Tuesday, October 7, 2014

My Favorite Pregnancy Supplements!

My first pregnancy was virtually supplement-free. I was young, clueless, and too horribly sick to take anything anyway - even if I'd known what to take (which I didn't).

Thankfully, since then I've learned of a great array of supplements to help make pregnancy easier and healthier. I'd like to share my list with you, and I hope you'll reciprocate - I love hearing new ideas!

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, just a passionate amateur. You are responsible for doing your own research and accepting all risks before trying any supplements!

For Nausea and Vomiting of Pregnancy:

Click here to see my entire list of supplements (and dietary/lifestyle changes) to avoid severe nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. Preferably, these supplements and dietary changes would be started as far in advance of conception as possible.

Additionally, I enthusiastically recommend all supplements and dietary changes at the above link for all pregnancies, not just those plagued by morning sickness. Check it out!

For Pregnancy and Postpartum in General:

BASICS: Vitamin B complex, Vitamin D, Multivitamin, Magnesium, DHA (fish oil), Coconut Oil

Why: These are the supplements that provide much of what is missing in the standard American diet.

When: Every day, preferably pre-conception onward (i.e. all the time!)

Ideally I would add: Probiotics! Probiotics are awesome for just about everything, and gut health is extremely important during pregnancy (as it always is). This time around, I have neglected probiotics simply because I was eating so many probiotic lacto-fermented foods. But if funds were not an issue, I would definitely add a good probiotic to the mix.

Desiccated Liver Pills

Why: This supplement was recommended to provide micronutrients I might miss in the early first trimester when my diet was so limited. I like it so much that it's now part of my regular supplement regimen! Read all about the benefits of dessicated liver here. Of course, if you like liver, you can always just cook it and eat it. I'll stick with pills.

When: All the time! Especially good to build up iron stores before baby is born.

Other options: If you'd like a good source of non-animal-based iron, try Floradix. I'm guessing that liver provides a superior micronutrient profile, but Floradix is good too!

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea

Why: Good for everything "woman-wise"! Morning sickness, birth preparation, etc. Read all about it here! I am currently drinking two glasses a day, and I also plan on doing the "miracle birth brew." I'll let you know how it works! (Directions for regular tea and for full-strength birth tea are in above link.)

Bulk herbs may be purchased online at several excellent online stores. Local friends, try Desert Sage Herbs in Chandler, AZ. The price per pound is slightly higher than online, but when you take shipping charges into account, it is far cheaper than purchasing online.

When: All the time, but especially during pregnancy!

Also try:
  • Nettles! - Another great herb for women! Can be mixed with RRL to make tea.
  • Alfalfa! (See below for more information) - You can add alfalfa to your tea mix if you prefer that over pill form. 
  • Peppermint! - For flavor. 
  • See this tea recipe for directions on combining the above into a pregnancy tea! 

I have no idea why this picture turned out upside down, but you get the idea. 

Alfalfa Pills

Why: Building my vitamin K stores (to help with postpartum bleeding) and building up baby's vitamin K stores (since we choose not to accept the vitamin K shot). Alfalfa also has a ton of great micronutrients - check it out here! It's an awesome supplement. Please note that I am talking about alfalfa (the grass) not alfalfa seeds.

Alfalfa can also be taken as a tea rather than a pill (see above).

If you want another way to get super-high levels of "green stuff" (i.e. concentrated greens), try liquid chlorophyll! (Hint: It's made from alfalfa.) We always keep a bottle of this wonderful stuff on hand to use as green food coloring for frosting and ice cream (instead of the typical petroleum derivative), but it's also an amazing supplement. Many people put it in their drinking water.

You can always just eat terrifically high amounts of greens (spinach, etc.), but I am notoriously bad at that!

When: Preferably all the time (pregnant or not), but at least during the last trimester.


Why: Date consumption has been shown to have amazingly positive results on pregnancy health and birth statistics! Read the summary here (or the original 2011 study here).

It's also a great excuse to eat one of the yummiest foods on the planet.

When: All the time, but at least during the last four weeks of pregnancy (~6 dates per day).

I'm entirely too tired to find a picture of a date, so you'll have to make do with a picture of a toddler with a date shake! Does that count? 

Liquid Calcium-Magnesium

Why: Prevention and treatment of afterpains!

Read about my complete afterpain protocol, which has taken my afterpains from debilitating-excruciating (first birth) to quite manageable (third birth).

When: Always good, but especially during the last trimester and then during the postpartum.

Afterpains Tincture

Why: This stuff is great for helping with afterpains! Unfortunately the company from whom I usually buy my tincture has stopped selling to the public, but there are comparable products out there. Just do a quick Google search!

When: Immediately after birth (I take mine within 60-120 seconds after birth) and thereafter as needed.


Okay, dear friends! It's your turn! What pregnancy supplements do you take to make pregnancy easier, happier, and healthier? Let me know!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Arizona Homebirth Families Under Attack

I am very disheartened as I report that Arizona has recently turned from a state that respects and honors the rights of homebirth families...

... to a state which is actively attacking and removing the fundamental human rights of homebirth families.

Let's look at some of what's going on in the sunshine state:

Removal of Informed Consent

Informed consent is the hallmark and bedrock of midwifery care. In true informed consent, a client is presented with all information (including pros and cons) of every available test and/or procedure. The client makes a decision, and the midwife then respects that decision.

Under new interpretation of statutes, informed consent has been almost completely removed. An overwhelmingly large number of prenatal, intrapartum, and postpartum tests and procedures are now absolutely mandatory, and the client has no say in decision-making for herself or her baby. (See the full list here.)

And what happens if the clients should be so bold as to assert their basic human right to refuse the administration of an unwanted test or procedure?

Mandatory Client Abandonment

That's right. Should a client refuse a "mandatory procedure" during the prenatal, labor, or postpartum periods, the midwife is commanded to terminate care instantly. That means dismissing a pregnant client who refuses an unwanted test. It means packing up and walking out the door if a client refuses the now mandatory vaginal exam(s) during labor. For any of a large number of possible infractions, a midwife is to abandon the client instantly if the client refuses compliance.

Let's go back briefly to the "now mandatory" vaginal exam(s) during labor.

Guess what? A client no longer has the right to say NO.

There are words to describe what it means when someone says, "Let me stick this in your vagina, or I will do bad things to you."

Coercion. Assault. Rape.

Coercive "choice" is not choice, because true informed consent implies the possibility of unpunished informed refusal. When the "choice" is "do what I want you to do, or I will do something bad to you," that is coercion - not informed consent. When a midwife is forced to say, "Let me do a vaginal exam, or I will walk out this door and let you birth on your own," she is being forced to practice coercive and abusive care.

Hospital birthers are no strangers to coercive care. It is common, if not the norm, for obstetricians to practice this type of care. I've experienced it myself. But homebirth clients seek out homebirth midwives because they specifically wish to have their wishes, decisions, and the right to personal and medical autonomy respected and upheld. Homebirth midwives practicing under the golden standard of informed consent are now being forced to practice coercive care, and the basic bodily and medical rights of homebirth clients are subsequently violated.

More Mandatory Client Abandonment

Additional requirement that midwives abandon care come under the following circumstances:

(1) A client may not see her midwife after the baby is 5 weeks and 5 days old. Once the baby turns six weeks, a client may not see her midwife for any reason (without risk of the midwife losing her license). This means that a client may not see her midwife for continuing issues - like recovery from birth injuries, or breastfeeding problems - or for well-woman care.

(2) A client may not see her midwife once a pregnancy or labor has been transferred, however briefly, to a physician or hospital. This means that if a client has any reason to transfer care to a doctor's care or to a hospital (for example, for fluids, suturing, postpartum complications, etc.), she may no longer see her midwife for any reason - even after the attending physician or hospital has cleared her to return to the care of her midwife. She is now abandoned to find new care and cannot see her midwife for any reason - even if her pregnancy/labor/postpartum is now completely normal, or if she needs simple care like a postpartum check-up or help with breastfeeding.

See the full run-down here.

Where Is This Headed?

It is believed that this is only the beginning in attacks against Arizona homebirth families. In other words, if you're not scared, you should be. Important human rights can be only one tiny personnel or policy change away from being obliterated, and we are seeing this happen here. This leads me to the most important point:

How Can I Help?

Let me make this clear: This is an issue that must be tackled by consumers. You. Me. This means - GET INVOLVED NOW if you want homebirth rights to be protected (and restored) in the state of Arizona. To change the minds and hearts of those in charge is going to take serious hard work.

Here's how you can help.

(1) Subscribe to this blog.

(2) Join the Rights for Homebirth Facebook group for activism updates.

(3) Make sure you are actively participating in any online forums provided by your care provider so that you can get important information.

(4) Contact your midwife and let her know that you love and support her. Ask what she needs and how you can help.

(5) Write letters. A basic list of persons concerned is added below. Please keep letters polite, formal in style, non-attacking, focused on the rights of homebirth families, and using keywords like medical and bodily autonomy and parental rights.

A Brief Aside

It is the absolute conviction of this blogger that:

(1) Homebirth is a healthy and viable choice for families.

(2) The right to informed consent and refusal and the right to personal and medical autonomy are absolute in all circumstances.

Should you disagree with the above (and I hope you don't!), please know that I am not interested in starting debates here. Any "I love to see the rights of homebirth families being attacked!" comments will be quietly deleted without comment.

Additionally, please know that I do not have all the answers. If you have questions, please head over to the above-mentioned blog and/or Facebook group to ask questions of people who are truly in the know.

And with that said...

Get involved now! 


Letters may be sent to the following individuals. Email addresses are included below, but physical letters are almost always more effective. If you can take a few minutes, print them out and mail them!

(I directed my letter to Director Humble and did a CC to all the others, so I only had to write one letter and sent a copy of it to each of the below.)

Director Will Humble
Office of the Director
150 N. 18th Avenue, 5th floor
Phoenix, AZ 85007

The Honorable Janice K. Brewer
Arizona Governor
Executive Tower
1700 West Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85007
(email form is on her website: http://azgovernor.gov/contact.asp)

Cara Christ, Chief Medical Officer
Division of Licensing Services
150 N. 18th Avenue, 5th floor
Phoenix, AZ 85007

Pragathi Tummala
Arizona Department of Health Services
1740 W. Adams Street
Phoenix, AZ 85007

Donald Gibson
Arizona Division of Licensing Services
Office of Special Licensing
Phoenix, AZ 85007

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Alert for Arizona Homebirth Families

Hello, friends -

It seems that some nasty stuff is starting to happen in the state of Arizona regarding licensed midwives and their clients. Read all about it here (three entries total), and remember to subscribe for further updates:

One Arizona Midwife: Midwifery on Trial

I will post more details, including any meetings or consumer action requests, when I am made aware of them. In the meantime, please join these two Facebook groups to keep abreast of the issues:

Rights for Homebirth (Community)
Rights for Homebirth (Group)

If anyone has any further information, please feel free to let me know in the comments!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Podcasts Devoted to Extreme Morning Sickness! Don't Miss This!

I'm so excited to share this with you all!

Rachel, a correspondent of mine and multiple-time hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) mama, has started her own website with regularly-released podcasts exclusively devoted to the subject of HG (a.k.a. extreme morning sickness).

In her podcasts, Rachel talks to HG survivors and activists as well as researchers (professional and amateur) who are investigating causes and cures. Each podcast is professionally edited, quite interesting, and relatively short. I'm currently working my way through her current archives and am enjoying them greatly.

Visit Rachel's website and check out her podcasts! This is a great way to connect with other HG mothers, and also for maternity care providers to learn more about extreme nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (NVP). 

HyperG Pregnancy: A Podcast About Hyperemesis Gravidarum

HG mamas and researchers, Rachel is always interested in talking with HG survivors and mamas who are engaged in HG experimentation and research. Email her at hypergpregnancy@gmail.com or leave a comment on her site if you'd like to chat with her!

Enjoy! Thanks to Rachel for providing this awesome resource!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Expecting Great Things!

Hello, dear readers!

I realized that I have not yet stopped by to announce that.... we are expecting! We are very grateful for and excited about the Lord's newest blessing to our family, and we can't wait till the new little one puts in an appearance - Lord willing, this coming Thanksgiving or thereabouts!

I am doing pregnancy updates every fortnight on my other blog, so hop on over if you'd like to share in our journey!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Extreme Morning Sickness: A Success Story!

I've realized that I really should be cross-posting morning sickness information from my other blog, so here goes!


I wanted to quote from the comments to highlight another hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) success story - an HG mama whose efforts have resulted in a subsequently HG-free pregnancy. Her method and the method I'm using have both similar and dissimilar points, but an underlining similarity of plan and purpose. Here are her own words! (All emphases mine.)

"I've been following your blog for quite some time and really enjoy it, thank you. I've been researching gestational diabetes and insulin resistance and believe these may be the underlying cause of some cases of severe pregnancy sickness, along with inflammation. This can be fixed before pregnancy and does not require a very low carb diet. Avoiding omega 6 fats is a very important part of treating insulin resistance. I also don't necessarily think low-carb during pregnancy is safe, after reading a few journal articles that say it causes epigenetic changes and obesity in offspring. Perhaps getting insulin resistance under control before pregnancy could be done instead of the ultra-low carb diet. I would prefer to do this and stay out of ketosis, while still taking advantage of a higher fat/higher protein diet.
After reading the book "Pregnancy Sickness", I do not feel vegetables and herbs are safe during the first trimester. Berries are a low-carb fruit that could be subbed for veggies. Boiling meat is the best way to avoid both toxic charring and bad smells. Coconut milk/oil/flour is high in fats and/or fiber and doesn't have the bad omega 6 oils. Nuts have toxins and omega 6. Milk and especially cheese spikes insulin so probably not a good idea. 
I'm planning to start trying in a few months and I have a blog so I will keep you posted on my diet and if it works. I want to be low-carb but just above ketosis. I have strips to test this. I am trying to merge low-carb, paleo, "pregnancy sickness protocol" and manage insulin/inflammation all at the same time.
Some supplements that help manage insulin are magnesium, alpha-lipoic acid, and DHA/EPA. B vitamins seem to be of great benefit for pregnancy and health problems, especially "non-folic acid" forms of folate such as: folinic acid and methyl-folate. (Excess B vitamins are lost in the urine). My body does not process folic acid so my doctor has me on methyl-folate instead (Deplin). Of course B6 is a must for pregnancy sicknesses.
I read an article that said alpha lipoic acid helped infertile women concieve but am not sure if it is safe during pregnancy. Magnesium and DHA are safe and recommended, along with vitamin D which boosts the immune system, reduce inflammation, seems to prevent developmental disorders, and also prevents severe flu complications. I also think there should be a greater focus on vaginal health (ie vaginosis and candida) and anemia, especially getting these under control before pregnancy for better outcomes.
"Well my thought is the same as Dr. F: that insulin resistance leads to infertility and NVP/HG. He used to treat with metfomin, now uses a low carb diet, but there are other ways to lower insulin resistance:
  • weight lifting (the more muscle that can store glycogen, the less insulin resistance) 
  • avoiding omega 6's 
  • supplements: magnesium, alpha lipoic acid, vitamin D, DHA, probably B vitamins 
  • lowering overall inflammation with a gluten-free paleo/GAPS/SCD diet.
"No fancy ideas here, just a compilation of ways other than low-carb diet to control insulin:)
"Metabolic problems in moms such as insulin resistance, diabetes, obesity have been linked to autism in the children (recent research). One more reason to get insulin under control way before TTC. 
"Power of 10 and Body by Science are excellent books to teach high intensity weight lifting. This type of workout is done one a week and build the most amount of muscle in the fastest amount of time. They also noted that when pregnant women did the workouts before and during pregnancy, they had low incidence of diabetes, and much easier labor. The mechanics of the workout (slow controlled movements while avoiding holding the breath) are very similar to what women do in natural labor. Having high muscle mass in pregnancy leads to a much quicker recovery.
"It's just amazing how all this stuff ties together. I think a huge problem is our modern lifestyle, if my theory is right, it makes NVP/HG way worse.
"I just had my HemoglobinA1C and insulin retested, going to see if the weight lifting and diet and supplements have lowered the A1C."

And the results!
"Hi, I am the one who left the long comments above. I had a healthy pregnancy (despite placenta previa and borderline glucose numbers) and healthy baby, 8 lbs 1oz. He is now one and I expecting again, 6 weeks and feeling great. I used the supplements I mentioned. If I had been able to exercise I might have had better glucose but it wasn't full blown GD. I needed a lot of mag, 800 mg a day. Didn't throw up once, no HG or nausea. :)"

Many congratulations to this mama!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Magnesium and Morning Sickness

Re-posting from my morning sickness blog!


If you're doing any research into NVP (nausea and vomiting of pregnancy, i.e. morning sickness) prevention, you have surely run across the magnesium-NVP link. There are many people out there who believe that magnesium deficiency is (fully or partially) behind pregnancy nausea - fascinating stuff!

An interesting fact is that almost all Americans are magnesium-deficient already, due to the modern farming practices that have resulted in magnesium-deficient soils, and thus magnesium-deficient foods. Considering how vital magnesium is to the human body, it's not surprising that we're experiencing widespread detrimental health effects from this situation. For more information, see "The Magnesium Miracle."

I wanted to collect the articles that I have on magnesium and NVP for quick reference. Definitely check them out!

Regardless of whether magnesium supplementation is "the answer" for some women dealing with severe NVP, it behooves all of us to consider magnesium supplementation - either through oral supplements like Natural Calm, or through products like Magnesium Oil (applied to the skin - buy here) or Epsom Salts (used for baths). An additional option is magnesium injections, which can be obtained through a naturopath.

Remember that magnesium absorption may be affected by pregnancy, so it's probably important to raise your magnesium levels before conception.

I've seen lots of great health benefits through magnesium supplementation, and it's now on my "always" list of supplements. Highly recommended!

  1. Raising Arrows: Magnesium Supplementation and Morning Sickness
  2. Modern Alternative Mama: Magnesium May Solve Common Health Issues
  3. Mommypotamus: The REAL Cause of Morning Sickness
  4. Wellness Mama: How I Avoided Morning Sickness
  5. Article: The Miracle of B Complex B-12 and Magnesium Injections
You will notice that most of these articles are about normal morning sickness, not HG. However, it's one of those things that can only help - why not try it? Solving nutritional deficiencies and strengthening our bodies is always a positive step in preparing for pregnancy, regardless of whether or not it's "the answer" for each individual woman. I would list magnesium supplementation as an essential for preparing for pregnancy, especially in post-HG women. 

Thoughts, dear readers? 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Video: Surprise Twin Homebirth!

Have you all seen this video yet? It was posted a year or so ago, but I just recently ran across it.

Wow, what a birth!

This birth is a planned midwife-attended homebirth - the surprise comes when "birthing the placenta" suddenly transforms into "Um, that's another baby!"

The midwife mentions in the early part of the video that the mother had mentioned "twins" several times, and both midwife and mama commented that Baby A was rather small for a singleton (heh heh heh). And then... Baby B makes his entrance!

I have read several surprise-twin birth stories - and my husband himself would have been a surprise twin had his mother not insisted on an X-ray. But this is the first surprise-twin birth video that I've seen, and I was overjoyed to find such a treasure.

One thing that surprised me greatly was the fact that Baby B's birth seemed even rougher on mama than Baby A's birth. I had always assumed that the second birth of a twin arrival would be super-easy. Not so! However, I've seen the same thing in other twin birth videos. Perhaps because the mother is already tender from the first birth, and the second is just adding insult to injury? Not sure.

Enjoy! And congratulations to this sweet family!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

It Took Me Long Enough!

For the past few weeks, I have been working on a rather time-consuming project - cleaning up the link lists on this blog!

And goodness gracious - I didn't realize how horribly outdated they were!

Every year I post a request on our local network of birth professionals asking for people to notify me of updated links and information, but in going through the links I realized that step was not enough. When I undertook the project of going through each link, I found that a solid one-quarter to one-third of the links were completely dead - and that was aside from the links that were no longer accurate (i.e. midwives listed under practices they've left, etc.).

I have greatly pared down my link lists. Some lists I have removed completely, such as lists that were somewhat redundant (like lists of Bradley teachers and links to the Bradley site where teachers can be found). Some lists I reduced for purposes of clarity (like taking my blog list down from 100 to 20). All of the dead links have been cleared, with apologies to the birth professionals represented - unfortunately, I can't chase down the hundred or so birth professionals in question to find out if they're out of business or have just changed their website addresses.

I have also taken care to make sure that all midwives are listed with their current practices, and that all name updates (for example Boojum to iWomen's Health Care) have been accounted for.

(I have also added a list of some of my favorite blogs on the topics of womanhood, marriage, mothering, and the link. Enjoy!)

Local friends, if you know of any wonderful practitioners who should be on these lists, or if you yourself would like to be listed, do let me know! I need to know your full name or company name, your service category (see below), and your website.

Current categories include:

Homebirth Midwives
Hospital Midwives
Homebirth Doctors
Birth Doulas
Postpartum Doulas
Placenta Encapsulation Services
Independent Childbirth Educators
Birth Centers
Waterbirth Rentals
Pregnancy Chiropractic
Breastfeeding Support Groups
Breastfeeding Counsellors and Lactation Consultants
Pregnancy & Birth Photographers
Crisis Pregnancy Centers

My blog focuses on resources within the Phoenix valley, but submissions for anywhere in the state of Arizona are welcome.

Love to you all! Have a great weekend! 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Time for a Birth Story! (*Wild Celebration*)

Re-posted from my other blog!


That's right, folks! Time for a birth story! Y'all probably didn't know that we've been concealing a pregnancy, but now it's time to meet the new young'un!

Just kidding. I can hide a pregnancy for about as long as it takes me to get from the bathroom to the computer.

BUT since I just put up my birth story sidebar (on my other blog) and simply cannot find where I published my second birth story there, I have decided to republish it!

As it will come up in your newsfeed (my apologies), I'll just invite you to enjoy reading it again!

One HUGE added bonus is that I have taken the time to go back, find our birth photos, and add them to this originally picture-free story. Is that fun, or WHAT? Many of them I haven't used, because at the time I chose - for whatever reason - to labor completely nude. It was the hippie in me coming out. But there were lots of usable pictures, and even our close friends have not seen these - and I hope you enjoy them!

Both DH and I look completely different - this birth was eight years ago! - and I think you guys will get a kick out of seeing how we've changed.



We had my last prenatal on Monday, June 20, 2006 - my due date. We were worried because Wendi, our midwife, was leaving the country for six weeks that Saturday, and didn't want to have to have another midwife if we were a few days late. Wendi, bless her, wasn't a bit worried, and she was right. I lost my mucous plug the next day, so things were in motion.

(I should mention how I came to choose a midwife - When I got pregnant, we didn't have maternity coverage. In my cherubic innocence I thought that "no maternity coverage" meant that while our insurance wouldn't cover hospital birth, they would cover other services [such as homebirth midwifery]. Well, I was wrong - they wouldn't cover any of it. But by that time I'd done enough research and read enough stories that I was hooked! I didn't care at that point - I knew I wanted a midwife.)

On Wednesday night I took a firm hold on DH and told him that we were going to get our to-do list done, as I was tired of putting things off indefinitely. So we hung our clothesline, set up our bassinet, and did several other things. My one and only instance of nesting!!!

Thursday morning I awoke with a start at 4:28 a.m. with the odd dual sensations that (a) I really needed to use the restroom, and (b) I was already doing so! It didn't take me too long to realize that my water had broken. I was nervous and excited! I got up and cleaned like a maniac and then got dressed, being very careful to do my makeup and clothes nicely, since our midwives would be coming over! (Ha! As if that would last!)

My contractions immediately made themselves known. I had had rolling Braxton Hicks contractions since my second month of pregnancy, but as soon as my water broke they became much more intense and uncomfortable - labor had started.

When DH got up, he immediately freaked out and insisted on calling Wendi. After that we had breakfast, and then I headed back to bed. Getting up at 4:30 a.m. and cleaning wildly had been tiring! So I slept lightly, waking up for contractions.

Sometime that morning the toilet decided to overflow, so there I was - trying to help DH clean up a flooded bathroom in between contractions. Rather amusing! We called for emergency maintenance help which, as expected, never came, so the carpet had to dry on its own. We were too busy to fuss with it anyway.

Our doula Jennie came over in the early afternoon. Sometime during the afternoon, Wendi came over to check on us. I asked her if I could labor in water, and she said yes, so I immediately headed to the bathroom and stayed there - first in the shower, and then in the bath.

I have to put in a plug here for laboring in water. This may sound weird, but when I got into the tub/shower, labor pain initially vanished. Completely. It was wonderful. Of course it built again from there, but I don't think I could have done it out of water. It is, after all, reputed to reduce labor pain by about 40 percent, and I highly concur.

Another amusing thing was my total loss of modesty. When I initially got in the tub and DH asked if our doula could come in to say hi, I was really reluctant. Well, it went downhill from there! By the end of the night I was walking around stark naked in front of everyone and not caring a bit! So funny.

One thing I also learned about myself was that I am loud in labor. Very loud. Think male sea lion during mating season. Or maybe a wounded bull moose. Many women are. I'd read enough birth stories to know this, so I didn't try to fight it (couldn't have, probably, anyway). So I yelled my head off with each contraction! Thankfully, none of our neighbors seemed to notice.

Setting up the (dead) video camera.
Somewhere during early evening, DH and Jennie set up the birth pool in our living room and filled it up with warm water. I immediately headed in there, and the relief was once again great. Wendi and her back-up, Sue, arrived about this time. However, I was never actually able to say hi to them. It is true that in labor you do loose a lot of functions you normally have - such as conversation. Your whole body is focused involuntarily on labor, and all extraneous functions cease. Makes sense. I actually spent several hours trying to say hi, and never managed it. Maybe I should apologize sometime!

However, after going through childbirth, I realize how important it is to have an advocate with one - an informed husband or doula. A woman is really helpless during a lot of childbirth - she is vulnerable to suggestion and unable to fight for her rights. If I'd been with an unscrupulous caregiver, he could have given me pitocin, an episiotomy, whatever he'd cared to, because I wouldn't have noticed and/or been able to stick up for what I wanted.

Back-up midwife, Sue!
This last part of labor was not a lot of fun. Everyone just sat around quietly, giving support when needed, while I dealt with things (loudly!). During the worst part I had a massive throwing-up spell, signaling transition (gotta love it!). It was during this time that I broke out in the standard "I can't do this anymore, dang it!!!" lingo. However, I was giggling inwardly at being so stereotypical - breaking out the typical transition phraseology like I'd been reading it from a script!! LOL

This single picture is why midwives are awesome. 

Dealing with a contraction. 

Sleeping through a break between contractions. 

Our cat was totally freaking out. She had no idea what was going on - we have some great pics of her going around sniffing everything.

"There are some really weird hormones in the air and I am NOT happy about it!"

When I would ask "Am I almost finished?", Wendi would wisely say, "Soon!" I'm so glad she didn't tell the truth - I couldn't have handled it. She also told me that the only way she could know for sure was to do a vaginal exam. I refused each time. I knew that I couldn't handle it emotionally if she said something like "2 centimeters!"

When my vocalizations changed from yelling to grunting, Wendi said she'd like to check to see how things were going. She did, and not only were we fully dilated, but baby was at a station of +4! Almost there!

I should say that it is one of the proudest points of my pregnancy that the first vaginal exam of my entire pregnancy was an hour before baby's birth. Wendi is so, so hands-off (not all midwives are), and I loved that about her. No fuss!

She tried to help me push more effectively in the water, and then after a while suggested I get out. Wendi mentioned later that most primips (first-timers) don't end up giving birth in water, as they tend to find the lack of gravity confusing. I concur!

So we went in the bedroom and pushed in a variety of positions, ending up with seated. I pushed like anything for one or two hours. It hurt! At the very end I just gave up and pushed, because I wanted it to be over more than anything. And baby Caleb was born!! At 10:35 p.m. - 18 hours and seven minutes of labor. We'd refused prenatal ultrasound, so the first big excitement was finding out that he was a boy! DH had desperately wanted a girl, but he immediately fell in love with his baby BOY and hasn't looked back since.

Calling the family - it's a boy!

Just a few minutes old! 

We'd discovered mid-labor that our video recorder had quit, so our doula only caught the last minute or so on her camera. Big disappointment. Next time we're going to check it before labor starts!

One of my big disappointments was that I (through some odd act of divine intervention) missed out on the birth ecstasy - that "my baby, my baby!!" moment. I was really bummed. I wasn't actually that interested in baby at all. I just wanted to go to sleep! But he was pretty cute, and we spent the next couple of weeks falling in love.

Wendi and Sue and Jennie and DH took turns cleaning up, getting rid of the birth pool, bathing baby, and doing a gentle newborn exam (we refused eye prophylaxis and vitamin K and Hep B vaccine, and delayed newborn tests). I myself had only torn slightly (nothing to worry about), so I went and showered while they changed the sheets (after eating an enormous bowl of strawberries and cottage cheese, I should mention) and then went back to bed. They all left a couple of hours later.

(I should mention that midwives don't forbid eating during labor - in fact, they encourage it - but after breakfast, I hadn't wanted to eat anything. I just drank Gatorade. So I hadn't eaten since about 6 a.m. that morning!)

Doula Jennie.

Our beloved midwife. 

So that's my birth story! I have a feeling that I'm going to be coming back to my blog every couple of hours today to input little details I've forgotten, but that is the main!

Super-long cord! 

Placenta examination. 

Newborn exam. 

Newborn exam. 

Taking heart tones with daddy! 

And that was our first (live-birth) birth story! Reviewing this birth story and adding pictures has been so much fun! Thanks for joining me on this journey!