2015 in Review

IMG_75332015 felt Grand. Like not awesome-grand (which it was) but more so like vast-grand. If that makes sense? This post is going to be a thought dump, so hold on!

I stayed closer to home more this past year than I have in a long time, the farthest we traveled was Edmonton or Calgary. Seriously, I can’t think of a year in my entire adult life that I haven’t left the province. So that in itself is pretty impressive 😉

Matthias was also closer to home this year – he took a job in town and has been home every night since February. It’s been a good adjustment. Quinn absolutely loves him and he loves her and him being home every night has definitely helped them bond.

I also feel more disconnected from my Nursing, but I guess that is to be expected as I went off work at the start of February. That means I will be going back to work at the start of February… when Quinn is only 10.5 months old. But we won’t talk about that right now because hello, *DENIAL*. I remained active with CARNA, but not as much as I had in previous years, and I definitely found it harder to make it to meetings. It will be bittersweet when my term is over in September 2016. While part of me wonders “What’s Next?” a bigger part of me says “NOTHING UNTIL YOUR DONE HAVING BABYS” haha.

I lost all that baby weight I gained and then some, which feels good, and I suppose is noteworthy, but in the grand scheme doesn’t really matter. My relationship with food is peaceful. I eat if I want to, I eat what I want to, and I no longer have an emotional connection to eating.all.the.things. That feels really, really, good. I’m no longer at a place where I feel controlled by my caloric intake. I don’t beat myself up if I eat a box of Kraft Dinner (that was today’s lunch in fact 😉 and it was delish). I’m no longer tempted by the ice cream in my freezer. It’s just there. And when I really want some, I’ll have some, instead of obsessing about it.

I found a way to enjoy home workouts! That is also pretty rad. The connection of a Challenge Group has been pivotal to this one, and for that I’m grateful.

I’ve said it before but Beachbody Coaching has made a world of difference in my life. It’s given me that sense of “More Than Just a Mom” that I need.

I continued to teach spin until my 35th week of Pregnancy and then started again in September! I also stepped out of my comfort zone and started instructing yoga. It was both terrifying and humbling, and now its something I look forward to every week.

The pets are getting older, which makes me sad. Our oldest cat is 8 and our oldest dog is 6. How?! Tucker has been dealing with some health issues throughout the year – he’s been diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder that attacks his nails so he has had multiple infections from that. It sucks. He’s hopefully on the mend now but will be on TID meds for the rest of his life. *cha ching*

I still really would like to buy a different house, but I’ve come to terms that it won’t happen for a while. I sure hope it happens before baby #2 though, because I might lose my mind if it doesn’t haha.

We’ve really worked hard at getting our expenses more under control. And while we are ending the year in more debt than we started it, I feel confident that 2016 will be the year we can make some large strides in turning that around.

The grandest part of the year has been Motherhood. It’s been a ride. It’s also the hardest and greatest journey I’ve ever embarked on. It’s been profoundly transformative. It’s hard for me to even articulate how motherhood has impacted me, but that might also be because I have a cold and its 10pm at night. 😉

Did you make it this far? I know it doesn’t all seem that Grand, but my heart has never been bigger, or more overflowing with love, than it is right now. So cheers, 2015. You’ve been so good to me.

What I Have Done to “Prep” my Body for Labor

Lauren D., Brie F., Katrina V., Janelle P. & Laura W.

Congrats to the 5 winners! Coffee or Tea is on me, ladies 😉

Before I delve into my semi-crazy routine of uterotonics and prostaglandins, please be advised that I have discussed everything below with my midwife and would not do something without discussing it with her first. She is my care provider and knows what is best for me and my baby. These are just some of the natural things I have opted to do. What has worked for me may not work for you. I’m not an expert on any of the things I have tried.

Before trying/starting ANY of these methods – Speak to your care provider.

Let me start this post by saying my own mother did not have a vaginal delivery with me. From her recounting the events, she labored for a very long time and I wasn’t coming out and they had to do a c-section. She then opted to have a scheduled section with my younger sister. *Nothing wrong with any of that at all, just not what I am hoping for with my own labor and delivery*

You know how people love to give advice to pregnant women? Its like you put a belly on a woman and then that suddenly means its okay to tell you all about the horrific birth stories their friends-second-cousins-daughter had and tell you what you should and shouldn’t do because they know better than your own doctor or midwife?

A common question I have been asked throughout my pregnancy is: “How was your mother’s labor with you? They often go the same way.” Now, I am sure there is some truth to this. But it is also important to remember that my mothers pregnancy and labor is my mothers, not mine. My body is different from my mothers. My pregnancy is different. My care provider is different. And my labor and delivery will hopefully be different.

Regardless, of any of this, I knew I wanted to give my body the optimal chance of delivering vaginally, so after lots of discussions with my midwife here are the things I have added to my lifestyle to encourage my body as best as I can.

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea – This tea is thought to be a uterotonic, which means it helps to strengthen the uterus muscle and make contractions more efficient. I drink 1 cup a day in the mornings. David’s Tea makes a DELICIOUS blend called Mighty Aphrodite. I ran out and bought some organic stuff from Nutters and it is not nearly as good as the David’s Tea kind, so I kind of have to chug it back or it makes me gag haha. Do I think it works? Yes. I have had little braxton hick contractions when I drink the tea. I started drinking it at 36 weeks.

Dates – Dates are also thought to be a uterotonic as well. There are studies that show that eating 6-10 dates per day (starting at 36 weeks) can decrease labor time, shorten the third stage of labor (when you deliver the placenta) and can also help make your contractions more effective. Now, 6-10 is A LOT of dates. And because I have cavities right now (boo) they kind of hurt my teeth. So I maybe get in 3-4 a day. Even if it doesn’t do anything to help my labor, at least I am getting loads of fibre haha.

Evening Primrose Oil *TMI alert* Evening Primrose Oil is a natural Prostaglandin. Prostaglandins are a hormone-like lipid substance that is produced by the body to help with certain bodily functions. In the case of labor/delivery, Prostaglandins work over time to help the cervix “ripen,” meaning to thin, soften, and dilate. Prostaglandins are also found in semen (I’m sure you’ve all heard that sex can jump start labor, and this is one of the reasons why!). At 36 weeks, my midwife gave me the go ahead to start taking 1 capsule orally in the morning and inserting 1 capsule vaginally at bedtime. The thought behind this, is that it is closer to your cervix and therefore has a better absorption directly at the place you want it to go.

Chiropractic Care – I love my chiropractors. Seriously. As someone who has had super bad back pain in the past, I have glided through this pregnancy with only one minor flare up around 32 weeks. This was quickly fixed by about 3-4 adjustments and I have been fine since. I see my Chiropractor weekly now until I deliver. He helps make sure my spine and pelvis are aligned to ensure the best possible route for baby to come out. Last time I went he also did the Webster Technique, which focuses on relieving the tightness in the round ligaments, helping baby to move down more freely into the pelvis. This can also help promote a breech baby to turn so their head is down, but it won’t do the opposite and make your baby breech (because the head is the heaviest part of the baby and gravity pulls it down)!

Acupuncture – I started doing acupuncture at 38 weeks and 4 days. My acupuncturist inserts maybe like 6-7 needles total? I get one in my hand, one on my foot, one on the inner part of my calf (which is an area that when stimulated by acupuncture is proven to help the body create more prostaglandins), and then some in my lower back. Again, acupuncture works over a few treatments, so if you get one treatment and you go into labor that night then your body was obviously ready and you probably would have gone into labor anyways. The first time I had it done the only thing I felt was lots of shifting movements from the baby. No cramping. I had my second appointment at 39 weeks and 1 day and I definitely noticed a difference this time around vs my last appointment. More cramping during and after it was over. We shall see if it leads to anything 😉 If not, I have another appointment booked for Wednesday (39 weeks and 6 days).

Hand Expressing Breast Milk *Another TMI Alert* At 38 weeks I was given the go-ahead to hand express or pump breast milk. As I don’t have a pump (yet), and I know how to hand express from work, I thought I would hand express every few days, and save the colostrum in syringes (labelled with my name, date, and time) in the freezer. That way, when I go into labor, I can bring along the Expressed Breast Milk (EBM) and they can store it in the Breast Milk Fridge in the Hospital. If unforseen circumstances happen and I have to have a c-section, when Matthias and the baby get back to the unit and I am still in the Recovery Room, if the baby’s blood sugar is low they can feed it the EBM from the syringes instead of Formula. I have nothing against formula, and I totally get that people need to use this sometimes as their only option to feed the baby, but if my milk is available I’d rather use that at first Especially since colostrum is so full of antibodies and nutrients and good stuff for the baby’s gut lining and immune system. Hand expression and Pumping are a form of nipple stimulation, which has been shown to produce more oxytocin in the body. Oxytocin is what stimulates the uterus to contract in labor.

So that’s my routine! All of the things I have listed above don’t actually START labor if my body isn’t ready. But they can help get my body as ready as possible for when the baby decides its time to come out. And anything that can help decrease my risk of a lengthy labor leading to a c-section is a-okay in my books, even if it just a placebo effect! :)

Pregnancy Weight Gain

I finally bit the bullet.

I weighed myself this morning at 39 weeks pregnant.

Having a midwife, I didn’t have to track my weight at my appointments if I didn’t want to, as long as my other numbers where in check (blood pressure and fundal height). I’ve always measured 1-2cm behind my current week (at my 39 week appointment I was measuring 37cm), and my blood pressure has hovered around the 90-110/60-75 mark.

When I was so nauseous in the first trimester, I literally ate every two hours. And I will be the first to acknowledge the choices I made were often more unhealthy than healthy. I couldn’t stand the sight of salad, vegetables, and most fruit besides bananas. I wanted carbs, cheese, and more carbs. I was sick for 7 weeks straight. During this time, I did weigh myself a few times. And I felt sad at the numbers I saw because they were very much more than I was supposed to be gaining during my first trimester.

I stopped weighing myself at the 15 week mark with the permission of my midwife because the number I saw did play on my emotions. It didn’t constantly effect me, it didn’t make me want to restrict or binge, but it did play on my self esteem. And that was something I didn’t want to have on my mind during the pregnancy. I wanted to focus on being as healthy as I could within my means to foster the baby’s growth. I didn’t want a silly number to make me feel bad about growing my child. I wanted to, and decided to trust my body to do what it needed to and to gain the weight it was supposed to.

Seeing the number that I saw this morning was… well, not nice. It was definitely more than they recommend you gain in a pregnancy. But it wasn’t earth shattering. It didn’t send me into a depressed state or cry “Woe is Me”. It didn’t make me regret eating McDonalds or drinking all the Tim Horton’s Iced Capps I could get my hands on during the first 14 weeks. It did make me think that maybe it would have been different if I had started taking the Diclectin earlier? Would I have been able to eat vegetables instead of Beefaroni and toast? Would I have kept up more thoroughly with my exercise routine? Continued Yoga every day? Taken more group fitness classes? Would the weight gain have been significantly less if I could have eaten more normally and wasn’t pretty much confined to my bed or the couch for almost 2 months? Those are things I can’t know, because I can’t go back and see. Maybe it would have ended up with the same number on the scale. It’s hard to say.

It did make me very grateful for my husband. My sweet husband who worked away and came home every few weeks probably thought on more than one occasion “Wow” at my changing size. But he never let on to it. He never said anything to make me feel bad, much less to be acutely aware that I looked so starkly different. He touched my belly and said I didn’t look as pregnant as other women who were as far along as I was. He never once made me feel like my pregnant shape was any less desirable than my pre-pregnant shape. Whenever I did let on that I wasn’t feeling super awesome about my body he told me he thought I was beautiful and when I said “I won’t be this size forever” he said it didn’t matter what size I was. How did I get so lucky?

It also made me grateful for my kind friends who all said with sincere enthusiasm “You look great!” and to the people who still don’t 100% realize I am pregnant and say “Oh you can hardly tell!” I honestly don’t get it, and I don’t quite believe it. They are probably just being polite, or they think I’ve gotten insanely fat in a short amount of time, which makes me kind of chuckle. But that is besides the point.

The point I guess I am trying to make is that it is okay that I have gained this weight. I’ve never weighed as much as I weigh now before. None of my pre-pregnancy clothes fit, and probably won’t fit for months after I actually have the baby. My level of fitness is nothing like it was before I was pregnant. But I’ve spent the last 39 weeks letting my body do the coolest thing it has ever done. And I’ve found a way to trust it like I never have before. Those are both priceless life lessons. And there is no place for body shame or weight shame in that. There is only room for love. Love for my body, which has worked so hard to grow my daughter, and love for my daughter, who I hope with all my heart will grow up to love her own body.

 

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Our Birth Plan

Obviously this is what it all comes down to!

Anyone who knows me would say I am pretty type A. I like to have a plan and be organized and know what to expect and be in control. My poor husband. 😉 He is definitely not like this. The ying to my yang. He puts up with it well.

I knew I wanted to have a birth plan so that Matthias, myself, my doula and midwife would all be on the same page about some of the bigger decisions that are made “in the moment”. I wouldn’t want to leave Matthias in the thick of it to make some hard decisions when I am so blissfully out of it in labor, so I thought it would be best for us all to have a discussion before hand so that we know if complications do arise how to handle them and in what progression we would like to proceed with medical intervention.

I don’t need to be told that labor and delivery never go according to plan. That’s not what creating a birth plan was about for me. I am aware of the things that go on in delivery rooms, the complications that can arise, and the various ways that health care providers can treat these things. For me, creating a birth plan was a method of communication for consistency, so that our wishes can be heard, even if they don’t come to fruition. So without further ado, here is our birth plan! (P.S. I know it looks long and detailed, but a lot of this stuff was already discussed with my midwife prior to, it’s just all in one central place now!) :)

Birth Plan

The safety of the Baby and Amie precede any requests in the list below.

Labor

  • Please do not offer narcotic analgesia or an epidural
  • People present in the labor room: Amie, Matthias, Doula, Midwife, and second Midwife for delivery. Amie is okay with having another nurse present if required
  • Amie would like to be able to eat and drink as she feels appropriate
  • Amie would prefer natural pain relief techniques and the use of the birthing pool/tub
  • The only medication Amie feels comfortable using to manage pain is Entonox/Laughing Gas
  • Amie would like to avoid all artificial forms of induction including the use of Cervidil and Oxytocin
  • Amie would prefer to not have internal fetal monitoring, she is okay with EFM (External Fetal Monitoring), including continuous and intermittent auscultation
  • Amie would prefer to only have her midwife, Melissa, do internal exams
  • Amie would prefer to not have an IV, unless required for a specific procedure or treatment of GBS (Group B Strep)

Delivery

  • Amie is open to all pushing positions, and ideally, would like to push in the birth pool/tub
  • Amie would prefer spontaneous pushing, but coaching on method/technique is welcomed
  • Please do not let Amie push for longer than 2 hours. Unless birth is imminent, after 2 hours she would like to discuss her options for safe delivery of the baby
  • Amie would like to avoid having an episiotomy, and the use of the vacuum and forceps. If these are required, she would prefer vacuum over forceps

Immediately After Delivery

  • Please delay cord clamping until after the cord has stopped pulsating
  • Amie would prefer to have the baby immediately brought skin to skin and to breast feed as soon as possible after delivery
  • Matthias will cut the cord
  • Please do not give Erythromycin Eye Ointment to the baby, Vitamin K injection is Okay
  • Amie would prefer to deliver the placenta naturally, but is okay with interventions if necessary
  • Please save the placenta for encapsulation, we will provide a cooler

Postpartum Recovery

  • Amie would like to be discharged home from the hospital as soon as deemed safe by the midwife
  • Amie would like to perform the initial baby bath with Matthias
  • Please no formula – we will provide EBM (Expressed Breast Milk). If low CBG’s (Blood Sugars) are a concern, please discuss options with Amie

Unplanned C-Section

  • Amie would like to be awake for the Caesarian
  • Matthias will remain with the baby at all times, upon return to Unit 25 he will do skin to skin until Amie comes back from the Recovery Room
  • If necessary, please give EBM to baby prior to the use of formula
  • If possible, please use sutures instead of staples
  • If possible, please delay cord clamping

Will I be upset if all of the things on this list don’t happen? Of course not. At the end of the day, I know that labor and delivery require me to give up control over the situation and trust that my body and the team around me will make the right decisions to get our little girl out safely. Will I be upset if I end up having a c-section vs. a vaginal delivery? Absolutely not. Thank goodness we have that option available to us to ensure the safety of ourselves and our baby’s. And if it happens to me, well I can 100% rest assured that my midwife and doula and husband and myself tried very hard to have a vaginal delivery and that doesn’t always work out. NBD. :)

I’d love to hear your feedback and/or questions! Did you have a birth plan? Did it help or hinder your labor and delivery experience?