Why I turned into one of those weirdo granola people who wants to give birth in a barn…

Okay not REALLY. But that’s sort of what I thought about people who went to midwives until ya know… I became one of them.

I debated writing this post for several reasons. First, I’m not sure anyone cares. Second, I hate putting my plans out there in case they just all go to hell and/or I change my mind. Third, it’s a bit beyond my comfort zone of tmi-ness on the blog.

Nevertheless, I feel like I was so clueless prior to getting pregnant and honestly had no idea what my real options were until several weeks ago (already into my third trimester)… so if sharing my thoughts/plans can help someone better understand their options earlier than I did– it just seems worth it. So here we go. (And feel free to just click away if birthing options aren’t your thing!)

When I got pregnant and people started asking me what kind of birth I wanted, I said (only sort of kidding) that I wanted someone to club me over the head and wake me up when it was over. I wanted no part of it. I actually was sort of hoping that I’d need a c-section for some reason… because that just seemed so much easier. My sister in law had one and she had no contractions, no labor pains at all! Check in, get drugged up, 20 minutes later her kid was out! Why would anyone NOT want to do that? No really– I could not for the life of me figure out why anyone would not prefer a c-section to having a kid the old fashioned way. So I just put no thought into it. I had an OB who I’d seen for years for my regular check-ups and I loved her. So I just figured I’d go to her (and I did) and do whatever she told me to do and one way or another (and hopefully with as many drugs as was legal to give me) I’d get this kid out.

But the weird thing was, I started talking to my friends about their experiences giving birth and almost all of them said that they had hoped desperately to avoid c-sections, and a lot of them attempted to go the no-medication/epidural route. And these are smart educated professional women. So I figured they must know something I don’t know, and maybe I ought to do at least A LITTLE research. My research was mostly in the form of internet searches and one highly recommended book- Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth (which for the record was a bit TOO hippy dippy for me, but she still made a lot of excellent points, even if I wasn’t really down with the whole spiritual/empowerment side of things).

After my research I decided I wanted to attempt an unmedicated natural childbirth. Here’s why:

1) C-sections are major surgery, with all the associated risks. It’s amazing that they are available to those who NEED them and they save lots of women’s and babies’ lives– but if you don’t need major surgery, why risk it? Not to mention the fact that recovery is a bitch. Most especially, they don’t want you doing stairs. I live in a freaking 5 level home. If I end up with a c-section I’m going to be pretty much stuck in our bedroom unable to even go get myself food from the kitchen for at least a week or two. That sounds like it would suck.

2) If you get an epidural, you are more likely to need a c-section. There’s a bunch of science behind this and a bit of disagreement, but there seems to be support for the idea (and personally I believe this to be true) that often (not always!) an epidural will slow down your contractions. And then hospitals want to give you pitocin to get things moving. But pitocin makes your contractions worse so then you need even more pain meds, and more pitocin, etc. And pitocin makes your uterus contract harder and longer, which can put the baby in distress moreso than natural contractions. And if the baby is in distress, you need a c-section. It certainly doesn’t happen to all women who get epidurals, or even most. But it seems pretty clear that you are MORE likely to have this problem if you get one.

3) If you get an epidural, you are more likely to need an episiotomy or to tear worse. This is for several reasons. First because it can make it more difficult to listen to your body on when to push and when to stop, and you can end up pushing too hard/fast for your body. Second because it makes your legs numb which means you have to give birth laying on your back in bed, which is generally a more difficult position to give birth in because it literally makes your pelvis smaller than it is in other positions (like standing, squatting, or on all 4s). The idea of any cut or tear in my nether regions sounds completely awful to me, and I’d like to minimize the chance or severity of that sort of thing if at all possible. Less damage = less to heal = less pain in the days/weeks after birth = easier recovery.

There are a bunch of other reasons people cite for wanting an unmedicated birth, such as concerns about drugs getting through to the baby, fears of reduced ability to bond afterwards, wanting the spiritual/empowering experience of doing it sans meds, etc. I don’t really have any desire to have an “experience” here so I don’t care about that– and all my friends who had an epidural seemed to bond just fine with their babies who were perfectly healthy– so I’m not quite sure I buy that much into all that. But basically, I believe that an unmedicated birth, while harder, will allow me to have an easier recovery and it seems worth it to me to trade a day of pain for several weeks of easier recovery. (In theory anyways..)

So once I decided that I wanted to try for an unmedicated birth I talked to my doctor. I LOVE her and I have never had an issue with her at all, but I did not love her answer… which was that if I REALLY wanted to go sans meds I could but “you don’t get a gold star for torturing yourself.” I was really disappointed because I am dead set on delivering in the hospital. I still think the hospital is the safest place to be in case of an unforeseen emergency during birth or for my baby once she is born, and I thought that if I wanted to give birth in the hospital then the OB was my only choice. I always thought of people going to midwives when they wanted to have a home birth or wanted to go to one of those birthing centers– and I just knew that was not for me. I worry way too much to give birth anywhere but a hospital.

Amazingly though, I found out that there is a midwife practice in my city that has their patients deliver in the exact same hospital I was already planning to go to! How did I not even know they exist?! (Because I never bothered to google and find out basically!) Midwives give the exact same prenatal care as OBs do. They still watch out for complications and if anything goes sideways– you get a doc. But they are specialists in “normal birth.” They also will support my decision to get an epidural if I decide at any point that I want one (and I’m not counting out the possibility that 2 hours in I’ll be like f this— give me ALL OF THE DRUGS NOW PLZ). But the big thing is– they support TRYING for an unmedicated birth. They stay with you the entire time you are in labor. They provide counter pressure and massage to help ease pain, they suggest labor positions that may relieve pressure, and they allow you to labor in the shower and in a birthing tub. And basically– they get results. The c-section rate for women checking into my hospital through the OB practice and expecting vaginal birth is almost 30%. The c-section rate for first time moms at the same hospital working with a midwife is less than 10%. They also boast an episiotomy rate of less than 5%. Being able to work with them but still be in a hospital in case any complications pop up seems like the absolute best of both worlds to me, so that is what I’m doing.

Still though, I get why people look at me sideways when I mention I’m going to a midwife. A month ago I would’ve done the same thing. And that is why I wanted to write this post encouraging people to look at their options earlier in pregnancy than I did. I don’t know that I’ll succeed in having a med-free birth, and I don’t have any pride wrapped up in “toughing it out.” I’m not trying for a “gold star.” But I do see the benefits of at least planning for a med-free birth and making it a goal, whether I succeed or not. And honestly without the support and help of the midwives I think my chances of success on this would be pretty slim because I’m sure if my doc was popping in going “are you sure you don’t want an epidural now…?” I’d be like ZOMGYES. But with them..? I’m giving myself 50/50 odds. I honestly don’t know a single person in real life who has been successful in going med-free, despite lots of people trying. So I won’t beat myself up at all if it is what I need to do. But I see the value in trying.

So… that’s my (super long winded omg) plan. Anyone out there actually make it through birth med free? Or anyone planning a med free birth for themselves?

An unglamorous (but very exciting) upgrade!

I never thought the day would come when I would be super excited about an upgrade to a basement floor. But well, that’s where we are folks! My parents are the sort of people who do everything “right” whereas I’m the sort of person who… is mostly lazy. So when my dad started bugging us about painting our basement floor when we moved into this house, I sort of blew it off. Because it’s the basement, so honestly who cares (hint: not me). I just couldn’t imagine the cats or our christmas decorations would care how nice our basement floor looked. And really, if we didn’t have cats I’d probably have continued on with that opinion.

But we do have cats. Which means cat boxes, which for the last 4 years have sat on the unfinished basement floor. And unfinished concrete is very porous, which means it soaks up cat smell, even when the boxes are clean (ew). And I’m enough like my mother to really care if a part of my house (even the basement) smells like cat. So a fix was in order! And luckily my dad was happy to come help make this happen, since the paint you need to use is really stinky and not safe for those currently growing tiny humans. 

And even more luckily, this was actually really easy! I hate to admit it, but I sort of wish we’d done it years ago. First step was taking everything out of the basement, obviously! 

Next, B and I cleaned the floor really well. This meant sweeping it (to get up the cat hair and bigger dust/dirt), then vacuuming it (to get up the finer dust), then mopping it with a damp mop and lots of fresh water (I changed the water 4 times for our 1/2 basement to make sure the mop was as clean as possible to pick up any remaining dust or dirt). That left us with this… a clean basement and my dad and B preparing to paint.  

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All they needed to paint was a large roller (note the 18″ roller in my dad’s hands) and a small 6″ roller, and the paint. They used Seal-Krete Epoxy paint that we found at Lowes. It took 2.5 gallons to do our basement. 

B said there was really nothing to the painting, he did along the walls with the 6″ roller and my dad used the bigger roller to fill in the middle. They did 2 coats, which took less than an hour, and we could walk on it 3 hours later! 

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The floor now looks better, will be much easier to clean because it is a smooth surface, and most importantly– is stink free! All the old odors are sealed in, and new smells won’t be able to penetrate the paint and hang out like they could with the old floor. So excited for a non-smelly basement!!

Also exciting… note the shelves! I wish I’d taken a photo of the basement before we moved all our belongings to clean, but it was sort of a hot mess. My dad and B decided to buy some shelving units (under $100 for all 3 at Menards) and use those to organize all of our boxes. Now everything is actually accessible to us and not accessible to the cats (who liked to hide between boxes) and it just looks way better. 

So… while it may be sad… I am SUPER excited about our basement upgrade! The whole thing (paint and shelves) cost under $200 and I feel like it has made a huge difference down there. Before I sort of avoided going downstairs at all costs, whereas now I don’t mind going down there at all! (Even with the pregnancy-induced super-sniffer). Woot!

Anyone else doing upgrades that their 16 year old selves would be embarrassed to be excited about? 

They can’t all be winners, kid.

(10 pts to anyone who can name that movie…)

In my quest to furnish our nursery, I’ve relied heavily on craigslist. Obviously I bought a new crib, and my father in law offered to make us a bookcase. Otherwise though, I’ve relied on craigslist for several reasons. First, obviously, I’m cheap. Second, I like the idea mix-and-match furniture, rather than just heading to babies r’ us to pick up whatever set they have on sale. Third, I decided I’m doing mixed wood tones and I want some painted furniture in there. And if I’m painting furniture, I want it to be cheap (okay so sort of a restatement of point 1.. but whatever). 

I will hopefully be back next week with some great before/after pictures of some furniture… but let’s start off with a massive fail. I had purchased all of the furniture for the nursery except a side table for next to our glider. I wanted something small, just something to set a glass of water and my kindle on while I am nursing. When I came across an ad on craigslist for a side table that had a really interesting shape and was only $10– I immediately emailed to get the details. When I asked why it was only $10, I was told it was because (although hard to see in the photo), the woman’s kids had drawn all over the table with markers and it was going to have to be repainted. Not a problem for me since I planned to repaint anyways! (This was not the picture in the ad, but I didn’t save that one).

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The only issue was, it was only a Tuesday and I didn’t want to wait until the weekend to pick it up (I had lost out on more than one sale by not being the first buyer to pick-up). But my husband had to work late and I was going to have to go alone. This freaked me out a little, since I don’t make it a habit to go to strange people’s houses, but the neighborhood looked okay and I arranged to make the exchange in the driveway so I wouldn’t have to go into their home. I took exact change and sent the address to my husband and mom and told them both I’d call to let them know as soon as I was done. Probably a bit paranoid, but I do live in Ohio where we had that whole “craigslist killer” thing a while back and it’s hard to get that sort of thing off your mind, especially at 6 months pregnant. Due to all this nervousness, I didn’t even look at the table when the guy put it in my car. I figured it was worth the risk of a crappy table for $10 to just get it and get out of there, rather than getting all distracted by looking it over closely. 

When I got it home, I could see there were definitely more issues with the table than I’d been told about. Yes, there were marker marks everywhere, but that was expected. There was also drippy paint as this table was apparently spray painted at some point and not originally white. But neither of these bothered me much.. 

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The big issue? The table is missing one of the edge pieces that goes around the top of table-top, leaving a super rough splintery edge and pin nails that are sticking out and just painted over. Not awesome. 

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Still… I persevered. I got some medium and fine grit sandpaper, a pair of pliers, and went to work. I figured even missing the one edge, I could pull out the nails and sand it smooth and it would be fine. The nails were not terribly hard to get out, but sanding was a whole other story. The more I sanded, the more wood peeled up. I had no illusions that this was a high quality table, but I didn’t expect pieces of it to just start peeling off, sigh. 

So at this point, I think I’m giving up. I’m not sure there is enough sand paper to make this table smooth and kid-safe. I haven’t tossed it in the trash quite yet on the off-chance my dad has some better idea when he’s in town this weekend, but I think I’m accepting my failure. At least it was only $10? You win some and you lose some, I guess. 

Fingers crossed that my mom’s and my efforts this weekend to paint my craigslist dresser and changing table fare a bit better!!