Category Archives: anxiety

A Labor Story, Part III

A Labor Story, Part III

Not so long a gap between parts II and III. I must be getting used to the sleep deprivation!

To read/review Part 1, click here.

To read/review Part 2, click here.

(Disclaimer: this is the part where things start getting a little…messy. And, you know, even though birth is an awesome process, it doesn’t always look and sound pretty!)

When we were told that we had reached 5 cm, we were pretty happy. My mother loves to tell me the horror story that was my own birth, and how I tormented her for twenty-nine hours of labor, so progressing 2 cm in two and a half hours seemed pretty promising. While I was definitely feeling pain and discomfort, I figured I could manage this pain for several more hours if needed be, though I knew I definitely wouldn’t sleep through it.

(The calm before the storm!)

Shortly after this 8:00 PM measurement, I decided to try and go to the bathroom again, to help me walk around, and Cary, our doula, encouraged me to see how the contractions felt as I was in a sitting position. They (the contractions) were definitely getting stronger.

When I came back out, we decided to have me stand. As the contractions hit, I had my arms around Jared’s neck and he helped hold me up through the strongest parts. Cary helped hold the monitors on my belly (remember, the stupid things were having a hard time registering my contractions and the baby’s heart rate, so we had to be diligent about position and pressure so they didn’t think the baby was freaking out!).

After about two standing contractions, it hit me like a wave: first, a bout of nausea, and second, an astoundingly intense contraction. And then the next contraction was just as intense. I hesitate to say painful; it definitely hurt, but it was because of the intensity that my whole body felt with the contractions. And then the next one was the same, but with an almost tingly sensation down below. And then again. They were less than two minutes apart; and I felt like I couldn’t get a break in between them!

This is where I wavered. I looked into Jared’s face, and I think I said something along the lines of, “I don’t know if I can do this for too much longer. I think I need to lie down again because this hurts so much.” (Meaning, pain-wise, I was doubting my ability to go the distance.)

Like a great partner/coach, he looked me in the eyes and said, “Of course you can. You’re doing great!”  Cary followed up with more encouraging words, and we decided to try one more standing contraction before lying down.

After another intense contraction, they helped me onto the bed. This time though, the position change didn’t help the contractions; they continued to be extremely intense. And then a completely new sensation took over. I looked at Cary, who was sitting almost at eye level next to the bed, and I am sure I sounded confused and surprised when I said, “I think I want to push!”

Remember, this was roughly a half hour or so after being told I was 5 cm out of 10 cm dilated, so I think we were both a little worried that I might be having the pushing urge too early, which could definitely be a complication in the birth plan. She asked me to try out one more contraction to see if it went away.

It didn’t.

Cary went to go get the nurse, explaining that I felt the need to push. The nurse came in and checked me again, and even she sounded a little surprised when she said, “Well, I can tell you one thing. You’re about to have this baby!”

I believe I uttered a very intelligent sounding, “What?” to which she repeated, “You’re about to have this baby!” Then, she rushed out to call the doctor and ready the birth reinforcements.

I think all three of us, Jared, Cary, and I, had a classic “WTF” moment. I was so shocked that the next contraction almost didn’t faze me. I’m sure the look on my face said it all. We were all amazed that labor had progressed so quickly in so short a time. I was even a little disappointed that I wasn’t going to be able to finish “Shrek”.

This is the part that is a little rushed for me, because it both felt like an eternity and mere seconds at the same time. We quickly were pulled back into the moment when the nurse returned and informed us that I had to try and wait because the doctor had gone home, and was heading back now. (Later, we learned that she had called the doctor ten minutes before this to let her know I was a 5 and that it would probably be a while, so to stay at home. I imagine the call back ten minutes later was a fun one to listen to.)

This meant that I had to do the classic, hyperventilating panting, to avoid pushing. I am saying this now–putting this in print–that I will never, ever, do that again unless it is a life-or-death situation. My exact words will be, “I’m sorry, but you can’t stop me from having this baby, and somebody better stand guard to be ready to catch her/him.” Because of ALL the pain and contractions was nothing next to the misery of panting for a half hour.

It was wave after wave of feeling the need to push and trying not to. My whole body was fighting me. Gross comparison: Imagine having violent diarrhea, but being told you can’t go to the bathroom right now and need to hold it. Then times that by about 100, and that was closer to what I felt. As the birth entourage (what I liked to call all the nurses and attendants for baby and me) piled into the room, I was only vaguely aware of them getting everything ready, because I was in my own little world that only Jared managed to make bearable.

Poor, poor Jared. As each contraction and need to push hit, he was there telling me that I could do this, that I was amazing, to keep panting, even though I was groaning and hyperventilating as I said with each little breath, “I don’t think I can do this.” From what I could see of his face, he was absolutely miserable. I think it was just as hard for him to watch me going through that wretchedness and not be able to do anything about it, as it was to be the one in it.

I lost track of all time. I had no clue how long I had been going through this. Finally, after what was again an eternity, I heard somebody tell me that I could start pushing because the doctor was almost ready.

Heavenly. That’s the only word I can think of to describe the change of being able to go with the waves of contractions my body was putting me through. It felt wonderful to be able to push. While it was hard, and it was uncomfortable, it was not painful (especially after being told not to push for what I learned later was about a half hour!).  Where holding back had felt like infinity of punishment and misery, time seemed to fly with pushing. And the whole way, Jared and the doula were by my side, encouraging me.

It seemed like only a few pushes later (again, another half hour had gone by without me realizing it) when they asked me if I wanted to look and see the baby’s head crowning. I was in the zone, though. I didn’t need to look to know she was almost here.

Shortly afterwards, I could tell the exact moment that she came out. I pushed harder than ever, knowing she was so close, and I could feel as her head came through, and then as the doctor pulled the rest of her little body through. At 9:47PPM, less than 6 hours after starting the pitocin, the culmination of 9 months arrived. I was tired and exhausted, but again, it wasn’t painful (though later I learned I had second degree tears). I just felt relief and happiness.

They lay her crying little body on my stomach, and I remember saying to her, “You’re finally here! I can’t believe you’re here!”

To know my body COULD do this process with little medical intervention, and to know that I was able to have full control and knowledge of this process as my daughter came into this world… Ahh. To say it was incredible, empowering, doesn’t seem to fully do this experience justice.

The joy I felt was slightly interrupted when I noticed the doctor started to cut the cord. We had put in our plan that we wanted to delay the cord clamping just for a few minutes, and that Jared wanted the option to cut the cord, but the doctor completely ignored those again. By the time I could get Jared and Cary to notice, the doctor was almost done, so Jared said just to finish it. (He wasn’t that disappointed; he was more irritated by the fact he hadn’t been offered the option!) The placenta came out with no problems, and I got stitched up.

And for quite a while, we snuggled with our new addition. We marveled at her tiny, perfect hands and feet, and I was completely enamored with her full head of hair. And when Jared turned to me and said, “What about Evelyn Quinn?” which had been our “secondary” name, I agreed, even though most of the pregnancy I was certain she would be Sophia.

In that moment, it all just felt right. And even though the hard work remaining in our hospital stay was just getting started, for that moment in time, everything in the world was as it should be.

A Labor Story, Part II

A Labor Story, Part II

I know it’s been a while, but when it comes to getting some sleep or writing done, sleep wins hands down. Sleep also beats shower, unless it’s been too too long. To read/review Part 1, click here.

We arrived at the hospital and checked in at 2:00 PM. I had heard that checking in and registering, even when you have “pre-registered” at the hospital, can take forever. And I had heard right.

First, we did paperwork. Then, we did more paperwork. Then, we were asked a zillion questions about my medical history. I was slightly annoyed by all of this, since we had gone through all those questions before when we had our emergency hospital pit-stop back in March … you’d think that they’d save that information somewhere. Because unless you and your extended family have some drastic lifestyle changes or suddenly were showing symptoms of some serious genetic diseases in the span of a few months, then most of the answers would remain the same… yes?

You could tell the nurse that we had did not like the fact that I had taken “so long” to arrive at the hospital, along with the fact that we had a doula. We had let the person at the registration desk know that our doula would be coming soon, and that she could come right in.  We wanted her there as they told us the options for how they wanted to induce us.

However, the nurse was a bit tricky. She first reminded us to think about what we wanted to do for the inducing; the doctor wanted to do an anmiotomy (break the water) but pitocin was another option. (When I had spoken to my doula earlier in the day, she had actually recommended trying to start with the pitocin so that we didn’t have to be on the 24 hour timeline that the hospital puts you on when your water breaks.) Then the nurse said, “Oh, by the way, I think your doula might be here, but I just need to ask you a few questions before she can come into the room.” Then she proceeded to ask me the zillions of questions about my medical history and family history, occasionally punctuated with “By the way, have you decided what you’re going to do, yet?” Both Jared and I were getting a little frustrated because this was definitely more than “a few” questions, and it was clear she was trying to get us to decide before we could have better input from our doula.

Fortunately, our doula, Cary, wasn’t a pushover, and after about 15 minutes of this, she came into our room anyways. (I didn’t mind- I don’t have anything to hide about my medical history!) Once again, the nurse gave us a look of disapproval, but since it was my privacy at stake, and I was allowed to have two “support persons” in the room with me, there wasn’t much she could do. We finished answering the menial questions and then decided that we’d try starting with Pitocin and see how labor progressed from there, that way we wouldn’t start the 24 hour time limit. Of course, if the baby didn’t “tolerate labor” well, then we’d have an emergency c-section and the time limit wouldn’t matter anyways, but we were willing to try it.

Finally, around 4:00 PM, I was hooked up to the IVs and started on the Pitocin. (See what I mean about how long just getting in the hospital took?). I had donned my nightgown from home, which would be more comfortable for me than the hospital gowns, especially if I ended up walking/moving around like we planned on doing as labor progressed.

Once again, we had a few hiccups with what we wanted on our birth plans. We knew the hospital had wireless fetal monitoring, but the nurse we had didn’t want to let us use it because it wasn’t “as reliable” as the normal monitors if we were to walk the halls (which we hadn’t been sure we would even want to do!) Despite asking multiple times, she essentially refused to let us use them, so I was fairly stuck to the bed.

For a while, Jared, Cary, and I just chatted about various things. I know that I mentioned it was a big day for my parents: their first grandchild was coming into the world, and my youngest brother, Jacob, was coming home from his two year mission in Fiji for the LDS church. Every fifteen minutes or so, the nurse would come in and slightly increase the amount of Pitocin dripping into my IV.

By 5:00, I could definitely tell that I was having contractions, and they were fairly painful and close together. I would have contractions that were 60-90 seconds long with about 2-3 minutes in between. I was surprised by how frequent they were so soon after starting the medication (and from being on so little of the medication), since the “textbook” labor generally says go to the hospital when contractions are every 5 minutes. Because I knew they would tell me soon that I wouldn’t be allowed more food, I snuck a granola bar in.

It turned out to be a wise time to sneak the granola bar, because at 5:30, our doctor came in (she was the doctor “on call” that night at the hospital, too) and measured me. She said something about me being at “A loose 3” dilated (from my “tight 3” that morning?!). I guess you could just say 3 ½ or something, but again, I’m not the professional. She also quickly decided to break my water and told me explicitly that I was to have no food from here on out.  Honestly, I don’t think it would have been much longer for the water to have happened on it’s own, with how quickly the contractions had already intensified, but so it goes. Jared marked the time so that we would know our twenty-four hour time limit, as long as the baby was tolerating labor well, so they didn’t rush us into a C-section if it wasn’t needed.

I know this will sound totally “hippie”, but I had opted to have as natural a birth as possible. Since I was essentially forced into being induced, this plan was slightly altered, but I strongly wanted to go the entire birth without pain medication. I wanted to have full control of pushing and my body. I’m not a glutton for punishment, however; I had been reading several books on ways to manage my pain without medication. In case you wanted to know, the three books I focused on were Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth , Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way: Revised Edition , and HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method: A natural approach to a safe, easier, more comfortable birthing (3rd Edition) . (If you are interested in doing it “natural”, all these books were helpful; I started with the Ina May book and went on from there. I will say my least favorite was the Bradley book just because its tone was a little condescending towards anyone who might have a differing opinion than the author’s, but it still had some good tidbits. Maybe some day when I have time to myself again, I’ll review the books on here individually for you all.)

Anyways, I digress. I was determined that I wouldn’t become some sort of wacko in the delivery room—I wanted to stay calm and cope well with the labor process. To help cope with not having pain medication, I had studied a few methods, and Jared and Cary brought various items to help. We started with an old friend: watching “Shrek” on Jared’s laptop. (Awesome, I know, right?) As the contractions quickly got more intense, I used an exercise ball and breathing methods to help me cope.

Unfortunately, because the nurse wouldn’t allow us to use the wireless monitors, I was tethered pretty close to the bed. Even then, the monitors weren’t working great. First, they weren’t even catching most of my contractions (and trust me, they WERE happening!) Additionally, as the contractions intensified, I would want to curl up or bend a little more, and then the monitors couldn’t catch the baby’s heart rate as well, and they would think that she wasn’t tolerating the labor well. We were able to convince them that it was the monitors that had the issue, but still, I had to keep them on. Eventually, I gave up and mainly just stayed on the bed, laying on my left side as that seemed to be the best position for the monitors while being remotely comfortable.

Because of my struggles with anxiety, I have had a lot of practice with using deep breathing to remain calm. Being able to focus on counting the seconds of breathing in and out have always been a great way to clear my mind. In this case, I just added in the “rainbow balloon” method. As you breath in, you imagine you are filling up a balloon, and as you breath out, you imagine you are pushing it down and out. You start with red, and go through all the colors. By the time you reach green or blue, the contractions were usually close to ending, but boy, did I really hate the colors orange and yellow!

For some reason, though, this really worked for me. Both Jared and the doula had a hard time telling when I was having contractions unless I told them I was because I would just close my eyes and focus on the breathing and images. At one point, Jared stepped out to warm up and make a few phone calls to family (he claimed the room was freezing… I was perfectly fine, except for random moments were I would have a 60 second hot or cold flash!), and Cary, the doula, stayed with me and thought I had been sleeping because I was so still and calm.

Trust me, though; it was more pain than I could ever sleep through at that point. It wasn’t to be ignored, but it hadn’t reached unbearable proportions by any means.

So it went for a while. 7:00 PM brought the changing of the guards: we met our new nurse. Incidentally, we liked her much more because she almost immediately offered to let us use the wireless monitor if we stayed in the room. Freedom! Somewhat limited, but I would take it. We paused “Shrek” just about halfway through, since we figured there would be plenty of time to watch it later.

So it went some more. It was less of a hassle to go to the bathroom, at least, though the wireless monitoring didn’t do any better than being tethered when it came to picking up the contractions or baby’s heart rate if I moved.

Around 8:00 PM, our new, more likable nurse checked me and had the good news that I was already gone from my “loose” three to a five and that everything was progressing well.

Soon after that, things got a little crazy.

Some weeks just stink…

Some weeks just stink…

And this week is one stinky week.

It’s been awhile since I’ve talked about my depression and anxiety issues, but it really has been a daily battle this year. I made some very specific decisions about not staying on medication. That started around the 2010-2011 school year. Things were going well in life and I felt like I had reached a place where I didn’t need it. I was still enjoying teaching, and I knew Jared and I were wanting to start a family, too.

Unfortunately, by April 2011, things were unraveling with teaching due to the potential budget cuts from the state, and soon the work place morale was extremely low. Starting the 2011-2012 school year was miserable for several reasons, many you know of from previous posts, and many that I couldn’t talk about on a blog. It would have been a perfect time for me to restart medication, but Jared and I didn’t want to postpone our family any longer, and I remained off them. Once we did find out that we had been successful in starting our family, it was that much more important to me to make sure that I was as healthy and un-medicated as possible for my unborn child. Naturally, pregnancy hormones and symptoms didn’t exactly help with a stable frame of mind.

With all that being said, there have been several days and weeks this year that have threatened to crush me, and I try not to focus too much on them. But this week has definitely made a run for the stinkiest.

1. I left a job that I thought I would be doing for several more years. Yes, it was my choice to leave, and several people there wanted me to stay, but I know it was the right choice for me at the time. However, knowing that it’s the right choice doesn’t make it any easier walking away. I suspect I will have more twinges of sadness near the end of August when I know everyone’s heading back to school, and I won’t be there.

2. My energy level is terrible… All I want to do is sleep or sit on the couch!

3. Baby Boothe preparations are not going as well as I hoped. I wanted her room to be ready by now; painted, crib set up, clothing arranged. And we still have many essentials that we need to get in order. (Shout out to my mom for some of the “big” purchases that you’ve done to help us out!) But I think that “nesting” urge is kicking in and I desperately want things to be perfect for when Baby gets here. I told Jared that if the room’s not painted by this weekend, we aren’t going to worry about it.

4. My house is a mess. Boxes from school things I had to move home over the last weekend have taken over our living room, and they’re too heavy for me to lift (especially according to Jared). Our dining room has baby stuff all up in there. It’s just so messy! That “nesting” instinct must be kicking in…

5. Stevie’s Wednesday accident. ‘Nuff said about that trauma.

6. Stevie’s stitches started coming apart Friday (DESPITE his cone-of-shame wearing). Our regular vet wouldn’t look at them, so we had to go back to the EC vet. Fortunately, they fixed him up for free since the stitches shouldn’t be coming undone yet. Unfortunately, some of them had to be completely taken out and staples put in (making him look like Dog of Frankenstein even more!). They also had to put glue on the remaining stitches to help them hold… and got glue on what’s left of his fur, too.

(Despite the hodge-podge of stitches and staples, the wound does look less inflamed! It helps when he wears his cone of shame…)

Those are just some of the bigger things that are going on right now. There’s been several little things that have just overwhelmed me this week, too, but it would sound too whiny. Plus, it’s not good to focus on all the negative. I just needed to blow off some steam from the stinky week, and purge this all from my system to move on to next week.

So, here’s to next week, and hoping that it will be much, much better than this past one!

Mental Health day

Mental Health day

I didn’t go to work yesterday.

No, I didn’t just NOT show up. I took it off a week ago, anticipating that I might need a break. (And oh, did I need it, people. This was a moment of inspiration before disaster truly struck. I couldn’t have been more grateful that I had foresight to take that day off…)

A lot of people asked me if I had any plans for my day off.

The beauty of it all was no, I didn’t. If yesterday had a theme song, it would be Bruno Mars’s “The Lazy Song”. Absolutely yes.

Now, to be clear, I did do a few responsible things. I made meals (breakfasts, lunches, and dinners). I did a deep clean of the kitchen, unloaded the dishwasher and ran it. (Twice, actually. Dishes got a little backed up due to some of the craziness of work which will not be mentioned in this post or on this blog.) I did lots of laundry, which included changing the sheets on our beds to our “cooler weather” sheets (the high for today didn’t get past eighty-five. THAT IS TWENTY DEGREES LESS THAN WHAT WE HAD ALL SUMMER, PEOPLE! So yes, “cooler weather” sheets, not our “cold weather” sheets.

I even went grocery shopping. I hate grocery shopping, but I did it on my mental health day. BECAUSE IT WAS BETTER THAN THE REST OF MY WEEK. Seriously (and sadly) true.

But, overall, I was fairly lazy. I slept in. I gave myself a three day weekend. I was fairly useless.

And it was marvelous.

The moral of the story is: I need to do this mental-health-day-for-no-good-reason-thing more often!

It’s been a rough one…

It’s been a rough one…

It’s been a pretty rough week. Most of the reasons are probably not completely appropriate to discuss on a blog, so I’ll keep it pretty simple with the public appropriate downers:

1) Teaching twice as many kids in half the time is not conducive to a happy, positive learning environment. Especially when kids aren’t turning things in. Thanks for those budget cuts, Rick Perry. The future of America looks forward to how you can destroy more than just Texas school children’s education.

2) Work drama. I can’t say much more than I got pushed to the wayside for something that I was very qualified for and that could have potentially been a great add to my resume to be more desirable for being a high school teacher. Awesome.

3) The new online gradebook thing that we have to use for grades stinks, and causes lots of issues with parents either completely not being able to figure out what their kids grades are, or freaking out because what they can see isn’t always happy, which increases my email/contact role. And when is it NOT fun to speak with an angry or confused parent?

4) We cut down our VERY dead maple tree. It took a few nights (as I refused to operate a chainsaw without husband supervision, and also, he wanted to play with his new toy) and was rather dirty. As the maple tree was my favorite tree until this summer, that was very sad. Expect an “Ode to the Maple” sometime soon.

5) I found out that my husband’s family’s beagle, Brodey, needed to be put down today. And even though I don’t think he really liked me ever that much (or anyone other than David and Sarah), it makes me really sad because I remember how much it hurt a few years ago when I found out that our family dog, Dixie, had to be put down. And that’s always a heartbreaking feeling. I kind of told Jared to not tell me too much about it because it would reflect badly on me to cry in front of the kids at work.


However, there were a few things that did go well this week, so I will end with those:

1) Jared sent me cookies from Tiff’s Treats on Tuesday because I had a really rough morning. And they delivered it to me in front of my best kiddos, who thought it was the sweetest thing ever. And wherein several kids also offered me $5 a piece if I gave them a cookie, which I sadly turned down because I probably would be in trouble if somebody found out about it. But if I wasn’t morally bound, I could’ve been rich!

2) I got another book donation from a secret sponsor for my class. The Candy Shop War was written by Brandon Mull, same author of the amazing Fablehaven series. And since I haven’t read it yet, I feel somewhat obligated to read it before putting on the bookshelves for the kids at school. Once again, moral obligation, but this time totally in my favor! 😉 So to my secret donator: Again, both I and my students thank you!

3) The dogs are enjoying the large amount of sticks that have come from the death of the maple tree. Each day they try to bring several into the house, but I usually catch it before they start reducing them to slivers on the couch.

They are so cute, no?

3) Jared is going to surprise me with something awesome this weekend. Which I am totally looking forward to. And need, desperately, after this rather painful week.