Thursday, April 28, 2011

Day of Surrender

Right now it's 7:30am and today at 5pm Ben and I will march into the hospital, go up to the 7th floor to labor and delivery and tell them that we are there to begin an induction.  Much heartache and remorse has already been shed for this.

As I type Wolfie is doing  the twist.  I swear, I can almost feel him blink, almost feel every little movement of his tiny fingers even. 


I didn't have the fear until about 4pm yesterday.  It was then that I realized that I had about 24 hours to "make it happen naturally" or face the march of shame into a place that I personally find scary as hell...the hopsital.  Heh... the march of shame.  I'm glad I've had the last 12 hours to think about that mindset.  As soon as the sun went down yesterday, my nerves were tingling... I thought I caught a glimpse of my 15-year-old self.  The one who had panic attacks every night.  The one who's fear ran so rampant it gave her walking nightmares that she couldn't escape from.  The one who's skin crawled at 3am while her exhausted mother rolled down the edge of a paper bag for her to breath into (in case I began to hyper-ventilate).  The one who  for no reason was convinced she was going to die every time she had one, whose face turned pale, whose palms began to sweat, whose stomach turned and all the world seemed to be hurdling itself in her direction.  That 15 year old girl... the one in the middle of panic-attack hell. 

No no.  I am not the same person.  Maybe it's pure coincidence but since I found God at around the age of 23, I have not had one single panic attack.  Maybe it's because my mid-20s calmed my hormones, altered the chemicals in my brain just enough to give me control.  Maybe by then I'd learned to nip them in the bud before they became full-on swells.  Or maybe God was able to work a miracle for me.  Or maybe all of the above. 

Regardless, as Ben and I sat eating some Yoforia at around 8pm, I warned him that one might be on the way.  I warned him that I might wake up in the middle of the night in pure terror. 

Well, that didn't happen.  Granted, sleep was not the best to me... I had to stay up til around 1am before all the sleep angels were able to overpower the nervous monsters on the horizon of my mind.  And then at 2:30 I had to move myself to the couch.  I find that watching something pleasing, even just for 5 minutes,  and listening to it as I drift off to sleep really helps me to avoid allowing my mind (the monsters in my mind) to overpower and dictate my sleep.  So, Robin Hood: Men in Tights it was and off to sleep land I went.  It must have been many hours later but I awoke again.  Cable Guy went on.  Another hour of sleep and now here I am.  Jim Carey is currently giving his final lines and I'm blogging... Wolfie is poised and ready to come out.

So, OK, not getting much sleep may actually be a good thing for me.  I find that it's much harder to upset me when I'm tired.  If I just don't have much energy, I have a hard time producing the nerves that activate the fears.  In other words, I just don't give a crap if I'm tired. 

But miraculously, I find that I'm mentally much more at peace for some reason.  I'm bummed, sure, that this probably won't be the "dream" birth... the super hippie-dippie au-natural birth... that I was hoping for.  And I understand the risks involved with everything now so of course there's the fear of something more unexpected going wrong.  But I'm now a little, dare I say, "excited" to get things going and hold my baby for real.  I'm focusing hard on the grateful things, the thankful things.  I feel I did my best.  I held out for a really long time.  I read every single book.  I tried everything under the sun.  God had other plans.  I weighed the pros and cons of inducing today (14 days past my due date) and the pros and cons of waiting a few more days and I just didn't feel that it was necessary to take on the additional risks of waiting.  Before anyone gives me the lecture about due dates I will say that Ben and I were 100% sure of everything to do with the conception of this child... including my cycle (because I had been charting and knew myself to be regular), the actual date of conception, and the fact that Wolfie's first implantation as a little 2-celled creature must have happened within 3 days of that's basic biology.  So after confirming it with an early ultrasound which basically totally pinpointed the same due date we know for sure that there's no question about the fact that I am now absolutely at 42 weeks.  Some mammas tell me "Oh I went to 43 weeks no problem."  Here's the question, though... how sure was she that she was actually at 43 weeks? 

Anyways, going past 42 weeks comes with some risks to Wolfie.  Fetal stress, low fluids, dry skin, low heart rate, additional odds of meconium, additional odds of placental calcification... in a nutshell, baby just doesn't want to be in there once he's done.  It's not his fault that my contractions haven't kicked in.  I just don't think I could live with myself if for the sake of having this natural birth I waited a few more days and that was all it took for him to freak out, possibly causing some kind of super scary emergency situation.  I decided I'd rather have that "walk of shame" than that "mad dash of fear".

Back to this shame thing... and the title of my post....


I got to a point a few days ago when it really began to sink in that God may have other plans for my birth (plans that were different from the way I thought it would be).  Surrender is somehow a little easier when faced with an emergency, isn't it?  In the heat of the stressful moment, we almost act on instinct.  But when you are allowed to surrender at your own pace ahead of time, when the complete act of surrender is placed in your hands for you and you alone to decide when and how, it's mindblowingly difficult to do.   Tough decisions were made.  Surrender it all to God and have faith... that's all I can do.  I have no control over this... this much is clear to me now.  No castor oil, no sex, no walking, no birth balls, no pineapple juice, no red raspberry leaf tea, no evening primrose oil, no nipple stimulation, no orgasms, no stair walking, no curb walking, no avocados, no eggplant parmesan, no relaxing... no... NOTHING will work save the grace and timing of God.  Believe me, I tried all of this and more!   Even my prayers, my pleading prayers all in the good interest of providing Wolfie with a peaceful birth, a drug-free entrance into this world, a chance for mommy and baby to experience an age-old sensation of being isolated in that experience together and having felt the awesome power of the perfection of God's design for our bodies to work perfectly... no... God has other plans for sure.  I just have to surrender and allow him to work His magic in my life.  Perhaps there are big, big reasons for this day.  Big big reasons for my 5pm curtain call that I will never understand or know. 

This won't be a walk of shame.  I am walking up that ramp and in through those sliding doors today with all the millions of other women who have had to make tough decisions like this.  Who had other options but needed to make a choice.  Who needed to either get off the pot or pee.  Who either had to assume the risks of one path or assume the risks of the other.  Tough decisions that only tough women can make.  Tough women do not walk in shame... do we?

I am hopefully going to also be amongst the millions who began a gentle induction, were phased off of induction drugs once things were going, and able to labor naturally for the most part at the end without pain medication.  At this point, it's the best I can hope for.  The midwives seem very optimistic that all I need is a really gentle "nudge" and my own body will finally kick in... and they are going to allow me to do that.  Praise God!  I am in good hands, I know it.  This just might be the mind-blowing birth I'd hoped for afterall.  Who knows.  Beginning from the moment we leave the house and lock the door behind us I will quite literally be taking every single step one at a time.  I will have to remind myself of strength and happiness nearly every second so I can hold it together. 

I love analogies so I'll leave it with this...  when I go to get tattooed, there is pain involved.  The first time I got one, while I was waiting, I thought my heart would jump out of my chest I was so scared.  Nowadays I approach the whole experience with 0% fear and 100% excitement for the sweet, permanent art I will have when all is said and done.  Sure thing, tattoos freaking hurt, some more than others (certainly not more than birthing a child but I think you get my point here)... why should this birth experience be any different?  I'm intentionally going in somewhere, I've done a great bit of research into what I want (just like a tattoo), friends and loved ones will likely be waiting and chatting in the lobby (although hopefully not waiting to have their turn at having a baby there too, haha), and when I am done I'll have the sweetest thing ever. 

Thank you to everyone for all the prayers and sympathies and encouraging words!  You have literally helped me survive the last week and a half.  I think the statistics will prove that here in America most women don't make it that long if given a choice in the matter.  I feel so blessed to have had all that support.  I feel so blessed for this journey.  But we're only really reaching the climax of the story, aren't we?

I'll leave that for the next post :)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Pregnancy update!

Today, Monday, we woke up knowing that we are reaching the end of the line here.  I am one week and 4 days past my expected due date (just 3 days away from being within the dreaded 42 week mark, when things get super serious about the safety of the baby and safety of mom as well).   I had a sonogram and stress test scheduled at 11am, but when I awoke I noticed an email from my awesome doula, Talitha, to give her a call as soon as I was up.

Talitha suggested I go ahead and get on in to the midwife today, as opposed to waiting for my scheduled appointment tomorrow, to have a cervical sweep done (why wait another day, right?).  So I made some calls and they were able to squeeze me in right after the sonogram.

The sonogram visit was nice... apparently Wolfie is doing perfectly in all respects.  He scored a 10 out of 10... go Wolf!  But the doctor goofed and told me his weight... several people suggested to me that I don't let them tell me how much he weighs... that it might create a mental-hurdle for myself while I'm pushing just knowing how many lbs. I'm trying to push out.  But, he ended up being 8lbs. 11 oz, which actually just seems so normal and average that I seriously doubt it will affect me much.  And besides, they're frequently a little "off" on those weight estimations when it's so late in the pregnancy like now because they can't really see the whole body of the baby all at once to get a really good measurement.

But anywho... so everything was normal there.  Then, we rushed to see the midwife (who was squeezing me in on her off time) without even having lunch or anything.  I knew that I would be getting this cervical thing done.  I'll spare all you lightweights the gory details but basically it's a very normal thing that many pregnant women have done (it's a natural procedure that does not involve drugs) that basically just helps to jump-start dilation, and maybe even the contractions.  But what I didn't really prepare myself for was how much it would hurt.  She actually did it twice for me... the second time around not being quite as bad... but dang... I'm going to have to do even more mental preparation for the pain of birth because now I feel like a total wimp.    Ha! 

When it was all over, I sat up and felt sweaty, nauseous, dizzy and had ringing in my ears.  Again, totally did not expect that either.  I think it was because my heart-rate sky rocketed and I have to admit that I did hyper-ventilate a little... oops.  Also, by this time it was around 1:20 and I hadn't eaten since 9:30 am.  Ooops again.  But she laid me back for a few minutes and I felt much better.  I felt even MUCH better after having a frozen coke and some fries on our way home, but I digress.

The GREAT thing we learned today is that I am now 3cm dilated and about 80% effaced.  Hooray!  It means the end is SUPER NIGH!   In a few minutes I'm having an orange julius with about a tablespoon of castor oil to keep the ball rolling, and hopefully have this baby out. 

I have a scheduled time to go in on Thursday if all else fails... but I want to do this without that.  Thursday means drugs... mild drugs mind you... but drugs.  I can still get in the water depending on the circumstances on Thursday... but seriously, let's do this before then, Wolfie, OK?  :)

Facebook update from 4/21/11

Today we went to the sonogram place to have the "stress test" because I am officially 41 weeks today (that's 7 days past the estimated due date for all you non-baby-knowledge folks out there).  They want to make sure Wolfie is still comfortable in his "environment"... ha.  I was hooked up to a couple of monitor things to check to see if I was contracting (no, I'm not) and to listen to Wolfie's heart rate.  I was also given a clicker and told to click every time I felt him move.  He moved around quite a bit, because I was made to recline on my back which always makes him squirm around!  :)

Then,  a doctor met with us and showed us a screen of Wolfie's "activity"... a little green line on a chart that went up and down.  He reassured us that Wolf was well within normal, and didn't appear to be under any stress at all.  I had some other concerns about going over term with the pregnancy and he put both myself and Ben at peace, giving us statistics and odds that really made us feel good about hopefully having Wolfie out over the next 6 days.  He really took the pressure off (so glad we went there today)!

I am on a regimen of herbs, walking, relaxing, stretching, eating, sleeping, and trying my best not to worry.  Imagine that you tell yourself every day for 7 days straight (for the sake of staying positive) that the next day you'll be getting the one thing you've always wanted, and then waking up only to find that you're Bill Murray in Groundhog Day and you're always a day away.  Well, that's what it's like in my head every single minute.  "Are we there yet?!  Are we there yet?!" my child-brain screams at me from the backseat of my mind.  It's mental torture!  Poor Ben, the yang to my yin, he does such a good job to help me cope with that!  I don't know where he got the patience and the ability to wait for things so well without driving himself or others around him totally crazy... but I'm so glad to have been blessed with such an amazing human being.

As much as you all know that we love our social networking, you can all be rest assured that "the revolution will be televised" so to speak.   I fully expect Ben to be tweeting my progress just as soon as there's anything noteworthy to tweet.  :).

For now though, I have some crazy swollen ankles from my nearly 6 hours of walking today that need a bath in some epsom salts and a tired brain that really didn't get much sleep the last few nights... oh insomnia, you complete jerk, why do you have to bother me right now?!

Goodnight friends!  I am so hopeful that we might have ourselves a Good Friday baby... or a Paul Helfen's Birthday baby (Ben's dad's b-day is on Saturday), or at the very least an Easter baby... or at the very very least a before-next-thursday-because-that-means-I-won't-be-able-to-get-in-the-waterbirthing-tub baby!  :)


Brooke, Ben, and Wolfgang

Why water?

I want to open this subject slowly for you.  The answer to the question "Why do you want a water birth?" has many layers... like an onion... or  a flaky croissant.  A flaky, chocolate croissant... all buttery and... ok, pregnant hungry lady typing, here.

The first and largest layer has to do with my general outlook on the world.  I guess you could consider me to be a neo-hippie.  You won't ever find me wearing Birkenstocks, tye-dye, listening to the Grateful Dead or smoking from a bong... but you will find me recycling, choosing organic food when I can afford it, abstaining from certain things in life in favor of a more "holistic" or "natural" approach.  This goes for having a cup of chamomile tea as opposed to popping an aspirin for a headache.  Why would someone who holds these sentiments close to her heart choose willingly to be pumped full of artificial drugs, give her body over to the insight of a doctor who may or may not have her or her baby's best interests in mind, and sheepishly submit to a medical system which is run from the top-down by greed.  I'm not saying that the night-nurse on duty would be cruel, or that the OBGYN I was assigned would be checking his or her watch every five minutes trying to make it to a game of golf they had scheduled... but I am saying that, having worked in the medical insurance field for a time in life, these individuals might have quotas- they might have managerial staff urging them to "clear beds for more patients coming in", or similar situations which may be beyond even their control.

So, that's one of my personal reasons for water.  Another personal reason is that I love the sensation of floating in, or bathing in water.  I hardly ever shower (I'm really a "bather" not a "shower-er" kinda gal).  Relaxing in the tub is one of my favorite things to do, whether morning, noon or night.  When I was younger we had an in-ground pool and it was heaven on earth for a hot summer Georgia day.  While most kids enjoyed doing back-flips off the diving board, I seriously enjoyed feeling weightless, floating, hovering in the deep end... feeling my body push almost effortlessly through the water-space while I held my breath.  I mean, my name is Brooke for crying out loud.  Brooke (yes, even with the "e") simply means... a brook.  A small stream of water. 

Then there are the medical reasons (which I guess technically ARE personal reasons too, since this will be "medically-speaking" happening to me personally).  There are so many benefits to both mother and baby for getting in the water.  I won't touch on all of them, but some of them include:

*a lower risk of tearing for mother
*a more peaceful transition to the "outer world" for baby
*a reported feeling that the water helped with pain relief
*mother tends to relax better in the water, helping for the contractions to do their job easier
*less gravity means mother can get into those "better for labor" positions better and hold them for longer

In general, it is a really great alternative to pain medication for women who are hoping to avoid artificial drugs.  If you're interested in waterbirth, you should check out this link here:

Atlanta currently has two hospitals that do waterbirth (and that's it for now until the new birthing center opens)... Atlanta Medical Center and North Fulton.  You have to get in with one of two midwife groups if you want a waterbirth at either hospital (and take a quick class for safety) but that's it!  An OBGYN is on call for you at all times if you need surgical assistance or anything that a midwife couldn't do (which really isn't much).