Birth Story Pt 1: Laboring At A New Years Eve Party

On New Years Eve, I was crawling around on the bathroom floor of my best friend’s new house, where I had spent a majority of the evening. I was trying to rush through this contraction because I could hear everyone counting down to 2016 in the living room. Everyone was drinking sparkling fruit juice, and my glass was sitting in my place in the middle of all of them. I hurried out just in time for the “Happy New Year!” and caught the tail clinks of a toast.

Why didn’t you go home or to a hospital if your contractions were that bad, Rachel?

Let me set this up for you. It’s New Years Eve. Two nights ago, I called the midwife to tell her I was having pretty regular contractions. She suggested taking a tylenol PM and trying to sleep. Sure enough, it wasn’t real labor.

That same night, Toby and I had been out on a date at Macaroni Grill.

Now, on New Years Eve, we had taken my sister to Cici’s for dinner. So I thought maybe having big meals was causing contractions.  This is the first of many reasons I decided I was positively not going into labor tonight.

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The reason we took my sister to dinner was that my parents and other sister were across the state seeing Willie Nelson in concert. Dinner was early because we already had plans to go hang out at my friend’s new house for a small New Years Eve party.

Here’s a fun excerpt from when we were making these plans:

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Never say never, folks.

So around 10 I started having contractions. At some point I went to the bathroom (the first of many trips) and discovered I was also bleeding just a tiny bit. So I low key texted my husband that I was having contractions about 7 minutes apart and that I had a teeny bit of bloody show. First he asked if we should leave. I said no! I’m fine. He asked if he should call the midwife. I said no! Don’t bother her on new years eve. He asked if I wanted to tell my friends. I said no! It was probably nothing and I didn’t want to freak them out. He asked if he needed to run out to the car to grab some feminine products from our go bag. I said no! It was so light, there was no problem. But he insisted I probably needed something just in case, and suggested seeing if my friend had any in her bathroom because she was, in fact, a girl.

So as not to arouse suspicion, I didn’t ask. I’m sorry, I know she’d understand. Bathroom trip number two! Not only did she indeed have pads, but she had the same brand I use!

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It was less than two hours until midnight. Labor takes longer than that. Even if I was in labor, I had plenty of time to stay and play. So I settled in. And the contractions got longer and stronger. I started going to the bathroom every few contractions to work through them without people wondering why I was pacing/rocking/aggressively pushing my face into cold tile.

By the time midnight rolled around, contractions were still 6 minutes apart but they were getting extremely intense. Basically I was running for the bathroom every 6 minutes and that’s obnoxious. My friends were so sweet about it though! They never made fun of me or even pointed it out. They even offered me pillows to help me get comfy for the brief stints I spent sitting on the couch! I thought I must just have the sweetest, most thoughtful friends ever.

And I do! But I found out later that during one of my many disappearances, Husband went ahead and told them what was going on – and not to tell me that he told them what was going on. Which really was what I wanted most – for them to know, but to act like they don’t know, but to also be nice to me. Keep in mind, this was not insensitive of anyone – we all collectively thought this was false labor.

So that brings us to where we opened – me on the bathroom floor during the countdown.

When I returned, we toasted and shared our resolutions. And my plan was to leave after that was done. But guess what? I continued to make completely irrational choices because hey, I was on a roll. We had been playing through Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep all night, and we were almost to the end of the game!

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So I stayed until we hit the final boss and my contractions were 4 minutes apart. I thought I was doing an ok job acting like I was fine, but I probably wasn’t. My friends were just also acting like I was fine. I have such good friends. We beat the game somewhere around 2 am – and I hurried out during the end credits. Yes, I decided to skip the after credits scene.

I had to start making rational decisions eventually!

So, yes. The first four+ hours of my labor were spent at a New Years Eve party with me looking like this the entire time:

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Happy New Years! I’m not drunk but I am going to go home, throw up, get naked, and roll around on the floor yelling incoherently.

Tune in next time to see why I didn’t just go to the freaking birth center like any sane person would at this point!

Birth Announcement! It’s a…

No blog update for weeks and weeks? There’s only one explanation…

On January 1st, 2016, I’m proud to announce that my baby finally had a grand debut (having clearly inherited mom and dad’s flair for the dramatic).

So? Is baby new years a boy or a girl?

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Introducing Junior! As you can imagine, life is completely different and we’ve all been adjusting to it. I’m just now getting around to the blog and comments and reading your blogs, and things might stay slow around here at least for now.

I do have a thrilling tale of going into labor on New Years Eve and babies almost coming in the car and all sorts of excitingness, so keep an eye out for that! That will either be a very long post or a series of shorter posts, not sure. Readers, do you have a preference?

In the mean time, LOOK HOW CUTE.

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So stay tuned!

Oh alright, here’s one more for the road.

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Invisible Illness Survival Kit – Purses

Hello blog people! I hope you had a lovely holiday and you’re enjoying some time relaxing. No, baby has not made their grand debut yet, and we are t-minus 12 days to the due date. It could be any day now!

Now, I don’t know how spoonie guys handle their invisible illness supplies, but for us lady spoonies, a purse is an absolute must. I know because I hate purses and would never carry one if I didn’t have to. Even I have to admit that carrying a purse has saved events and created extra “spoons” for me when there were none. (to read the “spoon theory” click here).

There are about a million things that can save a sudden onset of symptoms if you have constant access to them. Medication is the most obvious item. Some people are so organized that they can keep one or two pills from each medication in a fancy box, and there are services like PillPack that can do that for you:

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Or of course you could use a pill box, and if the SMTWTFS isn’t your style, check out the Do I Look Sick store for some cute ones!

But I’m lazy and usually just keep my prescription bottles in my purse. I don’t have a ton, so I can – people with a wider array probably can’t get away with that. Of course, most spoonies keep over the counter meds on them too, like tylenol for pain, benadryl for allergies, etc. No matter what, it usually ends up being more pills than one can really stuff into a pocket. Or at least the pocket of women’s pants.

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Maybe this is why guy spoonies don’t need purses.

Anyway, there are a lot of other handy things to keep on you at all times. Another big one is food. Whether you have allergies, stomach problems, or just need something to take pills with because sometimes it’s hard with just water, keeping snacks that agree with your digestive system and keep your blood sugar up are essential. You might show up to an event serving food you can’t eat, or you might end up staying out longer than planned and need a boost or food to take with medication. No one knows you better than you, so you know what snacks will get you farthest. Relying on buying the food you need while you’re out won’t always pan out, especially if you’re stranded with a vending machine or impulse buy candy at the register and nothing else.

On a less fun note, it’s also important to have your insurance on you at all times. If you’re chronically ill, you’ve probably been to the ER. There are many situations in which you may need to go to an ER that isn’t at your usual hospital. If you do, you’ll want all your insurance info, IDs, and medical alert tags/IDs on you.

So yes, despite my aversion to purses, I carry one. But I don’t carry some regular boring purse. I might as well like the purse I carry. For a long time, I used a little backpack I got as a kid –

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My walking pharmacy was disguised as an adorable cat. Yes, it’s the cat from Trigun, which I’ve never watched and know nothing about. Baby!Rachel just liked that it was a cat, and so does adult!Rachel. I recently switched out, though, for a tote bag that I actually received from a reader!

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I could not for the life of me find one of me holding it but it’s the cute blue tote in the background with the white lucky cat on it. Thanks Tosha! Check out her blog Bottled Time! Not only is it adorable but it has a little pocket at the top on the inside that I can stick my phone or keys in so they’re not lost in the sea of pills and miscellaneous flotsam in the main bag area.

Plus my mom’s all white cat Jane really relates to it on a spiritual level. This is a live picture of her right now:

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So you don’t have to go get some fashiony purse for your portable pharmacy if that’s not you. If you must have a purse, have one you love!

Or buy guy pants with pockets that are actually useful. ;)

Stay tuned, I do have updates on our birth center plans! Plus baby will be here soon, along with plenty of pictures!

Pregnancy Update: 37 Weeks/ The Doctor’s Final Say

This is Part 2 of our Doctor Debacle. You can read part 1 here.

So when last we spoke, I told you our doctor requested a second meeting to talk about our birth plan. You know, after he actually took a look at the thing. I was not optimistic, but it went even worse than I thought it would.

Here’s an assortment of gems from our discussion:

“Natural birth includes dead mother, dead baby.”

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“‘Informed consent’ is a legal term – that’s a very combative term to use.”

In response to us saying “We welcome your advice.” – “What I’m giving is not advice. I’m telling you what I’m going to do.”

“No one uses the shower while in labor.” – Then why does every labor room have one…?

“It makes no sense not to use continuous fetal monitoring. You wouldn’t put your newborn in the other room with no monitors right? So how can you want me to not monitor it?” – 1. We never said no monitoring. We said we’d like intermittent monitoring, which in most hospitals means 15 min every hour. That’s a lot of monitoring and we’ve done our research on it. 2. Ok, by your logic no one’s monitoring the baby at all for the full nine months, how is that ok? Is it because I’M monitoring them? We trust my monitoring skills for nine months but not one day of labor?

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“Go to a birth center for your second baby, but if you go there with your first they’ll die or worse, they’ll end up in a wheelchair all their life!” – so far my research on if the first baby is somehow riskier than subsequent babies has turned up literally nothing.

“IUI babies are high risk. We have to induce on your due date.” – this one almost makes sense. Research does show a slight increase in risks associated with IUI babies – but that’s because IUI increases the odds of twins or more (which I don’t have) and IUI babies are usually born to older mothers (and I’m 25). So…no. Not so much.

“Walking does not induce labor. Sex does not induce labor. Don’t you think if these things worked, we’d tell all moms to do them? Pitocin is the only thing that works.”

“I’m going to break your water. Don’t tie my hands here.”

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“Letting the epidural wear off before pushing was what we did in the 80’s, there’s no reason to do it anymore.” – except when I’ve said that I’d only get an epidural to rest in the event of a long labor, and when it’s time to push I want to be able to feel and move again so I can use different positions.

“You say you want to avoid a c-section – of course. We always try to avoid a c-section. It’s condescending to even say that.”

“You can’t ask me to not do an episiotomy.” Actually that is completely within my legal rights and most doctors don’t even do them anymore. Could he explain to me why he still did routine episiotomies? See next quote…

“Just trust me.”

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“Almost every mom has hemorrhaging after labor, so we give routine pitocin to everyone after the baby’s born.” – I’m kind of concerned that all your patients hemorrhage. That does not seem to be the norm elsewhere.

“As far as not giving you a catheter after delivery…” – he then proceeds to show me graphic photos of catheters in hugely swollen vaginas – to the point where I’m not even sure what I’m looking at. Now, I’m glad to look at pictures and learn more about what’s going to be happening. But upon doing my own image searches of post-delivery swelling, the photos I found looked nothing like that. Clearly what he was showing me was some kind of complication – but he didn’t say that. He was using these photos as scare tactics with no information on what I was looking at or under what circumstances this could happen. I agree – if my vagina looked like the photo he showed me, I’d need a catheter. But I have no idea what would cause that, how common it is, or what the treatment options for it are. It would still be uninformed consent – sorry, I know I’m not supposed to mention legal terms or my legal rights. I’m so bad at ignoring those.

So my doctor was suddenly being the evil, fear-mongering doctor that natural birth documentaries paint pictures of and I never believed really existed. Normally, I could just be kind of pissed off and move on. But this was sad because I like this guy. He’s been my doctor for almost 10 years. Through my surgeries he’s had a great bedside manner, and I’ve trusted him with my life basically. He’s always taken good care of my endometriosis. But this time I’m not sick, and rather than being a passive object while being repaired, I want to be involved in this exciting physical event. That is simply not how he’s looking at it.

An active patient that wants options is seen as a threat.

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It’s just really hard to do the right thing and walk away from a friend. In the end, I have to put me and baby first. Will having a medicalized birth somehow ruin my child? No. But it would be sad to miss an opportunity to have birth be a good memory, to grow closer to my husband and child, and to experience a healthy body doing normal things for once. It’s climbing a mountain because it’s there.

And really, no matter what’s going on, you have choices. A doctor can’t tell you that you don’t have choices. Now I wish I had done more research and been more active about endometriosis and PCOS – who knows what choices I had? I hate to look back on those costly, painful surgeries and think that maybe my doctor kept other options from me. I wish I just hated him. It would be much easier to self advocate for my inalienable right to know my options for care if I was up against an out-and-out villain.

But I’ve spent almost 10 years believing he was a really good doctor.

At 37 weeks, I’ve gone through the arduous process of transferring care to a birth center and midwife. I’ll write a whole post about that process later. But it’s just really lucky that I didn’t go into labor during all that mess. I’ve felt guilty and sad every step of the way – and my doctor definitely helped those feelings along with more gems like “You really should have brought this up at like, 20 weeks.” Well, at like 10 weeks I told you I wanted a natural birth and you said “Ok. Most moms say that now. We’ll talk more later because most first time moms change their mind at some point. No second time moms come in here asking for a natural birth. You’ll change your mind.”

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Shoulda been a red flag I guess. But at the time, I was 10 weeks pregnant and still just beginning to learn my options. I also would have never thought my doctor would flat out refuse my wishes as long as they were reasonable. From the sound of the comments I’ve received, you all seem to agree that nothing I’ve asked for was insane.

But my legal rights and reasonableness don’t make me feel any better about the situation. I know I did the right thing, but it was hard and felt terrible and has left me with no one to care for me if endo comes back post-partum. I have no primary care doctor– really, I have no doctor period. Now what?

Focus on the baby. Only 19 days left now. After that, I’ll figure out my medical future.

Think Invisible

I found this awesome set of graphics I wanted to share with you guys. The theme is “think invisible.”

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CLICK HERE to see the rest of the collection!

I of course chose to feature Yoda here in honor of the Star Wars premier, which I just got home from. I’m exhausted and overwhelmed by awesome, so this post will be short and sweet.

I think what I like most about these illustrations is that they portray “invisible” things, but like invisible illness, it’s not really invisible, is it? You just have to use the information you have to see what’s really there. Check out my “5 ways to spot invisible illness” post for the visible clues that reveal my invisible illness.

Happy Star Wars Premier to all, and to all a good night.