Our Happenings

On the slate for 2014: Tom returns from Baghdad in July, then we move to the D.C. area in August for two years. Tom will do some traveling to Europe for work, but for the most part we are in the motherland until at least July 2016, raising babies and being awesome.

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Story of Will's Birth & My Unmedicated Birth Tips

I wrote this not long after Will's birth, and I'm finally posting it...

Before it slips out of my mind I want to write about Will's birth. After CJ's birth I was feeling too overwhelmed and exhausted to document it. And, honestly, it was such a long ordeal that I didn't have any desire to relive the experience. So you know where I'm coming from, it was about two days of contractions and I was very stubborn and didn't get an epidural. After two days of labor I was in rough shape and felt delirious after the whole thing. Will's birth, however, left me feeling much different and I thought I would record the day for myself and for those of you who are interested in that sort of thing.

38 weeks pregnant with Will

Let's just start this by reminding everyone that Tom is still working in Baghdad and came home exactly one week before my due date for Will's birth, and he was only here for a total of two and a half weeks. (He'll be done with this tour in mid July.) With that in mind, I was on a mission to have this baby ASAP once Tom got here. The weekend he arrived I actually did start to have some contractions, but they would subside overnight while I slept. So it won't shock you to hear that when I started having contractions on Friday afternoon, the day before my due date, I didn't get my hopes up that this was "it." I ran some errands, took a long walk, had dinner with my family, and tried to get a little sleep that night. Sleep was elusive, however, because, well, this was "it" and the contractions got progressively stronger throughout the night.

I had been listening to self hypnosis tracks for childbirth for about six weeks, and I had also listened to these for months prior to CJ's birth. The first go 'round with the hypnosis (for CJ's birth) did jack diddly. But being in a calmer state this second time, I felt like the hypnosis practice might be worth a shot. While laboring at home, I think the hypnosis practice did help a little. I wasn't using it as extensively and as precisely as the program recommends, but the basic ideas of relaxing and letting your body do the work (rather than fight it) was actually very calming and helpful. I tried to just sink into the contractions as they came. I also tried to let Tom and my parents sleep as long as possible.

Around 4:45am I started to feel a faint urge to push. This sort of "woke me up" and I realized I should probably alert Tom before I had the baby at our house. I hadn't been paying attention to length or frequency of the contractions because my OB had previously told me that intensity is what you should measure in terms of deciding when to leave for the hospital. So I just waited until they got...very intense! Tom packed up the car, called my parents to come over, and once they arrived to stay with CJ, we left for the hospital. I think we got to the hospital around 6am where they announced I was 8cm dilated. When I heard that I was elated. Of course I suspected I was pretty far along, but I wasn't completely sure and didn't want to get my hopes up.

My strong desire had been to stay at home as long as possible and then have a quick delivery once I got to the hospital. A friend of mine had told me about her daughter's birth and how she labored at home throughout the night then went to the hospital in the morning and shortly thereafter had her baby. I kept thinking about this story over and over. Well, that, my friends, is exactly what happened!

At the hospital, the staff were concerned that I'd be having the baby before my midwife could get there. The back up doctor actually came in to introduce himself "just in case." Ha! I ambled over to the delivery room and Tom got me settled (i.e. standing up, clutching the rail of the hospital bed), then ran off to park the car and get the mountain of stuff I asked him to pack for me.

Tom returned, the midwife came, and then we were all just...waiting. I was 10cm dilated and could start pushing any time. Later I told Tom that what we were waiting on was for me to work up the gumption to start pushing. Being extremely clear headed and "with it" this time around, the thought of pushing out a baby was...terrifying! I didn't want to! I had only just arrived at the hospital! Plus, I'd have to move from my precarious yet safe position of clutching onto the bed rail! But the baby's heart rate seemed to be dipping a little after each contraction, which apparently wasn't ideal, so they had me get on the bed and start pushing. Boy oh boy did that part hurt! I didn't remember it being so searingly painful.

So...Tom reports that I was screaming very, very loudly, and screaming some not-PG things, and that he had to turn away to laugh at times. I will neither confirm nor deny this, but I will say that it was a very intense 20 minutes of my life and that I wasn't convinced the baby was going to come out.

But he did! At 8:13am on March 8, his due date, William Thomas Marotta came into the world. He weighed 8lb 1 oz (to compare, CJ was 6lb 2oz!) and was 21 and 1/4 inches long, I think.... Tom caught him and pulled him out, and Will snuggled on me for an hour or so after he was born. I love that Tom was the first person to touch him. We are very fortunate to have a hospital in our area that is natural birth-friendly, and I felt extremely lucky to have this particular midwife for my birth.

It was the absolute best birth experience I could have asked for. I basically could have been anywhere and given birth just as I did - no IVs, no cutting, nothing but a woman pushing out a baby. I think having no IV fluids made a big difference for me. After the birth, aside from being sore in the lady parts, I felt just fine! Not groggy, dazed, or miserable. For hours after, Tom and I just kept looking at each other asking, "did that just happen?!" It was a really incredible morning. Everything happened exactly as I had hoped. Will is a very good baby and we are so happy to be his parents. Hearts, rainbows, flowers, kittens, and all that. The icing on the cake is that CJ loves her little brother and is super excited to have him around.

Yep. Just born. Can someone tell me where to find the snacks around here?

I'm not sure how much each of these factors contributed to my easy pregnancy and birth, but here are some things that might have helped, and that I would recommend if you are thinking about having an unmedicated birth, too (or any kind of birth, really).

1. Good Food. Each week I got (and still get) a box of organic fruits and vegetables from a co-op for me and CJ to eat. It basically forced me to each lots of nutritious food so I didn't waste it. So even if I had ice cream, I also had broccoli and red bell peppers and oranges.

2. Massages. As a concession for my single mom-ing it, I treated myself to massages, sometimes every other week. Also, my insurance pays for the vast majority of this expense, so I didn't feel too guilty for this indulgence. I got real massages, though. Not some frou frou relaxation massage. I know for sure the massages alleviated tension headaches, and they probably helped in other ways, too. Perhaps helping my body get in the right position for birthing.

3. Acupuncture. I started getting acupuncture in the final two or three months of my pregnancy to keep me healthy and happy. I seriously think it did improve my mood. A week before my due date I had a session to "open" me up and "remove any blockages" that would prevent the baby from coming. I had another appointment on my due date to get the baby the heck out, but by the time my appointment came I had already birthed out the kid that morning. So does it work? I say YES!

4. Red Raspberry Leaf Tea. I made liters of this and chilled it in the fridge to drink cold. (My acupuncturist said drinking it hot is best, though. Those Chinese herbalists never want you eating anything cold!)

5. Chiropractic Care. When I was about 34 weeks pregnant I injured my back pulling CJ out of the tub. This lead me to the chiropractor since massages weren't cutting it. I think I was 36 weeks by the time I actually went in, and I saw him a couple times a week until I had the baby. Now if you ask him, he was aligning my body to be in an ideal position for the baby to come out fast once labor started. Did it work? Considering my first labor was two days and this one was about 19 hours from start to finish, maybe.

6. Hynobabies Self Hypnosis Program. This is a pretty intense program that promises pretty incredible results. The thing is, you won't have a painless childbirth like the literature suggests is possible. But you can help yourself by not freaking out during contractions, and this program does a good job of helping you stay calm. If I ever have another child I will use this technique again. The one thing I don't like about this method is that it tells you to rid your mind of the "P" word (pain). I think a better approach would be to train yourself not to fear the pain. You have to just surrender to it.

7. Most of all, I think this was a good birth because it was my second. The midwife said that the second birth tends to be about a third of the length of the first, and that was true for me.

I'm happy to talk about my birth experiences, Hypnobabies, acupuncture, or anything else. I think it's interesting that the normal birth experience in the United States involves some serious medications. Knowing that that's normal makes it seem scary or impossible to NOT use medications. But it doesn't have to be scary to have an unmedicated birth, and it's certainly possible if there are no extenuating circumstances. That's my message: it's not a question of IF you can do it. You can. The question is: should you do it? And that answer depends on a lot of very personal factors, and is no one's business but yours.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

William Thomas Marotta

Born on March 8, 2014 (his due date!) at 8:13am weighing 8 pounds, 1 ounce. He shares a birthday with his Tia Ylonka.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Brother and Sister Love

Ok, I know I still need to post about Will's birth, but I have to post this video ASAP to appease my sister. Here is a short video of CJ holding Will. Enjoy! More to come soon.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Five Weeks!

Five weeks (or thereabouts) until our little boy will be born! Five weeks is a terrifyingly short amount of time. I still have to get ready! Like, I have to dust under the furniture and set up fun, enriching activity boxes that CJ can do while I'm breastfeeding. I have to cook four months worth of food for the freezer and sort through all of CJ's clothes to weed out the ones that don't fit anymore. I have to drink copious amounts of water and pregnancy tea and do kegals and daily hypnobabies self hypnosis sessions for labor! Ha! Ha ha ha. Ha.


Oh, those are nice thoughts. Maybe I'll get some of those things done half way.

Here are some photos from December and January. Tom was here for a FANTASTIC visit around Christmas. We loved having him home and CJ was sad when he left (which was almost unbearable for me and Tom to see). It's the first time she showed signs of missing him, but she was over it in less than a week. I think I've said this here before, but as tough as it is to raise a young toddler (and soon a newborn, too!) without Tom around most of the time, I'm so glad Tom is doing this unaccompanied tour now and not five years from now. The separation is so much easier on very young children.

Without further ado...the picture show:

CJ is standing on her head in the crib.

Both feet balanced against the crib bars, head and hands on mattress.

New baby! This ultrasound photo was taken at 28 weeks in my pregnancy.

Trying out Aunt Ginny's new scarf

When I go to Gaga's house I sit on giant cans of peppers and eat my weight in animal crackers.

Bike ride with Dad!

Christmas Eve family photo

Christmas morning

Playing with Auggie and the Lamoureux family

Chase me, Auggie!!!

CJ loves this giant Christmas tree.

Aunt Alison is the best because she has baby games on her iPhone, just in case.

Flowers from Tom

I'm feeling sappy...this is from 2007. I was barely 23 and Tom was about to turn 25. Before law school, the Foreign Service, marriage, kids. I wonder what I would have said if someone told me then what was in store for us. I think I wouldn't have believed it because it would sound too good to be true.

Aww...soon we'll have another one of these! Here's CJ newly born and being held by her Dad.

Alert and ready to explore the world right from the start.

I wasn't feeling extremely loving after two sleepless nights of early labor, about 15 hours of intense contractions, and 2 or 3 hours of pushing, so thank God Tom was there to give this little baby some tenderness. Fingers crossed for a quicker birth with the next one! 

I love you, Tom. I love you, CJ. I love you, new baby. I love you friends and family. We don't see you nearly enough!