A Birth Story, Part Four (The Birth)

When I booked the reservation at the hotel, something told me that my little girl would cut our visit short.  I completely relaxed during that final day, and perhaps that is what coaxed my littlest love to arrive: a mommy’s body doesn’t cooperate well when it is in a stressful situation.

(*See footnote for explanation of “Ding Dang Baby.”)

My contractions began at around 11pm, and I just continued to read while relaxing in bed.  They seemed pretty steady though, and I mentioned them to Victor about an hour later.  He asked if I wanted to go home.  I didn’t really see the need of abandoning our hotel room until we knew for sure this was it.  I also wasn’t in a hurry: Ale took forever to be born, so I thought we had plenty of time ahead of us.

Ale was asleep, so I just continued to monitor the situation without waking her.  Finally, I decided I would use the app on my phone.  It helped me to realize that maybe we were further along than expected.  Around 2:30am we started the process of cleaning up and packing up the hotel.  Ale awoke and couldn’t understand why we couldn’t go swimming.  She had started the day wearing her swimsuit and tutu, and at this point was dancing around the hotel room wired.  I had been telling her for a month that her sister was “coming soon,” so she was pretty unphased.  That is until the contractions were strong enough for me to need to stop and breath.  “Mama, stop!  Stop doing that!” she said more than once.

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This was our last family photo before Josie was born.  Victor was a little irritated that I wanted a photo during my labor–so there was no time for a retake!

Victor called his mom to let her know I was in labor, and I called the midwife as we were leaving the hotel.  I also notified my mom and sister, as promised.  Clearly it was the middle of the night, as both of them asked me if I was going to go home…  Umm, no, I thought I would I would just use the bathtub here.  

This chat spans a couple of hours.

I not-so-patiently checked out of the hotel.  Contractions were pretty strong, and I had to stop to breath through them several times during the process.   I would feel one beginning, and tell the middle-aged man behind the counter, “Excuse me.”  Then I would turn my back on him, walk to the wall, hold on, and breath for a minute.  When the contraction subsided, I walked back, smiled, and apologized.

The taxi arrived and I joined my family outside.  (My husband must have been a little nervous.  He let my toddler pee in front of the hotel before getting in he taxi.  No time for a bathroom break! No sir!)  The ride home was pretty quick.  I sat in the front seat just to continue making middle-aged Mexican men uncomfortable.

We arrived home and began getting the room ready.  Remember when I said I thought we had plenty of time?  Well, we didn’t prepare the room before leaving for the hotel… So there we were, 3:30 in the morning getting everything in order.  I went through the baby basket and cleaned off the table in our room.  (By “cleaned off the table,” I actually mean I swept everything into a bag and stashed it in the closet.)  I am pretty sure Victor swept and mopped.  Finally, I took a permanent break from getting the room ready to concentrate on getting my body ready.

 My contractions were strong.  I know this next part sounds crazy, so don’t judge me: As a contraction would start, I would imagine a tall skinny man.  That’s what it felt like.  The contraction was like a long line that went down my back.  With my hands braced against the wall, I would start at his head and breath my way down his body.  Weird, I know.  It helped though, a coping mechanism of sorts.  I also nodded my head as I breathed, so I am pretty sure I looked nuts too.

The bathroom was nice because it was dark and private, but at this point it felt good to stand up.  I didn’t want to bend over, lay against the sink/wall, squat on the toilet, etc.  It felt good to stand straight pushing out to my sides with both hands against the doorframe.  My midwife arrived and did a quick check on the baby.

She, her crew, and Victor worked in the bedroom to get the pool set up and filled.  I literally didn’t see my husband again until the baby was born.  My labor was requiring all my concentration, and I didn’t have a break or all the time in the world to chit-chat like I did with Ale.  Finally I asked if the tub was ready, and continued my labor there.

I have sweet memories of Ale during this time.  She would check on me during contractions.  A couple times I remember her getting right down in my face and smiling a big, fake, slightly terrified looking smile.  I was aware that she was there and needed some reassurance.  I would smile back (I think, although it was probably more of a grimace.), tell her I was fine, and let her know baby sister would be there soon.  She joined me, bathing suit and all, in the birthing tub.  My midwife showed her how to pour water on my back during the contractions.  At some point, she got out and fell asleep in the next room.  Later I found out that she refused to remove her bathing suit before sleeping.

In the pool my contractions changed.  They weren’t a tall, skinny man anymore.  They morphed into a short, fat man.  Instead of long pain, it was horizontal and stretched across my back.  The short, fat man wasn’t nearly as nice as the tall guy. The coolest thing is that depending on my pain, my midwife knew where the baby was.  She didn’t make me get out of the water to check the progress, because she could tell the labor was progressing.  She also didn’t check to see that I was dilated, so I have no idea how far along I was.

It seemed like I was in the birthing tub for hours.  Later, Tirsa (the midwife) told me it was only about an hour.  I laid down a while, like one might in a bathtub.  Then Tirsa said it could help to change my position and move my hips.  I would ask questions like, “Why is there no break?” “Why does it only hurt on one side?”  She would just answer, and we would rest until the next contraction.  She applied counter pressure to by lower back and hips during the contractions, as well as pouring the warm water over my back.  I was on my knees while lying against the side of the tub.  I remember somehow working my way from one side of the tub to the other.

I didn’t voice these thoughts aloud, but in my head I thought, “Never again.” “I understand why women like drugs,” etc.  When I started getting the urge to push it seemed unreal.  With Ale I would push, then fall asleep in between contractions.  With Josie, there was no time!  I remember telling everyone I felt like I needed to poop.  (A bit embarrassing now…)  Tirsa said, “That’s because your baby is coming!”  Someone got my errant husband, and he held me at the end.  Three contractions back-to-back and Josie arrived!  I was on my knees, so they helped her swim between my legs to the front.  I laid back, and put her on my chest.  Wow.  That feeling.  Even writing about it now makes me tingle inside.

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The hours after her birth were amazing too.

I had watched this really inspiring video about the breast crawl, and I wanted to see if it worked.  We moved to the bed and placed Josie on my chest.  It was totally cool!  Within 30 minutes she latched onto my breast.  I delivered the placenta, but it was just placed into a bag alongside of us.  I don’t remember when we cut the cord, but it was so calm in the room, it wasn’t a big deal!  I moved to rest against the wall, and we continued to work on breastfeeding.  I had (mistakenly) thought that after nursing Ale for 2 years and 4 months, I would be a pro.  Wrong.  Feeding a newborn is no task for the faint-hearted!

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I feel like I should reiterate how calm it was.  Maybe I felt calmer because it was my second baby, but the general atmosphere of the room (and the people present) was peaceful with Josie.  I had a home birth and water birth with Ale, but it wasn’t exactly the calmest environment.  In fact, Josie’s entire labor was MUCH calmer.  When it was over, I almost immediately felt like I could do it again.

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Ale meets her sister, Joselyn Victoria.  (Josie’s name is a combination of my brother, Joseph, and my sister, Jenny Lyn.  Her middle name is in honor of her Papi, Victor.)

I have so enjoyed looking back over the photos.  The following photos are of the hours/days following Joselyn’s arrival:

 

 

 

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Josie is one day old! (Yes, she’s at McDonald’s.  We took her sister there after registering Josie’s birth with the powers that be…)

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Ale’s special Big Sister cake that she helped to make. (Because only BIG girls get to cook with Mami–not babies.)

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Daddy and Josie!

 

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Sister still likes to poke the baby’s cheeks! I blame that on old Mexican women who always grab her cheeks. 😉

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Abuela and Josie; My mother-in-law is something special.  Upon meeting Josie, she THANKED me.  It still makes tears come to my eyes to think about it!

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Los Abuelos! Having them here for Josie’s birth was really special.

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Sweet girl…

* “Ding Dang Baby” is from a Jacqueline Woodson book, Pecan Pie Baby.  I read the book when I was pregnant, and I sat and cried in my office.  It is all about a sister who isn’t overly excited about the birth of her sibling.  She calls him a “Ding Dang Baby.”  I was really worried about Ale being hurt or feeling replaced by Josie.  After reading the book to my mom, we often referred to Josie as the “Ding Dang Baby.”  This is an AMAZING book, by the way.

** I am SO happy I have these text messages with Mama and Jenny.  Not only do they remind me of details, but they provide quite a bit of comic relief!

A Birth Story, Part Three

So at this point, I was 41 weeks and 4 days.  I had reached the government doctor’s deadline.  I had accepted a potentially dangerous intervention, thankfully without results.  Now I was just waiting.  I am lucky that my support system was as amazing as they were!  Between my suegra, my husband, and my midwife, I was good to go!

On Monday we decided we would continue to wait.  We wouldn’t return to the government hospital, as I had been instructed.  And I was okay with that!  After all, my body knew what was right, and I had confidence in it.

I had a message from my private doctor asking how things were, and I responded with a quick, “All is well! The pill didn’t work, so I am just waiting!”  I didn’t want to tell her too much.  She is wonderful, but I felt a bit awkward because I wasn’t having her at the birth.  She was my back-up plan incase things didn’t go as well as expected at home, and additionally had been the attendant at Ale’s birth.  I didn’t want us to end our relationship with poor terms–I wanted to keep things positive with her.

Then everything changed on Tuesday.  That evening I received a message from my same private doctor telling me that she was worried.

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“We have to induce labor by Thursday in a hospital with fetal monitoring or a c-section by Friday.  I’m worried.”  My heart dropped into my stomach.  I cried alone for a while, and then began literally walking the floors.  Maybe I could convince my body to send me a baby.  Finally I woke Victor up, and explained, through tears, the message I had received.  He was comforting, and reassured me that the baby wasn’t ready.  When she was ready, then she would make her appearance.  We decided to go for a walk (at around 2 a.m.) in the neighborhood, and we woke up his mom to let her know that she might need to listen for Ale.  Then we took off.

On this walk we came to the conclusion that we needed to just calm down.  We made a plan to ignore the doctor’s message, and take a little staycation at a local hotel.  The doctor had encouraged me to go to a temazcal, and this hotel has a sauna in the pool area.  We came back to the house, and I sent messages to my midwife and my family to let them know they wouldn’t be able to reach me on Wednesday.  I was going to shut out the world, relax, and enjoy my last days with Ale as an only child.  We would try to ignore the doctor, but would keep in contact with the midwife.

The next morning, I felt a billion times better.  I received a message from the midwife assuring (AGAIN) that all was well with the baby.  She wasn’t too big.  I was healthy.  She was healthy.  We could wait before trying some interventions to induce her birth.  We were going to focus that message, and forget about everything else.  We reserved a room at the hotel, packed up Ale, and drove about 2 miles away to relax.

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Ale and Daddy at the hotel.

We had a great time hanging out at the pool–and remembering our visit there for my birthday before Ale was born.  I got in the hot tub that I had avoided the previous trip, went to the sauna twice to relax, and played with my family in the water.

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Ale loves on Mami and Baby Sis.  Mami is 41 weeks, 6 days pregnant.

It was amazing.  I even had some contractions that came and went–just like all the other times.  We went out to grab pizza, snacks, and a giant bottle of water to keep us going until check-out the next day.  I took a bath in the first bathtub I’ve been in since summer.  Ale fell asleep watching cartoons, Victor began watching the news, and I read a novel on my iPad.  It was late, but we were enjoying our stress-free family staycation.

I didn’t even think it was worth mentioning when the contractions started again…

 

 

A Birth Story, Part Two

After my scare at the government hospital, I became a bit nervous.  Not because I was 41 weeks.  I knew that the baby was fine, but I was worried about what would happen if I didn’t make the government’s arbitrary deadline.  My midwife assured me all would be fine. (She did that a lot…)

Two days later, I had a routine appointment at my private doctor’s office.  I told her about the situation, and she said, “I was going to ask you if I could give you something to help you along.”  She checked to make sure that everything was okay.  Again, all was great!  The placenta was mature, but not too much.  There was plenty of fluid.  The baby’s heartbeat was strong.  I consented (clearly without thinking much), and she implanted a little pill to help me start my labor.  When I asked about the effectiveness of the pill, she said, “It is VERY effective.  I have only had 2 patients that it hasn’t worked on. “The doctor told us that it would cause me to go into labor that evening, or Sunday at the latest.  Misoprostol works by ripening the cervix.  It is also used to cause abortions.

I didn’t know that.

I came home, and began to google search the pill I had just willingly accepted into my body.  I became terrified.  Check this out:Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 10.20.26 AM

While misoprostol is used all over the world for the purpose of starting labor, it isn’t recommended by the FDA for that purpose.  I accepted an intervention without doing the research to see what it was.  I made the choice.  I didn’t talk to Victor or my midwife, I just went ahead and let a pill be introduced into my body.  A pill that could potentially have disastrous effects.

As tears streamed down my face, I sent a message to Tirsa, the midwife.  She said it wasn’t what she would choose to help me along, and that the labor would probably start within hours.  I was terrified.

The one thing I believe more than anything is that my body KNOWS what to do!  God made us perfectly–and the natural development of the baby is what triggers the labor of the mom.  Without waiting for my natural induction, I worried that I was rushing a baby who may not be ready.  Victor didn’t support the idea of making something happen either, but he wasn’t with me at the doctor’s office when I had to make a decision.  I felt guilty, angry, and more than anything, scared.

I asked my midwife if I could reverse the pill somehow.  Or maybe take it out.  She said it could potentially be removed if it was whole.  I had watched the doctor crush the pill and put it into some gel, so I knew it wasn’t whole.  But I was willing to try.  So was Victor, so with great care, he attempted to scoop out the crushed up pill from inside my hoo-ha.  It was as humiliating as it sounds.  There I was, nine months plus, legs spread wide asking my husband to clean out my insides.

We didn’t feel like he had been able to remove anything, so then we prepared for a baby to arrive.  We cleaned, washed the sheets, and went through our box of homebirth/new baby necessities.  My contractions began, and continued through the night.  My midwife reassured me that all would be fine, and encouraged me to get some sleep.  Even the next day, Sunday, I was having weak contractions.  We stayed home from church thinking that the baby might arrive, but no baby.

My midwife told me, “If the pill hasn’t worked by noon on Sunday, it is out of your system.  If your labor starts after that, we can assume that it has started naturally.”

And so, the waiting game continued.

A Birth Story, Part One

 

Autumn came to visit for my labor. It was a great visit, but when she left, there still was no baby…

 

To begin the story of Josie’s birth, I should fill you in on the weeks prior to her birth.  We knew we wanted to deliver at home again, but we wanted to look into just renting a pool on our own and using our doctor.  After I posted a question online, we met with a doula at a place called Nacer Libre (Free Birth).  Silka, the doula, asked if I might be interested in a midwife.  Upon meeting Tirsa, the midwife, we were sold.  There would be no need for the doctor–we wanted to have a peaceful waterbirth at home, assisted by a midwife.

My due date was January 28th.  My in-laws were here.  My friend was here.  The baby was not sure she wanted to be here.  The private doctor I see (who delivered Ale at home) had been told that I planned a homebirth with a midwife, but I continued with my visits to her.  I was told that the baby would probably come around the full moon, but the full moon came and went with no baby.  All was fine in my visits–baby and I were healthy and just waiting for the big day.

I was 41 weeks on a Thursday, and I had to go to the government hospital to extend my maternity leave.  They had begun my maternity leave a week late, so that is the only reason I had the paperwork and payment for that long.  (In Mexico women receive six weeks before the birth and six weeks after the birth.) If the baby isn’t born by the due date, they will give you a one week extension, taking you to 41 weeks.  At that point, they induce or schedule a c-section.  The coordinator informed me that I would only have until Monday to delivery the baby.  Then they would need to schedule something, because I couldn’t extend my leave past one that day.

The IMSS doctor did a normal check (blood pressure, listening to the baby, etc.), then told me that I needed to go downstairs for an ultrasound.  This was strange, but she insisted because I was at 41 weeks.  Things began to feel ominous when, instead of pointing me in the direction, a secretary walked me down.  On the way, she said I needed to call my husband and have him come meet me.  This was really weird.  Why did he need to be there for an ultrasound?  We tried, but he didn’t answer.  Finally we arrived, but I was confused.  “Why were we in a different place,” I asked, “and not at the regular ultrasound room?”  The secretary informed me that I needed to see the doctor in the Tococirugia.  (I had no idea what that word was, but there was a symbol of a pregnant woman.  I did know the word cirugia (surgery), and that made me more nervous.

When I told the receptionists that I was going to go home, they said I couldn’t.  Because, after all, I was forty-one weeks pregnant.  I sat in a dirty little waiting room for about 15 minutes listening to the sound of some poor girl screaming bloody murder in the hallway in front of me.  I waited.  I speculated.  And I decided I needed to get out of there.

On the wall there was a sign that said if you wanted to leave against the doctor’s wishes, you had to sign something accepting responsibility.  That sounded pretty good to me, so I asked the receptionist to sign so that I could go home.  This was a different girl, and she began to tell me that I could leave–I had not been to see the doctor, so I didn’t need to sign anything.  At that point, her partner began to text on her phone saying, “Espérame, espérame.  Es que tiene cuarenta y uña semanas…”  (Wait for me.  She is 41 weeks pregnant… )  I wasn’t going to wait around to see what they wanted.  “Okay, bye!” I said quickly, and ran out the door.

I was so scared someone would follow me or call security.  I was walking so fast, my heart was beating a mile a minute, and all I could think was, “Get out of here!”

When I made it home, I googled Tococirugia, and found out that it means Labor and Delivery.  I sent a message to my midwife updating her on the situation.  She said, “It’s a good thing you got out of there!  It sounds like they may have tried to induce you.  I’ve never known IMSS to let anyone go past 41 weeks…”

Gulp.

Sleepless South of the Border

My thoughts are full of my baby girl who will join us in 8 short weeks… She wakes me up in the night, and I lie awake thinking of what I need to do, questions I need to ask, and money I need to save.

My big girl is sleeping beside me, her feet occasionally digging into my sides.  While she’s excited about her sister, I lie here wondering what she will do when another baby joins our bed.  How will we sleep?  Where will the baby go?  How can I make sure Ale still gets to snuggle too?  How will I breastfeed and read at the same time? 

Then my thoughts take me to our impending appointment with a midwife.  I didn’t know she existed before Ale was born, but I’m interested in her services now.  Will we like her?  How will she react to my wishes?  What happens if I tear? Can she repair that? (quick Google search for perineal massages…) Will she let me delay cord clamping?  When will she want to set up the birthing pool? Why did her family come to Mexico? I wish I could snoop more on Facebook…

Googling prepping my down-there region reminds me to look at hypnobirthing again.  Quickly I open my iTunes and start listening to a variety of options.  I find that I prefer a British or Austrailian accent over an American.  When should I start meditating? How do I choose the right track for the right time?  Is this just a study course, or will someone talk me through my birth?  Will it make me fall asleep?  Will I be wasting money?  

Oh! Money! I have to budget for the next two weeks before we get paid again.  That reminds me to look into what essential oils will relax me or help stimulate contractions.  While navigating the Young Living page, I get frustrated over the lack of prices.  Is it worth it?  Do I need to get a diffuser?  Should I just bite the bullet and sign up for a starting kit?  Did my friend already order one as we discussed today on the bus?  Will I get it in time?

What else do I need for her?  I ordered some clothes and socks.  What did Ale wear?  Will her cloth diapers be too big?  I begin to think of my cloth diapers folded neatly in the closet, and then of the new diapers I ordered. That reminds me that I need to get gift cards for my baby supply mules who went home over Thanskgiving break.  Then my stomach growls.

Really?  I’m hungry in the middle of the night?  While I’ve only gained three pounds, I start thinking of the next eight weeks of baby growth.  She already feels so tight–how much bigger will I get? How long will the doctor let me work.  I need to remember to print a copy of the “new” law to take with me to my appointment on Friday.  What if he doesn’t let me work during January?  What if the baby comes early?  Will I be able to get a passport in time?

Without a moment to spare (haha), I just have to check the requirements for Mexican passports.  There is no way the baby could get her birth certificate and passport (from the U.S.) in time to travel in March. 

Oh! March! Graduation! Eek!  Class work that is due soon!

And then I begin building a list of what I need to do at work in the next 14 school days prior to Christmas break…

This, my friends, is why I am lying in bed awake at 3:05 a.m.

Thanksgiving #3 in Mexico

My first year in Mexico I flew home for Thanksgiving.  Since Ale was born, I’ve stayed in town and prepared a Thanksgiving meal for my family and the other extranjeros, or foreigners.  This year, my party grew, and so did our turkey!

I’ve become less intimidated about cooking turkey.  I think it is over emphasized, and this year I appreciated an article that helped me to feel better about my bird: 17 Thanksgiving Turkey Mistakes Everyone Makes  I bought my bird too late.  I thawed him outside of the fridge overnight.  He weighed 11.75 kilos (about 25 pounds).  I just slapped some butter on his breast, used salt and pepper to season him, and cooked him upside down for 4 and 1/2 hours before flipping him over for the last 30 minutes.

He was perfect.

Better yet, he continues to be perfect.  Victor’s been snacking on turkey for two days, today we had turkey sandwiches for lunch, and I’ve made SO much broth from the bones and little bits of meat!  Next up is a turkey pot pie with some leftover pie dough.  Yummo!  This turkey will feed us for weeks!!!

I also managed to make a most delicious dressing that tastes pretty much like my Mamaw’s.  This is how I accomplished that:

Mamaw’s Cornbread Dressing

1 skillet of cornbread crumbled
10-12 biscuits crumbled
1/4 cup of fresh sage, minced (About 15-20 leaves)
6-8 stalks of celery, minced
1 whole white onion, minced
1 green bell pepper, minced
left over chicken and chicken parts, minced (optional)
Broth from chicken or turkey
Salt/Pepper to taste

In a pot, boil all those goodies you take out of your turkey (neck, lungs, etc.) Save this broth for your dressing. Crumble and chop all ingredients listed above into a large bowl. Add broth until everything is moistened. Add salt and pepper to flavor the dressing. (You can taste it here–all the ingredients are cooked, so no worries of getting sick!) Throw this into a casserole dish, and pop in the oven and bake until the top is crispy. Enjoy!

The best part of this Thanksgiving was the preparation: two of Ale’s aunties came over to help us get ready and prep the food/ house for company.  Having them here as I busied about the kitchen was really special.  It made my family holiday seem more like a family holiday!

What I didn’t count on was the major exhaustion from being on my feet for 14 hours cooking and entertaining!  I didn’t count on being eight months pregnant while preparing turkey, dressing, and homemade rolls for 20 people wearing me out–but it sure did!  That night I went to bed with an achy body, contractions and cramping, and fell asleep singing to Ale.  Victor said I kept trying to sing to her after I was asleep.

Whew!  Who knew that hosting Thanksgiving took so much work!  Wow!

Sisters: A Forever Kind of Friendship

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“I want to kiss the baby!”

Victor and I were excited to find out that we were expecting again.  It wasn’t something that we had planned, but the best things in life seem to be the things I haven’t planned for myself!  This little baby is a blessing to our family!

I haven’t really announced this baby on social media, and I have kept quiet even on here until now.  It seems that having one sweet little girl has made it more real how fragile life is–and I haven’t felt comfortable talking much about this new life until now.  I have friends who have struggled to conceive, friends who have lost precious babies the early weeks, and friends who have carried to full term only to lose the baby at the end.  I am aware that life is God’s gift to be given and taken away.  How humbling!

Ale has become so excited about Baby Sister.  She hugs me, kisses my belly, and plays with all the baby’s things that we have been getting ready.  Originally we thought a little boy would be joining our family–and it wasn’t until nearly my third trimester that the doctor went to confirm the sex and was surprised by the evidence (or lack thereof) on the ultrasound.  While I was shocked, I started to think of how great it would be to have a little sister for Ale.

I am a little sister.  And I have a little sister.  There’s nothing quite like the relationship of sisters!  I love my brothers dearly, but there’s something different about sisters.  I think of these sweet older ladies that I grew up with in meeting.  The three sisters.  Even in their old age, they were fast friends!  My own Mamaw and her sister, Aunt Lucy, were also together to the end.  Sisters are like friends you didn’t choose for yourself–again confirming that the choices we don’t make for ourselves are the best!

Sisters get to sleep together.  Sisters get to live together.  Sisters get to share clothes, shoes, hair products, and bedrooms.  Sisters get to share secrets.  Sisters get to be silly, scary, and sneaky.  Sisters make memories every time they are together.  Sisters bring up memories that the other wishes could be forgotten.  Sisters sing, play, snuggle and giggle.  Sisters fight and forgive.  Sisters gossip.  Sisters encourage.  Sisters believe the best.  Sisters accept the worst.  Sisters stick together.  Sisters are forever friends.

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Not the best picture of any of us, but the last sister photo we have together.

 

 

My Parasite Baby

You know what’s scary? Thinking you feel a phantom baby moving around in your uterus for a week. These are the thoughts that go through your head:

Crap! Was that a baby?
Am I pregnant?
Wait…when was my period?
If I feel a baby then I’m four months pregnant at least!
Sooo, am I like those women on TV who don’t know they’re pregnant?
I can’t be pregnant. Can I?
Aww. I wouldn’t mind having another baby.
Wait! What are you thinking! You don’t need another baby right now!
What would I do if I’m pregnant?
My boss is going to kill me.
I need to google this. “Why do I feel a baby moving if I’m not pregnant?”

Me:“Victor, it feels like a baby is moving. My tummy hurts. I feel really full.”
Him:“I think we all might need to take an anti-parasite pill.”

Okay. Intestines moving around…
Whew! Just a parasite baby…

A South-of-the-Border Birth Story

Alexandria is now two weeks old, so I hope that I haven’t forgotten important details.  The good news is that moms recover brain mass after childbirth, so maybe that will help my memory?

First of all, when I became pregnant I was interested in water birth.  Even when I thought I would deliver in the States–it just made sense that it would be more relaxing.  I moved back to Mexico when I was 8 weeks pregnant, and immediately heard about the extremely high cesarean rates in Torreon.  In fact, it was months before I met anyone who had delivered naturally.  At 90% c-section, I knew we needed to do something.  I met woman after woman who would tell me, “I wanted to deliver naturally, but the baby’s heart rate dropped.”  Or maybe, “I wanted to deliver naturally, but the doctor said my pelvis was too small.”  There was always a reason for why they had to have a c-section.  (Interestingly enough, none of the women breastfeed either–they “didn’t have enough of a supply…”)  At our appointment for our 4-D ultrasound, the doctor said, “It’s really easier on us and the mom if we do a cesarean.”  I couldn’t believe that everyone just accepted c-sections as if they were a normal part of giving birth!

My husband found the doula and her birthing classes online, and we began to attend classes at five months.  Quite frankly, the classes weren’t very helpful.  The information in the classes wasn’t new to us, but I can understand why it is important for these women here–women who’ve been told for years that their bodies are incapable of delivering babies naturally.  We watched videos on YouTube to prepare for our birth, and that was part of my undoing.  Warning: The videos online aren’t of long labors.  They are of women who seem to push babies out as if it’s an everyday occurrence.  One woman actually said, “I don’t feel like I’ve given birth.  That was the easiest thing to do.”  That was my inspirational video I watched as I counted contractions.  Big mistake.

Friday morning, March 15th, I woke up with contractions.  I had awakened with several that morning, but returned to sleeping.  At around 8, I actually got up and went to the bathroom.  I was so excited to see a bloody show, and I knew that our precious baby would be joining us soon.

That day Victor’s new friend from school wanted to take him to a couple of places in Torreon.  I agreed to tag-a-long, and I am glad I did!  It was distracting to say the least!  We visited with his family and finally, Victor and I ended up at the mall to eat around mid-day.  My contractions had continued that morning, but they were 20 minutes apart.  My belly was still high, and I was told that when the baby dropped I would know it was time.  I knew it was time–but the baby never dropped…

I ate a good lunch because I was hungry.  And by the time we left the restaurant at around 2, my contractions were more steady.  They were still around 10 minutes apart.  But it was like clockwork.  I went home, and we began preparing for our baby’s arrival.

I could tell my husband was nervous.  He had been so attentive during my entire pregnancy, and now he busied around the house.  He cleaned and moved things, but mainly ignored me.  I spent the time making a labor playlist of music that I thought would be relaxing.  That was of course in between contractions, which I kept track of on a contractions calculator online.  I skyped with my Mom, and at one point she mentioned that maybe it was time to call the doula and doctor.  My contractions were about three in 10 minutes or every 3-4 minutes apart.

My contractions were getting stronger and they were pretty steady when my doula came around 7.  But shortly there after, they seemed to slow down a bit.  They were strong, and my back was really hurting.  During a contraction I practiced everything I had read online: deep breathing, swaying hips, visualization, moaning, bending over to take the pressure off, and my husband began applying pressure on my lower back.  The doula said that the contractions weren’t close enough together, but she and my husband set up our room for the baby’s birth.  I eyed that birthing pool with great anticipation…

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My doctor arrived around 9, and I was incredibly disappointed when she said I was one centimeter dilated.  What!?  But my contractions were close!  My body was hurting!  I was so tired already!

She and the doula left and said they would return in a couple of hours.  They instructed me to keep track of my contractions and just let it happen.  I was happy to have one of my friends join us, and she kept track of contractions while my husband took care of me.  We heated a rice bag in the microwave, and the heat really helped the contractions too.  They returned around 12 or 1 in the morning.  The doctor checked my progress again: 3 centimeters.  At that point, I was ready to cry.

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I labored everywhere in that room and outside as well.  The air outside was cool enough to make me feel fresh, but we labored on the commode, the labor stool, the bed, etc.  I knew that I  should keep standing and moving.  When the doctor checked me the next time, I was only 5-6 centimeters dilated.  The baby was still high in my pansita.  And while I was having contractions and strong labor pains–I could see that the doctor was beginning to worry a little.  She and the doula talked in hushed tones (and spanish) outside the room, and I just put them out of my mind.

My doula doesn’t really get the chance to do her job very often due to the suspicions that people seem to have about birthing here.  She was eager to try out everything on me.   She tried to change my breathing–I resisted.  She tried to tell me to squat–and I told her that I tried it.  It didn’t feel so good.  She rubbed incense oil under my husband’s nose, and was heading for mine.  I informed her that it smelled bad.  She finally backed off and let me do my thing.

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My friend and my husband took turns pressing on my lower back, and I was finally allowed to labor in the birthing pool.  It was amazing.  I felt my pain cut in half.  Someone began pouring water on my lower back as I stayed on my hands and knees to encourage the baby to rotate her head.  I moved back and forth in the water, and the doctor encouraged me to begin pushing through contractions to see if we could move her down.  I remember falling asleep in between contractions on the edge of the pool, then being awakened in an abrupt and unpleasant way as surges of pain shot through my back.  I don’t remember feeling the contractions anywhere else–just the back pain.

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I got out of the pool, and labored more on the birthing stool.  The doctor laid down on the floor in front of me with a light (similar to what a mechanic would use to see inside an engine) to help her see.  At this point, I had a cervical lip.  At least from what I can tell that is what it was–the doctor said the baby had descended some, but that my part of my cervix was keeping her head from moving more.  She began trying to push the cervix out-of-the-way when I had contractions, instructing me to push (although I still didn’t have the “urge” to do so).  The pain was horrible.  I remember actually screaming at that point.  I also aimed the scream for the doctor’s ear so that she would know the pain she was inflicting upon me.

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The last few hours were more of a blur–and I don’t remember many details.  I remember laboring more in the pool.  Throwing up.  
Getting out for the doctor to try to break my water (I was 10 centimeters dilated at this point, but my water still hadn’t broken.)  I labor more in the water–and I began squatting in the pool to push.  My husband joined me, and I was basically sitting on his bent legs as we squatted together.  Victor wrapped his arms around me, and when I pushed, he squeezed with all his might.  I remember the doctor remarking on how the baby was moving down finally–and how he was helping us accomplish this.  The doctor checked me again and my water had broken–she rotated the baby’s head at that point with much discomfort!  They continued to monitor the baby’s heart-rate, and I would wait in anticipation to hear that she was strong.   I would reach down and feel for her head as often as I could.  When I finally felt the baby’s head, I did cry.  How amazing!

The urge to push was something that I had read about in the months leading up to my labor, but I was unprepared for how it would really feel.  I wanted to take it easy, but my body was in auto drive.  I would push on contractions with my team saying, “Push! Push!  You got it!  Breath!”  Then I would say, “I can’t.”  This wasn’t me giving up–it was my way of saying the contraction was over and I needed rest.  My doctor was amazing, and I just focused on her face (which was almost always calm).  She encouraged me to relax, breath, and wait for another contraction.

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When the pediatrician showed up, I was at the end of my labor.  I remember him telling me to sit back against Victor so that I didn’t tear. (We were using the birthing stool in the pool at this point.)  He also was the only one who kept telling me to push the baby out when I didn’t have contractions.  “Don’t let the head back inside,” he said.  Even in my sleepless state I knew that he was wrong.  Victor and I really worked together at the end.  I would nudge his arms and say, “Ready?”  And we would push (that was me) and squeeze (that was him) at the same time.  When the baby arrived, there was no break between pushing her head and the rest of the body.  That’s what I prepared for because that’s what I saw on videos.  Women would wait for more contractions with a baby head hanging out of their bodies.  Not my little girl–she shot out into the water like a bullet!

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I felt so relieved.  They laid her on my chest and I felt this pulling down below.  It was strange–as if the cord was too short.  I remember the doctor saying maybe that is why the baby didn’t move down–her cord was keeping her up.  I don’t know if there’s any truth in that, but it made sense at that moment when her cord was tugging at me.  Victor was immediately concerned about her breathing, but she cried a quick and mightly bellow.  I was shocked to see how much vernix she had covering her body.  For some reason, I expected all that to be gone.  I forgot about it and kissed her head–then quickly remember and tried to wipe my mouth off.  Ick!

My team allowed us a little time before clamping the cord.  Not as much time as I wanted, but in those moments, it wasn’t really what I was concerned about.  They took Alex to clean and test–and I moved to the bed to deliver the placenta and be checked.  I didn’t want to keep (or eat) the placenta, but I did want to see what it looked like.  Unfortunately, I soon forgot about that too.  I did have some tearing, and I figured it was because I pushed when I didn’t have contractions at the end.  I also wonder if we rushed things a bit, but I’m not REALLY complaining about that.  Alexandria was born 24 hours after I had awakened with a bloody show and contractions.

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Birthing at home was an amazing experience   I was never tempted by drugs or epidurals–because I knew they weren’t possible options.  Everyone left us alone after they cleaned and packed up.  That day was one of the most relaxing days I can remember.  I had a perfect baby, and no one interrupted our little family.  We slept in our own bed and chatted online with friends and family.  I had no doctors or nurses coming in my room to bother me.  No one took my daughter away for shots, tests, etc.  I had her with me the whole time.  The pediatrician did come back by that afternoon to see how Ale was doing, but he may have been there five minutes.  I can’t imagine giving birth in a hospital after something like that.  Furthermore, my recovery was amazingly quick!  I rested as much as I could at my mama’s urging–but I was able to move and walk around by the next day with little irritation.

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I read about how empowered women feel after giving birth.  It’s totally true.  I skyped with a friend who said, “You did it!”  Just those three words made me feel so accomplished.  I did do it!  I labored and gave birth to an amazing little girl.  AND I did it with no drugs clouding up our systems.  It makes me feel more amazing as time goes on–and really helps me with breastfeeding as well.  Yes, this hurts–but I can do this.  It’s the way God made my body, and my little girl will benefit greatly from my milk!

My Mamaw would say, “Every ol’ crow thinks her’s is the blackest…” But Alexandria Irene really is perfect.  At birth she was 3.600 kilos (7lbs 9oz) and 51 centimeters (20 inches) long.  She has a head full of black hair and eyes full of wonder.  I am filled with awe every time I look at her.

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Sugar Pi Honey Bunch

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I painted this–the front says, “Miss American π” 

Once I accepted that my baby wasn’t going to act up with the moon, I went ahead and chose my favorite March days for her potential birth.

First up: Pi Day

Oh, math, how I miss you!  Teaching Pi Day was the best part of my first year teaching.  My kids all painted their number on their t-shirts, and we spent the day singing songs, reading Pi books, playing games, and of course, eating pi(e).  What an irrational day in fourth grade!  I had it all planned out last night–if I were to have a Pi baby, I had big plans to dress him in onesies with mathematical jokes!  And birthdays would really be fun!  Poor child would always have to have birthday pi(e) rather than cake, but it would be never ending fun!  We could go on and on for the rest of his life!  Plus, I would sing the best lullabies:  Sugar Pie Honey Bunch, American Pie, etc.

Sigh.  Alas, it’s almost 3 p.m. and this baby doesn’t seem eager to join her mama in celebrating a fun math day.

Guess I’ll hold out for tomorrow–my second day of choice:  The Ides of March.  Beware, baby, beware.