The Few Minutes I Remember

I was just reading A Day They’ll Never Forget from the Giving Birth with Confidence blog.  It’s wonderful to read stories like those – truly beautiful, uneventful (in a good way), unencumbered births.  I can’t relate to them at all, but I still have hope.

In stark contrast to these four womens, my children have been cut out of me.  I don’t remember all of the details of their births, and I never will.  Is it because of the anesthesia?  Is it because a cesarean section is a traumatic experience for the body . . . and the mind?  So many people just don’t seem to understand that it should be fairly uncommon for a woman to need to have major abdominal surgery as a result of trying to birth her babies.

My water broke just short of midnight one night in August 2009.  I was trying to get comfortable enough to sleep, but Baby A had been making that quite difficult for some time.  This night was no different.  I piled pillows up and tried to lie down in a modified child’s pose.  No sooner had I settled, Baby A started moving vigorously and with a swift kick, obliterated her amniotic sac.  I cried out – “They’re going to cut me open.”

I had hoped that Baby A would turn back from breech before they were born, but breech presentation was confirmed at the hospital.  I was prepped for surgery.  This is the end of what I remember clearly.

You Know You’re a Homebirther When

  1. you find yourself zealously defending the CPM/DEM designation and probably come off as a bit of a wingnut!
  2. you get pissed off just thinking about the horrible things that OBs and nurses (for God’s sake) have said to women who have had to transfer from home to the hospital
  3. you get even more pissed off thinking about the birth that screwed everything up for you (not altogether in a bad way) and your childbearing years
  4. you have this idea to become a doula . . . or worse yet, a homebirth midwife
  5. you have this even crazier idea to leave your day job with full benefits to become a homebirth midwife
  6. you have this even more insane idea to move to Canada or some other country with a better health care system to (a) have your babies and/or (b) become a homebirth midwife
  7. you recognize that malpractice insurance does NOT make birth more safe
  8. you realize that you have to take responsibility for your own choices in pregnancy and in birth – from the Costco dipped icecream extravaganza I ate for dinner tonight (oops, not one of my finer moments) to where you’ll have a baby and with whom and what you’ll allow this person to do for (t0) you as your birth; all of these choices have consequences (hello reflux) . . .
  9. you want everyone to know about homebirth for what it is . . . not what mainstream America assumes it is (been there, done that)
  10. you want families to understand that their choice of careprovider(s) is such an important decision (OB doesn’t mean superior to CNM superior to CPM/DEM; these are very different designations with very different training requirements and very different mindsets; know what you’re getting yourself into!)
  11. you can no longer ignore the voice inside that says . . . “the last thing I want to do is leave my bed and go to the hospital” – I ignored that voice six years ago; now that the option is presenting itself to stay home, I must listen to my inner Truth, pray for God’s blessing and protection, and trust that His Will will be done.

edited to add a point and adjust some “tone”

Supplementing Pregnancy with Progesterone

It amazes me that OBs can still be resistant to testing for progesterone deficiency and treating it.  After two consecutive losses and a clean blood panel, I begged my OB to test my progesterone levels.  I was pregnant again.  Not only did she refuse to test, but she also said that even if I tested low for progesterone, she wouldn’t supplement.  Her “brilliant” idea to treat pregnancy loss was Clomid!  (You can read tons of stories about women taking Clomid and suffering miscarriages as well as being blessed and challenged with multiple gestation issues.)

I lost that baby at 10 weeks gestation.  It died a few weeks earlier.  I was devastated and so angry.  I’m still angry at that nutjob OB.  For numerous reasons I transfered to a more compassionate OB who had been through infertility with his wife and also seemed to enjoy thoughtful discussions with his patients.  Although he misdiagnosed my problem, he supported me in seeking a second opinion with a reproductive endocrinologist (RE).

The RE discovered low low low progesterone.  The RE also found adenomyosis in my uterus that was distorting the shape of my uterus.  He believes that my cesarean caused the adenomyosis.  He removed as much as he could.

I received the all clear to TTC and quickly became pregnant again.  (Becoming pregnant was never my issue.)  I began supplementing with progesterone via 17-hydroxyprogesterone shots.  An early ultrasound discovered that I was carrying twins.  (Recall the one OB’s suggestion to give me Clomid?!??!!!!!!!)

I continued the progesterone injections and weekly progesterone tests during the first trimester of that pregnancy.  My progesterone levels seemed ok on their own, but it was prudent to continue especially since specialists don’t know what a good level of progesterone is for multiple gestation.  After three consecutive losses, I carried my twins to term. :)

I accidentally became pregnant during my September 23, 2010 cycle.  I suspected it almost immediately after conception, so I began early testing.  By CD 28 I tested positive for pregnancy.  I contacted my OB’s office (my previous lovely OB died the day he cleared us to TTC in 2008) on a Friday, and was frustrated that it took until the end of the business day on Monday to get a script.  In the meantime, I contacted medical friends and even the RE’s nurse.  I was amazed that she got back to me and was still willing to advise me . . . 2 years later and from out of state.  What a blessing.

Your typical OB isn’t always well-equipped to deal with early pregnancy issues.  My OB recommended 100mg oral progesterone.  I double-checked this with the RE’s nurse, and she did NOT recommend this treatment.  My SIL also told me some sketchy stuff about oral progesterone supplementation.  The RE’s nurse said the best thing to do is either go back on the shots or do 200mg prometrium vaginally.  Since prometrium is so accessible and doesn’t require a stick in the bum, I went that route.  I also want readers to know that it took a while to straighten out the script, but by Tuesday I had what I needed thanks to a lovely independent pharmacist, the RE’s nurse, and the OB’s office following through with exactly what I requested.

I just want to offer this information up for those who are struggling to make sense of their losses.  Really, if you think you suffer from low progesterone and/or a short luteal phase, you need a medical script for progesterone supplementation.  It is unlikely that natural supplements will do the job . . . maybe for marginal progesterone?

Someone on one of my advocacy lists said that taking prometrium vaginally seemed “iffy” to her.  I must admit that irritated me, but she doesn’t know anything about me or how seriously I consider my health decisions.  Had I not been directed to this reproductive endocrinologist in 2008, I would probably not have my twins or be 16 weeks pregnant with my fourth and final baby.

Today’s Notable Reads

Today is a banner day on my Facebook news feed.  Here are some things that piqued my interest.

  • Owen Wilson and his girlfriend welcomed their baby into the world at home!  I’m not providing a link – I figure you can go to your favorite celeb site if you’re curious.  ;)
  • Did you know that nearly 100% of us parents use car seats incorrectly.  Here’s a 5-minute video featuring “The Car Seat Lady.”
  • I haven’t read this yet, but check out this New Yorker article regarding the decline effect and the scientific method.
  • Homebirth: A Midwife Mutiny is a great blog.  I first read Risk, homebirth, VBAC and am now on to her take on a BBC News article about “womb tearing.”  Next, I think I’ll read Blaming Women, because HELLO it happens all the stinkin’ time.
  • I’m also curious to read a new-to-me blog today, particularly the article on “No, Actually, You Did Not Turn Out Ok.”  We’ll see – I’m a fairly mainstream mama, so I don’t know how I’ll respond knowing that this is one of the blogger’s perspectives: “Where I Post . . . And Kick Your Lily White Arse For Making Your Baby Cry-It-Out.”  We ended up doing CIO with our oldest.  Is she ok – not completely.  Is it because of CIO – not necessarily.  Are we ok – no completely.  Is it because of CIO – not exactly.  But hey, let’s blame ourselves (see blaming women above) and each other (a favorite past-time for some on Facebook) for our kids becoming assholes or freaks as if THEY have nothing to do with it.
  • DEEP BREATH
  • My favorite spot on the internet for sound pregnancy & birth related advice – Childbirth Connection

We already feel inadequate

I watched Orgasmic Birth last night on Amazon.  When I told my husband what I was watching, he gave me a look like “oh no, you’re going to be one of those women this time, huh?”  I told him that despite the title, the movie was supposed to be good, and for the most part it was.

If you go to the OG website, you’ll see that they define the word orgasmic differently than you would expect: “Intense or unrestrained excitement or a similar point of intensity or emotional excitement.”  I’d agree that all of the normal physiologic births shown on the video demonstrated intensity.  It’s important to read the definition above with the word “or” in mind.  A woman does not have to achieve orgasm during labor/birth to have an orgasmic birth.

I found it interesting that one of the interviewed NCB experts suggested that we don’t share our birth stories because we don’t want to make other women feel inadequate.  Perhaps a woman who consents to an epidural in a hospital setting will feel inadequate, I don’t know.  But, a woman who has undergone a cesarean after trying to labor will almost always feel inadequate in some way.  (I know there are always women out there who will say different.)  Let me explain.

A woman is told that babies come out of vaginas, and that most of the time that is possible.  Women may enter into the last stages of pregnancy knowing that they want an epidural or to be induced, but they still expect that in most cases, the baby is going to come out normally.  However, most hospital birthers are not given the right kind of support to achieve a natural physiologic birth or normal birth.  Inductions are fairly normal.  Augmentations are fairly normal.  Epidurals are extremely common.  As one expert pointed out on the movie, when most (like 90%) laboring women receive an epidural, and you don’t, you take the staff out of its comfort zone.

So after these interventions and more (constant monitoring, restricted movement in labor, etc.), women are still expected somehow to birth vaginally.  And a third of us are sectioned – or more, depending on the location.  Our bodies failed us, we are lead to believe.  “Thank God I was in the hospital or my baby and I would have been in big trouble.”  Our inadequacies are magnified by the overwhelming successes of the medical machine.

Women who have had cesareans are defensive.  “My cesarean was necessary” is a common belief.  But to suggest that women don’t share their birth stories because they don’t want to make a cesarean mother feel inadequate is not understanding the situation.  We already feel inadequate.

I am 1 of 3 women sectioned in childbirth.

I am one of numerous women told that her body wasn’t capable of birthing her baby.

I am 3 of 4 women sectioned in Montana for twins.

I am nearly 100% of women in my community told they cannot have a VBAC in the hospital after multiple scars.

I am nearly 100% of women told to be thankful that they have a healthy baby after a cesarean section.

Share your birth stories in a supportive, instructive, and hopeful manner.  Give cesarean mamas hope that next time can be different, if she chooses.  And she has to choose; you can’t choose for her.  I myself am preparing for a transformational experience this summer.  I can’t get there unless I embrace stories of uninhibited natural physiologic birth.

Fiction gives me unexpected confidence

This may sound strange, but I’m reading Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol at my husband’s suggestion, and it’s really helping me . . . at this moment . . . find peace with my path to successful birth at the end of this pregnancy.

This book introduced me to noetic science.  Huh?  According to Wikipedia, noetic theory is “the study of mind and intuition, and its relationship with the divine intellect.”  That is just right up my alley in some ways.  I’m more prone to read a research study about pregnancy than I am to delve into Birthing from Within, but part of my non-fiction pursuits in the past have focused on theology and mysticism, and this book (and a recent talk with a trusted friend, a “straight up” talk with a midwife who doesn’t live in my area, and some soul searching) has helped remind me of the mystical aspect of birth.  Birth is a divine gift and one bestowed on women.  Should it surprise us that the male-dominated world would try and rob us (think gender subversion, think hegemony, heck think Marxism) of this unique gift?!

Ok, so back to my unexpected fiction-induced fervor and confidence in my ability to birth:

  • “Our untapped potential is truly shocking.” (p. 27)
  • “We have barely scratched the surface of our mental and spiritual capabilities.” (p. 67)
  • Our thoughts have physical mass & can interact with the physical world, “. . . whether or not we [know] it, effecting change all the way down to the subatomic realm.” (p. 67)
  • Intention requires practice! (see http://www.theintentionexperiment.com/how-to-intend)
  • This seems to coincide with what I’ve already learned about Bodytalk (see http://www.bodytalksystem.com/learn/bodytalk/) – that the body can rebalance and repair itself.

Gosh, what does this have to do with natural birth?  Well, in my case, I’ve had a lot of experience with programming myself in the medical model of women’s health.  I have benefitted from this model, surely, but when it comes to natural physiologic birth, the medical model has its severe limitations.  I feel like a hostage to the medical model – and sometimes victims are oddly attached to their captors.  I am one of those victims.

I need God to work with me BIG TIME during this pregnancy.  He continues to keep me safe even though I fall flat on my face every day.  He never forsakes me.  He will protect me and this baby too, if it’s his divine Will.  God’s plan may not be my plan, but I have to believe that no matter what my and my husband’s decision may be for this birth, that His Will will be done.

“Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” ~ Psalm 127:1

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  ~ John 14:27

“Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust Him, and He will help you. Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for Him to act.” ~ Psalm 37:5,7

Clearly, I’m still working all of this out and how it connects, and how it may or may not be useful to me.  But I am excited to share this renewed faith with you.  I’ve always been interested in the spiritual aspect of science, and now I’m discovering even more connections to and evidence of God’s presence in modern science.

Here’s to a peaceful and powerful 2011!

A few 2007 birth statistics

I’m not bored, but I did wake up at 4am which led me to the CDC.  Under “What’s New” at the NCHS page I read, “Twin Births Remain Stable, New Report Shows”.  Ok, so I was a bit disappointed that it wasn’t an entire report about multiple birth, but since I still hadn’t actually read the 2007 birth report, I suppose it was good that I took a peak.  If you’re interested to see what I posted about multiple gestation and birth as well as a collection of other data points that I found interesting, have a look here.

I browsed the site further and found some interesting statistics.  I was particularly looking for information on multiple gestation, of course, and was disappointed not to find method of delivery stats readily available for multiple gestation sets.  I did create a little spreadsheet though for 2007 births by gestational age and method of delivery.

I only looked at 34+ weeks gestation.  Information from 20-33 weeks gestation is available, but since I know less about those groups, I didn’t include it.  It is possible that premature babies are more at risk of dying during vaginal delivery than cesarean, I don’t know for certain, and I’m sure that parents need to consider their options carefully, if options are given.

ATTENTION!  Notice that the nation 2007 cesarean rate was 31.8% in 2007, another all-time high.  The World Health Organization suggests that a cesarean rate of 10-15% is indicative of a birth reality that is consistent with science and good practice as measured by healthy birth outcomes for mom and child(ren).  Get above that 15% range, and THE RISKS BEGIN TO OUTWEIGH THE BENEFITS.  I repeat . . the risks outweigh the benefits outside of the cesarean rate range of 10-15%.

So let’s extrapolate a bit . . .
You’re the MOST likely to birth vaginally if you make it to 40 weeks.  Problem is that most OBs do not encourage women to gestate to 40 weeks and a high number of elective cesareans take place in the 39th week.  If your baby comes before 37 weeks, look out . . . 41% of all live US births between 34 and 36 weeks gestation happened via cesarean surgery.  We need to be asking . . . WHY.  And why are nearly 1/3 of all babies being born via major surgery.  Why are so many women having their babies surgically extracted from their bodies, especially when subsequent pregnancies will even more likely end with a repeat cesarean?  WHY WHY WHY!!!!!

ASK SOMEONE WHY!

WHY 32% . . .