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Monday, January 2, 2017

Lily Autumn Graham's Birth Story

Lily Autumn Graham
Born 11/1/2016 at 12:03 pm
7 lbs 11 oz
18 ½ inches
I’ve waited two months to write Lily’s birth story, because I have needed time to process it all. She is my last child. My last pregnancy. The last time I get to feel the miracle of a baby moving inside me. The last chance to experience what I always longed for, planned for, prepared for, dreamed for. An unmedicated, calm, hypnobirth, where I felt powerful and in control of my mind and my body. Hands that would hold and help me through the waves, rising above any discomforts, being relaxed in my body and mind. Skin to skin immediately after birth. Delayed cord clamping. An hour with no interventions, just me and my precious baby to bond. I wanted to feel the rush of endorphins you get when you’re able to feel your body deliver a baby. I wanted to be in that group of women that had the opportunity to achieve this. I wanted to believe that my body was capable. That I was inherently strong enough. I told myself I can do hard things. What I discovered, was something I never expected. And it has humbled me, healed me, cradled me, and shook me to my very core.

It was Halloween night. I was 39 weeks and 4 days pregnant. Very ready for this little lady to come. My body was in constant pain due to Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction, and I was stuck in a wheelchair most of the time. I had planned and prepared, in body, mind and spirit for the birth of my last child. I was able to have the most beautiful, spiritual, loving sisterhood experience of my life; a Mother’s Blessing. I was surrounded by so many women in my life who loved, supported, and held me through this pregnancy. I felt so much support and strength, and I knew I would never be alone. It was a blessed gift.
Here I am surrounded and touched as all these women laid their hands on me and gave all their love, hope, wishes and blessings to me. I was truly surrounded by angels.

Being a Hypnodoula, and attending 25 births I was already trained in Hypnobirthing, but had taken Lauralyn’s class again, and practiced religiously.  I did a lot of visualizations, and hired and asked for the people that I needed and wanted there to be present. I hired a birth photographer and a birth videographer, as well as a doula, and invited my mother and sister to be there to witness and support. I had a wonderful midwife, and the most hypnobirthing-friendly hospital. I purchased and selected items I knew I wanted in my birth space to help bring peace and calm. I printed out beautiful birth affirmations that I wanted hung in my birth space. I even had a “Hypnobirth in progress” sign I wanted hung on the hospital door. I purchased some beautiful nursing gowns to deliver and wear while at the hospital. I had a prenatal photo shoot done with the autumn leaves, because I knew her middle name would be Autumn.
I knew exactly what I needed. I created my nest. My bags were packed, my mind was ready, and my body was tired.

That night, I was able to go trick or treating with my kids by borrowing a jazzy from my mom. It was such a gift to be able to experience that with my children. I took a photo that night, not knowing if it would be the last.

At about 3 am, I woke up to more water coming out of me than I thought was humanly possible. I tapped Scott on the shoulder telling him. He was just as surprised and shocked as me to see all that water. I was immediately awake, and excited that this was finally happening. I decided to jump in the shower and get ready, since I knew I wasn’t going back to sleep. The surges started up pretty quickly, and by the time I finished my makeup I knew we needed to get to the hospital quickly, even though I thought I would labor at home longer.

Something was wrong. I was experiencing pain in my sacrum and lower back, that was increasing with every surge, which was about every 90 seconds. We left for the hospital, and checked in fairly quickly. Things were getting too intense too fast. I didn’t have a chance to get settled, to go to that healing place in my mind. It was like I hit a cruel, shocking, and solid brick wall. At this point, it is hard for me to recollect much of what happened.

I got into the tub, hoping that would bring some relief, but there was none to be found. I remember thinking what was this? This was not labor. I felt no sensations in my uterus, not a single contraction, just breaking, searing pain in my sacrum. She was posterior. I'd never felt that before. I was prepared for uterine pain, for normal labor. I could do that. I knew how to handle that. To relax through it. But this wasn't normal labor. Was this labor? What was this horrible experience that held no joy? So fast, hard. Excruciating pain. Back labor that felt as though my sacrum was being torn apart. Delusional pain. Level 10. Nothing helping. No technique, no script, no touch, that helped so much during my pregnancy. It was as if I wasn't a person anymore. I couldn't see. I could not be. All there was, was pain.

And I tried, so hard to live in that. To let myself suffer. To overcome it. But it was bigger than I could ever surmount. I begged for an epidural. When it finally was available, I found strength to refuse it and try longer. I wanted that experience of a natural birth. The euphoria you experience. I wanted to trust that my body was made for this. That I was capable. That I was strong. This was my last labor, last birth, last chance. I did everything right, I prepared. I had a wonderful birth team. So many hands willing and wanting and trying to help. Why was nothing helping? Why was there no relief? I made it another hour, or so, without the epidural. By that point I was begging, pleading for relief. My head shaking back and forth. I felt like i would pass out from the pain.

The epidural came. When it kicked in, it was heavenly mercy. I cried. I slept. And she came. I pushed her out in three pushes. My pushes were strong. She was in distress. They said she needed to come now, so I got her here quick. I felt strong in that moment. I didn't tear at all. When she came, she wasn't breathing. They had to clamp and cut that gorgeous, spiralling blue cord that was exceptionally long, full of her precious blood she would never get. No immediate skin to skin. She was intubated, twice. She had to have an IV of fluid. They were on Skype with UVRMC to determine if they needed to transfer her. My heart was breaking. I was trying to stay strong and hopeful, but I just wanted to hold my baby. They let me say goodbye quickly before they took her to the NICU.
My husband followed.I felt empty, although I was not alone.I had many women who loved and supported me.

Someone said, "You're done, it's over." But I quickly responded that no, I was not done. It would not be done till Lily was in my arms. Scott texted pictures of her to me. My heart was aching. I needed her. When she finally came, I felt love and relief. I held her so close, smelled her, breathed her.
After a few moments, we started skin to skin. She felt like heaven. I was complete. Then, the greatest moment, the most tender mercy, the miracle, the gift that ended the hardest experience of my life happened. After all the trauma she experienced immediately after birth, after all the medication I was on through pregnancy, after surviving at 8 weeks old when I had Severe Septic Pneumonia and was hospitalized, almost dead, after everything, here she was, latched onto my breast, and nursing perfectly. My first time. After 3 children who would never latch, this was nothing short of a miracle! That moment will live in my memory forever. She is everything. She is my first co-sleeper, first baby to latch, first time to never have formula. She takes a bottle, a binkie, and me, with no problems. She is heaven.

Since then, I have gone through a series of emotions. I was in mourning. I felt like a failure. I felt less than. Less than those stronger women. A wise friend suggested I have a Closing of the Bones ceremony. I looked it up and knew that was exactly what i needed. I was surrounded by a few women whom I love and felt very safe with. They listened to my whole story. They witnessed my pain, my joy. They watched my birth video and helped me process it all. They helped me see the strength and the beauty I possessed. That my labor wasn’t just that night, but the entire pregnancy, and I never gave up. Because of my experiences, I am able to appreciate every second of the beauty, and the gift that I have to be a mother. I cherish it. And I empathize and am able to relate to many types of birth experiences. In 7 years, I have had 6 pregnancies, 6 births, including a vaginal, miscarriage, c section, vbac, miscarriage of twins, and my last vbac. I have gone through Hyperemesis Gravidarum, heart complications, Hydronephrosis, severe depression and anxiety, Vasa Previa, postpartum hemorrhage, Severe Septic Pneumonia and Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction twice. And I have survived ALL of it. I have 4 beautiful, perfectly healthy children and a husband that stood by me, supporting me through it all. And it was all worth it. It was beautiful, and glorious, and I AM a triumphant warrior. I survived and conquered, and even through everything, I wouldn’t change a thing. I have learned that life is beautiful not only because of love and joy, but also because of the pain and sorrow. It is all a gift.
Here is my birth story video. It's rated G. :-)

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Why I Tell/Break the Silence

Last blog post, I shared the miracle of finding my baby's heartbeat when it should have been impossible. It truly was a miracle. However, that following week I was spotting off and on, and by Sunday, I knew something was wrong. I ended up going to the ER, and during the ultrasound, we could not find a heartbeat. Baby was there, but it had died at 7.5 weeks. My heart was broken, to have gone through so much up and down with that pregnancy. But I had no regrets in telling everyone about it. I was so grateful to have the support and love to buoy me up. This past month has been one of healing, heartache, pain, and then peace. I am so grateful I have had so many people sharing words of encouragement and hugs and service. I have been in a good place the last week. January 18th was my D&C, and a few days ago it had been a month. I found myself feeling a sort of sadness mixed with peace. I longed for another child. I had taken a pregnancy test a few days before to find out it was negative. I knew I was too early, and the chances of me being pregnant that quickly was probably not very high, but I'm an incredibly impatient person. Thursday was the 1 month anniversary, and it had been about 5 days since my last pregnancy test. I had one left, so Friday I woke up and used it, even though I knew it would be negative. I had hope. And since it has always been so easy for me to conceive, I knew there was a chance. I had been expecting me period a couple days before, and it had not arrived yet. I sat there, looking at my phone, avoiding the results, not wanting to see only one line. When I finally looked, I couldn't believe my eyes...

I am so blessed and thrilled beyond belief to have another little soul growing inside of me. To have the privilege of loving him/her for as long as they need to live. I have always believed that a life should be celebrated, no matter how short or long it is. I've never understood why it is commonplace to hide a pregnancy till you hit that magic second trimester. What does that teach us? This idea feeds a few very harmful beliefs or thought processes. Now, speaking from someone who has gone through two miscarriages, here are my thoughts:

1. "The pregnancy doesn't count unless you reach the second trimester. It is not worth celebrating unless it is going to live past this time. Keep it to yourself until we all know your chances of miscarriage are much lower." This is absolutely heartbreaking. Why on earth should we not celebrate any pregnancy, no matter how long that baby lives? Does that life not matter if it only lives a couple months or less? Why can't we all rejoice in the miracle of conception? That in and of itself is worth celebrating. Why does a still birth mom receive more love and support than a miscarriage mom? Why does either life count more than the other, simply because of the number of weeks of gestation?

2. "If you do miscarry, no one wants to know. You need to suffer in silence. Heaven forbid you make someone feel uncomfortable and feel bad for you. If you're hurting, you hide it." This is such a harmful and sad way of thinking. The risk of postpartum depression is so much higher when you do not have the physical, emotional and mental help from a strong support system. And yes, even if you miscarry at 5 weeks, you are still postpartum. Hormones have gone up and down quickly, causing emotional and mental shifts that can trigger depression, especially without support. If a mother feels like she can talk about it, and that others are able to mourn with her and comfort her, providing meals or words of comfort, or watching her children and just holding her hand, THIS is what brings peace and healing.

3. If you feel that you would rather not share your pregnancy till the 2nd trimester, or later, that is entirely your prerogative,and completely ok. If you feel that you would rather not have to talk about your miscarriage, that you'd rather only a few people know to provide support to you, and if you feel it would hurt to have people ask about your pregnancy, and have to tell them you miscarried, then I completely understand, and support whatever you feel is most healing for you. This is ok. If this is how you feel, I'm so glad you know what you need. But if you feel this way because you are afraid of what people will think, or that your pregnancy isn't worth sharing, or if you can't talk about it, even if you want to, this is not ok.

I truly feel that mothers and fathers should be able to be excited and cherish and celebrate and share this miracle of life as soon as they want to. That it should be NORMAL, and WELCOMED, and SUPPORTED. And in the 20% chance that you do miscarry, or if you know someone that does, that those parents will be surrounded and embraced with all the love, kindness, and support that they need. And the awkwardness is gone. So if you are like me, shout out your miracle! I want to know, and celebrate with you! And I will mourn with you, and love you, and be here for you if and when you need me. And I will pray for you, and look forward to that day that you conceive again, or that you adopt, or that you decide your family is complete. You do not need to rejoice in silence, or suffer in silence.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Miracles and Magic

Miracles happen. They are very, very real. Nothing is impossible.

I have had an amazing, heart breaking, magical and miraculous, roller coaster of an experience. On December 11th, I took a pregnancy test that showed positive, I was amazed at how quickly this happened, since we had just started trying that cycle. Very excited, I went to have my first prenatal appointment on December 15th to discuss certain medications I was on and whether they would be safe to continue during the pregnancy. During that appointment, my midwife asked if I wanted to check my HCG levels, since I had had a previous miscarriage. She wanted to help me feel at ease about everything. I was grateful she was willing to let me check.

I had my blood drawn that day, and again 48 hours later. If the pregnancy is healthy and viable, your levels should at least double, more like have a 65% increase in 48 hours. My levels were not even close to doubling, This was not a good sign. So we decided to do an ultrasound to see what we could see. At this point, I was calculating that I was about 5 1/2  weeks along, according to my last period. We saw a gestational sac, but no yolk sac or fetal pole. And of course, no heartbeat. Basically an empty sac. This was also not good news. However, we determined that it could just be too early, and that we would do another ultrasound in a week.

 I had to go through the Christmas holiday not knowing whether my pregnancy was going to last. I did my best to put it in a box and not think of it until after Christmas. It was hard, but I was blessed to be able to enjoy Christmas.

 At the next ultrasound the next day, it showed no growth, in fact, the sac measured smaller than the week before, and was still empty. I also had my HCG levels checked again. Results were that they continued to rise, but not near enough. I found out these results while I was up at temple square with my family seeing the Christmas lights on December 28th. My midwife said she was 99% sure this was not a viable pregnancy. I knew I was losing my baby.

Now, I was faced with a big decision. I was going on a family vacation to Disneyland in just a few days, and I was worried about miscarrying while in California, away from my doctors and hospital. Possibly while traveling, or while walking around Disneyland with my kids. I researched A TON. I had lost a baby previously, but had opted for a D&C instead of miscarrying naturally. I didn't know what to expect. I found out it can be very painful, and lots of blood, and sometimes you have to go to the hospital because you lose too much. How hard would that be to have happen away from home?

I decided I wanted to get the D&C as soon as possible before our trip so I could start healing and not worry about it while I was gone. That day was awful, waiting for the call from my midwife to tell me when I could see an OB to schedule to procedure. I laid in bed, mourning. I was preparing for the D&C that day. I found out that I would have to see the doctor that day, but the D&C would not be scheduled till the next day. I just wanted it to be over with, Knowing the baby was not there, and not bleeding, just waiting for a miscarriage to happen was torture.

The hospital called and I was scheduled to go in the next day for the procedure at 12 pm. That evening, I went and saw my OB. He said he wanted to take just one more look on the ultrasound to make sure there was no baby. I didn't expect this. This was now my 3rd ultrasound. I should have been over 6 weeks. What came next, was very strange. He did find my empty sac, but right by it, was ANOTHER empty sac, that never showed up on the two previous ultrasounds!
This made things very bizarre, and confusing. There was still no baby, but the second sac presented more questions. My doctor said that what more than likely was happening, was that my sac collapsed, and split into two, and that I was close to miscarrying. But, there was also a very small possibility that I could have a disappearing twin, and that would explain why my levels were not as high as they should be, that it was throwing them off. He told me that he was 99% sure that this was not the case, and that if I wanted to he would do the D&C, but there was room for doubt, however little, The baby should have been seen at this point. There should have been a yolk sac at the very least, but there was nothing, No change in 3 weeks, no growth, except for this random second sac. KEEP IN MIND, this second sac WAS NOT there, just 24 hours before, in that second ultrasound. In just 24 hours, it showed up. This was crazy.

I didn't know what to think. I went home, and prayed. I worried and stressed. The night before I got a blessing, but it did not give me direct answers, except to trust and have faith that I would know what to do. I went to the temple the following day, December 30th.  I had the feeling that I should not get the D&C. Not because I felt the pregnancy was ok, but just that it wasn't right, yet. I decided to take my chances and go on my trip with my family, and hope and pray that I didn't miscarry while away, and I would readdress the situation when I got home. I planned to schedule my D&C as soon as I got home. I had to put those worries and feelings in that box in my brain again.

 Thankfully, I was able to. I had a magical, beautiful, perfect time with my family. Seeing the wonder and joy in my children's eyes was a dream come true. I literally cried on Pirates of the Caribbean because I was here, with my precious babies, experiencing the joy of seeing the magic through mother eyes. It was a moment I'd never forget. I was present. I was there. Occasionally I would think of the baby that more than likely would not be, but it didn't taint my experience. I was blessed.

We came home last night at 3 am. So very tired today. I messaged my midwife to tell her I was home, She said she was on call and could possibly get me in for another ultrasound today, since I really wanted to get the D&C done as soon as possible, so I could move on, and start trying again. Tonight, and 6 pm, I met her at the office. I was ready, and prepared for the result of losing this baby. I was at peace. I had mourned the loss. I had come to terms with it.

We first tried a normal ultrasound on the belly, but wasn't able to see anything. This didn't surprise me. So we did a transvaginal ultrasound. I waited, preparing to be told the sac was gone. It took a couple minutes. Then all of a sudden, my midwife turned the sound on...THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP...... THERE WAS A HEARTBEAT!!!!!!!!!!!!! 
She turned the screen, and I saw the beating heart of my baby that WAS there! My head was spinning. How was this possible? My midwife was baffled. This didn't make any sense. We looked for the second sac, but we could not find it. Just the one, with the living baby, with a heartbeat, measuring 6 weeks 2 days. I should have been 8 weeks along.

Getting the positive pregnancy test as early as I did, and only being 6 weeks along makes no sense. Having a gestational sac that didn't grow at all for 3 weeks makes no sense. Having my levels be so off makes no sense. This whole situation goes against all the textbooks. It's impossible, BUT it's not! It's a miracle, I have a living, healthy baby with a beating heart that I never thought would beat. I am in shock, amazement and am truly grateful and blessed. I am grateful beyond belief that I did not have that D&C. I'm grateful for a mother's intuition, for the spirit, and for miracles. For opportunities to build faith.

It's very interesting that I seemed to be the 1% quite often. With Ethan's Vasa Previa, (birth story here) and getting pregnant with Sophia while fully breastfeeding, taking the pill on time every day and no postpartum period, and now this. I know for certain that nothing is impossible. That miracle and blessings and magic are real. Most of the time it doesn't happen, Most of the time you lose. Most of the time, life isn't fair, and there is no rhyme or reason to anything. But SOMETIMES, just sometimes, miracles do happen, Disney magic and dreams do come true.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Podcast interview on The Balancing Act about Prenatal and Postpartum Depression

I was interviewed for this awesome new podcast called The Balancing Act about my journey with prenatal and postpartum depression, and the tools I found that helped me come out of that darkness. Here is a direct link to my podcast interview. There are many other interviews from amazing members of our community on here as well. If you or your clients are suffering with this, I hope you find solidarity in knowing you are not alone, and hearing my journey may help!
Hear my interview here.

Helpful websites: (Afterbirth Postpartum Support Group)

See the post below for more information about my journey, and other resources.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Q96 EmpowerPlus and how it has changed my life

To anyone who followed my story last year (here is the link) of my severe depression during my pregnancy, you will remember just how absolutely low and lost I was. Searching with all my might for a cure that would not hurt my baby. You will also remember the promise I gave in that post that if I ever found that cure, I would shout it from the rooftops and share it with anyone I could, that suffered just like me. 

Well over the past month, I have found that cure! After being on antidepressants and anti-anxieties for 6 years, I am off of them for the first time, and I feel 100% my self again. I feel amazing. Words can't describe. For anyone who is suffering with any sort of mood disorder, depression, anxiety, bi polar, OCD, ADD, ADHD, Autism, PTSD, Mood swings, even MS and Parkinson's, this will change your life. 

My husband Scott Graham met the creator and his daughter of this vitamin/mineral/amino acid supplement on his mission, and he took it then and felt a huge difference for his ADD. I remember him telling me about it, but I had forgotten, until I accidentally stumbled upon it at a birth event. I decided to try it, and I cannot believe what it has done for me. I am in tears. I only wish I would have known of this sooner. It would have saved a lot of suffering for me and my whole family. 

If you are struggling, PLEASE let me help you! I am very sincere, this supplement is food for your brain. It is not a synthetic anti depressant that only band aids your problem. It feeds your brain what it is lacking. Please check it out. Read the stories. Read the research. Then call me. A link to the blog I created with more information is HERE. Also, a link to my Massage therapy and Hypnodoula services is

Here is the creator's daughter's inspirational story of how she almost took her life, just like her mother, because of her bipolar disorder, and how Q96 saved her life here

Here is some information and research I copied from their website:

The Q foundation. Our headlining product provides CALM, COPING and CLARITY. This product is a proprietary formula for optimal mood stability and healthy brain function for an all around incredible you. Reading the research conducted at major universities would astound you; it would also take you thousands of hours that we’re betting you don’t have.  So here’s a great gist:

EMPowerplus Q96 delivers a well-balanced blend of 36 vitamins, minerals, and amino acids to the brain in a safe and effective dose to boost mood stability, mental clarity, and optimal brain health and function in both children and adults.

EMPowerplus Q96 is specifically formulated to provide essential nutritional support to the brain and central nervous system. The results are simply life changing. In fact, it gives people their life back.

Key benefits include:

Supports mood stability, improved cognition, and overall brain health and function

Unique 96-hour micronization and nano-chelation process increases bioavailability for maximum nutrient uptake in the brain

Backed by scientific studies conducted at major universities in four countries, as well as research published in peer-reviewed journals

Contains a well-balanced blend of 36 vitamins, minerals, and amino acids specially formulated for the brain and central nervous system

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sophia's Birth Story

It all started the night of January 23rd. I was 3 1/2 weeks from my due date, and very much ready for the pregnancy to be over. With months of Symphasis Pubis Dysfunction causing me constant pain in my pelvis, and claustrophobia setting in, I couldn't wait for it to be over. But at the same time, I did not believe I would be having little Sophia any time soon.

I was putting my other two children to bed, when all of a sudden I felt something warm in my pants. I immediately was annoyed because I thought I had just peed my pants, but then upon looking at it, I knew it wasn't urine. I couldn't believe it, could this be my water? I very much doubted it, and with company over to watch a movie, I decided to just wait and see if anything more happened.

After the movie, our friends went home, and I decided reluctantly to go to labor and delivery to check things out, since it kept on trickling, and my midwife encouraged me to go. I didn't bother packing a bag or bringing anything, and told my parents to not get excited, that we would more than likely just be coming back home in an hour or so. After all, even if I was in labor, my plan was to labor at home with my hubby and doula as long as possible, so I knew I wasn't going to be staying at the hospital. Wrong!

We got to L&D at about 10:45 pm, and was checked in to triage. They told us they would be doing a strip test that will automatically give you a good idea if it truly is amniotic fluid or not. The test came back looking like it could be, so then they did a more advanced test. As we waited, I kept thinking this was such a waste of time. I should be home in bed.

The nurse came back, and low and behold, it WAS amniotic fluid, and I wasn't going anywhere, I was going to have this baby within the next 24 hours! I was floored! I asked if I could go home, and come back when I was closer to delivery, but I was told that it would be against doctor's reccomendations, and could affect insurance coverage if I left and then something went wrong that could have been controlled had I stayed. So I made the decision to stay, even though my body wasn't in labor yet. I hadn't felt a single surge, or any indication that labor was starting. So after we were transferred to a L&D room, my job was to try and get my body started, with nipple stimulation and walking. The problem was, since I was going for a VBAC, they put me on constant fetal monitoring, which got in the way of walking, since it couldn't read it well. I thought this was one thing I could ask not to have, but apparently it is required in every hospital in Utah. I had less power than I thought, and I was a bit frustrated, but I knew that wouldn't help anything, so I stayed positive and decided to enjoy this experience as best I could.

After a few hours of trying so hard to start labor, nothing was happening. My midwife came in and talked to me about giving me pitocin, I was so surprised, because again, I thought pitocin was a no-no for VBAC patients. I guess I was wrong on a few accounts. She explained that it is used quite often and is safer than other forms of induction, because it is a controlled drip that you can shut off immediately, versus creams that cannot just come off if there was a problem. She told me it was my choice, but if my body didn't start progressing, eventually this baby would need to come, since the barrier was broken and the risk of infection goes up after 24 hours, and I could end up having a c section. So my options were labor with pitocin, or risk a c section. I reluctantly chose pitocin, and so we got started.

By early morning, my surges were becoming more consistent and stronger, and I decided to have Laurel come. I had been keeping her informed throughout the night, and I wanted her to get a good night's rest before she came. I also told my hubby to go get some breakfast, since I knew things would start getting intense, and I wouldn't want him to leave my side after that. So I found myself alone for a bit, but I felt calm and peaceful with Laura's tracks playing in my headphones, and the lights dimmed. I loved Your Healing Place, and the Birth affirmations tracks, and pretty much put them on repeat. When my surges started getting strong, I was fortunate enough to have an amazing midwife. She was very Hypnobirthing friendly, and was right there with me reminding me to breathe and moan low and drop my shoulders and jaw through each surge. She was there the entire time until Scott and Laurel came. I kept thinking how lucky I was, and how happy I was that I didn't choose a doctor, who I might not have even seen once until I delivered. She was just like a doula for me, and I just wanted to hug her. She made such a big difference. Once Laurel and my hubby Scott arrived, we all went to work. I needed them immediately. What a wonderful team I had. My mother was also there, and I think she felt a little out of place, but I was glad to have her mothering vibes in the room.

With each surge, they steadily got stronger and stronger. For anyone who doesn't know, pitocin is tough stuff. It is much harder than natural oxytocin that your body produces. My nurses kept upping the drip, and by the time it got to a 10, I was ready for the tub. Once we got all the monitors sorted out, I got in and immediately felt relief. Warm water is heaven in labor!! Laurel and Scott were there with each surge, and I felt a little break in between surges and we were able to chat a bit. After awhile though, apparently I was too comfortable, because they upped the drip again to a 12. This was hard, REAL hard to handle. I couldn't get on top of the pain. I couldn't relax anymore, and for the first time, I was dreading the coming surges. The water had lost it's magic, so I got out and tried other positions. By this time, my surges turned into back labor, and I felt an incredible amount of pain in my back and tailbone. It was unbearable, and after 20 hours of no food and no sleep, and over 12 hours of pitocin-induced labor, I was spent. I tried so hard to keep going, but once the tears started and my body started shaking, I knew I needed to rest, or I wasn't going to make it. I remember begging Laurel and Scott to not hate me or be disapointed with me for asking for an epidural. They both quickly said that they were very proud of me, and that I had made it through most of it so strong, and that I needed to listen to my body, and do what's right for me. I felt better after hearing that, and once the epidural was working, I had no regrets. My poor body needed a break. I fell asleep pretty quickly, and so did the rest of my team. It was a much needed break for all of us!

I'm not sure exactly how long, but I think it was only 3 hours before I was ready to push. The epidural had worn off enough that I could feel a decent amount of pressure. I could feel her pushing down, and after a look, the midwife said it was time! I remember right before she came, feeling a sense of anxiety, and fear, that I wouldn't be good enough, that I wouldn't be able to be everything my children needed with one more baby to take care of. Feelings of inadequatcy were mounting, and I started to cry. But Laurel, Scott and mom were all there to tell me everything would be fine. I could feel her crowning, and was able to control my pushes and not bear down too hard too fast. I used my breathing to breathe her down, and after only 3 pushes at 5:45 pm, her head was out, and I didn't tear a bit! Her body quickly followed, and she was put right on top of me, It was the most incredible moment of my life! All I ever wanted was to have my babies put right on me after delivery, and in this breathtaking moment, I felt an enormous flood of love. Hear she was, 5 lbs 8 oz and 16 in of beauty; my first daughter, beautiful and perfect in every way.  All feelings of self doubt, fear and inadequacy vanished in that moment, and I was soaring.

After delivery, they had to take Sophia to the nicu for a short while to help her breathe, so my husband followed her, and my mom and I watched TV while I (finally) ate. Laurel said goodbye and I thanked her a million times for all she did. She is worth her weight in gold!! My breastfeeding consultant, Wendy, showed up and was ready to help me as soon as Sophia was back. The staff commented on how I hardly bled at all, and were very happy with everything postpartum. After I was done eating, a nurse came to take me in a wheel chair to see my baby in the nicu. I got up from the bed, a little shaky from the epidural, and went to sit on the chair, when all of a sudden blood was dripping down my legs and on the floor, fast. My nurse was surprised, and then looked at the bed and saw much more had been pooling as I sat there and ate after delivery. I asked her if this was normal, and she said she was getting the midwife back in here, and that I needed to get back on the bed. Once my midwife came in, she took a look and started pushing on my uterus to try and get it to clamp down like it is supposed to. But pad after pad was soaked in blood, and I started to realize this was not normal. I was hemorrhaging. I found myself quickly being surrounded by lots of staff, and I kept asking if I was ok, and what was going on. My midwife was very positive and upbeat, but I could tell once they started weighing how much blood I was losing, that it was serious. I was so glad that Wendy was there, acting as a doula and helping me breathe and stay calm. She was the voice that kept me here. She was right in my ear, telling me I was going to be ok, that I was strong, and she used the shoulder press a lot to calm my shaking. Apparently I was shaking very hard.I vaguely remember this. But Wendy was my angel. If any of you know her, you will agree with me that she has such a calming presence, and I could feel her transferring that to me. I started feeling dizzy and could feel my body barely conscious. I could hear voices, but was too weak to keep my eyes open. The thought occurred to me the possibility that I could die. I said a prayer, asking my Father in heaven to let me stay, that I wanted to raise these kids, that I wasn't ready to go. I was glad that Scott wasn't there to see all this blood. They gave me pitocin, cytotec, (another one I never thought I'd take) and another I can't remember to contract my uterus to get the blood to stop. They worked, and after 1000 CC's of blood loss, they took my blood count and determined I didn't need a blood transfusion, but my white blood cell count was elevated. Almost immediately I felt the fever. I had an infection, so I needed to start on antibiotics. I felt horrible, and realized my ear hurt quite a bit. The midwife took a look inside, and apparently I had ruptured my ear drum! Oh my! It all happened to fast, but with the bleeding controlled, and the antibiotics flowing and pain medication given, I was ready for recovery. Feeling very weak and tired, I was super out of it. Sophia was wheeled back into my room, and all I wanted was her. I pulled her close to me, up against my cheek, and smelled and felt her warmth. She was all I needed to feel whole. She was my medicine. She made all this so worth it.

So although I did not give birth 100% without intervention, I truly feel that Hypnobirthing and Laurel and Wendy and my husband helped me make it so much farther than I ever could have without them. I feel like I did everything exactly the way I needed to, and I have no regrets. I felt very empowered and in control, and felt completely surrounded and supported with peace and love and joy. I never once felt alone like I did with my first birth. I am so grateful beyond words that I educated myself to know all my options, to listen to my body, and to know that I could trust it. I am in love with birth, and with the power that comes with it. It is not to be feared, but rather embraced and accepted as the most amazing miracle of our existence.

Friday, October 4, 2013

It's a GIRL!! And why I'm going natural...

I'm having a girl, and I just can't believe it! I was certain it would be a boy, but I get to have a beautiful daughter who is going to be my very best friend! YAY! I'm envisioning lace galore, and classic beauty. She'll be all decked out in this and this and this. And her nursery will look something like this if I can only afford it!! She'll be classy shabby chic to the max! And I wonder if anyone can guess my favorite name right now, based off of that...

I'm so excited! And through this pregnancy, as well as my last, I have been on a journey of healing and self discovery, that has lead me to realize my own strength and power. It's such a long story, I hope that I will write it all down someday. Right now, I will leave you with this essay on why I am attempting to teach and learn and trust my body to birth the way God intended. I won a birth package at the Empowering Fearless Birth event that was held a couple weeks ago. It included full midwife services, doula services, birth video, newborn photos, a photo keepsake box, and a breast pump. A $4,500 value, and I won! And it just so happens, that the same doula I already had decided on is the one that I won the free services! Fate? I think so!! Here is what I wrote down of why I wanted those services:

My name is Latissa Graham, and I am currently pregnant with my 3rd child. My first was delivered in a hospital with the use of pitocin and an epidural. If you would have talked to me then, I would have said that this is the only way a sane person would give birth. But after being so numb all the way up to my neck and not even being able to feel pressure when I was delivering, and then being unable to hold my baby because I was so drugged, and experiencing the epidural not wearing off for 2 days, I re-thought this method. I missed the opportunity to have my baby placed right on my chest after delivery, and instead have him whisked away with my husband and the entire staff right after I delivered. I felt so empty and alone, for a good hour. Breastfeeding never worked out, even though I tried for months. I ended up pumping my milk and bottle feeding for 8 months, because I was determined to give my baby the best I could. Postpartum depression also hit hard, and this was a hard time for me, with not many resources or info for support.  I ended up on Zoloft, but knew this wasn't fixing the problem, it was only a band aid.
My second pregnancy ended in a miscarriage after trying for 5 months. This was exceptionally hard on me, and I didn't have much time to recover. I got pregnant again a month later, and bought a house and moved all at the same time. My hormone levels went crazy. I found myself getting very depressed, but was terrified of taking any medication for fear of hurting my baby. I scoured the internet, searching for anything on depression during pregnancy, and found very little. Many studies done on medications used during pregnancy were inconclusive, and vague, and unreliable. I was so frustrated, and felt like I was the only one. There was much information about postpartum depression, but not during pregnancy. Was I the only one? I tried and tried everything, including therapy, but by the end of my 1st trimester, I was suicidal. The only thing keeping me alive was the baby growing inside of me. I knew if I hurt myself, I'd hurt the baby, and I would never do that. But that's when I knew I had no other option but to get medication. 
After being on Zoloft for awhile, it helped immensely, but I was still so concerned about the effects of medication. I started learning and researching birth, and came across The Business of Being Born. I watched, and knew that this is what I wanted. But with another major complication, that would be impossible for this baby. I had to have a scheduled C section at 35 weeks because of a very rare condition called Vasa Previa.  Basically, my placenta was split in two parts, and was connected by blood vessels that crossed over my cervix. These blood vessels were in direct supply to the baby, and if ruptured (due to labor, waters breaking, too much pressure) the baby would bleed out in a matter of minutes. I was terrified of a c section, but I was beyond grateful that my ultrasound showed this condition, because undiagnosed, the mortality rate for this condition in 90%. Thank God in Heaven for modern technology. But through this whole experience, I longed for a natural birth. I delved in to the world of midwives and doulas and water births and how our bodies know how to give birth. My whole life, I thought that the doctors knew everything, that I need not question them, because they had it all figured out. All I had to do was show up to my appointments and show up to the hospital and they'll give me my baby. I didn't KNOW that I needed to KNOW. That my body knows what it needs, and I need to trust it, above anyone else. 
After giving birth, and my baby being born alive and only needing 8 days in the NICU, I was so happy he was here, but I knew that next time I wanted to do things differently. Next time, I will empower myself with all the knowledge I can about birth and my body, and I will trust it, and give it a chance to do what it was made to do.
I am a massage therapist, and received this flyer in the mail for this certification done by Claire Marie Miller on Prenatal, Labor, and Postpartum massage. I immediately knew I needed to take this class. This class was beyond healing for me. Not only did I learn how to help pregnant women, but I experienced an emotional healing. A healing from all the heartaches I experienced in my pregnancies, the miscarriage, the severe depression, the fear of losing my baby, the guilt of not being able to breastfeed either of my children, feeling rejected, like something was wrong with me, and the knowledge that I am a powerful woman, that my body is a blessed creation, and that I am and have always been enough for my children. I forgave myself, and felt peace, for the first time in a very long time. Little did I know, that I was already pregnant again during that seminar! Only four months after having my last baby, I was pregnant again, and expecting the baby only 13 months after having my last! Hears the kicker- I was taking the mini pill perfectly on time every day, and fully breastfeeding (pumping) and I still got pregnant!! It was obviously meant to happen. At first I was terrified. Terrified of being so depressed again. But then I felt a very strong feeling of peace, that this would be different, that this was part of the plan, and that I can do this. Now at 18 weeks, I have experienced no depression, and very minimal nausea. I want with all my heart to do this differently, to have a dream birth, where my body is in charge, where my spirit is ready, and I have lots of love and support from an awesome birth team. I know I can do this, and I need to do this!  I can't wait to go to Empowering Fearless birth event, and soak up all the info I possibly can to help empower me with all the knowledge and training and support I can to allow my body to birth the way it was made to. This money would help me immensely, since the C section and NICU stay dug a huge hole of debt for us, and with my husband's new job, our insurance is not great. Please consider me, and help me have my dream birth!

I am currently taking Hypnobirthing classes that have helped me so much, to deal with my anxiety and sleep issues. It's basically just mind over matter, and it really works! I will post more on this later, but there is a taste of what I am currently experiencing!