Monday, February 28, 2011

Life in the Sick Lane

Just wanted to throw out a feeble excuse and half-hearted apology for taking the last few weeks off as 'sick time'. This certainly has been a bummer of a winter in our house! I was at the pediatrician's door 3 times last week for 2 different ear infections and again for a really bad cough and congestion. And that was just the kids! I've shaken the flu and was hardly able to stay awake long enough to brush my teeth before crashing for over a week! (and I am obsessive about brushing my teeth). Did I mention that my youngest are getting their two-year molars too? Yes the last few weeks have been one big um-ya-ya cough, cry, sneeze and sniffle fest on the couch while watching Wiggles Jungle Safari with Steve Earl for the 100th time. It's a good think I love that show and love the Croc Hunter. It does bring a tear to my eye seeing him with his wife and little girl on that show.

So here's to our health and yours, and hopefully to some more blog posts in the coming weeks!
PS – more belly photos are forthcoming…we’re having some technical difficulty (yes, even with Mr. Geek on the job). He’s been so busy helping me with runny noses that even keeping up on technology has been a challenge lately!

When the time is right: Getting ready for Babies!

One question that some couples ponder is whether they should set up the nursery and buy all the furnishings sooner or later in pregnancy. Some are tentative to do so early in pregnancy for fear that something should go terribly wrong and they would have to face a fully furnished nursery where such is no longer needed. On the other hand, if you wait until late in the pregnancy, you are more likely to be on bed rest or simply too tired and uncomfortable to help in putting everything together. There is also the possibility that you wait so long that you will be trying to get everything put together in time for the babies to come home from the hospital! Another less-than-ideal situation.
It is a personal decision. But for us, it was a no-brainer – only partly because we never dwelt on the things that could go wrong nor anticipated them. We bought our cribs early on simply because it was opportune to find them at a going-out-of-business sale. We had no choice in much of the matter because a friend of mine was staying in the room until I was about 30 weeks. We had a lot of fun, and she helped me paint the room while she was living there. As soon as she moved out we were working full-bore to put up cribs and furniture and wash bedding and clothing and get it ready. Being 30-34 weeks at the time, that was no fun task and thankfully I was never put on bed rest. If we had the opportunity, I think we would have started much sooner, perhaps around 25 weeks. I think this is a good time because once in the 27-30 week range, it is a common time to be put on bed rest.
The same principle applies when considering baby shower dates – early is good! Don’t plan a baby shower for when you are 34 weeks along! You won’t be comfortable and there is a good chance you won’t be able to attend your own shower because you’ll be on bed rest, or already have babies!
If you are like me, packing your bag for the hospital is another event that you will probably procrastinate on until the day you are flying down the freeway to the Birth Center! Packing for the hospital was a process for me. I think I started haphazardly packing things that I wouldn’t want to live without in a bag around 28 weeks. These were only items I would likely otherwise forget if I were packing in a hurry though. As the weeks went on, my packing became more thorough as I added items to the bag and finally considered it complete around week 34. Then, when my induction was finally scheduled I went and threw in a bunch more items! Of course, for my second pregnancy – after having one full-term twin pregnancy that was induced at 39 weeks – I don’t think I started packing anything until 34 weeks! Despite my own habits, I again urge you that sooner is better though!
That said, do what is best for your own sanity. I’m simply giving you food for thought.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Preparing for Birth: Birthing Classes

30 Weeks with Twins
184 pounds - Measuring 41.5 Weeks
I remember enjoying the drive ‘downtown’ and eagerly anticipating what we would be learning that night in our ‘Multiples’ birthing class. Somehow, each night, I was disappointed – yes, about having to pay for parking – but more so because I was hoping that we would cover more in class the next time. Not that the class was terrible, it covered the basics – options for pain relief, the basic stages of labor, a few laboring positions, maybe more, but I certainly can’t recall much more, except for what was thinly-veiled propaganda to make you an easier-to-manage patient.
What I do recall is being shown the operating room where even M.O.M.s delivering vaginally were to give birth - and then quickly realizing any notions I had about stretching, changing positions and choosing a productive pushing position flew quickly out the door. I remember being told by the instructor that I should find a new physician because my family practitioner would never be competent enough to manage a twin pregnancy. (When I asked one of the Perinatologists she coordinated with about this, he laughed and said my doc could hold her own! Too bad I lost about 2 weeks-worth of sleep before I had that  appointment!)
I also remember being told I could not have a doula because the delivery room 'would already be too crowded' – another falsehood.
But, I still recommend you take a hospital birthing class, for all the wrong reasons! If nothing else, you learn the basics and what to expect from the hospital and its staff. It gives you a hint on what you want to be clear about in your birth plan, what to ask your doctor special permission for and what you should prepare to accept if you must.
If you are the woman that wants to get an epidural the minute you get your hospital gown on, the woman who doesn’t care how it happens but just wants the baby out, then read no further. Take the hospital class, and follow doctor’s orders.
But if you are looking for ideas and methods on how to manage labor pain without drugs, how to increase the possibility of vaginal delivery, how to help your labor progressing and avoid failure to progress, you should take a birthing class in addition to the hospital class that provides more focus on this. There are many types of these methods, I’m sure you’ve heard of some of them like the Bradley method, HypnoBirthing, or Lamaze or ANYTHING that you think will help you. I’ve put links on the names to help your research.
I did not take any of these classes – mostly because I was largely ignorant of them going in to this whole experience. But I was fortunate enough to take maternity yoga classes from an instructor who was our doula. Please understand, the only yoga class I had ever taken previous to my pregnancy was once on vacation. I did it because appreciated the stretching and strength training it provided, just as I enjoyed dancing and theater in a former life!
I met our doula through an organization called 'The Childbirth Collective’ which is basically an group of doulas, lactation consultants and other birth & baby-related service providers in my area. The organization offers free info sessions on various topics surrounding pregnancy, childbirth and infant care. That is where our more comprehensive birthing education took place. After our first twins’ birth, our doula started an awesome business which I am totally going to plug here called Blooma. They offer a huge variety of, yoga classes, birthing technique classes, services, and ‘therapeutic services’ (ie.-massage) for expectant mothers. Look for such an organization in your area.
The yoga classes really helped me – especially with the yoga instructor there talking me through what we learned in class. I honestly cannot remember specific techniques anymore, but I do remember focusing on what she was saying seemed to take me away from the agony of the moment…even if I did end up asking for an epidural while hyperventilating in a bathtub! It got me through a completely induced, horrifically painful labor to 7cm - far enough to be assured that I wasn’t going to have a C section for failure to progress – which is a high risk for induced mamas!
You would think that I took a great birthing class in some technique for my second pregnancy, but sadly, no. My baby A had been breech until 36 weeks, so I was too afraid, and frankly, depressed that I would be having a surgical birth. Finally, when baby flipped, I flipped too! Mr. Geek and I immediately went in to Blooma for an emergency last-minute birthing basics refresher course!
Should we ever come across the need for anticipating giving birth again, I will do a better job of researching and taking a birthing class ahead of time, breech or vertex!