Adult Food Allergies – My story

10857740_981454598555723_7663915779188410522_n   This story, like most, has a pretty long backstory. In a nutshell (see my allergy humor there?) shortly after the birth of my 5th baby I began having very strange “episodes”. Through 2 years of Emergency Rooms, blood tests, diagnostic tests, doctors, more tests, nurse practitioners, meditating, ignoring, crying, more tests, wondering if it was panic attacks, wondering if I was crazy….we have a diagnosis. It wouldn’t be pertinent to continue here without also adding in my years of falling far away from the conventional medical establishment. I have come around to deciding that whether all those alternative forms are useful, accurate, helpful, healing…are irrelevant.  I believe there is a good balance to be had for the more natural remedies and for the advancements in the medical field too. And I’ve learned to trust the scientists, who have extracted the nature and made it into the most effective forms. I sometimes wonder if I would never had gotten a proper diagnosis if I continued to search outside of the medical establishment or wonder if I would have never gotten the proper treatment and care I needed. Yes, the medical field can falls short and needs improvement in areas, but I believe working together is our best bet. Most of all I believe that you have to be an advocate for yourself. That’s a fun statement. You can read it. Nod along. But in practice, it is very difficult. Being an advocate for yourself even when you aren’t sure of yourself.  Pushing for more testing even when it’s a financial burden on your family. Really trusting yourself down to your very core and telling those voices, those little hypochondriac whispers, the ones telling you that it’s just what having 5 kids is like…it’s just because you’re overweight….maybe it’s not as bad as you’re making it out to be? Telling those doubts that you will continue on to find out…each minute. Day by day. Until those days turned into 2 years. Having a food allergy has been something I had been chewing around in my mind for a long while. Unfortunately there is a lot of crap science and fear mongering to wade through when researching. And there are a lot of snake oil salesmen too. There are also a lot of people suffering from food allergies, food intolerance and food sensitivities. These are all separate things really, with different symptoms and different tests and sometimes they don’t even have a test available for it. I didn’t realize how much food allergy was a catchall term until now.  To clarify, Food Allergy refers to a full immuno-response of multiple body systems that could lead to death. I knew that after eating I didn’t feel well. I couldn’t pinpoint what it was. I tried several different kinds of diets from Paleo-ish to Vegan to clean eating. I tested my gall bladder, I worked on eating less fats, I worked on eating more fats and less carbs. I berated myself for maybe not sticking to anything one thing long enough to make a difference. I decided it was all in my head. I focused on exercise and just eating what made me feel good. After my scans and blood tests and scopes and biopsies and surgeries showed nothing (pertaining to this) and the symptoms continued…I decided to go to a board certified allergist connected to a hospital. 2 years previously, my doctor said she suspected food allergies but instead of sending me to an allergist, she looked over an ingredient list on my phone of something I ate that day, pulled on her fingers, and told me I was allergic to X (which btw, was not one of the things I tested positive for) and to cut it out of my diet. I mention this only to emphasize that there is unfounded medical practices in allergy diagnoses. I am not an expert on this, but there are great scientific resources out there. When I’m in research mode I try to get my hands on every teeny spec of information I can glean about a topic and with the internet and all it’s glory! Oh, you can really delve right in! I’ve come to realize, much like the more alternative methods of medicines, researching too much is a lot like finding a needle in a haystack when all you needed to know was where the haystack is and how to move it around it. You could drive yourself crazy with all the minuscule possibilities, or poor with purchasing all the supplements that may or may not have worked for a small group. Balance is key here. I’m sticking to legitimate websites and treatments. My allergist recommended this website. PCSA-3T ————- Now I’m going to share with you my most recent episode. Ironically, it happened the same time of year as my first reaction: July 4th weekend. The difference was, I had been diagnosed through history and SPT and knew I was allergic to 3 of the 8 most common food allergies. We found out the day before leaving on a week long trip. Because my episodes weren’t always severe, I wasn’t sure how seriously to take the diagnosis. I was still very cautious, I read labels, I warned family and food workers of my allergies and tried my best to avoid the 3 known triggers. Sometimes after eating I would just feel upset stomach and tired. And sometimes…this would happen: As I was eating I commented to my husband that something tasted funny to me. He thought it tasted fine and everyone seemed to be enjoying it so I figured I was just being oversensitive. I was hungry, having just removed 3 major food groups out of my diet, so I was going to eat what I could of things I thought were safe. 15 minutes later, I was feeling a little tired and well, I decided I ate to much. Must be indigestion. I felt tingling down my legs and needed to use the restroom immediately and repeatedly. I felt like I couldn’t quite catch my breath. I used my nighttime inhaler I had been given a week before, a little earlier than I usually do. I took my nighttime antihistamine a little early too. Maybe just a mild reaction. I told my husband we should go for a walk (so I wouldn’t think about it). I still felt like I could control this. That I could out-think it.  He took one look at me and said “No, you should get your epipen now”. At this point, I was getting dizzy, woozy, nausea, headache. Multiple systems were going haywire (in hindsight). I grabbed the liquid zantac I was given and drank some. I told my dh to get me some benadryl because we hadn’t fully stocked my emergency kit yet. I resisted the Epi Pen because it meant I had to go to the ER. As he left to get benadryl,  my head hit the bed and I was so dizzy I couldn’t even think straight. My oldest daughter came in and I whispered something about getting her dad. I grabbed the epipen out of my bag and heard my husband count down the 10 seconds I needed to keep it in my leg. I think I dropped it somewhere and I remember being in the car. I heard talk about me wheezing, about where the nearest hospital was, about how the kids will be okay. The hospital was 45 minutes away. Within 10 minutes the epi did it’s job beautifully. I used my rescue inhaler to help with the wheezing but all the other symptoms went away quickly. I called to let everyone know I was doing okay. Then the adrenalin shakes began. If you’ve never used an epipen, I will tell you it’s not something you’d do for fun. Every muscle in my body was convulsing. My heart was racing. I had no control over the twitching or movement. When we got to the ER, they got us back right away and I stubbornly wanted to walk. It was quite funny because of how badly my legs were twitching and how much Jeremy had to support me. And then? The Epi wore off. I couldn’t stay awake. My body did its best to get out all of the poisonous food I gave it through whatever means it could. The nurse was amazing, she brought cold washcloths for my neck and wiped my mouth and wrapped me in warm blankets. She said I had to wait it out. I was mad. Don’t they have a magical pill for this? No. They just support your body as it heals. They gave me a shot of benadryl and a shot of steroids to help. When I was in the clear for a biphasic reaction, they sent me home with a refill of my epipens, 5 days of prednisone to ward off another attack (it’s highly likely to have another within a week of the first) and some antinausea medication. 36 hours later, I suddenly became slightly woozy, nauseous and in need of the bathroom again. This was much milder, but not something I could just keep on with my regular daily activities with. I took some antihistamines and slept. I’m not sure if this was a side effect of the prednisone or that I had a biphasic reaction. At this point we decided to drive home. I’ve slept for most of 2 days and when I’ve been awake, I’ve been researching. I know that with the medications my recovery has been much quicker. After the first episode, I was in bed for 10 days. —————– I’ve had this very same reaction more than 10 times over the past couple years. I’ve had a less severe reaction more times than I can count. I’ve had a pain in my stomach that burned like insanity while this was going on, that has been burning nearly constantly for 2 years until I cut out all my allergens for 10 days. adult-onset_food_allergies So this is my story. I cannot even delve into the emotions that have come along with this. The validation and the terrifying realizations. The shock on the faces of the nurses administering my allergy test and describing the welts and wheals. Having to show my kids how to use an epi injector. My toddler crying because Mommy won’t have a bite of her cookie. Having to hug my teary-eyed dad and tell him it’s okay that he didn’t know about the cross-contamination and that we might not ever know exactly what caused my reaction. And asking myself repeatedly: Is this really my life? I could die from eating ice cream? It cant be true. It shouldn’t be true! And realizing how many people live with this reality: I am not alone. So I will continue to ask questions, to share my feelings of fear, and ultimately…..I will continue to trust myself.

Interview 2015- H

Favorites:

• cereal – Reese’s Puffs

• vegetable – I forgot, it’s like an apple but it’s not.  yeah, it’s a pear. 

• drink – kool-aid

• food – like anything. Like dinner. Okay, so, I’m going to pick, noodles with meatballs 

• color – well 3 colors. Okay so, green, black and purple. Yeah, that’s what I like. 

• toy – Plants Vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 

• TV Show – Like can I do PBS Kids, so I’m going to do Mickey Mouse and Donald. 

• game – super mario smash bros

• book – All the blue cat ones…(Pete the Cat)

• restaurant – Red Robin

• holiday – Halloween

• animal – A water dragon

If you could change your name, what would you choose?

I will chose Hudso

What do you love about each person in our family? 

I like to play games with everyone. So like Super Mario Smash Bros and also Skylanders Trap Team

Where would you like to go on vacation this year?

My favorite vacation is going to the airport and then go to New York City

Do you have any wishes for this year?

I wish for um, a toy motorcycle. And more! Which is, I have wings and I can breath forever. 

Anything else you want to say? I’m done with the wish

What is your favorite candy?

frosty’s (from Wendy’s) but my favorite one is vanilla. 

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I want to do some work just like Dad 

Interview 2015 – J

8 years old

Favorites:

• cereal – Reese’s Puffs

• vegetable – Sugar Snap Peas 

• drink – lemonade

• food – macaroni and cheese 

• color – torquiose green 

• toy – Wii U 

• TV Show – ummm Zig and Sharko 

• game – Either Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros or Super Mario 3D World 

• book – Magic Tree House 

• restaurant – I’ve got to say Steak N Shake 

• holiday – Either Halloween or Christmas because they both have a lot of fun stuff in it and my favorite part about Christmas is everybody having a good time

• animal – I’ve got to say a snake or a jaguar and I like dogs a bit too

If you could change your name, what would you choose?

I haven’t thought about that. I’m not sure. 

What do you love about each person in our family?

I like Madelyn because she’s usually fun and helps me with things and fun with gaming and it’s really nice of her to play with me on hard games and help me defeat the levels. Griffin is fun and he’s really cute. Hudson is a fun gamer too like Madelyn. Even if he’s never played Catan Junior. Claire is so cute and fun at the night, say like 8:25 and she likes playing. She’s amazing. I love her. My dad is fun usually. He does go to work. I feel sad for him because he has to work all day. I love my mom so much. That I love her to the cosmos and back infinite times…times three. 

Where would you like to go on vacation this year?

maybe heading south on december 2nd maybe to go to Texas or something. Oklahoma. Maybe visit our cousins. 

Do you have any wishes for this year? I wish that we would have a good time for 3 weeks straight. and not just by good, but amazing. By each and everybody in this family. 

Anything else you want to say? no thanks

What is your favorite candy?

maybe lollipops or ice creamWhat do you want to be when you grow up?

maybe a video game maker or a scientist

Interviews with M

Age 10

Favorites:
cereal – Mini Wheats
vegetable – Carrots
drink – water, wait milk
food – Spaghetti
color – blue
toy – the wii U, oh and Daisy (dog)
TV Show – Uh, that’s hard because I almost never watch TV, oh wait! Stampy, that’s my favorite TV show. (note: Stampy Longnose is a YouTube show)
game – Disney Infinity
book – Um….Magi.
restaurant – I haven’t been to any restaurants in awhile, do I have to choose? Well I guess it would be Steak N Shake. I do still like Qdoba.
holiday – Does my Birthday count? Then Christmas. When we all together! I only care a quarter about presents.
animal – favorite Pet is a dog, favorite animal is a Dolphin
If you could change your name, what would you choose?
– Lina
What do you love about each person in our family?
That they love me back. 
Where would you like to go on vacation this year?
like a hotel with a giant ice skating rink at the bottom. 
What are some of your wishes for this year?
That I could grow wings…no I’m kidding. 

Anything else you want to say?
nope…oh wait my favorite candy now is hot tamales

what do you want to be when you grow up?
uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh i don’t know yet (she told me how many hhhh’s to put). Last time it was an artist or a ballerina or something.
what is your favorite kind of art?
Manga

what is your favorite thing to paint?
sunsets
what is your favorite flower?
Lillies
what is your favorite instrument?
trumpet….(made sounds) oh a trombone that’s what I mean (more sounds)

Kites

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I found a highly treasured kite, the one made yesterday in preschool class, the one we made together, just lying on the floor and so I proudly taped it up on the backdoor slider window for all to see. But this isn’t a story about the kite. This is the story about the 5 year old boy who screamed and hit  because he did not want it on the window. This is the story about a mom who made the choice in a split second to meet his anger pace for pace and angrily tore the kite up and threw it in the garbage. You do not hit me. This is what it feels like when someone is angry at you and does something over-the-top to show it. Feels awful.
And then I felt the weight of my childish act. Ashamed. I couldn’t control my own anger impulse and I’ve had so much more practice than a 5 year old. My eldest child looked at me and said , “Don’t you think that was a little harsh?”
“No”, I said through gritted teeth still trying to hold onto something, “he doesn’t get to be a jerk and hit people because he’s angry.”
My 9 year old saw the hypocrisy as it left my lips before my anger allowed me to see it and left the room. All the while, a 5 year old is broken, crying on the floor and holding his torn kite that he rescued from the garbage. He says we have to go back to co-op tomorrow and make a new one. He says we have to fix it, this kite that he’d proudly talked about nonstop the day before.
But this isn’t a story about guilt. About the million and one mistakes I’ve made as a mother or how I use those errors in judgement, those breaks in my sanity, those “human” moments as my husband would say….to berate myself and spiral down into self loathing. No, this is a story of love. The kind full of mistakes, the dirty gritty kind of everyday love that strives to be better.  The kind that scoops up the child, grabs tape and scissors and, together, pieces that kite back together.
It is about the older brother who wasn’t even in the room during the altercation, who comes in to comfort his brother with a knowing pat that Mom gets mad but she always makes it right.
This story is about the eldest sister who made and presented her brother with a new kite. Bravely she stood in front of me, knowing in her heart that I was wrong and standing up for what was right.

Yes, this is a story about love, bravery and forgiveness. And a little kite,  patched together with tape and hugs.

Organized Craft Rooms

Make my heart happy. As does this shelf find, a freebie we picked up while yard sale shopping this Spring. The dresser is also a yard sale find, something my parents picked up when I was a child. I suppose it might be considered antique now. My dad and I spent hours sanding it down by hand and staining it.

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Birth Story

I awoke at about 6:30am on a Tuesday morning with the usual feeling of disappointment. Another night and no baby. It was fleeting though as I began to plan what we might do that day instead. Those thoughts were quickly gone as I felt a gush of fluid. Excitedly I got out of bed and felt another small gush as I entered the bathroom where Jeremy was getting ready for the day. “My water broke! It’s baby day!”  I was very hungry so I ate oatmeal, banana and later some buttered toast.  I decided to crawl back into bed and rest. I spent the next 4 hours resting or getting my birth nest all set up. The shower liner went on the bed under our birth sheet, the wipes warmer put together, laundry and other things put away. Around 10:30am I called my midwife to give her an update. At that point I had a few painless tightenings that produced more fluid and some pink tinged toilet paper that let me know I wasn’t imagining things. It felt like buckets of fluid. All clear and sweetly smelling. Baby had woken up and was moving around and hiccuping and letting me know that everything was all good in her world. It was a gorgeous day, not a cloud in sight, breezy and lovely. I stopped to take a picture of our lilacs that had bloomed that day.

Around noon, I ate a peanut butter jelly sandwich and decided to go for a walk with the family. We didn’t make it very far, it was sunny and breezy but I felt too hot and thirsty. I had a few more contractions, but nothing I couldn’t walk through so we headed back into the house. I decided to lie down again and I napped on and off for a little bit. I was feeling a lot cramping and aches very low in front and my lower back held a lot of tension. The contractions were definitely showing up more in my back so I spent some time on my hands and knees. At this point, I decided to have my birth team come over just to see how the baby was doing, get things set up and have someone here to entertain the kids.

My midwife came over and checked the baby’s heart tones which were lovely. She was hanging out posterior like I had suspected, but she still had time to turn so I wasn’t worried. Everything was set up for the birth and the midwife and I just chatted and laughed. I told her my worries and she reassured me. This birth was different than my others. I had to let go of expectation and control.   During that time,  I had maybe 4 contractions, probably only noticeable by a sudden far off look in my face or a crinkle in my nose. I felt like I wanted some privacy and my Midwife sensed that. She suggested she could hang out downstairs or go ahead and leave for a bit, I opted to have her leave.  It was such a nice day and I knew I wasn’t anywhere near being in active labor yet.

After pacing the bedroom for a little while and hanging out on my hands and knees I felt restless and decided to go for another walk, this one with just Jeremy. I was hoping the walk would help the baby wiggle into a better position and get labor going in earnest. Jeremy and I walked for a bit, talked and I was able to process how I was feeling. With my other births when the water broke first, the contractions started in within 30 mins and they were born in 5 hours and 1.5 hours from then. We were now going on nearly 9 hours from my water breaking and no real labor beginning. It reminded me a lot of my other posterior births where the baby wasn’t lined up quite right. It was hard to not be overanalyze and try to figure out if I was doing everything “Right”. It’s so much easier when I had gone straight into hard labor and just followed my instincts. In hindsight, I realize I was following my instincts the entire time: alternating rest and activity and I never worried that labor wouldn’t begin. I figured it might wait until the kids went to bed that night and the house was quiet. I knew I wanted my birth team there, we all had a feeling that when things got started in earnest, it would go quick.  During the walk, the contractions felt stronger to where I had to stop walking at the very peak.

I got back home and felt really hot and tired. Off to bed once again, gulping down more water and I felt fuzzy headed.  I told Jeremy to take the kids outside to play and burn off some energy. I had thought that perhaps I’d go ahead and send my midwife home afterall, I hadn’t had any contractions since returning home for almost 30 minutes while I drifted in and out of sleep.  I decided to send my midwife a text  to let her know that my contractions had stopped and I was going to nap. This was 4:39pm. Within the minute of sending that text, I wave crashed over me so fierce and hard I had to breath on it from start to finish. I was shaking as I sent the next text before it had even ended “oh. i lied there’d one” followed by “holy shit that was strong”. The feeling and intensity had dramatically changed. It was incredibly long contraction that I had to focus on from beginning to end and it was followed immediately by another one just as strong. When it had peaked it wouldn’t let go completely in my back and I swayed to try to get my muscles to relax. It was so strong I had a minute where I thought if I had another one, no one would make it to the birth!  Jeremy finally received my message and was upstairs filling the birth tub and the midwife showed up a few minutes after that.

I didn’t have another contraction for almost 15 minutes. I excitedly told everyone what happened and that it was finally time! Another contraction came, less strong than the others, but definitely difficult to get through. I breathed and tried to turn my moans into deeper breaths and in between I chanted “let it go….let it go….” because my back wasn’t releasing it fully after it was over. The birth tub was ready but it was too hot in that room. Too confined. I stood in front of the fan, paced, always moving, used the bathroom, more pacing. I clutched the wall, the doorframe, the edge of the mattress and sank into the waves, swaying my hips in the ancient laboring dance. I started to turn inward and was giving one word directions to Jeremy. “Touch” “No” “Water” I wanted Jeremy to touch me only to help release the tension after a contraction and not during one. I was thirsty.

I dropped to my knees on the side of the bed and rested my forehead on the mattress. Jeremy brought me cold washcloths for my face and neck, rinsing one out and bringing me a fresh cold one as soon as I tossed the other. The midwife put a chux pad down below me and I wondered if she secretly detected that I was closer than I thought I was. I started feeling a little pushy at the peaks but told the midwife “Not that I’m far along enough to push, but if I was, I’m feeling lippy.” Down in the front the pain was pinching terribly, something I remember from when I had a cervical lip with my other births. Another contraction started to ramp up and I told myself each one is bringing my baby closer, welcome it, yes, this is what I’ve been waiting for for so long. During the peak I had the urge to scream and shake, but I calmed myself and breathed through it. I thought it wasn’t so bad. I could still handle this. I must not be near the end yet. The very next contraction hit me and I lost it. I cried out that I couldn’t do it. It hurt. It hurrrrts , it hurts, it hurts.  I was shaking and moaning and crying. Fleetingly,  I remember thinking that it was funny how I just thought I had a handle on it and now I didn’t. The next contraction I was definitely starting to push (5:25pm according to my chart) but it was…it was wrong.  Pushing had always meant relief but this time it hurt so much more than the contraction itself.  My midwife encouraged me to listen to my body and not overthink it. At some point she had laid out even more protective pads over the carpeting.  I needed to get off the pinching in the front. I got up and grabbed Jeremy, his arms under my armpits and leaned against him with my back and hung in a supported squat. Jeremy told me later that he wasn’t quite ready for how forcefully this happened and was afraid that he was going to drop me at first but I had complete trust in him as I flung myself backwards into his arm and squatted down. I moved my hips in a spiral.  It felt so much better and suddenly I felt the baby’s head moving down the birth canal. In one very long push punctuated by my midwife’s voice letting me know how gentle I was being, her forehead was out and knowing this I continued until her entire head had crowned.

And she wouldn’t budge. I pushed with everything I had. I went down into a squat with my legs shaking uncontrollably and there was just nothing but this solid feeling of pressure. The midwife encouraged me to lean forward and then to get down on my hands and knees. I put one leg up and swayed far to the right pushing pushing and swayed far to the left hips spiraling, come out baby, come out baby. The midwife was with me the whole way in the birth dance. I heard her say something and I knew what was needing to happen, I took a deep breath and I pushed with every part of my soul and I felt the midwife expertly maneuver and manipulate and finally I felt the pain of the shoulder pushing against my pubic bone. I could do something with that, I moved with it and out she came. It was 5:35pm. Less than 15 contractions after I declared it was “Holy Shit” time.

“Talk to your baby, Dana” is all I heard as I moved my legs around so I could see her. She hadn’t yet pinked up and I touched and rubbed and massaged and talked to her and she took a little breath and let out a wail.  And oh did she cry! I picked her up then and continued to rub her while she figured out this new thing called breathing. Her apgars were 8 & 9. . I birthed the placenta and moved onto a nest of pillows and blankets on my bed. She continued to receive oxygenated blood through her umbilical cord for about 10 minutes while everything was cleaned up. We then called up the kids and my best friends who had come to take care of them.

When asked about the birth both the midwife and I declare that it was an easy deal. Baby Claire Elise Grace arrived with her right hand curled up on her cheek (nuchal hand), the cord wrapped 3 times around her neck and a pretty good set of sticky shoulders. She had them squared up instead of rounded which is exactly like her oldest brothers birth. I had assumed I was going to be pretty torn up but other than a few tiny fissures that will heal beautifully on their own, my perineum is intact. She was 10 pounds 1 oz and 21.5 inches. She had her first poo and pee within an hour of birth and latched on like a champion nurser. With the amount of vernix and other signs, she was dated as being a 40 weeker (and not 42 weeks as indicated by her estimated due date). Her placenta was unique in that it didn’t have a centrally inserted umbilical cord and also the vessels were all very vertical instead of branching. (there is a photo of this at the very bottom of this post. If you do not want to see it, don’t scroll to the bottom!)

Each birth has been a lesson for me. In my previous birth , I learned just how strong and capable I could be on my own. This birth? I learned that I am just as strong and capable but I don’t have do it on my own. I can trust and allow others to support me. I feel as though this birth is a testament to homebirth. There can be complications but  listening to your body and instincts and having a faith and trust in your support team can make it seem as though it was a simple birth.

And now for photos 🙂

Just minutes old

Just minutes old

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newborn exam with mommy’s comforting hands

first nursing and meeting big sister

all the girls

Soothing herb bath for mommy and baby

Soothing herb bath for mommy and baby

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sweet ginger-haired baby

sweet ginger-haired baby – showing off her love of having her hands up by her cheeks

“I go see my baby now”

4 year old feet and 4 day old feet

First morning earthside (1 day old)

*love*

sisters ❤

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5 days old

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sleepy girls

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we did it!

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Claire Elise Grace – Born May 14th 2013 @ 5:35pm – 10 lbs 1 oz, 21.5 inches

At this point – STOP READING –

if you are grossed out by placentas.

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seriously…..you’ve been warned…. 😉

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If you think placentas are cool then check it out! This one was unique with it’s side entry umbilicus and vertical running veins.

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Baby Time

How is it possible that she’s 2 days old already when each day leading up to her birth felt like an eternity?
Her hair is the most gorgeous shade of coppery red, her nose is a teeny button and she makes the littlest squeaks when she sneezes and cries. We’re all completely smitten with our little sister of the family.

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Over Due and Okay

The reality is that I’ve gone “overdue” with 3 out of 4 babies. Based off of the ESTIMATED due date, I’ve gone to almost 42 weeks each time. Sadly, what has changed in our society is the idea that somehow going over your EDD is now what it means to be “overdue” but that actually isn’t the case. The EDD is the middle date between 37-43 weeks. At 37 weeks you are considered full-term and the baby is most likely going to have all functions in working order. At 43 weeks (or the end of 42 full weeks) you are then considered overdue and complications can arise as something seems to be preventing labor from happening. The average is 40 weeks, your EDD, but naturally most women would go to 41 weeks of pregnancy and that is providing you have a very accurate due date. I have two EDD, one based on LMP and one off of an ultrasound I had at 19 weeks. Both of them have margins of error and between the two dates are 5 days. I could be 8 days past EDD today…..or I could be 13 days past…based off of those two estimates.

Just as babies learn to roll, crawl, walk and talk at their own pace, they also develop in the womb at their own pace. My babies like extra time in the womb and I am glad to be healthy enough to provide that space for them. New research as shown that each week a baby spends in utero, they gain so much more than just weight.

But my babies have also all been “big”. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had other people insert their fear and worry into my birth because of the potential size of this baby. My two smallest were 8 lbs 13oz and 8 lbs 14oz born at 38 weeks and 40 weeks + 5 days, respectively. They were posterior back labors, long and difficult. My two largest were 10 lbs 5oz and 11 lbs 10 oz born at 10 days past EDD and 8 days past EDD, respectively. They started with my waters breaking, they were short labors (5 hours and 1.5 hours) and they were easy with quicker recoveries. As a baby, I was 8lbs 13oz and my husband was 9 lbs. I grow them big.

With this pregnancy I’ve worked diligently to watch my blood sugars. I’ve never actually been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, but I feel like I’m borderline enough to warrant concern. I test my sugars at home, I watch what I eat and balance my meals and exercise. I’ve never worked harder than I have this pregnancy to keep this under control. It has been the main focus of my life for months.

Thus far, I’ve kept my mouth shut and was polite. I can no longer stay silent. When I’ve worked so hard it stings to constantly get it thrown in my face.  I say this because I’m so tired of hearing that people don’t envy me for the big babies I have. That they can’t believe I won’t get induced before they reach that size. That it must be incredibly more painful to squeeze a squishy fat baby out. That I must have a floppy stretched out vagina (yes, I’ve actually been told that). Aren’t I scared of shoulder distocia? Shouldn’t I get a Cesarean Section? At some point I’ve gone from the beautiful pregnancy glow to “holy shit, that’s a huge belly.”

I am unable to find the article, but there is a lovely idea that when someone is going through a life changing event, the people around them should never vent to people closest to the event. Take your concerns and issues to the outer circle. Tell your friends, your sister, talk about it somewhere else, but do not tell the person sitting in the midst that you are worried or scared for them. It isn’t supportive nor helpful to tell a 100 week pregnant woman that you don’t envy the pain of her large baby when she is about to birth at any minute. To veil your concern with a quick snippet of sarcasm about how each day will guarantee you get a nice large one. Jokes about needing a shoehorn or crowbar to get the baby out.

I wasn’t going to say anything but it got to be too much. Too many people with too many concerns and instead of hiding until my little (big) baby came into this world I decided to talk about it. For all the moms being pressured for large babies or being overdue.

TRUTH IS:

I am not large-boned or have big matronly hips. I am normally a size 4/6 in jeans and narrow in the hips. I tend towards being an apple shape, so naturally while pregnant I get a very large belly in comparison to my thinner legs. The natural progression of pregnancy and hormones allows my hips to spread, my pubic bone separates (often earlier than labor which my chiropractor helps to keep in alignment and alleviate pain) and the baby’s head molds to fit through.

My vagina isn’t overly large or floppy. My husband is very satisfied as proof by my large brood of children. This isn’t something I would normally discuss, as it is obviously personal, but since it was brought up, I will let you know….it functions beautifully.

Yes, this is my 5th baby and no I won’t hiccup and birth the baby on the front lawn. If only it were that easy. If that did actually occur? I wouldn’t need someone else to “deliver me”. (I’m looking at you neighbor’s sister who is a trauma surgeon that I’ve never met)

Waiting until the baby is ready is my #1 way of insuring a smooth delivery. I feel confident that I have set myself up for the best outcome because the baby will naturally get into the position she needs to in order to get out when there aren’t chemical contractions squeezing her, when I can move into positions that feel right and when she still has her waters intact so that she can move easier.

As for the pain….I welcome it. The pain feedback is paramount for knowing what my body needs to do. In previous labors I have found myself in positions that I later discovered are ones they recommend for larger babies. I have felt a shoulder stuck and pushing on my pubic bone and was able to move my legs and hips in a manner which helped. I have instinctively gotten into a hanging supported squat and was able to not tear with any of my babies that were born at home. (Even on my old episiotomy scar I was given in my first hospital birth because my smallest baby was deemed “too big” to come without one) The pain feedback response is what allows me to birth my babies successfully and in all honestly my biggest babies were my easiest births.

No, I’m not sitting around all day doing nothing. I am walking 10 miles of hills every week, taking care of 4 other children, making healthy meals and not fretting. I don’t need reminders of “natural induction methods”, ie – asked if I’m having sex, walking, eating spicy foods, bouncing on balls or driving on bumpy roads. No I won’t be drinking castor oil, I’ve had enough stomach bugs this pregnancy to never want to deal with that in labor. No I won’t be having my “membranes swept”.  We’re quite content just waiting it out until something arises that indicates we may need to try and entice labor to begin.

And by content I mean…..

miserably impatient. This pregnancy is dragging on and on. It’s been by far my hardest, on me, my husband and my kids. My oldest son asked me why I had to go get pregnant. My oldest daughter said she can’t wait for me to cook good meals again because their dad has taken on dinners for them and it’s been bachelor food for months. I’ve had stomach bugs and food poisoning in the past few weeks. I’ve had days when I couldn’t even walk the pain was so bad. I can’t keep up with the house or the kids or anything and I’m just waiting and waiting to meet this precious little sister that we’ve wanted for so long. Financially it’s paying a toll with visits to the chiropractor,  extra food expenses, I’m pretty sure we’ve spent a fortune just on toilet paper for all the times I’ve had to pee.  It’s incredibly hard. Emotionally draining. Physically exhausting.  And as hard as it is to carry a very large baby in my womb, I would take that sacrifice for a healthy baby and lovely birth experience for us both. That’s the only thought that keeps me going most days.

Lastly, I have my own fears and worries. Things do happen in birth. I believe that I have set myself up for the best possible outcome with focus on my nutrition, a very knowledgeable and capable midwife and faith in the processes of my body.  If I do end up in a transfer of care to the hospital, induction or surgery than I know it was medically necessary to intervene. The baby and I are being well cared for and monitored and we are waiting until my body and hers knows it’s the right time until such time that we discover there would be a reason it’s not functioning as normal. At this point we have no indication that this is anything but the normal course for me. Afterall, birth is a natural function of the human body.

So please, stop your worry! I love everyone checking in on me and all the support I’ve received. I feel so loved that everyone is thrilled to meet our newest and I know deeply that your concern is coming from love. This little girl is so blessed to have so many people who can’t wait to meet her! I hope I haven’t offended anyone with my post, I just truly felt I needed to get this off my chest. In conclusion, I thought I’d share some of my favorite ways people have checked in with me 🙂

Examples of ways to check-in with support:

“Hey Love! Just thinking of you today.”

“You are going to rock this birth!”

“Can’t wait!”

“You look amazing!!!”

“Can I bring you some chocolate?”

“How are you feeling?”

“Sending happy healthy birth wishes from…..”

“Vaginas are magical!”

Of Fairy Houses and Freckles

20130503-134347.jpgSkipping into the store with her daddy, her hair in a mess of day old pigtails she fashioned herself, dirt covering the bottoms of her well worn bright pink sweatshorts, I can’t help but smile. These are the days of goofy grins full of too big teeth, limbs that seem to have minds of their own, giggles that erupt without any hint of embarrassment or worry in the world. She is fully inside herself, no worries of the future or what others may think of her. Pure, simple and amazingly beautiful.

20130508-114350.jpgAs we head into warmer weather, I can’t help but wonder if this is the last golden magical Summer. Soon she’ll be trading scraped elbows and grass stained knees for trendy fashions. The hours spent bike riding and racing, twirling in the sun with colorful playsilks waving, a girl all freckles and dirt….it will be a memory as she starts tiptoeing towards adulthood.

I hope we have quite a few more summers like this before makeup and boys and self-consciousness takes over. It’s astonishing to watch her be so grown and yet still so young. As we grow further and further away from the days of dancing in dandelions, I find myself missing those times the same way I miss the feel of her soft newborn hair and how any problem could be solved by a big squishy hug or a magic “mommy feel me better” kiss.

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This feels like such a magical time. This golden pause of childhood. A time of fairy houses and freckles.