had to remind myself of the peace I made to accept what comes and get help.
My husband drove me to the ER. Tears rolling down my cheeks. Anxiety setting in. This was how my pregnancy was going to go and I was overtaken with grief and sadness. I was hooked up to two bags of fluids and put on IV Zofran and Phenergan. Mom guilt set in. What happens to my baby? Still so little and developing, only a few weeks along. What will this medicine do?
With reassurance from nurses and doctors I took the meds. I wanted them. I desperately wanted anything to make it stop. But it's hell not knowing if this is the thing you do that fucks up your kid. And soon after the meds were given I started to feel better. I perked up. I wanted ice chips, and I felt hungry. Actual hunger pains. So they brought me saltines. Nothing was ever so good as those ice chips were though at that moment.
That one day I thought I could face getting out of the house for a drive to the mountains. Only to puke all over in gas stations along the way. My husband hooked me up to my IV in the car. It was great to just get out though. 8/3/19
To skip along and spare a long winded story. I had three more ER visits in the couple weeks following. Then I was put on a peripheral IV for about a week. My veins kept blowing because I was too dehydrated. It was taking 7-10 hours for one bag of fluid to empty into me. My doctor ordered a picc line to be put in.
To sum it up the last 18 weeks that I've been pregnant I have been severely sick for 14 of those weeks, since it started at about 4 weeks after ovulation, which I don't know, do the math, two weeks after conception? Doesn't' matter, long enough. For three months I could barely eat. There were weeks I went totally without eating. I still cannot get fluids down or keep them down. I still have aversions and problems with smells. I've dealt with cabin fever and isolation. Depression, anxiety, anger, sadness, hopelessness. Some days I can barely get out of bed I'm so sick and so fatigued.
For the first 2.5 months I needed help with everything and could do nothing for anyone else. I couldn't get in a car without puking. I slept a ton. I still puke till I pee myself and my nose bleeds. I have side effects from the meds. I have major mom guilt. My teeth hurt and a couple are showing signs of decay so I am seeing my dentist next week, because my mouth and face is in pain from those teeth. I've puked up acid, bile, blood. My esophagus has been painfully raw. I've had times I couldn't talk, because it made the vomiting and nausea worse. I couldn't move because it made the vomiting and nausea worse, Just getting up to pee was too much.
I've bawled on the bathroom floor, reached out in support groups on Facebook, dealt with insensitive comments from people that don't understand it, I've lost weight, gained weight, not put weight on, gained back, lost again. I've been told I look like shit more than I can count. I've been told I don't look pregnant enough or even at all. I've been told I must be better because I wore makeup and "looked" better. I've dealt with much of what HG can hit a woman with, but I haven't been put on a feeding tube or hospitalized for which I'm grateful for.
As for the picc and fluids I'll get into that just below. Let's talk meds next.
One week's worth of meds, vitamins, and fluids.
The meds used to treat women with HG are used by chemo patients. Yes, read that again.
But first, here's how it goes.
Unisom and B6. That's the first go to. I haven't heard of a doc or midwife that doesn't advise this first. Insurance companies typically require it to be the first step before covering any other prescription meds. Especially if you are really in the early stages of pregnancy.
Then comes Phenergan, then Zofran, Benadryl, and Reglan. Diclegis, which is just a super outrageously expensive Unisom and b6 prescription version. Even with our insurance it was about $400 for one fill, so I declined. There was another one that I can' recall at the moment, it sounds like diamond something, not important right now. That one is essentially Dramamine. Antacids are prescribed too, because some like Zantac may help with nausea, and they help keep acid at bay.
Some women report having depression and suicidal thoughts being on Reglan. I passed on that. Phen made me so tired. It knocked my ass out cold. I couldn't stop sleeping. so that wasn't going to work with my 3 year old running around. Currently my doc is prescribing it rectally at night. We'll see how that goes as I haven't picked it up just yet from the pharmacy.
Zofran. This one has come with a lot of controversy over the years. In the end it's the one I've been on consistently, taking 4 dissolvable tabs in a day. I'm not even going to touch on the mess on the net about Zofran. Look it up if it strikes your curiosity.
Zofran side effects. Fuck. OMG. The migraines and severe constipation. I was impacted and constipated the first four weeks after starting it. I didn't have a bowel movement for 4 weeks straight. Nothing. Nada. Bet you wanted to know about my bowel habits. Well it comes with the territory of HG. It's referred to as having "Z poops" in the support groups among HG women. It causes massive constipation. Painful constipation. Constipation that leaves you crying on the toilet, sweating, bleeding, and texting your husband that you think you are going to die on the toilet while your toddler watches Frozen and he's at work. Put on a glove and lube a finger and dig shit out of your ass constipation, because nothing helps get it moving. Try taking Miralax and Milk of Magnesia with HG. Yeah that goes over really well, It comes right back up. At least for me. The only way I can have bowel movements now is to do enemas. I do two a week and cry every time for the last few months.
I still throw up with Zofran. But not near as much. It doesn't even scratch the surface of helping my debilitating nausea though. It's not really for nausea, but to basically tell my brain to stop puking and ends the signals coming through to puke. HG just says fine, instead of puking 40 plus times a day, we'll just puke a handful of times. Maybe 2, maybe 6, maybe 10 times, but it's less. I'll give it that.
I don't know the official count, but over the last 8 weeks I've had at least 168 doses of Zofran. I've been taking it since about week 6 or 7 of my pregnancy, so not sure how much exactly though.
HG Can Suck my PICC
A picc line is a thin, soft, long catheter that is inserted into a vein in your arm. It's about 18- 24 inches and goes up the arm and down toward the heart. but not into the heart. Mine was just removed this morning, Wednesday, Sept. 18. I had mine in for about 7 weeks.
It has been a lifeline to me. I felt almost like myself with it. It kept me hydrated. Hydration is key to helping battle HG. Dehydration is the Magneto to Charles Xavier, the archenemy to the woman suffering with HG.
It took a couple weeks, but with consistent fluids and vitamins via my PICC line I was getting some energy back, far less vomiting, and an appetite. Even the nausea was slightly less debilitating, though never gone. There's risks with a PICC line, clotting, infections, and it cannot get wet.
I took showers by keeping my Mighty Well PiCC cover on, just as I do all day, every day to protect it, then wrapping in cling wrap, then taping down a bread oer it with waterproof tape. I only took showers once a week, because it's a pain in the ass, and too risky to chance getting it wet. I had anxiety with every shower. The rest of the week I just used wet washcloths to wipe down. Let me tell you there's nothing like a shower when you feel like hell, and to wait it out once a week isn't great, but it is what it is. Of course HG at its worst I'd end up jsut puking in the shower, because I couldn't tolerate being in the shower. Luckily, that has happened less and less over time.
14 weeks, my bread bad and cling wrap method for showering with a picc line.
Anyways, my PICC line was a Godsend. I was nervous to get it. But once it was in it was so much better then having an IV in. Fluid flowed in well, and I got hydrated with a couple bags a day.
All in all over the course of about 8 weeks between my IV and PICC line I had
Still, getting the news caught me off guard, and I ended up bawling and having a serious amount of anxiety facing it coming out, because it really, truly feels like losing my only lifeline. The one things that gives me hope and helps me get through my days. It's like with HG you already don't have control over your body, and then when your doc says no more PICC line you also have no say over what happens to your body. It's a devastating place to be physically and emotionally.
I wasn't impressed with my doctor when she also mentioned that I just need to try harder to get fluids in, so my gut doesn't get lazy by bypassing it with the PICC line. I really like my dr. I do. I wouldn't change her to switch over to a different dr. She delivered my daughter and she was good to me then. But it hurt and felt demeaning to be told to try harder. I know she didn't mean any harm by saying it. But let's save that for the shit people say portion of this blog.
I'm thankful to my home health nurses. They took great care of me.
I just don't know what I'm going to do now. Back to the ER for fluids when I need them for starters. Back to getting sick a lot. Last Friday my dr wanted me off my hydration bags. I went three and half days without my fluid bags. I tried so hard to eat and drink, but threw up a bunch. I lost 5lbs, and couldn't hold anything in. So by Monday night I caved and hooked up to two bags. I felt better within a few hours and stopped throwing up. She still insisted it come out, so here I am today. Starting over without my PICC line.
Mental and Emotional Effects
There are some dark nights of the soul with HG. Personally I had days when I wished I had never decided to get pregnant again. I had ideas about abortion cross my mind, that I tried not to think about, but still it crossed my thoughts more than once and more than twice. It's something I'd never think about normally. I want this baby. I'm thankful to be able to have another child, but HG is a nightmare and it causes some thoughts to be dark. I hated myself for the times I even thought what if? Some women want abortions, some get them because of HG. I know I'm not alone in feeling this. Some women are downright angry as fuck because of an unplanned pregnancy resulting in HG again for them. It's something you'd never wish on anyone. I have no judgement towards any woman facing HG and what her thoughts and feelings are, because we're surviving in whatever way we can.
Depression, anger, and anxiety are very real side effects of HG. Not the cause of HG, but absolutely a byproduct of HG. This illness is traumatic, and a lot of women end up with PTSD from it and PPD.
We're in a population of 1% of women that get this illness. We have no idea why we got it or how. We suffer and the rest of the world doesn't get it, they don't understand it. More times than not our providers don't know what to do for us. Some providers treat women like crap. Some women don't have support. Some go through divorces during their HG pregnancy. It's a nightmare. I can't say it enough.
I started therapy a year before even considering getting pregnant again. I was so torn about it, so scared, and I'm continuing with therapy while I'm pregnant, because it helps to talk it out with someone.
I'm thankful for the support groups on Facebook that I've found this time around. It helps to be in a group of women that understand and know what you're going through.
This illness like many chronic illnesses can make a person lonely and isolated. I have had many days pass feeling this way. I hope all women going through this can find support through a spouse, family member, or friend.
Shit People Say
Get back to work.
This is normal.
Welcome to Motherhood, we all go through it.
It'll go away by the end of first trimester.
It's all in your head.
Stop complaining, you chose to be a mom.
Pick yourself up.
Good vibes only.
You're not eating the right foods.
You need to try this essential oil, vitamin, supplement, insert some MLM crap here.
Eat more carbs.
Eat more protein.
You're here in the ER for nausea and you're pregnant, um ok.
You don't look sick.
You look like shit.
You're gaining weight though
You look too small, are you sure baby is ok?
That medicine is going to cause your child birth defects!
I hope you aren't harming your baby by being sick.
Is this pregnancy really worth it?
Why'd you get pregnant again?
Are you sure you want to keep it?
You brought this on yourself.
Maybe it's because of your health problem, should you have gotten pregnant having that problem? ( insert autoimmune, fibromyalgia, or whatever here)
Let me tell you that all of this is bullshit.
None of it is helpful. It's blaming, demeaning, hurtful, and adds to the massive stress and guilt a woman with HG already has. America, increase your emotional IQ and get a clue.
Learn how to at least be sympathetic. This isn't the fault of the woman and it is a VERY REAL illness. This isn't normal. This isn't morning sickness. It's a debilitating and rare illness that strikes 1% of women. We're fighting it every single day. We're survivors and warriors. But we lose sight of that often in the midst of the day to day with this illness, so offer support or don't say anything at all if you can't follow the golden rule. Providers wake up. Take care of the women pleading for your help. Listen to them. Be kind, they may not have help or support anywhere else either.
This Doesn't Help
or anything else you want to suggest that might otherwise help a normal pregnancy with normal morning sickness
Listen to the woman with HG. Get her what she asks for. Exactly what she asks for. She is trying to listen to her body. Some days some things help, other days those things don't help at all. We aren't trying to be crazy or make the people around us crazy. We're trying to get through this the best we can. I don't care if she wants a Sourdough Jack three days in a row or can't eat for three days in a row. Just listen to what she needs and help her.
What Does Help?
Remember every woman is different. Every body, body, each body is different. HG is on a spectrum and can change day to day, pregnancy to pregnancy for each woman.
Be her advocate if she can't for herself. Far too many doctors don't understand HG and they don't listen to the women suffering with it.
Move on if you have a shitty dr.
Get hooked up to fluids if you need 'em. It's one the best things you can do to fight this illness.
It's okay to be angry. It's okay to grieve. It's okay to process how you need to through illness. Give yourself grace. This goes for the caretakers of women with HG too. Just don't take it out on each other. It's no one's fault.
Go here to learn more: http://www.hyperemesis.org/family/
My Husband and Kids
I love you. I love you guys so much. Thank you for being here for me through two pregnancies with HG. Thank you for being a shoulder to cry on, for the hugs, for helping me through long nights, and hooking me up to bags of fluids, and trips to the ER. Thanks for bearing through my moments of anger.
To my son. I'm sorry you have seen me through this twice now. I;m sorry when you were younger you were so scared I would die. That even now you still ask if I could. You don't deserve that kind of concern. Thank you for being a help to me and helping me keep the house up. I hope that someday you will be a strong man for your partner should you ever need to be there for them in a time of illness. Thanks for being playful and using your sass for good when we razz each other. We have our tough moments now that you're a teen, but we have good ones too. You have stepped up at times that made me so proud of you.
To my 3 year old daughter. You are the very definition of your name. You are light in this family. You have wowed me with your instincts and nurturing. From the very first time I threw up with this current pregnancy you were on my heels, immediately rubbing my back as I leaned over the toilet, pulling my hair back. How'd you know to do that? Saying to me over and over, "I love you, otay mommy, you otay." I love how you bring me blankets, toys, and books. I love how you have been there to hold my hand when nurses came over to put in IVs, and you wouldn't leave my side. You have such a fierce strength inside of you. I'm so sorry you have seen mommy cry and be so sick. I wish I could make it all go away. I wish that you never saw this kind of struggle so young. I wish I could protect you and only show you joy. You're so little. But you're so smart, so silly, so loving. I'm the luckiest mommy in the world to have you by my side. I'm glad we can hang out and watch cartoons when daddy and brother are away at work and school. You make it worthwhile to fight this even more.
To my husband. We have some days that are so stressful. We've been through so much. But you have been there for me. When the chips are down, you have my back. You have never made me feel poorly and guilty for being sick or for the financial burden of my illness. I can't say there are a lot of women out there with men that step up. You and I butt heads, and that happens under stress, but damn I can't imagine going through this without you. Of course I wouldn't be this way without you either lol, just teasing. You have seen me at my worst, and somehow you still love me and still tell me I'm sexy as hell in your eyes when all I feel like is a gross lump these days. Love is blind I suppose. hahaha. I'm sorry for the days I've been pissy and rude and feeling like shit and can't pull my head out of my ass. I try really hard to not let all this get the better of me most days, but some days I lose that battle. We're halfway through this, and then we get our last baby in our arms and can move forward. I don't know what's to come with the rest of this pregnancy or if it will be anything like the last aside from the HG, but I know with you I will get through it. Thank you for being by my side. I love you.
If you want to watch a video that covers a lot of this here ya go. I cover a lot in the blog, but sometimes a video is the way to go. You'll get the gist by the video. Fair warning, I am emotional talking through the video.
Below are photos from the first few days of Clara's life. This was our hospital stay for three days. We had wonderful nurses. They really made the stay a good experience. I can't say enough good things about the nursing staff, which I did cover some of in the blog, Clara's Birth Story. I wish I could say the same about the pediatricians though. We found that the pediatricians were either lacking in knowledge when it came to answering questions for us, responding with "I don't know's" and "I will have to Google that," which is ok, I mean no one knows everything, but some of our concerns were not uncommon concerns. One pediatrician in particular was very pushy, rude, and threatening.
We faced some scares while at the hospital with Clara. She had troubles breathing, choked a lot, and had become jaundiced after we left the hospital. The pediatricians became concerned that she had dropped weight after birth. Which is quite normal for babies and especially with cesarean babies. I refused formula, knowing that my milk would come in within a couple days and that she would be receiving healthy colostrum that is so beneficial to newborns. Thank goodness for the lactation consultants that supported my decision to breastfeed and advocated for me and for Clara when this particular ped dr wouldn't stop hounding me about supplementing Clara with formula. Babies are typically given two weeks to meet their birth weight, because it is a normal occurrence for babies to lose a little weight after birth, and they need time to gain it back.
This same ped dr went on to threaten my husband and I with mediation and social services if we did not have a pediatrician appointment lined up for that upcoming friday! She told us that we would not leave the hospital with our baby! Here it is, Clara was born on a saturday, three, almost four weeks earlier than her due date, which is yes, only an estimate, but still, earlier than expected. I had not chosen a pediatrician yet. I was actually that week planning on making phone calls to a couple peds I thought would be a good fit for our family. So, there it was Sunday, July 3, and this doctor is hounding us about not having a doctor ready for her, and that we had 24 hours to find a doctor and have an appointment made. She came in the next day, again, now Monday, but it's the 4th of July, a holiday, no offices are open, and she is hounding us yet again about getting an appointment made. Tuesday morning she came into our room promptly at 8am to actually ask us if we had an appointment made yet! I mean, give me a break, right? We just had our baby, it was a holiday weekend, and it's 8am. Within an hour I had an appointment made with a doctor, but the fact that she treated us the way she did was uncalled for. She wasn't done there though, no she still had more grief for us.
Clara's right eye was goopy. Her tear duct was clogged. This made this pediatrician very unsettled. She was not happy that I declined the eye ointment after birth. She asked why I declined it. I explained that I didn't find it necessary for a baby born by cesarean to a mother without STD's to need an antibacterial eye ointment used as a protective measure to newborns born vaginally to mom with STDs' or a mom that is unsure of having STDs. This was not the case for Clara. She did not need an antibacterial eye ointment as cesarean birth and I don't have any STD's. She had a clogged tear duct. Totally common in new babies. This was not anything to worry about. All I needed to do was massage her tear duct and eventually it would clear up, which it absolutely did about a week later. Yet this doctor looked me in the face and said if I didn't give my daughter the eye ointment that I would probably cause my daughter to go blind! This is insane! I could not believe this woman. I told her no, again, and she left the room, only to come back and tell me again that she wanted to do the eye ointment. I told her okay to get her off my back, she left the room to retrieve the ointment, and then I took Clara for a walk, and she never came back. I guess she got the not so subtle hint, and Clara never got the eye ointment, and guess what? She isn't blind! Amazing, right. Some people need to learn that no means no, not yes, and not maybe. No means no.
There was another pediatrician, that although was friendly, immediately assumed there may be a genetic mutation with Clara after assessing her for less than a minute. Less than a minute, yeah. He stated her ears did not look like our ears and sort of sat low, which they do not, and said that we must do a blood test for DNA mutations. So aside from the heel pricks she was getting for her PKU test and blood sugar tests they now wanted to draw blood from her tiny little arm to test for mutations?! I mean she looked totally fine to us,and in my gut I knew this was some sort of way to either pad the bill and/or be a scare tactic of some sort. My poor husband though was not prepared for the outpouring of harassment from the pediatricians about vaccines, cps threats, genetic mutations and so on. I totally expected it, and although expecting certain things that are "hospital policy" to take place, it still pissed me off how the doctors so easily scare new parents. We had the blood draw, and that did not go well. A young kid began to draw her blood and nearly collapsed her vein, and luckily a NICU nurse noticed his inexperienced draw, and stopped him, and then she drew from Clara's hand. The test came back negative...of course.
There was then a test they said she needed next for her thyroid. They stated that because I have Hashimoto's, she had probably lost weight because I might have passed my thyroid disease to her. Again, let me reiterate, babies lose weight after birth, it is okay, it is normal to a certain point, and she was within that range that was okay. Which again, that test came back negative. Oh and at around 3am, only about 6 hours after the time of Clara's birth during surgery, the pediatricians thought that would be a great time to come into our room and matter of factly tell us that Clara's shaking was an indication she might have bleeding on the brain because we declined the vitamin k shot.
She didn't shake, it wasn't like that. Clara was sound asleep and the doctor came over and pulled her hands out of her blanket to test her grip, and it startled Clara, so she immediately made it sound like it was life or death if we did not do the vitamin k shot. We were told we were possibly going to kill our daughter if we did not do the shot. So I won't use this blog to go into the research and details of the vitamin k shot, but we declined, and every 10 minutes this doctor was coming back in to tell us that this was necessary, that she strongly urges us to give her the shot. We eventually broke down an hour later and gave Clara the shot. Seriously though, this was not a life or death thing, yet another scare tactic, another hospital policy that they are used to, and we were declining. It makes people uncomfortable. I get it. Still, accusing us of possibly killing our daughter, that is over the top.
Anyways, aside from some of the bs and scares we faced in the hospital, I'll say it again, we had great nurses, and we are so thankful for their kindness and care. We didn't sleep a wink, and were absolutely over the moon having Clara finally in our arms. So with all this said here are some of the hospital pics from her first few days of life. (Including post surgery/post partum body pics, because for those of you that know me, and don't know me, I am all for normalizing body image for women.)
*Click pics to make larger.*
Saturday, July 2, 37 weeks pregnant I woke up early as usual, after not sleeping well as usual during my pregnancy. I climbed out of bed, waddled to the bathroom to pee, and then headed downstairs to make some pregnancy tea and rock in my recliner. Once I was cozy enough, Clara started moving around gently, and I felt some light pressure waves (contractions), and didn’t think much of it, because for about 3 weeks I had been having more and more regular pressure waves, Braxton Hicks, some spotting and discharge, so I used my Hypnobabies techniques relaxed through it. Then I picked up the storybook I read every day to Clara since I was 14 weeks pregnant, Dr. Seuss, “Oh Baby, All the Places You’ll Go.” I bought it at Toys R Us the day we found out we were having a little girl, along with a really sweet going home outfit, and the pink teddy bear her big brother picked out for her as a gift. I read the story to her, as I have every day, and she moved around in my belly as she typically does when I read the story to her.
Afterwards I sat rocking in my recliner, thinking about her. I felt her kicks and movements, and rubbed my hands over her. I cried a little. I had been feeling very emotional those last few weeks. My body was in constant pain, I was exhausted from not sleeping well, and facing a choice I hated to make, but knew that it felt like the right thing to do deep down in my gut. I thought about all the years I had wanted to have a natural birth. I remembered when I was about 11, watching 20/20 with Barbra Walters; she was doing a news piece about natural water births. I saw this couple on the TV screen, the mother sitting in the beige tub, the room was dimly lit, and they were being interviewed, and the mother gave birth in the tub. I thought it was beautiful, and remember wondering how the baby could be born in water and not drown, and there was Barbra Walters asking that very question.
I knew I wanted to have my babies like that someday. I wanted to have my future husband with me, at my side, I wanted to be relaxed in the water, and experience the love I saw that evening on 20/20. I learned that day that birth did not have to be scary, over the top painful, something that a woman couldn’t do without the help of doctors. I learned a woman can birth her baby in a loving and beautiful way. I was deeply touched. Fast forward many years later, when I was 21, having my first child, he was breech, and I needed a cesarean. I was sad. I didn’t have the natural experience, but I also didn’t have the loving, enthusiastic husband, I didn’t have a personable doctor, and that whole experience is another story, but to say the least, it couldn’t be further from how I pictured birth to be. I had my beautiful baby boy, and moved on from the experience, enjoying him and loving him, but knowing if I ever had more children, which I had hoped to, that they would hopefully be natural and as far away from a hospital as possible.
Fast forward many years again to current time, I am 33, sitting downstairs in my recliner, silently crying to myself in my quiet home, my loving, sweet husband asleep upstairs. I am crying because all these years later my body has been fighting illness, and it was taking its toll on me during this pregnancy with Clara. I was at my wits end. No amount of affirmations, meditations, or positive imagery could help. I watched one beautiful birthing video after another over the 9 months of pregnancy. I read every positive thing I could find about natural birth, sacred and empowering stories of women giving birth just the way God designed us to do. My mind, heart, and soul were flooded with the knowledge and wisdom that I could have the natural birth I so wanted to experience.
Yet, I had begun to doubt my body over the last month, doubt that it could handle it, doubt that I had the energy to go through it, and I was so chained to the pain I had been feeling. The pregnancy wasn’t a picnic from the get go. Over the last couple of months I had really lost my reserves. I felt like my body just couldn’t take anymore. I cried all the time, fought off anxiety about the conflict I faced in my mind, the thoughts that I had at the forefront of my mind telling me I would need a cesarean, that I needed to change my birth plans, that I needed to let go of my idealistic birth plan, and find an OB. My heart was broken, just utterly broken. Sitting here typing this, two weeks postpartum, my heart still breaks, tears flood my eyes.
I have always been opposed to cesareans unless they are truly medically necessary. It is a major surgery. I have been through one, and I just don’t think it is the best option for birth, unless it is needed. I have always felt that way. Not that I have ever judged or looked poorly on any woman for choosing one, because we all have our own paths, we all need to have our own experiences, and all birth matters, no matter what way a woman has her baby. I truly believe that too. But here I was conflicted about my moral beliefs about surgical birth vs. natural birth, and wondering if my state of health and the state of my body, my state of emotions, if this was something medically necessary for me. I fought the back and forth, the pros and cons, the fears, the pain in my body, and after about an hour, I got up out of my recliner, and went back upstairs to my sleeping husband. I crawled back into bed. I was stressed, exhausted. I felt Clara moving, felt more pressure waves, and tried to think about what I wanted to do on this beautiful summer Saturday.
I couldn’t walk very well on my own, most of the time I needed help from my husband to get around, mostly I was in bed or the recliner at home for the last couple months. My feet were swollen, and driving wasn’t really an option for me anymore, and even being a passenger, well that too made me cringe. I cramped and swelled even more in the car. I knew there wasn’t much to do as far as getting out enjoying the day, so I thought about getting things ready for Clara. I thought this weekend I would practice my Hypnobaby tracks I had just bought to help my mind prepare for a planned cesarean coming up July 14th.
Jack woke up, put his hand on my back, and said, “Good morning, how are my girls?” We talked about some things we had on our to- do list, like packing the hospital bag, I wanted to get a pregnancy progression photo in for my 37th week, because I hadn’t done any in about 5 weeks. I was too tired most of the time and too achy to really get motivated lately, but today I was going to get one in. Then Jack asked how I was feeling, and like every day before for the last month I swelled up with tears and anxiety. We talked though my birthing options again for the hundredth time or more. He was patient with me. He knew how much I wanted to just go forward with my natural birth plan, with my wonderful midwives and doula, to go to the birth center, to do everything as I had been practicing, been lovingly working on creating, but he also saw the woman he loves in terrible pain, day after day, and he was concerned.
We had met with the OB my midwives referred us to just a few days prior. We discussed how kind she is, discussed the now planned cesarean for the 14th of July. I was crying that Clara wouldn’t even get to pick her birthday. I believe so much that babies come when they come, that they choose their day, not doctors. Everything seemed to feel heavy and overwhelming. After talking for an hour or so, we decided to get dressed and get out of the house for a bit. Jack took me to a nearby restaurant.
I tried to not think or talk about the only thing I could think about, so Jack did most of the talking, as usual anyways, about our regular day to day stuff. We talked about his job, William, how excited we are for Clara, we talked about things we needed to get from the store, and he asked me to make a list, and suggested I just ride in a wheelchair or one of those mobilized carts at the store, so I could at least get out and shop with him. I hated the thought of not being able to walk without help after only a few moments on my feet, I hated the thought of being pushed around in a wheelchair so I could just get out doing normal day to day stuff, like grocery shopping. I told him I would just wait at home for him, and I wasn’t willing to drive around in one of those mobile carts for seniors and disabled. I felt frustrated, I wasn’t disabled or old. Yes, I fight with a lot of pain from my illnesses, and I was 9 months pregnant, but I was frustrated, stubborn, and prideful.
We changed the subject, our food came, and we ate, he held my hand across the table. We joked with the waitress about me barely fitting between the booth and the table, and that Clara would need to come out soon. We joked that I could have her any moment. I was feeling little pressure waves on and off the whole time, but still not thinking much about it, because I wasn’t due till the 18th, and the surgery was planned for the 14th, surely I wasn’t in my birthing time (labor)…yet, so I thought. We finished our meal, and like clockwork I needed to pee. Jack asked if I wanted help walking to the bathroom, and I was stubborn as usual and said no, it wasn’t too far from the table.
A few steps away from the table I felt my underwear and pants soaking through with warm fluid. I thought I was peeing myself. I didn’t think it was my water breaking; it didn’t even cross my mind. I tried to hurry into the bathroom, thinking to myself, “What the heck? I knew I had to pee, but I didn’t think I had to go badly enough that I couldn’t make it to the bathroom!” I was embarrassed and freaked out that I had lost control of my bladder and peed myself. I sat down on the toilet, and then I actually peed, and I thought for a moment that couldn’t be right, how I could still have so much urine, and then I stopped peeing. I looked at my underwear and pants totally wet through.
I stood up, pulling up my pants, wondering how I would tell my husband that I peed my pants, and needed to go home. Then, more fluid, lots more fluid! It hit me, and in an instant my heart raced, it felt like it skipped a beat, I laughed, and smiled, and tears came to the corners of my eyes. This was my water breaking! We were going to have our little girl today! I was going to walk out to my unsuspecting husband sitting at the booth, waiting for me, thinking about who knows what, and I was going to go tell him my water broke.
I was overjoyed instantly. I washed my hands quickly, waddled out of the bathroom as fast as I could, adrenaline pumping, butterflies in my stomach. I leaned down towards his ear and said, “We have to go.” He replied, “Yeah, I know, I have the check, we can leave now.” I said, “No, I mean, we need to go home, my water just broke, our little girl is on her way.” He bolted up out of the booth, and said, “Really?! Ok, let’s go, we need to hurry, what do we do? Do I take you to the hospital?” I said, “Well, let’s check out first,” smiling, my hands shaking a bit from the excitement, joy, and adrenaline.
He got up to the cash register, me waddling many steps behind, as I caught up, I heard the waitress ask how the meal was, and he responded, “ Great, but we really have to go, her water just broke.” The waitress looked confused for a second, looked up, and saw me, and immediately became flustered. Her face got red, and she smiled, and hurried through charging our card, and said, “oh my gosh, your water broke! You are going to have a baby! This is like the kind of thing you hear about in movies, a woman’s water breaking in public, at a restaurant.” She was as flustered as Jack. I stood there with my hand on my belly, and could not stop smiling, water dripping down my legs, and although excited, I started to feel a calm come over me for a moment. It was surreal. I looked at my husband, I looked at the waitress, and it seemed like it was slow motion. I took a breath, and Jack turned towards me, his hand on my back, and we walked to the car. * We now joke about our little diva’s Hollywood experience, with my water breaking at a restaurant. It’s true, I have never heard of that happening to anyone, other than in the movies. So we think it is funny and sweet.*
I called my doula first, then the on call number for my OB’s office. We got home, and I told Jack I needed a shower. I just needed a moment. I got into the shower, still leaking amniotic fluid, I felt calm, I put my hands on my belly, I whispered to Clara that this was her day, and I was so excited to meet her and hold her. A couple tears came to the corners of my eyes. I could hear Jack in the bedroom asking me what he should do, what he should pack. He was feeling a little frantic. I told him to take a deep breath that we still had a little time, and the doctor was expecting us at the hospital. He decided to shave, so he could kiss Clara without poking her soft baby skin with his stubbly facial hair. I got out of the shower, and started thinking about all the things I wanted to do. I wasn’t ready yet! The calm feeling I had was gone, and now I felt rushed and a swirl of emotions.
I had laundry to do, I needed to do my progression photo, I needed to listen to my cesarean Hypnobaby tracks, and I needed to call my little boy. My son was with his dad that weekend, and he also had two showings of children’s play he was in that day. The evening before, Jack and I, my dad and his wife watched the Friday evening play he was in. I was swollen up, having pressure waves, and people asked me how far along I was and commented that it looked like the baby would come any moment. I smiled and agreed with the strangers that seemed excited for me, and also laughed at the look of concern of some people’s faces when they see a woman that far along, and probably wonder if her water is going to break and baby is going to be born right there and then. I know other women that have been pregnant know what I mean, you know the look. Some people smile, some ask, and some just look at you almost in fear that you are going to just lay down right there and give birth. It cracks me up every time.
Anyways, here I was standing in my bathroom, amniotic fluid still coming down my legs. I had my towel wrapped around me. I dried off, put on my Due in July tank top. I told Jack I wanted to get one last picture of my belly before we left for the hospital. We packed the bag. It was frantic when I realized my batteries were not charged, then of all days, I couldn’t find my SD card for my camera, which is very unlike me to not have my photo gear all together, so I panicked at the thought of not having photos. I found them about 10 minutes later. I went to sit on my bed, having another pressure wave, and as I looked down at the ground I saw my dog. My sweet little dog, looking up at me, and he seemed nervous and confused. I looked up at Jack and said, “Oh my God, the dog, poor Frankie, he isn’t in the birth plan! I never considered what to do with him in the birth plan. I just assumed we would be home, and then go to the birth center, and then come home, now we are going to the hospital, and I am having surgery, and I don’t know what to do with the dog.” I started tearing up again thinking about how unprepared I felt and how upset I was at the birth not going how I had dreamed it would go. I tried to keep a grip on my tears, and Jack responded with, “Well, we can put him in William’s room for now.”
“Put the dog in William’s room! We can’t do that! We will be there for 3 days; the dog can’t stay in William’s room. We need to see if he can stay with my grandparents for a few nights. Poor Frankie!” I was upset and felt like I was no longer focused at all, I felt like I was out of control, and my mind and heart was not ready for surgery, for accepting this new birthing path. I wanted to just go to the birth center. I wanted to be with my midwives. I wanted to be far away from the hospital, but I couldn’t shut down the persistent voice in my gut telling me I still needed the cesarean. I tried to shove down the emotions spilling over, and called my dad. He was able to come over and pick up Frankie, our dog.
When he and his wife got to my house, I was upstairs, holding a towel between my legs. I had leaked through a super maxi pad, and underwear. Amniotic fluid just kept coming. I was trying to get my shorts on. I had my pregnancy tank top on, the bags were ready. I had my gentle cesarean birth plan I had drafted well in advance, if for some reason the birth center plan went astray and I needed a transfer to the hospital. I printed it up quickly, put on another maxi pad, put on my shorts, and went downstairs to meet my dad and his wife sitting on the couch and recliner. I sat down on the couch for a minute with them. Jack loaded the car, and like that were all leaving the house.
My son finally returned my call as we pulled out of the driveway, and I told him his little sister was on her way. That he would get to meet her by the evening after his last show. He was very excited. I hung up with him, and tried to listen to a Hypnobabies track to relax, but I couldn’t. I closed my eyes, my mind raced. Then I realized I forgot the photo, the last progression photo, and my heart sank. I opened my eyes, and we were getting ready to pull up to the hospital. I quietly mentioned it to Jack, and he told me not to worry.
He pulled up to the entrance of the ER, not sure which wing we were supposed to go to. We had planned a tour for Sunday, yeah, the next day we were supposed to tour the hospital with our doula, to see the maternity wing, the OR, but here it was Saturday, and Clara was coming. Jack came out of the hospital with a man named Jerry, a security guard; he was pushing a blue wheelchair. I wanted to walk, but my feet were swollen and they hurt, and I didn’t feel like being stubborn to this nice older man that wanted to push a momma in a wheelchair, escorting her to maternity, and my husband just wanted to get us upstairs, so I got in the wheelchair, and Jerry took me upstairs while Jack parked the car. Jerry talked to me about his grandchildren, and that this was a nice highlight in his day to escort me up to maternity, he wished us well, and said to Jack to take care of his girls.
Our doula, Chelsea, also made it there as we were checking in. We all talked for a moment, as I looked at the paperwork, writing my name, but not really focused on everything else on the form. Then, a nurse opened the doors and we were off to a room to start the process of having Clara. I switched over into a gown, had to pee in a cup, and realized I still hadn’t got my last belly shot. So my doula got a photo of my hand on top of my belly as I sat in the bed. My belly strapped with the electronic fetal monitoring. The nurse, Jeannie, was very kind. We all really liked her. She was so personable, spiritual, sweet, experienced, and honoring of my wishes when I handed over the birth plan for a gentle cesarean. I didn’t know what to expect at first. I wasn’t treated kindly with my first born at this hospital 12 years ago. She quickly eased my mind though, and never made me feel like I was an inconvenience to her. She chatted with us about all kinds of things, we talked about how Jack and I met, we talked about angels, we talked about death of Jack’s dad, and his brother that is currently fighting/ dying from ALS. We talked about life, and it was really nice to not feel like a number on a bed at a hospital. She really felt like talking with a friend. She also toured my doula and I around the maternity wing, so I could see where the OR was, recovery, and where our room for the hospital stay would be.
When she left the room, my doula dimmed the lights, and I tried to play some Hypnobaby tracks to relax, but there was a lot of in and out by nurses, the anesthesiologist, the doctor, so I kinda gave up on that. Besides I didn’t really feel like I could get in the headspace for meditating at the time. Soon after, to my surprise, one of the midwives, Sarah, from the birth center showed up at the hospital. She stayed with me all the way through until after surgery when I was in recovery. She advocated for a couple things that wasn’t normal procedure for the hospital, like a vaginal swab to get my bacteria for Clara, since she wouldn’t be going through the birth canal where she would otherwise receive beneficial bacteria from me. I was so glad she was there. I missed my other two midwives, Kellie, and Beth. Beth, especially, because I saw her the most throughout my pregnancy, but I love and appreciate them all, and I was just so thankful and happy to see Sarah. My husband was there, my doula and friend, Chelsea, and my midwife, Sarah. Three people that knew my wishes and knew the turmoil I have been going through to even end up sitting on that hospital bed, they knew, and they were supportive to me, and loving, and it took just enough of the edge off my turmoil about accepting surgery as Clara’s birth. I probably would have had a meltdown if I didn’t have these loving people there to support me.
My son made it to see me just before I was prepped for surgery. I was so glad to see his face, to hug and kiss him before surgery. He was so excited to meet his baby sister. He asked me if I would be okay during surgery, and if I could die. I told him that God was watching over Clara and me, and that everything was going to go great, and not to worry. I told him he could pray for Clara and for me.
I was torn about my choice up until the very last moment, even being wheeled down the hallway to the OR. I wanted to jump off the table and just leave for the birth center, but I knew my choice was made, and I knew deep down, that this was something my gut was certain of being the right choice for my body. I closed my eyes, said a quick prayer, and the doors to the OR opened up. It was bright and cold, a hustle and bustle about with everyone in there. They transferred me from the bed to the table and explained how to sit for the spinal. My body was sore, achy, my feet were cramped, and I was having a pressure wave. I wanted to feel that last pressure wave, the last movement of Clara in my belly. My eyes teared up, as they are now sitting here and writing this.
I hunched over the pillow they gave me, a woman stood in front of me, my chin tucked down, and she pressed back against my body to help me stay stable on the edge of the table. Then, Kim, the anesthesiologist, started the spinal. It was cold, it stung, and then I felt the needle moving around side to side, as she talked me through what I should feel and not feel. Tingles ran down one side, then the next, it hurt, and I remembered to just breathe. I was holding my breath, and I exhaled, and I closed my eyes. Then I started feeling the numbness setting it. It was so fast. Barely enough time to get me to lie down and get my legs out on the table. Then, just like that the blue drape was being put up. Kim was talking to me and asking me how I felt. She was really friendly and cheery. I asked when my husband would be in to join us, and in a moment he was there.
I looked over at him. The surgery had started. I felt some tugging and moving around. I began crying. I looked at Jack, and I told him the story of when we first talked about Clara 9 years ago. We were up in the mountains dreaming of a cabin, being married, and our little girl, Clara, we knew her name even back then, and I laid there numb, picturing her and us in the mountains, with a cabin, and I remembered how it felt falling in love with Jack, and I cried more. I thought of my little boy, performing on stage at his play earlier that evening, while I laid there, ready to birth his little sister, and I thought of him meeting her for the first time.
Then, I thought of Clara. I went deep down inside myself, to her, and I told her everything was going to be ok. I told her that today is her birthday, and that we are all so excited to meet her and love her, and that the doctors were doing their very best to help her into the world. I told her to not be scared. Then, my OB said it would be a little bit longer, because I had really bad scarring from my previous cesarean. She explained how my uterus was adhered to the scar tissue, and that she needed to be very careful and take her time. She told me it was a good thing I did come in for the cesarean, and that she was thankful that it wasn’t in an emergency situation, because it could have been very bad had I ended up needing an emergency C-section. Jack whispered to me, “see honey, it was good you listened to your instincts. This could have gone very badly, if you ended up here in an emergency. It’s good she has time to take care of you and Clara, and that you chose this option. I am so glad you trusted your gut. I would not want anything bad to happen to my girls.” He looked so loving and so relieved looking at me.
I don’t know if the scarring would have caused complications with my uterus had I gone the natural birth route. Maybe I would have been okay, but maybe not, and from the sounds of it, I am glad that I trusted my gut. Not only did my body not feel strong or well enough to go through natural birth, but hearing about how badly my uterus was attached the scar tissue from the previous C-section with my son, it confirmed my gut feelings that I made the right choice, even if it broke my heart. I was so thankful laying there, knowing my OB was taking good care of me, doing her best to take care of my body, and take her time to do things well, and to take care of Clara. She is an awesome doctor. She honored my wishes for dropping the drape, for skin to skin on the OR table with Clara, and more. I can’t say enough good things about her, the time she gave me, her opening up to me about her own birthing stories and her beliefs in trusting that mothers know what they need, that mothers have instincts that need to be heard out. She is a doctor that needs to be supported in her efforts to create positive changes for birthing women, and for gentle C-sections. I felt very blessed by my midwives, for all their guidance and support during my pregnancy, for referring me to a fantastic OB, and in that moment of gratitude, I heard the OB tell me Clara was coming, and she instructed for the drape to drop.
The blue drape came down, and at first I couldn’t see anything, and then, her head, and as Jack lifted my head more for me, I saw her, my baby girl. She was making her way out of my womb, her head wiggling out, and my OB gently helping her, guiding her out. Then after a couple moments or so, she was out and lifted up for me to see. She was amazing! This tiny baby covered in the mess and beauty of birth, the blood, water, vernix, and she was just absolutely beautiful to me. The whole moment, her cries, the goop, the doctor holding her up, and the light shining down over her, it was a moment I will never forget, that miracle of life, that precious and fast moment of seeing my child lifted up for me to see, birthed and beautiful. My heart and soul just felt so flooded with love, and I cried, and I told her I loved her, and that she would be okay. I told her happy birthday. I wanted to kiss my husband, but his face was behind a mask, and Clara was taken over the warmer to be looked over. I understood. I waited there, looking at my husband, and telling him to go get pictures of her, be with her, and talk to her.
Then the nurses brought her over to me, and placed her on my chest. This tiny, wiggling little life clinging to me, inching her way up my chest, pushing her little face into my throat under my chin, trying to get as close to me as she could. I talked to her. I told her how amazing she is, how brave and strong she is, how beautiful, and said I love you over and over. This was so different from my first experience with my son. I wish so badly my C-section experience with him could have been so positive and so filled with love right away. But times were different then. I cherished these moments, knowing how good it was to get this time. Knowing how things were in the past, and I absolutely cherished every second I got in that OR, seeing her be born and holding her right away, with my husband at our side.
It took a little longer to get me stitched up, I didn’t mind, I got that time with my daughter, and my OB was taking good care to make sure everything was looking good from the previous scarring and surgery, and doing her best for me. Then it was time to get me moved over to the bed, Clara and Jack went over to recovery outside the OR doors. My bed was wheeled into recovery, and I watched as Clara was examined again, and her footprints were done. I looked at my husband, now a father, and though I was numb, and on pain meds, I know the oxytocin was still flowing, and I was just so in love. Then I was able to hold and nurse my sweet angel. She went right for it, like a little champ, already knowing what she needed to do. I looked down at her, and watched her as she nursed; staring at her, soaking up every detail of her little face, and holding her hand.
Jack took turns with my doula and midwife, so they could come back to see me and meet Clara. William came in as soon as his show was over and he held his baby sister for the first time. He sang Happy Birthday to her. He talked sweetly to her, and told me how happy he is to be a big brother. It was so moving to see my twelve year old, holding his little sister, to see both of my children together, just the three of us sitting there together in our own special little moment.
William had to leave to go back with his dad, so my midwife came back in the recovery area, and took the time to show me my placenta. I am so grateful she did. It was incredible. Huge and heart shaped. It was lovely, and I felt gratitude then too, looking at it, knowing how it nourished my baby, and I felt appreciation for my body, and for God’s design. When you see a placenta, in person for the first time, you just can’t help but to think of how detailed and artistic it looks and knowing it is certainly the work of the ultimate Creator. At least for me, that is how I felt. She packed it back up to take home and encapsulate for me. I wished I had asked for a photo of it before she left, but she did make a pretty print of it for me.
I am still dealing with my own feelings about how the birth went. I am still working to release my feelings about not having a natural birth at the birth center. I am filled with love and gratitude for how positive my surgery was, and for the experience I did have under those circumstances, for being in good hands, and for the people that supported me, but I also feel like I am grieving the loss of not having the birth I so deeply believed in. I know I did what was best for my body at the time. I don’t feel much like explaining it more in depth. It’s complicated. It’s a joy to have experienced what I did, and a loss at the same time.
I couldn’t be more thankful for my midwives at New Beginnings. I first met Beth. She toured Jack and I around the birth center on a cold Nov. evening. I was a few weeks pregnant, already sick as a dog with HG. She was super friendly, chatted about her experiences as a midwife, talked about things I was wanting for my pregnancy and birth, how I saw things going, and was supportive and loving. I knew it was the right place to be. Soon after, I met Kellie, Tracey, and Sarah. Everyone there is passionate about what they do, truly supportive, and a source of wisdom that is only gained by people that have experience and love for what they do. These women have a special place in my heart, and someday when Clara is older I will suggest to her, the importance of midwives and natural birth, and being supported in her choices during pregnancy and birth, even if the path changes.
I am thankful to my OB, Dr. Kasper. She took me under her wing during my 37th week of pregnancy, days prior to Clara being born, little did we know that in our consult. She gave my husband and I time. It wasn’t just good bedside manner, she was a person talking with other people, not just patients. When we first met her, we ended up waiting over an hour for our appointment because she got called into a cesarean at the hospital next door. We didn’t mind waiting a bit. When she came back to the office, she had us and other patients, but she gave us time. She talked with us, not only about options, but about how my pregnancy was, my emotional state, she shared her own birth stories with us, and then left the room to give us time to talk, and came back to talk more with us. And I can only say I believe everything worked out just in time, by the grace of God. We met her, and about a week later she happened to be the on call doctor at the hospital the day Clara was born. It just worked out, and I am so glad she was the one there to do my surgery. Some people just come into your life for a short while, but they forever will be a part of your story, that is Dr. Kasper, as a chapter in my story, and in Clara’s story.
We had wonderful nurses at the hospital. Kind and caring, and also taking their time to visit with us, treat us like people. One of which spent an hour, at 2 in the morning, chatting with us about life, about God, and about coincidences. I am thankful for all of them too.
This hospital experience was a night and day comparison to how my first birth went, and how I was treated back then. It’s great to see things change in a positive way. It also makes it unique in a way that I know what poor treatment is like, and appreciate the positive changes all the more.
I will post more later with hospital photos taken over the 3 day stay, and will soon have the first couple of weeks photos ready too.
Thank you so much for taking time to read this. I love being able to share my birth story and photos. Birth is truly a sacred, beautiful, and miraculous moment.
If you would like to see my Gentle Cesarean birth plan I brought to the hospital to use as a reference for yourself or someone you know that may be facing a cesarean birth, click here.
The first couple of weeks at home: http://www.allisonattitude.com/blog/weeks-1-and-2-life-with-clara
Fresh 48: The Hospital Stay:http://www.allisonattitude.com/blog/fresh-48
To read all articles relating to this pregnancy: http://www.allisonattitude.com/blog/category/pregnancy
First Trimester Recap: http://www.allisonattitude.com/blog/first-trimester-a-recap
Exhaustion, Letting Go, and Acceptance: http://www.allisonattitude.com/blog/exhaustion-letting-go-and-acceptance
To our birth team: We trust in your expertise and in your sensitivity to our individual needs and wishes. We intended to have a natural birth at a birth center, however things took a turn in decision making at 37w pregnant, and it was not taken lightly to come to the this path for a cesarean birth. Thank you in advance for your support and encouragement during our daughter’s (Clara) birth. My husband (Jack Allison) and I understand that birth can go differently than planned and that decisions may need to be made during the process. We intend to work with everyone present to make good decisions if need arises. In case a decision about a medical procedure may be made if I am unconscious, I grant authority for making that decision to my husband. The concept of fully informed consent is important to us.
Thank you and sincerely,
Jessica and Jack Allison
To read about Clara's birth story: http://www.allisonattitude.com/blog/claras-birth-story
I want to write about how third trimester has been going. I want to track things better. I just haven't been able to. The last couple of months have been especially filled with a whirlwind of emotions, physical pain, and lack of sleep. I would like to say things are going as I had hoped, as I had dreamed, as I have practiced for, but they are not. This pregnancy has been bittersweet. I adore being pregnant, I am in constant awe of the miracle of the life growing inside of me, my precious daughter that I am already so in love with, but the journey of this pregnancy has been filled with one struggle after another, and I am exhausted. I feel overwhelmed. I feel torn between choices to make. My mind has been running circles, while my body stays trapped and confined to my bed and the recliner, with few moments here and there that my husband usually helps me get out, but I never last more than a few minutes at a time.
I have always been strong, independent, stubborn. I am used to pushing through fear and pain when it has flared up at times in my life. But now... now I feel like I just can't, not anymore. I am feeling like I cannot trust my body. I feel weak in more ways than one, and I feel like I have done everything to give my best, and yet, the results are that my pain has taken hold with a firm grip and I can't break away from it, and feel broken from trying so damn hard to fix it, to make things better.
I have dreamt of this pregnancy for so long,and I had a vision in my my heart for it, how I thought it would be. Not once did I even consider it could be the way it has before conceiving my daughter. There is a light though in all the anxiety, frustration, and sadness I feel. This body that has let me down many times before, and so much over the last 9 months, has still been capable of nourishing and growing a healthy baby. It is not letting down my baby girl. It is taking care of her, and I find the gratitude for this body, my body, for its abilities from this perspective. My little girl, she bounces and dances around in my womb, always letting me know she is there. She reacts to stories, songs, her daddy's and big brother's voices. I feel her energy, her life, her presence, every single day, and it is the light in all this.
As a mom and a woman, I know the pressures of self-guilting, those nagging voices that tell me I am not good enough, those pesky, negative thoughts that rise up when I am challenged. I know you know what I mean. They have become so thick and heavy that recently it made it so difficult to hear my own inner voice, the one that is my truth, the one that comes from heart, gut, from God. I have doubted, fretted, cried, been angry, felt helpless. I have pushed to do more, push myself to keep fighting back, then one day it felt like I couldn't anymore.
That voice told me I am broken, but I am not broken. I am a fighter and a survivor of many experiences I have lived through. I am able to find joy and beauty in a world that constantly wants to throw hatred and negativity. I am not broken. I have illnesses, yes, but that doesn't mean I am weak, a quitter, or unworthy. It sometimes means I have to make tough choices that are not always in line with my wants and hopes, so I need to give time to working on letting acceptance and love for myself and my journey support me, and to start kicking out the fearful, anxiety ridden voices that have left me conflicted the last few weeks of this pregnancy, well months. The point is, this is my journey, and I can choose what I need to do, and I can guide any choice I make, no matter how difficult it might be into a peaceful and joyful experience. I am more than an illness. I can still choose joy, even when I feel like I am grieving, and I can experience both in the same breath, because I am versatile, adaptable, a woman, a mother, and a human being. I am not weak, and I do not deserve the fear and guilt I have recently been experiencing.
So today, I decided to play with my camera. I did some blurred, out of focus images to vent the feeling of being out of focus, to let go of the heaviness I feel, and though they are simple images, they helped me to release just a little more, helped me to express a little of the way I have felt, but mostly it just let me create something, and that always feels good. I needed a break from relentless mixed emotions, the pain, and I just needed to put it in a simple image, although I have other ideas, it just doesn't need to be more than what it is at this moment, I needed simple release. It's one of many reasons I love photography. It is healing. I didn't need to complicate my message in these shots. I just needed to let go for a bit.
On a side note from all this, I am filled with love and gratitude for my husband, and his love and support, for my friend and doula, and my midwives. The love and support from these amazing people in my life are forever a part of my story with this pregnancy and soon to be birth of my daughter. I can't imagine this chapter of my life without them, and I am so thankful for each of them.
Read More about the Pregnancy: http://www.allisonattitude.com/blog/second-trimester-recap
First Trimester Recap:http://www.allisonattitude.com/blog/first-trimester-a-recap
Mommas, you know that ‘terrible, horrible, no good, very bad’ glucose screening test you have to take during pregnancy? Ok, so if you are familiar with the yucky sugar tests you have to take with your ob/gyn for pregnancy, you know how awful those are. My recent sugar test was different, because I am not seeing a MD. My sugar test was super yummy! I had it about two weeks ago almost. Plus all I had to do was get a finger prick blood test. I love going the more natural, less invasive route for my current pregnancy.
The recipe called for:
OJ, yogurt, honey, strawberries, and banana
The amount was quite a bit, so by the end of it I was like, I need to be done drinking this. However the first bit was easy to get down, and super yummy. Now I am not a fan of dairy for health reasons, and we haven't had yogurt in our house for a long time. I love yogurt, but we switched to Almond milk years ago, and we don’t eat much dairy unless we have the once in a while organic pizza or a little topping of Mexican cheese on our buffalo tacos. So we aren’t totally dairy free, but it’s limited.
With that said, yogurt has recently found its way back into our fridge, and we have a new recipe for smoothies, thanks to modifying the natural sugar test I took. This will not work for those of you that don’t like mixing certain foods together based on principles of acidic/alkaline, following 5 ingredients or less rules, use of dairy, or are following an enzyme diet. This is simply just based on something new and yummy we have been doing a couple times the past couple of weeks, and I like that I can get more greens down my guys. Plus it satisfies sweet cravings I get so often since I became pregnant without making me feel guilty or sick afterwards. I don’t think baby girl likes ice cream too much anyways, it’s better than scarfing down a chocolate donut, or eating half a loaf of freshly baked banana bread, and exercising willpower around dark chocolate is not easy since I got pregnant, so this is a far better option in my mind right now… not that dark chocolate is unhealthy, when you have self- control .
We modified the sugar test recipe a bit. Here is how we make our Sweet Greens shake that we have 2x a week for the last couple of weeks. As always my suggestion is to look for Non-GMO, organic, clean foods as much as you can:
1 cup of frozen or fresh strawberries
1 cup fresh spinach
1 scoop of 7.2 Greens powder (optional)
1 small to medium size banana
1 tbsp raw honey (local or Manuka)
6- 8 oz Greek yogurt, plain
Sprinkle a tsp or 2 of Flax meal on top
I have to admit, personally I am not a fan of the spinach in my drink, well, just not a fan of spinach during my whole pregnancy, so that is why.
It’s worth a try, especially if you need to get a sweet fix, or find a way to sneak more greens into your husband and kid’s diet. … possibly even your own. ;)
Now let’s compare this to the ingredients in the nasty orange drink used my MD’s for glucose screening in pregnancy (you can look these up online, just as I did):
BVO is used to keep flavoring from floating to the top of drink. It keeps the flavoring dispersed throughout the drink. It’s in many soft drinks, and also in this glucose drink given to thousands of pregnant women. It is banned in Japan and Europe, and the FDA removed it from its GRAS list in 1970. So what is the big deal about BVO? It’s a patented flame retardant, and when consumed Is a known thyroid disrupter. BVO builds up in the body and in breast milk. There are many health related problems that arise from the consumption flame retardant, excuse me brominated vegetable oil, such as heart lesions, impaired growth, and fertility problems to name a few.
I urge you to do your homework on the rest of these ingredients if you are choosing to follow dr’s orders and consume the orange drink. This blog isn’t to list all the negatives and why you shouldn’t drink it ingredient by ingredient but to bring awareness about glucose screening drinks in pregnancy, and inform you there are other paths, healthier paths to take for you and baby. In the end you have to do what you feel is best. For me, strawberries and bananas seemed like a far better option than wood resin and flame retardant coated in artificial syrup and preservatives.
Did you know you can opt out from the orange drink, and use an alternative for your sugar test, even if you are working with an MD? If you aren’t working with a midwife/birth center/going the natural pregnancy route that is okay, you still have the right to ask your doctor about alternatives, and if they tell you that you have none, well my views on that are pretty strong, and in my opinion you need a second opinion or different doctor at that point, because you have the right to choose what you put in your body, should be informed about what is going into your body, and almost always there is an alternative. In pregnancy it is important to make yourself aware of your options and to also be supported in your decisions and empowered by your choices.
More info about BVO: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/01/11/brominated-vegetable-oil-in-us-soda.aspx
Thanks for reading, feel free to comment and/or share.
_See more greens related topics.
So, second trimester, when pregnancy is explained as feeling “real”, and you will probably feel your best. Well, I got my dose of pregnancy feeling real in 1st trimester, and as for second trimester being this time to soak up and enjoy feeling good, well, if it is or did go that way for you, count your blessings. Some of us still haven’t discovered the butterflies during a peaceful walk in the park yet. If only I knew just how good I had it during my first pregnancy. One thing about my current pregnancy is that is has definitely shown me what I am made of, given me a whole new perspective of pregnancy and respect for the mommas that face tough pregnancies, as well as looking at pregnancy in a whole new light of beauty and spirituality, even without it being all rainbows and butterflies.
Second trimester is counted as weeks 13 through 25, sometimes people count the 26th weeks as 2nd trimester, tomato/tamoto.
My HG(hyperemesis gravidarum) didn’t clear up until after the 18th week, with occasional moments of nausea after that until about week 26. The worst of it was over though after the 18th week. Thank God and all that is holy, because that was miserable to go through.
During my second trimester there was a lot going on. My home sold, and our new home was finished being built. So although it was happy stress, it was still stress and a lot of work. We worked on our gender reveal videos, and that was fun, and the little flutters I began feeling around 10 weeks along became full blown big movements by week 18. I started learning what things made baby girl move more. So there were positives, but I felt like I was losing a battle numerous times during second trimester.
So if you read my first trimester recap, you know that I had to buy maternity clothes right off the bat. My belly popped right away, and with all the bloating that came with first trimester there was no holding off, unless I wanted to become a nudist. Nothing fit. So I bought a few things to get me through winter and early spring. My maternity pants were holding up pretty well, and it was still mostly cold out during my second trimester, so I thought, “cool, I will save my money, and not worry about it until I need some stuff for late spring/summer.” Wrong, my boobs had their own agenda. I went up two cup sizes and two band width sizes during second trimester. It happened over the course of a few weeks. I told my husband I need to go get a new bra, and so we went to the mall, then a few weeks later that bra was snug, my boobs were spilling over, and the underwire was cutting into the top of my growing belly every time I sat down. So we went again to the mall, and I realized I had gone up another size. My husband said, “no way you are 40 D. I have seen D cup boobs, trust me you are not the big.” I replied, “well what do I know? I mean I am the one trying on the bras, and see and feel how they fit, but you have much more experience than I do with boobs, so tell me what size I should be in.” He looked at me, without catching or probably ignoring my intended sarcasm and contempt for his comment, and replied, “eh, are you sure you aren’t a c?" Annoyed and walking off into the changing room, rolling my eyes, I replied,” yeah like 3 weeks ago I was a 38C, and a month before that I was a 36b, so keep up with it boob expert.” After not finding a bra that felt comfortable, I went with one of those elastic, soft, no wire bras that just come in small, medium, large, one color, and boring looking, but at this point I didn’t care. I just wanted to be comfortable, have room for fluctuating size, and it’s not like I am going to be flashing my boobs around, although this is probably the best they ever looked and been filled out. The granny maternity bra doesn’t do them justice, but oh well. Move over sex appeal, mamma needs comfortable right now. Since there is only one maternity store within like a 500 mile radius of where we live, I am not chancing buying a cutesy maternity bra online from one of those stores where the pregnant models look like they probably just ate an extra slice of pizza.
Hormones and Moods
Luckily this hasn’t been much an issue for me, even now as I am writing this in my third trimester. Sometimes I feel little more emotional about certain things, like a sappy online video, song, or puppy (insert any sappy/cute animal photo/video) video, but mostly my emotions feel in check. I have read that pregnancy hormones rival menopausal hormone changes, so if this is any indication of how I will handle menopause then it’s looking pretty good for hubby and me. Looks like he won’t have to move out into a shed in the backyard when I hit that time of my life.
Kidney Stones and a UTI
February 6th, I was about 17 weeks along, and found myself in the emergency room. For a day or two leading up to the ER visit I was starting to have a lot of pain on my right side of my abdomen/back. It became increasingly worse. I could barely move, or breathe. Everything hurt so badly. I couldn’t lie down, walk, it was awful, and it got to the point that I was scared something was terribly wrong with me and/or baby. We spent at least 5 hours in the ER. The doctor ordered a thorough ultrasound. They checked everything from my lungs down. It was awesome to see Clara for so long. She moved around a lot! She was a busy body, and reacted a lot to the ultrasound. Her feet were cute to watch; every time they came near to the placenta she would kick it. Like maybe it was tickling her feet, and she would kick. The tech said my placenta was bleeding quite a bit from her constant kicking that she had probably been doing for a while. I agreed as I often felt her move and kick there for a couple of weeks by that point.
At another point the tech moved the transducer and baby girl rolled over onto her side, and it looked like she had her little head resting up on one arm, and the other hand waving around, giving us some sass as if to already say,” get out of here, this is my room!” We all laughed, because it was undeniable, her reaction, and it made my husband, the tech, and I all think the same. The tech said, “uh oh you guys are in trouble already. This little girl has some attitude to give already.” It was very cute, and funny, so it was a welcomed moment of smiles amongst the tension and pain I was in.
Turns out I was passing kidney stones and had a UTI. I was down for about a week. I treated it naturally, and only caved in to Tylenol and Ibuprofen about 3x. I try to stay away from meds during pregnancy, so I toughed it out a lot, but there were moments I just couldn’t anymore, and so I was thankful that at least I was going through that during a trimester that I could safely take those meds. My midwives were great about getting me in to see them as soon as I told them what I was going through and making wonderful suggestions to help me beat the kidney stones and UTI naturally. The combination of Uvi Ursi, D-mannose, probiotics, and cranberry worked very fast.
Respiratory and Sinus Infection
A couple weeks later at 20 weeks along I found myself sick again. I began throwing up, and then I felt like I couldn’t breathe or swallow. I had a terrible cough that wouldn’t let up, and brought me to vomiting a couple times, because I just couldn’t get it to stop. I got very little sleep. This went on for about three weeks. It eventually inflamed and tore some of my upper abdominal muscles, which at that point, because of a growing belly, had a long road ahead to recover and heal, because the muscles were stretching. I had to wear an abdominal binder around my midsection for support. The pain was pretty awful, every movement hurt, and standing up or laying down brought me to tears many times. Having to get up and down through the nights to pee was now not a nuisance, but truly a pain. There were many times my husband had to help me get up and down, and help me walk into the bathroom during the night. During this time my hips had begun to ache too, so I was also wearing a maternity belt. Real fashion statement, you know being halfway through my pregnancy, wearing two support belts, and not walking well.
Weight and what the World Has to Say About it
At 22 weeks along I weighed as much as I did when I went into labor with my first child. People thought I was much further along than I was. At times it was a bit irritating to hear comments about my weight and size. People constantly joked that I must need another ultrasound to make sure there was only one baby, because it looked like I was carrying twins or triplets. 99% of the time I felt fine to joke around but some moments I had had just about enough of the comments on my pregnant body. Pregnancy varies woman to woman, and even pregnancy to pregnancy with each woman. I love my belly though, and my little baby girl that is growing inside of it, so my heart was and is light about the comments I receive about my size, but yeah, there are times I would like to make some comment back to someone from the peanut gallery who so freely feels the need to tell me that I am huge. I heard all kinds of things, like, “ how are you going to make it, you are so big already.”
I guess it’s not as bad as it was when I was 21 and pregnant with my first. I was not even a big then. I had a normal to small bump up until the end, and really popped at the 8th month, but even then looking back was not that big, still people back then had something to say too. The worst was probably a table I was serving at the Olive Garden when I was waitressing there, mind you typically 12 hour shifts on my feet. I was 8 months pregnant, and I went to clear some plates from a table, and the guy sitting there with his wife pushed the plates to the far back of the booth they were sitting at, and laughed when I tried to reach them, and called me a beached whale. His wife laughed, but pushed the plates closer back to me. I was embarrassed. Young back then, and not nearly as secure within myself as I am now. If someone were to say something/do something like that to me now I would probably punch them in the face, and blame it on a burst of hormones. ;)
I have noticed that with this pregnancy no one has yet try to rub my belly. I mean outside of my husband and son of course. During my first pregnancy it seemed all my customers wanted to touch my belly and make comments without any invitation to do so. I love pregnant bellies, I get it, but unsolicited touching and commenting of a woman’s body is never okay. Although with this baby, I really am not around a lot of people. I work at home. Back then, with my first I was always around people, so I was subjected to more of that I suppose. Unrelated to weight was another subject that came up frequently with my first. I was young, 20/21, and I looked VERY young. I was constantly mistaken for a 16 year old well until about I was 26/27. I experienced so many thoughtless and rude comments during my first pregnancy. Mostly from women, actually if my memory serves me right, all from women.
I was constantly asked how old I was, and when I said 21, I can’t count how many times people called me a liar and asked me to prove it. I was told I should have an abortion, give the baby up for adoption, and that a 16 year old waitress shouldn’t be having a baby. Many women made the assumption I was that young, and opened their callous mouths before even asking my age. It was awful.
So to be yet another woman putting this out there…
It is NEVER okay to comment on a woman’s age or size, pregnant, fat, skinny, it is not your business. It’s her business. I understand if you are a person that is close to someone that may have an eating disorder or something, and you are concerned, there is a time and place for concern, but that is not what I am talking about. I am referring to the assholes that think it is okay to put a woman down for her size or make fun of her. On that note, it is not okay to be sexist towards a woman either, or comment on how great her ass is. If you are her partner/husband, fine, but strangers, you truly have no righto be commenting on anyone else’s body.
Okay, I won’t go off on a rant, but with that said, to those of you that have commented on my size during this current pregnancy, I am not mad at you. Like I said, 99% of the time I can roll with the comments/jokes, and make them myself at times. I love my belly, and welcome it, because my body is accomplishing an amazing miracle right now. This is just a friendly PSA to suggest that we all just remember to keep our mouths shut when we feel the need to comment on someone else’s body.
One last little story on unsolicited comments that is actually funny. During this time, around my 20-22 weeks’ time, somewhere right in there, I was volunteering with a crew filming a show at a retirement home. An elderly woman came up to me when I was photographing the actors, and asked me if I was pregnant. When I smiled and replied yes, she quickly said, “Oh thank God, because if you weren’t..well..” Like I said in my first trimester recap, young kids and old people just don’t have filters. Some people don’t. I laughed at her response. Just because people shouldn’t judge you, doesn’t mean they won’t, so we all have to learn to roll with the punches, and keep a light heart too. We can’t go around living life every day with a politically correct stick in our ass either.
Need some pointers on what to say to a pregnant woman, here are a couple:
Okay, oaky, off to the next fun stories of second trimester.
Leg cramps and Plantar Fascitis
During this time around 22 weeks I began getting awful foot and leg cramps. So not only was I wearing two belts around my belly and hips, but being on my feet was starting to prove to be a difficult task. Around 18 weeks I had my first undeniable leg and foot cramps. I was trying on a dress at the maternity store, and my legs knotted up, my toes straightened out, and I couldn’t move, stand, walk, or sit. I was doing everything I could to not yelp and cry out. The knots in my calves were so large the attendant at the store looked at me in fear, a panic over her face, and asked if there was anything she could to help, and that she had never seen someone have cramps that bulge out so badly. It was relentless and ongoing for about an hour. My husband had to drive 20 miles to come pick my son and I up from the mall and drive us home, leaving one of our cars at the mall overnight, because I could not drive. It only got worse after that.
Before you wonder if I was doing all the recommended things like vitamins and minerals, yes I was. I was and am taking large amounts of magnesium, I take calcium, eat foods high in potassium, drink water, etc. I am used to cramps, pain, and plantar fasciitis. I have had thyroid problems and fibromyalgia for many years that have put me through the wringer, but it is definitely more intense during pregnancy.
So at 23 weeks I was shooting for a children’s theater; Taking rehearsal photos, building my own set to take portraits of the kiddos in costume, and also taking the performance photos. I was on my feet a lot. I love what I do, and love volunteering with this theatre, but it was hard on me. My husband helped me as much as he could. I seriously can’t say enough good things about how much my husband has been there for me. He helped me a lot through that week. To boot, the week before the play, we had been starting to move into our new home. He did the majority of that on his own. I unpacked, but the move itself, he was loading and unloading the moving truck on his own. I helped where I could, cleaning here and there, and putting things away, but I was sick, and could barely stay on my own two feet. He was so strong for the both of us during those weeks.
Currently I am 31 weeks along, and for the last two months he has rubbed my achy feet just about every single night, even when he works late and comes home tired. I don’t even have to ask him. He does it out of the kindness of his heart, because he knows how tired and sore I am, and wants to be there for me. My love and appreciation for him runs deep, and I can’t imagine going through this pregnancy and my aches and pains without him, because there have been times I just felt like I couldn’t take another moment of pain anymore, tears rolling down my face, trying to be strong, and I just couldn’t anymore, and he has been there for me each time I just can’t do it anymore, just feel like I am giving up, and I panic and the intensity is all too much and I get anxious. He kisses me, tells me I am beautiful, and asks how he can help. I am blessed by him, and I hope that every woman could be so lucky to experience such a loving man during their pregnancy and marriage. We aren’t perfect, but throughout this pregnancy he has been a rock for me.
Downstairs: Peeing, Kegels, Shaving, and Pubis what?
So in the first trimester you get to experience the need to pee like every 15 minutes. I will say it slows a little, like a little during second trimester, but just as I thought I was going to enjoy not having to go pee all the time, I realized I wasn’t in the clear from bladder symptoms or the ladies hygiene section at the grocery store. Nope, ladies, if you have been pregnant you know what I mean. A little laugh, cough, sneeze, or worse little baby starts to kick low, it’s all over. You are going to experience peeing yourself, or in the least will have dribbles. My darling little girl sits low, and kicked very low during second trimester. There were times I swear it felt like her little feet would just come right out of my vagina. Between her kicking low and bouncing on my bladder like a trampoline, and the colds and spring allergies I get, well, panty liners and keeping extra undies with me became a priority.
Speaking of downstairs, this is also the time when Kegels start becoming increasingly important, if they haven’t already. Even with Kegel practice, leaks still spring. I learned about the importance of Kegels back with my first pregnancy, and I did them then. This time around I looked around for a “tool” to hopefully help make Kegels more effective. There are some options out there, Jade eggs, Yoni eggs, and the one I came across, a Kegel master. It looks like a sex toy, but this thing is pretty cool. It has springs in it, and can vary the amount of resistance. It’s like vaginal weight lifting. For pregnancy, from what I have heard and read it’s a balance of doing Kegels, but not too much, because it’s also just as important to know how to relax that area for childbirth. So strong pelvic floor muscles are important, and so is learning to relax those muscles. However, after I have my little darling girl, my Kegel master will probably come in handy to helping get everything all back to normal in my nether regions. One thing I don’t want to end up with is a leaky, weakened bladder, or any other pelvic area problems that last throughout my life. And in the paraphrased words of Jenny McCarthy from one her mommy books I read many years ago, “Belly Laughs,” which is hysterical to read, I would prefer to not have sex feel like it’s someone throwing a hot dog down a hallway when I am healed up from birth and engines get revvin’. Her imagery never left my mind, and now it probably won’t leave yours. Hahahaha!
During this time around 23/24 weeks I began having more intense pain in my pelvis. It came on prior to, but not as intense until about this time. All of the sudden it was like walking, going up and down the stairs in my house, getting in and out of the car, and worse moving side to side in bed was terribly painful. I had no idea what was going on for weeks. It felt like someone kicked me in my vagina, or something. I mean like the popping and cracking, and pain real low and up in my vagina, ugh, it was and is still an issue in third trimester. I never experienced this in my first pregnancy. So after a few weeks of this new symptom I started Googling. I came across a problem some women face during pregnancy called, Pubis Symphysis. I started seeing a chiropractor shortly after, and although the chiropractic care has helped with lessening the intensity of many of my aches and pains, this is something I can’t seem to find a way to improve on. I’ll just leave it at this; I didn’t expect my vagina and pelvis area to hurt until after I have my baby. So many things I didn’t know 12 years ago with my mostly easy and uncomplicated first pregnancy that I am discovering during this pregnancy. Yay me! When I say I am always open to learning new things, well the universe took my words a bit far during this pregnancy.
As for shaving, well by the end of second trimester it had become more like training for American Ninja Warrior. Seriously, with all the bending, hunching, lifting my legs up, twisting, or even trying to sit on a chair in the shower, has become like some weird athletic attempt to have smooth legs, and now that I can’t see my lady parts, all I have to go on is muscle memory, or giving up and saying, “oh well, until we meet again.”
What was I just saying? No, honestly it was on the tip of my tongue. Where did I put that? Huh? I don’t know, I forgot, again. All phrases that are common every day for me and mostly my son and husband think is funny when I can’t recall something. I am so used to being the one that remembers things, and now I am like, “guys, please help me remember this or that.” “Sure, honey, okay, mom.” But it rarely works out, because my guys are like most guys and don’t remember half the things I say. One more thing to keep a light heart about. It can get frustrating having mush for brains, but it’s better to just accept it, and do the best I can to have routines for some things, and expect that even with routine I will probably forget.
So if you have come this far in reading, then you can probably assume I haven’t been getting much exercise. I try. But typically a walk around the block is as good as it gets, and the trips up and down the stairs in my house. I joke around and tell me husband that my cardio is turning over in bed. Until you have a human cramming your lungs and stomach upwards, a huge belly, aches, cramps, and fatigue, then you probably don’t get that, but my heart beats a bit faster every time I roll over in bed, and my breath shortens a bit. Oh and don’t forget the added task of keeping a body pillow between my legs, that just adds to the cardio of rolling over. Between shaving and turning sides in bed, I would say I am getting my damn cardio and yoga in. haha, well that guy at the Olive Garden may have been an asshole for calling me a beached whale, and although I didn’t feel like one back then, I certainly feel like one during this pregnancy.
Well this about sums up second trimester. I have lots of other thoughts about pregnancy in general, things I have been learning, and the changes between who I was during my first pregnancy and this pregnancy, but I will save those for another time. I had hoped to keep up more with writing and vlogging during this pregnancy, but if you made it this far reading into my experience you probably get why I haven’t had the time or drive to keep up with documenting every week or even every month.
We had a lot of silly fun making this video. Some clips are new, and a few are from past experiences. It's a message to baby girl that we plan to do everything we can to teach her, and guide her in this world, and that this whole big world is hers to explore, to find love in, to be who she is meant to be. We want her to know how much she is loved, and that she has this silly family that is so excited for her to get here and go on adventures with them.
Eventually she will have her own adventures and stories to tell as she gets older, and we can't wait to see all that she does, and all the places she will go.
Her name is dear to us. When Jack and I were about 7 months into dating we were talking about getting married and having children. He asked me if we ever had a daughter what I would like to call her, and I told him. I had a first name in mind. It belonged to both of my great grandmother's. It wasn't so much that I wanted it to be a family name, but I loved the sound of it, and vintage names. Her middle name is something I came up with sounding out names that would go well with her first name. When I came to the name we chose as the middle name, Jack was excited, because it was his mother's middle name.
We love her name, and think it is so pretty and classic.
On a side note, it is neat that she is going to be born in July 2016, exactly 10 years since Jack and I were introduced. Who knew it would take us 10 years to have our little girl, but we are here now, and our hearts are so full they could burst with love and excitement!
The first trimester feels like it goes by so slowly. Watching grass grow in the winter would probably feel like it goes by faster. From the moment we found out I was pregnant I was thinking about photos, documenting the pregnancy, exercise, and health in general, but things don’t always go as planned. But let’s not start just there…yet.
From the time we began talking about getting me pregnant, last Spring of 2015, to the actual time of conception was a whirlwind of emotions for me. The closer it got to us giving it a go and doing the deed, I was obsessed with all things related to ovulating, conceiving, what to eat, reading about Lunaception, yeah, luna as in moon, apparently if a woman has her cycle around a new moon, and ovulates during a full moon she will get pregnant, sure enough that was my case, so maybe there is some fact behind that, that lead into learning about what astrological sign our baby would have, and if that sign is compatible with us as parents, Turns out, there really aren’t any signs that are very compatible with a Capricorn mother, but quite a few that are happy- go -lucky compatible with a Scorpio father.
So after reading all about all things leading up to conceiving, and what position is best for a boy or girl, Jack and I were definitely not on the same page, Jack: “why not nature let it do its thing, besides I have super sperm, you will get pregnant no matter what,” me: “because I am tracking everything, and I will be ovulating in four days, then it’s go time buddy, time to make a deposit.”
Ok, so all the obsessive stuff aside, I was really excited to finally be making this life changing decision with my husband. Conversations ranging from how cute it will be to have a baby, and watch it grow into a little munchkin, remembering William being a little guy, to Jack’s age difference from the baby, and wondering if the pregnancy will be different from my pregnancy with William 12 years ago, to this means I am going to have to be sober and decaffeinated for 9 months, and since I plan to breastfeed for quite some time, that means even longer. Yay me! Thinking positive, well, my liver will enjoy a break from my coffee habit, and couple glasses of wine each week.
So two weeks before ovulating I had my last day of adult drinks. I drank a lot of coffee, in the morning, knowing I would start the next morning off with my plan to wean myself off of the delicious coffee I enjoy every morning for years on end that might as well be crack, because I’m so addicted to the stuff, and then followed up that evening with a spaghetti dinner at home with my sweetheart and a bottle of my favorite cabernet. That night I didn’t know whether to pass out or work out from the lovely mixture of caffeine and wine, so we stayed up watching movies. We’re real party animals…. You know cuddled up on the couch watching Netflix.
The two weeks prior to ovulating seemed to drag on. I was working out, trying to get the five pounds off that I somehow managed to gain while in Hawaii on our very active familymoon, living off pineapple, jerky, and rum, while Jack and William came home from the trip and discovered they had actually lost 6 pounds each, and no matter what I did over that two weeks the scale wouldn’t budge, so I raised my hands in defeat, and declared oh well, I will just maintain a healthy pregnancy and healthy weight gain and it will be ok. I’ll come back to this obsessing over my weight after the baby is born. Fast forward to me, now in third trimester, and well, that goal went right out the window. So here’s the recap of my first trimester.
A little note prior to giving the scoop on my first trimester, it was hellish, and no I am not complaining, ok, maybe just a little, but not every pregnancy is a walk in the park with butterflies, sometimes it feels more like your body is possessed, so yeah, and yes, I know it is all worth it in the end, and more than anyone else on the planet I love this little baby growing in my belly, and I count my blessings that I am having another child. With that said, here is how it went down.
My 1st trimester wasn’t really broke up into any stages, like shock of finding out I was pregnant or having some slight symptoms indicating my body was now growing a little human, or cravings of any kind. Some women don’t even realize they are pregnant until a couple months in, and that would be me 12 years ago with my first. No symptoms, no changes, a missed period and a negative pregnancy test, a couple of glasses wine later, then I smelled onions wafting in from under my bedroom door from the kitchen, where my ex mother in law was cooking, and I had lost all control of my stomach and was throwing up. Hmm. I wondered and decided another pregnancy test was in order. This time showing I was pregnant, and that being one of only three times I threw up in that pregnancy, minus the time I got the flu with him in my second trimester, and was sick for a week.
Anyways, with this baby, the first trimester was in full swing the moment my egg dropped. I swear I felt it get fertilized. I knew I was pregnant without a doubt. I’ll share a very dear to my heart and soul moment. Two days into my “open fertile window” I was lying down on the new recliner Jack got for me, and I was doing a fertility meditation by Hypnobabies. There was a beautiful and touching moment when I felt the presence of my daughter with me. I KNEW it was her, and I KNEW I was going to have a daughter, and it was exciting. The energy was very feminine, but strong in announcing. As if her soul spoke to mine, “I am here. I am your daughter.” I didn’t share that moment right away with anyone, not even Jack. It was very divine feeling, and so personal. At that moment I really didn’t have any doubts that the little girl that came to me in my dreams for so many years was now here, ready to start her journey into this world.
I was bloated like crazy by the 6th day, and so when I took my pregnancy test 3 days prior to my expected to be missed period I was not surprised to see two lines. My son was the first person to know I was pregnant after that. He was excited, but entirely grossed out that I planned on keeping pregnancy test, or his words, “Mom, eww, you are keeping that gross pee stick thingy.” As I showed him that I still have his “gross pee stick thingy.”
Happy, yes, I was thrilled, and a little bit, like oh shit what did we just do, but still over the moon excited.
Buying Maternity clothes
Within that week of testing I had to buy my first pair of maternity pants. Let me just say for the record, buying maternity clothes is not cheap. It can be very easy to spend more than your entire mortgage payment on a few things, so exercising willpower in those cute maternity shops is imperative to not going broke. The whole use a rubber band to hold your jeans on trick was not working. I joked with Jack and William and asked them, “Is this baby making me look fat?” As I tried to squeeze into my jeans. Then as time progressed and my belly thickened even more, I still joked, but partly was like, “Ok, seriously, babe, do I look pregnant or just fat? I hope I don’t just look like I am fat.” As he sat there looking at me, and says, “well your shirt says baby on it, so it kinda gives it away hun,” and I respond hormonally, “well what does that mean, do I look pregnant or just fat?” He replied with, “You’re the most beautiful woman on the planet honey.”
I was popping out already, and bloated to inth degree, so badly that my old belly button piercing from when I was teen, that has been closed up since I was 21, burst open, and I’ll spare you the details, but that was not a pretty sight, and hurt pretty bad. So far about a few weeks into my pregnancy and it was already night and day different from my first.
Within the first two weeks the severe nausea turned into severe vomiting. This wasn’t just morning sickness, or let’s just stay away from onions for a while, it was full blown feeling like I might need to consider an exorcism, because something is terribly wrong, and this much puking can’t be normal. I mean, when in your life do you have to judge how much throwing up is probably considered normal or not? Probably not too many times in a person’s life, and if you are lucky, hopefully never. By 5 weeks the midwife and my chiropractor came to the conclusion that I had HG, hyperemesis gravidarum, and that meant my first trimester and probably then some would suck the life out of me. So much for my healthy eating for pregnancy and keeping up with my Pinterest board, and ideas for all the cute pregnancy progression photos and videos I thought I would do. Screw that, nature had something else in mind for me. I was making best friends with good ol John, running to him every time I was sick.
No amount of ginger, sea sickness bands, crackers, peanut butter, acupuncture, and every other thing I tried to ease the sickness would help. And forget driving myself, because when we would leave the house to go anywhere I would last maybe an hour, before wanting to sleep or puke. I could count out staying healthy by exercising, because going on walks meant turning around to come right back home from throwing up. This was just something I would have to get through. The only thing to keep me going was thoughts of holding this soon to be little precious newborn in my arms.
Calls from grandma
You know they say the young and old say it how it is. This is so true. After a couple months into my pregnancy, my grandma, who has called me just about every week since I found out, asked me how I was doing. I told her, and she said matter of factly, “Well Jessie, what do you expect? You are getting kinda old for this pregnancy stuff, don’t you think?” I laughed and said thanks grandma.
The guilt and worry of not having a healthy first trimester, taking Unisom to help a little with the nausea, not eating the healthiest foods or any food for that matter, and not keeping down my prenatals was enough to make me start feeling guilty and depressed. As for the whole crying symptoms, I didn’t have any crying bursts, except this movie called Inside Out made me want to bawl my eyes out.
Here’s a fun fact about 1st trimester, all the books say you will probably experience tiredness. No, this wasn’t just tiredness I experienced, I basically became a narcoleptic. I couldn’t keep my eyes open very long, between being tired from pregnancy and taking Unisom to keep my vomiting episodes to around 10-15 times a day, I was unconscious for the most of those four months I dealt with HG. Luckily, I have an awesome kid. Seriously, poor guy, his mom was basically zonked out or in the bathroom throwing up for four months. He would still do his chores and homework, and check on me, always willing to see what he could do to help me feel better. He would lie next to me and read me stories, or tell me stories, bring me water, rub my head. Sweetest little boy, and I just can’t tell you how much I love him.
So weight gain during the 1st trimester is supposed to be 0-5 pounds, somewhere in there. Somehow during this time I managed to put on 17 pounds. Go figure, I could eat nothing, throw up, and still gain weight, now that made me want to cry, seriously wtf?
Stretching ligaments and Lungs Adjusting
I experienced the aching pains of ligaments and abdomen muscles stretching, along with shortness of breath from my lungs and ribs adjusting for a growing baby. So that yoga I had planned to do, quickly faded into a lofty goal, as every move seemed to pull at something and made me want to shriek.
Sinus Congestion and Oral Health
Here’s another fun fact about pregnancy, sinus congestion all day with bloody noses, and bleeding gums every time I flossed. That started right around 6 weeks in, along with headaches, probably from all the dehydration I assume.
I went up a whole cup size by week 8, not complaining here. One conversation took place with me standing in front of the mirror, “hey babe, at least one good thing out of first trimester is my boobs look awesome now, right?” Then I turn to look at him, and he has his head down still reading his book and not even looking up, “yep, sweetie.” Well, that’s marriage folks. Three days after our last “open window” to try and conceive, my boobs were starting to ache. At one point, Jack and I were out for a walk. My arms were crossed over my boobs, complaining they hurt so much, and him saying, “yeah, because I have super sperm, and you are pregnant,” and me rolling my eyes, laughing at his response, but knowing he was right.
My sense of smell is as good if not better than my dog’s. Quite a few times I would look down at my dog, and say to him, “ you smell that too, don’t you?” When Jack hadn’t even entered the house yet, pulling into the driveway, with fresh chocolate donuts in the passenger seat. Okay, maybe that is an exaggeration, but my nose became like a super power.
Here’s another fun one, vivid dreams and not sleeping well. Even now, as I am in my third trimester, I still have wild dreams. I have always had an active dreaming mind, but with pregnancy I can outdo any movie or book. Jack says I should write books about the dreams I have been having. I could spend an hour easy explaining dreams to him in the mornings, of course with at least 5 pee breaks in between chatting it up about whatever wild or scary adventure my subconscious conjured up during the night.
Old people syndrome: blurrier vision and short term memory loss
I needed to renew my driver’s license just towards the end of my first trimester and failed the DMV eye exam miserably, because my vision has become increasingly blurrier over the 1st trimester, which my son got a kick out of teasing me about. My memory became foggier and foggier, like really suffering from CRS. I could walk into a room and forgetting why I was in there, put my hand on my forehead trying to remember, and then, “oh well, I have to pee, anyways, maybe I will remember after I go to the bathroom.”
Luckily I got quite a bit of reading in prior to getting pregnant in the few weeks leading up to conceiving during my obsessed with getting pregnant phase, but once all the symptoms of 1st trimester knocked me over the head my stack of pregnancy and birthing books that I ordered in from the library sat collecting dust for the most part, except the pregnant body book, which is fun to look at every day to learn about the changes the baby is going through as it develops is pretty neat. My son and I check it out every few days, and wonder how the baby is doing. It’s really sweet. He loves to see what she looks like every week according to the book. At one point, around 11 weeks, he exclaimed that she looks like an alien, and I said, “William that’s not very nice to pick on your little brother or sister already. She isn’t even born yet.” Smiling at him. He bust up laughing, “Mom, I am not picking on the baby, babies are just weird looking at this stage.” To which I agreed,” yeah they kinda are, now hold the book, I have to pee”
Read More about the pregnancy here: http://www.allisonattitude.com/blog/category/pregnancy
Giving it Up to Get Down
Having the Talk with William
2nd trimester recap coming soon!
Flour Maternity Photo Session with Jessica Allison of Woman of the Abyss
I have always loved the stunning images of ballet dancers using flour as a creative element for portraits. So I decided that it would be neat to see how I can incorporate flour into my own maternity photos.
These were taken 4/10/2016, I am 26 weeks along in these images with my baby girl. It was not easy to do. I have been having a lot of issues with pain, swelling, and muscles cramping/seizing up. Typically most maternity photos are taken 28 weeks to 32 weeks along, typically sooner the better. I am pretty big and round, so I figured starting a little earlier than the typical suggestion would be just fine. ;)
Originally I had planned to have another photographer friend of mine help me out with these, she couldn't make it when I planned the session, so I asked another friend if she could come help throw flour on me. She was able to, only right before the session was supposed to begin I ended up in severe pain and could not walk or stand. I called it off.
The following morning I was feeling slightly better so my Jack helped me out with my idea. I set up my lights, set up my camera settings, and had him push the shutter for me instead of using a timer, because holding any pose for more than a couple seconds was tough on me. Since we originally planned on using flour to throw on me outside, we had bought 24 pounds of flour. However with the condition I was/am currently in with the pain, I decided to take images of flour, and brush them into the studio shots I took. It worked out.
I am a little bummed to not have had the full on flour experience, but since I have all that flour now, I am planning another fun shoot, only this time I will not have to photograph and pose. I can wear my comfy sneakers and stay behind the lens, as well as take a break when I need it. Planning for some awesome action shots showcasing martial arts by my son and his coaches. Hopefully that will all work out very soon. :)
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