It all started two days before Christmas, 2009, when I saw those two little blue lines. I immediately woke up my husband and we both stared at the pregnancy test in complete shock/daze/happiness/tears (happy ones!). Even though we had been “trying” for a couple of months and couldn’t wait to be parents, we still couldn’t believe that I was pregnant. In fact, just to make sure, I took two more tests to make sure the results were positive and indeed, they were.
After the shock and daze had passed, it was time to talk about whether we should wait to tell our families on Christmas or hold off until I got through the first trimester. With much discussion, we decided it would be too hard to keep it a secret for three months and it would be fun to share the news during the holidays. It would be a special Christmas gift!
Once Christmas came, we announced it after we had finished opening all of our gifts. We told everyone we had one last gift, but it wouldn’t arrive for another nine months. It took a a few minutes for our family to get it, especially my mom, but after they did, our families were thrilled, no to mention teary-eyed! In fact, what made it extra special was my estimated due date; it was my late brother’s birthday, August 29th. How wonderful would it be if our baby was born on my brother’s birthday!
After the holidays had settled down, the reality of being pregnant finally started to sink in. I immediately started researching information on what to eat, what not to eat, what to do, not to do, etc. With anything new, I always want to read as much information as I possibly can, without driving myself and my husband crazy (he would say it happens, anyway). I continued to keep up with my early morning exercise routine and healthy eating, though after about seven weeks, I started to feel very tired and fatigued, so getting up at 5:30 a.m.to work out couldn’t continue. All I wanted to do was sleep. Fortunately, I didn’t have much morning sickness. I only felt nausea when I didn’t eat every three hours. I listened to my body, slept-in and changed my schedule so I could exercise in the evenings, after work. After long work days and feeling exhausted, it was hard to make it to the gym on a daily basis, so I went (on average) three days a week throughout my first trimester.
Once I started my second trimester, my energy level dramatically increased and I felt like the Energizer bunny! I picked up the pace with my exercise and continued with my routine of working out 4-5 days a week, of course working out at a lower intensity and not getting my heart rate above 140-145. I continued my strength training routine, working in a maintenance mode, not increasing my weight or reps. I substituted my ab work with only doing planks. I also added a prenatal yoga class to my weekly routine which taught me about how important Kegels were, so I added them into my strength training.
As I approached 20 weeks, my husband and I watched the film, “The Business of Being Born,” (thanks to my prenatal yoga instructor for recommending it) which changed everything. If you haven’t watched it, I highly recommend it, especially if you are pregnant or soon-to-be! After we finished the film, we immediately decided to look into all of our birthing options, not just continue with the norm of seeing our OBGYN and having a standard hospital delivery. We both didn’t realize that there were so many options available. I was not really familiar with Midwives and I certainly didn’t know if any practiced in our area.I started researching (as I usually do), and found quite a few that practiced locally, as well as a local hospital, Sutter Davis Hospital, that is one of 115 hospitals in the nation that are Baby-Friendly, according to the World Health Organization and UNICEF. We also met with a couple of midwives who have their own practice, as we were seriously considering a home birth, but after talking with our insurance, a home birth and private midwife was not covered. A hospital birth was 100% covered. With that being said, I called Sutter Davis hospital right away and spoke to the head charge nurse and she invited us to come check out their facility, offering a private tour (since we couldn’t make it to their regular monthly tours). We went the next day and both decided that Sutter Davis was where we were going to have our baby. Davis offers all kinds of alternative birthing methods, such as having a water birth. In addition, 98% of all deliveries are performed by Midwives. It was the perfect balance of being in a hospital setting, but having the options that we wanted. I transferred my care from my OBGYN to a midwife at the Sutter Davis Women’s Clinic and was so pleased with our decision. At our first visit, the Midwife spent 45 minutes with us, which is unheard of in a regular medical/physician setting! After that first visit, we knew we had made the right decision.
In addition to switching to Davis, we signed up for the Bradley Method (husband-coached childbirth) classes, after a wonderful recommendation from some friends who had gone through it with their baby. The class runs 12 weeks and is one 2 hour session each week. The purpose of the class is to have your partner coach you through various relaxation and guided imagery exercises to help you through labor without the use of pain medication. In addition, it teaches you basic nutrition, exercises that help expand your pelvis and perineum, as well as ease lower back pain (squats, pelvic rocks and Kegels) and the stages of labor. I can’t say it enough: It was a great class and so worth the time and money! We both enjoyed going to class each week. I didn’t know about the various exercises, so I quickly implemented those (squats, pelvic rocks and more Kegels) into my daily routine! If I could prevent tearing and help ensure a speedy delivery, then I was all for doing as many of the exercises as possible!
As the weeks went by, we also hired a Doula, who helped us create a birth plan. We were aiming for a natural birth without the use of medications, unless absolutely medically necessary. In addition, we wanted to have a water birth, immediate skin-to-skin contact with our baby after he/she was born and only breastfeeding (no bottles or pacifiers, which Davis already practiced, due to the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative).
The day finally arrived, 10 days early. Fortunately, I had taken 4 weeks off of work prior to my due date (thanks to our company’s policy that if you don’t use the 4 weeks prior, you lose them). It was a normal day: I had last minute errands to run, but I had scheduled myself a facial and wax in the afternoon (a last bit of pampering prior to our little one being born). I got home about 4:30 and spoke with my mom, who was calling me everyday since the beginning of August to check-in on how I was doing. I told her I had felt fine and nothing was happening and I would talk with her later. However, I did tell her that I had some lower back pain, but I thought it was due to overdoing it with some squats with a barbell the day before. My husband wasn’t home yet, as he had been out of town for work all day, but was on his way. After 15 minutes later, my husband arrived. He needed to complete a report of his day, so we decided to postpone dinner until later. I was already getting hungry, so I went to the kitchen to get a snack. As soon as I reached into the cabinet for a granola bar, I felt a little trickle of water run down my leg. My water had broke! As I walked to the bathroom, more and water continued to come out. It was indeed time for our little guy/girl to come out! Since nothing was happening (no contractions), I continued on my business, changing my clothes of course and proceeding to get my snack when all of a sudden (about 30 minutes later), BOOM, the contractions started. They were short and infrequent at first. My husband started keeping track of them and I balanced on our exercise ball, until they continued to come harder and faster. I had called the hospital when my water broke and since I had tested positive for beta strep, they wanted us to come in a couple of hours to get my first dose of antibiotics. I was actually bummed since I wasn’t feeling anything and I didn’t want to be in the hospital if my labor wasn’t progressing. But, boy was I wrong. As my contractions became faster and harder, we decided to head to the hospital sooner than planned (after we ordered a pizza from our favorite place, which I couldn’t eat). We arrived at the hospital about 8:00 p.m. and I was dilated to a 5. The nurses kept saying that first babies don’t fall out, so you have time, relax, you will be fine. The contractions kept coming harder and faster, so it certainly seemed like things were progressing faster than we thought. We called our parents and told them to arrive as quickly as possible. In the meantime, the nurses managed to find a good vein and give me one dose of antibiotics between contractions. It was funny, with all of the practicing of various positions that my husband and I did, the one that felt the most comfortable was rocking in the rocking chair in the laboring room. About and hour and half later, things were definitely progressing. The nurse checked me again and I was dilated almost to a 9. They decided it was time to prep the tub. Once the tub was ready, my husband and I got into it and and things felt so much better. I was finally able to relax (I couldn’t stop shaking prior to being in the tub). I was in my squatting position, kneeling with laying my head on my arms on the side of the tub. Before I knew it, our Midwife did one final check and all she needed to do was to move the little lip of cervix and it was time to push. I pushed for 52 minutes and when it was time, I turned over onto my back with my husband supporting me and we both reached down and pulled out our beautiful baby boy, Keenan. He weighed 6 pounds, 1 ounce and was 19 inches long. From the time my water broke to when Keenan was born, it was 6 and half hours, nothing I ever expected! It was the most amazing experience I have ever had, not to mention one of the best days of my life (aside from my wedding day, of course).