Thursday, September 26, 2013

My Birth Story, Part 3: What I Learned...and Birth Without Fear

If you want all the details of my first birth, they are here (Part 1) and here (Part 2).

I've mentioned before that this time around I want to have a birth without fear, so as I barrel toward my second child's birth, I want to take some time to think about what I learned from the last one and what it means for this next round.

Here it goes (and it's going to be another long one!) What I learned from Little Spaghetti's birth:

The nurses play a much bigger role than I was planning on. This may seem obvious...but, for some reason, it wasn't for me.  I spent time during my first pregnancy agonizing over my provider selection and eventually seeking out a midwife for a homebirth that never happened. I talked to my OB about my birth plan (though I know she never fully supported it).  I thought I'd covered my bases.  Until I got to the hospital.

I soon realized that my OB wasn't going to be a big part of my birth (I saw her two, maybe three times in the 12+ hour-long induction).  The nurses handle most of it - and none of them knew me or what I wanted.  And there's nothing I could do about that.  At least this time around, I'm going in knowing that.

Trust my body. As I prepared for my son's birth, I read so many things about trusting that your body knows what it's doing because pregnancy and labor are very natural parts of life that women have gone through for all of time.  And for a  while, I truly believed that I did trust my body.  But then, my due date came and went.  And days that I went past my due date turned into weeks that I was past my due date, and I began to feel like my body was failing me.  Like I'd never go into labor.  Like my uterus just didn't have a clue what it was doing.  I wanted to believe that I trusted my body, but looking back, I was kidding myself.

In the end, though, even after I was overdosed on pitocin, tranquilized, and had my labor stopped, my body did know what it was doing.  Toward the end, as I started to feel a lot of pressure, I asked the nurse to check me.  She said, "Fine, but there's no way you've dilated any more.   You've haven't even been having real contractions. We're going to have to turn the pitocin back on if you want to deliver this baby."

But, to her shock and my pleasant surprise, I had dilated from a little more than a 6 to a full 10.  Without even having what the medical staff considered any "real" contractions.  My body did know what it was doing, after all.

Trust my instincts. When my water broke early on, I came so close to asking the nurses to turn off the pitocin.  Or at least to stop turning it up.  I really felt like my body could take over from there and let labor progress on its own.

I mean, I was 42 weeks pregnant.  My water had broken.  I was having very regular contractions.  In some ways, I felt like the birth was a freight train that wouldn't be stopped at that point even if we wanted it to.   I even remember asking my family and friends who were there if I should talk to the nurses about it.  In the end, I decided the doctors and nurses knew what they were doing and not to say anything.  Looking back, I wish I'd listened to my instincts and trusted myself, which brings me to...

Ask questions and to stick up for myself. It never hurts to ask, right?  Unfortunately, that's not how I approached my last birth.  I'm a people pleaser.  I hate to make a fuss.  I hate to put people out or annoy them.  Part of me didn't want to offend the nurses during my labor, which is why I decided to just trust their expertise and not ask questions.

If I do anything differently this time around, I hope this is it.  I want to make good choices and stick up for what I think is best for me and my baby.  I want to be able to deal with confrontation without feeling like a failure.  Or without feeling like somebody thinks I'm a bad mother who is making terrible choices that will endanger her baby.

I can ask for more time.  I can ask for more explanation.  I can ask what other options exist.  I can even just ask to be asked again in a few minutes when I've had time to process what's going on.

Prepare others, not just myself. I was lucky to have my husband, my sister, and a good friend with me for my son's delivery.  And they were all incredibly helpful and wonderful.  I almost broke my husband's back because I was literally leaning on him for support for so much of the labor.

But, I had not prepared them well enough.  I had told them about my plans and preferences, and I guess I thought that would be enough for them to help me make the decisions I'd need to make during the labor.  It wasn't.  But let me be clear, I do not blame them for that one iota.

This time around, I'm planning to have a doula.  Or hoping, at least.  She has to travel two hours to be at the birth (because I live in the middle of nowhere and there are no closer doulas), so assuming that we get plenty of warning, she should be able to be there.  I've tasked her with being my memory - reminding me of what I want and reminding me to take the time I need to make decisions.  I think that will be invaluable.

And to be honest, I'm not sure it's something I would ever ask my husband or another family member to do because I'd also underestimated how difficult it would be for them to see someone they cared about in pain.  They just wanted me and the baby to be ok, which is all I'd ever ask of them.  As I'm sitting there telling my husband that there's no way I can keep going without dying, can I really expect him to remind me that I didn't want pain meds?

Never underestimate the power of being passive-aggressive. I mentioned before that I'm a people pleaser, right?  When, at 33-ish weeks, my baby was breech and my OB insisted on scheduling a C-section at 37 weeks, I about lost it.  Not to her, of course, because I hate confrontation.  But I started searching desperately for another caregiver.  And I found a lovely midwife who took me on even though I was so close to the end of the pregnancy and was helping me plan a homebirth (that was abandoned once I hit 42 weeks and had to be induced). 

I continued seeing my OB just in case I needed to have a hospital delivery, but at some point my midwife requested a copy of my medical records.  I remember my OB asking me, in a rather accusatory way, at my next appointment, "Are you seeing a midwife? You're not actually considering a homebirth, are you?"  I (to avoid confrontation - are you seeing a pattern here?) had not told my OB about my plans or the midwife.  I mumbled something about having options and getting advice (which was partially midwife had introduced me to a wonderful chiropractor who I credit with getting the baby to turn at about 34 weeks so I didn't have to have a c-section, which was my OB's only option) and was relieved when she didn't push the issue.

Anyway, I think that, in some roundabout way, having my OB hear from the midwife just how determined I was to try to have a low-intervention birth was more effective than anything I could have said to her.  At my follow-up appointment after delivery, my OB said to me, "I really thought you were going to have a c-section.  I wouldn't have let you go even as long as I did, but I know how much you really didn't want to have a c-section..."

I didn't think much about it then, but now, I'm pretty convinced that if she hadn't known about my plans for a homebirth, my OB would have been much pushier and made the situation out to be even scarier than it was so I'd go to the operating room.

I suppose, perhaps, if you're better at being up front with people than I am, a better title for this bullet point would be: Communicating with your care providers (especially about your preferences) is extremely important.

There's nothing to be ashamed of, and - in the end - it really is ok. No matter what my birth experience looks like, there's no part of it that should make me feel like a failure. My first birth experience wasn't perfect, but neither is my life.  My beautiful baby boy came into this world surrounded by people who love him (I'll never forget my sister tearing up as he was born.  And then asking if babies were supposed to be so gray.)  He was alert and aware.  And hairy.  Like a little werewolf.  He nursed like a champ.  And he lights up my life every day. 

As I look toward my next birth - though I have aspirations and plans for how I'd like it to go - the moment I know will mean the most is when Mr. Engineer and I meet our baby girl.  When we look into her eyes for the first time and when she sees us.  However and whenever that happens.  And then, when she meets her big brother, and we become a beautiful, bigger-by-one family.

I can't wait. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

My Birth Story - Part 2

If you missed the lead up, get part 1 of the birth story here.  This is going to be another long post!

At 42 weeks pregnant, I checked into the hospital on a Tuesday evening for my induction the next day.  I got changed into a gown, and they started monitoring me.

"You're actually having a lot of contractions!" the nurse said.  I'd told her that I was having pretty regular contractions when she hooked me up to the monitor, but I guess she didn't believe me.  I'd been having them for at least a week, maybe more.  They just never got painful or closer together.

Because of the contractions, they decided they couldn't do the "cervical ripening" portion of the induction, so they'd just start the pitocin in the morning.  I don't think my husband and I got much sleep that night.  It's hard in the hospital anyway, when they check on you frequently and the beds leave quite a bit to be desired.  But then there was the excitement that we'd be meeting our son soon, which made sleeping almost impossible.  I played a lot of Lineup on my Ipod.

The next morning finally came, and they started the pitocin drip around 6:00.  The nurses asked me very briefly about what I wanted for pain medication, and I told them I'd like to try to get through without anything.  One of the nurses scoffed and said, "Yeah. Sure. Talk to me about that again in a couple of hours."

Even though I was hooked up to the IV and the fetal monitor, once the contractions started, I tried to move around as much as possible.  The contractions weren't bad at first, and I was still talking and joking between them.  My sister and a couple good friends showed up at some point.  And then my sister's boyfriend arrived with muffins - not that I could eat them, but I think the nurses appreciated it.

Around 8:30, one of the nurses decided to do a cervical check to assess my progress.  As she got into position, my water broke. "I didn't do that!" she exclaimed. "It just happened!"  It must have startled her.  I think I was about 3 cm dilated at that point.

Once my water broke, the contractions really started to pick up.  That was the point where I knew - one way or another -  I was having a baby that day.  I was 42 weeks pregnant, my water had broken - there was no stopping it now.

I said to my friends and family in the room, "Do you think I should ask them to turn off the pitocin?"  It probably wasn't a fair question to ask, since none of them were really in a position to answer it for me.  They just sort of shrugged, and I didn't press the issue.  There are two things I'd change if I could go back and redo my labor.  This is one of them .  But, I know, there's not much use in second-guessing it now.

I think someone was timing them, but I never really knew how close together the contractions were or how long they were lasting.  All I knew is that they were intense.  I was still breathing through them and moving around as best as I could.  I think I was doing ok for a while.  Then things sort of become a blur.

A couple hours after my water had broken, things got really intense.  The contractions were coming every minute and lasting for 45 to 50 seconds, which meant I only had about ten seconds from the end of one to the beginning of the next.  No matter what I did, there was just no way to focus and get ready for the next one.

I've been told since that you really need at least a minute or so between them, and that's about as close as they ever get during "natural" labor (2 to 3 minutes apart. measured from the beginning of one to the beginning of the next, and lasting about a minute each) even during the hardest parts.  What this meant was that the pitocin had hyper-stimulated my uterus.

I was kneeling on the bed, resting with both of my arms around my husbands neck.  He was supporting my entire weight.  I think I almost broke his back.  It was the only position that was even tolerable.  I know I felt like I needed to vomit for a long time; I'm not sure that I ever actually did.

 I remember looking at him, and saying, "I can't do this anymore." At one point, I remember my little sister crying, and her and my friends decided to leave and take a walk.

The nurse offered to give me something in the IV "to take the edge off."  I agreed.  She delivered a dose of Fentanyl.  This is the second thing I'd go back and change if I could.  This was the worst decision I made during my labor.  I've heard some people have good luck with Fentanyl, but - for me - it was awful. 

It did absolutely nothing for the pain.  The pain may actually have felt worse. But, I was also completely out of it.  I felt drunk and confused.  I was in so much pain, but I couldn't even speak to tell anyone.  I don't remember this lasting for very long, but my husband says it was probably 30-45 minutes.  "You looked like you were half-dead," he told me.

I was expecting that they drug they would use would be some kind of pain reliever. Since the delivery, I've learned that Fentanyl is also a sedative, which explains why I felt the way I felt.
At some point, a nurse came to me and said, "It's time for the epidural, sweetie."  Apparently, I agreed.  (This part of the labor is kind of a big black hole in my memory).

This was also the time when things got really scary for the baby.  My OB rushed in, and I remember her telling me that she didn't like what the baby's heart rate was doing.  I know now that this is not too uncommon in situations where you're getting too much pitocin; just like I didn't have any time to recover between contractions, neither did Little Spaghetti's heart rate.

All at once, they turned off the pitocin, gave me a drug to stop my labor, inserted a tube into my uterus to reinfuse amniotic fluid to give the baby a little more "cushion" from the contractions, and put a fetal scalp monitor into the skin on my baby's head.  During the chaos is when the Fentanyl was finally wearing off and my memories become less foggy.  This is also when the anesthesiologist arrived to place the epidural.

To be honest, the epidural probably saved me from having a c-section.  It (plus the other actions to stop my labor) slowed the contractions down enough to give the baby and I both a rest.  At this point, I slept for more than three hours.

As I was waking up, my sister and my friends returned.  It was about 4:30 in the afternoon by that point.

My contractions were just tiny bumps on the monitor compared to what they had been earlier in the day, and they didn't seem particularly  consistent.  The nurse suggested turning off the epidural for a half hour or so tp let some of it wear off.

They were pretty busy that night, and a half hour came and went.  Then another half hour.  I think it was almost two hours that the epidural was off.  The contractions weren't particularly painful, even still. I had regained most of the feeling in my lower body except for the fact that I couldn't move my right leg at all.

At some point, things started to feel different.  I felt a lot of pressure and told a nurse.  She said, "I'll check you, but there's no way that you're ready to push.  You're not even really having contractions.  We're going to have to turn the pitocin back on if you want to have this baby."

Sure enough, though, I was at 10 cm - fully dilated and ready to have a baby.

The nurses started helping me get my feet up to push.  I remember having to scoot over to the side of the bed for some reason, and I said to the nurse, "You'll have to hold that leg for me.  I can't move it."

"Sure," she said.  A minute later, she stopped holding my leg for some reason, and it fell with a thud off the bed.  "Oh!" she said in surprise.

"Yeah...I told you.  I have no control over that leg at all."

Eventually, I was in position to push.  I remember things feeling so calm and peaceful at that point.  In my memory, even the lights were kind of low.  Especially compared to the terror and chaos from earlier in the day, things seemed to be moving so slowly, and everyone seemed relaxed.

It was a little before 7:00 p.m. I remember my husband joking about how we only had a few hours before April Fool's day, so I better get this baby out.

The nurses gave me the ok to try pushing.  I apparently was doing a better job of it than they expected because someone had to rush to get the doctor.  It only took a couple of pushes for the baby to begin crowning.

"You're doing a great job," my OB said.  "It's like your body was made for having babies!"  You think?  Maybe that's because it was!

Then my husband said, "What's that cord?"

"Cord! What cord!??" I panicked thinking he meant the umbilical cord.  I knew it was a bad thing for the umbilical cord to come out before the head, so I was terrified.  It turned out that he was talking about the cord from the fetal monitor that was still attached to the baby's scalp.

I remember being able to sort of see the reflection of my baby crowning in a tv screen that was turned off on the wall across from the bed.  At 7:18, Little Spaghetti was born, after just a few more pushes.  I remember seeing tears in my sister and my friend's eyes, and the look of awe and wonder on their faces and in my husband's smile.

The doctor held up the most amazing bluish-gray, pointy headed little baby.  My son.  She held him up for what was probably only a couple seconds to look him over, but it felt like an eternity, and I wanted to shout, "Just give me my baby already!"

She placed him on my chest.  I know at some point I delivered the placenta, but - really - I'd stopped paying attention to what was happening.  That is, until the OB announced that something wasn't right with the placenta.  The next thing I knew, her entire forearm was inside my uterus.  To this day, I can't even fully comprehend how that's possible, but I'd rather not think about it.

Apparently, my placenta had an extra lobe (which isn't that uncommon), but it hadn't come out with the rest of it.  That could have caused big problems down the line, so she had to fish it out. I remember her bringing it over for me to see, but I really didn't care whether I saw it or not at that point.  I was cuddling my baby, and that was all that mattered.

They took the baby to the warmer to get him checked out, and the doctor told me I needed just one little stitch.  Little Spaghetti had been born with his hand up next to his face, which caused a little tear.

The friend that was there was a medical student, and my OB was happy to have someone to "teach."  She was showing her a couple of different stitching techniques as she sewed up the tear.  "And her epidural is so good, she isn't feeling any of this," my doctor was saying to my friend.

My friend looked at me, "Are you not feeling any of this?" she asked.  The epidural had been off for hours.  I shook my head...I was definitely feeling all of it.

After I was fixed up, they brought Little Spaghetti back to me.  Everyone left except maybe a nurse and my husband.  Him and I sat there in awe, looking over every little thing about our beautiful baby.  He was so hairy; he had fuzz all over his back and shoulders and arms.  One of us joked that he was like a little werewolf.  And he had the most shrill, ear-piercing cry.  My mom said the next day that there was no mistaking which baby was mine when he cried.

After about 45 minutes of family bonding time and nursing (Little Spaghetti was already latching like a champ!), a nurse came to take him and my husband off to the nursery for the bath and check-up.

And then I was alone.  Surrounded by crumpled up, bloodied cloths and trays of equipment.  It was very surreal to be by myself for the first time in more than nine months.  It was so quiet.

I probably had an hour to myself.  They moved me from the delivery room to the recovery room where we'd stay until we checked out.  Someone had left a Jimmy John's sandwich on the table in the room. I don't know where it came from, but it was - without a doubt - the most delicious sandwich I'd ever eaten.  I scarfed it down; I was totally ravenous.  I remember being sort of embarrassed when a nurse came by to check on me as I was trying to wipe the crumbs off my face....and my chest and my lap and the bed.

I'm not sure why, but there's something I really cherish about that quiet hour I spent by myself.  Somehow, it was a chance to transition from me to mommy me.  For me to relish what I'd done and get mentally prepared to take on the task of parenting.  Of caring for a real live baby who would join me any minute.

And soon enough, my men came back to me from the nursery.  My husband and my sweet little boy.  And we started out our crazy, wonderful journey as a family of three.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Let's start at the beginning: My first birth story, Part 1

I can't really start focusing on preparing for my upcoming birth until I talk about my last birth.  I never blogged Little Spaghetti's birth story.  Partly because I didn't have a blog when he was born, but also partly out of guilt.  And a little bit of feeling like a failure. If I'm going to tackle baby girl's birth head-on, though, with no fear, I have to let go of those things and be honest with myself.

It actually started long before I gave birth.  Around the middle of my pregnancy with Little Spaghetti, I felt amazing. Truly wonderful.  Not just physically, but emotionally, too.  Being pregnant made me feel so...feminine.  I'd never before felt so lucky to be a woman.  Not that I'd ever disliked being a woman...I just had never thought much of it.  But during my pregnancy, I was in awe of my body and myself.

Watching my stomach blow up like a balloon as a life grew inside it was incredible. Seeing my body do this amazing thing that it was designed to do made me feel so in-tune with who I was as a woman.  This may cause some feminists in the crowd to throw daggers at me, but being pregnant made me feel more empowered than anything else I had ever done in my life.  Including my career.  Including graduating from an Ivy League university. 

I started reading a lot about birth and labor.  As I read, I started to find more and more women who were frustrated by the way that many people (and many doctors, in particular) treat pregnancy in this county.  Like it's an illness.  Like there's something wrong with pregnant people.

I knew that I definitely didn't feel that way.  I felt miraculous, not sick.

Research led to more research, and I kept finding things about how common it is for doctors to intervene in the birth process. It seems that many doctors (and nurses) just like to tinker with birth.  To manage it, as they say, which - I think - means to control it.  To speed up labors they don't think are moving quickly enough.  To keep women in bed instead of moving about so they can continuosly monitor baby's heart rate.  To give epidurals and then pitocin to keep the uterus contracting.  This "cascade of interventions" is a pretty well-known concept that many others are more qualified than I am to talk about. (Read more here or here if you're interested).

The thing that bothered me most was learning that the routine use of most of these interventions was not supported by evidence.  There were no good indications that these things led to better outcomes for mother or baby in the majority of normal, low-risk births.  And, in some cases, they lead to just the opposite.(Lots more information here, particularly here).

I started to fall very squarely in the "birth is a natural thing that women have been doing for eons" camp (all the while being glad that we live in a time where we have medical advancements that can save lives when they're needed).  My OB, however, was not at all in this camp.

She first suggested a c-section when I found out Little Spaghetti was breech at 33 weeks.  She said, "Well, babies who are breech this late usually stay that way, so we might as well just schedule a c-section for 37 weeks."  I asked if there was anything I could do or try to get him to turn.  She gave me a flat, "No."

I knew that wasn't true.  I left feeling so frustrated.  I didn't like the path I was on, and I had to do something to get off it.  So, I found a local midwife.  She recommended a chiropractor in town who was trained in the Webster technique.

After a few visits to the chiropractor, I was pretty sure that my baby had flipped head-down.  It turns out that my hips were misaligned (something I'd had trouble with in the past), which was causing my uterus to be sort of lopsided.  The chiropractor was able to get the tendons and ligaments on the tight side to loosen up, which rounded out my uterus and gave my little guy the space he needed to get into the right position.

I told my OB at the next appointment that I was pretty sure the baby had flipped.  She poked my belly and said there was no way.  She could feel his bony little head right up by my ribs.

The same thing happened the next week.  She was still convinced that he was head-up.

Finally, the week after that, I insisted that she do an ultrasound.  Guess who was shocked when she discovered that my little breech baby wasn't breech any more.  And that bony little head up by my ribs?  That was his butt.

Things went smoothly over the next three weeks.  I continued to see the midwife, and we were making plans for a home birth.  I decided that if I wanted to avoid unnecessary interventions, it was the way to go.  But I also kept seeing my OB since I was so close to the end of the pregnancy.  That way, if I did need to go to the hospital during the birth, I'd have my doctor instead of just ending up with whoever was on-call for emergencies.

I can't even remember how many people tried to talk me out of the home birth.  The people who thought it was a good idea were few and far between, to say the least.

Now, I'm definitely not someone who thinks everyone should have a home birth.  If you want a home birth, go for it.  If you want to schedule a c-section at your earliest convenience, go for it.  If you want something in the middle, go for it.  The problem, though, is that having something in the middle didn't really feel like an option to me.

Even as I was planning a home birth, I would have prefered to be planning a low-intervention hospital birth attended by a midwife instead of a trained surgeon (an OB).  But they wouldn't let my midwife deliver in a hospital because she didn't work under an OB (and there are no birth centers in the area).  And I didn't trust my OB to stand behind me on my desire for a low-intervention birth.  Especially after she talked at almost every appointment about how much more pleasant her moms were once they got their epidurals.

Really, what I wanted seemed pretty simple to me.  I just wanted to be treated like a normal person.  Sure, a normal person who was having a baby, but just a human being.  I didn't want an IV because I didn't see any reason to have one; I wasn't sick.  I wanted to be able to walk around the room while I labored, not be strapped to a monitor and forced to stay in bed.  I wanted to be able to eat or drink if I felt like it to keep my strength up, not be restricted to ice chips "just in case."  I wanted to take all that new-found womanly empowerment that pregnancy had brought me and let my body do its incredible thing.  I just wanted to go about my business and be left more or less alone. 

Unless it was too much for me.  Or unless something went wrong.  Then, I wanted to have access to the epidural.  And then I wanted to be able to be as close to emergency care as I could so my baby and I would be safe.  I would rather be in the hospital so that I had back-up, I just wished that the hospital wasn't a place that I feared I'd be treated like a child and pressured into a series of interventions that aren't even supported by good research.  I felt stuck.

But then, my due date came.  My OB was ready to schedule an induction the next day.  It was another battle to get her to let me wait and see if the baby would come when he was ready.  I tried everything.  Walking. Spicy foods. Sex. Bouncing on the exercise ball.  Positive visualization.  And more walking. And more sex.

41 weeks came and went.  My OB became increasingly annoyed that I wasn't in labor and wouldn't be induced.

Finally, at 42 weeks, I agreed to the induction.  I didn't really feel comfortable going past 42 weeks anyway.  I know there are people out there who do it, but I was too worried. From what I'd read, 42 weeks was as long as I was willing to wait.

Part of me still wonders if my reservations about birth and my feeling like I had no great options for trying to have the birth I really wanted kept me from going into labor... There's no way to know, I suppose.

And, so, my home birth plans went out the window.  As did my hope of anything close to a "natural" birth. At 9:00 p.m. on a Tuesday night, I checked into the hospital so they could begin monitoring me for the induction the next morning.

Stay tuned for Part 2...the actual birth story.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

36 Weeks: Things are about to get real


I feel like you deserve a warning.  I hope you'll stick with me through it, but things are about to get real up in here.  Deep and thoughtful and introspective with lots of feelings and whatnot.  You see, I'm 36 weeks pregnant now.  Which means that a baby will be born in the next 0 - 6 weeks.  Out of my body.

So, I've been working out all my stuff.  My thoughts and fears. My residual mommy guilt about my last delivery.  My hopes and plans and hesitations about the upcoming delivery.  My feelings about labor in general and my frustrations about birth options (or lack thereof).

Writing is how I work it out.  I promise the sarcastic and (sometimes?) witty me is still in here.  She'll be back soon (probably right after you say to yourself, "Geez...really? Another post about labor?  Is that all this woman thinks about - birthing babies?  Get a life already.").  But I've got to get mentally prepared to push this baby out of my body soon and welcome her into our lives.

Hopefully you don't start to feel like my therapist over the next couple weeks.  Or, if you do, at least don't send any bills.   I'll try to keep the TMI to a minimum, but really, when pregnancy is involved, it sort of just comes with the territory.

For instance, how can I not share that my doctor told me that my cervix is very soft and about 50% effaced at my check-up yesterday?  I know it doesn't really mean much, but I think I was only 30% effaced when I went in to be induced at 42 weeks last time. (To be honest, until the end of my last pregnancy, I didn't even know effacement was a thing).  That's got to be a good sign, right?

And, while my feet were up in the stirrups for said cervical check, the doctor said, "You have a blister on your foot, huh?  That's a pretty neat band-aid."  For the record, it had minions on it, so it was a pretty neat bandaid.  Nothing like small talk with your OB when he's all up in your business, right?

So, buckle up.  Four(ish) weeks to go.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Can you touch your toes?

One of the things people always warned me about during pregnancy was getting to the point that you can't reach your feet.  But, honestly, it never bothered me during my first pregnancy.  I mean, really, how many times a day do you really need to reach your feet?  Only a few.  And most of that can be avoided by wearing flip flops or ballet flats that just slip on.

Sure, there's the occasional desperate need to shave the very back of your calves that proves to be a challenge.  But even that can be bypassed with a good pair of opaque tights and an understanding husband.

But do you know what is way worse than not being able to reach your feet?  Not being able to reach your three-year-old's feet.  I never realized how many occasions there were that required me to bend all the way to the ground to help him.

Let me give you a run-down:
  • When he gets dressed in the morning.
  • Every time he has to pee.
  • Every time he has to poop.
  • Every time he says he has to poop and then doesn't.  And then decides two minutes later that he really does.
  • When he steps on the legos he never picks up and needs a kiss to fix his owie.
  • When he needs a change of clothes because they're muddy, covered in paint or doused in chocolate milk.
  • When he stubs his toe and needs a kiss to fix his owie.
  • Every time there's a string in his sock that's bothering him.
  • When he goes outside.
  • When he comes inside.
  • When he scrapes his foot on something while he's flailing around like a crazy person (just one of his favorite ways to pass the time) and needs a kiss to fix his owie.
  • When you tell him to put his own shoes on because you can't stand to bend all the way down yet another time, and he -inevitably- puts them on the wrong feet.
  • When he takes off his shoes for no reason and then has a melt-down because his shoes aren't on....
I'm sure I could go on.

Do you see how impossibly far away those precious little feet look?  So very far away.  (And yes, my belly really is that lopsided.  All the time.)

And here's the best part of this whole situation.  Today, when I told him to put his shoes on so we could leave the house, he said in his whiniest voice, "Mommy!!! I can't. My belly hurts too much, and I can't put them on."

Now he's using my own whiny excuses against me.  I don't know how I will possibly survive the next five weeks.  Send reinforcements.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

{Free Printables} Modern DIY Red and Blue Train Party

I shared the pink version of the original yellow and gray train printables yesterday.  Red and blue is another pretty frequent request (which makes sense, they're pretty classic train colors).  So today, we have the red and blue set.

Click on each image to download the full .jpg, then save to your computer, print and enjoy!  If you want the train invitations, click here to go back to the original party post.

I didn't make the .doc versions of the printables.  I'm hoping folks can figure out how to put these into word documents and add their own text if they want...but if you can't, feel free to email me (

Monday, September 9, 2013

{Free Printables} Modern DIY Pink Train Party

I've had such an overwhelmingly positive response to Little Spaghetti's 2nd birthday train party.  I'm so happy that people like my printables!

I've had a few people request that I change the colors.  I'd love to do this for everyone who asked, but sometimes I just have too much going on.  But, a while back, I made some pink and gray train printables that I really like.  They take the printables to a fun, girly level that I really enjoyed.  So, I decided to share them with the interwebs.  Here they are!

Click on each image to download the full .jpg, then save to your computer, print and enjoy!  If you want the train invitations, click here to go back to the original party post.

I didn't make the .doc versions of the printables.  I'm hoping folks can figure out how to put these into word documents and add their own text if they want...but if you can't, feel free to email me (

And, stay tuned tomorrow for another set of train printables!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Apparently my uterus is a toy factory

Every time we go to the store to pick something up, Little Spaghetti wants to browse the toy aisles.  It makes for a good bribe to get him to behave while we're getting everything else we need.

A few weeks ago, he was really interested in dinosaurs, so we checked out the (insanely expensive!) plastic models on one of the end caps.  (Seriously, these must be collector's items or something.  I was expecting plastic dinosaurs to cost no more than $2).

Anyway, he really wanted the biggest green T-Rex.  It's jaw moves so it can bite the other dinosaurs in your collection.  Super awesome.  But it cost twenty. seven. dollars.  So, I said to him, "I hear that your little sister wants to get you something very special when she's born.  Maybe she can think about getting that T-Rex.  But remember, she won't be here for two more months.  That's a long time."

We'd always intended to have the baby "give" him a present when he comes to meet her in the hospital.  I've heard it wins over the older sibling pretty quickly.  And if ever there was a reason to spend almost thirty dollars on a plastic dinosaur, I figured sibling bonding was it.

So, the other day, he said to me, "Mom, baby sister talked to me.  She told me she's thinking about the green T-Rex.  She's working really hard on making it in there."

There you have it, folks: Either my uterus is a toy factory or Baby Sister is one of Santa's toy-making elves. Either way, I hope the big, green T-Rex is everything it's cracked up to be.  (And thank goodness that I don't actually have to get it out of my uterus in addition to the baby that's getting bigger in there every day).

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Speaking of fear...

I mentioned in my last post how fed up I am with all the fear that comes along with pregnancy, birth, and parenthood. I remember telling a good friend of mine when I was pregnant the first time, "There are so many decisions to make about everything, and it seems like the consequence of every decision no matter which way you choose is that your baby is going to die."

That might be a little extreme. Just a little. But it sure felt that way sometimes, particularly when I was considering a homebirth last time (more on that to come later).

So, anyway, this weekend, I was looking on Craigslist for a baby swing.  It's something I hate to buy brand new because they get used for such a short amount of time.  I found one that was only 25 bucks and had a cute little barnyard theme, so I emailed the gal who was selling it to ask if it was battery powered or had the option to plug it into the wall.  To be honest, for $25, I probably would have bought it either way because while I do remember feeling like I should have bought stock in Duracell when Little Spaghetti was a newborn, that stage just doesn't last long enough for it to really matter.

But then, she emailed back.  I was in a bad mood anyway, and I probably overreacted to something that was entirely harmless.  She said, "Just batteries.  No cords for baby to choke on."

And I lost it, folks.  Not to her, of course, because I hate confrontation.  But in the privacy of my own bedroom, in my mind, it went something like this:  "Seriously! Who does this woman think she is? I ask a simple question about her swing, and she thinks I need a lecture on baby safety?? Because babies never survive having to use a swing that plugs into the wall.  And because everybody knows that the instant you have a baby, you are required to get rid of all the cords in your entire house and live like the Amish. My newborn will obviously have a future as a gymnast if she can manage to twist herself out of the swing buckles and get to the cord on the back of the damn swing..."

Was she actually lecturing me? Probably not. She was just trying to sell her swing and make a little cash.  But the point remains the same: people are not ashamed to take any opportunity to point out the potential threats to your baby's health and safety in order to get what they want from you. 

And, if you want to get technical, I'm pretty sure the biggest safety threat with cords is strangulation or electrocution anyway, not choking.  Take that, Safety Monitor Craigslist Lady.

For better or worse, I think I should warn you that I've entered the whiny stage of pregnancy.  The whiny stage of pregnancy also happens to coincide with the naked stage of pregnancy.  Ok, not fully naked.  But definitely the point where I can no longer handle a shirt constantly riding up and elastic-waist jeans constantly riding down, so I am guaranteed to not be wearing one or the other any time I don't have to.  Luckily, you don't have to experience that with me.  The whining on the other hand...I'll try to keep my ranting to a minimum, but I make no guarantees.