Ruminations on Sir’s birth

Earlier this year, I finally caved to spousal pressure and started reading Robert Jordan’s epic fantasy series, The Wheel of Time.  Relatively early in the series, the main character, Rand al’Thor receives a wound that, at least as of the sixth book, never heals.  A wound that never quite heals often feels like an apt descriptor of the emotional and mental scar I carry from Sir’s unplanned cesarean birth.*


Sunday will mark my third year of celebrating Mother’s Day as a mother.  Time — to process, to grieve, to heal — has helped, but there’s still something there, a nagging thing that won’t quite go away.  Usually, I don’t allow myself to go down the “what-if” path, because “what-if” is not what was, or what is.  But I do believe in learning from the past, and I’m intrigued by the whole birth process.

I covered the whole “should have had an ultrasound to determine baby’s position with certainty” / “could have tried any number of methods to turn him if I’d known he was breech” thing pretty well in the above-linked post.  That is certainly the crux of the matter, but I’ve had a couple of other thoughts recently.

First, when my water broke at 39+1, we (me, Matthew, and my midwife) all assumed that I was going into labor.  However, given what transpired in the next 24-hours, I rather suspect I had premature rupture of membranes (PROM), meaning that, yes, my water had broken, but neither my body nor my baby were really ready for labor: weak, erratic “contractions,” that really felt mostly like unpleasant cramps; never dilating past 2-3cm; and, in general, a complete lack of signs of active labor.

Second, and I would have to do more research on this, I wonder if we could have tried some of the methods for turning a baby after my water broke.  I’ve read a couple of stories about breech babies flipping to head down during labor, which makes me think it might have been possible, though maybe that was before the membranes ruptured (?).  At any rate, I don’t really remember even exploring this with the midwife once we were at the hospital.


Finally, I’m a bit conflicted about the whole idea of a birth plan.  On the one hand, if you want to have a natural birth, in this day and age of over-medicalized, intervention-heavy births, you have to research and plan.  On the other hand, all of the planning and visualizing my “ideal” birth were, at least in part, what made it so hard when things took a 180° turn.


I’m glad that I was informed and knew about my birth options, but how much did that contribute to the aftermath — the weeks and months of grieving my planned homebirth and the post-partum depression that lingered long enough to probably not really count as “post-partum” anymore?

That said, were I not rather set on sticking to having just one child, I would almost certainly be researching and planning a VBAC (and perhaps an HBAC), and I often give in to the temptation to read the wonderful VBAC birth stories shared by the International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN).

*Writing can often be cathartic and healing, but I wonder if this writing is more like picking at a scab.

2011 Year End Review — The First Half

Pregnancy, international travel, major surgery, and a new baby, all superimposed on the usual topics of biking, food, and gardening.  Here’s a look back at 2011.

Already increasing my carbon footprint
I mean that in a very loving and motherly way, of course :)  The big changes won’t come for another six months or so . . . .

Little did I know exactly how big those changes would be.

Seed starting: Make a functional, affordable heat box
I’ve used this one with great success and reliability for four sets of plants now.  We set our thermostat pretty low in the winter, so the heat box helps keep the seeds cozy.

Mama-to-be’s reading list
Your Best Birth, by Rikki Lake and Abby Epstein, was the first book I read post finding out that I was pregnant, and I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone.  Even if you are not pregnant, have no plans to become pregnant, and can’t see any way this subject applies to you, I encourage you to read it . . .

Turns out, no amount of reading can prepare you for life with a baby.

Good sauerkraut — make your own
Yesterday, I wrote about my hunt for good sauerkraut and how we ultimately decided to make our own.  Fortunately, making sauerkraut is quite simple.

O-oooh, we’re halfway theeere

21 weeks

Brine your beans
While I was happy enough with my bean-cooking method (quick soak or an overnight soak, drain and rinse, boil for about an hour), we recently discovered a new method that yields delicious, lightly salted cooked beans, reminiscent of the canned variety in a good way.

Biking with babies
The idea that a young infant could not be safely transported by bicycle, when we give no thought to putting them in cars, seemed quite ludicrous to me, but I couldn’t find much information on safe options.

There’s no place like home
All of the sudden, I look significantly more pregnant.  So what changed?  Turns out I’m having twins — my regular baby, plus an Italian food baby.

Traveling while pregnant

In London, I could count on relatively easy restroom access when out-and-about by ducking into a Starbucks or McDonalds.  I became accustomed to walking in, quickly scoping out the place and the most likely restroom location, and making my way there, and back out, without making it too obvious that I wasn’t a paying customer.  Italy was trickier on the restroom front.

Eating for two — A vegetarian pregnancy
Not having to scramble to make dietary changes when I found out I was pregnant was one nice aspect of having a well-established healthy diet, though I was a little worried for the few weeks where pasta and rice noodles made up the bulk of my diet.

Cycling Savvy Instructor!
Despite the heat and my “delicate condition” ;) , I made it through the Cycling Savvy Instructor training this past weekend!  In fact, I didn’t just make it, I had a great time.

Biking with baby — Part II
Comments such as, “If you and your husband want to go for a bike ride, leave your baby with a sitter,”  reveal general ignorance about using a bicycle for transportation. What if we want to go to an event in the park WITH the baby?  What if I need to pick something up at the grocery store?  Am I confined to only using my car for these short, easily bikeable trips for the first 12 months unless I leave baby behind?

Rolling toward the finish

Biking to lunch at 37 weeks

Two pair no more

It seems like just yesterday that I was writing this post about my maternity wardrobe and being rather content with the simplicity of my limited options.  Nonetheless, I was looking forward to wearing some of my pre-pregnancy clothes.

When I attempted to put on “real” clothes (i.e., anything other than a sundress or gym shorts) for the first time, about two weeks after giving birth, I quickly discovered that, despite having lost a significant amount of the pregnancy weight, my body wasn’t exactly what it used to be.  A few more weeks passed, and some of my “big” pants started fitting, but by week fourteen, when I went back to work, things had not progressed any further.  This left me with exactly two pair of non-summery, work-appropriate pants.

For me, it wasn’t about the number on the scale — it’s fairly common for nursing mothers to retain 5-10 pounds or so until they stop breast feeding — or really even the slightly altered reflection in the mirror.  The thing is, I liked the simplicity of a smaller wardrobe, I just wasn’t expecting it to be quite THAT limited.  While I genuinely enjoyed clothes shopping as a teenager, I rather dislike shopping of any kind now, and the thought of having to buy new (or new-to-me) pants, when I had so many perfectly good ones that didn’t quite fit, frustrated me quite a bit.

Little by little however, I noticed that my “big” pants were actually feeling big again.  Then, late last week, I tried on a pair of pre-pregnancy pants, just to see, and found that they fit!  A little snug, but comfortable enough to wear 🙂

Now that most things fit again, I have to hold myself to my previous statement to whittle down my wardrobe.  While two pair of pants seems a bit sparse, if I can get by with two, I certainly don’t need ten!

How to make a placenta smoothie

Or not.  Sorry, I couldn’t resist that title, but if you really want to know how to make a placenta smoothie, you’ll have to look elsewhere.  I opted for the much more palatable encapsulation.

The Placenta — To Eat or Not To Eat
I first heard about placenta encapsulation in our childbirth education class.  I initially thought encapsulation was just a way to save the placenta, kind of like cord blood banking.  Not exactly.Continue reading “How to make a placenta smoothie”