Sunday, May 27, 2012


So tomorrow is Memorial Day, and that always makes me think of my father-in-law, whom I have never met. He passed away when Russell was in high school. And Father's Day is coming up, which of course makes me think of my amazing husband and what an awesome father he is. So those things coupled together, make me super appreciative of my blessings. I am so, so, so fortunate to have my husband. He has been greatly influenced by his father and I remember when we were dating he told me that as a kid, one of his dreams was to be a dad, because his dad was so great. Seriously, how cool is that??!! As a kid, he dreamed of being a dad; boy did I luck out. He has completely embraced fatherhood like he was born to do it. He will take on challenges that I shy away from with the kids, taking them places that I avoid. He will be endlessly patient. He loves things like looking at the kids ears and how cute they are. He teaches the kids to make "metal face" when they listen to heavy metal music. He cooks with them. He cuddles, he disciplines, he wants to take road trips. I am blessed.
Thinking of the embryo transfer coming up in 2 weeks (yay!!!) I am so happy that I have my husband to support me. He is TERRIFIED of needles, yet he has been skillfully injecting me with hormones throughout this process. He is very protective and territorial with me ( hehehehee) and yet he is completely comfortable with me carrying someone else's child. How amazing is this man? Yes, at this point, I am just bragging, but holy crap, not every man would be cool with this scenario.
I just wanted to give a shout out to my best friend, my love, my support system, my amazing man. Memorial day makes me yearn for the relationship with the father-in-law I never met, simply because I know how much of an influence he had on Russell's life. I know that he would be proud, supremely proud of his son. As am I.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Birth Stories: How Stella and Roy came to be

Since my talk the other night at Expecting 101, I've been thinking so much about my birth stories. I had a request to share them, so here we go...

Stella Elayne
My entire pregnancy with Stella was amazing. I never got sick and felt great pretty much the whole time. Other than heartburn, which I had never had before in my life, I was really blessed to have an "uneventful" pregnancy. I was under the care of the same ob/gyn I had been seeing for 10 years and felt really comfortable with her. I didn't take any birthing classes; instead, I focused on what to do with the baby once she got here. Newborn care, breastfeeding, baby safety- all over that stuff. Labor? Delivery? Totally uneducated. I was under the assumption that labor will hurt, I'll take it as long as possible and then I'll get an epidural. The only thing I was scared of was an episiotomy. I discussed this with my doctor and she said what I now know is standard doctor B.S. "I'd rather have a controlled cut than an uncontrolled tear". Eek, that sounded like it made sense (oh woefully ignorant me!!!)
At my 39 week checkup, I was 3cm dilated and almost 100% effaced. My doctor suggested we induce next week, since my body was obviously ready. Great! Sounds good to me! I want to see my baby! I had no idea what that entailed or that since there was no medical reason for induction that it could cause complications. So I agreed and one week later, the day before my due date, I arrived at the hospital at 7:00am. I was so excited!!! A doctor I didn't know came in and broke my water. I was hooked up to a pitocin drip, which meant I couldn't get out of bed. I started feeling contractions and pretty quickly they really started to hurt. I was 5cm at this point and I was offered and accepted an epidural. That meant I needed a catheter too, because once the drugs kicked in, I felt nothing from the waist down. Nothing. They had to roll me from side to side every so often so the epidural would distribute evenly through my body. At 3:00pm, I was 10 cm and ready to push. Finally saw my doctor for the first time just as I was starting to push. She pulled over a tray of medical instruments, including a scalpel, and said she wanted to go ahead and do a "small incision". I freaked out and asked why, what was wrong?? She told me nothing, we just wanted to go ahead and "help this big baby out". I looked and Russell and he reminded me that I said I didn't want it, but now I was scared and feeling very vulnerable, so I agreed.
Stella was born at 3:42, 8lbs 1oz, 21inches long.
She stopped breathing the first night she was alive, while she was in the nursery away from me. I wasn't told until the next morning. The nurses did not honor my wishes to bring her to me every 2 hours to breastfeed. We had to spend an extra day in the hospital because of her breathing issue that first night. I never saw my doctor again the entire time we were there; I only saw her at my 6 week checkup. My healing from the cut was awful and I couldn't sit comfortably for 6 weeks. I told myself that if I had another child, it would be totally different. I would be more in control, more educated and I would NOT have any drugs in my system that might make my baby stop breathing. I learned about my options and I became a doula so that I could help other women learn about theirs.

James Roy:
With Roy, I also had a great pregnancy, just like Stella's. But this time I was working with a midwife and was planning a natural childbirth. I went into labor 2 days after my due date, at 5:00am. We had a normal couple of hours at home, calling people and taking Stella to daycare. By 8:00, I my contractions were 5 mins apart and coming on strong. I called the midwife and we got to the hospital at 9:00. I was contracting strongly, but in really good spirits. In fact, the nurse checking me in didn't think I was really in labor because I wasn't freaking out. My midwife checked my progress and I was 8cm!! (Told ya so Miss Nurse!) I labored in several positions, moving around and finding what worked best for me. My husband and mother were my "doulas" and were amazingly supportive. Around 10:30, I was laboring in the tub and it was amazingly helpful. I felt the really strong urge to push, so Nicole checked me again and I was 10cm, ready to go. I got out of the tub and pushed in several different positions until I found the right one (lying on my side, propped up). My water broke on its own with a really strong push. My support team had stopped laughing and joking, and the mood was really intense at this point, which is NOT what I wanted. After a big push, I asked Nicole if it was too late for the epidural, just to ease the tension. She said "You are NOT telling jokes in the middle of pushing!!!" Why yes, yes I was. (See, natural doesn't have to be excrutiating and no fun!) 10 minutes later, at 12:01pm, I reached down and helped pull out my son. He went straight to my chest, and never left my side. He didn't go to the nursery for anything; everything was done right there in the room with me. He started nursing 15 mins after he was born, and about an hour after giving birth I was up and moving around, feeling no pain. Absolutely none. It was amazing and powerful and so, so right. Roy was 8lbs, 13 oz, 21inches long. And no, I did not tear nor did I need a "cut". My midwife had this amazing new technological intervention called "olive oil" that she massaged me with to prevent that tear from happening. Much better than a tray of surgical instruments.

So there you go; the two different stories of my babies births. Neither better in terms of importance, but absolutely different in terms of who was in charge of my birth experiences.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Birth Stories

I was honored and privileged tonight to speak at a event sponsored by Birth Matters called "Expecting 101". It was a workshop for expecting moms and I was invited to share my birth stories because they are so different from one another. Those of you who know these stories know that the reason I became a doula is that my first birth, while amazing and beautiful, was full of interventions that I did not necessarily want. My trust in my doctor was shattered and my path as a doula and childbirth educator was set into motion. I do not regret anything about that birth, because not only did it bring me my beautiful daughter, it educated me. It was only in hindsight that I realized how much I learned from her birth. The fact that Stella and I have a soulful connection cannot be disputed. My birth with Roy was a completely natural experience, with no drugs, no intervention. It was powerful and spiritual and beautiful and awe- inspiring.

As I was sharing these stories tonight with complete strangers (and a few friends), I was struck by how true my own words were. How absolutely transformative birth is. Regardless of how your labor and birth plays out, it is transformative. You will never be the same. You are traveling an amazingly brave, honorable tradition that our mothers before us for thousands of years have traveled. You are becoming a goddess, a life giver, a teacher, a best friend, a mentor, a fool, a big sloppy mess; you are becoming perfection and folly all woven in together. You will forever walk around with your heart on the outside of your body. You cannot explain it or put in into words in any way that will do justice to the depth of the emotions you will feel.

Knowing that I am about to be pregnant again, I cannot stand how excited I am. I am soooo happy to be able to experience this again. What an amazing birth story this will be! How will it change me? How will it color the interactions with my own children? How will it affect the mother? How will my labor go? Will it be fast like my previous births? Will the mother experience what I am feeling as she watches me in labor? Time will tell.

I love my children so much that at times it is a visceral, physical ache. I want to hold them and never let them go. I relive their births over and over again, every detail still clear and fresh in my mind. I thank my Heavenly father that he blessed me so much with amazing, healthy, strong, vivacious, funny little monkeys. And I am damn proud that another family chose me to help them experience all of these emotions.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mother's Day

Mother's Day has always been very special to me because of the amazingly close relationship that I share with my mom. She has been my inspiration my entire life. Since my parents divorced when I was around 8, it was just the two of us. I had a very strained relationship with my father and only recently reunited with him after Stella was born. My mom did the work of two parents and did a damn fine job of it.
After becoming a mom myself, it put a whole new spin on things :) There has been nothing more powerful in my life than giving birth to my children. So I find myself extra reflective this Mother's Day as I am preparing to help someone else become a mom. I cannot possibly think of a better gift to give someone. It seems especially symbolic to me that I am beginning the last leg of this journey to become pregnant during this weekend.
I started hormone shots in my tummy today. I will do this every day for the next week and then have bloodwork and an ultrasound done to ensure that I have the right level of hormones in my system. If so, I discontinue that hormone (Lupron) and begin Delestrogen every 3rd day. That shot goes in the booty. I will continue that routine for 2 weeks and have more bloodwork and another ultrasound, once again, to assess my hormone levels. At the same time, the egg donor is undergoing her own hormone treatments and assessments. When they harvest her eggs and fertilize them, the fertility clinic will assess the embryos to determine if they are ready for transfer. If so, we do the transfer and I then begin taking Progesterone in addition to the delestrogen (another shot in the booty) every day, for several weeks. Hopefully the pregnancy takes and I stay pregnant :)
Happy Mother's Day to all of you moms out there, all mothers to be, all caregivers who help us with our children, and all the partners that support us.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Fingers crossed

So we have a tentative date for the embryo transfer. Tentative because it could change if the egg donor does not respond as she should to the hormone shots she will be taking. I have debated whether to share this info at all; what if it falls through? Worse, what if it doesn't, but I don't get pregnant? Worst case scenario, I get pregnant and lose the pregnancy. Eek. In the end, I decided to do the same thing we did with our own pregnancies. I know a lot of people wait until 12 weeks to ensure they have made it through the shaky first trimester before they share the news. I get that. It would be tough to have to go back and tell people that you lost a pregnancy after sharing the joyous news in the first place. However, our thought was that if we lost a baby, we would need all the love and support from our family and friends that we could get. Hence, the sharing of this date: June 11. About a month away. I REALLY hope that date sticks and I REALLY hope I get pregnant. It takes less than 2 weeks to find out if I am pregnant after the transfer and that will be a really long wait. But no longer than the almost 15 years that the intended parents have been waiting to complete their family :) I'll keep you posted!