Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Playgroup Friends

Very often I comment on the playgroup (or people from it) that the kids and I go to. Well, the picture below is a huge group shot of most of us at the park one day. There are a couple of ladies and their kids missing but this is the majority of us. This picture was taken just about a week before I gave birth to Benjamin, hence, he's not in the picture. These ladies (most of whom live in my neighborhood), have been such a blessing from the Lord and I love our weekly times together! I'm not sure how I ended up front and center but oh well!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

New Family Pics

These AWESOME family pictures were taken by our good friend Jessie Minnery. Click the picture below for many more!


Friday, May 22, 2009

May Pictures!

I finally uploaded a ton of new pictures taken this month. They are from several different things so they are totally random. Click the picture below to enjoy!

Take care,

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Dancing in the Hail Storm

Well... not really... Here's a video of some nice golfball sized hail we got a few days ago. It sounded like it was beating the house down but no visible damage anywhere.
And here's a video of Hannah dancing and singing to some old school Brian McKnight. :)
Take care,

Monday, May 18, 2009

My Natural vs. My Epidural Childbirth

I've very purposely titled this post "My" Natural vs. "My" Epidural Childbirth, instead of simply "natural vs. epidural childbirth." Why? Well, I want it to be very clear that my experience may be different than others'. Do I have a preference between the two? Absolutely... but a healthy mom and a healthy baby are the ultimate goals. Whatever needs to happen for that to happen, is perfectly okay in my opinion. That being said, here is a bit about my experiences! ;) I'm going to go back and forth between labors/deliveries to make comparisons. Hopefully it won't be too confusing! Oh... and this will inevitably be a long post. Read as interested!

When I was pregnant with our daughter Hannah, I prepped to have a natural, non-medicated childbirth. I took classes, read books and researched the internet like crazy (as I'm a research geek). Two weeks before she was due, at my regular OB checkup, we learned that my placenta was no longer functioning as needed to support her in the womb. Her and I were both losing weight. My doctor decided an induction was medically necessary and was scheduled the very next day. I was crushed as I'd heard a Pitocin-induced labor was much more difficult than a normal one. The next morning, we arrived at the hospital at 7 a.m. I was led to the bed, all of my vitals were checked, I was connected to both the contraction monitor, and the baby heart rate monitor. A blood pressure cuff was attached, an i.v. inserted and the Pitocin began.

After 6 hours of light contractions, my water broke at only 1cm and I was no longer allowed to get out of the bed. Within 30 minutes, my contractions increased considerably. Roughly, six hours later, I was only 3cm dilated yet was having contractions of duration and strength like those during the transition phase of a normal, active labor. I asked for the i.v. pain killer they had mentioned before (Stadol). Though it didn't kill the pain, it more or less made me feel like I'd had too much to drink and made me temporarily not mind as much. Within an hour, it had worn off and I was back in the same dilemma. Having dilated no further and dealing with immense pain, I broke down and requested the epidural. After receiving it, I fell asleep for three hours in pure exhaustion. When I awoke I was 8cm dilated and delivered Hannah about three hours later. It was approximately an 18hr labor from the start of the Pitocin to delivery. You can read the full details about this labor and delivery from my birth story post.

Fast forward to my pregnancy with Benjamin. About two months before he was due, I started thinking about the possibility of going natural again. I knew for certain if I was induced again, I was not even going to make the attempt. But what if I wasn't? I started questioning my friend Courtney about her experience of going natural with her 3rd child. I asked her if she'd used a doula and she had. That got me to thinking again... maybe... if I had a doula, I'd have the encouragement and support I needed to actually have the natural childbirth. Long story short, the Lord put me in contact with Betsy, a doula and fellow member of my church! We met once before labor to discuss expectations and desires. Afterwards, we kept in contact by email.

After several false "starts" to labor, the real thing finally began around midnight, five days before my due date. You can read all about the details on my recent birth story post to reduce repetition. This labor and delivery was SO different from the last!

One huge difference was that my water did not break until Benjamin's head literally began to crown. Having your bag of waters in tact cushions the contractions. Some people then ask if it hurt? Absolutely! Especially at the end, I felt like I was going to die! ;) Yet, I cannot even imagine how much more it would have hurt without my water in tact!

After my epidural with Hannah, my lower body/legs were numb for around 12hrs. I couldn't get out of the bed or anything by myself. I had to use a bed pan (no fun) and get help to even move my legs in the bed. With Benjamin, I was able to go to the restroom on my own two feet less than an hour after I delivered him!

I went in to the hospital with Hannah after a full night's sleep. Yet after giving birth to her and spending about 45min-1hr with her and friends, I passed out again for about five hours. I was completely wiped out. After giving birth to Benjamin and working only on 3hrs of sleep, I was on a tremendous adrenaline rush. I did not sleep until 10hrs later! Though I felt and worked hard through my labor and delivery with him, I truly felt great afterwards.

Confined to the bed after my water broke with Hannah, I believe was one of the greatest reasons my labor progressed so slowly. Given, the fact that I was induced and it was my first baby were definitely factors, I'm sure. With Benjamin, after being on the monitors for the first 30 minutes and all being well, I was allowed to get out of bed and move around. At the end of my labor with him, when I was finally allowed to get up, about 20 minutes later, my water broke and I delivered! It was much more painful to deal with the contractions laying on my back in that bed. Swaying side to side, leaning over the bed was my favorite position in handling my contractions.

When it came time to push with Hannah, I had to be coached on how to breath and when to push. Because of the epidural, I could feel the contractions but not the pain or pelvic pressure. With Benjamin, they did have to tell me to slow down my breathing. Yet my body literally told me when to push. As a matter of fact, the nurses were having to tell me not to push because the doctors weren't in the room yet. I thought they were crazy because I didn't feel like I could not push. My body was doing a thing of it's own! As he crowned, I felt the "ring of fire" that you may or may not have heard about. That in and of itself gave me reason to get him out! Yet he came so fast, it didn't last long. ;)

After coming home from the hospital with Hannah, I was incredibly sore for several weeks. I had one stitch and a ton of lower pelvic pressure whenever I stood for more than five minutes. The very day I came home from the hospital with Benjamin, we went to a soccer game. :) I barely felt like I'd given birth just two days before! I've felt almost completely normal since! Given, I had no stitches this time and my body may still have been a little more prepared since I'd given birth previously. Yet even my energy level has been way above and beyond that with Hannah.

Overall, my natural childbirth was SO incredibly rewarding. I feel like I climbed an enormous mountain and lived to tell about it! The recovery was way faster than with my epidural childbirth. The cost will be considerably less because I won't have to pay for the anesthesiologist or the epi. It is still an amazing feeling to know that the good Lord made our bodies to be able to give birth. Sometimes people act like it's a foreign concept. If the Lord blesses us with more children (and I pray He does), I will most definitely attempt another natural childbirth with the help of my new friend and doula, Betsy. At the same time, if medical reasons necessitate something else, I will do whatever is best for me and our baby.

I hope this post has been encouraging, informative and helpful - especially to anyone contemplating a natural childbirth! If you've read this far - bless you! ;)

Take care,

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Still Here!

Just wanted to jot a quick note to let you know all is well in the Santos home. I haven't taken the time to blog lately as I adjust to being a mama of 2 and getting less sleep. I'll try to update again soon though!

Take care,

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Week 39: The Birth Story!

I can tell you in advance that this will be a long post so prep yourself and read as interested! ;)

Monday evening/Tuesday morning around midnight, I started having contractions. Considering I'd had several occasions where I thought I was in labor, and wasn't, I decided to lay in bed and see what happened. By 1:30am, the contractions were getting a bit stronger and starting to hurt. I decided it was likely true labor and James and I got out of bed to pack and prepare.

From 3am to about 4:30, my contractions were consistently between 4-6 minutes apart and around 1 min or so in length. I finally called the OB and she told me to go on in to the hospital. Excitedly, we packed everything and everyone in the car. We called our parents, our doula (Betsy) and our friend Lindsey (who wanted to experience the labor/birth). We dropped Hannah off at James' sister's apartment and then arrived at the hospital around 5:30am. I was strapped up to the monitors for about 45 minutes and then told if everything looked good, I could detach myself.

In total weirdness, my contractions suddenly started to slow and decrease in intensity. I was only dilated 3 cm and about 70% effaced. Frustration and irritation soon set in. My 4-6 min contractions quickly became 8-10 min and not nearly as painful. After 3 hours of being at the hospital, I had not dilated or effaced any further then when I came in. The doctor and nurses were very kind and patient though. The doctor gave us the option of staying or going home. Considering she knew my desire to have a natural childbirth, she recommended that I'd be more comfortable elsewhere so that too many interventions were not used. We decided she was right and left at about 10am. But right before we left, James suggested praying for us. He prayed particularly that my contractions would regain their momentum and labor would pick back up. We put our trust in the Lord and left.

Almost as soon as we did leave the hospital, my contractions jump started! We were all hungry at that point in time so we went to eat breakfast at Panera. It was one of the yummiest breakfasts ever! ;) While eating my spinach and artichoke souffle', yogurt with granola and orange juice, the contractions continued to increase and strengthen. I ducked into the bathroom about 4 or 5 times to have the contractions so it wasn't dramatic in the restaurant. After leaving Panera, we went to James' sister's apartment. She lives incredibly close to the hospital so we thought it'd be better than driving all the way home (which is about 20-25min from the hosp.). By this point, my contractions were about 3 minutes apart. Yet we didn't go straight to the hospital because we were determined we would not be sent home again. My contractions continued at roughly 3 minutes apart for about 1 1/2 hours. At one point, I felt the need to "bear down" and we decided it was time to make a quick trip back to the hospital.

In the 5 minute drive back, the walk inside, and back up to Labor and Delivery, I had 3 more contractions. And by this point, they were no joke contractions! After giving my name and insurance information again, another contraction took over and I nearly doubled over into the floor. Several nurses came running and immediately got me into a LD room. After changing into the gown and getting back on the monitors, I was checked and nearly 7 cm dilated. This was amazing considering I was only 3cm just 2 hours earlier! After 30 minutes on the monitors, I was given permission to get up and move around.

I took position standing at the side of the bed since I'd dealt with most of my contractions leaning/swaying bent over the bedside. I'd move around for about 30-45 seconds or so until the next contraction began. With my sweet husband and awesome doula's help, I made it through each contraction one moment at a time. With every single contraction I'd think, "I can't do this," but then the contraction would end and I'd get renewed strength. After only 15 minutes or so of moving and standing, my water abruptly broke and I felt the immediate need to push. The nurses were called back into the room and had to help me into the bed as I didn't feel I could move at all! One nurse went to check my dilation again and suddenly screamed something like, "There's the head! I need a doctor in here! Get me a doctor!" Sure enough... Benjamin was coming! The nurse was literally pushing his head back towards me to keep him from coming out. Several nurses frantically got gloved, yelled for some sort of table and continued yelling for a doctor. Within minutes, two doctors were in the room: my primary OB (who just happened to be walking the hallway) and the OB on call. With two or three pushes, Benjamin joined the outside world!

It was an amazing labor and delivery in SO many ways! First, I was able to go natural (no epidural or pain meds), which was something I really wanted to do. Second, my water did not break until the very end, whereas with Hannah, it broke at 1cm. Third, my support was awesome. James, Betsy and Lindsey were all great! Fourth, I had a wonderfully supportive nurse and great doctors. Fifth, though we were sent away that morning, my labor picked back up at an incredible speed. From the start of contractions until delivery was only 13 hours. And of that, only about 4 were active, heavy-duty labor. Sixth, I had no lacerations from the delivery. Seventh, my recovery has been super fast. I feel SO good to have just had a child. I seriously feel 100x better then I did right after having Hannah. Eighth, the Lord blessed us, plain and simple. I was healthy. Benjamin was healthy (his APGARs were 9, then 10). Everything went nearly as smooth as it could go! We were discharged from the hospital in just under 48 hours. Benjamin only had a slight case of jaundice, so no need for phototherapy (as with Hannah). As a matter of fact, in only 3 days of life, he's already back to his birth weight!

I do plan to write a separate post on my experience of natural childbirth. This one is long enough I think. ;) So if you're interested in that, stay tuned. We praise the Lord for an amazing labor, delivery, and childbirth. Thank you ALL for your prayers, encouragements and love!

In Christ,