Category Archives: Pregnancy

Who controls childbirth?

The birth of my baby boy did not go as I had planned. Like many women, I look back and think about what could have been different, what I could have done differently and I question the choices that I made. There were some very good choices  – staying home to labor in peace, hiring a doula, avoiding induction and educating myself on common birth interventions. Above anything else, I am glad and proud of myself for having a drug free delivery, but I didn’t walk away from labor and delivery without any emotional scars. This might seem strange for someone who had a natural birth.

If you need a refresher on my birth story you can start with Part I here.

In case you need/want the edited version here it is: At 6 months pregnant my husband and I decided that we wanted to have a home birth. It wasn’t a decision we took lightly and we had done a lot of research. The decision was driven by our local hospital’s absurd C-Section rate (hovering between 40-45%), the attitude of my OB when I expressed that I wanted a drug free delivery, and my overall confidence that this was something my body was made to do. I had a very easy, pain free labor until I hit transition at 7  or 8 cm. My water broke and there was Meconium in it. I tried pushing for 2 hours at home. My midwife decided we needed to transfer to the hospital in the middle of a snowstorm. We got to the hospital. I pushed for another hour. I asked for the vacuum extraction and my son was born perfectly healthy and absolutely beautiful.

In the days after my sons birth I was absolutely high from the experience of giving birth. I didn’t sleep for 2 days and I couldn’t get enough of this little baby and I was absolutely astounded by my body. It was only later as the weeks went by that I started processing what had happened.

Recently, I switched OB providers and am now seeing a Certified Nurse Midwife. She is a Midwife who delivers babies in hospitals and I like her because she is the best of both worlds. I will still get the care of a midwife while having the safety of a future hospital delivery and will have confidence that my provider favors the natural process of birth rather than the interventions that have become so commonplace. I also really like the OBs in her practice. They are open to natural birth, but still have the surgical and advanced medical training.

My new Midwife told me that I should work on processing our first experience before having another baby or even attempting to have another baby. She suggested maybe trying Reikki or Hypnosis. After giving it some thought I realized that the best way for me to work through whatever issues I have is by writing. It’s kind of the way I’ve always dealt with my issues. Countless conversations with my husband have been helpful. His confidence in me gives me confidence in me.

Last week I read this article on MSN and for the first time ever I felt like I was reading an unbiased piece of writing about childbirth. The author is honest and open and at the end I found myself breathing a sigh of relief. I don’t have nearly as much birth trauma as this woman, but what a breath of fresh air this article was. Finally, a woman talking about childbirth in real terms and confronting both the home birth movement and the C-section rate in the same article without choosing a side. A truly beautiful piece of writing.

So here goes (if you need to get caught up on my birth story take a gander over here – Part I, Part II, Part III)…

I feel these negative emotions about the birth of my son:

  • Guilt for attempting a home birth and for pressuring myself into it. Looking back it was not the right decision for me. My body was capable of it, but the doubt I felt as I got closer to my due date was a sign of my subconscious uneasiness. I didn’t follow my gut.
  • Embarrassment for attempting a home birth and spouting off about it to anyone who would listen. Open mouth. Insert foot.
  • Fear of the pain in the final stage of labor. 3 1/2 hours of the most intense contractions left me drained. I swear if someone had given me a scalpel at 9 centimeters I would have done my own C-Section.
  • Anger at the midwife who attended my birth because she did not provide the emotional support that I was sold on when we first met with her or the coaching that could have helped me to deliver faster.
  • Anger at my OB for not providing any support at the end of my pregnancy and for saying things like, “We can’t let this baby get too big.” “I’m not responsible if your baby dies at home.” and for, in general, not being supportive of a natural birth. The reason why I chose to attempt a home birth in the first place.

I feel these positive emotions about the birth of my son:

  • A true sense of accomplishment for having a natural, drug free delivery
  • A new sense of confidence – I truly know that I can do anything
  • Profound respect for my body and what it is capable of
  • Adoration for my amazing husband who stood by me, supported me and loved me. (One of the best memories I have of labor is looking up into his eyes during one of the last pushes. As the baby was crowing, my husband’s eyes were glowing and I knew in that moment that I was going to DO this. I don’t know if meant to communicate that, but By God he did.)

As I think about/prepare for our next child, I can’t help but envision what labor will be like this time. My new Midwife says that second births are an entirely different story. That they are almost always easier, shorter and that my body will have muscle memory and know what to do. I want to have faith in my body again and if I could have the same first 4 hours of labor like I had last time I would be one happy camper. But I’m trying to not set myself up for expectations like that. I’m trying to be open to whatever it is that my body needs. If I don’t have an easy, almost pain free labor next time I may be more inclined to get that epidural. If my baby or my life is at stake I would undoubtedly have that C-Section without blinking. I’m trying to find peace and strength in that. I’m trying to work through whatever emotional shit I’ve carried with me and I think this is working.

I feel better all ready…

Another One

Before you get all paparazzi on me and think that I’m about to announce that I am pregnant, that is not what is about to happen. Instead you will be privy to my most personal, OCD thoughts about having another child.

Lately, I find myself obsessing a bit over Baby #2. Jenny? Obsessing? No! you’re thinking right now.

But, ah yes. I think about it often. As in every hour of every day. I’m a planner. I plan. So on a typical day, I run the following questions through my head:

How many years apart should our children be? If I end up wanting a third, should we plan on two years apart? If two years apart is a good spread (which according to many people I speak to, it is) then we would need to think about getting pregnant in the next 6 months or so?  What if getting pregnant isn’t as easy this next time? I still haven’t lost all the baby weight. I am going to be 30 in January. 30! What if we can’t afford another baby? I like sleep. I don’t know if I want to be pregnant again. Will I ever WANT to be pregnant again? I’m scared of labor this time. Do I have it in me to do it naturally again? How will Henry handle having a sibling? How will we handle having two munchkins? Does having another baby sooner rather than later fit into our 5 year plan?

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that I want another baby. I really, really do want to grow our family. Plus Henry is a full blown toddler now and maybe if I had realized how quickly we were going to get to this point, I would have enjoyed the newborn phase more.

Like most of my issues, it comes down to wanting to control the situation, which is silly because Henry wasn’t planned and what an absolutely amazing blessing he has been.

I’m a planner. I plan.

Jessica Alba – I may love you

I’ve never been a big fan of Jessica Alba. My opinion didn’t have much to do with her acting ability, but instead was rooted in jealousy and insecurity brought on by an ex-boyfriend who used to remark on how HOTT Alba was every time she appeared.

She and Halle Berry.

Neither of which I look like or ever will.

Anyway, let’s put my emotional baggage away for a sec, mmmmkaaaay?

On today’s Wonder Wall (my early morning guilty pleasure), Alba talks about her post baby body and how things are just different. I read this with a sigh of relief. If my new pal Jessica had this issue and she has access to Hollywood’s trainers, chefs, yogis, plastic surgeons, amazing miracle drugs and spas, then little ol me in Reno, Nevada shouldn’t be so concerned with zipping up the many pairs of pants that are hanging in my closet. Jessica looks amazing and I like how she seems to have accepted her new body.

My favorite part of the article, however, is the dig at Gisele.

I mean, really, Gisele. Just STFU already.

Spanx You Very Much

Last week I purchased my first set of Spanx. It was time to make the leap. I hold no delusions that by putting on a pair of Spanx I will suddenly become svelte or convince people that I am a size two. I just needed something to help me feel less jiggly. My body is just different now…

It’s not bouncing back in the same fashion that those bitches Gisele and Miranda so publicly claim is natural and wonderful and oh so easy. I won’t be walking any cat walks in my undies with a pair of angel wings attached to my back anytime soon.

I could blame popular culture on convincing me that I, too, would look EXACTLY the same after having a baby, but I’m not naive. I knew things would be different. I just didn’t know they would be this different.

The day we got home from the hospital I remember standing naked in front of the bathroom mirror and thinking, “I have a mom body now.” I was so shocked by how pregnant I still looked when I was so very, very sure that I had just given birth. I mean, the baby was in a bouncy seat next to me at the time.

In so many ways, I feel completely ravaged after being pregnant and giving birth. My thighs touch in places they’ve never touched before. The circumference of my stomach is so much larger than before. Clothes don’t fit. Some shoes don’t fit. I can’t wear heels because my pelvis is still giving me problems, causing back aches and that same pesky sciatica I battled with during pregnancy.

I wasn’t a super model before I got pregnant, but I had worked really hard to lose 20 pounds and was in the best shape I had been in since high school. I went into pregnancy stronger and leaner and confident. I look at our wedding photos and I’m happy with the way I look. To some people that might not mean much, but to a person like me who has a hard time turning off the “I’m never good enough” monologue, that was a huge step.

Now?

Now, I feel like I’m in a body that isn’t mine. I dread getting up in the morning and putting on clothes that don’t fit. A few of my girlfriends recommended making dresses a staple of my summer wardrobe so I’ve given myself the liberty of a few shopping sprees. New clothes help, but I wonder if the old ones will ever fit again. I know they say to give yourself a year to lose the baby weight, but I’m impatient. I want results now. I want my body back.

I’m guilty of giving myself some extreme eating liberties in the weeks after Henry was born. Despite that, a month after he was born I only had 13 pounds to go to get to my pre-pregnancy weight. With that little piece of motivation, I kept eating whatever the hell I wanted. This resulted in gaining 8 pounds. I essentially gained my baby back. I tried to start exercising, but found that the pelvis issues get worse when I’m too active. My chiropractor recommended that I take it easy for a year. A whole freaking year!

I’m left with only one option. Eating healthy. Really, really healthy. All the time.

I guess, more than anything, what I miss the most is the confidence that I felt when I was working out and losing weight. I have a hard time resigning myself to the idea that sacrificing my body for motherhood is something that I should just accept.

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Birth Story Part 3: 7-10 Centimeters

WARNING: I’m just going to come out and apologize right away for the language in this blog post. If you are easily offended then maybe just skip ahead to the part where Henry is born and all is good in the world again. I don’t use the eff bomb lightly and I honestly have been struggling on whether or not I should include it in this post, but the truth is there is simply not another word that can convey some of these emotions.

In the last chapter of Henry’s birth story I was happily splashing around in a birthing tub in my dining room, while simultaneously bragging about how easy this whole birth thing was. “THIS is labor?” I kept thinking to myself. “I’ve got this licked.”

Little did I know that as I hit the transition stage how different things would become…

February 18, 2011 – 7 a.m.

I’m in the tub in our dining room and it’s beginning to become light out. I can see that it has snowed a ton throughout the night. My contractions, which were more of nuisance up until this point, are becoming more intense. My breathing changes from deep breaths to a pattern like this who…who…who…whooooooooo.  I lose my desire to talk in between contractions and every contraction requires my absolute complete attention.

Uh, yeah. I'm posting a picture of me in the birthing tub. Wow.

I’ve hit transition. The midwife checks my cervix again and says I’m 7-8 cm. 7-8? I think. Oh Jesus. At least two more centimeters to go and this is getting really hard.

“How long will this last?” I ask the midwives.

“As long as it needs to,” they reply.

FUCK. YOU.

is all I can think.

I do not use the eff word casually on this blog. I don’t like using it my real life and I think it is overused in society. But this ladies and gentlemen is the only way to describe how annoyed I was with the midwives’ answer. I don’t think I have ever hated someone as much as I hated that woman in that moment. I did not vocalize my annoyance because lo and behold there’s no time before I’m hit with the next brick wall of a contraction.

Travis senses how annoyed I am and says, “Jenny is a very goal oriented person. Can you give her an idea of her progress?”

My sweet, sweet husband knows me so well.

The midwives respond with, “Soon.”

FUCK YOU. FUCK YOU. FUCK YOU.

WHY DON”T YOU GET DOWN HERE AND DELIVER THIS BABY?

I think this goes on for another two hours or so. Every contraction is more intense than the one before and they are on top of each other. I have no time to rest in between. I don’t have any sense of time. My back and hips begin to ache. I’ve had no back labor, but as my pelvis begins to spread, I feel an intense achiness. I mostly labor on my hands and knees. Later, I would notice that my knees are bruised.

At one point, in between contractions, I say out loud, “We should have done the epidural.”

The midwife says, “I said the same thing during labor,” and then she giggles. Oh ha ha! Isn’t this funny? Isn’t this just the best time ever? Wasn’t this home birth thing such a good idea?

I’ve been struggling to describe how the contractions felt at this point and I can only come up with this imagery:

Let’s say God went to the Jersey Shore where he met up with The Situation and Pauly D. and they all went down to the local disco or club or whatever you cool cats call it these days. And let’s say God was really feeling the techno/trance/house music so God gets to fist pumping AND THE ENTIRE WORLD SHAKES.

That’s what these contractions felt like. Except the world is my uterus.

The midwife checks my cervix again.

“About a 9 1/2.” she says.

“Can I start pushing?” I say.

“Do you feel like you need to push?” she replies.

“I don’t know.” I say.

“Do you feel like you need to poop?”

“Not really.”

“Well, that’s the sensation you are going to have.”

There are two models of pushing when it comes to giving birth – coached and spontaneous. Coached pushing is what most hospitals use and involves holding your breath and counting to ten with the nurses and doctors urging you on. Spontaneous pushing is the model that my midwives use and is basically just letting the mother labor until she feels the urge to push.

To this day, I am not sure if I actually had the urge to push or if, in an effort to end the pain, I started pushing on my own.

9:40 a.m.

I’ve been pushing for 40 minutes or so and with each contraction I let out what Travis would later describing as a skin crawling scream. I vaguely remember this, but at the time I felt like I was doing what my body told me to do. And my body happened to say, “You should scream.” The midwife let me do this for a few contractions and then tried to help direct that energy into focusing on pushing the baby out.

A strong contraction comes and I push. My water breaks. It feels like sweet relief and a lot of pressure is released. The midwife tells me that there is meconium in the amniotic fluid. Meconium is a baby’s first poop. The midwife says this is common in babies who are born at 41 weeks. Later I would find out that the presence of meconium put a time table on the home birth. I was too focused on pushing and getting my baby out to realize that the midwives were checking my baby’s heart rate a lot more frequently than they had been.

I keep trying to push for another hour. I can’t tell if I’m pushing. I have no sensation to bear down and because I’m in the water I don’t have gravity on my side.  The baby is low enough that the midwife tells us that he doesn’t have much hair.

The midwife suggests that maybe we get out of the tub and move to our bedroom. The apprentice midwives have set up our bed with the home birth supplies we were instructed to buy. With a towel wrapped around my waist, I make my way back to bedroom. Amniotic fluid seems to gush out of my body with every contraction. Laying down on the bed I try to keep pushing, but soon the midwife sits on the bed with me and says that it’s time to transfer to the hospital. It seems that at this point they can’t monitor the baby’s heart rate the way they would like. That, combined with the presence of the meconium, is enough to make my cautious midwife recommend that we head to the hospital where better monitoring is available.

10:50 a.m.

The midwives help me get dressed and Travis busily runs around putting together things for the hospital. We didn’t think to put together a “just in case” bag and later we would both admit how stressed out this made us. I end up wearing my bathing suit top, a maternity nightgown, my favorite yoga pants and Travis’s shoes. Travis and the midwife help me to our huge truck. I distinctively remember at this time having a major contraction while I was steps away from the truck. I remember being hunched over, leaning on the side of our garage and having amniotic fluid soak my pants. This would happen with every single contraction until we got to the hospital.

The truck ride is the longest car ride of my life. Even though we only live 15 minutes from the hospital I feel like we are driving to the other side of the state. Travis is driving and the midwife is in the back seat with me. She says, “Don’t worry. If you have the baby in the car, we’ll just turn around and go home.”

HAVE THE BABY IN THE CAR? I think. So this is how that happens.

Despite my fear of having a car baby and being featured on the 5 p.m. news, I keep pushing. It feels too good and I’m able to brace my body in the truck so that my back and hips are supported.

We arrive at the hospital and I somehow get out of the truck. The contractions are so strong and I hobble in through the entrance and the midwife gets me in a wheelchair. Up to the L & D floor we go. My midwife has already called ahead and a nurse is waiting for us. They have a delivery room prepped for me and the nurse whisks me into the room.

“Hospital protocol is that you have to wear a gown for delivery,” the  nurse says.

“No problem,” I say. Off come all of my clothes. Any sense of modesty is gone at this point. Once I’m in the gown, the nurse and midwife help me into the bed. They strap me up with a monitor right away.

I immediately like the nurse. She is kind, honest and funny. The kind of person I like. At this point in labor I truly believe she is going to get this baby out and at that moment it was like she was the L&D angel.

Erin, the angel nurse, says, “Are you interested in an epidural?”

She hasn’t examined me yet and even I know that an epidural is not an option at this point so I exclaim, “Yes!!!”

Then I sheepishly say, “Sorry Trav.” Like he would have cared if I had had an epidural at that point.

Even though I know the epidural is not going to happen I take great solace in the idea of it. So I ask for it 6 more times. Yep, I do!

Of course, at this point, the nurse has checked me and she realizes just how close this baby is to being born. I hear her say to the midwife, “We can put a vacumm on him and get him out.”

Well, that’s a swell idea, I think to myself. Let’s get that vacumm thing out. Hell, is there an OR open? Let’s just do a C-Section! Really, I’m up for anything! GET THIS BABY OUT!

The doctor comes in and hooks up the fetal scalp monitor. Up to this point I’m still anxious that a C-Section may be on the table. No one will let me have any water and I know that it’s because they are being cautious just in case. They are monitoring the baby closely because of the meconium and a respiratory team is waiting in the wings just in case. I, of course, am not aware of this. I would only notice them later.

The doctor and nurses get me pushing. This time it’s the coached pushing model and it works much better for me. With every contraction, my legs are held up by Travis and my midwife, and with each contraction we do three sets of ten where I hold my breath and push. It takes me a few contractions to get it. I’m so damn tired at this point. In between contractions, the nurse and doctor have to remind me to breath. Even though I’m in the traditional hospital birthing position (which many claim is the worst way to labor), I feel the least amount of pain. My back and hips are supported and I find it much easier to bear down during the contractions.

I keep pushing and pushing. The nurses and doctor are in my face yelling encouragement with each contraction. Travis is at my side and I look into his eyes in between every contraction. He’s my rock. If he says it’s ok, then it’s ok.

Although the home setting was quiet and peaceful, I need these cheerleaders. I need the yelling and encouragement. I need hope that this is going to end.

It’s about this time that I’m wondering what happened to that whole vacuum idea. In between contractions, I say, “Are we going to use the vacuum?”

I watch the doctor’s head pop up like a gopher.

“Do you want to?” she asks.

“Yes.” I say.

I know nothing about the vacuum. I’ve done no research, but at this point I will do ANYTHING to get this baby out. The doctor stops to explain to me how the vacuum works. In my mind I’m envisioning them just sucking the baby right out. Instead the doctor tells me that I will still need to push and that she will not be pulling the baby out, but rather keeping him from receding in between contractions.

Yeah, yeah doc. Let’s just do this.

She has the vacuum set up in a matter of no time.

A contraction comes on and it’s time to bear down and push. I’ve got this whole pushing thing now. I still don’t feel much sensation, but I understand what the doctor and nurses want me to do. I ask Travis if he can see the head.

He looks down right as the baby is crowning. I don’t think he will ever be the same.

The midwife says, “Do you want to see?”

I vigorously shake my head no. I have no interest in anything other than GETTING THE BABY OUT.

12:59 p.m.

One more contraction and my baby boy’s head is out. A lot of books and websites talk about the ring of fire, but I never felt a thing in my nether regions during this time. I felt a huge amount of relief when his head came out.

Then the doctor told me that I couldn’t push during the next contraction because she was cleaning Henry’s mouth and nose. Because of the meconium, a respiratory team is standing by. Luckily, no meconium has been ingested and Henry is breathing just fine. With the next contraction I push the rest of him out. I can’t describe the absolute bliss this was. In that instant the contractions stopped and the pain was gone.

I don’t entirely remember pushing the rest of him out. What I do remember is looking up at Travis and seeing tears in his eyes and then looking beyond him and seeing our little baby being cleaned by the nurses. It was a very weird feeling. I think I forgot during labor that there would be a baby in the end.

Baby Henry

While the nurses cleaned Henry, the doctor said it was time to deliver the placenta. My body was still producing contractions, but they were nothing like the ones I had been experiencing. She said I didn’t even need to worry about pushing. She massaged my abdomen and out came the placenta. Kind of like delivering a jellyfish.

I looked up after this and Travis was holding Henry. There is truly nothing like seeing your husband hold your sweet baby for the first time.

My guys

He brought Henry over to the bedside and we both cooed and stared at this amazing miracle that we are so blessed with.

After Birth (Sorry I couldn’t help myself)

Looking at our handsome boy


I had a second degree tear and the doctor applied a local anesthesia and stitched me up. I asked over and over again during this time how bad the tearing was (not bad) and how many stitches I needed (one).

The apprentice midwives came to the hospital and come in after Henry is born. They get us snacks and help teach me how to get Henry latched. They take pictures and each take a turn holding Henry. Then they depart leaving Travis and I with Erin, the angel nurse.

I am so blissed out and I won’t stop talking. I may have been exhausted moments earlier, but now I am completely energized. Natural birth? No big deal.

I engage every nurse that enters the room and ply them with anecdotes and questions. Erin doesn’t bat an eyelash and is so kind. She answers all of my questions and we have a long discussion about home birth and midwives while she is helping me get cleaned up. Travis goes with Henry to the nursery to observe his first bath.

Erin helps me get to the bathroom and then we walk to my recovery suite. I cannot believe that 2 hours ago I had a baby and am now walking. I feel like this shouldn’t be possible and that I should be treated like a delicate flower, but I feel so good that no kid gloves are required.  She tells me that I should try and get some rest. Soon, they will bring Henry to me and the real fun begins.

But sleep? I can’t sleep. I must text, call, and Facebook update everyone I know. I must call my parents and my grandmother and recount every detail of the birth that I can remember (which at this point is surprisingly little). I know there was pain, I know there were moments where I thought I couldn’t possibly do this, but I am so astounded by the whole experience. I’ve been up for almost 20 hours, am starving and all I can think of is this amazing little person who is now in my life.

Within an hour or so, the nurse brings my beautiful baby boy to me. I spend the entire night getting to know this being, who has literally been a part of my body for the last 9 1/2 months. Travis stays the night with us and we are stunned. We are a family and our lives will never, ever be the same.

And that is such a very, very good thing.