Wednesday, September 26, 2012

An Induction, a Beautiful Birth, & a Retained Placenta - a little graphic, a lot amazing.

I've been sharing birth stories from moms in Monterey County, but I just had to share the birth of my friend's baby, Ziva Claire, even though they had her in New York. This is the first person I've met with a retained placenta. It's something that I don't love reading about in my books because it always makes me a little queasy, so knowing a mom that actually experienced it just makes me want to bow down to her. If you ever meet Ali Enoch, buy her a drink, or at least give her a high five. For the squeamish mamas, this one is a little graphic.

Ziva’s Story

Day 1:
So, I went in for the induction on June 15 at 41 weeks and 4 days.  I really didn’t want to do the induction because I knew it went against everything I wanted – laboring at home, no IVs, no monitors, etc.  But, the midwives pointed out that I was healthy now and that we’d have a better outcome if I did it. 

41w4d, off to the hospital!
We got there around 6:45pm and waited and waited.  I went to triage, a nurse blew 2 veins trying to hook me up to an IV.  I told her she had one more chance or I was going home.  She brought in another nurse who got me right in the side of the wrist so now I was weirded out to move my hand/put too much pressure on my wrist for the next few days.  Oh well. 

Mark and I were brought to a room.   I got hooked up to the fetal and contraction monitor.  Jessica, a midwife I knew, inserted the cervidil around 10pm.  They gave me some benedryl so I could sleep but it was so uncomfortable and I was so completely aware of the monitor and IV that I barely slept.  I also kept getting horrible heartburn.  Mark was stuck on a recliner that barely reclined and they didn’t have a sheet or pillow for him. 

The nurse, Pam, came in and woke Mark up at one point to show him that I was having tiny contractions.  “Look Mark, Ali has hills!”  Because we kept watching the other rooms and seeing all the strong contractions while my line was pretty flat.

Day 2:
Another midwife, also named Pam, who I’d never met, was on duty.  She removed my cervidil and told us the bad news – no progress.  Still maybe 50% effaced and 1 cm dilated.  She asked if I wanted to eat or start the second cervidil.  It was already noon so I didn’t want to eat and then have to wait until 4pm to insert the cervidil – I opted for the liquid diet (Italian ices, broth, juice) and just went for the cervidil.

That afternoon my mom and sister showed up.  By the evening I was sitting on a birthing ball and bouncing and rocking around and starting to feel random contractions.  We were all thinking maybe I could do this without the dreaded pitocin. 

A new midwife was on that night to take out my cervidil – Ann.  I liked her.  She checked me and said I was fully thinned out and about 2cms.  Slow progress but progress none the less.  She told me to get something to eat and we’d wait an hour or two before starting pitocin because maybe my body would take over on its own. 

Mark and Melissa went down to the cafĂ© to get me food while my mom hung around.  This was around midnight.  My body was kicking into labor.  By the time they got back I was getting uncomfortable.  Contractions were coming around 3-4 minutes apart – they weren’t painful, they were just there.  I ended up eating about an inch of the bagel and couldn’t stomach any more of it.  The midwife came in excited I was having contractions but when she checked me there was no difference. 

She suggested we start the pitocin.  Mark asked if there was something I could have to help me sleep for a little bit because I was already exhausted.  She suggested Stadol.    I just let them do it since I was so tired.

I slept solidly for about 2 hours.  Then the contractions started to hurt like hell.  I would wake up and scream to Mark “Get the nurse, something is broken!” and by the time he could turn his head I would be passed out.  I had incredibly vivid 2 minute dreams and would try to explain them to Mark but instead would say things like “new appliances” or “Mark you’re wrong,” He was confused and amused.  He sat by my bed and rubbed my leg and tried to comfort me during every contraction.  They were coming probably around 2-3 minutes apart. 

Day 3: Friday
Sometime that morning, the midwife suggested that we call the doula cause it was going to start getting rough for me.  I remember Mark saying that Danielle was on her way and then it felt like hours until she showed up – really it was about an hour.  I also kept saying I wanted to get up and pee.  They wouldn’t let me walk cause of all the drugs so the nurse wanted to give me a bedpan.  I refused but kept insisting I was fine enough to get up and walk.  Luckily, I was way too out of it to even try to get out of bed on my own. 

The midwife came in to check me around 8am and I was 3cm dilated but the baby was still -2.  Her head was caput?  Basically her head was starting to form to my cervix – generally this doesn’t happen so early on unless it’s a huge head/baby or your body just isn’t going to work.  This really wasn’t great news at all.  The baby was starting to have a few heart decels as well.  All things were not going well but I was trying.  I was crying cause of all the pain.

The midwife said she’d come back in 3 hours to check me again.  I turned to Mark and Danielle and said “I can’t do this.  The thought of three more hours of this is unbearable.  I just can’t.”  But I really didn’t want the epidural.  All signs were pointing to me ending up with a c-section even if I wasn’t aware of it at that point.  I didn’t want to go through 3 days of pain and then get an epidural.  Why not just get it now so I’m comfortable.   I was standing and sleeping between contractions.  Mark and Danielle were holding me up while I slept and providing hip pressure/rubbing when I had contractions.   Mark, although he didn’t want to, suggested an epidural.  I said "yes get me one now."  The pitocin is a bitch and my contractions were still about 2 minutes apart.  There was no real break. 

The anesthesiologist came in and read me a consent form.  I started crying.  I was scared and everyone had to leave the room.  It wasn’t nearly as bad as I had imagined.  It felt like seconds but apparently it was close to an hour before Mark and Danielle could come back in.

When they did I said “Look at me, I’m just riding the rollercoaster of interventions!  We all know where this will end up”  I’m always so positive.   The epidural was fantastic and allowed me to relax.  I was checked again and was 7cm dilated but the baby was still -2.  I was so excited.  I was progressing. 

Melissa and my mom showed up and I told them.  They were super excited.  I told Melissa I was beating her and she was happy.  The nurses didn’t love that I had 4 people with me but the midwives didn’t care.  Melissa was going to leave once I was ready to push so it would just be Mark, my mom, and Danielle.  They were fine with that.  We mostly sat around talking and chatting.  I know they left to get food at some point. 

Goldie came back in and checked me again before her shift was over.  She said I had an anterior lip and the baby was -1 station.  Goldie quickly went over the caput thing again with the baby’s head, she mentioned shoulder dystocia, and other bad things that could happen – just so I’d be prepared.  It sounds crazy, but I did appreciate it.  She also mentioned that, at some point, my water had broken because it was nowhere to be found.  I never felt it break so I have no idea how/when that happened.

At one point, Mark went to get food and the baby’s oxygen levels were decreasing.  He walked back in the room and a ton of people were there moving me (I had no control to move my body) and rolling me on my side, I had an oxygen mask on and it was scary.  He had no idea what was going on so he freaked out a little bit (reasonably so).  But, once I rolled onto my left side, everything was okay.  They could monitor the baby, I just had to be on oxygen so the baby could get it easier.  Easy enough.  (Side note, months later Mark told me that they were wheeling a bed into my room because they were about to rush me into an emergency c-section but the midwife stopped them and repositioned me.  I’m grateful for that).

We sat around like this for a few more hours.  Susan came on shift.  She was the first midwife I met with and was the one who set up the induction for Wednesday.  I was glad to see her.   She told me she’d come and check soon but if I felt constant pressure to poop that probably meant I was ready to push and to let someone know.  I was excited and scared at the thought of pushing. 

I was definitely feeling pressure.  Melissa was so excited that I was in pain WITH an epidural.  Everyone would take turns holding my hand or rubbing my side/leg.  It was nice.  I just felt incredibly supported.  I was still scared of having to push out a baby (or it getting stuck) but I felt very loved.  Mark put on the soothing/slow songs labor mix he had made for me.  It was all calming.  Finally, I was getting uncomfortable a lot more often.  A few times I felt my body push without me doing anything – that was weird.  The nurse said Susan would be in soon but it took about an hour.  She checked me – baby was +1.  She said we could start pushing. 

I was so confused.  How could we be pushing already?  They told me how to do it.  Mark grabbed a leg and Danielle grabbed the other.  The nurse was annoying me and kept telling me when to breathe and push which I didn’t love but I just went with it.  There was a shift change at one point that nurse left and Pam (the nurse from the first night) came in all excited that she could be there for the beginning and the end.  Melissa stayed in the room but out of the midwife’s way and my mom was all about staring at my crotch every time I pushed.  Very weird haha. 

Between contractions they had been putting my legs down, it got to the point where I’m like no you need to keep holding them up!  The baby’s head was crowning.. the energy in the room was getting excited.  I wanted contractions to come quicker so I could get the baby out already.  I just wanted to know what he/she was!  The baby’s head was almost out.  They asked if I wanted to touch it.  I said "No I want to push it out shut up!"   Susan said “The baby’s head is out Ali, you’re doing great.” I kind of freaked out.  I kept thinking about giant baby shoulders and the baby getting stuck then I said “Oh fuck I want this thing out of me” and gave a good push and the baby came flying out.  I yelled “Holy shit I pushed it out!  I did it!  What is it??”  Susan turned the baby to Mark and said “well, Mark what’s your baby” and he’s said "It’s a boy!"  We all yelled "It’s a boy OMG It’s a boy!"  Susan was like "Mark, look again!"  (it was all very confusing, I would’ve done the same thing)  Mark was like "It’s a girl! " The room erupted in cheers again all yelled "It’s a girl it’s a girl!!"  Unfortunately, she had pooped so the NICU was there and Mark couldn’t cut the cord and she couldn’t go directly on me.  I just stared at her until she started crying and Susan kept saying "She’s doing great, Ali she’s doing great!"

Once she was crying (APGAR was 8 and 9) Mark got to hold her and you could just see the love on his face as he brought her over to me.   He handed her over and I started to cry.  I did it.  I pushed a baby out!  I took every freaking intervention offered to me (and even the epidural that wasn’t) and was still able to do it!  I was there for 48 hours and pushed for a little over an hour.  Ziva Claire was born at 7:35pm on June 17, 2011 and weighed 8 pounds, 1 ounce and was 19.75 inches long.

It was an amazing feeling.  Unfortunately, although I can push a baby out, I cannot push a placenta out.  We tried for about 45 minutes to an hour and finally the midwife said she had to call a doctor in because it wasn’t coming out.  I wasn’t really sure what that would entail but part of me is glad they didn’t warn me.  The doctor (luckily a small woman) suited up and literally stuck her arm in and up (between her elbow and her shoulder) and pulled out my placenta.  For all I know she was tickling my tonsils at this point.

I know I was very quiet/calm/relaxed while pushing out Ziva  (my sister took video and I’m barely making noises)– at this point I was screaming bloody murder and damning everyone to hell.  I know Mark was holding my hand and kept trying to press my epidural button (I was later told that it had already worn off by this point that’s why it was so horrible).  Melissa and Danielle were on either side of me trying to calm me, make me breathe, and literally hold me down.  The doctor was using such force that the bed was moving.  She yelled to the nurse to lock the bed and that’s when the nurse yelled “It is locked!”.  I’m pretty sure it was at this point when Mark said blood was just pouring out of me.  Lovely, right?

Once that was over, you’d think they’d let me rest.  Nope.  Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum decide to come in and do my stitches.  They had no idea what they were doing.  It hurt like hell and I kept screaming at them.  My sister said it looked like how she would stitch someone up – meaning that they had NO idea what they were doing and were just randomly pulling and stitching.  I started yelling at them to just “Fucking stop.  Maybe if you give it a break I’ll stop bleeding on my own.” This was shortly after they told me I was very tense and should relax.  I wanted to kick them in the head.  Finally, they decided it’d be easier if I just went to the operating room for a “quick 10-20 minute procedure.” 

I got wheeled in, the anesthesiologist gave me drugs so I wouldn’t feel anything.  He also nicely rubbed my head throughout the operation and kept me calm/sane whenever I was actually awake.  I was shaking from being cold and having lost a ton of blood so he got me a warm blanket.  I remember the surgeon came in, looked down and said “What happened here?”  At that point, I just closed my eyes because I didn’t want to hear anything else.  The midwife came in and held my hand and talked to me for a while.  Finally, I was done – after about 2 hours of stitching and bleeding.  I was on my way to recovery.  But, I couldn’t see Ziva since she was already released to postpartum with Mark.  I cried. 

I was stuck in recovery from midnight until 12:30pm the next day and they wouldn’t let me see Ziva.  Mark texted me pictures because I was crying and upset .  The nurse was cleaning me up and telling me all about Ziva and how pretty she was and how awesome of a job I did.  I was trying to remain positive, I pushed my little girl out, but I was hooked up to so many machines and monitors that it was incredibly hard to stay positive.  Especially when the woman next to me in recovery had a c-section and was in and out within 2-3 hours and could see her baby.  I was still stuck there.

In the end, Ziva was born at 7:35pm and I got to be with her for a little bit.  Once the placenta issue happened I didn’t hold her again until the next day at 12:30pm and that sucked.  I had a horrible nurse yell at me around 1pm that I wasn’t feeding her enough and she should be latched for 10 minutes on each side.  I calmly tried telling her that I hadn’t seen her in 16 hours so she didn’t know who I even was.

I was given a ton of fluid, my legs/feet were so swollen I couldn’t walk for days and cried getting in/out of bed or going up/down the stairs.  I ended up gaining 15lbs by the time I got home from the hospital.  I know I was given platelets in the OR and they wanted to do a blood transfusion as well but I opted out of that.  Instead, I took iron pills twice a day for the next 6-8ish weeks.  Breastfeeding didn’t work out like I wanted it to, but, with the blood loss and everything we went through, I’m lucky to be alive.  I’m okay with not really breastfeeding her at this point.  In fact, at 3am, it was rather nice to roll over and say to Mark “It’s your turn” and then go back to sleep.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Baby III Week 20: Halfway & Why this birth will destroy me

20 Weeks

Halfway! Woo! Ok that's all on that.

I have a secret... or maybe I don't because according to Eric I keep retelling him things like I've been thinking about it for a long time and I'm getting the guts to tell him, like big "honey, let's talk" kinds of things... only I've done it two weeks ago... and again two weeks before that. So, if I mentioned this before, just humor me like I'm your senile grandmother, it all feels fresh to me.

This birth is going to destroy me, I'm sure of it. I don't base any of this on the pregnancy so far, or the baby, or anything like that... but this has to be the hardest birth any woman will ever endure because my last one was too good, and I feel irrationally good about it, and I actually lull myself into this feeling that birth isn't so hard, it's really fun, and I'm looking forward to it. I felt the same way about mothering Milo. He was such a joy, what was wrong with those tired, frustrated mothers? ...enter Ash right? I feel like this birth will need to bring me back to reality the way Ash did. If not, awesome, party in labor and delivery! But I'm fully expecting this to be brutal. God knows I get cocky and it might be about time to regulate. I accept it.

I've been really trying to focus on my nutrition since I really can't workout much with my back (which get's checked out by a chiro tomorrow). Protein as always is very important, but it's always a challenge for me. Smoothies with spinach, banana, peaches and greek yogurt have been a staple. Lots of eggs, at least two a day. Meat still makes me gag most of the time. My weight held steady this week even though I only went on a walk one day (and really had to rest on my heating pad after!), so hopefully I can control things using food. And thank God for pinterest... omg... I would starve if I didn't have that for meal ideas.

Some stuff I'm eating:

Breakfast every day: eggs, cheddar cheese, butter, homemade honey wheat toast. Protein: 23g. 

Yep, totally into the green smoothie trend and I'm not apologizing for it. It's SO hard for me to get veggies down AND keep my protein up, this is a great way to accomplish both! Greek yogurt, spinach, peaches, banana, ice... sometimes other fruit. Protein: 15-20g.
Natural peanut butter on homemade honey wheat bread. Protein: 11g. I often have this with my smoothie for lunch (19g protein). So meal total 30g, really good for a girl that's not eating meat!
My friend Jasmine's taco chili. No idea how much protein, but it has ground turkey and kidney beans, probably an ok amount. Super good.

So here's my belly this week. I thought I would do another three pregnancy belly compare! 

20 weeks with baby 3!
20 weeks with Ash!
21 weeks with Milo, I actually weigh the most here, but I think my belly is the smallest.

So baby is banana size, 6.5inches... but it must be a much smaller banana than what I have because that looks a little big!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Baby III Week 19: Kinda like a birth story, minus the birth

19 Weeks

Craaaaaazy week guys... craziest week in any of my pregnancies yet. But harder the week, the better the post right? Who wants to hear "everything is great, I haven't gained an ounce anywhere other than my perfectly unmarked belly, I'm glowing, I'm radiating love and warm fuzzies." Gross. Or jealous... whatever...

I'm a little late with this one, we have to go back to not last Friday but the Friday before. On my 18 week post I shared that my back was hurting and I blamed a lack of back strengthening exercises. By Friday the pain was pretty serious. I've had normal pregnancy back pain, I've had sciatic nerve pain, this was not that. My midwife came over, tested my urine, no signs of kidney infection or protein in my urine so we decided I needed to rest, but she also wanted me to consider going in for some blood work... just in case. Lots of rest over the weekend, feeling better through Monday and Tuesday then progressively worse Wednesday, Thursday (officially 19 weeks), and by Friday I decided to go to the ER after daycare. My midwife did come once more that week to check everything again and all was clear, with just very trace amounts of protein in my urine, not enough to worry about.

We went to the ER not because I felt like there was an emergency so much, but because I can't easily close my daycare to go to a doctor. I knew if I went to the ER they could do everything, blood work, ultrasound, etc... but it would just be a long wait. Dude... I didn't even know.

7pm we sign into the ER at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. I'm sure most of you know how I feel about blood and I always swear every time I go into the ER someone will walk in bleeding everywhere... Eric always says it wont happen... but it always does. I'm standing at the front desk signing in and up walks a mom hold a kid with a bloody pillow or something against his head, stopping right next to me. Horrified, I look at Eric, who returns a "I can't believe it, it DOES always happen to you" look. Foreshadow of everything going wrong for the next 8 hours.

We wait for a short bit and hear a doctor say to another waiting pregnant girl, "you are over 16 weeks, you belong in labor and delivery, follow me." Sweet! I'm over 16 weeks too! Eric notifies a doctor and I get to head up to the "Family Birthing Center" where there is no wait. Eric and I take a moment to make fun of the awful Disney painting of Bambi getting fisted by Stromboli and head off to triage.

Turns out this doesn't mean I get to see a doctor sooner, this is more like going to jail and not passing Go and not collecting $200. I just have to sit up there and let radiation shoot into my baby's head for a while because if there is a preggo in the building, it must be monitored. All hail the machine that goes ping, right? Once they have covered their asses with that little printout I have to head back to the ER and start over.

Signing in again, this time I literally look at nothing other than things that I know are not going to bleed, like the paper and the desk and the floor. Someone has collapsed in the bathroom right by us. I'm in hospital phobic girl hell. I go through ER triage and by 9pm I'm in a gown in a room... nothing happens for 2 hours, unless you count Eric sleeping against the wall and me laying in horror, staring at the ceiling as I listen to paramedics talk about blood transfusions and injuries that I try very hard to not imagine.

For my worried daycare mom, Kelly! See! I'm all hooked up to monitors and wires and taking part in all that the miracle of medicine has to offer. There are no herbs or midwives or fire dancing in the forest. Just good old American medicine.

I knew the blood draw was coming so I thought I would be ready for it, but I never really know until I meet the person doing the draw. She wasn't nice, she didn't listen to me about what my "good" vein is, I felt like she took a long time. I did fine at my last 2 draws, but after this I felt like I was going to faint. I might have done ok, but I was in pain, I hadn't eaten for almost 7 hours, and I was really tired. My bp dropped from 130/80 to 90something/55. I somehow managed to pull myself out of it as I was just about to be wheeled to ultrasound.

The tech didn't let us see the screen and didn't really talk to us. We did get to confirm that there is only one little in there and it weighs about 10oz right now. My placenta, kidneys, bladder, gallbladder and everything else looked good. Blood work also came back good, so I was in the clear. 1am... exhausted, finally able to go home.

I don't know what exactly happened in the car. I think I was going back through the events in my head and the blood draw bothered me all over again. Let's pause for a lesson in fainting though...

This is not what I look when I faint
Fainting, ie syncope, can be caused by lots of stuff like dehydration, blood sugar drop, etc. Vasovagal syncope is the most common type of fainting, and is in response to a trigger... like needles or snakes or in-laws. Blood pressure drops, depriving the vagus nerve of blood, and fainting occurs. Reflex anoxic seizures are when you stiffen and sometimes muscles spasm/limbs jerk in response to the lack of blood in the brain. My mom, brothers, and I all experience vasovagal syncope with various triggers, I think I'm the only one that has reflex anoxic seizures.

There's no set rules as to what will be a trigger for me, but I can usually tell if something will upset me and avoid the situation. I've become really good at this, Eric still struggles to navigate what will and will not bother me. Blood draws always bother me, but if things move smoothly and quickly I usually will not faint. Bloody movies bother me, but childbirth doesn't. Cesareans do not bother me but episiotomies do. If I'm in a situation where something might bother me but I'm relied upon to act, I'm fine. For vasovagal syncope to occur you have to have a drop in adrenaline, and in emergency situations adrenaline is usually pumping. This is why some moms can take their kid to the Dr. for stitches but don't feel sick until afterward... adrenaline has dropped.

My adrenaline must have been going in the hospital and now I had time for it to drop. I was also stuck in the car with my seat in a fully upright position because Milo's huge, still rear facing car seat is behind mine. When I felt my bp drop I couldn't lay down like I normally do and I started to panic. I told Eric I needed out of the car. We were on hwy 68 so if I laid on the ground I'd be in dirt and weeds so I tried to lay over Eric's lap. I was starting to black out and fighting it because I hate fainting, it's the worst feeling. I thought I was going to puke so I told Eric to get me out of the car. As soon as he opened the door I stepped out and collapsed. He caught me, but I landed weird on my foot. I wonder if the pain kept me from going out for long because I came to right away, complained about my twisted ankle, fixed it, and fainted again... totally out. I must have seized this time because my tongue hurt and I could taste a little blood. Awesome, I faint over blood and now I'm bleeding!

I'm exhausted when I get in the car. Soon I realize my back is excruciating. I barely make it to my parents door, I just want to lay down but when I try it's even more painful. My back has totally spasmed and I can't release any of the muscles. The seizure must have done this. If you have ever been on maxed pitocin and have had your uterus, back and thighs clench up and not ever really release, it was like that, only all in my back. I'm totally crying and I'm not a crier when it comes to pain. My mom tries to call a chiropractor that is a family friend and I call my midwife and try to speak between whimpers. She says get heat on it. I can't even lay down though and I'm afraid to get in the shower. My brother comes in and asks if I'm in labor and offers to microwave some ice packs, I hear my mom talking him out of it in the kitchen. You can't microwave ice packs.

I made up a mash-up of the fear-tension-pain labor cycle and the exhaustion cycle and started treating the situation methodically.

The fear-tension-pain cycle is when a woman is afraid of labor, tenses against the contractions, causing pain, causing more fear, more tension, more pain. The exhaustion cycle is when you are exhausted, your pain awareness increases and your body's ability to cope with pain decreases. You struggle to cope, which is more exhausting, further limiting you ability to release tension and increasing your perception of pain. I made a tension-pain-exhaustion cycle in my head and got to work on the tension. I did everything to relax into the pain... slowly it worked. It was insanely hard to do and seriously, if back labor is anything like that, props to any woman who lives through it because after only a few minutes whatever a nurse would have offered to do to make it stop, epidural, narcotics, human sacrifice... I would have happily gone with.

My mom offered to keep the kids over night and we headed home around 3am. In the morning I felt better. My midwife, Jill, is also a massage therapist and she came over to rub out my back. I was sure it would hurt and it didn't at all. She felt a bulge in my spine though... so next stop is the chiro for me. I've been taking tylenol, sleeping on a heating pad, and resting.  Ironically, just sitting here typing this is one of the worst things I could be doing right now. I think this was longer than my birth stories... only no cute baby at the end, unless you count the belly pics!

Unable to workout, I'm afraid to even weigh myself right now... but at my 19 week mark I was up to 188lbs, so 9lbs gained total. Not horrible I suppose.

Off to the ER! Woo!

Baby is about 6in long. Average weight is 8.5oz but my little mango is measured 10oz.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Baby III Week 18: The NYC Edition

18 Weeks

Very crazy week for baby and me! Last Friday Eric and I flew to upstate New York to *hopefully* attend the birth of my friend's fifth baby. I am required to observe two births as apart of my Birth Boot Camp childbirth educator certification, and yes flying to New York was a little extreme (I know people give birth in California too) but I knew if it worked out it would be a fantastic birth to attend. I also wanted to visit my friend Erin in the city before she graduated from NYU this spring. We caught the birth (which you will get a whole post about later), got in some great sight seeing time, and spent a wonderful evening with Erin and her girlfriend! This was my second time being in the big city with a big belly, pregnancy definitely adds to the adventure!

When we were last in NYC I was six months pregnant with Milo. Eric's band was on tour and I was tagging along. We were only in the city for a night, which I thought must be garbage night, just our luck! Apparently luck had nothing to do with it, every night is garbage night in NYC! There are so many people and therefore so much trash that while neighborhoods rotate on who puts trash out, it seems no matter where you walk you will be sharing the sidewalk with huge piles of odoriferous black bags. Between the garbage, the hobo pee, and gross halal food carts on every corner... I was in pregnant super smell hell.

I thought we would get tons of sleep while on vacation since we were going without the babies (without the already birthed ones at least). Not the case. Thursday we got two hours of sleep as we had lots of preparations for the trip and had to leave early, 3am, to catch our flight. Friday I got two hours of sleep again, but it was for the best possible reason, lending support to my laboring friend. Saturday was the best, six hours, Sunday was also about 6, but we had to wake early to go to a birth rally. Monday Eric and I got in a fight and because I have to talk out any conflict right away, we got four hours of sleep. Tuesday... we got two again, we were up late catching up with Erin and Amy then had to wake early to catch the subway>train>flight back home. Crazy for anyone, but when I'm tired and gestating I do a lot more crying and everything is about a bazillion times more serious than usual, basically I'm a toddler. There were some scenes (navigating the city with an unclear map is the best marriage therapy ever), but like a toddler, I typically forget and move on quickly.

The birth rally we hit Monday (Labor Day) was so cool! It was great seeing other like minded men and women with a heart for informing women of their choices and improving birth outcomes (maternal/infant mortality rates) in the United States. It was not by any means a protest, everyone was friendly and encouraging. We only stayed for a little while but I'm glad we went!

On Monday I felt the baby move with my hand for the first time, that was very surprising! I was laying in bed talking to Eric with my hand resting on my tummy and I felt sometime move, not like a kick, more like rolling over or shifting. I felt it one more time but baby wouldn't preform for daddy.

I just started to experience back pain. Right now actually, I'm laying on my stomach on the couch typing this because sitting is too painful. I haven't been doing many core/back strengthening exercises and I am definitely feeling it.

I haven't touched a hair above my knee in over a month, honestly, the world is lucky I've even bothered shaving at all. Bending over is awful, this baby is so high I immediately feel like I can't breathe and the pressure is like putting gasoline on my already blazing heartburn fire. I have a midwife appointment tomorrow and I will have to do something about this ridiculousness as there will be a full exam and such. I will let you know how it all goes... not the shaving... the appointment. I'm very curious where she measures my fundus at because I feel it's at least even with my belly button, if not a little above!

Belly pics for 18 weeks. No way I'm stepping on a scale right after being on vacation, so no idea if I've gained. Baby should be about 5in 6cm, sweet potato sized, but since I did't have a sweet potato on hand while on vacation I grabbed a little plate that was about the same size.