birthing babies · the Breastaurant

How I lost 9 lbs, 4 oz in 2 and a half hours

I woke up at 5:30 on a Wednesday morning. This was nothing particularly new, and I figured I’d go pee (for the fifth time that night) and then have a snack before going back to bed. I was having mild contractions, but this too was old hat and I refused to get my hopes up that this might be the real thing. I used the bathroom, had a glass of milk and went back to bed.

I couldn’t sleep – the contractions were intensifying and it was impossible to sleep through them. I decided I really needed a cup of tea, so I made one while the bathtub was filling. I nudged Mr. December awake and told him I had paged the midwife. “Are you sure this is it?” he mumbled, opening one eye just a crack. “Yes, I’m sure.” I snapped back, “And she’s on her way right now, so for God’s sake, get up and PUT SOME PANTS ON!” I’m pretty sure it was my tone of voice that convinced him.

I got into the tub with my iPod (cleverly sheathed in two ziploc bags) playing some solo piano music and breathed through some contractions. I sipped my tea. Mr. December appeared at my elbow with deviled eggs and I ate half of one before the next contraction demanded my attention. The midwives arrived and checked me – I was somewhere around 7 centimetres and fully effaced. The baby’s heartbeat was good. I breathed through some more harsh contractions.

I remember from N’s birth, feeling out of control with each contraction and feeling physically wrung out in between. “It’s not actually about the pain,” I blithely told people later, “you just have to manage the intensity!” It may have been true at the time, but this time I raised my head from its resting spot on the edge of the tub and announced to the midwives, “This time it’s about the pain. This f***ing hurts!”

That being said, I was completely silent during contractions. Mr. December got the birth on video, and it looks like I’ve just decided to rest on the edge of the tub for a minute or two. It looks peaceful and serene. I can assure you I didn’t feel that way. But it didn’t feel scream-worthy, and besides, my two kids were asleep in their bedroom a mere fifteen feet away from where I laboured.

Right, the kids. We tried to give them (and my parents) some extra time to sleep, so we didn’t call the parents until about 7:00 a.m. They arrived eventually (later I learned that my mom had almost fainted at the thought of me in labour) and began ushering the kids out of the house. N was too sleepy and snuggled against my dad to notice me as he passed the bathroom, but K saw me and doubled back. I asked her for a good-luck kiss; she sneezed on me instead. And then the kids were gone, and suddenly I needed to roar. It was around 7:45 a.m.

The student midwife asked me to shift position so that she could hear the baby’s heart. I did, but as she was maneuvering the Doppler scanner, I pushed her hand away and got back into my position over the side of the tub just in time to roar through yet another contraction. When it was over, she asked me to try again. This time I managed to lie there through a contraction, but it was more painful than if I had been on all fours. I wondered whether it would feel better to do some mini-pushes through the contractions. I tried, but it just wasn’t going anywhere. I was roaring through contractions by this point, and the midwives gently asked me to turn around so that they could have access to the baby.

Suddenly I got the unmistakable urge to push, and I did. My water broke but nothing else happened, or so it seemed. I pushed again and got that “pooping out a bowling ball” feeling, but instead of relief as the whole head slid out (as it did with N), I felt it stop halfway when that contraction ended. Seriously, there’s nothing worse than that head-half-in-half-out feeling.

One push later the head was out – what a relief! – and I knew what would come next: a single push and the feeling of little arms and legs as the body slid out of me. That didn’t happen. The body felt stuck. As the next contraction hit me, I yelled, “Jeez, will you guys just PULL!?!?” The midwife did some maneuvering with the shoulders, and our baby was born. It had only taken a minute, tops, from the birth of the head to the birth of the rest of the body, but it felt a lot longer than that. It was 8:13 a.m.

I turned around and sat while they put the baby on my chest. It hadn’t cried yet – had it breathed? – and the midwife rubbed the baby vigorously until it did. At this point I looked at Mr. December (still manning the camera) and held the baby up, butt-first. “Call it, honey,” I instructed. “Is it a boy or a girl?” “A girl.” came the reply.

Our girl was quite cold and wasn’t breathing the way she should be, so the midwives took her to the “warming station” they had devised and gave her some oxygen and wrapped her up next to a hot water bottle. They had asked if I wanted to get out of the tub and go with her, but I decided I’d prefer to deliver the placenta in the tub and then take a shower. See where my priorities were? I was stinky and couldn’t wait to get clean. Mr. December was with the baby anyhow, and our midwives are lovely, and I figured they could do without me for five minutes while I worked on feeling a bit human again.

By the time I got back to the bed the baby was warm and pink and ready to try nursing. She latched beautifully, after I was reminded that newborns need a lot more support and guidance than older nurslings. How quickly I’d forgotten!

The midwives checked me for tearing and found only a very small one that required no stitches. Someone brought me breakfast, and the midwives left Mr. December and me to snuggle with our daughter as they gathered in the dining room to eat and debrief. A while later they returned and completed the newborn assessment (she was 22 inches long and weighed 9 pounds and 4 ounces – a pound and a half bigger than N, and two and a half pounds more than K!). Around 11:40 that morning, the midwives were on their way to the clinic to get on with their day.

This birth didn’t quite have the magical feeling of N’s. Because the baby’s shoulders were getting stuck, or maybe because she was so big, pushing wasn’t quite the relief I remembered it being. Also, there are a few pretty unsavory details I’ve left out (suffice it to say that your body deciding to empty your intestines before labour is good; your body making the same attempt during labour is really, really gross). That being said, I’m still glad we decided on a homebirth again. The atmosphere was so peaceful – there were no interruptions to break my focus – and having the midwives to support me throughout was absolutely priceless. They handled what could have been a very bad situation (shoulder dystocia) so calmly and efficiently that Mr. December hardly noticed that anything was amiss, and even when they had to take the baby from me to get her breathing, they asked my permission to take her and offered me options. They even cleaned up and left us with only a bag of laundry, a sealed bag of garbage, and a placenta in my freezer (we need to plant another tree).

And now our baby girl is here, and our life is forever changed. Oh, and I feel positively svelte.

birthing babies · Kids · well *I* think it's funny...

… and baby makes three

She had her first bath in a soup pot. Mr. December wanted to move this photo shoot to the kitchen and throw in some onions, but I nixed that. Notice that baby girl is sleeping? She slept through the entire bath. I think I might buy her one of those upright european baby tubs.


Notice the dark circles under Mr. December's eyes? He always looks worse after childbirth than I do. Must be the endorphin rush that he's missing.


Our whole crew. Baby is about eight hours old and has now survived being held by her big sister and closely inspected by her big brother.
birthing babies · Kids

Oh, baby.

It’s a girl!

She’s 9 lbs 4 oz – a pound and a half bigger than N was, and 2 1/2 pounds more than K. She’s beautiful and amazing and has a ton of dark hair.

Labour was pretty quick – I woke up with some mild-ish contractions at 5:30, and baby was born just after 8:00. Stay tuned for a birth story sometime next week.

Going to nap now.

birthing babies · Jewy goodness · whine and cheese

I cried.

No, this is not about Steve Jobs. I mean, I love my MacBook and iPod and everything apple, but this post is just a lot more selfish than that. Sorry to disappoint.

Today’s midwife appointment went pretty much the way most of my appointments have gone. Baby’s heartbeat is good, my measurements are fine, etc. But today I was one day past due, and I’m tired of this and said so to my midwife. I asked if she’d do a “stretch and sweep” and she replied that she didn’t think it was a good idea at this point. Next week, she said, if I was still pregnant, she’d be happy to come to our house and rupture my membranes in the hope that it would get labour going.

“Next week?” I wrinkled my nose and then sighed. “I don’t think I can take another week.” The disappointment started welling up, as did the tears. And I cried.

At this point I have to tell you that I’m not generally a crier. I mean, I’ll cry if something really sad happens, but I’m not the sort of person who gets teary at weddings or who cries at movies. Tears just don’t come easily to me.

So there I was, crying in the midwife’s office, as she explained again that since I’ve had two wonderful uncomplicated vaginal births before, she expects that my body will do this on its own. She pointed out that a stretch and sweep or AROM (artificial rupture of membranes) could mean that if my water breaks and I don’t go into active labour within a certain time frame (I think 24 hours), I’d automatically end up in the hospital needing pitocin. She said that she knows how much I want to give birth at home and that with no medical indication for induction, there is no compelling reason to try moving things along.

She said all the right things, things that I would want any care provider to say to a mom who’s feeling done with pregnancy. Except when I’m that mom and I’m feeling so emotionally and physically drained. I’m tired of the on-again-off-again painful contractions. I’m tired of not making plans for the next day because “what if I’m in labour?” I’m tired of not being able to sleep, what with the contractions and having to pee all the time and the discomfort of sleeping in a bed made for a person when I’m shaped more like a hippo. I’m just tired. So I cried.

Tomorrow is Yom Kippur. Maybe there’s something in particular I’m supposed to be davening for? Maybe I need to let go of my illusion of control and accept that my brothers won’t meet their newest niece or nephew anytime in the next few months? Maybe I need to stop swinging wildly between excitement for this baby and ambivalence about how it will affect the other kids, my parenting, and my marriage? Who knows.

I came home from the appointment and took a long nap. Our babysitter left, I put N down for a nap and explained to K that she needed to play quietly by herself for a while, and slept some more. I got up and moped around. It feels ridiculously similar to a depressive episode. No matter how many people say, “it WILL happen!” I keep thinking, “yeah, that’s what I thought last week and it hasn’t yet.” I know depressive thinking when I see it, and for me that’s a prime example. I have no right to be depressed – healthy, fetus, healthy pregnancy, supportive family – and yet I feel like I am. And it scares me. So I cry.

birthing babies · crafty · DIY · el cheapo · Work-in-progress Wednesday

Work-in-Progress Wednesday – Due date edition

Sorry about last week’s absence, everybody. I was busy trying to get Rosh Hashana stuff done, and I decided in favour of braiding round challahs and picking wildflowers with the kids rather than blogging. Yom Kippur is right around the corner, so now that I’ve apologized you have to – in the words of Homer Simpson – “forgive me, or your God will punish you!”

Ahem. Back to the program. I haven’t seen any posts from Lisaleh or Bookishima lately, so I think it might be just me this week. That’s okay, it’s a busy time for Jewish bloggers everywhere. I’m sure they’ll join us after they’ve recovered from four weeks of overeating, then fasting, then overeating again holidays.

And now for the works in progress…

Completed: baby quilt (and pattern!)

Here’s a quilt for a new baby boy. I actually took the time to make a pattern, and then I used that pattern to cut fabric for two quilts – way faster than my usual method! Here it is:


Completed: cloud wall decals

I wasn’t fully satisfied with the shape of the cloud I made myself. Then I was at Lowe’s and found some cloud wall decals on sale – but they weren’t repositionable, and I wasn’t crazy about their colour. But they were only $10 on clearance so I bought them and used them as stencils. The clouds look great, the vinyl shelf paper is totally repositionable and wipeable, and I’m happy. So here they are – my cheap ($15 for the whole set), removable, wipeable cloud wall decals:






I think I’d like a few more clouds. If I have time I’ll go and get some more contact paper and make them, but for now I’m happy with the result. The room looks brighter and cheerier already.

In Progress: Ugly kids’ flip-out-couch makeover

Someone recently handed us one of these:

Well, ours has the Wiggles on it, but you get the idea. It’s tacky, tacky, ugly, and has no place in my living room.

(Yes, I’m a toy snob – which is another post for another time – and have banned tacky licensed toys from my home because they offend my aesthetic sensibilities.)

Anyhow, I’m planning on sewing a new cover for it out of fabrics that are fun but also coordinate with our living room. K loves this couch and is devastated that it’s currently out of commission (I’ve ripped apart the cover so that I can copy the pattern). I figure this is the perfect way to bring on labour: start a time-consuming project that I won’t be able to finish when the baby arrives and the absence of which will disappoint my kids to no end. If that doesn’t get labour going, what will?

So that’s that. I hope that the next thing I post will be a birth story, or at least an announcement, but at this point I feel like I’ve tried everything and now I just have to wait. With my luck, I’ll be back next week pledging to create new mobiles for the kids’ room and placemats for our dining table.

Happy Wednesday, and G’mar Chatima Tova – and an easy fast – to my Jewish readers.

birthing babies · Infertility · whine and cheese

Don’t call us, we’ll call you.

I’m still pregnant.

There is a magical line (somewhere around the 38-week mark) where that stops being a massive relief and starts being a bit annoying. Actually, I think that line appears sometime around the same time as people start calling you to say, “how are you guys?” but really mean, “had that baby yet?” I’ve even fielded a call from my in-laws tonight, who said that someone they know who knows me on facebook told them that I was in labour. Um, no. I am having contractions, but no labour. Twice in the past two weeks I’ve said to Mr. December, “I think you’ll end up having to call the midwives tonight.” Yet here I am, still pregnant.

And yes, I’m whining. My due date isn’t even ’til Wednesday.

In the spirit of serving this baby an eviction notice, I’ve tried many things. I even went to a massage therapist who only told me after I was naked and lying on the table that she felt it was unethical to massage the pressure points that can bring on labour. Um, thanks. Check, please!

I’ve been guzzling raspberry leaf tea, which so far has done nothing but make me pee a lot. I’ve tried plenty of “doing what got the kid in there in the first place” which is admittedly easier when you conceived spontaneously rather than through IVF (I highly doubt that the egg-retrieval equipment can handle anything as large as a newborn baby). I’ve tried lots of walking, bouncing on the exercise ball, lifting heavy objects (22-pound and 36-pound children, respectively), and self-administered accupressure. I’m getting contractions, but they kind of hang around and visit for awhile before deciding to leave. I need the kind that will bring along a U-haul and holler, “we’re moving in! where’s the fridge?”

Now, I firmly believe that the baby will be born when it’s ready. I believe that if the baby isn’t ready, there’s a reason and it’s probably better not to rush things. I think that if I let these piddly-ass contractions do their job, when labour finally happens it’ll be faster and smoother. But I also think it would be nice if my brothers (both of whom live far, far away and will be in town next weekend for three days) could meet their newest niece or nephew. Even better if they can attend the bris or naming, though at the time of typing this I only have another 18 hours or so before the bris would end up being the day after they leave.

I also believe that this kid is disturbing my sleep so much that he or she might as well be disturbing me from the outside. At least then I’ll be able to turn over in bed.

So there you have it. In principle, I’m against trying to induce labour (even naturally). In reality, I want to get this show on the road. Anybody know a good RMT with no scruples about hitting those labour-inducing pressure points?

birthing babies · DIY · Work-in-progress Wednesday

Work-in-progress Wednesday – September 14 edition

… And I’m back.

Sorry about last week. I was… tired? overwhelmed? busy? I honestly can’t remember. Anyhow, I’d like to tip my hat to Lisaleh for posting last week. Check out what she was working on. Maybe she’ll have an update for us later today.

Do you wanna see some pictures? Do you? Huh?

Here’s the wardrobe I did for the kids: there’s a before and an after… and a pic of the wardrobe being used as intended.













Now, to anyone saying, “I liked it better before!” … well, nyah. But in all seriousness, it didn’t function the way I needed it to, and the wood finish added another colour to the room, and I needed it to blend in with the other furniture rather than stand out. With three kids and all their clothes in one room, I’m trying to keep it as visually restful as possible.

I don’t have any newly completed projects to report, but here are my current ones:

In Progress: birthy stuff

I’m 37 weeks pregnant today, which means if I went into labour right now I’d be able to have the homebirth we’ve planned and everything would likely be fine. I’m in serious denial, though. I need to pack a hospital bag (just in case) and get the homebirth supplies assembled in one place so everything is ready. Based on my track record, there won’t be time to be looking for stuff once labour starts… so that’s my priority right now.

In Progress: toddler bed

Well, it’s not in progress yet, but I do hope to get around to it this weekend. I’ll be posting a tutorial for those of you who want to make your own!
And that’s it. Happy Wednesday!

birthing babies · Just the two of us · parenting

The end of an era… until next time

Well, this is it: Mr. December goes back to work tomorrow.

It’s been lovely having him at home. He biked K to school, gardened with me, volunteered a lot, cooked a bit, slept a little… if this is retirement, it’s pretty appealing.

Then again, there’s something to be said for being at home without your spouse all day, and only seeing them at night. Maybe that something has to do with your spouse being unable to make fun of you for taking a four-hour nap… yeah, that could be it. (Note to spouse: I’m growing a whole new person in there. I’m bound to be tired!)

You know what was really neat? Even though he started off by stating that this leave was a government-sanctioned way to take five months off without penalty (and with some pay) and that he had no intention of stepping up his parenting, Mr. December has really blossomed as a dad. He unflinchingly (and uncomplainingly) changed poopy diapers. He hung out with the kids in our tree house. He took K to the CNE (N is really too little). He stayed calm and patient through 5 daily readings of that horrible book about the Ziz (don’t ask). In short, he was a really great stay-at-home dad.

We’ll miss him during the day… I’ll especially miss his help at dinnertime. The kids are tired so early these days that he’s not likely to get home until their bedtime (6:30 -7:00). I’ll miss the extra set of hands. I’ll miss being able to steal a few private moments with my honey.

But here we go, back to “normal”. In a week K will be in school again, we’ll have a routine again, and maybe that won’t be so bad.

birthing babies

A Birth Manifesto

I recently heard about a friend of a friend who is pregnant and absolutely convinced that birth will be the most horrifying experience ever. I felt sad for her. First, on a practical level, because fear=tension=pain and her fear could become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Second, on an emotional level, because birth has the potential to be a truly wonderful experience.

Our main cultural belief about birth seems to focus on pain. Last year, when people heard about my plans for a home birth, everyone’s first reaction was, “but what about the pain?!?!?!?” After N was born safely and quietly at home they were still asking, “didn’t it hurt?”

This focus on pain actually amused me. Yes, it hurt. But nobody ever asks a marathon runner, “what about the PAIN?” as if the pain is the whole essence of the exercise. I’ve heard that marathon runners hit a “wall” where suddenly their legs are burning and they just want to lie down and quit. Labouring women hit that wall too – it’s called “transition”, it hurts like a bitch, and it makes you want to call the whole thing off. But like marathon runners, labouring women push past the wall. Yes, it hurts. But that’s besides the point.

During K’s birth, the transition contractions freaked me out. They were relentless, I couldn’t get on top of them, and I was imagining having to cope with them for hours on end. During N’s birth the contractions were no less intense (if anything they were more intense as that labour moved much more quickly), but I was mentally prepared. I took them one second at a time. I focused on relaxing my facial muscles, lowering my shoulders, and continuing to get oxygen into my body. I paced myself. I focused on getting to my finish line, and I made it.

My point is, birth is so much more than just painful. Our cultural focus on pain really does women a disservice. How about telling women about the amazing endorphin rush you get afterwards? How about talking about the clarity and relaxation of moments between the contractions? Why don’t we talk to women (and girls, too) about the mental game that is birth?

And then there’s the excellent point that pain does not equal suffering. There’s a difference, as many athletes could tell you. Yes, there was pain. But that just wasn’t the point.

I’m aware that every women needs to make her own choices, and many women wouldn’t be comfortable with mine. This post is not meant to denigrate anyone who used pain medication during birth or who had a highly medicalized birth for whatever reason. But I hate that we’re sending girls and women the message that labour is painful and awful and unmanageable. It doesn’t have to be, if you’re prepared and have the right support. I just wish more women believed that.