A Diagnosis (and the Start of Our Fertility Treatment Journey)

Normally I like to post earlier in the week, but not only have I been busy taking over both our littles without any help at home this week (and I’m surviving just fine–phew!), it’s taken a lot of thought and care to craft this post. I want to be honest without oversharing because I want the content to be relevant to lots of readers, yet I also want it to be helpful to those going through a similar experience. I also want to really get this right. It’s emotional to look back at where we were several years ago, and to see the incredible difference. We just celebrated our first holiday as a family of four (excuse this blurry photo. We couldn’t hold still). Holy crap.

halloween-2017.jpeg

There were many months we never thought that would be possible.

So, today’s post is taking things way back. Almost five years back actually. We’re going back to where our infertility journey began. Back to a time where our hope to become parents was fragile, unknown, and charged with emotion. When I think about our journey I remember how terrifying and uncomfortable it was. I remember the toll it took on our marriage. I remember endless doctors appointments, hours logged driving to and from the clinic before work, days and days of bloodwork. And then, yes, finally being one of the lucky ones.

Almost two years after trying to start a family we admitted something might be wrong. We had “tried to relax,” “went on vacation,” attempted to “just not think about it,” and followed all the other advice people kindly give when you’re struggling to have kids. But we finally had to admit, something wasn’t working and we didn’t know why. We needed some help.

When you start infertility testing, men are typically required to do semen analysis and some blood work testing hormone levels. Seriously fun compared to what us ladies have to do, yet not fun at all! Women typically do at least an HSG (hysterosalpingogram) test (where they inject radiographic dye through the cervix and into the uterine cavity and fallopian tubes) and matching blood work.

None of this testing, while uncomfortable, was physically painful. I remember some cramping with the HSG test, but nothing unmanageable. However, emotionally, I’ll never forget feeling like a total failure when we started down this path. And then feeling like an even bigger failure when our doctor told us our diagnosis was “unexplained infertility.”

He couldn’t tell us what was wrong because according to all of the tests, everything was fine. In fact, I learned I’m hyperfertile, meaning my egg stores were huge. I should have been happy they were telling us we were okay, but instead I was sincerely upset they didn’t find a problem. Because this meant there was no easy solution. Our options were to keep trying naturally or with some medical assistance: IUI (intrauterine insemination) or IVF (in vitro fertilization).

We opted to keep trying on our own just a little longer, but not until the last funny bit related to this initial appointment happened and really made things uncomfortable. When our last round of bloodwork, testing my hormone levels, came back a couple days after we met with our doctor they called to say, “You’re ovulating now, you should have intercourse!” Clearly the kind of call that totally gets you in the mood. And then the real funny part. While we sat at the bar that Friday evening trying to relax and laugh at our current life, who sat across from us other than the doctor who had asked his nurse to deliver this instruction just hours earlier. That same doctor we had seen 48 hours before.

We didn’t get pregnant that month.

Or the month after, but three months later we did. We had started using some ovulation prediction kits and apparently it helped. It seemed our prayers had been answered and that things were finally going to be okay.

I mentioned in my last post, we experienced multiple miscarriages, but those happened after our first appointment with our fertility clinic. They started that first month we fell pregnant. I remember being so thrilled when we finally got a positive test. We couldn’t wait to tell our families. They had been dying for us to conceive as much as we had, if not more. I’ll never forget their overjoyed reactions. And I’ll never forget the next day either. The evening after we delivered the good news, I miscarried. And the same thing happened in my next cycle. Everyone was clearly devastated. Adding insult to injury, the second miscarriage took 16 weeks to clear. Meaning my body tried to shed our baby for 16 weeks. This was longer than I had even been pregnant and every day I physically could not forget about trying to have children.

Finally, another 8 months passed uneventfully–at least on the family planning front.

Our dogs turned two.

dogs

We traveled to South Carolina for a week long getaway with our pooches (I poured so much of my “mom” self into our pets during our infertility years–all for another post).

south-carolina

We got our ducks.

ducks-michele

Also significant in that time, but in a very different way, Chris got a new job and with it came new health insurance. I mention this because while many only consider a new salary and health insurance in general, we were familiar with the intricacies of our insurance and in particular, what it covered regarding infertility. With his previous job, they would only cover IVF after multiple failed IUI attempts. And their cap contribution towards infertility treatments were less than his new job. Sadly, I know many people who have switched jobs just to find better infertility treatment coverage. Insurance coverage was NOT the reason Chris changed jobs, but it WAS a pro vs. con.

During these 8 months, our marriage was also cycling in and out of a dark place. Few people knew this. We looked very happy on the outside. We were traveling (I became an excellent budget traveler in those years). We were still hanging out with our friends. Every selfie we posted online displayed the realest smiles. But despite those smiles we were posting on social media, sometimes I was barely holding it together and I felt like we were crumbling apart at times.

We had been married almost five years and as we faced our infertility and really came to terms with the idea that we might not have children, we were living through the “good times” and “bad.” Things got tense. At times I didn’t want to be married at all, to anyone.  Sometimes we barely talked. And when we did we had endless conversations about how we might start a family. Our moods would often rock with my monthly cycle. We would both be so hopeful when I would ovulate. Then we were both morose when I would get my period. Finally, we would try to heal and build our hope back up in between. I can say infertility tested our marriage. It seemed like we thought about little else besides having children, yet our lives had to function like none of this was happening every day.

Thinking about starting our family in alternative ways, I was most interested in adoption. Chris in IVF. Both options would be taxing financially. And both options never guarantee a child. In the end, we determined both options kind of sucked.

Yet, I couldn’t just sign up for IVF. I knew the option would be taxing on my body physically, but even more than that, I felt like if we didn’t get a child through adoption, at least it wouldn’t be my fault. If IVF failed, I felt like I would be to blame (something I’ll add that Chris NEVER made me feel). Finally, after much soul searching, hours of talking, and finally some marital healing, we decided we didn’t marry each other to just have children. This perspective put our marriage back on track for good. We booked a trip to Disney to remember we will always have good times together–whether we would have kids or not–and we booked another appointment at the clinic.

I wasn’t sure I would actually do IVF, but I was open to learning more. We made our appointment with a new doctor (I love a little bedside manner and this is something our first doctor lacked). We did more bloodwork to test for genetic deficiencies since we miscarried twice and we attended an IVF information session; a requirement with our local clinic. After learning more about conception than you’ll ever cover in a seventh grade science class, we said okay to IVF.

This is a decision that consumed me. One that I really wasn’t comfortable with, but that I felt like I had to try. For years now, I literally felt like I could not do something my body was built to do. But I had to let go of those constant feelings of failure (or at least push them into the back of my mind if possible) and try something new. I wasn’t going to be comfortable knowing I didn’t try, so I picked what felt like the lesser of the two evils.

After an epic backpacking trip to Europe to celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary, we came home and started IVF. In my next post I’ll delve into this next phase. Like with any project in life, nothing is ever as easy as you think it’s going to be and IVF was no exception. It’s not a cut and dry tale. Everyone’s story is different. Yet I will say it eventually had the happiest ending we could hope for: our first daughter, Isla.

Three Little Lives

October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. A couple years ago, I drafted a blog post that I never had the guts to post. One, because it was scary. I was afraid what others would think if I shared our story. Two, because I was embarassed about our experience. I felt like the reality we were living was my fault. And three, because I just wasn’t ready. Things were different even two years ago. No one was really talking about pregnancy loss and I was afraid to start the conversation.

Without putting a damper on the beautiful new life we welcomed this month, I do want to share about our struggle to become parents. Two years ago, we first lit three candles in honor of three souls we were so excited to meet, but never had the opportunity to. And today, despite the incredible joy we now have in our home–two amazing girls–I think I’ll always be able to go back to the overwhelming feeling of loss that each miscarriage brought.

I can still remember the empty ultrasounds, countless rounds of  bloodwork and testing, the physical pain of miscarrying, and most of all–the all encompassing fear of never knowing if we would be parents. As we inch towards the end of October, I start sharing my experience to honor three lives that never got to enter this world and think about the good that can come from letting go of a secret. The good it will do me, and hopefully others.

Chris and I tried to start a family for more than four years. After being diagnosed with unexplained infertility, we finally got pregnant (after 2 years) and then miscarried. Then it happened again. And heartbreakingly, after an IVF trial, again. Three little lives. Lost.

I’ve decided to share our story not to make anyone feel sorry for us, but to bring awareness to the subject and to hopefully help others feel less alone. Sharing also helps me let go of two other strong feelings that accompanied our loss: isolation and shame.

Infertility and pregnancy loss are tough. They’re each tough separately, and they’re even tougher together. Pregnancy loss is seemingly the only loss we sometimes keep to ourselves. I felt isolated by our experience and my silence. I also felt ashamed because we never knew what was causing our troubles–we still don’t. And as a total type-A person, I felt like I was to blame. I chose to blame myself. Almost two years since our last miscarriage, I of course know I wasn’t to blame. But when you’re in the thick of grieving, feeling the magnitude of it, you just want an answer to, “Why?” It’s painful–physically and emotionally. And as I was going through all of those feelings, I blamed our losses on every long run I completed, bumpy car rides, food I ate. Time after time, I found new reasons I could have caused our losses.

Almost 7 million women are living with infertility issues in the United States alone. It’s estimated that 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, and they believe this number is under reported. 1% of women will miscarry three or more times. I’m hopeful that when we speak up instead of being silent, we can not only come together in support, but that hopefully progress can continue. More research and more answers and less blame. Almost two years since our last loss, I see a lot more people sharing their losses, both men and women. While I’m sad that we all share this life experience, I’m happy the stigma attached with miscarriage is perhaps fading just a bit.

So, I lend my words to the voices before me to continue progress. To continue stopping the stigma. We shouldn’t to be ashamed about our fertility or miscarriages. While I would’t say I’m grateful for the experiences we’ve had, I accept them as a part of my life path. They invariably changed my life and I think for the better. I choose to think those lives, while not a part of our household physically, are a part of my heart and they always will be. While I didn’t get to meet those three babies, they impacted the most important parts of my life. My career, how I exercise, how I eat, why I travel, and more than anything–they shaped the mother I am today. I feel extra grateful, loving, and think I’m probably more patient that I would have been. I live my life with those losses etched in my heart forever and living without fear, I tell my story. To anyone going through a similar experience, may you someday feel the same comfort and peace and may we all have the happy endings we hope for.

 

Josie’s Birth Story

Little Josie is now 10 days old and as we have started settling into our new life as a family of four, I’m so excited to share Josie’s birth story. I’ll preface this by saying Josie ultimately arrived via csection and I’m sharing some graphic photos of the surgery. I’m not sharing this for shock factor, but because I truly look at our entire birth experience and think it was beautiful. And these photos remind me of how beautiful it is when new life is born, no matter how it happens.

Josie was scheduled to arrive on Friday, October 13th, but late Thursday the 12th, I actually went into labor. While Isla was at day care on Thursday, I had been busting my butt cleaning the house and doing every last bit of laundry that I could. I vaccumed, mopped, dusted, and when the pipe that runs from the dryer to outside came undone, I climbed on top of the dryer three times with a screwdriver to place and tighten the clamp. I had planned on working out, but at almost 41 weeks pregnant and having barely sat still all day, I opted to say my cleaning frenzy was enough.

Earlier in the day I had a stress test to make sure the baby was okay and was assured we could make it another 24 hours. Baby was good, though super active and still kicking momma’s butt from the inside! When I finally sat down at the end of the day, I had a PB&J in hand. It was about 9 p.m. and with surgery scheduled for the next day, I couldn’t eat past midnight and this sandwich was critical. Since the baby was always punching and kicking me so hard, and since I was eating and this normally woke the baby up, the first labor pains I felt I thought were just the baby up to her regular tricks. I joked with Chris, “Wouldn’t it be hilarious if I actually went into labor?” The third time I felt this “pressure” shooting through my pelvis and into my legs (and lasting about one minute each time, hmm…), I knew I actually was in labor. Holy crap! When I pieced all of this together, I started laughing and was so excited. I was actually going to get to try the VBAC!

At this point, contractions were about 10 minutes apart. We called my mom and we decided she could wait to come over since I couldn’t go to the hospital until contractions were 5 minutes apart. However, within another 45 minutes they were 5-7 minutes apart so our plans changed. By midnight we were in the car and driving to the hospital. Still in early labor, but scheduled for a csection anyways, they said–either way you’re staying and having this baby!

Upon arrival, I was still only 1 cm dilated, which I had been for weeks. I labored throughout the night, but around 11 a.m. the contractions began to space out again and fizzled out. It was declared more prodromal labor. However, my midwife assured me this is pretty normal and gave me a couple hours to see how things went. At this point they had cancelled the csection.

Prior to this break, I had the most regular contractions in the entire labor unit and had progressed to 3 cm. Labor was working, it was just slow. Around 2:30 p.m., contractions were still irregular, so another hour and a half later (at 4 p.m.), we made the decision to break my water.

Once my water was broken, contractions started back up and this time stronger than ever. I thought what I had felt when we first arrived at the hospital had been strong, but I was about to learn what I’m really made of.Thank goodness for all those lifting sessions I logged while pregnant. No stranger to pain, the hours blended together, with some specific stand out moments.

I remember after one contraction seeing that it was 12:00:37. 37 seconds into a new day–our baby had chosen her own birthday. I joked with Chris that she apparently didn’t want to be born on Friday the 13th.

I remember when the nurse and midwife thought I was in transition. However, upon checking me realized not only that I was only at 6 cm, like I had been hours before, but that my cervix was still in a posterior position. Apparently it needs to come forward, but mine wasn’t. All of the labor I had been feeling had been putting pressure on the wrong part of my cervix, which wasn’t allowing it to open. The thought was that I had scar tissue from my csection which was holding it in place and without getting into the nitty gritty details, my midwife literally broke up that tissue and worked the cervix into the right position.

I remember finally deciding to get an epidural. Hours later, I still hadn’t progressed. We made the decision to get an epidural and try the smallest amount of pitocin. They couldn’t induce my labor with pitocin, but they could try to help me along a bit. And if that didn’t work, we decided a csection was the answer. I had asked for an epidural hours earlier that night, and then sent the anesthesiologist away. I could do this! However, before they began pitocin and with a csection a big reality, I felt ready this time.

Now I had been awake for almost 48 hours. I knew I didn’t want to completely exhaust my body with the pitocin contractions. Since I had a csection last year, and having labored for so long, the doctor was genuinely concerned about uterine rupture. I wanted a few hours to try and rest and just prepare for whatever the outcome. I dozed on and off and tried to come to peace with what had transgressed and what would be.

A mixture of emotions washed over me as I labored that night. I felt fierce and strong, and then humbled moments later. I was beyond excited to meet our baby and kept visualizing what I knew my body could do. Chris was my rock and I felt closer to him with every contraction he helped me through. There were moments I felt like I just couldn’t keep going and he was there to encourage me and advocate for me. I remember feeling like I had trained for a marathon I might not finish when I got the epidural and started the pitocin.

Yet, when my pitocin drip finally finished and my midwife checked me and I was still 6 cm dilated, my midwife looked defeated and I felt peaceful. I cried with a smile and told her, “It’s okay. We’re going to meet our baby today!” While earlier that night I felt torn that I had allowed my labor to be augmented, something I never wanted to do, in that final moment, I felt content knowing I had done everything I could to deliver our baby on my own. And now a decision was made.

We joined a list of women waiting for a csection. I steeled myself to be pregnant until 2’o’clock that afternoon. We texted our parents to let them know the baby would be coming sometime that day, but we didn’t know when. However, things changed quickly again. As the shift changed at 8 a.m. (and my doctor who delivered Isla last year came in to start his day), the nurses quickly came into the room and began prepping me for surgery. Surprise! We would be the first csection of the day. Apparently I had labored long enough and they didn’t want to keep putting pressure on my scar. Before I knew it we were in the OR.

This csection didn’t feel as euphoric for me as last year’s. Last year I was well rested and had eaten just over 12 hours earlier. This time I was literally exhausted, very hungry, yet still so excited. The anesthesiologists marveled that I could keep such a high heart rate when I would get excited, yet still be okay. A reminder even in the last moments before our daughter joined us that my exercise came in handy.

Surgery was underway. Chris held my hand. I tried to stop shaking–both from nerves and medication. I fought each wave of nausea in between smiles and meditation. We played one of our favorite albums, Thomas Rhett’s “Life Changes” and I began to cry when the song, “Life Changes” actually came on the moment our daughter was born. This song really resonated with me since his album came out. Rhett and his wife have two kids under two and he sings, “You make your plans and you hear god laughing. Life changes, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.” These lyrics bring life to our journey to parenthood from the very beginning.

Josie was born just after 9:15 a.m.. We had requested a clear curtain, so a minute before her birth they dropped the blue drape so we could see our girl enter this world. They quickly asked us, “Mom and dad, boy or girl?” Chris and I both yelled that we thought we were having a boy, and then they exclaimed, “It’s a girl!” I remember bursting into tears and just feeling relieved that our baby was here. My doctor let me know the cord was around her neck, twice, and I cried again. I knew Josie had arrived the way she needed to and I was so grateful she was healthy. Her cry was strong, she was alert and so full of life.

The rest of the experience is a blur. They got Josie cleaned up, measured and weighed her. Chris cuddled Josie close while surgery wrapped up and eventually we loved our time together, just the three of us, in recovery.

Many people feel bad for me when they hear I labored for 36 hours before having a csection, but I can honestly say I’m grateful for the experience. If we have more children (we don’t know for those already asking!), I can no longer VBAC. So, even though I didn’t deliver Josie, I got to experience labor. Which for some reason was really important to me.

Just over a week later, I’m so happy to say I feel almost like my usual self. My incision is a little tender, but that’s it. While I’m still trying to take it easy, I’m grateful I feel capable of taking care of both my girls, while still keeping up around the house a little. I felt so crummy after my csection last year. I don’t know why this experience has been so different. Maybe its the differences in how I exercised, maybe it’s because I was always keeping up with Isla, or maybe it’s just that I’ve already been through this and my body knows what it’s doing. No matter the reason, I won’t complain!

As I continue to heal and am not sharing workouts, I plan to share about our infertility journey. It sounds odd to say we struggled with infertility since we now have two children 15 months apart, but there was a time we never knew if we would have one child. Knowing how isolating and painful that journey can be, I want to share about some of the procedures we went through, with hope that our stories can offer answers and hope to others facing similar trials.

For now, enjoy these photos of Josie’s birth. Many thanks for our midwife for capturing these images. We’ll treasure them forever. Welcome to the world Josie! We’re excited for every adventure that lies ahead.


csection12

csection7

csection11

csection9

csection10

csection8

csection6

csection4

csection3

csection1

recovery

 

Introducing Josie Willow

It’s been almost a week since we welcomed new life into this world. Despite a scheduled csection for Friday the 13th, our newest little girl, Josie Willow came at her own time and in her own way on Saturday, October 14. She weighed in at peanut status: 6 pounds, 13 ounces and 20 inches long. But as we get to know Josie, she is the true definition of small but mighty.

Looking back at our 36 hours of labor, that finally ended in a csection anyways, I look forward to sharing Josie’s birth story. However, for now, we’re soaking up every minute at home as a family of four. And let’s face it. We’re just trying to settle into the new normal. So, for now, enjoy these photos of our beautiful new girl, with lots of cameos from big sister.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

40 + Weeks Pregnant and T-Minus 3 Days Until Baby

I’M STILL PREGNANT. I officially get text messages and calls every day, checking in to see if the baby has arrived. I’m currently 40 weeks and 2 days preggers. While I am loving all the contact from my favorite people, I really love that I will be able to finally say in a few more days–yes, the baby is here! Because as of this morning, we have a cut off.

Here’s some side by side sweetness of me 39 weeks and 2 days pregnant with Isla (the day she arrived), and then 40 and 2 days with this bambino.

40plusweekspregnant

Last week when I went to the doctor, I was officially told I cannot be induced. Since my last pregnancy resulted in a csection and there is only about 15 months between deliveries, I am not eligible. The midwife I saw also told me if the baby doesn’t come on its own by 41 weeks, it probably won’t without some help. And since that’s not an option, and now that I’m overdue, I had to pick an end date. My options were next Tuesday (41 weeks, 2 days) or this Friday (40 weeks and 5 days). Next week would be a surgery with a doctor I’ve never met and after much discussion with Chris, we chose Friday as our cut off.

This is not a decision I made without a lot of thought, and tears. Since I cannot be induced, if this baby doesn’t come on its own, the end of the line is another csection and I’m trying not to feel guilty about this decision. Ultimately, I think it would be nice to have the “natural” birth experience, but as with all things motherhood, a lot of the decision making is out of our control. You’d think I’d be used to this by now.

Initially the decision of VBAC or csection was made for me. The baby was breech like Isla and I had mentally prepared myself for another surgery. However, when they checked the baby’s position at 34 weeks and told me it was head down, I was disappointed that I now needed to decide. I immediately scheduled a csection just in case the baby moved again. And because I wasn’t prepared to think about a natural delivery at that point.

That csection was supposed to be last Wednesday and I didn’t cancel it until a week before. At that point, the head was way down (it still is), I was starting to efface and dilate. It took me forever to decide, but after making multiple pros and cons lists, I knew I had to at least try for the VBAC for my own peace of mind.

Making this choice, I considered two major parts. The physical side and the emotional side.

Physically, having gone through a csection already, I think it would (maybe) be easier to care for Isla after a VBAC vs. repeat csection. But I know we’ll make it through either way.  My doctor told me weeks ago he thought my recovery would be easier after a repeat csection if I had one. This is because they will be cutting through the same incision site. I also hope this is because I won’t lose as much blood. With my last csection they removed endometriosis they found. I lost a lot more blood than they thought and I went home recovering my iron stores for weeks. This meant I would literally have to sit down at the top of the stairs just because I would start to black out and be out of breath. I wasn’t out of shape. I just didn’t have the iron my body needed.

That being said, even so exhausted, I was doing some slow hiking by 3 weeks postpartum, while baby wearing. So, I can’t really complain. The first two weeks after any kind of birth is tough, but I know I’ll be back to feeling more like myself no matter how this baby arrives. And I have to find solace in that. If this baby is going to come out via surgery, at least it’s the best kind of surgery I can have. The kind that results in a baby. Michele’s reminder: there’s a BABY at the end of the journey!

I know that last part is so obvious (see photo above), but sometimes I seriously forget I’m pregnant. I have Isla keeping me so busy and I often feel like I’ve been pregnant forever. This time around I haven’t had strong pregnancy cravings, I haven’t felt extremely limited physically, and I’ve now had two full term pregnancies in two years–that’s a lot of time that I’ve spent pregnant! I guess some days, it just feels like a new kind of normal to me. Though truth: by the end of every day in the last couple weeks, I normally want to cry because I feel so huge and uncomfortable. Thank you full belly and achy, tired joints, oh–and hormones. Haha. That final look in the mirror while brushing my teeth is a slap in the face reminder screaming, Hello! Yes, you’re pregnant! And then next: I won’t be forever. Sometimes Chris is the one that reminds me of that second part. Initiate eye roll now.

Emotionally, I made this decision for myself with no judgement for the same decision so many other women have had to make. The decision of VBAC or csection is an extremely personal one. When you have a csection you can always opt for another automatic csection. Or, if your doctor okays it, you can try for a vaginal delivery.

In the last several weeks, as I’ve been mulling this over, I feel like I’ve been drafting two blog posts with all of these women in mind. One is titled, “I had a repeat csection, so what?” and the other, “I had a VBAC, so what?”. I know this decision is often a tough one for many moms. After much Googling and talking with other women, I also know it’s a decision a lot of moms are judged for. When I personally tell people I might have a repeat csection, I’ve have actually had people say they’re sorry. Like they feel sorry for me. And people repeatedly tell me they hope I can have a natural birth. On the other side, some moms who have VBACed have told me not to do it while others have told me their experience was blissful. Everyone seems to have an opinion on the subject and I can only say from firsthand experience, it takes a lot of strength and courage to make the decision that is right for yourself and your family. Ultimately, it shouldn’t matter.

After being instructed to pick an end date, I went so far as to say during a family walk around the block this past weekend that I felt like my body is failing me in another way again. First I couldn’t get pregnant on my own for years, then I couldn’t stay pregnant, and now it doesn’t seem to want to deliver babies. Chris literally stopped me in my tracks and told me to look at Isla. He said, “Look at her. Shes’s beautiful. And it doesn’t matter how she got here.” And he’s exactly right. We have this beautiful daughter and it doesn’t matter how she got here. And soon enough we’ll have another baby adding to the joy we experience every day and it doesn’t matter how this baby arrives either. As long as we’re all healthy we are so fortunate to have the ability to deliver these babies using whatever means available. It’s that kind of thinking that’s seeing me through my choice.

So yeah, we’re having a baby by the end of the week! We’re not totally sure how the baby will arrive, but we have an end game plan in place. And I’m finally feeling comfortable with that.

Now that I’ve poured out so much info about VBAC vs. csection, I will share that I’ve still been trying all I can to not be pregnant forever and induce labor naturally. Today’s trick, some “labor inducing cookies.”

cookies-belly

A friend shared this recipe this morning and after dropping Isla off at day care, I bought the few ingredients I didn’t have in my pantry to make a batch. I didn’t even try to health-ify the recipe. Something I definitely do almost 100% of the time. I stuck to the full butter, full sugar, spicy cookies. No stranger to spicy foods (my favorite hot sauce is a habanero hot sauce from Belize and I’ve been eating lots of it lately), who knows if they’ll work, but I will say they’re not too bad. They’re like a gingersnap with a spicy finish. Regardless of the outcome, I think I can safely say I’ve tried every wive’s tale possible. There’s nothing like being 40+ weeks pregnant to make you do lots of desperate and crazy things! If they work, I’ll let you all know. But for now, just hold on for a baby update by sometime next week. WILD!

Have you induced labor naturally before? What are your favorite tips and tricks? Share in the comments below. 

Hospital Bag Checklist

Another week and another post saying I’m still pregnant! Seriously, I’m not at my due date so I guess I should be patient. I just didn’t think I’d go this far past 37 weeks without having a baby, especially with all my symptoms. Alas, I am. So I’m doing my best to keep living every day and making the most of things. It is getting more difficult to do some things (like pick stuff up off the ground), but I know I’m almost done! I can’t be pregnant forever. It’s October and sometime this month we will have another baby.

I find I’m having a mix of good and “bad” days. We went for another big hike over the weekend. Another 2.5 miles on a local favorite with a steep incline at the beginning. As always, the view was worth the work.

hike.jpeg

But, clearly it didn’t help this baby come any faster. The rest of my workouts have been more found exercise, with a couple 20 minute workouts on two days of the week, either first thing in the morning or during naptime. Plus, at least one walk per day.

Generally, keeping up with Isla who is an incredibly active 14 month old is a lot of work and feels like enough of a workout if I’m honest. She has wanted to be carried a lot. Thankfully, prodromal labor seems to have stopped, but carrying Isla around often causes lots of braxton hicks. I have been doing squats while she plays, push ups on the side of the couch, tricep dips, rows, walking lunges around the yard. I’m always moving and trying to make the most of my time. That being said, I do look forward to my stronger workouts once the new baby has settled in and my body is feeling better.

Thinking about having the baby, I’m sharing some info about my hospital bag. I know there are a ton of these hospital bag packing lists on the internet, but having had a baby last year, I’m adding my list to the masses. I used a lot of the lists I had seen on Pinterest and I’ll be honest, I brought way too much stuff! So, I’m putting my short term memory to use (one of the perks of having had a baby 14 months ago) and sharing what I packed in my hospital bag this time around.

I guess I should preface this by saying I am a pretty minimal packer. I like to bring just the essentials, plus maybe a few conveniences. I have a ton of minimal packing lists how-to’s on my Pinterest travel board. A couple years ago, my husband and I backpacked through Europe for two and a half weeks, each with one backpack (mine weighed 19 pounds fully packed, his weighed 40 pounds).

Earlier this year, we traveled as a family of three to California (with our then nine month old) living out of one backpack, a diaper bag and a stroller. Our main bag weighed almost 50 pounds, but it sustained us for a week of enjoyment. I would want to do the same thing for our soon to be family of four too. Even if it means I have to wash some socks in the sink.

So yes, my hospital bag is fairly minimal. Some people include things like comfy towels from home for the shower at the hospital and you won’t find that here. I don’t want to do any more laundry when I get home after having a baby than I have to. So a scratchier hospital grade towel is a-okay in my book. Though if it’s not in yours, that’s okay too.

For baby: 

  1. Little brother/little sister outfit – We don’t know if we’re having a boy or girl, but we want to have a cute photo op when our big girl and the new baby meet. Isla has a sweet big sister outfit to match one of these options.
  2. Hats – Our baby can wear a lot of the hospital supplied onesies for the little time we will spend at the hospital. Again, it makes clean up and laundry at home a ton easier! However, I like to be able to distinguish the baby’s gender with a couple sweet hats. We packed two for a boy and two for a girl.
  3. Formula – When I had Isla, I didn’t bring this item. While I was able to breastfeed, her glucose got very low at one point and I needed to give her a little formula. As a mom who eats a lot of organic food, I was really upset to use a conventional formula from the hospital. So this time, I’m bringing my own, just in case!
  4. Going home outfit – Again, since we don’t know if we’re having a boy or girl, we have a gender neutral going home outfit, complete with a onesie, pants with feeties, and little hat. I know moms say it all the time, but I seriously can’t believe how tiny these clothes are!
  5. Car seat
  6. Pacifier – This is something I want to have just in case. We didn’t use one until Isla was really comfortable breast feeding (after about one week), but that can come at a different time for all babies. So, we’ll have our pacifier with us.
  7. Swaddle blanket – This is great to not only swaddle the baby, but I can use it as a breastfeeding cover up too if I need it. Another gender neutral pattern!

For mom: 

  1. Robe – I love having a comfortable robe for at the hospital. It makes feeding the baby easy and layers easily over my nightgown or other clothes.
  2. Nightgown – since I had a c-section last time, I wanted to make sure I had something that didn’t have a waistband to wear at the hospital. This nightgown has a built in bra top that cuts right under the bust. So, it provides some support for my filling boobs, and it’s not terribly old ladyish. I can actually wear this 9 months pregnant, or normally. Win, win!
  3. Going home outfit – Living in New England, the weather has been cool in the mornings and warm in the afternoons. So, I packed a skirt and tank top to go home in. I can always layer a jacket over this for the ride home (I’ll have one stashed in the car).
  4. Socks – I like to bring two pairs of socks I don’t mind getting dirty and throwing away if need be. Hospitals are clean because they’re hospitals, but how many people have seen white socks turn black? So, I bring a couple pairs of thick Hanes socks and call it a day.
  5. Sweat pants and long sleeved shirt – I like to be comfortable in the hospital. I can also use this as my going home outfit if it’s a cooler or rainy day.
  6. Nursing bras – an essential item!
  7. Depends – This was just more convenient. A recommendation many people made online and I’m glad I followed.
  8. Underwear – Just some inexpensive Hanes granny panties. I pack these, but also take full advantage of the disposable underwear from the hospital. I still have some of those stashed at home from last year too. Isn’t postpartum life so glamorous?
  9. Overnight pads – Eventually I wanted to use pads and I didn’t want to use the ginormous hospital grade ones. Seriously, have they ever updated those?
  10. Special Toiletries – A client gifted this toiletries set to me last year. She said it’s nice to have some nice soaps and shampoos at the hospital and I loved having this last year. This is one of those extra amenities I really enjoyed and made sure to pack again this year.
  11.  Stretch oil – I have been using this stretch oil throughout my entire pregnancy and I know it’s important to also keep my skin hydrated after I have this baby too. I love that I can actually use this oil as a full body oil. It’s light, but hydrating.
  12. Boob butter – I used this after I breastfed every time at the hospital last year and I’m glad I did. Isla was a serious cluster feeder and I felt like this saved my boobs.
  13. The Stick – I didn’t bring this last year, but since I’m trying for a VBAC, I thought this might be a helpful tool if I’m having a lot of back labor. This is one of my favorite tools for self myofascial stretching at home, and it’s also a great massage tool. It might save Chris’s hands.
  14. Belly wrap – This was a life saver at the hospital and when I went home last year. I’m wondering if I’ll be as interested if I have a VBAC, but after a csection, I loved how it helped support my shredded (literally) stomach.

Last, but not least, we pack so many snacks.

snacks

Our hospital food is not very good. It’s full of preservatives and pesticides and when I’m trying to refuel my body either after a surgery or delivery, I’d like to have some tastes from home that are a little more nutritious. I certainly don’t pack the healthiest snacks, but it’s comforting to have food that I know I like. Some of our favorites include beef jerky, veggie sticks (something salty for after labor), Tate’s Bake Shop cookies (something sweet), Kind bars, Annas’s Swedish Thins (I love these with cheese or with tea), some juice boxes, trail mix, gum, and raspberry leaf tea (to help my uterus recover). Also not pictured are some instant oatmeal cups with chia and flax. I love that all I need is some hot water to enjoy this healthier breakfast or snack. And last, but not least, seltzer! It’s nice to have something other than water.

What do you pack in your hospital bag? Share in the comments below. 

38 Weeks Pregnant Update

It’s Tuesday and it’s been two weeks since I’ve posted. And oh what a two weeks it’s been! I officially started maternity leave, leaving my post at the gym and literally the next day I started having contractions. From 15 minutes apart to 7 minutes apart, from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m.. I called my doctor’s office and they suggested we have child care come over. So, I called my mom and got my hubby home from work. Yet, here we are, two weeks later and wait–no baby? That’s right. Not yet! So what happened?

It turns out, this mommy is having loads of fun experiencing this thing called prodromal labor. Prodromal labor is a super fun experience kind of like false labor (sense the sarcasm?). Except prodromal isn’t false labor because contractions feel real, last 60 to 90 seconds, and they consistently get closer and closer together. And then they just stop. In false labor, you get these shorter contractions maybe 15, 7, 5, 20, 2, etc. minutes apart. There’s no rhyme or reason to their pattern. I experienced that with Isla and while uncomfortable, I knew it wasn’t real. This is harder to distingush.

Not only can prodromal labor be phyisically exhausting (the uterus is a muscle and mine is sore after hours of contractions), but it’s emotionally exhausting. I get so excited that it might be time, and then when they just stop I feel pretty let down. It’s also hard because I don’t know if I’m going to know when I’m really in labor. At this point, I’m pretty used to just feeling contractions every day. If you’ve gone through this, feel free to reassure me I’ll know the difference!

I’ve read about what causes it, and basically they don’t know. They said if your baby is facing the wrong way in your pelvis, that can cause it. But they confirmed our baby is not. So, I’m not really looking for a reason any more. Instead, I’m just living life day to day and trying my best to be patient. Not my best virtue. Haha.

Continuing along the timeline, after the first day of labor pains, I then came down with a horrible sinus infection. And then the real icing on the cake (because I’ll handle whatever I’m feeling), Isla came down with a stomach bug that lasted four days! Happy maternity leave mommy!

No, but seriously. I felt so bad for our poor girl. She was such a trooper and thankfully I’m happy to report she’s feeling much better. But boy, was momma tired last week! I wasn’t feeling like nesting for once, but I was forced to do just that. I disinfected our house and washed endless amounts of laundry for five days straight. That was basically my exercise last week, though I did do a couple 20 minute workouts during naptime and before lunch. I just needed to make sure my muscles were feeling as balanced as possible. Funny thing, pregnancy can totally mess with your body’s alignment! So, exercise helps me keep the right muscles engaged and feeling strong.

By this past weekend, we were all feeling better (or had stayed healthy) and with some awesome weather–albeit hot–in New England, we headed out for an early morning hike on Saturday. This baby is super low, as they keep reminding me at my weekly check ups, and I was hoping we could just keep working it down with a short hike. We set out for 1.25 miles on a relatively flat trail, and after taking a wrong turn, ended up completing about 2.5 miles of elevation. A part of me can’t believe I’m so proud of those 2.5 miles, but I am. I celebrated being 38 weeks pregnant with a hike I know I couldn’t have done at the end of my last pregnancy and that is AWESOME! Bottom line–we are often so much stronger than we think! And that is just the reminder this mom needed before heading into labor.

38-weeks-pregnant-hike.jpeg

Other pregnancy related updates:

With just a couple weeks to go, I have still only gained about 26 pounds. I haven’t gained more than about a pound in the last 6+ weeks. And for the first time ever, they started telling me my belly is measuring small. This initially made me very nervous. However, I’m again having faith and trusting my doctors and midwives.

Two professionals have now assured me that since Isla was breech and this baby is not, that my belly was going to look and measure very differently this time. Last week they also said my belly will measure differently when the baby is as low as ours is. Finally, they reassured me they are not worried about my weight. No matter, I’ve been trying to pack in some extra food this week. I want to make sure I’m taking care of this baby to the best of my ability, but am also trying to listen to my body. Like last time, I eat when I’m hungry, and I’m certainly not eating 100 percent healthy. Last week I kept joking I was eating my feelings. I ate ice cream, donuts, a box of mac and cheese, and a bagel (or two). But honestly, after just devouring a salad for dinner tonight (with a burger on top!), that’s definitely more my speed this pregnancy. It’s so funny how pregnancy cravings can be different!

What have you been up to in the last couple weeks? How have you been staying active? Help me pass some time in the comments below.