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July 18, 2014

Maxwell's birth story

So before I start Maxwell's birth story, I should probably mention that my pregnancy second time around was pretty uneventful until about 25 weeks in. I had to stop running around that time and missed my first half marathon due to increasing pubic bone separation pain. Around 30 weeks, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and the bone separation pain was increasingly painful and not just discomfort. I gained about 30 pounds at this point (with Annabelle I had only gained 19 lbs total) and through diet and exercise only gained about 7 more lbs in the remaining 7 weeks. I was able to cope with weekly chiropractic adjustments and minimal movement. Exercise wasn't happening and it became increasingly difficult to keep up with our toddler and any housework that needed to be done. Major props to my husband who really stepped up to do a ton since I was unable.

The bone separation pain went from pressure to throbbing at all different times of the day. For this reason, when I started getting labor pains in the 33-34 week, I was told to basically stop doing anything that could lead to labor. This helped a lot to stop labor pains and since I was already effaced and 1-2 cm dilated at my 36 week appointment, it was good I seized activity early on. 

I hit 37 weeks on Wednesday July 16 and we met with our "ninja birth assistant" (she's a doula and a midwife and a birth assistant)! She helped make sure we had all the necessary stuff for the birth and gave us a list of a few items we still needed. She was headed out of town that weekend and when I expressed concern about the baby coming soon, she said "keep that baby in!"  I definitely was trying to make it to 39 weeks, especially bc our child care for Annabelle was also out of town that weekend. However, I kept saying that I felt like this baby wanted out and wanted out soon!!!

That night, I started to feel like I had to poop. (Tmi I know)!  The feelings stayed throughout the night and into the next morning. The pressure downward was heavier and I felt a lot of discomfort, but I just assumed that was the bone separation pain. 

Annabelle and I went to her little gym class and I even did the balance beam with her! While I had a hard time moving about, I did my best to so that Annabelle could have fun. But I was exhausted when we got home. 

During her nap, I kept getting that "pmsy I have diarrhea" feeling. Except it was coming and going. It wasn't just there like an aura. Waves. Oh boy, was this labor? 

With Annabelle my water broke, I knew I had to go into labor with her. With Maxwell, I was still holding out hope to make it to 39 weeks.  I was in obvious denial despite numerous friends reporting back that they had similar feelings right before labor. The downward pressure was coming and going too. Or was it? Was I imagining things? I really thought I would know instantly second time around. 

After Annabelle's nap, we got in the car to pick up Larry and head to our chiropractor appointment. Getting Annabelle into the car and on the drive over, I had definite contractions. Since I was told this could happen quickly, I picked up my husband and said "we have to go home, I think I'm in labor!" His response "so should I not go to softball tonight?" 

When we got home I laid down for a bit while my husband ran out to bed bath and beyond and cvs to get the rest of our birth supply stuff. When he returned, I called Birthcare and our doula. I was def in labor. I also contacted my cousins who were gonna watch Annabelle. Lucky for me, their flight wasn't until 7 am. That gave me more than 12 hours to pop this baby out. 

My second labor was hard. I won't lie and say it wasn't. It was harder than my first even though it was shorter. After having time to process things, I believe it was harder for a few reasons. 

1. My expectations. Everyone says #2 is easier. Is shorter. Etc... Yes it was shorter but my labor was not short by any means. 
2. Pubic bone separation. I don't know if it was more painful bc of the separation. But it was more painful. 
3. Maxwell was trying to break out. After each contraction, I would feel Maxwell push off with his feet at the top of my uterus and then a downward strong pressure in my pelvic area. No joke! I kept saying "I feel like he's trying to push his way out." And after each contraction, I would say "no please stop" bc I knew the contraction def stopped but then I would feel more pain... A different pain. This made my contractions not ending, one on top of the other. It sucked. No joke ha. 
4. My focus. I tried to focus on the task at hand but worrying about Annabelle and hoping the baby would hurry out so I could get back to her was on my mind. I kept my eye on the time and kept recalculating how much time before Annabelle melted down. I wasn't completely focused and I think that made my contractions harder to focus and breathe brought. 

So back to my labor. About 630 my cousin came and got Annabelle. She took her outside to have dinner and play. The midwife and doula showed up about 830 pm. At this time, I was only about 4-5cm and 80% effaced. Labor was intensifying but I was trying to envision open oceans and large spaces willing my body to open up. It was intense. It was hard. It hurt. Around 11pm, I kept telling my husband "we are almost there, just a little more time" partially reassuring myself and partially reassuring him. 

But when we checked me again, I was only 6 cm. at this point I felt very deflated. I was sure I was almost there. I was sure it was almost over. At that point, I said "I don't know if I can handle anymore." The pain was getting unbearable. I was cursing and breathing heavily through contractions. I tried to stay focused but some contractions were really killing me. The pain after the contractions were causing vulgar words to come out of my mouth. I was squeezing my husband's hands harder than he could handle. His presence was essential during this labor. I really needed him there. 

What choice did I have at this point? Either I throw in the towel and ask to go to hospital or I grin and bear it. I didn't want to be in a hospital and separated from Annabelle longer than necessary, so I tried to regain my composure and focus.

 I didn't think I was progressing at all and was so frustrated but once my doula said to try to sit into my contractions, I suddenly felt movement. He was coming out. Hallelujah. Thank GOD almighty. We were making progress. Sitting into the contractions made the pressure more intense.  I believe it made him descend more but it was really hard to stay focused through the pain when "sitting into it'. In fact, many contractions I would find myself almost pulling away from the contraction instead. I think this is why i had such back ache and pain for many days after labor.

Then it started to get loud. Larry says that the three of them (Larry, doula and midwife) were "encouraging" me loudly, but it was me yelling "I can't" and them "encouraging" me and telling me I must. 

My water had yet to break. So the first thing I pushed out was the water membranes. A big bubble of membrane. However, I thought it was the head. I waited for each contraction to come to help push out the baby like I did when I had Annabelle. Not knowing any different, I thought this was what I was supposed to do. At one point, they kept saying to push and I was saying "I will" bc I thought you simply push when he contraction came. After talking to my doula and midwife after the fact, I realized that I could and should have been pushing between contractions too!!! I just didn't know to do that bc I never had to do that with Annabelle! 

When it was time for his shoulders to emerge, they laid me on my back after side lying and told me to spread my legs. After spending 10 weeks to keep my wolfs as closed as possible due to the bone separation, me thighs started to immediately cramp. I couldn't keep my legs up or apart and Larry had to reach over and help me hold my legs up. I was being encouraged very loudly to keep my legs apart, to separate my legs, and to push but push slowly!!!. To which I kept yelling " I can't" ! How does one push slowly when the contraction takes hold of your body? I mean at this point, who cares if I tear!! 

Well through all the yelling and chaos, I was able to push out a beautiful little boy... despite feeling like I couldn't handle it...Maxwell arrived at 2:53 am purple and bruised. His face was purple. Like REALLY PURPLE!!! This confirms my theory and physical feelings throughout labor that he was trying to get out on his own. 

He was a perfect 7 lbs 8 oz, 20 inches long. His head was a nice 13.5 inches. Only 1/2 inch bigger than Annabelle! Considering he was essentially 3 weeks early, he was a good size. The cord was cut at 3:13 and like Annabelle's cord, it was short so he rested on my tummy until I pushed the placenta out. His first latch was at 3:35 am. 

What I didn't know until later was that my little girl cried for an hour or so before falling asleep that night and then again once she woke up around 2am... she was trying to be brave and strong b/c "mommy was bringing baby brother", but this was our first real time to be separated. It broke my heart to know she cried but once we were reunited, we were good. 

Here is a picture of me with my midwife Kelly (right) and my "ninja birth assistant" Claudia (left) and Maxwell in the middle.

Recovery UPDATE: for me, recovery wasn't too bad. Despite the warnings, I had no tearing at all. My placenta detached fairly easily and aside from appearing aged, it was fine. My heavy bleeding stopped with 48 hours and while spotting continued for weeks, lochia wasn't too difficult. Cramping was more intense than with Annabelle, but only lasted about 12-24 hours. My milk came in by Sunday afternoon and Maxwell has been feeding nicely.  I did have several days of back pain but looking back, that was all soreness from labor pains.  My pubic bone separation was gone almost completely within 2-3 days of birth with only minor pain from the labor for a few days after birth.

All in all, the idea that we won't be having any more kids EVER again is starting to fade... but shhhh don't tell my husband that. He's already looking forward to getting a Vasectomy haha.

July 16, 2014

Why we chose a home birth

Often, when people find out that we opted to do a home birth for Maxwell, I am asked why. I understand the curiosity b/c its not really mainstream to opt out of a hospital birth. 

We had Annabelle at a free standing birth center. At the time, we also got questions  like "why are you doing it different?" Or "why not just be normal and have a baby at the hospital?"  So I guess the answer to why we opted for a home birth starts with the reasons we opted for a birth center birth with Annabelle. 

Looking back, the main reasons we opted to stay out of the hospital system started with watching "the business of being born". After watching that documentary & realizing that the DC metro area had a fairly high csection rate,  I started researching my other birthing options. 

At my 13 week ob appointment, I asked my OB about delayed cord clamping. After patronizing me first by stating "you get a gold star for being the first person to ask about this so early in their pregnancy!" He then answered my question with a question... "Why do you want to do this? There is no proof that this is helpful or that not doing it is bad." When I responded that my own research proved differently, and that bc it was minimal time spent to delay cord clamping, And I would like to go this route with our birth, His response (verbatim) "I'll accommodate you within reason."  

That day after my appointment, I put myself on the wait list for the local birth center. 

The OB's response told me he would do as he pleases regardless of my feelings or desires. I wasn't gonna just be another statistic in his book, so I left that practice. Best decision we ever made. Working with midwives, my appointments were so much more personal and caring. I started going to appointments without my husband bc I was always warmly welcomed and my appointments were about me as a person and not as a patient. 

So those were the three main reasons we opted out of the hospital system for our pregnancy and birth. Keeping in mind, I had a low risk, normal and uncomplicated pregnancy (aside from gestational diabetes-which I controlled through diet and exercise in both pregnancies). 

After a wonderful birth center birth, both my husband and I were more confident about staying out of the hospital system and birthing at home. Our biggest concerns were logistics concerning our 2.5 year old daughter and the small space of our 1 bdrm condo.  

A couple reasons I wanted to birth at home instead of a birth center: 
1. Being in the comfort of our own home. 
2. Less back and forth 
3. Not having to pack up the car and unpack the car and pack the car and unpack the car. 
4. Being close to our daughter while I labored 
5. Avoiding traffic and having to put baby in the car 
6. Knowing after labor I could just rest and not deal with "going home" hours after birth. 
7. Having a peaceful and comfortable environment where I could labor.

Basically, all the reasons we decided to opt out of the hospital plus being in the comfort of our own home was the main reasons we opted for a home birth.  And if we were to have another child, we would definitely do it at home again. :)

December 13, 2013

23 Months

Dearest Annabelle,
Yet another Friday the 13th, that you celebrate growing one month older... and this time its the big countdown until the big T-W-O!!!  Time has been flying and going so quickly, that I haven't even had a chance to write this down until months later. But let's see what I can remember and break it down for you.
The last month(s) have been such a avalanche of various things that you are doing... developing in such a quick speed, its hard to keep up.  Your vocabulary is increasing. You are using more sentence like phrases. You are learning to play with others by "having a turn" and letting someone else "have a turn".  You get so excited when you see your cousins on facetime or in person. You absolutely love being surrounded by family and you recognize every one now. You also enjoy mimicking what mommy or daddy does; wanting to "cook" or "walk the dog". We often let you go around the block while holding Kota... just like a big girl.
You are currently still wearing 2T clothes and size 4 diapers. Your hair is a bit longer and the same light brownish color. Your eyes are that brownish green; some days seeming darker than others. You are about 28 lbs.

This month you got your MMR shot. This was the vaccine that made mommy most nervous but you received it with no tears; simple a look of shock that someone would purposefully hurt you like that and we went on our merry way. I was so proud of you for being such a big girl and not freaking out like i feared.

Here are a few pictures of you from this month, including one where you are eating the tentacles from the calamari dish we ordered for you. Yes, you love calamari and most anything else mommy loves!

cooking eggs

cousin time
cooking with daddy
Waiting to get adjusted at the chiro
Story time at Yoga
Walking Kota
Hugs and playing with friends

At the holiday train display at Botanical Garden

November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

Our Thanksgiving holiday was spent in New Jersey with my husband's family.  We spent a full week there so Annabelle got lots of play time with her cousins, Aunt & Uncle, and Gamma and pop pop. It was a great time and also happened to overlap with the Husband's birthday :)

For his birthday, he cooked up quite the Thanksgiving feast, working side by side with his mom to give us a meal to be thankful for.

A few things we had besides the usual turkey....

Ham loaf (my fave) with a side of pineapple casserole.
Non Dairy mashed potatoes with bacon
Green beans with a home made non dairy "cream" of mushroom (amazing)
Non dairy sweet potato mash
Stuffed peppers
Stuffed cabbage
Home made cranberry sauce
Deviled eggs
Non Dairy pumpkin bread
Pumpkin pie, Three berry cherry pie, apple pie

Here are some photos from our fun afternoon !!!

Showing Uncle Leon her pepperoni in her mouth "do you see it?" she asks

"Hugging" her cousins

After running laps in Gamma's house, all three girls have super red cheeks

Cousin was sad that we had to leave the next day, so Annabelle wanted to console her crying cousin

And our family photo from Thanksgiving 2013... a beautiful crying photo haha

November 13, 2013

22 months old

Dearest Annabelle,

Today you are 22 months old! Happy 22 month birthday! Soon we won't be counting months anymore b/c you are almost all grown up... ok, well not quite (thank Goodness) but you are definitely becoming a big girl.

The past month, you have developed and matured a lot from little baby girl to a little big girl.  Not only do you seem and appear bigger, but you also are starting to act like a big girl today.

First thing first, let's run through the usual things...

You are currently in 24 month and 2t clothes. The 2t fit better as you have grown taller and taller with each passing day.  You are in a size 7 shoe and got a new pair of mini melissa shoes to add to your Tom's and Tsukihoshi sneakers.  Lucky for hand me downs (and Grandparent's budget), you have a cute new pair of brand new boots from your cousins too.  You are still in size 4 Slip on's although i think we may graduate you into size 5's soon.  Weight wise, I don't think you've really gained much, but i can't be for sure since I haven't weighed you in a while.  Height wise, you definitely are taller but again, exact measurements are hard to do since you are so active.

Your eyes have darkened into a greenish, olivy grey color and your hair is still a medium brown color with golden hues.  I expect that with winter, your hair will darken.  You still have your cowlick but your hair has grown out long so now we can do pig tails and pony tails with braids. You actually sit for this and if you won't, sometimes i bribe you with some Peppa the Pig cartoons.

Your favorite cartoon is still Pororo, but you are also watching Peppa the Pig and sometimes with daddy, you watch Carebears.  You are still taking music, yoga, swim classes and your Korean class. You absolutely love Korean class and want to sing and dance to the songs we learn there all the time. Your Korean is growing as is your English, and its so much fun to watch you blossom.  Some of your new favorite things to say now are:

"Please mommy Please" or "Please Daddy Please"
"No Mommy" especially if i eat your food
"welcome" anytime you should say thank you or welcome you say welcome.
"Okayyy?" anytime i cough, sneeze, or make a noise
"TOOOOOT" anytime you or anyone near you toots.
"I did it!"
And you know almost all your aunt and uncle's names as well as most of your cousins' names too

We recite your ABC's as well as your colors, and you easily recognize Orange, Pink, Purple, & Green now and we are working on your other colors. Everything we do or say, you are starting to imitate. From me yelling "GO" during traffic, or "Move" to Kota... mommy and daddy are trying to learn to use kinder words and tones.

We recently came back from a trip to CA to see your twin cousins get baptized and you had so much fun being with family.  You even gave tender kisses to your cousins while i was holding them. A huge improvement from last month when you swacked both of them separately for me holding them... reassures us that maybe you are ready for a sibling soon?

You are still obsessed with dogs and Kota. We think we may use Kota as a good bribe to transition you into a toddler bed. As for now, we still co sleep and love it. I can't imagine you anywhere but next to me, but i know soon you will want your independence and that I will need to be prepared for that.

Mommy is getting over laryngitis and a cold that I got while in california. Luckily, you got the sniffles and mild congestion.  I credit that to the fact that we are 22 months strong with nursing.  You can now say "JuJu" when you want to nurse which drives daddy mad sometimes b/c that's all you will say while i'm gone. But we both know its b/c you are gaining control over the word and what power that word has.  You do nurse several times a day and a couple times at night. Some may say that's a lot but i trust you to let me know when you are ready to slow it down or pick it up. Typically, when you are overly tired, starting to get sick, or your molars are bothering you - you want to nurse. I don't question it but instead welcome it b/c i know its keeping you healthy and strong.

We tried some dairy this month.  Mostly milk chocolates and some cheeses.  It has definitely made mommy gain some weight quickly.  I think the adverse reaction to dairy definitely comes from me. For you, I think its now lactose intolerance with mild cow milk protein intolerance. Occasionally, you will get a mouth rash after dairy but mostly you get constipation from the lactose.  We are starting to take it back out of our diets again. We get no benefit from it and any benefits dairy may have, we can get elsewhere in our diet.

You are constantly getting into everything. From my make up, to our bags... but curiosity drives you and we try to nurture that.  Overall you are a very well behaved little girl who is branching out.  You want to go off with your Aunt and Uncle with me (that was a first) to go pick up food, you stay hours with your father without seeking me, you love class time and running around on your own.  While i'm still home base for you, your independence is apparent.  Friends recently complimented us on how well behaved you are for a toddler. Your dad and I never really realized it, but you are. We focus on the little things like - you don't like to sit still while you eat, you often eat on the go, bad snacking habits, you don't like to share (but you do when its on your terms), you say "no" and "mine" to most everything, and you can be a little mean to people you just met - but really you are just a little shy and socially reserved.  Once you come out of your shell, you scream, yell, dance, prance, laugh, giggle yourself into a frenzy and are a wonderful and loveable (and very happy) toddler.

You don't throw too many tantrums, and we always try to focus on what is missing when you do - ie., attention, hugs, kisses... usually if you are just tired or need some mommy love, you will throw a fit. But overall, you are very well contained with your emotions and feelings. You are good about "putting toys back to use next time", or even sharing things... but only on your terms.  For instance, if another person wants her toy, she won't give it. BUT, if i ask her to give the other child a turn, she will contemplate it and as long as the kid doesn't try to snag the toy from her, she will share it.  ON HER TERMS. 

You are such a happy child. You LOVE your daddy and light up whenever he's around. You find great joy in having lots of family all around you and absolutely love having friends and loved ones around.

We love you so much baby girl. Best 22 months of our lives.


Daddy & Mommy

PS. Here are some photos from this month!!!

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