Augustine and Maria’s Birth Story, Part II

See Part I here.

Note:  There are lady parts and bodily fluids in this post. If that bothers you, I recommend reading something else 😉

It was hard to sleep that Tuesday night, but I managed to get to bed early and have a decent night’s sleep. Brett got most of the things we would need to take to the hospital in the car before we went to bed. On Wednesday morning, I made sure to eat a good breakfast because I knew that they weren’t going to allow me to eat at the hospital.

We checked in at 5:33 a.m. They ushered us right into our room, a large labor and delivery room. I was given a gown and fabulous fuzzy socks to change into. Brett took a photo of the room and posted it to Facebook, saying that we would be spending the next few hours there. Brett and I prayed Morning Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours while we waited for a nurse to come and begin the next step.

This is where we spent November 20th

This is where we spent November 20th

The nurse came in and had to give me an exam. I thought the exam was uncomfortable, but it was nothing compared to how the exams would feel as labor progressed. My cervix was still dilated to about 2 centimeters. Actually, the nurse said it was more like “one and a wiggle,” but still nice and soft and thin. By 7:00, I had had this exam, an IV port started, the Pitocin and fluids hooked up to the IV, and three external monitors strapped to my belly (one for contractions, one for Baby A, and one for Baby B). I was allowed to be unhooked from the monitors from time to time to use the bathroom, walk around the room, or try to find a comfortable position. The nurse showed Brett how to unhook me and how to drape the cords around me.

I had requested the ability to move around, but I was comfortable in bed most of the time. I spent the morning relaxing against the not-too-intense contractions the Pitocin was causing and watching the pitiful daytime television I had gotten used to when I was on modified rest before the babies came. When my doctor came in, I was still dilated about 2 cm. Well, that was disappointing, but no use getting upset about it. He broke Baby A’s bag of waters during The Price is Right (probably around 11:45). It didn’t hurt, thankfully, but I was grossed out by the feeling of that hot amniotic fluid gushing out. He was optimistic that I would begin to dilate more after the sac was broken. He placed an internal monitor on Baby A. I hadn’t wanted to have internal monitoring, but I relished not having so many belts around my waist.

The contractions began to intensify. I still didn’t feel like getting out of bed, but I was hungry, so I had some Popsicles throughout the afternoon, beginning during the noon news. At some point in the early afternoon, I realized I was going to have to get up to use the restroom. I was feeling kind of woozy from hunger and worry, so I asked Brett and the nurse to help me get up. This is when the gross-out really began. The huge rush of hot amniotic fluid fooled me. I said, “Ew, oh no, I don’t think I have to go to the bathroom after all,” thinking it was too late. But the nurse knew better, and she got me into the restroom and got the floor cleaned up. Through all of this, Brett never acted worried or disgusted. I was so glad of that because I think if he had been that way, I would have lost it.

We spent the afternoon learning how to watch the monitor for contractions and by what should have been dinner time, Brett was able to warn me before one would begin. Our friend Jeanne-Marie had seen Brett’s Facebook post about where we were and came to visit us on her break. She is a nurse in the mother-baby floor of the hospital where we had the babies. She was surprised to see the photo because she thought we were going to the other hospital where my doctor delivers (so did I until about 2 weeks before the birth). Jeanne-Marie sent Brett to get something to eat so he’d have his strength up, and she hung around with me until he got back. We were very thankful because he didn’t want to leave me alone and would have been fasting with me if she hadn’t come.

In the late afternoon, my nurse examined me again. I had dilated to 4 centimeters. I was happy to hear that. I figured things were going to start happening, and fast. Brett and I played cribbage to pass the time, as the contractions started to get stronger and stronger. I would have to lay down my hand in order to relax through each contraction. This is when it was nice that Brett was watching the monitor and warning me of impending contractions. We had some trouble with the baby monitors, namely, Baby B kept moving so that the monitor couldn’t detect her. We knew she was a she… even though we hadn’t told many people.

In the early evening, I had another exam. Each exam was more painful than the one before. The nurse had tiny hands, which seems like it would be more comfortable, but actually meant she had to use more pressure to get her short fingers to my cervix. I was still dilated to about 4 centimeters. That was disappointing but okay. The contractions were getting more intense, so I figured I would dilate more soon. She examined me again before shift change, and I hadn’t dilated any more! I was so disappointed, I was crying, and I was starving! The nurse was so compassionate and snuck me the best crackers I have ever eaten in my life. I wasn’t supposed to be allowed to eat, and I normally wouldn’t touch unsalted Saltines, but the crackers were a lifesaver for me.

I hadn’t expected to have to meet the night nurse, but shift change was at 7:00 p.m., and I was still in labor. She examined me early on in her shift (ouch!) and I was still at about 4 centimeters. I tried not to cry, but I was starting to think that the induction would fail. My doctor visited before he left the hospital for the evening, confident that he would be returning soon. I cried again after my next painful exam, not having dilated anymore. The nurse called Dr. P. and he suggested I get an epidural.

I resisted. I didn’t want an epidural. We learned in Bradley Method childbirth classes that an epidural can stall labor, and can make babies dopey and less able to breastfeed early on. I also felt like I had something to prove, and that since women had been giving birth without pain medication for centuries, I should be able to do it too. The nurse tried to help me cope with the intensifying pain by having me bounce on an exercise ball. I didn’t like that, I felt too wobbly, like I might fall. She had me rock in a rocking chair, and that was a little better, but I was getting to the point that I just didn’t feel like I could do anything. I was tired, hungry, and a little angry.

I moved back to bed and started talking to Brett about the epidural. He reminded me why we didn’t want one. He was adamant, but every contraction felt like someone was pulling my innards out. I felt pressure, burning, and nausea. I couldn’t talk. I didn’t want anyone to touch me. All I could do was shake my hands. Even now as I write about it, I can feel a reminder of the pain.

When the nurse examined me around 10:00 p.m. and I still hadn’t dilated any more, I was done. I changed my mind about wanting a baby. I wanted to turn back time to the days before we decided to begin fertility medication and trying to conceive. I no longer believed that I was able to give birth. I felt that Brett was trying to control me. In reality, he was calm and supportive. He kept on reminding me that the pain had a purpose, and that it would not last much longer. He thought I was at transition for a very long time because of my attitude. I couldn’t stop crying and each contraction seemed to remove my mental faculties until it was over. I finally convinced Brett that I should have the epidural that Dr. P. was strongly suggesting over the phone.

We had to wait a little while for the anesthesiologist, and when she came, she sort of rubbed me the wrong way. She had a bit of a brusque personality. She didn’t seem to think that I should have any reason to avoid an epidural. I convinced her to give me the minimum dosage and even decrease that when it came time to push, although she didn’t seem to think it was a good idea. I wanted to feel the birth, even if it wasn’t going to be painful. Sometime between 11:00 and midnight, she placed the epidural. The medication began to work quickly, and soon I decided to take a nap.

What happened after my nap? Stay tuned and find out!


Wheat Belly

By William Davis, MD

A book review in 140 characters or less… and then some.

Is wheat a drug? Davis says yes- a drug that makes you fat and foggy. This book is food for thought, and quite revolutionary.

That’s my review in 140 characters or less. Here’s more of my take:

I checked out Wheat Belly because I read a suggestion somewhere that giving up wheat and unfermented dairy might help me get rid of the dyshidrotic eczema I have on my hands and feet. This condition ranges from annoying to painful, with tiny itchy blisters on my fingers, toes, palms and soles. Every so often I have a flare-up, and it drives me nuts. I read Wheat Belly just because I wanted to know what I could eat if I didn’t eat wheat. I can’t imagine giving up something so central and traditional to our culture! However, I do believe that Dr. Davis has a point. He backs it up with a lot of studies. I still am not giving up wheat completely, but I have cut back drastically. I haven’t lost any weight yet, but I feel like I’m eating healthier. I haven’t had any flare-ups yet this month. Who knows what it will be next…


I decided to read Quitter:Closing the Gap between your Day Job and your Dream Job on the recommendation of other bloggers – the kind whose blogs are better than mine (I can’t remember who). I wasn’t disappointed in the read. I got to know Jon Acuff, the author, a little better. He blogs at Stuff Christians Like. His writing is smart and funny. I enjoyed the book very much, but I don’t see how to transfer the things he talked about to my life.

He talked about how he wanted to be a writer. Now he has three books published and a very successful blog. About me, though, here’s a secret: I write (and like) my blog, but I can’t imagine trying to make a living at writing. Actually, my dream job is to be a stay at home mom, maybe with a part-time job in a library. Too many things that are beyond my control would have to come together – basically, Brett would have to get a super-paying job with family insurance, and we would have to have kids. I know we can try, but there’s no guarantee that children are a gift that God will grant us.

If you want to become a writer, Quitter has some great advice to you. If you want to do any job at which you earn money, Quitter will probably help. If your idea of a dream job is a thankless job that literally does not pay, although it immensely affects the future, I don’t think that Jon Acuff’s advice in Quitter will be very useful for you.

The Little House Books

I don’t know what started Brett and me watching Little House on the Prairie, the 1970s-80s TV show about a pioneer family living just outside a little town in Minnesota. Whatever it was, we have several episodes saved on our DVR and I enjoy watching it very much. It seems like today’s “family” shows all to often are filled with innuendo and other situations and subject matter that I don’t see to be family friendly. Little House  was definitely a family friendly show.

It was loosely based upon Laura Ingalls Wilder’s acclaimed nine-book “Little House” Series for kids:

Little House in the Big Woods
Little House on the Prairie
Farmer Boy
On the Banks of Plum Creek
By the Shores of Silver Lake
The Long Winter
Little Town on the Prairie
These Happy Golden Years
The First Four Years

The books tell the (slightly fictionalized) story of Laura’s life growing up as a pioneer girl and then briefly as a pioneer wife in the 1870’s and 1880s. Farmer Boy is about Laura’s husband, Almanzo Wilder, when he was  a little boy of about nine years old in upstate New York. There are school days, a coming-of-age element, lots of family life and family relationships, weather, and my favorite part – descriptions of food and how it was made.

Pioneer life was rough, and Wilder was able to convey that without making the stories scary. Though she touched on things that were quite scary for her and her family at the time, the action is portrayed gently.

As a child, my favorite of the books was Little House in the Big Woods, perhaps because it was the first chapter book I ever read, and I had my own copy, an inexpensive paperback that I eventually wore the covers off. As an adult, I really enjoyed Farmer Boy because of Almanzo’s focus and initiative. He wants to become a farmer like his father, and he wants to learn to take care of animals, but at first, he is not allowed to because he’s so young and small. It feels so rewarding when he’s able to get his first colt and learn to care for it. I also liked Little Town on the Prairie for the budding romance between Laura and Almanzo and Laura’s philosophical turn related to Independence Day.

Watching the TV show, it is evident how loosely based on the book series it is. On TV, the Ingalls family lives in one place for much longer than they ever did in the books or in real life. Nellie Oleson was mean, but she couldn’t hold a candle to the television character. In the books, as in life, Mary never married, nor did she become a teacher. It seems that Mary may not have been quite as angry and shut away as she was on television, either. In the books and apparently in real life, Laura didn’t have a great desire to become a teacher. She became a teacher because she wanted to help pay for Mary’s college tuition at the college for the blind. Some ocurrences were changed or synthesized. For example, Laura and Manly (her nickname for Almanzo) both had experiences with mean teachers. In Laura’s case, the teacher in the book was Miss Eliza Jane Wilder, Manly’s sister, who was influenced by Nellie Oleson because they were both from New York. In Manly’s case, it was a male teacher who boarded with his family. In the television show, it was Laura’s mean teacher, a man, who was influenced by Nellie because he boarded with the Oleson family. Both the books and the TV program are enjoyable, but now when I watch the show, I wish I didn’t know what I know about the events of the book and about history, since the show is loaded with anachronisms.

I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy these classic books as an adult, but I was very pleasantly surprised. Any childhood fan will appreciate them again (and maybe more) later.

The Complete Tightwad Gazette

Did you know…

  • you can make pizza dough in the food processor?
  • you can make cookies out of bread crumbs?
  • banks are out to make a buck, but credit unions are member-owned not for profits?
  • you can make “magic” quiche without biscuit mix?
  • you can open an envelope in the microwave… and then use it again (of course, not the postage!)?
  • you can use a plastic grocery bag as a salad spinner?

You can find these and tons more frugal tips in Amy Dacyzyn’s book, The Complete Tightwad Gazette.  Back in the ’90s, Mrs. Dacyzyn was a stay-at-home mom to six, living in Leeds, Maine. Although she’s not originally from Maine, sometimes even transplants know a thing or two about frugality. Mrs. Dacyzyn began publishing a quarterly newsletter for tightwads about all things frugal in the early part of the decade, out of her home. It was only read locally at first, but then it took off! She appeared on numerous television programs and people from all over the country were writing in to give tips or ask for advice. This book is over 900 pages of compiled newsletters, published after the newsletter ceased to be.

The tips and information range from useful, to weird, to obsolete (1990s interest rates? no thank you!). However, if you are frugal or aspire to be, I guarantee you can find a tip that will work for you in The Complete Tightwad Gazette.

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey:  The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle tells the story of Highclere Castle, the setting of the BBC series Downton Abbey, during the time-period that the show takes place. It was written by Fiona, the (current) Countess of Carnarvon, and she makes use of many primary documents to tell the story of her home and its family.

Almina Wombwell became the Countess of Carnarvon despite her questionable parentage. She was the illegitimate daughter of Alfred de Rothschild and a French mother, who at the time was married to an Englishman. Her different circumstances in a way parallel the American origin of Lady Cora, the Countess of Grantham in the television series Downton Abbey. The book, however titled, does not deal with the show at all, but tells the real story of Highclere Castle. I assume that the publisher chose this title in order to draw in readers who may pass by the book if they didn’t know its connection to their favorite television series.

I found the writing to be somewhat dry and I was often disappointed when the author mentioned a photograph and I couldn’t find it in the book. I do not know if this is a flaw of the paperback, or if it is an oversight. It took me a long time to read this book because, as I mentioned, despite the juicy details, the writing was dry. However, on into the 1920’s period of the book, I got much more interested as I was reminded that Lady Almina’s husband, Lord Carnarvon, sponsored and accompanied the famous Egyptologist Howard Carter. The discovery of the tomb of King Tutankhamun is treated a great deal, and I’ve been a sucker for Egyptology ever since I read Aliki’s Mummies Made in Egypt back in the first grade. I even wrote a paper about Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon in sixth grade, which was lost in my locker the day I was to turn it in, causing me to be exceedingly late for class and have a crying fit in the hallway (so becoming for an eleven-year-old who thinks she’s supposed to be grown up)… but that’s another story.

All in all, Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey is interesting, but I found it hard to get through.