Sunday, December 27, 2015

My Birth Story: What went right, what went wrong

It happened! My little angel, Eleni Shea Nash (Eleni meaning "light" in Greek [rhymes with Melanie]), came into this world at 7:24am on Sunday December 20th. 20 in long, 7 lbs 3 oz, she's my perfect little gem.

However, her arrival was not as I had planned. 

 Labor started for me Thursday night at 7pm. I had contractions going every 7-10 minutes throughout the night and they were intense enough that I couldn't seep through them. This night was similar to my false labor two weeks prior. I got up and danced around the whole night, trying to doze off in between contractions. The next morning, though I hadn't slept, I felt pretty good about myself for making it through 12 hours. I thought surely I was at least halfway done with my labor. My contractions continued the whole day every 10 minutes, but they were slightly less intense so I was able to socialize and walk around. That night around 5pm, they became pretty strong. We were at a wedding rehearsal and I was trying hard to not focus on my contractions and socialize, but of course every 7 minutes had to get up and lay against my husband for comfort while swaying my hips. I was not looking forward to a second night of  no sleep. We went home that night, and by 9pm my contractions had me buckling over for each one. We put on a movie and I would breath deeply through my contractions, swaying my hips while bending over my bed. I was trying to remain calm and keep centered, so after each contraction I would pat myself on the back or high five my husband just to keep positive.

Now, my contractions weren't felt in the uterus. They were the crampy back labor ones that started in the back and shot around forward to my pelvis. At the height of each one, I would get shooting sharp pains down the sides of my lower back and legs. They...were...horrible. 6am the next morning I was starting to moan loudly through my contractions and couldn't focus on anything but trying not to pass out from the pain. I tried all kinds of movement: the ball, yoga, steps, walking, bath, shower, swaying hips, blow dryer on my back, etc,   and ended up just buckling over for each one because nothing gave an ounce of relief and took more effort and energy than I had left. My contractions had come 3-4 minutes apart for about three hours, and I was to the point that I was pre-crying when I looked at the clock knowing that another one was coming on. I'd slowly stand up from the bed, look at my husband, start crying, and buckle over breathing slow and deep while moaning as I felt the contraction come on. I wanted to labor as much as I could at home, and I thought surely this was as long as I needed to labor. I honestly just wanted to feel the urge to push before I went in because we live a mere minute away from the hospital, but I was dying. I thought i was going to faint from contractions.

We went in to the hospital where they monitored me, and my contractions had distanced to 6-7 minutes apart. I was checked for dilation...... TWO CENTIMETERS! Talk about loss of hope. They let me walk around for an hour and checked me again: still 2cm but slightly more effaced. When the nurse came in and told me they were sending me home, I started bawling. First of all, I never wanted to be that person who went in falsely. Secondly, I was soooo tired and knew I couldn't do any more time laboring without sleep. We went home to labor more. The contractions got stronger and to the point that I kept saying I wanted to die and it wasn't worth it anymore. I used all the dramatics I could think of in between contractions: asking God to save me, praying for death, etc. Let's just say no sleep and such intense contractions made for quite the show. After another 8 hours or so, I was yelling through my contractions. For some reason yelling through them gave me a burst of energy to not pass out, otherwise I was starting to black out slightly with each contraction. Back pain had not gone away between contractions, and I really wanted to just die. That evening around 6pm, I told my husband I had to go in and get pain meds, whatever they would give me. I needed to rest or else I would pass out and probably kill baby and myself when it came time to push. We went in, and it was still the day staff so I got to be checked by newer, nicer nurses. They humored me slightly more, checked me and I was 3cm (still horrible news) and let me walk around for a bit (aka: go out of the room to moan leaning against the wall). Checked me again, was still 3cm but fully effaced. At that point the nurses from the early morning before were back and were slightly less tolerant of my being back at only 3cm. I said I just needed pain meds to help me through and she called my doctor who said he would rather not give me anything and wanted to send me home. Again, I started bawling and was like "I will kill myself, I will die if you send me home". So the doc agreed to give me pain meds as long as I stayed over night to be monitored.

He came in about twenty minutes later to situate me and check me himself. This doctor is incredibly short, my appointments with him lasted no more than 5 minutes ever, ultrasound included. So he walked in, sat down and said "rough night?", reached to check my dilation, said "She's having this baby tonight, hand me a needle", and broke my water. I was still getting incredibly light headed during contractions and felt like I was in a dream state (nightmare state?) so what he said was not registering with me. All of the sudden I felt like I was sitting in a hot tub as warm water just flowed out of my body. I looked at my husband with worry and excitement. The doctor said I was 5cm, not 3, and was fully effaced so I would be dilating fast. I didn't know how excited to be, super excited to be taken seriously (all of the sudden the nurses treated me 100% differently attending to my every need), but incredibly worried that I wouldnt be able to push. He came back in after reading my birth plan and laughing (mockingly) asked "So you want a natural birth, eh?". After feeling scoffed at for the past two days, the slight mocking tone coming from him did me in. I already was questioning whether or not I would have the energy to give birth, as i was blacking out from mere contractions, and at that point I was ready for relief and just to have the staff on my side. I told him I wanted an epidural. Well, turns out I got an epidural at 9cm. Of course he checked me after giving me the epi, but maybe it was all good timing because my birth did not go the way I thought....

Because I had an epi, they said they were going to let me rest and wait until the baby needed to come out before I was to start pushing. We waited from 10pm to 4am, and although I wasn't yelling through pain, I did not sleep. I couldn't believe what was happening. One moment I'm being told I'm silly and I'm not really in labor, and the next I'm being told I'm having that baby right then and there. By 4am, my body was burning off the epi medicine, but perfectly so. I was able to move around and could feel my contractions, but my down-under region was just pressure. I felt in control of my body and was happy to know that I would be able be in control of my pushing. I started pushing a little after 4am and pushed for 2 1/2 hours. They had me stop at the absolute worst time, right when I completely felt my horrid contractions and had the huge urge to push, so they could call the doctor to come for delivery. I had to sit awkwardly as the baby had come down enough to create intense pressure to where I couldn't close my legs. Doc came in, robed up, and sat down right in front of me. With no words to me the nurses go "I think he wants you to push on contractions now...." So I pushed on every contraction, only to be told abruptly after running completely out of air "keep pushing, your contraction is still going". No other words, I finally had to ask them to tell me when to stop pushing because once I started I couldn't feel my contraction end, and I was soooo exhausted (the position I liked best was like the craziest workout ever...I am still sore in my back and arms from it). Once baby's head started crowning I saw the doc shake his head and push her back in. I kept pushing her out, and he would shake his head and push her back in. Finally he said "You are really tight. You're going to tear up the ying yang. I should probably do an episiotomy." I didn't want one and got really scared because I was not prepared for all these interventions. I really thought I was going to have that birth that people made me think I wanted. He shrugged and had them pour oil on me each time she crowned and he would push her back in. It was so stressful knowing I was going to be mutilated down below. He got out the knife but I could tell he was trying to take my desire into consideration. He grabbed it and almost cut me, but shook his head and put it back. I felt the ring of fire and knew this was the time her head was going to come all the way out, as I saw he was no longer pushing her back in. They poured oil on me, and with one more push and I saw them pull a body from me. The little body looked exactly like my newborn photos. My body felt instant relief and I wanted to pass out but I started bawling and saying "she looks just like me!" over and over. I was just weeping with disbelief at the fact that it was all over. I was so exhausted it still felt like a dream. This dream was interrupted as I felt a huge sharp sting and looked down to see the doc giving me stitches on my tears. I tried soooo hard not to shut my legs in response and so I turned my gaze back at my little angel who was getting her lungs cleared out. She started screaming and I started bawling all over and lost focus on the pain of the stitches.

I was told that I tore basically everywhere and was going to have a really painful recovery. But to pacify this news they brought me my baby and placed her on me. I realized that she didn't look exactly like me. She had my lips, but these long beautiful eyelashes and an eyeshape I didn't really recognize. It was so crazy to think that this human being is mine.

All in all, I actually realize my birth process isn't what was most important. No, I didn't get my all natural, beautifully handled, amazingly perfect birth. But I was prepared enough to know that things like emergency c-sections or what not could happen, so I didn't get my hopes TOO high. I also did what I felt I had to do, and I'm sooooo happy to have birthed my beautiful child that I now see no difference in the way a child was birthed. Even though I went through a really intense and long labor, I don't value the process any higher or lesser than someone who labored only 8 hours, had an all natural water birth with delivery performed by her husband, or someone who went in for a planned c-section. No one should feel any higher or lesser about their process, and I think there's a big culture growing that gives that stigma and pressure to have the perfect experience. You're all heroes in my book.


My belly shrunk down in three days and now is back to "normal". My skin is a little loose and I'm excited to start back my exercise routine. After my birth though, my body feels like it went through the worst possible trauma. The way I braced my body for the 3 hours of pushing made my arms, back, neck, and legs sooooooo sore. I was wobbling around wearing grandma pads and panties, and I felt super sluggish. So this whole last week I just relished laying around with my baby. Breastfeeding has been quite the pain, as I didn't realize how painful engorged boobs and constant leaking would be. Still not thrilled about being a constant milk production (I feel super unattractive...) so if you have any pointers, I'd be happy to hear them!

****I gained between 28-30 pounds this pregnancy. Most the weight came on my last 3 weeks. I wanted to be around 25 lbs, but seeing that I was healthy and able to avoid stretch marks during my pregnancy makes me pretty content with that number. I will not weigh myself until 4 weeks postpartum, and that will be my starting point of weight loss :) After what my body went through, I'm more than happy to be completely realistic and give it time to heal. I have been doing my kegels and pelvic floor exercises (immediately after birth! Don't take this for granted!), and will start slowly incorporating more exercises this week (only ones that don't cause any discomfort!).

**********Update: I struggled with PSD (pubic symphysis disorder) during pregnancy, and birth made it much worse! I can't get up from the ground using one leg, any sort of lunge movement is extremely painful, as well as walking. This apparently will heal with time as the hormones release from my body, but for now, I will not be doing any exercise or walking that makes it uncomfortable. Going to be content with my momma body for now!

***********I have been wearing corsets and spanks this week to help my body go back to shape, and I think it has helped my uterus shrink and abs heal.

My baby Eleni :)


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Week 40: No, you can't "know" when, and my favorite stretch mark product

Here I am, 39 weeks and 5 days! My belly is much smaller this morning than normal. During the day it's much higher and popped out :)

There is NOTHING more frustrating than hearing "Well, you know, first time moms usually go over by a week or two". This comment as well as "well, first time moms have small bellies" are both unnecessary and not based on general truth. Both of these facts are old wives tales, because they only happen to be the case with a small number of people. If there is anything a mother should know, it's that you can-NOT generalize like that. Everyone is so different. Some moms have bigger bellies on their second child, some have smaller. Some are three weeks early, some are a day late. I also am slightly more sensitive to comments like these because I do not consider myself a first-time mom. Yes, I have not given birth before, but nothing about "becoming a mother" feels exciting because I already am a mother. I realize that my world is going to change in a way I can't comprehend quite yet, but it honestly isn't going to to change my day-to-day life. I am a mom. I have been taking care of kids and will continue to take care of kids under the same schedule as before even with this baby. This process has not been about me anticipating what it's going to be like to be a mom, it's mostly been anticipating what our baby is going to look like :) 

I went on facebook last night to double check, and I had 7 first time mom friends this year who all came before their due date. I had zero first time moms make it to their due date or go over. And they all had ZERO in common and nobody had the same symptoms or scenario. 

My doctor has been super realistic, almost frustratingly so. He's about to retire, so I'm sure he's just only addressing what he knows needs to be addressed. My appointments are two minutes long, the nurse takes blood pressure, checks urine, and takes my weight, and then he comes in and asks if I have questions (to which I say no) and then we go look at the ultrasound for a few seconds. He'll check the heartbeat, VERY quickly look at everything, and then send me on my way. No hints at when he thinks the baby will come, no internal exams, no deep consideration into my symptoms or anything; because from what he sees, I am healthy and the baby is healthy. And that is all we need to know. Why throw out a guess? We already have a due date guessed. 

I've done it all. If anybody made the "induce yourself at home" list, it is me. My life is pretty much filled with activities and foods that supposedly induce you. I am telling you,  these things are nothing more than coincidence. It is so much easier to just let go and let it happen when it happens (for you moms who have suffered loss, I know how hard this can be to be at ease and wait!). 

I think this mindset has made this last month of pregnancy super easy....up until this week. Many mothers assured me the last month would be horrible, but it hasn't been. I've been perfectly fine, and I'm not even working! I'm at home every day and could easily let myself just give in to the pain or give up on waiting. And I thought I'd be fine through the end, but with my due date on Friday and a family wedding on Saturday, I've been stressing. I would LOVE to attend this wedding (our kids are in it sooooo.....) and LOVE for my out-of-state family to be able to meet our precious daughter! I think if I hadn't had this event in the back of my mind for so long, I'd be perfectly fine with going over my due date. I honestly AM fine with it, but do have the frustration of knowing my family won't be able to meet my girl. 

So this is my 40th week of pregnancy, and it's almost completed. Here is how this week has gone:

1. Shooting leg cramps. Dead leg when I try to walk on the treadmill! Lots of yoga booty baby ballet at night to help with this.
2. Back and front cramping. But it isn't terrible. I had 12 hours of false labor that was terrible last weekend, but aside from that it's been very minor. I wouldn't even notice it if I wasn't pregnant and looking for signs :)
3. Feeling swollen. I don't think I'm very swollen, but my legs feel it!
4. RAPID WEIGHT GAIN. Oh my goodness! I thought I was going to be golden and be right at 26 lb weight gain (I was trying for 25...), but in one week I gained a whopping 4 pounds....and the scale still fluctuates. Sometimes it says I've gained 5 pounds. I've read as much as I can about it, and I think most of this is water weight and constipation (*****fingers crossed). Oh well, it will make my postpartum journey that much more entertaining!
5. Emotional. I've been so amazingly emotionally steady this pregnancy, it's been crazy. But week 36 and on I've flipped a switch. I'm still not as emotional as I was before pregnancy, but things are starting to irritate me than before!
6. Comments from people: ugh. That's the problem with putting yourself out there on social media so frequently....people will say things. It's the downside of social media and I wish I could take back some of the things I have posted just so I could avoid comments from people! Heightened emotions + people's not very sensitive advice makes for a LOT of wasted energy trying to not have a breakdown.

My advice: Always keep moving! I'm not kidding. I literally couldn't walk because of a dead leg, so I realized the treadmill probably wasn't going to get me moving the way I need and probably wasn't safe.  BUT, getting dead legs and shooting pains made me know that I NEEDED to keep moving, I just needed to find what felt best. So I keep with my PiYo and yoga booty baby. YOU GUYS, do not underestimate yoga booty baby! I'm serious, it has been awesome. It's not quite enough of cardio to be my only workout, but I add it in at night and I don't think I'd be as comfortable as I have been if I hadn't been doing it. Perfect small amount of stretch and movement. ( go to my shop to get this!)


Alright, and now I'm gonna post my MAIN product I used for my skin this pregnancy. Now, this stuff does not smell all that great, and you have to rub it together in your hands to make it melt into oil. Also, purchase a pack of camis that you do not care about getting oily! Get used to having an oily belly your WHOLE pregnancy and only wear clothes you don't care about getting oily. 

This village shea butter raw will last your WHOLE pregnancy, and longer (only for like $11)! I put it on every morning and then reapplied it when I was itchy or used my other stretch mark cream. I'll post my whole routine (and yes, it is a routine and you have to be consistent with and learn the signs) later with the other product I used :) But for right now, if you're pregnant GET THIS STUFF THROUGH MY LINK! Start putting it on every morning at 20 weeks (but be using some other lotion on your belly prior to this anyways!).

I will post a whole post about how I avoided stretch marks (and it's NOT genetics, I am COVERED in stretch marks from puberty) and how to minimize them for you champion moms who carry the scars of lifemaking.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Weeks 38-40 Exercise Routine

As I have backed off the intensity of my workouts, I have added on the pounds! ***GASP****

That, and I have had a few more splurges here and there, I think because I'm realizing I'm almost done being pregnant so I'm finally saying "Why not?". And it's the holidays! It's so hard NOT to!

I have backed off the intense workouts so that I don't over-exert myself into labor or poop myself out so that my labor is miserable. I dropped out my Insanity Max workouts and am doing mainly PiYo and some third trimester appropriate strength training (and stretching and walking!). I need to post what my workout schedule was for weeks 33-37, because it worked out really great and following the schedule I created made it really easy to keep with it. It was mostly T25 and Insanity Max with some PiYo thrown in there :) Another time I will post that!

Here is my weeks 38-40 workout schedule (although I'm only at 39, I still plan to use this for next week). ****Side note: I am drinking some sort of recovery drink through all my workouts, either Shakeology or coconut water. Trying to keep my body as refreshed as possible for labor! Normally I don't need a recovery drink or want the extra calories. 

Programs used: Mainly PiYo. Extras: Insanity, Yoga Booty Ballet, Turbofire, Focus T25

Monday: PiYo Sweat and Weight routine (will post at the bottom)
Tuesday: PiYo Strength Intervals and Yoga Booty Ballet: Baby on the Way
Wednesday: Turbofire Low HIIT (found in the PiYo program) and weight routine
Thursday: 20 min fast-walking, Insanity Cardio Recovery
Friday: PiYo Strength Intervals and weight routine
Saturday: Walking and T25 Stretch
Sunday: REST (some stretches for my hips!)

Weight routine:

After some cardio and stretching, do the following exercises using 5-8 lb dumbbells. 

Do each move 15x, one round for beginners, two rounds for more advanced.

1. Woodpecker pushups on knees
2. Weighted squat
3. Front raise w/dumbbells
4. Side lunge reach w/dumbbell (go into sidelunge and tap floor with dumbbell, step up and twist to opposite side lifting the dumbbell high into the air)
5. Hammer curl
6. Weighted plie squat
8. Deep swimmer's press

STRETCH! Always ALWAYS stretch after, especially during these last few weeks! 


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

9 1/2 months: What You Need to Know (Or what you DON'T need to know)

37 weeks pregnant

Sooooo..... any day now! AHHHH! First off, here's a survey/update :)

Next Appt: Next monday

Symptoms: A bit of hip tension, and a LOT of baby movement that just hurts. My stomach is getting tighter so each punch and roll really hurts my abs. She also gets stuck under my hip bone and that's no fun :)

Maternity clothes: Still no investment into this. Yoga pants all the way. 

Stretch marks: no! I'm so excited to share how I've avoided these because my skin is NOT elastic, I was not blessed with supple skin ;) 

Cravings: Nope.

Weight gained: I think I'm at 26 pounds. They say 25-35 pounds is the appropriate amount of weight gain, but I can guarantee that at least ten of those pounds are fat pounds for me. That, and my uterus isn't huge so I don't hold a lot of extra fluids, so I think that number is bogus and you should really listen to your body. I truly believe some people should gain less (I think for me to have maintained my fat percentage I should be more between 17-20 pounds...) and some could gain more. Are you eating a lot of nutrition filled foods? Is there noticeable weight gain in other areas besides your tummy? You're gaining enough. I definitely have pregnancy fat (at least 10 pounds of my weight gain is just fat stores...). 

Working out: Yes! Stomach is starting to hurt more because it's getting tighter, but still going for it. This makes the WORLD of a difference as far as my attitude towards pregnancy and life during. 

Baby movement: my belly is super entertaining to watch. 

Miss anything: Sleeping comfortably


Okay, I get that everyone's pregnancies are different. I mean, I REALLY get it. No one is the same, no one follows the "rules" the same way, and if you go out thinking like that then you really are setting yourself up for disappointment.

1. You are your own unique case

When I was 22-23 weeks pregnant, baby was head down and caused really bad stabbing pain in my cervix. This has not stopped and has been the #1 pain I have experienced. It's like a knife stabbing your vagina! I made the mistake of posting this on facebook and was shocked at how many people came back with "just you wait until THIS happens" or "if you think THAT'S painful wait until she's actually big enough to kick your ribs" and so on and so forth. Everyone projected themselves into my situation as if they "know" what really hurts or know exactly how everything feels. Well, I'm almost 38 weeks pregnant and I have not had any rib kicks. My baby's head is in  my pelvis and when she rolls she cracks my pelvic cartilage apart and it KILLS, but because not many people have experienced this, they try to tell me that it doesn't hurt as much as whatever they experienced. 

Listen, it's not a competition. What hurts you the most hurts YOU the most! No one else can know or really compare to what you're feeling. Babies are positioned differently in everyone, everyone's bodies handles movements different, etc. 

2. Baby might disappear in the mornings.

Again, you are your own unique case. But here is a picture of my 37 week pregnant belly the morning after Thanksgiving. It is surprisingly smaller than usual. In the mornings, my belly sometimes goes WAYYYYY down. Now, don't EXPECT this to happen, but don't freak out if you're one of those people who this happens to! The belly can come and go.
37 weeks in the morning

When she starts to wiggle and move around, my belly pops up a bit more. But again, it fluctuates. When I eat, it gets big, when I workout it gets big. It just varies.

3. Unless you feel like you are hurting the baby by doing so (or your doctor says not to), DON'T STOP MOVING!

Seriously. Just don't. The only downside to staying active and not patronizing yourself is that people will treat you totally normally. I'm 9 1/2 months pregnant, and I still end up carrying in the groceries by myself, opening doors for myself, and am the one asked to bend down and get things or do chores when I'm at my parents' house. Does it sound fun for people to treat me special? Sure. Does it sound worth it to give in to pregnancy pain or tendencies just to get this attention? Nah. 

4. Losing your mucus plug doesn't mean much.

I mean, it might seem to have a direct correlation to some people, but for me, nothing has happened. Don't use things like this to determine anything.

5. View pregnancy as a journey you can't predict.

You can do all the research in the world and find that none of it corresponds to your situation or how you handle pregnancy. So the "what you need to know about pregnancy" articles might actually be stuff you DON'T need to know because it doesn't apply to you. Hence my title "or what you DON'T need to know".

All in all, treat your body well through the end! Don't give up being healthy, don't give up on moving, and don't let time go against you! Cherish the days you have with this child in your belly, they will be gone all too soon!

37 weeks