Saturday, July 15, 2017

Roy's Home Birth Story

*Disclaimer: Trigger warning for those that have dealt with birth loss or birth trauma. 



I had been worried sick about going into labour naturally since I found out I was pregnant for the second time. Being induced with my first son was one of the toughest experiences of my life, and I wanted to try to avoid it at all costs. So much so, that I planned for an all natural no med home birth. I'm not really a 'granola' person, I just knew that my first birth had all the drugs in the world and was in the hospital ... and it still sucked big time; there had to be a better way. So I figured, why not try the complete opposite?

My biggest fear was that my body just wasn't built to go into labour on its own, and the same medical induction process would have to happen with baby number 2. As a result of my paranoia, for about a week leading up to Roy's birth I tried all the old wives tale tricks to 'naturally' get things going: dates, evening primrose oil, sex, walking, acupuncture, bouncing on a yoga ball... you name it.

The morning I went into labour I had gone to chiro and then for a 30min walk. As soon as I got home, around 11am, I started having contractions 10 minutes apart. They weren't too strong, especially compared to the manufactured contractions I experienced with my first birth, but they were regular enough to pay attention and start timing. I didn't want to get my hopes up, but I was excited. Maybe I could trust my body after all...

The contractions got closer together and around 2:30pm I called my midwife Tiffany to say maybe this was it. She listened to a contraction and told me to call her back in an hour or when things were unbearable. At 3:30pm I called and told her to come check me - things were getting intense. It took Tiffany an hour to get to the house because it was now rush hour. By the time she got through the door things had ramped up a whole lot. I was moaning and really needed to focus to get through each surge. At one point I remember looking into my own eyes in the bathroom mirror between contractions and saying 'you can do this' over and over. At another I remember puking pretty hard. At another I remember feeling so infinitely tired, and another every single part of my body shaking.

When Tiffany first checked me around 4:30pm I was 7cm dilated. In the midst of the intensity I was so happy my birth was actually going as I had hoped, but was super scared to be doing it drug free. Fortunately things were happening so fast that I didn't really have time to opt for a different plan even if I had wanted to. Tiffany told me to switch positions every 15 min: shower, stairs, hands and knees, etc, until I made the transition to 10cm. This is when shit got real; Not only because of how overwhelming the labour process was, but because just a few minutes later we lost the sound of Roy's heartbeat on the doppler.

My husband called our doula Sydney, and she arrived around 5pm. At this point I'm on my bed in the fetal position. Trying to change positions at this deep in the game was pure agony, but I had to because we weren't getting a good reading of the baby's heart rate. When I moved to my hands and knees the primal urge to start pushing kicked in, and it was like nothing I have ever felt or can accurately explain. In this position the heartbeat was gone completely. The other problem was Tiffany's back up midwife had not yet arrived to help deliver, so she was on her own.

At this point things get a bit blurry, but I remember being told to lie down and push the baby out RIGHT NOW. Sydney was instructed to call 911 for fetal heart rate. During my first contraction pushing Tiffany told me I needed to push harder; but I was giving it everything I had. I thought to myself that I was failing my baby, I wasn't doing my job good enough, and I wouldn't be able to get him out in time to save his life. On my second contraction I pushed with everything I had in the whole fucking universe, and he actually came out.  Not only did he come out, but he came out just a screamin'. I heard my husband say "You did it, you did so good!" I've never been so happy to hear a baby cry in my entire life. He was perfect - strong heartbeat, big, healthy. I had pushed out a 8lb 7oz, 21" boy in 10 minutes. It's absolutely amazing what our bodies can do.

Just a few minutes later both EMS and the second midwife arrived. They were told the baby was all good, but checked him out just to be sure. At this point it was placenta time (yay!), however nothing seemed to be happening in my body to facilitate this process. The midwife flagged the problem to the EMS attendants and asked them to stay just in case I needed to go to the hospital; apparently the placenta should be 'born' 15-30 minutes after birth, otherwise there is a risk of bleeding. Time was ticking away and it was still inside of me, and a lot of blood started pooling behind it in my uterus. Then a bunch of stuff happened really quickly which included the midwives hands and arms inside my lady bits, and I got an oxytocin IV to slow the bleeding. Then the cord broke off the placenta, which was apparently very bad, and I was told I was being transferred to the hospital.

I somehow managed to walk down my stairs and was then loaded up onto the stretcher and pushed into the ambulance. Just then, I felt major cramping and suddenly out came the placenta. Because we hadn't drove away yet my midwife asked if we could just wait in the back of the ambulance for 10 minutes in front of the house. My blood loss leveled out, and I was brought back to my bed with my new baby boy... all in all I lost 600cc's of blood. I guess we just had to put on a show for the neighbours before wrapping everything up.

Even with all the unexpected events, and no medication, this birth experience was better than my first. It was powerful, emotional, scary, and intense, but I was actually in control of everything. Even though at times my body took over, and I was forced to go along for the ride and not know where it would end up, it was better than being forced to lie on my back in a hospital bed for hours on end trying to manage contractions that weren't actually doing anything. 
Roy Zander - 8lbs 7oz


I know some people will read this and think these scary moments could have gone way worse because I was at home rather than the hospital. But I trusted my midwife immensely, and although the transfer time in the ambulance would have been a factor, she would have been administering the same medical attention as a doctor would have during that time. Obviously you can't predict what will happen, at home or in a hospital. I'm just grateful that my boy is healthy, I was surrounded by caring knowledgeable people during one of the craziest days of my life, including my husband, midwife, and doula. I had a healthy baby boy and am recovering well, and I actually got to experience the birth I wanted. 

Above all else, in spite of being so happy to have my 2 sons and the crazy life giving experiences that go along with them, I am extremely ecstatic that I never ever ever ever have to be pregnant and give birth again.




If you have any questions about how I prepared for my home birth (there were many things that actually really helped) please feel free to message me or post a question in the comments. 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Things Don't Get Easier, Only Different.

Recently a few friends of mine have had babies, and it got me thinking about being a new mom. Also, my son turned two and I've been reflecting about those first few months. For me, it was such an overwhelming experience. Not only was I learning how to truly take care of another human for the first time, but the personal changes in my lifestyle were hard to accept.

New Baby, New Mom
Looking back now, there are times I actually wish I had a new baby instead of a toddler. They were so easy... sleep, eat, cry, coo, repeat... right? But when I was in it, it wasn't easy. The lack of sleep was severely impactful. Feeling like I was doing everything wrong when I couldn't get him to stop crying was soul crushing. Barely finding the time to eat, shower, or brush my teeth made me feel like I had lost my identity; My only purpose was to be a mom... and that was hard.

During the first months of being a mom I never thought I would look back in two years and think that time was easy. And it reality, it wasn't -- because I was learning an immense amount of shit in a very short amount of time. It's like when you look back at a relationship and only remember the good times even thought there was a lot of strife. Maybe this happens for an evolutionary reason; so we forget how bad it was and want to procreate again. At any rate, while I certainly don't know everything about raising a baby now, I ended up figuring out a system and process that worked for me, and things got easier. But here's the catch: as those things got easier, other crazy hard new things began to develop. And there I was, clueless again.

I'm sure if you asked older mothers, this is just the nature of raising a child. You finally figure out one milestone and the next comes and kicks you in the ass. This is why I say things don't get easier, they just get different. This is why looking back I remember more good than bad; because I figured those early trials out, and they don't seem so challenging anymore. The upcoming unknowns and the ones I'm currently in the thick of seem much more daunting than the stuff I have already made it through.

Having a toddler is a lot easier, and a lot harder than having a baby. He can tell me what's wrong, he sleeps through the night, he's super funny, and he has basic needs that I understand how to fulfill - which are all great. But he also expects fairly constant entertainment with parent participation, and the games he enjoys at this stage I personally find so boring and hard to get into. He is starting to do bad things like hit, yell, and throw stuff when he's mad, and if I don't watch him for one minute you better believe he's into something he shouldn't be.

I love my son, and I love that he challenges me every day. I feel like a bad mom when I admit to finding his stages a struggle, but the reality is going through these periods with him do make me a better person. It's this perspective I try to keep when I am tired of it all. Being a mom has made me learn more about myself than I ever thought possible, and while it's hard, it's a process that only expands my knowledge and perception. For this, I am grateful for all the daily struggles.




Monday, October 3, 2016

12 Cool Things To Do With The Family In Calgary This Fall


The weather is getting brisk but that doesn’t mean the fun stops in Calgary! There are so many cool things going on around the city that are perfect for the whole family. Calgarians know that fall is the best season of the year (especially after our stormy summer) to get out and about. Our city is a great place to explore the outdoors, check out feature events, and take in some culture, and this fall there are so many opportunities to expand your horizons. If you are at a loss for what to do, check out this list of 12 cool things to do in Calgary this fall, and break up your usual routine!


Calgary Stampede Community Fall Fair
Get the kids up early and head to the free pumpkin spice pancake breakfast at the Calgary Stampede Community Fall Fair on October 15th. The kids will have a blast with the potato sack races, wagon rides, and pumpkin decorating. Enjoy some local music and entertainment and browse through what the local vendors have to offer. The fair runs from 10am - 2pm at Enmax Park.

Disney In Concert: Tale As Old As Time
The Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra is putting on a Thanksgiving extravaganza featuring some of the most beloved Disney music alongside the classic film clips. Disney In Concert: Tale As Old As Time features songs from movies such as Frozen ,The Little Mermaid, and Beauty and the Beast among others. It is sure to delight the senses of the whole family. The concert is on October 7th and 8th at Jack Singer Concert Hall.

Pumpkin Patches and Corn Mazes
Experience fall festivities with the kids by visiting a pumpkin patch or corn maze. Calgary has so many choices for these classic fall activities and Family Fun Calgary has already created a huge list for you to decide which one is best for your family. Get into the fall spirit, get lost in some corn, and go grab a pumpkin for some added colour in your life!


Fall Ice Cream Flavours
Talk about cool, it doesn’t get much tastier than Fiasco Gelato’s fall and Thanksgiving ice cream flavours! Bring the kids down to the cafe for a frozen scoop of pumpkin pie, and indulge in a mulled wine gelato yourself. There are over 20 fall favours on their menu, meaning there is a perfect combo for everyone. The Thanksgiving flavours are only available until supplies last, so get yours before they are gone!

Ghost Tours Fright Night Festival
Do you love getting creeped out? Over the last 2 weekends in October, Calgary Ghost Tours puts on the Fright Night Festival at the Alexandra Centre in Inglewood. Check out vendors, mystical psychics, entertainment, and more. Admission is $5 or $10 for all 4 nights.


13th Annual Pumpkin Festival
This is no ordinary pumpkin festival, unless you are used to seeing a 500 pound pumpkin being dropped from a crane onto a car! Blue Grass Nursery is holding its 13th annual Pumpkin Festival on Saturday October 8th from 11am-3pm. Other highlights include a Cinderella pumpkin coach ride, a petting zoo, and food trucks. Admission is by donation and all proceeds go to the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation.

ILLUMINASIA Lantern & Garden Festival
It’s getting darker out earlier and one way to take advantage of the nightfall is by attending the ILLUMINASIA Lantern & Garden Festival at the Calgary Zoo. In addition to the many Chinese lanterns lighting up the pathways, visitors are encouraged to check out the Chinese entertainment and multicultural programming. The festival runs until October 16th.

Dracula
Get in the Halloween mood with Alberta Ballet’s production of Dracula. Special effects will change your perception of what a ballet looks like, and lavish costumes transport you to a charming village in Transylvania. Dracula himself even wears a 23-foot long cape! The enchanting performance hits the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium from October 27th- 29th.


One Man Epic Trilogy Adventures
This fall the Pumphouse Theatre presents the internationally acclaimed One-Man Star Wars and One-Man Lord Of the Rings performed by Charles Ross. Prepare to be stunned as you are guided through the trilogy of your choice in just over 60 minutes of enthralling action. The show is recommended for fans of all ages and costumes are encouraged! Check the website for show dates and times.

Studio Bell
This summer Canada’s national music centre opened up, and now that the weather is getting cooler it’s the perfect time to take the family and explore what it has to offer! Check out various exhibitions and featured events, as well as the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame Collection, and the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame! There is so much to do you will likely need to make a couple trips to this impressive building.

Courtesy: Wordfest

Wordfest
With over 40 events around the city, Wordfest is one of the highlights of autumn in Calgary. Not only are there big names speaking in various venues, but the Wordfest Youth program also travels around schools in the community to encourage a love of reading. Wordfest runs from October 7th-16th and features over 90 artists.

Mamma Mia!
Broadway Across Canada visits Calgary November 1st-6th with the production of Mamma Mia! If you are an ABBA fan you will love how classic songs are intertwined into an amazing and emotional story-line. Singing along and dancing in the aisles is encouraged. The catchy tunes make for a great show to take the older kids to. I went with my mom a few years ago and it was a blast! Tickets are on sale now.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

15 Things That Can Go Wrong at an Ultrasound

The 20 week ultrasound is such an exciting event. It's at this appointment you can first find out the gender of your baby, and learn much more about them physically. It's a time of enlightenment and anticipation, but it can also be a moment where your world comes crashing down around you. In this ultrasound a lot can be discovered, and while every parent hopes for the best, sometimes the worst is found...

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

15 Thoughts All Women Have In The First 3 Months Of Pregnancy

It seems fairly commonplace to keep your pregnancy a secret for the first 3 months of your pregnancy. During this time there are so many moments where you want to tell the world what you are going through! I's a confusing time, intense sensations are all around you, and you have to lie to everyone you know! 

It can help knowing many women go through the same thing, and it's pretty funny to read the thoughts that we all think but can't share with anyone. These are the 15 thoughts all woman have in early pregnancy when we can't quite share the news...