Thursday, September 20, 2012

So, natural or medicated childbirth?

With Kayden, I got an epidural after several hours of active labor.  If you’re interested in the whole story, it’s here.  Since I have had the epidural AND have gone the non-medicated route, here are my thoughts on both (per my friend Anna’s request)…

I have to say, the epidural is oh-so-wonderful!  No one has any reason to fear childbirth anymore because of this miraculous procedure!!!  I don’t fault anyone who chooses that route every single time.

This is your life on drugs.


Natural childbirth (with Pitocin—which could have made the contractions feel more intense than without) is the hardest physical and mental thing I’ve EVER EVER done.  When I was in the thick of labor, I firmly told my husband probably 10 times “WHY AM I DOING THIS? THIS IS INSANE!!” Yet…I kept going.  By the way, Darin was completely supportive of whatever I wanted to do.  He was not at ALL pressuring me to go without an epidural.  As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure he’d prefer me to have one so we could just have a birthday party!!

This is your life off drugs.

(and yes, I was throwing up in that trash can)


To the question “would you do it again?”…

Then: I was not hesitant to say, “whew.  Glad that’s over!  Epidural all the way with every future child!”  It’s kinda like running a marathon* (I suppose.  I never have run one, but I am pretty sure this is what it’d be like for me…).  When it’s over you are SO glad you did it, but you NEVER want to do it again.  Check that one off the bucket list and move on.

Now (only 2 months later): I am not so sure I won’t ever do it again.  I think if my labor was progressing quickly I would just do it again.  With Griffin, those 7 hours or so of intense pain felt like more than 24 hours.  When I “came to” soon after his birth, I really couldn’t believe we hadn’t yet been at the hospital for 24 hours.  It felt like FOREVER.  If that forever got shorter, I could probably do it again.

*Side note: I said that birth is like running a marathon (or any race, for that matter), but in one way it is very VERY different. Birth is like running a race when you have NO idea how far you have to run. In a race, you can pace yourself and you know exactly how much farther you have to go. Labor is like running an unknown distance. Someone keeps moving the finish line on you. Just when you think you’re close, you are told you probably have at least another 20 miles to run. Probably. Hopefully not more. It’s a real mental game when your doctor comes in and says, “well, you’re still dilated to 4 cm” even though you thought you’d been covering some ground for the last 8 hours.

Why would I do it again?? 

  • The HUGE sense of accomplishment. It feels incredible to do extremely hard things.  To know that I could control my mind and body enough to get through something that tough even though I had a way out, is sickly satisfying to me.
  • The teamwork with my partner is so rewarding.  I am sure I couldn’t do it without him. I love how well Darin and I work together in the birthing process.  Both times it has been so extremely unifying and pretty spiritual. 
  • Another reason I liked going sans epidural was that I could walk to the recovery room and not be in a wheelchair.  This time, I certainly did not miss the numb legs and dependence of not being able to walk for some time after delivery.  Now, I understand that that doesn’t always happen with an epidural because I’ve had friends who have walked just fine…so hopefully that would be my luck next time. 
  • Also, they say that with natural birth, the babies are much more alert immediately and that was definitely true with Griffin compared to Kayden—but they could have just been different from each other anyway.
  • Finally, I have felt it.  I know what it’s like to deliver a baby and feel the whole thing.  Like the pioneers…only I was in a safe, clean and comfortable hospital. :)  No, but really. I was visiting with a neighbor who is in her 90’s and had 11 siblings.  Her mother bore TWELVE children without any drugs.  Ouch.  And I knew the pain she went through for each one.  Empathy is way better than sympathy.

to recovery room Griff

NOTE: I only endorse saying YES to drugs for childbirth.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Griffin’s birth story—experiencing nonmedicated labor

Most of this was recorded by Darin the day after Griff was born.  His words are in black and my comments/additions are in red.  He did get most of it right—only a few minor corrections. ; )

Active labor

Rachel sang John Denver during her contractions. We had his albums playing in the background and Rachel chimed in every time a contraction came. She found it accomplished the same thing as a breathing exercise only it was far more enjoyable and distracting.  Yes, looking back, a little embarrassing, but hey…you gotta do what you gotta do! The embarrassing part was that if I started having an intense contraction and I didn’t know the song, I just sang whatever came to me (NOT pretty, I’m sure) and if the song was too slow, I’d sing the same song, but not staying with the music at all—I took my own tempo.  I just was in my own world and did whatever helped me get through each contraction.  I felt like I came back to Earth again between contractions.  It worked wonders for a few hours and was a great experience while it lasted. All of the attending nurses commented on the uniqueness of it all, and came in quietly because they felt like it was to special too interrupt.  As the contractions increased in intensity became super intense it became harder for her to focus and relax.  Eventually singing wasn’t cutting it.  When my singing became forced and tense, I realized it wasn’t helping my cause.  I felt like it was slowing my labor because I was battling every contraction with my voice instead of letting the contraction work for me. 

Side note: Later this singing experience became so significant to me as I remembered that my grandfather Keith Griffin (who our son is named after and who died before I could meet him) loved John Denver and would often sing to his music in the car. Such a sweet coincidence that he and I have that in common and it played such a roll in little Griffin’s birth.

Transition stage

Rachel reached a point about 3 hours away from pushing when she hit a wall. Singing was no longer helping, nor was counter pressure (which unfortunately didn’t work as well this time as it did during labor with Kayden). I told her to lock eyes with me and focus on relaxing. I am convinced this was pure inspiration Darin received.  I couldn’t believe how much this helped me. We fell into a groove where she would relax and sleep between contractions and then lock eyes with me during each contraction. At times I saw pure terror in her eyes. I did all I could to exude confidence and love through my eyes. He’s right—that’s exactly what I saw and felt from his eyes. We went on like this for a few hours, saying very little. Sometimes when she was being examined for dilation or was otherwise caught off-guard by a contraction she would lose her focus and begin to panic. I got her to lock eyes with me and we worked together to calm down again. If she was relaxed and focused before a contraction started, she could breathe through it without a hiccup. She told me it was still unbelievably painful, but being relaxed kept her from panicking. During all of this we tried a variety of positions: hands and knees on the bed, reclined on the bed, standing and slow dancing, and bouncing on an exercise ball (majority of the time). On the birthing ball she had a stretch of about 40 minutes where she didn’t move or change her breathing. She was like a statue. Rachel had her hands on my thighs and we both leaned forward and I supported her head with my forehead. She fell asleep between each contraction. Dr. Honey Onstad and our nurse Elizabeth came in twice during this”in the zone” phase and were obviously very impressed. But no one was more impressed than I was. My mom was in the room at this point and said it was really scary to see me in such extreme pain and then suddenly see me stop moving. She did an awesome job staying away though. She totally gave us the space we needed and kept to herself through most of this experience. Very smart Mom!

At about 1:30 she started to feel a lot more pressure at her cervix and could barely remain focused and rationale during her contractions. At one point she was considering an epidural. We locked eyes again and we relaxed. We had to do this a few more times. Jenny and I teamed up at this point to encourage and convince her that she still had the strength to finish labor and push. I was totally convinced she could do it. In addition to helping her relax I started to pray that the baby would come now! It was time! And so it happened. All three of us were praying for the same thing I’m sure.

  labor colage


The urge to push put Rachel over the top. She didn’t relax again, but one final eye-lock brought her back and I think calmed her enough to not be afraid. That is what happened over and over. She would get scared and then panic. The pain didn’t change much, according to her, but the relaxation helped her to move onward. Back to the pushing….. She pushed for about ten minutes and then suddenly the baby was out. It happened so fast!!!!! Her first push brought the crown of the baby out. She wasn’t coordinating her pushes with her contractions; instead she just maintained a constant push. It was incredible. Honey hardly had to help the baby out, until she saw that the cord was wrapped around Griffin’s neck. She didn’t tell us that in the moment, but just cut the cord and immediately put Griffin on Rachel’s chest. He was covered with blood and other lovelies, and wasn’t responding much. No crying or anything. The nurse quickly took him over to the table and wiped him off to “stimulate him”. My heart was caught in my throat. For a split second worst case scenarios started to flash across my eyes. I remember asking everyone, “why isn’t he crying? shouldn’t he be crying??” I was confused by the fact that everyone seemed to be so calm—even my mom, who I was sure would demonstrate some visible concern if she was thought there was something wrong.  I just watched her, with camera in hand, quietly and calmly make her way over to the nurse who had the baby .  It looked like she was just going to take some photos. Still… no one was answering or even acknowledging my questions.  Looking back, I am so grateful that everyone was careful to not panic me.  I already felt a bit delirious from labor and I’m sure I would have reacted completely irrationally if I knew there was something to be concerned about.  Fortunately that lasted only a few seconds before he started to cry and they returned the baby to me.  He had no residual effects of the cord trauma and we were blessed to have a healthy baby boy!


just after birth collageKayden meets Griff Collage

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Finish school or begin a family? or both??

I wanted to record this story in our family blog (which will eventually be turned into our family book). Maybe it will even be helpful if any of you are wondering when to begin your own families or how you can know when the time is right.  If you are seeking answers on this topic, read this talk.

Here's our story...

Darin and I had been married for a couple years and really wanted to begin our family. But I really felt like it was God's will that I get my masters degree (that in and of itself was a major decision with lots of prayer involved!). I didn't know how in the world I could do both. I also had to work full time for a year after grad school before I'd be fully certified as a speech-language pathologist. Once Darin and I really felt like we needed to have a child soon, we had a new idea come to our minds that we'd never before thought of: if we got pregnant during my second year of grad school we'd have the baby right after graduation and Darin could put off dental school just one year so that he could be home with Kayden while I worked and got certified. We were blessed to get pregnant right when we'd hoped to and everything fell into place. I even had a great pregnancy so it was no problem to finish grad school--a blessing I missed this second pregnancy! haha- I had a lot more back pain with this one, but I honestly kinda expected that my next pregnancies wouldn't be as easy--I believed I was being blessed and helped through school. A hidden bonus was there was so much that we both learned by having the experience of switching roles (Darin at home full-time and me working)... I believe that's another reason why God inspire us with that plan. We are so grateful we did it the way we did and we've had this precious time with Kayden!!

Thank goodness Someone sees the bigger picture and can help us know what would be best for us!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Underwear party


Kayden underwear Collage

For the last month, we’ve been having a big underwear party.  Yes, indeed I was stupid enough to dive into potty training while taking care of a newborn.  But we’re getting through it and Kayden has been a champ for the most part.  Yesterday we asked him to go get some clean underwear to put on—we didn’t specify that he only needed to get one pair.  He came out with a whole pile proudly saying, “I got underwears!”  When he started to put them on his head, we just made a big party out of it.

We started exposing Kayden to the little potty when he was 18 months old. The pediatrician recommended it since he was already communicating so well.  He thought it was fun and exciting at first.  We had a brilliant idea for a potty training method: let’s just put him in underwear and that should do it.  Surely he won’t like the feeling of being dirty and having an accident, so he’ll learn to do it in the potty.  Well, it worked at first…and then stopped working.  And then it got ugly, so we took a break for a few months.  After Griffin joined our family, I found myself absolutely disgusted when changing Kayden’s HUGE diapers and smelling his definitly-not-baby-poop-anymore.  It was so gross in comparison to the little newborn diaper changes that I committed then and there that we were DONE with size 4 diapers.  Going back to the wearing underwear technique failed again.  So, I tried letting him go naked.  That kid definitely responded to not having anything to “catch it.”  He’s NEVER had an accident when he was wearing nothing.  So, gradually, we’ve been able to have him wear underwear and he still remembers when he needs to go.  He’s been pretty awesome.  Oh, and my favorite part?  He calls the excrement “poop” and “peep.”  So logical and totally hillarious!  His nursery leader brought him in to me in the relief society room yesterday and (of course during a silent moment in the lesson) he loudly exclaimed “I have peep!” meaning “I need to pee.”  It got a good chuckle from the women in the room.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Joy in the Journey

Way back in October 2008, I took special note of president Monson's talk titled "Joy in the Journey". Even then I knew it would be one I needed to reread frequently once I was raising kids. I have it bookmarked on my phone now and pull it up occasionally. You can read the full talk here .

This part always always makes me cry....

"If you have children who are grown and gone, in all likelihood you have occasionally felt pangs of loss and the recognition that you didn’t appreciate that time of life as much as you should have. Of course, there is no going back, but only forward. Rather than dwelling on the past, we should make the most of today, of the here and now, doing all we can to provide pleasant memories for the future.

If you are still in the process of raising children, be aware that the tiny fingerprints that show up on almost every newly cleaned surface, the toys scattered about the house, the piles and piles of laundry to be tackled will disappear all too soon and that you will—to your surprise—miss them profoundly.

Stresses in our lives come regardless of our circumstances. We must deal with them the best we can. But we should not let them get in the way of what is most important—and what is most important almost always involves the people around us."

Sweet sweet reminders that help me get back on track and remind me of the bigger picture (the eternal perspective) and again find joy in my journey.