Parenting Techie Talk

My Delivery Stories for Discovery Health’s Baby Week

When I heard that Discovery Health was running Baby Week, I knew I had to get in on the fun… if you can call what I endured three separate times “fun.” Perhaps you can, as the joy of holding your baby often, not always, washes away the memory of the pain from just moments earlier. I don’t quite know if I’d label it as fun. Perhaps work with a purpose. Anyway, while we’re currently done having children, many friends, both in real life and in blog-land, are expecting babies. First babies, second babies, third babies and so on! I’m excited for my friends and, as such, I wanted to pass on the things I learned from all three of my live births.

The theme for this year’s Baby Week is: Behind every baby is an unbelievable story. Well, yes. We have that going on here. Read on.

My first baby, a girl, was placed for adoption at birth. At birth is always a deceptive phrase to be attached to the process of newborn domestic adoption as she wasn’t taken home by her parents until the mandatory 72 hours had passed. Her parents were, however, present as she made her way into the world. My Mother and I were sure to call them when we arrived at the hospital in the middle of the night and assured that, yes, my water had broken at 38 weeks, 2 days and I hadn’t simply wet myself. Always good to know.

Getting to that delivery room, however, was the longest journey of my life. At 18 weeks gestation, I was admitted to the hospital where I underwent a battery of tests. It was confirmed that I had a kidney disorder which was complicating the pregnancy. At that time, I had one surgery, followed by another in the 30th week. I was placed on bed rest in that 18th week, and, unable to work and save money for the child I had been planning on parenting, I panicked. I turned to the first adoption agency I found (who turned out to be unethical, sadly) and moved forward with what I thought was my only available option. Not counseled on anything regarding available assistance or how to make it work, I believed that this was the right option. Hindsight changes things somewhat but, in the end, I have to believe that this is what was meant to be for the lot of us.

Back to the delivery room, I was greeted with a nurse who didn’t care for birth mothers, a staff who couldn’t be forced to read my file and, as such, gave me a lecture about the absence of my daughter’s biological father and a brand new resident doctor who didn’t know how to either do an episiotomy or properly stitch it. The entire process was somewhat of a blurry nightmare. I did get to spend some time with my daughter while in the hospital, though not as much as I would have if the staff had remained appropriately unbiased.

Things I learned from this delivery process:

  1. You can never know too much about the delivery process but you can know too little.
  2. If it can go wrong, it will go wrong.
  3. Everyone has an opinion and, man, they’re willing to share it with you.
  4. Hospitals are not adequately prepared for open adoption scenarios. At all.

First Picture

Safely delivered into the world, I had to remake the decision that I had settled upon while she was still in my womb. I made the best decision I could have made with the information I had at the time and decided to place her into the loving arms of the people she now knows as mom and dad. We are blessed to have a fully open adoption. The last of the four things I learned during this experience has lead me to push for ethical adoption reform in our country which does include preparing hospitals for such events. You can read more about our story at The Chronicles of Munchkin Land.

I took the things that I learned during that first delivery with me into the future. After I got married, my Husband (fondly known here as FireDad) and I decided to try to conceive very early in our marriage. Due to the kidney disorder discovered while pregnant with my daughter, we did not know exactly how long my health would hold out. After four months of trying, we were happy to find out that our first child was on the way. Another tumultuous pregnancy found me in the hospital multiple times. I experienced everything from a subchorionic hemorrhage to the complications brought about by my kidney disorder once again. Eventually, one of my kidneys decided to shut down at 38 weeks, 4 days. I gained nine pounds in less than a week, had a urine dip test positive for protein and had a blood pressure that had my doctor sending me straight to the hospital to be induced. I was hypertensive and signs pointed to pre-ecclampsia. Great! With my history, my doctor didn’t waste a second. Induction. Immediately.

I will say, point blank, that the induction process was a million times worse than the nastiness brought about by the previous hospital’s staff. It wasn’t the fault of my nurses or the doctor; they were all equally supportive and wonderful. However, pitocin is likely made by the Devil himself. The contractions I experienced while in labor with my daughter and all through the pregnancy with this son paled in comparison to the pain that ripped through my body when they started the Evil Drip coursing through my body. I broke at one point, unable to focus or concentrate and demanded an epidural. This, of course, slowed things down even more and probably worked against me in the end. While pushing, my large-headed, wide-shouldered oldest son got kind of wedged. Things became kind of scary as he suddenly registered a temperature, as did I. A sudden dip in the baby’s heartbeat caught everyone’s attention. My doctor looked at me, aware of my birth plan, and explained that the baby needed to come out, now, and asked my permission to cut an episiotomy. With my previous (horrible) experience in mind, I said yes, knowing that he meant business at this point. A few seconds later, my firstborn son arrived.

What I learned from this delivery experience:

  1. Avoid induction if at all medically possible.
  2. Having a nursing staff and a doctor that are not only physically but emotionally supportive makes a world of difference.
  3. Knowing the ins and outs of what to expect and how to do it also makes a world of difference.

Newborn Kisses

Our oldest son, fondly known as BigBrother around these parts, was born a healthy eight pounds, eight ounces after a fourteen hour labor. That’s right: two hours longer than my first labor. This, of course, is to blame solely on the induction. It was a slow, grueling process. I would never choose to be induced ever again.

We knew after some testing that if we wanted to have another child, it needed to be soon after BigBrother. Shortly after he turned one, we started trying to conceive. On the first attempt, we found ourselves expecting another baby. Once again, the complications of this pregnancy would put me on bed rest which is an exceptionally hard task with a 22 month old.

This delivery process was scarier than even my first (in which I knew nothing) or my second (during which my own health and safety was in question at various points in time). Due to placement, LittleBrother’s heart rate kept dipping in an unsatisfactory manner. While I had an amazing support system in the nurses on duty, the discussion of a mandatory, emergency c-section needed to be had: I would have done anything to save my child, even if that meant something that I had no interest in at all (being a c-section). After the initial conversation was had, my nurse promised not to bring it up again unless it was absolutely necessary. I will never be able to thank her enough for respecting me enough to educate me on what was going on but allowing me to focus on what I needed to do instead of what was going to happen if I couldn’t “perform” properly.

It was a long, grueling labor process fraught with worry. I kept my focus as best I could but occasionally found myself in panic mode. Without the support of my Husband or the nurse, I don’t know how I would have made it through. When eventually it came time to deliver, I only had to push twice. Once again, I gave birth to a perfectly healthy baby at seven pounds, seven ounces. Once again, despite a long labor, he had a perfectly shaped head (though somewhat smaller than his older brother’s!).

What I learned from this delivery process:

  1. It is possible to discuss the realities of a complication without forcing something on a mother.
  2. It is possible to be a high risk pregnancy three times in a row and end up without a c-section.
  3. There are scary moments in the process of laboring and delivering. The people around you make all the difference.

Newborn LittleBrother

LittleBrother was checked out pretty thoroughly after his dramatic in-womb antics but was deemed perfectly healthy. We had some initial nursing issues which we later found out to be due to a severe tongue tie (fixed by Nationwide Children’s Hospital). Despite the scary moments, it was easily the nicest labor and delivery simply because of the nursing staff. I was treated with respect, all past and present things considered, and my input was valued. I was handled delicately when necessary and pushed when needed. It was the perfect ending to my story of labor and delivery.

All 3 of my Living Children in Jan 2009
All 3 of my Living Children in Jan 2009

All three of my experiences were very different though they had similar, high-risk scenarios intertwined. If you add in the early miscarriage we had in between our two sons, we’ve been through a lot when it comes to safely delivering children into this world. When talking with another mother who experienced multiple complications during her pregnancies and the labor and delivery of two living children, one stillborn, we agreed that for so many people, it’s just a beautiful, easy time. But there are those of us who fought, tooth and nail, to carry those children as long as we possibly could. And, when it comes down to it, easy or difficult, there is a beauty in the result. I wouldn’t make the argument that I love my children more because of what I went through to bring them into this world like some people try to insinuate, but I would say that I am eternally grateful that they made it here safely. I am fully aware of the miracle of life.

If you’d like to catch some of Discovery Health’s Baby Week coverage, tune in Sunday through Friday, June 14-19th, at 8pm each night on Discovery Health. Some great specific shows in the line up include:

If you miss the first run through of everything (though, in the age of DVR, you shouldn’t!), everything will be rerun later each night and again, back-to-back, on June 20th. (I love marathon days!) There are some other great episodes like I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant and the series three premiere of Deliver Me.

I encourage you to think back to your pregnancy, labor and delivery stories over the next week and consider sharing them with your readers. You never know who you might be able to help by simply listing the things that you learned with each process. Even if everything went splendidly, that may be what another mother needs to read.

Best of luck to my friends who are expecting in the next nine months (and to come).


Three Things I’m Proud of Regarding My Mothering

Everyone in BlogLand is writing about the three things they are proud of regarding their mothering. And I’ve been mulling it over. I talk about the struggles I have as a mother here, there and just about everywhere. BigBrother won’t nap. He has regressed in various ways in this potty training/learning experience. LittleBrother can’t decide if naps are for good or evil. Sometimes I’m the Screamy Mommy. And I haven’t showered yet this morning… and I don’t know if I have plans to do so.

But there are things I’m proud of in my mothering experience. Surely I can come up with three.

1. I love all of my children equally. Once upon an archived webpage, I had a dramatic e-run-in with another birth mother who said that we, as birth parents, shouldn’t love our relinquished children as much as our parented children. This made my eyes pop out of my head. Without calling her stupid, I told her that her argument didn’t hold much water, at least or especially with me. She was arguing the point from the vantage point of a birth mother who is not actively parenting another child. As one who was at the time and continues to do so, now with more kids under my roof, I can tell you that I do not hold one child over another, no matter where they live, eat or create havoc. And yes, I do take pride in this fact. I love that Munchkin so very much. I am super proud of all of her accomplishments. I would lay down my life to protect her. And I will never be fully able to explain how vast my love is for her. And the same goes for the boys. I marvel at their daily accomplishments and boast about their milestones. I’d throw myself in harm’s way simply to protect them from danger. And I don’t think they’ll understand how much I truly love them. Perhaps I’m unique in this fact but I really don’t think so… but I’m still proud of that unconditional and equal love.

Babywearing at Old Work2. I don’t hate being a work-slash-stay at home mom and I don’t feel guilty about leaving the “workforce.” When I was pregnant with BigBrother, I went on and on about how I was going to remain a working mother. I looked down my nose at mothers who chose to stay home. I thought that they lacked ambition and that they were setting a poor example for their children. (Wait! Stop throwing tomatoes! I get my come uppance in a second! Keep reading!) Then BigBrother was born and my world was turned upside down. I went back to work and hated every moment of it. Okay, not every moment. I loved the thrill of the live newscast. And that one time that I wore BigBrother in a front carrier while switching a live newscast? Yes, that was a good moment. (See photo.) But the other moments sucked. When he neared eight months old and was crawling, babbling and hitting a million milestones per day, I ate crow, turned in my two weeks notice and came on home with my tail between my legs. And oh, being home, whether I’m just mothering for an entire day or throwing in one of my many freelancing jobs into the mix, is a million times harder than I ever thought it would be. So, while I’m not so proud of the judgment that I previously tossed at mothers who stay home, I am proud of the fact that I am thriving in my role as a stay-slash-work at home mom and enjoying almost every minute of it. (Really? Did I mention that BigBrother peed on my lap last week? Not my favorite moment.)

3. I am not too scared OR too proud to try new things. I am constantly learning about this parenting thing. I am the first to admit that I am mostly flying by the seat of my pants. But I am proud of the fact that I don’t really ever let “good enough” become my motto. Right now, for example, I’m reading books on positive discipline so that I might be a better guide for my (strong-willed) two year old and, eventually, his little brother. And if those things don’t work for LittleBrother like they are with BigBrother, well, I’ll read some more books. The biggest examples of this, of course, are in the few changes we made on initial things done with BigBrother to how we did the variations of those things with LittleBrother. For those who don’t know, BigBrother was not breastfed. (No throwing stones. There were reasons and they were worked out in therapy. Thank you.) LittleBrother will hit the six month milestone of exclusive breastfeeding on the 24th of this month! Furthermore, BigBrother wasn’t cloth diapered until night-time at around 18 months of age. I thought it would be too much work. Pfft. I got schooled on that one, didn’t I? And as such, LittleBrother started out in cloth from the get-go. I learn from everything I do as a parent, whether it’s something I perceive as a mistake, something that I could simply have done better or something I did pretty darn awesome that I’d like to repeat in the future. Even better, I constantly learn from my Mom-friends. I am (usually?) not offended when someone offers up advice. I ask a lot of questions (really, I do). And I constantly push myself to be the best mom I can be… which involves going back to the drawing board at times and starting over. And that’s okay.

I’m proud of a lot more. Really. I am. I’m not bragging. But darn it, I’m a great Mom in so many different ways. Sometimes I fail. Sometimes I have bad days. (Weeks. Months?) But my children are all thriving in age appropriate ways. And I love watching them all experience new things in their lives.

And, there you have it. What are YOU proud of?