Saturday, June 26, 2010

Landon Thomas Somers

Well, this has been a difficult post for me to write. For several reasons. First off, I LOVE natural childbirth and I have loved each of my experiences with it more than the last, which has made me more and more passionate about it. But I also understand that unmedicated childbirth isn't for everyone (and that I have a pretty high pain tolerance which certainly plays a role). It's hard to convey my passion without feeling like I am, at the same time, disapproving of people who get epidurals. For those of you who go the medicated route, I hope you don't take offense at my pro-natural and anti-hospital position--it's MY personal preference, but I certainly don't condemn you if you disagree with me! Secondly, I had this post 95% finished and the save feature was malfunctioning. I had to leave the post unfinished to attend to other things when Brice tried to download something that crashed the computer. I was left with about one paragraph saved and had to redo the rest. Discouraging, to say the least. Third, this is just a hard story to write in a way that captures it in a way that makes me feel satisfied. Here's my best attempt at it:

WARNING: Graphic written content (no scary pictures though). If you can't handle a detailed birth story, skip this post...

Ever since Monday I'd been having "practice pressure waves," some pain free and some a little crampy. On Friday morning they had become consistently crampy and a little more regular. Brice went to work in Provo and I asked Gina to come over to help me with my kids. While I waited for her I watered some plants out front. Then I noticed that weeds were taking over our rock pathway and the nesting instinct kicked in. The weeds had to go. I finished weeding right around the time Gina got to my house. We just hung out for a while and she showed me some great pictures she'd taken of our family a few days prior. At around 12:00 I called Brice and told him he should come home--pressure waves were about 3-4 minutes apart and lasting 40 seconds or more. I was experiencing some pain, but not enough to have to concentrate or worry about it. I could still carry on a conversation and I didn't have to stop any activities to get through them. Anyway, I called my midwife after I called Brice and she came right over, getting here just a little after Brice did. She checked my progress and I was at a 5 (not as far as I'd hoped, but far enough that I wasn't discouraged). And she checked on the baby as well, who was doing fine. Her two attendants arrived and we all got to know each other for a while. Then my midwife suggested that we go for a walk.
When we got back, I tried to eat a little something, but I don't have much
of an appetite during labor.
After a little while, I wanted to try some Hypnobabies scripts (Hypnobabies suggests using hypnosis from early on in the birthing time) to see how that felt. I went up to my room and laid in MY OWN bed and listened to a script. It helped me to stay relaxed and comfortable. I decided I wanted to try the bathtub to see if that was a nice place to be. My midwife wanted to check on the baby first. He was doing fine as far as heart rate, but she couldn't find his position. She asked if it was okay to do an internal exam to see how he was positioned in there. I said that was fine. She tried to find the sutures in his skull, but couldn't even find his head! He'd moved way back up to beyond a -5 station and wasn't engaged down into my pelvis at all! Where did he think he was going? So I got up and into the tub, but I didn't really like it there. Too hot! We could have cooled down the water, but I just couldn't relax as much in the tub as I could laying in bed. I knew that gravity could help the baby get back down and engaged, but I felt like he was going to come down whenever he was good and ready, gravity helping or not. So I got back in the bed for a while. Everyone pretty much left me alone and let me do whatever I wanted. Sweet Raelin came in frequently to check on me and ask if the baby was coming soon. She was so excited! Brice was with me in our room the whole time and he laid behind me and put pressure on my back during each pressure wave for a while. One of the attendants pushed on my knees as well, as this is a comfort measure lots of women find helpful. For me, I ended up preferring to just have Brice gently rub my back constantly. It was really nice to have our own bed that we could both fit in for this! And the attendant, seeing that Brice was all I was in need of at the moment, quietly left the room. No busy nurses, no monitors, no sterile environment. Just me and Brice. Soon, the pressure waves picked up and were intense enough that I had to focus hard on my hypnosis and relaxation and breathe through each wave. The script I was listening to was perfect for what I needed and the suggestions I kept hearing were just right to help me maintain my relaxation. I never got tense or clenched up or squeezed all the juice out of Brice's hand. After about 15 minutes of this type of intensity, I started getting confused about what my body was telling me. I felt like I had to push, but not push at the same time. And I couldn't tell where I needed to push from. Was it gas? Or baby? I wasn't sure.
(He sucked that thumb straight out of the womb! I was worried after the thumb-sucking fiasco we've had with Raelin and Ryker, but fortunately, Landon hasn't sucked his thumb since the first or second day. It was cute while it lasted, but I'm glad he stopped!)
I decided to rule out one of them and took a trip to the bathroom. I'd always heard that the toilet was a place lots of women found comfortable for laboring. It's true! It took me a minute to regain my relaxation after getting there, but once I did, I realized why people like it--I think it takes pressure off of a lot of birthing muscles so they can do their work while allowing gravity to help as well (gravity helps the baby's head put even pressure on the cervix, which reduces pain). I took care of one pushing sensation and stayed on the toilet for another couple of waves. Brice said that he thought I'd probably transition in about 10 minutes or so. I wasn't sure, but I thought it might be sooner than that. Brice said I should get to wherever I wanted to be to give birth. I told him he should get the kids. When I finished in the bathroom, everyone was in my bedroom. I left my drawers behind and knelt down next to my bed. It was time! I heard one of the kids say, "Mommy, are you saying a prayer?" I had a wave kneeling next to my bed and when I looked up I saw Ryker's wide eyes staring at me from across the bed. I smiled at him to tell him everything was okay. I think he could feel the anticipation in the room and he could tell that whatever I was doing was hard for me and I don't think he knew what to make of it. He's really tuned into that sort of energy. A slow smile spread over his face. On the next wave, my water broke and then I was pushing! But no one knew it until they heard me exhale at the end of my first push. Ah! Pushing! Such a relief! The pain is virtually gone and is replaced by pressure, which is totally better than pain! Then I heard, "She's pushing" and "It's crowning!" The kids were ushered to my side of the bed where Raelin and Ryker both grabbed front row seats. They'd been so excited for this! Then Ryker said (a bit preemptively) "It's a brother!" Maybe he was just willing it to happen. With my other kids, one big push brought the head and another medium push brought the rest of the baby. This time, I remember hearing, "Here come the eyes," and I thought, "Eyes!?!? What about head?! Get this thing OUT already! Sheesh!" This guy took a bit more work to get him out! After about 4 big, long, hard pushes he was out and into Daddy's waiting arms. I relaxed and tried to catch my breath. I looked down and could see that we had a boy! Ryker was SO excited! Almost immediately, the placenta detached, releasing a gush of blood and my midwife wanted to get me on my back to attend to the bleeding and keep it controlled. Ryker looked at me with big wide eyes again, even though we'd prepped him for all of this, and said, "Mommy, are you okay?" Sweet boy! I told him I was perfectly fine and that this was all normal stuff when you have a baby. He resumed his excitement at having a brother. My midwife and her attendants practically picked me up and laid me on some pillows on the floor. I'm still not quite sure how they did that so fast and smoothly. Brice laid the baby on my tummy and that was as far as he was getting; the cord was only about 18 inches long. Brice and the attendants cleaned me up a bit while my midwife held my uterus to keep it from filling with blood. I've never had a doctor do this to me and my postpartum bleeding has been substantially less than with the other kids, so Brice was wondering if this technique helped with that. I think maybe it did! As you can see in this picture, by "held" I mean that she was knuckle-deep into my abdomen, squeezing my uterus like she was wringing out a sponge or something. I didn't feel anything unusual, though. How does that work? After a few minutes, I wanted to get up on the bed and get comfortable. Brice held the baby (placenta delivered, but still attached to the baby!) while the ladies helped me up onto the bed. The rest of my family joined me and we all welcomed our new (but as yet nameless) baby into the world. He was SO squished! His cheeks were huge and he had lots of dark hair. He was one big baby! We all just hung out for a while. Brice was so excited to announce our new arrival that he started making phone calls even though we didn't really have any stats to give out yet. I think Brice really liked getting to announce the baby's gender, aside from just that we'd had our baby. Not knowing beforehand was lots of fun! For us, anyway. I think my mom and sister were totally annoyed with it! Heehee! After about an hour and a half of just hanging out with our new baby while the midwifery crew cleaned things up a bit, they started getting ready to check out the baby. They set things up right next to me on the bed (not across the room on some cold, hard plastic tray) and I got to be right there as the midwife instructed and supervised one of the assistants as she measured him and checked for all his reflexes and all that. Finally, they got him into the scale and we discovered that we had an 8 pound 13 ounce baby! That's almost a pound and a half bigger than Alaina (my previous biggest) had been! Holy cow! No wonder he'd been so much more work to push out! And no wonder I was carrying so huge! I look at him now and wonder how on earth he ever fit inside me despite how gargantuan my abdomen had been! He's certainly got some Somers genes in him! Different ones from the other kids, though. He's got a LONG torso and short little stumpy legs and big ol' man hands already. And, unlike Alaina who had flippers for feet, Landon takes after his aunties and has tiny little midget feet. Anyway, After they checked out the baby, my midwife checked me to be sure I didn't have any tears that needed attention. I had two or three "skid marks" as they call them, just like I'd had with Alaina. You remember that Indian burn game from when you were a kid? Remember how sometimes you'd get those red lines on your arm from where your skin almost tore (what kind of stupid game WAS this)? It's like that. She sprayed some herbal concoction on me and they had made me a healing herbal tea that they put in the little squirty bottle you keep by the potty. Between those two things, I was healed up completely "down there" the very next day! I love midwifery! After my midwife checked on me, I got dressed and they got packed up to leave. It was a wonderful experience and I feel like Hypnobabies helped a TON, even though it wasn't pain-free. With my other kids, the pain gets to a point where it's scary, I feel panicky, and my whole body shakes from the intensity of it. This time, I felt at the end about how I did when I got to the hospital with my first two, at which point I was dilated to 7 cm. And that's as bad as it got! It was kind of what I'd expected, in a way. I hoped for a pain-free birth, but it was really hard to bend my mind around that possibility after having experienced the full force of labor and delivery three times unmedicated and without Hypnobabies. I mean, how can relaxation, endorphines, and mind power overcome THAT much pain? I'm sure it can be done, but it was really hard for me to get my brain to truly accept that. What I could accept was that the onset of pain would be delayed, that the intensity would be less, and that the pain curve I usually followed would be later in the labor so I'd never get to the scary, panicky, shaky part. That's exactly what happened. The fact that I was able to take myself to the bathroom while in transition is amazing! Also, the intense part where I really had to focus and concentrate only lasted about 20 minutes instead of an hour or two. I would certainly recommend Hypnobabies to every expecting mother who wants to have a natural birth! I also think the comfort of being in your own home is a huge asset to feeling like your birthing was a joyful experience and a positive one! YOU are the one birthing the baby--nothing is being done TO you. I think being at home helped me to have a stress-free and low pain birth. It was so empowering! It was nice to be able to be in my own bed that night with my baby and my husband and not to have to try to squeeze into the little hospital bed. I LOVED not getting woken up all night by nurses (I know they're just doing their thing, but we didn't have any of that going on and the baby and I survived the night just fine without any vitals being taken!), no eye goop, no monitors (I think my midwife only checked vitals three times during the labor), no foreign germs (face it, hospitals are FULL of germs!), and best of all, my WHOLE family there together for the event and all that followed!Kisses!
(This is one of my favorite pictures. Where else but at home can big sister be RIGHT THERE after her new sibling is born!? What a sweet experience! I loved having my sweet husband AND my other kids there with me as we welcomed the newest member of our family! And my sister too, of course)
Russell was such a trooper! He usually has a bit of a hard time when he's away from home without his routine, but this day, he was an angel! He was happy and content ALL day and one of the attendants was all too happy to rock him to sleep so Gina could take pictures and take care of my kids.
My mom, who was worried and skeptical about home birthing (though she didn't say it until afterward), realized the wonderfulness of it when she came over that evening to meet Landon and could feel the atmosphere in the home. How nice to be HERE to meet her new grandson and not at a hospital!Alaina LOVES her new brother (I have lots of pictures of her holding him but I have a different post in mind for them) and she was great on the day of his birth. So cute and sweet, at usual! The other two got to watch LOTS of movies, so it was an exciting day for them on two accounts.
My recovery has been amazing (we even went to Sacrament meeting on Sunday!) and I love, love, love this experience. One of my neighbors who also births at home asked if I would ever go back to hospital birthing. I don't think I'll be getting pregnant ever again (pregnancy I hate, delivery I can do!), but I certainly would never want to have a baby anywhere but in my own home! It was fantastic!

Friday, June 25, 2010

It's a BOY!!!!

He's here! Yay! And he's a whopper! 8 lbs. 13 oz. and 20.5 in. long. Holy cow! We don't have a name for him yet, but I thought I'd announce his arrival anyway. He was born at home at 6:20 pm on Friday, June 25th. Everything went GREAT! Story and lots of pictures to follow. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Update, but no baby yet

When my friends are expecting a baby any day, I always check their blog pretty much daily to see if there's any news. I get so excited for them! And no news always makes me wonder if that means they're busy with their new baby or just have nothing to report. So I figured that if anyone else is like me, you might appreciate having confirmation that we have NOT had our baby yet. But we're close (and don't worry; I'll be sure to post the day we have him/her!). On Monday I woke up with good strong regular pressure waves (Hypnobabies lingo for contractions). They were 8 minutes apart and lasted about 40 seconds to a minute long and they stayed that way for a couple of hours. But I think I got overzealous and started building my new crib (my sister and mom put together a baby shower for me--I have a hunch that it was just to try to get me a crib and I'll post more about it when I get pictures from my sister--and they got me the crib I was coveting from a few posts back! I LOVE LOVE LOVE IT! It makes me happy! Thank you to all those who contributed!) and cleaning house and doing lots of stuff like that until I realized that the pressure waves had kind of petered out. I was kind of frustrated for the rest of the day. Partly because I wanted to be unpregnant, partly because I wanted to meet my baby, and partly because I'd kept Brice home from a shed job that we could really use right now. By the evening, though, I realized that my frustration was a rather faithless emotion to be having. The Lord knew that I would keep Brice home that day, so He must have a reason. And according to Hypnobabies, babies are born on their birthday and the Lord knows when that is too. So I should just be patient and trust my body and my baby's. It must just need a little longer to cook. And after 9 months of only knowing this baby on my insides, what's a few more days? (If you recall, I had a TOTALLY different attitude when I was pregnant with Alaina. Hypnobabies works wonders on my emotions! What a blessing!) So my thought at this point is that my birthing time (aka labor) will be shorter as I continue to have practice pressure waves. They aren't really uncomfortable and I can feel them working and getting my body ready. So I'll just relax (I haven't been timing them or anything and I plan to just go off my intuition as to when it's time to call my midwife) and let them do their job so that when things really get going, most of the work will already be done and the baby will come quickly and easily. I'm envisioning a 3 hour birthing from start to finish, with about 20 minutes of intense concentration to get through transition to the pushing part, which is my favorite--it's always a relief to push! And it's fast too. So we'll see if my birthing visualization (a Hypnobabies technique) comes true!

I also have to mention that Brice is the cutest daddy. He gets so excited! It really messed up his week to take Monday off, but I think I'm more bothered by it than he is! He's had to rearrange everything about his week and he's just as happy as can be! Almost to the point of being giddy. I love it. His happiness and excitement helps me to feel better when I'm feeling huge and immobile and sore (anyone know how to realign a pelvis? Mine is all out of place. OW!). What a cute and sweet daddy he is! I love him!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Sisters Maternity Shoot

Here are some of the pictures my cousin took of my sister and I when we were both pregnant. This was about a week before my sister and my cousin both had their babies (they were born a day apart).

Is it a boy or a girl?

In the Making

So my cousin is a photographer and I'm a... maker of things. She had her first baby in March and we decided to do a trade. I make her some baby stuff and she's doing pictures for us. She did a sisters maternity shoot for Gina and I just a few days before Gina had her baby and in the fall after our baby is born and isn't so... squishy and red looking we're going to do family pictures. Here are some pictures of the things I made (sorry, the picture quality isn't that great...).

The first thing I made is a sling baby carrier. This is the only kind I can use with Alaina right now with my planetoid protruding from the front of me. But it was also Raelin's favorite kind when she was a baby. So simple, so versatile, and so compact!
And I realize my head is cut off in this one, but how can you resist cute baby kisses!
Next, I made a car seat tent thingy. I love the fabric she chose!
And the other thing she wanted me to attempt was a diaper bag. She really likes this Petunia Pickle Bottom bag and I said I'd give it a shot. First, I tried it with some random fabric I had on hand to make sure I could do it before I used her nice fabric. I call it the froggy bag. It could use some improvements...
I learned a LOT from making the prototype and the final product turned out SO much better! I got the first two projects done in a week or something, but for this one, I cut out the fabric and just had it sitting by my sewing machine for months because I was too scared to make it! I've never sewn something so intricate! And I wanted to do lots of pockets and some with zippers, which I had a hard time figuring out. So I had sewer's block for a long time. Then my cousin said that she wanted to come bring me the CD of pictures from our sisters maternity shoot because she's moving to California for the summer on Monday. Uh, oh. The pressure was on! So I decided to just go for it. And I was shocked at how it turned out! Whoa! Who knew I could do this?? (for some reason, these pictures won't rotate. Bummer...)
I love that it has LOTS of pockets! There's a pocket on each side panel, one on the front, two on the back, two inside, and one on the bottom.
There's a long pocket inside that can hold a wipe case and a couple diapers, and then there's the zipper pocket with silky lining--that was tricky! But not at tricky as the zipper pocket on the bottom. If you click on the PPB link to see the bag I copied from, you'll see the changing pad pocket. That one took me a while to figure out, and while it's not perfect, it works!
I think I might have to make myself one...

"That's a virtual planetoid"

"It's got it's own weather system"

Sunday, June 13, 2010

It's official...

I waddle.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ryker's Second OT Appointment

(Warning--lots of writing and info, not many pictures. Sorry--I find this all fascinating. I'm a complete nerd.)

Ryker had his second occupational therapy appointment today. The OT said that he saw a LOT of improvement since the last time! We've been working hard the last two weeks to make sure to give him appropriate opportunities to bang, stomp, crash, hit and all that stuff. We've also seen a lot of improvement at home with him. He's a lot less inclined to be naughty because, rather than trying to take away all his crashing, hitting, banging opportunities and utensils, we've been telling him "Go hammer this into that tree stump" or "Go outside and run to the end of the block and back twice" or "You can jump on this but not that" and it's really been helping! Usually, by us trying to shut down those behaviors, we just see him look for another way to do it, which seems naughty and is unbelievably frustrating, but now we understand that he just NEEDS some sort of input and he has to do whatever it takes to get it. By us trying to make him stop it, we were exacerbating the problem, making him MORE destructive and MORE rowdy. So over the course of two weeks, the changes we've made have helped him to get those needs met so that he's capable of calming down when it's time to.
Today at OT, after running back and forth across a big field a ton of times, kicking a ball around, doing a wheelbarrow race, doing a jumping routine (I'll explain this one later--it's the most interesting exercise to me and Ryker's improvement on it was remarkable), swinging and banging into things in a stretchy, bouncy, cloth hammock thingy, and all out wrestling with the OT, Ryker and his OT did some yoga postures and then practiced sitting still and calming down. He did SO much better at calming down today than last time! The interesting thing to me is to see Ryker run and run until he's just about to drop and then see him get all wired up again as soon as a new activity is presented. A couple of times, he'd get so worn out from one activity that he would be on the verge of tears (with kicking the ball today, he was ready to be done and the OT kicked it to him one last time as he walked away and it hit him in the leg. He cried and cried! He acted hurt, but I know it couldn't have hurt him THAT bad. He was just so tired! But after walking back in the building and talking for just a few minutes, he was ready for jumping and swinging and wrestling! Still looking for MORE input!). But once a new activity came around, he was totally re-energized and gave it all he had, leaping and jumping and running. The OT asked him if he ever ran out of batteries. NOPE! But it looks like it is hard for him to have someone telling him to KEEP doing vigorous activities when he's done. Usually he's told to knock it off, but to keep going is throwing him for a loop. At the end of the appointment, he says it was so fun, but during it, he comes close to crying several times and he doesn't like being told to do more when he feels done. But I think that's kind of the point. He needs to be pushed to that breaking point to be able to learn to stay in a normal zone of functioning. One interesting thing I learned today is that it's having the opportunities to do the hitting and banging stuff that will make him stop those activities, but not because he won't have a need for them anymore--he won't LIKE them anymore. The OT told me how, as a kid, he could go on the tea cups at Disneyland and spin super fast and make everyone else sick and love every minute of it, but years later when he went, he didn't even feel it until about a half hour later when he got the worst migraine of his life. So he'd had enough spinning exposure over the years that his body couldn't handle spinning anymore.
The jumping routine: There are 5 long, narrow boxes made out of masking tape on the floor of the room. The OT lays out one # (1-5) in each box and has Ryker jump to whatever number he calls out. The first time Ryker did it, he was SO spastic! Trying to listen to the number, read the number, and then jump to it was total sensory overload for him! He stumbled and fumbled and fell over and over. Today was a totally different story. He still didn't look coordinated much, but he made it to the right numbers most of the time, he didn't fall once, and even when the OT tried to trick him, it didn't work. This activity is so interesting to me because of how much sensory stuff it shows! It really shows just how difficult it is for Ryker to process all those different inputs at once and to try to respond to them. And it shows more than anything else how much better he got in 2 weeks. Yay, Ryker!

Oh, and one more thing. He was SO ready for a nap when we got home today. I mean, really, really beat! He probably ran at least a quarter mile (remember, he's 4), walked on his hands until he just plain couldn't anymore, played kickball (which included LOTS of running too), wrestled, jumped, and swung all in an hour. But do you think he slept when we got home? NOPE! A crazy rain/hail/windstorm kept him up and now he won't sleep. Early bedtime tonight! Sheesh!