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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!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Ethan Scott Graham - 6 months already!

"Mom! You've been holding out on me! These bananas are AWESOME!!
My little Ethan celebrated his 1/2 year birthday on Independence Day! I can't believe how fast the time has gone, and how big he has gotten! I brought home a 4lb 14oz baby, and he is now 16 pounds!! Pretty much tripled his weight! This kid loves to eat. He wouldn't sleep more than 2-3 hours throughout the night, and I couldn't figure out what was wrong with him. Then finally, a few weeks before his 6 month date, I introduced solid foods; rice cereal and bananas. Not only did he LOVE eating, but he slept 6 hours straight! WOW!!! YAY!
 Now, he isn't perfect, but he does like a regular night time schedule, and if I keep him on that, he usually sleeps pretty well. But he is still a terrible napper! He loves cat naps, and just takes them all day off and on. He won't just go down on a schedule, like Carson did. Carson is my obscenely perfect sleeper however, so I can't really compare him to Ethan. I'm sure he'll get it down someday.

Ethan is my lover of kisses, hugs, cuddles, and being held. He just loves to be loved, and will let you know with a big smile and a sigh. He will also grab your face and pull you close and give you a big slobbery wet one. He loves to suck on daddy's chin. It's so hilarious to watch!! Ethan would be the absolutely most perfect baby if he could just be held all the time, and by anyone really. Anyone that will give him love and attention. He would never fuss. Too bad there is zero chance that is possible! He has an adorable giggle, and is ticklish under his chin and neck. He'll giggle like crazy when daddy nuzzles his face on his neck and chin with his whiskers. I love it!!!

He just recently started doing this whole body wiggle on his back, like he's trying to wiggle across the floor, like a snake. It's hilarious to watch, and I still haven't captured it on video yet, but I'll keep trying! Ethan hates tummy time, with a passion. He gets irritated very quickly, and then screams bloody murder, and then gives up entirely and falls asleep. This is very frustrating, and he still hasn't rolled over at all, and can barely push himself up in front. He also cannot sit by himself, but he is good at holding himself up in the Bumbo and on the swing. Carson was also crazy fast and ahead with reaching physical milestones, so it's hard to compare the two. Carson wasn't a preemie either. But I do worry a bit, and have been really working on building his muscles and trying to teach him how to roll, and I am seeing progress. So I think he'll be just fine!

Ethan is a beautiful, bright eyed baby, and I just love him to pieces! And I love that I can enjoy him without any more depression. What a relief. He was worth every dark second I had last year, and I'd do it all again just to know that I get to keep him forever and ever. He's my little miracle baby, and I just love him so much!!!

Thursday, April 4, 2013


It was a happy happy birthday lunch at Chili's with my family. And yummy fajitas and cake at my in laws that night. But I swear, I'm 22 at most!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Ethan Scott Graham's birth story

10 weeks later, and I am finally posting Ethan's birth story. Holy cow. All I can say is that life is crazy with an almost 3 year old and an infant who's not great at sleeping! But we are starting to get in the hang of things around here, and I found a rare moment of peace, so here it is. A warning to those who are squeamish:  I have posted pictures of my unique placenta and uterus on here after many people requesting to see it.

Ethan Scott Graham was born via C section 5 weeks early on January 4th, 2013 at 7:52 am, weighing 5 pounds 7 ounces and 18 inches long. On the morning of the surgery, I was feeling anxious, but prepared and at peace. Here is a picture of me right before we left for the hospital:

I knew everything would go well. I had made it this far through the tumultuous pregnancy, and I knew I had finally reached the end safely. I had not been admitted to the hospital on bed rest as previously planned, and was able to be home not only for the whole Christmas season, but even New Years. This came as a huge relief, and surprise. We were all feeling very blessed, and I know it is because of all the many prayers and blessings we received. And also because of divine inspiration that lead me to the most amazing, knowledgeable Periantologist I could have gone to. Because of her rare experience and intuition with Vasa Previa, she felt I was able to be home, that it would be better for me and the baby if I less stressed and comfortable, and that as long as everything looked good at my bi-weekly check ups, she felt good about me being at home. I am so grateful I found her, because most doctors would have just admitted me at 30 weeks,  regardless of any tests, just out of pure ignorance and fear of this rare condition. 

I woke up pretty nauseated due to having to be up so early (4:30 am) and not being able to eat anything. I through up on the way to the hospital twice, and was given a zofran injection. After that, it was smooth sailing. I felt great, and at ease. So excited to meet my baby. I thought I would be freaking out because I have always been terrified of being cut open, but I had no fear. It probably helped that I had had 3 months to prepare for it, versus being in labor and having to do it in an emergency. I got pretty shaky, so my awesome anesthesiologist gave me something to calm my nerves and even rubbed my head. My whole team was awesome, and they let me know everything that was going on. Here is a picture of me in surgery:

After I got the spinal tap, everything went really numb. The sheet went up, and Scott was right by my head. They asked me if I wanted a mirror so I could see the surgery, but I said no. I didn't want to see what was going on at the moment it was happening, but I wanted pictures. So I told Scott to take some pictures. I know at first he didn't want to watch, but when Ethan came out, he looked over and from that point on, Scott was watching. It was quite fascinating  At one point, they had to completely lift my uterus out of my body cavity in order to remove part of my placenta from the wall. Here is a picture of that:

Ethan came out screaming his guts out. Boy did he sound mad! Can you imagine what it would be like to be in a nice, warm environment, and without any warning you are ripped out and exposed in bright lights and cold air? I'd be screaming too! My first thought when I saw him was, "Look at all that dark hair!I knew it would be dark." I was so relieved to hear that beautiful cry. It's amazing that all the hardness of the past eight months was all revolving on hearing that one, piercing first scream, and that it was all so worth it. Here is Ethan shortly after birth:

When my doctor saw my bi-lobed placenta, she asked me if she could take a picture. I said of course. After all, I had a very rare case! She came into my room after surgery and told me something I'll never forget. She said, "Latissa, I didn't want to tell you while you were on the table, but the veins that connected the two placentas were so large, that even if I were to have admitted you to the hospital on bed rest, and even if you were right next to the c section room, ready to deliver the baby the second they ruptured, I don't believe I could have gotten the baby out in time to save him. He would have bled out too fast." I am so grateful that this never happened. Here is a picture of my bi lobed placenta. those veins are huge!

Recovery was better than I thought, but still quite hard. Mostly revolving around the many trips to the NICU and all the walking involved. I also pulled a muscle in my obliques, and had to see a physical therapist while in the hospital. But I was taken care of very well, and had many visitors. Here is a picture of Carson and I:

Ethan was in the NICU for only 8 days. By the time he left, he was 4 pounds 14 ounces, and I remember thinking that I couldn't believe how small he was. He was so healthy and strong, and his doctor was surprised how well he was doing. We were so blessed!

When I came home, I walked into my room and discovered that it had been painted and all set up and clean. While I was in the hospital recovering, both sides of the family came together and did it all. Our room used to be this nasty green, and it was so depressing, and so my mother in law thought I would like to have a beautiful room, since I'd be spending so much time in it. I was so surprised, and grateful. I really am so blessed to have family and friends that love me and my family so very much. We have so much support. Life would be a whole lot harder without them.

Since we brought Ethan home, life has been a crazy blur until just recently. Getting used to two kids, one of which doesn't sleep well, and the other who won't sleep when the baby sleeps has been super hard. Also dealing with some post pardum depression, and a trip to the ER after a seizure scare with Ethan, (turned out to be a reaction to acid re-flux  January and February were pretty much a blur. But life has seemed to level out, and we are adjusting. I love my tow boys more than I could have ever imagined. I am so happy and fulfilled. So thankful beyond words that I have two healthy, strong, beautiful boys, and a steady, loyal, selfless husband who has supported me through all the light and darkness. Life is beautiful.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

An Actual Solution for Insomnia

I need to blog about Ethan's birth, but this needed to be posted tonight, seeing as many of you have prompted me to share what I learned from the Sleep Therapist today. So let me start at the beginning...

For the past ten years, I have had chronic insomnia, and before that, as my mother has shared with me, I wasn't such a great sleeper either. I toss and turn for hours and hours, until finally I fall asleep, only to find that it's usually 4 am, and I usually have to get up for something or someone, and cannot get the amount of sleep needed. My brain just won't shut off. That chemical that turns your brain off and helps you drift to sleep, just doesn't function. I have always slept better in the morning, and been wide awake late at night. I can't pin point when and why this really developed, but I have been off and on sleeping pills since I was 16, but for almost 3 years, I have been on Ambien every single night. If any of you know anything about sleeping pills, you know you are only supposed to be on them for a few nights, never long term. They aren't made for a chronic problem, and over time, you eventually develop a resistance to them, and need a higher dose in order for them to still work. Sooner or later, you are needing such a high dose, way more than recommended, and you are faced with either running out of your prescription too soon, or going to the doctor and getting on a different kind. When you've been on sleeping pills for this long, when you run out of your meds, you don't sleep...AT ALL... for a couple nights. Your body can go through withdrawal, and insomnia temporarily worsens. By the third night of hardly any sleep, your resolve to quit the sleeping pills diminishes. You NEED the can't function without sleep. right? So you HAVE to be on them. It's just part of who you are, and what you need to function...right???  In an article I was reading, I found this quote. "The only effect sleeping pills have," says sleep expert Dr. Kripke at UCSD, "is they make you feel good about not being able to sleep." Even your doctor tells you it's fine that you need it, and if it isn't working, lets load you up with more drugs. It's a hole you feel stuck in. YOu just wish you could shut your damn brain off and sleep like the rest of the normal people out there, but no one has an answer, and REAL solution to your problem.

This is where I am at right now. My baby is finally starting to sleep longer stretches, and here I am, wide awake. And just as I'm finally falling asleep, I look at the clock and realize my toddler will wake up in a couple hours, and I'll have no choice but to get up and be his mommy, no matter how tired I am. Then someone offers to give me a nap, and I take it. I feel better when I wake up, but I find that I have the same problem later that night, and I can't sleep unless I'm heavily drugged.

I have been wanting with all of my heart to get off of these meds, but with desperation and a priesthood blessing, I was prompted to wait until I was no longer pregnant, since my pregnancy was so complicated. I was told that I would be able to find a solution, even though it may be hard to go through. So here I am, almost 8 weeks post pardum, and last weekend, I ran out of Ambien, and of course, I had been taking too much and couldn't refill it yet. I went to my doctor, and he said I could start on a different medication, but he advised that I figure out why I am not sleeping. I asked him if I should see a sleep therapist, and he seemed to think that was a good idea. So I did the hard thing. I went home without a prescription, knowing all too well that I would not be sleeping a wink that night. But I was done. I was done with being so dependent on these pills. And with my body going back to normal, I was ready to take this on. The weekend was rough. My hubby let me sleep in on Saturday and Sunday and Monday, after no sleep the previous nights. Then Tuesday night, I finally fell asleep at midnight and slept for 3 1/2 hours, then woke up and fed the baby and could not go back to sleep, even though I was utterly exhausted and the baby was sleeping. That was last night, and today I went and saw the sleep specialist. I told him my history, and after going through many questions, he first told me that he was very impressed that I wanted to find a solution, and that I was brave enough to get conquer my dependence on the meds, and that I wasn't there just to convince him I needed a higher dose. Then he proceeded to tell me about this treatment called Sleep Restriction Therapy.

First he started out by explaining that our minds can be compared to a computer. When you go to shut it down, you have two ways of doing so. You can shut it down the correct way by clicking the button, and then it proceeds to go through the normal procedure of closing programs and turning off correctly. Or, you can push the start button and hold it down, till you force it to shut off. Forcing your brain to shut off at night is exactly what sleeping pills do. You are not shutting down the normal way, you are just skipping that whole process and forcing it to sleep. Pretty soon, this is the only way your brain knows how to sleep at night, and it completely relies on it. So, you are up all night, and then you sleep in the morning, or take naps during the day, so then you aren't tired so you have to take a pill to sleep, and the whole process repeats itself.

So this is what you do. First, you have to figure out how much sleep you normally get without sleeping pills. Get and average over a few nights, and log it. Then you must do a "hard reset" on your brain, and you stay up for 24 hours straight. This means no sleeping pills. Sleeping pills will harm any chance of retraining your body to know when to sleep and how to stay asleep. Sleep fasting reboots your internal sleep computer. This resets your circadian rhythm, and starts a clean slate.

Then you must figure out when you need or want to get up every morning, and subtract that from the number of hours you normally sleep at night, and that is the time you go to bed. So for me, I usually only get 4 hours of sleep at night, and I have to get up by 7 every morning, so my bedtime after the sleep fast would be 3 am. I MUST get up at 7 am, even if I feel like sleeping in.

Next, you must use bright light therapy. You can buy these at stores, but my hubby actually made a light box for me after researching how and what kind of light you needed. You have to be near the light for a half hour right after waking every morning. Using light therapy is absolutely essential, and this whole process is not near as successful without it. This helps to teach your system when to sleep and wake at the right times.

Next, you gradually increase the amount of sleep you get each night.This is one of the most important steps, because if you jump back too quickly into trying to sleep all night, you'll lose any benefit you gained up to this point. Once you find that you are falling asleep quickly (within 20 minutes of lying down) and you are sleeping the full amount of time, you can add 15 minutes of sleep. So if my bed time is 3 am, I could try going to sleep at 2:45 am, and if that night is successful, then 2:30 am and so on. But if I find that I cannot sleep at 2:30 am quickly, then I must go back to sleeping at 2:45 or 3 am, and start at the time I could sleep for a few days, and try it again.

And last, NO NAPPING. This is extremely important. Napping messes up your circadian rhythm and you won't be able to sleep when you need to. If you have chronic insomnia, like me, you should never ever nap again, it's that important. This kinda makes me wanna cry. If you feel tired during the day, use your light box or get out in the sunshine and exercise until the drowsiness is gone, but don't give in to napping.

In reading Dr. Spielman's studies, most people gained at least a couple hours of sleep each night after doing this therapy. That can make all the difference. 6 hours of sleep is a heck of a lot better than 4.

When he explained this to me, it felt right. I felt peace that this is the course of action I should take in order to beat this problem. It's definitely not the easy route. It's going to kill me, I am sure. But in my mind, it makes perfect sense. This is the only real solution I have ever been given to treat my chronic insomnia, and I am so grateful that it exists.

I'm debating whether to start this tonight, or wait until after Ethan's baby blessing this weekend. I have so much I have to do, and I think I need to plan for this. It's going to be a week or two of hell. I'm not sure how my kids will survive, especially my poor 2 year old Carson. His mommy is going to be dead and boring, and I'm sure very short tempered. But I feel this is right. Now I just need the strength to do it. But I am blessed to have many people praying for me. My mother in law felt prompted to put my name on the prayer roll of 16 temples. Bless that woman. Her faith is unwavering. I look up to her in so many ways. And I know my Heavenly Father will not leave me alone. I know he will provide a way that will make this possible.

So whether I start tonight, or Sunday night, I will keep you updated. I'm going to log everything on this blog, and let all my fellow insomniacs see how well it works for me.