Category Archives: pregnancy

Pregnant Mothers Versus Fish

When it comes to seafood, pregnant and breastfeeding moms are in something of a bind. On the one hand, the omega-3 fatty acids from seafood aid in neural development. On the other hand, fish, especially those near the top of the aquatic food chain, have noticeable concentrations of mercury. In 2004, the FDA and EPA recommended that moms eat no more than 12 ounces a week of fish, and that they choose fish with lower mercury levels, such as shrimp, salmon, and catfish.

Understandably, a lot of moms opted out of eating fish all together. That can have negative consequences: a recent longitudinal study published in the Lancet indicated that not eating enough fish could lead to behavioral and developmental problems.

Enter Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies. In a press conference this morning, they recommended moms eat at least 12 ounces a week, if not more. Scientists are still hashing out the benefits and risks of eating fish, so why this, if you’ll pardon the expression, sea change?

And who are Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies? They’re not a new organization: they’ve been around since the early 1980s. And they list a number of notable organizations among their members, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the March of Dimes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and more.

Or, rather, they did list those organizations. NPR did some digging, with interesting results.

The top federal government agencies in charge of delivering public health messages expressed surprise over the announcement from Healthy Mothers, Healthy babies recommending increased fish consumption.

“We are members of the coalition, but we were not informed of this announcement in advance, and we do not support it,” says Christina Pearson, spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services.

Pearson says neither the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nor the Food and Drug Administration knew about the announcement.

Whoops. And as of right now, the members list of Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies no longer includes the American Academy of Pediatrics or the National Institutes of Health. Furthermore, it turns out the group took $60,000 from the National Fisheries Institute to pay for doctors’ “travel expenses to a Chicago meeting, where they came up with their new advice”.

(Note to members of advisory groups who read this blog: when you take any amount of money from an industry-funded group and come out in favor of something that helps that industry, it calls your science into question.)

Neonatal vitamins now include omega-3 fatty acids. Some varieties of milk have the omega-3 fatty acid DHA. And even the group’s list of other countries’ recommendations more-or-less come down on the side of 12 oz/340 grams/two portions of fish a week. Given that, I’d stick with the twelve-ounces-or-less approach and supplement with vitamins.

Liza’s Birth Story

I guess this is going to be my labor story. I hadn’t planned on it being that, but now that I’ve started writing it down, that’s what it’s going to be. I didn’t write anything down with Eli. I probably should have because my memory is spotty even after only three years. I’m not sure that I’ll ever forget the experience of Liza’s birth simply because it was filled with so many highs and lows, but again, sleep deprivation does something to the memory….

A note to my pregnant friends: don’t read this until you’ve had your own baby. I’m not kidding. Don’t read it. Ashley, Jamie, Jessica, Terry: if I find out you’ve read it I’m gonna kick your butts. After you’ve had the babies, of course. Later addition: Wendy too isn’t allowed to read. Sorry, I have Mommy Brain.

Labor

Last Thursday morning, I woke up to go to the bathroom for about the fifth time and experienced an odd sensation. I knew instantly that my water had broken. I got Stephen out of bed and woke my mom to tell her we were leaving. On the way to the hospital I kept expecting my contractions to get stronger, closer together. That didn’t happen until after we got to the hospital.

I have to say that the experience of leaking amniotic fluid is icky. That is the best word I can use to describe it. Icky. Because it doesn’t stop and then you get a hospital gown and its icky for everyone all over.

We met Jeanne, my doula, at the door and her first comment was, “I love your Mary Jane Crocks! Where did you get them?” She was wide awake and ready to help me bring my baby into the world. She was calm and caring and I would have never made it without drugs for as long as I did without her.

We got to the hospital room by about 2 A.M. and my active labor started in earnest about 3 A.M. I walked and sat on a paper drape on a birthing ball (extra large exercise ball) and generally moved around to stave off the pain, which frankly wasn’t that bad. Both the night labor nurse and Jeanne seemed impressed with my tolerance for the pain. I’m not sure that I have a high tolerance or if my contractions just weren’t that bad. I suspect it’s some combination of the two.

Around 7 A.M. I started transition labor, which is supposed to be the very worst part, worse even than the actual pushing because of the contractions’ intensity. Jeanne and Stephen and my labor nurse, Rebecka, were great during this time. All three were around me and very encouraging. Rebecka didn’t have any other patients so she stayed with me and gave me updates on where my doctor was. I was worried that my doctor wouldn’t get there in time to actually deliver Liza.

Around 9 or 10 A.M. I had progressed to 8.5 cm and 100% effacement, but didn’t seem to be going anywhere very quickly. I decided that I needed some IV drugs to help with the pain that had gone from bearable to remarkably unbearable. When later I still hadn’t progressed, we decided to do the epidural/pitocin route, so the pitocin could do its job and I would finish dilating. I don’t remember much after this. The IV drug that I was given hadn’t really worn off and the epidural definitely canceled out the contractions, but I still didn’t make any progress.

By 12:30 P.M. my doctor came in to check. By this time, Rebecka had set me up with internal monitors and taken me off the external ones. My doctor didn’t like Liza’s heart rate. She ripped the plugs out of the monitor, unlocked the wheels on my bed, and leaned over and said to me, “I’m sorry. I know this is fast but we have to go right now. I don’t like what I’m seeing of the baby’s heart rate.” She started wheeling me out of the room. She bumped into a desk, ran over a nurse’s toe (she cussed in my ear, it was lovely!) and all but did an up-on-two-wheels turn screaming into the OR. She promised me that the baby would be ok and that she was good now and we were going to keep her that way and then she ran out to scrub.

The anesthesiologist, who had hooked up my epidural, was there and he talked to me as something like 20 people were whirling around me to get ready. He moved me to the OR table and stuck a wedge under my right side and was holding my belly with his left hand while trying to get some IV thing set up over my head with his right hand. The whole time he was telling me that it was going to be ok and that the baby was going to be safe. His was the voice of sanity that no longer lived in my head. I heard someone drop what sounded like 15 or 20 metal instruments. There was much discussion of putting me under as opposed to using the epidural that I already had. Someone was talking about getting me prepped. What was I doing during all this?

Freaking out.

Between the meds and the hormones, I was a complete and total basket case. It was the worst feeling of my whole entire life. I’m not exaggerating. Worse than when I found out my parents were divorcing. Worse than when I found out anyone I knew had died. I don’t ever remember the intensity or the sheer depth of terror that I was trying desperately to deal with. And all without the comfort of any loved ones around me. While I know that the bulk of it was hormones and meds, it still makes me cry when I think about it. Maybe it always will. I honestly thought that Liza or I could die.

By this time I had an oxygen mask on and the anesthesiologist kept reminding me to breathe because I’m sure that I wasn’t doing a very good job of that just then. Maybe the oxygen finally kicked in because I started to pray that my baby would be ok. I could deal with anything else as long as my baby was ok.

And then I went to sleep.

OR Recovery

When I woke up, I thought I was coming from the ER (later I found out that I was coming from X-Ray because they like to check and see that nothing is left behind from surgery). Rebecka was asking me to rate my pain. I thought she was joking because I was pretty sure that someone was still cutting on me. She told me they were hooking up my pain pump and that I could have some of the lovely morphine in just a couple of minutes.

While I was waiting on the good drugs in a haze of hormones and pain and trying to come to grips with what had changed so drastically for me in the past few hours, I heard a male voice say he was bored. As with the unreasoning fear I had felt in the OR, this caused unreasoning anger. I called for Rebecka and told her that the man who just said he was bored needed to be sent out. Actually I’m pretty sure that I ordered her to send him out because I didn’t want him there. I felt as if my whole life where falling apart and some jerk was joking around about how the life-and-death ordeal of trying to birth my child was boring him. I wanted to do him bodily harm. I was thinking that the knife I’d just felt was a good place to start. He’s probably a nice man; he apparently was an anesthesiologist from another floor who just happened to be visiting Labor and Delivery because his regular job isn’t very exciting. I’m sorry for him about that, but I’m still pretty sure that I’ll hate him forever.

Not too long after that (It didn’t seem long to me but maybe it was a while, who knows? I had morphine), they let Stephen come in. I think the first thing I said was that I loved him. It had been the only thing I could think about for the time I’d laid there: That I loved him and hadn’t had a chance to say it before I went to the OR. He had brought the camera and he wanted to show me pictures of Liza but I couldn’t wake up enough to focus my eyes. Instead I just asked questions.

Was Liza ok?
Was my mom here?
Was Liza ok?
Was Eli here?
Had my dad made it yet?
Was Liza ok?
Where my mom and dad playing nice with each other?
Was Liza ok?

We were both crying and I’m sure that he’ll probably always have scars on his hand from where I was gripping it, but for the first time in what I later learned was several long hours that I thought everything just might be ok. Really.

Hospital Stay

img_8812.jpgThe rest gets better. I got to see Liza later in the afternoon on Thursday. Shortly after this photo, I sat up for the first breastfeeding session (ouch!). My first completely embedded memory of my girl child will be of her wide-open mouth ready to latch on. It was a beautiful sight and brought on a few tears of relief and made me laugh at the same time. She knew immediately what to do and proceeded to do it with a gusto that hasn’t diminished during this week. I was pretty fuzzy the rest of the day and was warned they’d remove all my hookups the next morning.

On Friday at 5 A.M., the nurse came to unhook my catheter and make me walk to the bathroom. Ugh! She promised me that was the worst trip that I’d make. She was right. The rest of Friday was a whirlwind of baby photo taking, Social Security card registration, doctor debriefings, vital sign checks, baby feedings, visiting with my mom and dad and Eli and finally, finally! a shower around 1 pm. I hadn’t had one since Wednesday morning so it was a lovely experience. Saturday was better still with a long stretch in the afternoon of Stephen and me hanging out in the room with Liza watching Matrix Reloaded on TV. Sunday brought the flurry of activity associated with getting released and then we were home for lunch.

Closing

Was it the experience I wanted? Yes and no. I got to experience the bulk of labor naturally. I guess you could say I got two labor and delivery experiences for the price of one. Overall I accomplished the goal of Liza getting as few drugs as possible. Yes, I had IV drugs and an epidural but those were so late in the program, she didn’t have time to get nearly as much as Eli certainly absorbed over the 10 hour period I had an epidural, pitocin, and anti-nausea medication while I was in labor with him. I never dreamed that I’d have a C-section. I had successfully delivered on child vaginally; I didn’t think C-section was anywhere near a probability for me, but on looking back and seeing the number of false labors that I had and the slow progression I made, I don’t think that I’d ever have progressed to 10 cm with Liza. 50 years ago I could have died; 100 years ago I certainly would have. Of course, I probably would have never lived to be as old as I am now anyway 100 years ago, my eyes are too bad. So I guess it wouldn’t have mattered 100 years ago.

I’m glad she’s here. I’m already enjoying her babyhood in a way that I never could with Eli because I was too nervous about what I could be doing wrong. I’m glad that she is healthy and I bore the brunt of the pain and angst. I guess that’s the best case scenario after all.

Again, I thank you for all your thoughts and prayers and love and care you’ve sent our way over the past week. It has meant more to me than I can ever say. I am thankful that I have all of you here to share my life with and that you give your time to read what I write here. When we started this site, I thought only a few people would read it, mostly grandparents. I’m glad it’s given me a way to connect with so many people. This experience has taught me that once again, these kinds of connections are the things that matter.

Progression

My contractions are now 8 minutes apart and much more intense. I think I might actually have this baby sometime this week. We’ll post here when we leave for the hospital.

Slowest Labor….Ever

Still in labor. Contractions still roughly 10 minutes apart. I did manage to take a nap but the contractions woke me up. Who said this laboring at home was a good idea anyway?

My mom is headed back to Huntsville.

I might make it to the hospital sometime today, maybe.

Also, I’m out of laundry to do.

The Girl Who Cried Baby

I woke up this morning at about 4 with some vague achy feelings and couldn’t go back to sleep really well. I got up about 6 and took a shower. So, um, yeah, I’m having contractions again. They’re about 10 minutes apart. My doula says we will go when they are five minutes apart.

In the meantime, I’m doing some laundry (sheets must be washed!) and reading Craft: Transforming Traditional Crafts that I picked up in a hormone-induced dream yesterday that told me I would have time to read in the hospital. Or at the very least, I needed something really interesting to flip pages of while there.

I cannot put it down! Amy, there’s a beautiful knitted kimono for you. Jessica, there’s about three-four crochet projects for you. Ashley, there’s a crafty make a wi-fi stuffed animal that we are so gonna make for the girls. I’m thinking of getting the very expensive subscription because I’m already addicted to this particular brand of craft crack.

Oops, another contraction. Gotta go rotate the laundry.

Baby Liza Update (39.5 weeks) (after the doctor)

I had a doctor’s appointment this morning and I was hoping, hoping that when she saw me she would just send me on the the hospital. Wishful thinking on my part! The baby has dropped down some more which is a good sign but I haven’t made any significant progress in either effacement or dilation. My doula seems to think that once I do start, I will be immediately into active labor. So potentially that part will go more quickly. My doctor said she could go ahead and induce me but that if I didn’t want an epidural, then pitocin at this point was “cruel and unusual” punishment. So we are down to waiting.

My mom is packing up to go home now. Stephen has gone on to work today after taking Thursday and Friday off last week. Somehow I feel as if I’ve missed the prom or something.

When I left the doctor’s office she made me another appointment for next week. May 14. Three days after my due date. I really hope that I don’t have to keep that one…

Baby Liza Update (39.5 weeks)

Next Friday is 40 weeks. I’ve been uncomfortable this past week and today I think I edged over into the completely miserable. The muscles in my belly actually hurt they are so stretched out. I’m sure that I felt this way with Eli at the end, but I don’t remember it. Also, I delivered Eli at 39 weeks and I am now past that point with this baby.

Overall, I’ve felt pretty good. Yes, I did a lot of yacking at the beginning (and part of the middle) but that’s all forgotten in the light of feeling good and the baby moving and trying to get so many things done. This past week, I really thought we were going to go on to the hospital and deliver, but no luck. Now I’m just getting aggravated with the whole still being pregnant thing.

I know she will be here soon and I am looking forward to not being pregnant anymore although looking toward being awake every three hours still isn’t looking like fun. That part will be over soon just like this part. And I know the baby will be interesting to me once she gets here. Several people have told me that I won’t necessarily bond with this one as quickly as the first, since I’m dealing with two instead of just the one. I don’t feel like I really bonded with Eli until about six months anyway so that part doesn’t matter to me so much.

When Eli was very small Stephen and I developed our own made-up mantra of “Whatever is going on this week, won’t necessarily be happening next week.” It was a way to keep the changes in perspective, even when they were going fairly quickly. (We were sleep deprived so it never felt very quick.) I think I have to start reminding myself of that now. Again. A lot.

No News is Annoying News

Well after all that lovely work I did yesterday and this morning, I’ve had maybe 3 contractions since noon. I’m very annoyed and am now going to go read Pretties since I finished Uglies at lunch time. I blame Stephen. He bought Uglies at Panoply for about $4 so after I finished it, I had to immediately zoom out to the bookstore to buy the next one. Maybe Liza is waiting until I’ve read all three before she decides to come. I guess that means I need to read faster.

I Would Have Written Sooner but I Couldn’t Get to My Own Website

I started having contractions sometime yesterday. The best I did then was about 45 minutes apart. I went to bed, expecting to be woken by something substantial going on and instead, slept all night. This morning, I had almost an hour of 5 minute apart contractions but then those easy, short ones stopped to be replaced by much further apart but much more intense and longer lasting ones.

If I didn’t have a doula to tell me to stay the heck at home, I probably would be all up at the hospital full of pitocin by now and possibly delivering already.

We are fine otherwise. Mom and I just took naps, each of us on a different couch. Stephen is “working” at the kitchen table. Maybe he’s doing something actually productive or maybe he’s busy getting ready to tump over the site again. Eli is at school doing whatever it is that he does at school. We’re gonna get some lunch and maybe something else will be happening this afternoon.

Someone will post again later today with an update. Either I’ll be bored and posting the weather report or maybe saying we’re headed to the hospital. Thanks for all your well wishes, thoughts and prayers.

The World, It is Calmer Now

So in the quest to relieve my anxiety (it also turns out Stephen had a fair dose as well) my mom is here. So now, if the baby doesn’t come this week my mom and I will have the nursery fully organized, the house cleaned, Stephen’s mass of shirts ironed and when we’re bored we might just put up Eli’s jungle gym in the back yard.