Sunday, 1 May 2011

The Pregnancy

*Note:  This post was written and meant to be posted on Thursday, April 28*

On this day last year nothing interesting was going.  I was still waiting for things to start.

As I had mentioned my pregnancy with F was a surprise.  We definitely wanted another baby, just not quite so soon.  I found out I was pregnant 3 days before T's 1st birthday. 

I quickly set up an appointment with the Riverdale Midwives in Toronto.  My midwives when I had T were from a different group, but we had since moved and I had heard great things about Riverdale.  Initially I met with Annabel Cope who wasn't supposed to be my primary midwife, but I was fortunate that I did end up with her as well as Marlene Sagada as the backup.  They were both SO fantastic.  When I discussed with them that I was hoping for a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC), they were both fully supportive and optimistic.

Because I had no idea when I concieved, and my cycles were not normal since I was still breastfeeding, I had no idea how far along I was.  My original due date based on my cycles was April 26th, but I knew that might not have been accurate.  Our 12wk scan gave us a due date of April 29th (which is the one on file with my midwife), and a later scan gave us May 1st, which is the one I stuck with.

I have easy pregnancies.  My first was easy and I felt great, and this one was the same.  No morning sickness, no nausea, no heartburn, no digestive issues.  Of course I was exhausted during the early weeks, but I also had a toddler to chase around as well, so who wouldn't be tired!  I always maintained a healthy appetite while pregnant (which is probably why I tend to put on a healthy weight!) and of course craved things that generally weren't great for me.  This time around I had cravings for soda (which I don't normally drink), sweets, and salt and vinegar chips.  With F's pregnancy I gained 40lbs (still better than the 50lbs I gained with T!).  I'm a very petite lady so that's a lot of weight for my tiny frame.

As with my first pregnancy we opted for the early screening tests for possible genetic problems.  Initially at our 12wk scan, F's nuchal fold was measuring a little larger than how it should have been for how many weeks along I was.  We were advised to meet with a genetics counsellor, which we did.  But after reviewing the information decided not to go ahead with any further invasive testing as we didn't feel there was a high enough risk.  Of course at first I was a little worried, but the measurement was only higher by the smallest amount, and I was fairly confident that all was well.

I felt those first flutters around 12wks, which was the same as I felt with T too.  I know that is really early to be feeling movement, but that's when it started for me.  Of course it wasn't that strong, just like little butterflies here and there.  But it didn't take long before he was kicking me hard all the time!

At our 19wk scan we had already decided to find out the gender (we did the first time as well).  It didn't really matter to me what it was, although I think I was hoping for a girl but only because I felt like it was 'expected' for me to want one.  In my heart though I knew it would be great to have another boy.  I already had one so knew what I was getting myself into, and I felt it would be great for T to have a brother.  At the lab they wouldn't disclose the gender to us, but we asked if the technician would scan over the genital area so we could see if we saw anything ourselves.  Tyler and I were both fairly certain we saw that it was a boy!  Sure enough when my midwife called a few days later with the results, our suspicions were confirmed.

Christmas came and went, and I was really enjoying my pregnancy.  Sometime though between the second and third trimesters, I started feeling anxious about the baby's position.  T was breech (which was the reason for my planned cesarean), and as this baby grew I started to worry about him being breech as well.  Statistics say that only 4% of babies end up breech, which doesn't sound like very good odds but after you've had one breech baby you know how easy it is to be in that 4%!  I was so desperate to have a natural birth, and I was scared that another breech baby would put a stop to those plans.  I kept thinking that if there was a reason T didn't turn, then there was the possibility the same reason would prevent F from getting in the right position.  I remember having panic attacks, lying in bed at night and just silently freaking out.  As soon as he was big enough to feel I was always wondering, where is his head?

That's when I decided to hire a doula.  We couldn't really afford it, but I thought that especially being a VBAC situation, I could really use the added support.  Tyler of course was amazing support, but I don't think he fully understood how important it was to me to have a natural birth, he would have been fine with another planned c-section!

So we hired  Kelly Malsen as our doula.  She accomodated us so that we could afford her services, and was very helpful and knowledgeable.  She made herself available by phone and email, and put up with a lot of anxious emails from me over the months!  I got some wonderful resources from her about labour, delivery, postpartum, and breastfeeding.  She even recommended a great book for me to read called The VBAC Companion by Diana Korte.

For the rest of my pregnancy I focused on learning as much about VBACs as I could.  I attended regular chiropractic and osteopath appointments to prepare my body for childbirth.  I also visited with my naturopathic doctor to discuss diet and supplements for while I was pregnant.  These practitioners as well as Tyler, my doula, and my midwives became my support team in helping me get to my goal.  Planning my VBAC almost became an obsession, I was determind to make it happen.  Also, Tyler's mom had a VBAC 25yrs earlier, with only 18mos in between her deliveries.  Tyler was born by cesarean and his sister by VBAC.  So knowing that she went through it and during a time when VBACs were not considered common practice really gave me inspiration and hope that I could do it too.

I made sure to practice my hypnobirthing techniques every day.  Hypnobirthing  is something I had planned to use for my labour with T.  Tyler and I had taken classes when I was pregnant the first time, and I read the book and did the exercises then as well.  Even though I didn't get a chance to have a natural birth with T, I still consider his c-section to have been a hypnobirthing birth, as the breathing and relaxation techniques really helped keep me calm.

Visualization is something I also did throughout my pregnancy.  I'm a firm believer in the power of the mind to achieve your goals, and I knew that visualizing the birth I wanted and positive thinking would help me get there.  I used to drift off to sleep at night, visualizing how I wanted F's birth to unfold.  I thought about it so much that I dreamt it.  On 4 separate occasions I dreamt about his birth, and it was the same in each dream.  A calm labour and fast birth, and a healthy baby boy (I dreamt he was a boy even before I knew!)

I spent a lot of time during my pregnancy paying attention to my posture, and practicing exercises for optimal fetal positioning.  Because T was breech, I knew I wanted to do everything possible to make sure F would be in the right position.  I spent a lot of time on the Spinning Babies website, reading about exercises I could do and how my posture could affect the birth.  It's a wonderful website and a great resource for pregnant women. 

So I planned and I waited.  The days passed and we got closer and closer to our due date.  F was a busy baby, even in utero he was always moving and kicking.  He was a strong little guy and very active!  I loved lying in bed just waiting for him to get started with his gymnastics.  Those feelings are so precious.

T for the most part wasn't sure what was going on.  He saw my belly grow, and he would point to it when I asked him where the baby was, but I don't think he knew what that meant.  We did buy him a book called I'm a Big Brother, and I think that helped him make the connection between belly and baby.  I wasn't sure how he was going to react to having a baby in the house since there was only going to be 20mos between them, but T was so easy going that I knew he would take it in stride.

We had already decided 99% on F's name before he was born.  Originally I had my heart set on names like Julien or Gabriel, and even liked Quinten, but Tyler was not completely sold on those ones.  Later in my pregnancy F's name crossed my mind and when I ran it by Tyler, he actually liked it too.  So we were sure that is what we would choose, although we wanted to meet him before we made it official.  His middle name would be after Tyler's beloved stepdad.

Throughout my pregnancy I did try and stay active through bellydancing.  I danced all the way up to 30wks, even doing several performances.  Bellydancing is fantastic exercise but it's even more wonderful for when your pregnant because the movements help keep you in shape and encourage baby to move into the right position, and they help prepare your body for childbirth.

Here I am at about 26wks, with the bellydance troupe She Raks

Later in my pregnancy I was recommended to meet with an OB from the hospital where I would be delivering to discuss my VBAC.  I was really nervous, thinking that because my births would be less than the recommended 2yrs apart, that she would push me to have another c-section.  I went to the appointment armed with a file full of VBAC information supporting my decision, but much to my surprise the doctor was fully supportive and said I had a good chance of being successful.  The meeting was really just so that we could discuss hospital protocol and the risks of attempting a VBAC.

I knew what the risks were but I was confident and determined to have my natural birth.  It was very important to me.  Of couse if another c-section became necessary I would have done it, but my overall view of childbirth is that too often medical intervention leads to unecessary surgical births.  I knew my body knew how to birth a baby, and I was going to let it do what nature intended with as little intervention as possible.  Because of my VBAC situation, the doctors did want to use monitoring and have an IV prepped in case of emergency, things I would have preferred not to have, but you pick your battles and I wasn't about to argue with them on those points.  I was hoping to labour at home with my doula and midwives long enough to not have to spend too much time at the hospital.  That was the plan anyway!

With my first pregnancy we had maternity pics done, but unfortunately this time we couldn't afford it.  We did try to take a few shots of our own though.  Not professional quality, but still a nice way to capture my belly.

Starting in my third trimester and on advice of my naturopath, I started drinking red raspberry leaf tea every day to help prepare and tone my uterus.  Some advise not to start until you are full term, but I got the go ahead as it actually doesn't not induce labour, rather tones the uterus and prepares it.  As I approached full term, my osteopath gave me a homeopathic labour remedy that she had used when she had her son.  It was quite extensive, so my naturopath narrowed down a few key elements and I started taking them at about 37wks.  I also visited her for a few acupcunture treatments to prepare my body and hopefully induce labour.  Like I mentioned in my previous post, I didn't want to give the little guy any excuses to be late.  I literally did just about anything and everything I could to prepare for F's birth.

For the last leg of my pregnancy, Tyler had already moved up here to the Georgian Bay area, as he had started his new job.  He would be gone during the week and it was just me and T.  The plan was that when I went into labour I would call him and he'd make the 2hr drive home.  We were just hoping that F wouldn't arrive too quickly so that Tyler would have enough time to make it back!

On this day last year I was still waiting for something to happen.  I was having braxton hicks contractions, but had been having them for months already so that was nothing new.  I remember it was supposed to be a full moon and I was hoping he would come that night, but he wasn't quite ready yet.....

The last belly shot, taken on April 28, 2010

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