Friday, February 14, 2014

Answers and Images

I have received a few questions so I would like to use this blog to answer those and if you have any questions, feel free to ask and I will answer as much as I can.

A few people have asked about Beckett's name. In a round about way he was named after Beck, the musical artist. About two weeks before Beckett was born, Luke and I were saying how we hadn't really thought of a name we really liked yet. With our son Owen we had a list of names we liked and knew that he was an Owen once we met him on his birthday. So while we weren't trying to name our baby before he was born, our list was slim at best and neither of us loved any of the names we had come up with. So Luke and I were jokingly tossing names back and forth. At one point I said I liked Tate, Luke replied that he didn't as it seemed to abrupt then went on to suggest Nate. I was confused since that is just as abrupt and joked that what are we just rhyming now. Luke then suggested Toby, but we recently met a Toby (and while I doubt he would mind at all if we used his name, it felt a little weird to us). So then I said what so maybe Moby, since it rhymed. Again this was all in joking. I said that we would have to name the baby Beck though because Beck is way cooler than Moby. And then Luke said well actually...I do kind of like that. So it went on our list and when he was born, he was most definitely a Beckett.

Our midwives are Certified Professional Midwives, there are also Certified Nurse Midwives. Because of the rules in Virginia, CNM's do not attend homebirths in this state. In other states CNM's can attend homebirths and they are permitted to carry some medicine, including oxygen. When we had our first consultation our midwives talked about the fact that they are CPM's and not permitted to carry any actual medicine. They do take your blood pressure and your pulse, and listen to the baby with a special stethoscope rather than a Doppler (the sounds is much clearer!) These are women who have attended many births and become certified professional midwives through apprenticeship (aka attending many births) and they must take several written exams. Through this experience they can do much of what an OB does without the medical equipment. They can tell the position of the baby by feeling your belly, often times they would be able to identify limbs and hands just by feel. Childbirth is a natural process for a woman's body (not a condition or disease that needs to be treated in a hospital). That being said there are risk factors that they identify as reasons to transfer out of a midwives care to an OB. During the birth if they feel that there is any reason for you to be transferred to a hospital to finish the birth process they will recommend so. If you are transferred they will go with you and act as a doula (basically be your advocate and try to keep things as close to your original birth plan as possible). If you do not listen to their recommendation to transfer, then you assume all rights and responsibilities if something is wrong with you or with baby (this is made very clear in some of that terrifying paperwork we had to sign). Basically when you meet your midwives, you start building a relationship of trust. Your appointmens last longer than normal OB appointments last. All of our appointments ended with hugs all around. You can email, or text, or call at any time of the day about any concern. These women are fantastic and they are very very good at delivering babies. If you are interested and want to know more you can look into the film "The Business of Being Born," it's on Netflix watch it now.

A "crunchy" mom is someone who does things in a natural way. Often ideally an unmedicated and unaltered birth, breast feeding, cloth diapers, making their own baby food, baby wearing, those type of things.

CPM's can order blood tests and ultrasounds through outside laboratories.

Most insurance does not cover Homebirth. Homebirth is significantly cheaper than a hospital birth, ours was $1,500 total. This includes all the appointments leading up to the birth, the birth, and follow up postpartum appointments. Our insurance was supposed to cover our Homebirth, but it did not.

We had to take Beckett to get his PKU heelprick test in he days following his birth. The Virginia medical system is not fond of Homebirth and has made this clear. We still feel that it was a great experience, but there have been plenty of eye rolls and medical professionals glaring at us. If you are considering Homebirth (or have had a Homebirth), own it, be proud. It's really really nice.

With all that said, to all you beautiful and awesome momma's, I think that no matter what your birth story is, wether it as your dream birth or your plan changed, you should be proud. You grew a baby and that baby was born! You are so strong! That's amazing!

Here are a few images from Beck's first moments as an outside baby.

A few images of proud big brother Owen as well.

Beckett's Birthday

On 12/10 we started having some signs of labor. I was excited because at that point we were 11 days past due and I was anxious for things to get moving. Nothing else really happened that day though aside from mild, steady contractions. Then on Luke's birthday, 12/11 we went into early labor at 4am. Early labor was not very painful, but it went on a long time. I got a bath, but I didn't like it so I got out. I walked and bounced on my exercise ball. Contractions were 6 minutes apart all day. I wanted to take it slow and rest as much as I could because I knew my body had more work to do. I also wanted the contractions to give us progress. With Owen I was very stressed out being in the hospital and I feel it definitely slowed things down for us. I knew that I needed to stay relaxed and I saw each contraction as a good thing as the day went on. I mentally pictured waves washing over me and tried to visualize the vast openness of the ocean. And yes I know that sounds nutty, I just needed my body to make progress! Luke would ask me how I was doing, and I always said,"I'm okay, just thinking open thoughts." Luke made me food all day and made sure I was drinking lots of water. 

By about 4pm I was feeling tired. I was worried we weren't getting anywhere and I would just exhaust myself, which is one of the things that happened with Owen. I texted Chrissy, our midwife, and asked if she had any recommendations. She suggested a walk and then a rest. Walking didn't do much, and it was just about time to get Owen's bedtime routine going. Luke gave Owen his bath and I laid down on the couch for a bit. At this point the contractions were still 6 minutes apart and were uncomfortable enough that sleeping was not happening, but I wanted to rest. Owen went to bed at 7pm as usual. We continued to be in early labor until about 9pm. I texted Chrissy around 8:30 asking her to come check on Beck, I wanted to make sure that another long labor was not stressing him out. In the hospital this had been a concern, and while Owen was born healthy and perfect, I just wanted to check on my baby. He had been kicking all day so I didn't suspect anything was wrong, but I wanted to check on his heartbeat and I think Chrissy did too. I had been texting with Chrissy throughout the day. 

Chrissy and Bridget came over around 9:30. Chrissy got to our house first and we hugged and she asked how I was doing. By that time thes contractions jumped to 3 minutes apart and were getting more intense. I rocked and bounced on my ball and Luke would apply pressure to my back and hips when I wanted him to. It still was not horribly painful though so I thought that we couldn't be that far along, since they were still easy to work through. Owen woke up a couple times and Luke got him back down once, but I think he knew something was up and wanted me to snuggle him. After Chrissy arrived I got him back to bed once and when I came out of his room, Bridget had arrived as well. Once Bridget was here they asked us a bunch of questions, had I been eating and drinking through out the day, going to the bathroom, all the usual stuff. Bridget said to Chrissy,"She is very quiet, but I'm pretty sure she is in transition." I didn't really register this until the next morning. They asked if I wanted to be checked. I did, but I was also incredibly nervous because every time they checked me at the hospital we had made such little progress and I felt like the contractions weren't strong enough for us to be more than a couple centimeters. So they checked me at 10pm and we were at 6cm! Hallelujah! We were doing this...and it wasn't that bad?! Chrissy said that we were doing great and I was excited that we had made it past 5cm! The midwives apprentice, Leslie, came over too. Our midwives set everything up and brewed some coffee that Luke had set up earlier in the evening. I focused on laboring and Owen realized people were here and got up to entertain them of course. I labored on the exercise ball for a while (that thing was my best friend!) and then on the couch. Luke would rub my back and hips or if he needed a break then one of our midwives would come over and help me through the contraction. 

I was on the couch laying on my side when my water broke around midnight. I heard a pop and told Luke I thought it had broken. Later I asked him didn't he hear that?! It had seemed so loud to me. I asked to move to the bedroom then, partly because I just wanted to move and partly because I didn't want to get amniotic fluid on the couch. Chrissy and Luke helped me move to the bed and we worked through about six more contractions. It was a lot more intense once my water broke. Luke had been texting with a few people nearby that could potentially come help us out with Owen if we needed it, and I remember being so angry he was texting and told him to stop. I used some more choice words than that....but really he was trying to be helpful. He sat on the floor holding my hand and keeping eye contact when I would. Two more contractions and I told Luke that my body was pushing. Our midwives came in and said okay! I didn't think that labor was painful enough or long enough to be pushing, but my body took over and just knew it was time. No one checked or said okay yes it's time, my body knew exactly what to do and when. Four pushes later at 12:49pm Beckett was born and placed on my chest. They looked him over while we just were together. He was perfect. He grabbed onto my finger right away. The whole time he was inside I kept feeling his hands moving around his head and he put his hands up to cover his face on the outside too. He still does all the time. Our midwives let us have some family time and cleaned up everything. I was shaking afterward from the adrenaline, and they gave me some juice and asked if I wanted to eat. I didn't. I had thrown up several times during transition and my stomach was still unsure about food. After a little while I had a nutrigrain bar. Beckett latched right away and ate for a couple hours. He was still attached to his cord (which was incredibly thick!) for quite a while after as well and I hadn't delivered the placenta yet. His cord pulsed for about an hour and once it finally stopped I delivered the placenta and Luke cut his cord. Our midwives were so patient and relaxed about everything. We could not have had a better team of people to support and help us with our birth. There was no mess left afterward, which I think was something Luke and I continue to be surprised about because in the hospital everything seemed so messy. They did the laundry and the dishes. They just gave us our space and let us have our perfect beautiful little boy! I will be always grateful for everything they did and didn't do for us and to us. For something we never even considered when this adventure began, we could not have had a better experience in welcoming our son into our family.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Beckett Part 3

We ordered our birth kit (which has a lot of the disposable items in it that you will need for a birth), and set up our weekly appointments. At our first weekly appointment, my belly was measuring small. Our midwives ordered an ultrasound to check that everything was okay. As it tuns out Beckett was extremely low, but perfect so while we (I) was really stressed about my belly measuring small leading up to the ultrasound (hate google!), we were good to go. The ultrasound tech did say that his head was huge...but Owen had a huge head too, so that wasn't anything unexpected.

At 37 weeks we had our home visit. This is where the midwives make sure they can find your house, and get oriented with where things are in general so they don't come into it blind.  They also gave us a list of things they would need us to get together. We met their apprentice, Leslie, at this visit too. Everyone involved in our birth was really awesome and positive. We could not have had a better group of people at our birth. At this visit they also gave us another intimidating piece of paper. It was a yellow sheet of paper that we needed to put on the fridge and it listed emergency contacts and the hospital we would want to go to if anything went wrong. No matter how much you tell yourself nothing will go wrong, there's an evil little part of your brain that just keeps making you have this small piece of doubt. At this visit we opted to do the Group B Strep test as well. Then that evil little part of my brain got a win because at 37 weeks we tested positive for GBS. Just when we were getting really excited and feeling good about our Homebirth, we got knocked back some. Now if we did have to go to the hospital, I would definitely be given an IV and put on antibiotics that can really mess up your stomach and can effect the baby's stomach. GBS can cause serious complications in a newborn. Luke and I debated what to do. Should we transfer out? We needed to know what the odds were that this could effect Beckett. We also needed to know how effective a natural treatment could be. As it turns out there are some pretty effective natural ways to reduce the amount of GBS bacteria in your body, in fact some women have been able to eliminate the bacteria entirely via a change in diet. I started eating yogurt for breakfast every day, eating a lot of sauerkraut, and taking garlic supplements as well as eating a lot more fresh garlic (I'm sure my breathe was quite lovely...bleh). The odds that Beckett would actually have an issue from the GBS were less then 1%...but this is our little baby boy so even though those are pretty darn good odds, it was still nerve wracking. We had to trust our decisions and trust our midwives. Our midwives didn't seem concerned and didn't tell us to transfer out to a hospital. They were very reassuring. So we trusted each other and our midwives and kept each other positive towards our Homebirth.

Once we got through all the tests and big visits, it really became empowering to tell people we were planning a Homebirth. We were planning it and it would work. We could do this. Luke and I trust each other completely. No we didn't know exactly how or when it would happen, but we knew we could do it. We definitely had to reassure each other a lot, but we both really wanted a great birth experience. We got a lot of doubters giving us crazy looks, this was hard because some of those people are close to us. Other people were interested, but seemed intimidated by the idea and said so. That's okay, this was our birth experience. This was for me, for Luke, for Beckett and for Owen. This was a good idea for our family. As it turns out it was a great idea actually, but surrounded by doubters we couldn't have known how great an idea it actually was.

And then we were past due...again. People get really annoying when you are more than 40 weeks pregnant. They ask you stupid questions, like where's the baby?! Who says that to someone who is clearly epically pregnant?! Anyways. We waited. Beckett was born 13 days past due. In reality he was born right on time. But by the calendar he was 13 days "late." With Owen we were 11 days "late" and it was hard to wait. Our OB told us we had to induce at 41 weeks, he used the term still born. We were freaked out then too. We trusted ourselves then to make the right decision for my body and for the baby and again this time, we trusted ourselves. We were confident about our Homebirth and confident that my body could do this, that we could do this. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Beckett Part 2

This was a big decision. A thousand things that could go wrong race through your mind because society in America says having a Homebirth is insane. But then you think about it, you get to stay at your house where it is comfortable, where you have all of your own things. There are no weird sounds, there is no IV, you can do whatever you need to during labor. It was normal years and years ago, it is normal in other countries, maybe it's not a bad idea and maybe it shouldn't be such a weird thing. Both Luke and I did not get pregnant thinking we were going to have a Homebirth though and we had apprehensions and questions about this idea. 

With Owen I had pretty bad tearing. This was one of our biggest apprehensions with this baby and a Homebirth. What happens if I tear? The answer is that the midwives go with you to the hospital, you get numbed up and stitched up and go on your way. The better answer is that we didn't have to do that! Our midwives took preventative measures (unlike the hospital) and they don't do episiotomies (which increase your chances of tearing). All leading up to Beckett's birth I was still nervous that I would tear. Owen had a big head (in the 95th percentile). Beckett had a bigger head. I did not tear. I did not need stitches. Head size has nothing to do with tearing. With Owen we had an episiotomy and I was not in a position that would work for me in terms of tearing. Luke and I talked about this to death even in the weeks when we had decided to go ahead with the Homebirth. We looked for articles, read discussion board posts, anything for some reassurance. Especially when everyone started doubting our decision for us. Clearly we were insane.

We were as low risk as a pregnancy can be. I was young (27 at the time of birth), my blood pressure was perfect (and had been perfect through Owen's pregnancy and birth as well), I eat really well, I'm active and in good shape, I didn't have gestational diabetes, I didn't have any kind of anything that would raise a red flag as far as needing to go to the hospital to have the baby or myself taken care of. We decided to have a Homebirth. Yes.

When you decide have to sign a whole bunch of papers. Those papers scare the crap out of you and make you doubt your decision again. Basically if someone goes horribly wrong, you understand that the midwives have no medicine, they can not carry oxygen. They want to make you aware that if something does go wrong, family members and friends often blame the parents for it because they chose Homebirth. Even though in reality, the statistics say that things go wrong in hospitals just as often and even if the doctors use all the medicine and fancy gadgets they have, the baby won't survive. Those words are scary. Especially when you are pretty far into a pregnancy. We signed the forms. Again we were extremely low risk. I was still nervous. I read a lot of Homebirth stories and asked some ladies in a crunchy moms group I am part of if they had any insight to offer. Luke and I decided that we really did want a Homebirth. This was a good idea for us. Once we were committed, we were excited. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Beckett Part 1

We moved from Tempe, Arizona to Newport News, Virginia at the very end of July. Luke accepted a job in Williamsburg, and two weeks later we packed the moving truck, and were on our way. It was a five day drive, driving about eight hours a day with our corgi and our then one year old son, Owen. O was treat on the drive and we made it without too many hiccups along the way. Once we got here though we were about 24 weeks pregnant, which meant sorting out insurance, an OB, and hospital tours all fairly quickly. 

Beckett Eli Schmura was born at home. On purpose. Yes. When we moved from Arizona to Virginia, I started looking for an OB here. We were 32 weeks pregnant by the time our insurance was approved. When you call OB's and tell them you are 32 weeks pregnant, do you know what happens?! They tell you they won't see you! What?! Excuse me?! This baby is going to be born wether or not you want to see me. Wouldn't it be better if you saw me and checked on this baby before he was born? The whole thing left me in shock and I was angry. When someone is 32 weeks pregnant, you shouldn't mess with them. Especially when it comes to their unborn child. It's just a bad idea. So I sent an email. To Bridget at Williamsburg Homebirth. We weren't sure we were even interested in Homebirth, I jut needed to reach out to someone to see if they had any suggestions or ideas on what the heck to do. If we didn't hear anything back, our only option was to show up at the hospital in labor....good plan right? 

Less than an hour later I got an email back. She offered to do a consultation with us to discuss the idea of Homebirth. She also gave me some advice as far as doctors, other midwives, birth centers, and doula's. Helpful right? The complete opposite of the more than twelve doctors offices I called. What? Someone wants to help us?! Maybe I read that wrong. We decided to go to the consultation the next day. Their office is in a little old house in Williamsburg. Owen was welcome and invited to come along. Bridget and Chrissy talked to us about what they do as part of your Homebirth. They are certified professional midwives. This means they are more than qualified to deliver babies, but they can not carry or dispense any actual medicine. They asked us about what we wanted from our birth. They listened to us. They asked about our fears of doing a Homebirth. Owen gave them numerous hugs. We left the appointment feeling positive about the idea. We both wanted to think about it and talk about it before we made any decisions. They were totally cool with that. What?! This is ridiculous.