Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Adventures With a Newborn!


Our newest is definitely a sweet baby (aren't they all?). She just wants to SLEEP, EAT, and be HELD - preferably all at the same time, and preferably with mama!

Translation - I'm not getting a whole bunch done around here, but that's just the nature of the postpartum period.



Co-sleeping, as always, is a life-saver and sanity-saver. I couldn't manage without that! Thankfully the little one does also deign to take an occasional nap in her swing, so I do get to (sometimes) make dinner and do dishes.

The older children are passionately fond of their newest sibling. The 8yo is beginning to be old enough to be helpful with her - he is learning how to pick her up safely, how to hold her, etc. The 3yo, however, is a constant menace! He adores "bay-bate," but his idea of being affectionate (namely, squeezing her and covering her with kisses) is usually a bit on the rough side. We are spending a lot of time coaching him on the fine art of being gentle with babies!


First bath!

My husband refers to baby as "our little princess," to which I always reply, "No! We are NOT having a "princess" in this house!" ("Princess" as in "spoiled"!)

He gets his revenge by addressing baby as, "Your Majesty." This inevitably leads me to counter-quote from our favorite movie ("Court Jester") -

"If your majesty doth ask it, I will tell about the basket 
With a willo willo wailey and a nonny nonny..." (see entire script)



(Specific quote is at 2:20)


Needless to say, we've had a lot of Danny Kaye going on around here, as we inevitably move to the Vessel with the Pestle and the Chalice from the Palace.





Life is never boring around here. 





I'm gradually making the mental transition from three to four children. So far it's been fairly smooth. For me, the big, life-shattering transition was 0 to 1. None of the others has been hard at all in comparison. In fact, I think each transition has gotten slightly easier.

Which family-size transition was the hardest for you?


Sorry for the dorky grin. Focus on the baby! 

Oddly enough, I find that I am holding this baby more, perhaps, than any of the others was held. Each successive baby has been held more than the last - as I slowly, slowly, slowly learn to savor my babies rather than rushing off to catch up on housework. This is a hard lesson! But it's so lovely to sit outside on an afternoon and hold the baby for an hour or so, just enjoying her. (This, of course, is assuming that the other children are outside with their energy rather than inside creating unspeakable messes for me to clean up!) Babies are, indeed, lovely things.

I find that I have also made the adjustment more easily than I expected to having a GIRL in the house. It's been a bit of a shock, but I think I'm getting over it. I figure that I have quite a lot of learning to do in the next few twenty-or-so years!

And most of the time, I even remember that she is a girl - always good!

Yesterday:
Me, to baby: Ah, is the wee itty bitty such a big boy?
The 8yo: Uh, Mommy, she's a GIRL.
 Me: Oh, yes. Ahem. 

I'll get it eventually.



Our final postpartum visit with our sweet midwife was this week, when we bade farewell until... who knows? It is always a mystery. Will the Lord bless us with another baby? It could be in a few years... or a few months... or not at all. Any way the story runs, it will be a whole new adventure for our family - and only the Lord knows the next chapter.

As for me... I'm pretty much ready for another. They're just too cute.

With our beloved midwife:






Have a wonderful weekend, dear friends! Enjoy the Christmas season!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

December Crafts, Chaos, and Other Doings!


Hello, everyone!

Our December has been a fun one so far! We've been on break ever since baby put in an appearance, and we've been officially on "Christmas break" for two weeks. My goal for Christmas break has been to keep things calm and to try to have one activity or outing per day for the children (usually activities, as opposed to outings - we're mostly staying at home). It's been great!

Surprisingly, I have had plenty of ideas for easy Christmas crafts - without having to do internet searches or run to the store for supplies. We've just been keeping everything super-simple, and it's been a fun two weeks.

December 1st - Put up our Advent calendar, and made an Advent garland. Those two activities, plus breakfast and chores, took till noon. Welcome to a house that has a new baby!



December 2nd - Made some pre-made Thanksgiving crafts that a sweet friend gave us. I love pre-made crafts!



December 3rd - Scrapped our planned craft and spent the morning outside.

December 4th - Decorated our Christmas tree!



December 5th - Paper snowflakes. And treasure maps. They go together, right?

December 6th - My husband and the boys participated in a local Christmas parade. They had a blast!



December 7th - Church.

December 8th - Painted our pumpkins - you know, the ones we bought in October. Nothing like procrastination. We also made fake snow (recipe = baking soda + hair conditioner). I get double credit for mommy points today!




December 9th - Paper airplanes, at the request of the 8yo. Very Christmasy.

December 10th - Dug up our garden, also at the request of the 8yo. We're only two months past planting season!

The boys also had fun at their Keepers club - crafts and getting dressed up as a snowman!




December 11th - Made pinecone crafts that we've had ready for a couple of years. Again, nothing like procrastination. Pinecone + puffballs + glue + 10 minutes = done!



We also (finally) got out our Advent wreath - only two weeks late! I didn't have taper candles on hand, so we used what we had.



December 12th - More outside time in the morning, and then a local "Walk Through Bethlehem" outing in the evening.




I anticipated a calm and peaceful rest-of-the-season, but yesterday I realized, quite suddenly, that in the next two weeks I need to...

  • Shop and wrap children's gifts for two parts of the family who send money rather than gifts
  • Host family for Christmas
  • Cook Christmas dinner (plus hosting dinners for visiting family for Christmas week, plus Christmas Eve dinner, plus...)

And I have prepared for absolutely none of it. 

Crumbs. 

Apparently, it's time to get to work. But more importantly, time to see if I can manage to maintain our sense of calm and balance through the next two weeks - even with all that needs to be done. Is it possible?

Stay tuned. 

Have a wonderful weekend, dear readers!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

No More HG: The Raw Foods Approach


Recently, an HG mama and fellow blogger contacted me to let me know about her successful experiment using a raw foods diet to prevent hyperemesis. Check out her blog, Raw Foods Pregnancy, to read about her pregnancy journey (as well as her sweet birth story!).

This approach is very different than the approach I took with the very-low-carb diet, and I love that! There are many different ways to approach the treatment of disease states. If you don't like one, try another! But don't give up - the answers are out there!

Thanks to Cathy Rose for posting her journey for us to read! You can read about Cathy's other adventures at her personal blog, Holy Temple Under Renovation.


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Interview: The VLC Diet to Avoid Hyperemesis


Hi, everyone! I am so excited to share this! Rachel of HyperG Pregnancy has just posted her podcast interview with Dr. Michael Fox, discussing the use of the VLC (very low carb) diet to prevent hyperemesis gravidarum. This is something you don't want to miss!

The Real Cause of Hyperemesis?

Check it out!

Have a wonderful weekend, dear friends!


Monday, December 1, 2014

Avoiding Hyperemesis Gravidarum With a Very Low Carb Diet


Hello, dear readers!

At long last, here is my write-up about what I've learned about hyperemesis gravidarum prevention. I beg your forgiveness for any errors or omissions, and I ask you to remember that I am not a medical professional - just a passionately interested amateur. Please note my disclaimer at the bottom, and do your own research on any method presented that you wish to try.

I have chosen to write this post interview-style for clarity of subject matter and ease of topic location. Please note, I am not *really* being interviewed here (or rather, I am being self-interviewed!). It is only a chosen method of narration.

Please feel free to ask any questions or join - nicely! - in the conversation. I cannot have any arguments or unkind words here, so please do note that any such comments will be quietly deleted.

Enjoy, dear friends!


***

Basic term definitions:

  • NVP = Nausea and Vomiting of Pregnancy, the technical term for "morning sickness," and used throughout this article preferentially due to clearer meaning
  • HG = Hyperemesis Gravidarum, the most extreme form of NVP

***


Let's start at the beginning. What is hyperemesis gravidarum (HG)?

Nausea and Vomiting of Pregnancy (NVP) runs a complete spectrum. At one end is the woman who traverses the journey of pregnancy without a bit of nausea; at the other end is the woman whose NVP brings her to near-death (or occasionally, death). Hyperemesis gravidarum is the extreme form of NVP. Though there is no exact dividing line between "bad NVP" and hyperemesis (or rather, dividing lines vary by the person defining them), hyperemesis can be roughly defined as extreme nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. The definition I list on this site is:
"Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is a severe form of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. It is generally described as unrelenting, excessive pregnancy-related nausea and/or vomiting that prevents adequate intake of food and fluids. If severe and/or inadequately treated, it is typically associated with: (1) loss of greater than 5% of pre-pregnancy body weight (usually over 10%), (2) dehydration and production of ketones, (3) nutritional deficiencies, (4) metabolic imbalances, (5) difficulty with daily activities."
Again, there are many different definitions of HG. Various definitions that I've heard include: "You have HG when you've... (1) lost 10% of your pre-conception weight, (2) been hospitalized for dehydration, (3) been hospitalized twice, (4) been hospitalized three times (seriously!), (5) received IV rehydration, (6) required medication for NVP management, (7) are unable to continue with daily activities" - and the list continues. Definition really seems to vary by caregiver.

After experiencing the condition myself and doing years of reading on the subject, I tend to define hyperemesis with a combination of physical and emotional markers. For example, on the physical side:
  1. I can’t keep anything down.
  2. I am no longer using the bathroom (or not very often).
  3. I am losing weight.
  4. I am vomiting multiple times per day.
  5. I am having trouble handling ordinary everyday tasks, such as caring for myself and my children.
And on the emotional side. Some of these are hard to write, or read, but they're very much a part of HG reality:
  1. I am feeling frightened, panicky or desperate. 
  2. My body is out of control and I can't stop it.
  3. Nobody understands what's happening to me and I feel very alone and isolated. 
  4. I am hoping or praying for death or miscarriage.
  5. I have considered, envisioned, planned, or gone through with an abortion.
  6. I have considered, envisioned, or attempted suicide. 

I want to learn more about HG. Where do I go from here?

Start with the link list to the left of my blog! Make sure to visit the HER Foundation website. Buy and read the definitive guide to HG, Beyond Morning Sickness: Battling Hyperemesis Gravidarum by Ashli McCall. (Pregnant mamas, please don't read this book while you're expecting. It's very dark.) Ashli is a severe-HG survivor and knows far more than I about this condition!


How did you learn about hyperemesis?

Like most of us, I had never heard of HG prior to pregnancy. I have no history of extreme NVP in my family. My mom, for example, told me that during her pregnancy she experienced a few days of light nausea that was completely manageable by nibbling a few dry crackers. I expected the same for myself.

When we discovered that we were expecting our first (live-born) son, my nausea stayed "cute" for a few days. Cute as in, "I'm pregnant! I'm nauseated! This is so exciting!" The problem was that it didn't stop there. It simply got worse, and worse, and worse, and worse - until I was lying on the bathroom floor crying and hoping that I would die. It was hideous. And it stayed that way. I ended up being on a liquid diet (hourly sips of Ensure and Slimfast) for about fifteen to twenty weeks, which kept me out of the hospital. After that I was still nauseated and weak for the rest of the pregnancy, but more stable. I then dealt with residual postpartum nausea for somewhere between one and a half and two years.

With subsequent pregnancies, the illness was controlled by drugs and thus never reached the same level of misery. However, I noticed that with those pregnancies the nausea hit harder and much, much faster (before I could get a positive test), leading me to think that the drug-free versions of those pregnancies would have been much worse than my first (in which I had a few non-nauseated days and then a few days of lighter nausea).



What type of hyperemesis (HG) do you get during your pregnancies?

I have a hard time qualifying the type of HG that I get.

On the one hand, HG was the most horrific event of my life. It entailed the most physical suffering I have ever experienced. Afterward, it took me two years to recover physically, and six years to recover my faith in God. I still get horrible flashbacks to that time (I'm getting them as I write this article). The only way that I can describe my experience was that it felt like sliding into the pit of Hell.

BUT

I am also aware that compared to many of you ladies out there, my HG experience was a blissful walk in the park - complete with rainbows, flowers, balloons, and dancing unicorns.

The type of HG that I get has been manageable with home medication. In other words, with high doses of Zofran (24 mg/day) and Unisom (don't ask), I have been able to stay out of the hospital and out of the world of extreme HG.

Thus, I know that I am only partially qualified to talk about this condition, and I want my readers to be aware of this fact. I am not on the same level as you extreme-HG ladies, and my writing will reflect that ignorance. I know more about NVP than 98-odd percent of the world, but those last few percentage points represented by some of you really blow me out of the water.



Okay, let's move on and talk about the VLC diet. What is it, and how did you run across it?

Several years ago, I ran across an internet interview of a physician who uses a VLC (very low carb) diet to treat infertility in clients with PCOS/PCOD (polycystic ovarian syndrome/disorder). In the article, it was mentioned that those same clients also experienced lower NVP levels than typical women.

Being ever-aware of the NVP issue, I immediately located the doctor and contacted him to ask if this same diet was ever used to treat or prevent hyperemesis. He replied in the affirmative, and was so kind as to provide the diet guideline sheets for my use.

Read the whole story here.



How do you know that this diet is safe - for you and for baby? 

The main question seems to revolve around the issue of ketosis, a state induced by a very-low-carb diet. To explain in brief - when we humans have carbohydrates in our diets, we are "carb burners." We burn carbs for fuel. When we don't have carbs available, our bodies make the switch into fat-burning for fuel, inducing a state called ketosis. This is a common human condition - sometimes culturally (some entire cultures live in perpetual ketosis), sometimes situationally (during fasting, for example), and sometimes due to purposeful cultivation - ketosis is used intentionally by athletes in training, and also for treatment of seizure disorders.

Please note that ketosis is very different from diabetic ketoacidosis, which is indeed a dangerous condition. Often there is no differentiation made between the two, and hence the panic.
"Part of the problem lies in the word ketosis itself, which closely resembles ketocacidosis, a medical term that's used to describe a life-threatening condition in type 1 diabetics. Many doctors scoff at the idea of allowing one of their patients to get into a state of ketosis because they immediately think of all the negative side effects associated with ketoacidosis. This confusion may have allowed many patients to remain in a diseased state when they could have seen tremendous improvements in their health with the use of a ketogenic diet." (Jimmy Moore, Keto-Clarity, p. 38)

An additional interesting point is that ketosis is often found in NVP/HG clients as a side-effect of NVP/HG itself. So, rather oddly, if I avoid the VLC diet to stay out of ketosis, I will end up with HG... which may very well put me into ketosis anyway. I'd rather have ketosis and no HG than both at once!

In my never-to-be humble opinion, there is no doubt that a low-carbohydrate diet and ketosis are safe and even advantageous for adult humans. Not only have I had spectacular personal results health-wise from this diet (both during pregnancy and before), but there are entire cultures who have lived for hundreds of years on low-carb or even very-low-carb diets. I have no qualms about this.

The real concern is whether a VLC diet is safe for a developing baby. Again, as there are many cultures who live continually in ketosis (including during pregnancy), I am satisfied with the safety of ketosis for babies in utero.

Most care providers will be more nervous about it.

This is where it's up to you to do your homework and make your own decisions. If you're not comfortable with the safety issue, don't do it.

I should note, however, that for me (as with many of you) this is not a "Hey! I'm in ketosis for the fun of it!" thing. It's an either/or situation. Either I can be in ketosis (and HG-free and drug-free), or I can be in active hyperemesis and therefore be pumping large amounts of synthetic drugs into my body and my baby. I have to pick one or the other.

Most obstetricians, due to their training in western medicine, will be horrified at the thought of ketosis but will be absolutely fine with you pumping massive amounts of drugs into your body and your baby. That's just their bias received in training. I'd prefer it the other way around!

I'm sure there are other issues to consider health-wise, and other arguments to ponder. Do your research and make a decision with which you are comfortable. For more information, join us over at the Facebook group Pregnant Ketosis. Also check out the excellent book Keto-Clarity (and consult the appendices of that book for a list of further resources, including books and websites).


You mentioned positive health effects from doing the VLC diet. Can you elaborate? 

Besides avoiding hyperemesis, pre-conception health benefits that I noticed included:

- Healing my seasonal allergies (I have heard that this can be done by going grain-free or even wheat-free, so the low-carb part may not be necessary for this.)
- Healing my adult acne
- More energy and less fatigue
- Healing my postpartum post-HG nausea


This diet looks really hard. How could I ever do something like this? 

I am notoriously bad at sticking to diets. Many years ago, when my husband asked me to do a low-carb diet with him (a diet which was, incidentally, much easier than this one!), I lasted somewhere between 24-48 hours. It just wasn't worth it to me.

With this diet, however, I had a huge motivating factor on my side - fear. I fear HG more than anything in the world, and this was my chance to avoid it. That is the only thing that made staying on this diet faithfully even a remote possibility - and it worked. Fear is a powerful motivator.



What difficulties or challenges did you experience as you adopted this diet? 

I encountered many challenges with this diet. Here are a couple:

(1) Expense - Any good cook or homemaker knows that high-carb foods (grains, legumes, seasonal fruit, and starchy vegetables) are the saving grace of a grocery budget. Removing these and substituting low-carb, high-fat, high-protein foods (eggs, non-starchy vegetables, meat, cheese) causes significantly higher grocery costs.

(2) Learning to "double-cook" - The method I developed for family cooking was to make a low-carb main dish and vegetable, and then add a high-carb side dish (corn, peas, potatoes, rice, cornbread, etc.) to keep the family happy. This works well, but it adds to the workload - as well as to the planning component of meal times. Additionally...

(3) Keeping kids happy! - There are lots of low-carb meals out there, but many (most) of them are not particularly kid-friendly. This has been a definite (ongoing) challenge.

(3) Learning to brown-bag - On this diet, it is a constant assumption that I will need to bring my own food wherever I go. Church, potlucks, family reunions, visits with family, dinners with friends, any social gathering - I have to bring my own food. This is time-consuming, somewhat embarrassing, and a bit isolating - but one does get used to it. After all, I'm working for the greater good here - it's not just for the fun of it.

(4) Family/culture issues - One of the hardest parts about adopting any particular diet is the fact that it isolates one from one's family and family history history (goodbye to Grandma's apple pie) and one's culture (farewell to Independence Day fried chicken and potato salad). About 95% (or more) of your recipes will have to be put aside for this dietary lifestyle. This is a purely emotional and psychological phenomenon, but it is not to be underestimated. It's depressing! Again, it's important to remember that I'm working for an important goal.

(5) Reactions from others - Do not expect your extended family to understand or sympathize with what you are doing. Some will, and some will not. You may even receive some hostile reactions (common to anyone trying a new diet). It's just part of life. Depending on your family's reaction, you will have to develop your own emotional coping strategies. Just be prepared for this. Additionally, many people  will be sympathetic but will not understand. For example: "Oh, you can't eat carbs? So... you have to use whole wheat bread instead of white when you make a sandwich?" Or "You can't eat carbs - but you can surely eat honey, RIGHT?" Expect some people to be confused, uncomprehending, or even horrified.


Can I ever "cheat" on this diet?

It's best not to cheat. And indeed, I went (nearly) an entire year absolutely carb-free. But technically, you are allowed one cheat meal per week. The method that I eventually adopted was to allow one or two cheat meals per month, always during my period (when I was at the beginning of my cycle, knew that I wasn't pregnant, and had an entire month to do damage control).



How did your first run-through with this experiment go?

I began this experiment with our last child. When we got a positive test, I had been doing the VLC diet for 40 days. Read the full story here and my discussion of the story here. Unfortunately, it was a very mysterious outcome. The quick summary: I went into a horrible and fast HG slide... but them quickly recovered and felt fine. (Weird.) However, believing that I was going to miscarry, I began to cheat (badly) on the diet, and the NVP came galloping back. I ended up having to take my usual high doses of medication, but going right back on the diet along with the medication helped me to manage. It's really a mystery, but suffice it to say that the diet worked then too - I just messed it up through my own stupidity.

This is one reason why I recommend doing the diet far-far-far in advance of conception, especially for you severe-HG mamas. With my most recent pregnancy, I had been on the diet for almost two years (instead of 40 days), and I did not experience that same horrifying HG slide. It could be coincidental, but my conclusion is that longer is better.



Let's talk about your most recent pregnancy. How did using the VLC diet work this time around?

I will start out (and continue, of course!) by being honest - at first, I was very disappointed with my results. I had worked so long and so hard at this diet (almost two years before conception!) that my hope was for an NVP-free pregnancy - a pregnancy in which I felt fine (or had perhaps only minimal occasional twinges of nausea) and was able to keep up with all daily activities even during the first trimester.

That didn't happen. To the contrary, I spent the first trimester (and the second, to a lesser extent) feeling good and crummy. I spent a lot of it lying down, and my daily routine was completely disrupted. It wasn't the dream-pregnancy I'd envisioned at all. And I stayed nauseated until the day of birth.

But I was soon able to face the facts. I did not throw up. I did not need to take Zofran. I was functional, and clearly non-hyperemetic. The fact that I felt like dirt for a few months was an easy trade-off for those blessings. And had we had the money to add in a few extras like acupuncture, it might have been even easier. I also believe that I could have had better results had I paid more attention to pre-conception supplements, which I neglected due to our financial situation.



How about some specifics? What daily activities were you able to continue?

I was able to continue an almost-full load of activities through the early part of week 5. This is a huge improvement, as I am usually on medication and miserable by the end of week 3. At 5+1 I attended a park day with all of the children, and at 5+3 I was able to handle playing for a two-hour long evening church service (though not feeling so hot for that one!).

Daily activities that I was able to keep up during the first trimester:
  • Self-care (showering, dressing)
  • Feeding the children cold foods (cheese, crackers, etc.)
  • One daily load of laundry
  • Dishes
  • Daily pick-up
  • Minimal housework 


And what activities did you have to discontinue temporarily? 
  • Devotions
  • Exercise and stretching
  • Evening walks 
  • Cooking 
  • Deep house-cleaning, dusting
  • Routines
  • Supervising chores
  • Errands, playdates, park days, church - anything outside of the house was just too much
  • Yard work
  • Reading aloud to the children

How did your pregnancy go in general?

During pregnancy, all of my pregnancy stats stayed absolutely on target per gestational age. For baby, this includes fundal height (FH), fetal heart tones (FHT), fetal positioning, etc. For me, this included pregnancy urinalysis, blood pressure (which stayed rock-solid low the entire time), blood tests, and weight. I stayed in ketosis the entire time, ranging from deep (at the beginning) to mild (at the end).

Nausea was "strong but manageable" from week 5, tapering down to "comfortable" at the end. Again, I never threw up. Unfortunately, it stayed till birth, as it always has.

Check out my pregnancy updates here:

Announcement
First Trimester
Weeks 12-13
Weeks 14-15
Week 20
Week 24
Week 28
Week 32
Week 36
Week 38



And how about some stats for baby - any health problems? How about labor, Apgars, birth weight, etc.? 

We do not do prenatal ultrasound scans unless indicated by other variables. Thus, I cannot give any ultrasound scan results.

Here are some basic labor/birth stats for baby:

Gestational age at birth: 39+3
Laboring times: Hard to say, but approximately 2:00 p.m. on 11/11/14 to 10:06 on 11/12/14
Total labor time: 20:06 total, 15 minutes hard labor
First stage complications: None
Second stage complications: None
Third stage complications: None

Apgar, 1 minute: 10
Apgar, 5 minute: 10

Baby's length: 21 inches
Baby's weight:  8#8 (Our other babies were 7#12, 7#15, and 9#9.)
Baby's head circumference:

Read our birth story here.


I think we need to take a break and talk about confounding variables. 

YES. Absolutely. Confounding variables are a huge factor that merits discussion here.

In any truly scientific experiment, it is permissible to vary only one variable at a time. Otherwise, accurate conclusions cannot be drawn from said experiment.

"Confounding variables (aka third variables) are variables that the researcher failed to control, or eliminate, damaging the internal validity of an experiment.
"A confounding variable, also known as a third variable or a mediator variable, can adversely affect the relation between the independent variable and dependent variable. This may cause the researcher to analyze the results incorrectly. The results may show a false correlation between the dependent and independent variables, leading to an incorrect rejectionof the null hypothesis." (source)

Let me illustrate this point. In my researches to find the cause and help for severe NVP, I have run across many ideas to try. The include using the following to prevent HG: pre-conception liver-cleansing, magnesium levels, fermented foods (H. pylori theory), and the VLC diet.

If I wanted to conduct a truly scientific experiment, I would have to utilize only one of those items per experiment (i.e. per pregnancy). In other words, with one pregnancy I would work only on my pre-conception magnesium levels. For the next pregnancy I would work only on using the fermented foods/H. pylori protocol. For the next pregnancy I would work only on using the VLC diet.

This is the only way that results can be considered conclusive.

However, I am neither so brave nor so foolish. I am not willing to leave any possible avenues untapped while waiting to see if HG is going to rear its ugly head.

Rather, like most women, I am completely willing to pile together every method of HG prevention to see if I can achieve my goal - that is, pregnancy without hyperemesis.

But this means that there are confounding variables - that it isn't possible to know without the shadow of a doubt which factor contributed to HG prevention - or if it was a combination of two or more factors together. While I am confident that the VLC diet worked to prevent HG, it must be admitted that I did plenty of other things to work on HG prevention.



In that case, can you elaborate a bit? What confounding variables did you have in this experiment? 

Ah, that will take a while! Let's look at the other things I did before and during this pregnancy.

(1) Magnesium supplementation - Read more about magnesium and NVP here. I started using magnesium at least half a year before conception. Primarily we use Natural Calm. I also used small amounts of topical Magnesium Oil and Epsom salts baths, but those were minor contributors.

(2) Fermented cod liver oil - Great product. Unfortunately we haven't continued it due to the cost, but it has a great reputation. I'm still supplementing with DHA/EPA (just not the fermented variety).

(3) H. pylori protocol - One of the most exciting events of last year for me was the news that a friend of mine (and repeat-HG mama) had figured out the cure to her hyperemesis - a fact that was confirmed by the fact that her pregnancy turned out to be twins (with still no more than moderate NVP!). I immediately added her ideas to my pre-conception diet, starting 6-8 months before our own baby was conceived. These steps included:
  • Adding raw fermented foods to my diet (raw sauerkraut, raw dill pickles, kefir, raw kombucha)
  • Using colloidal silver 
  • Doing a pre-conception turmeric/colloidal silver protocol: 1 tsp of colloidal silver plus one tab turmeric 3 times per day on an empty stomach for 9-14 days. (I plan to make this an annual routine.) 
I should note that the VLC-diet method and the H. pylori theory fit together rather well, theoretically, as H. pylori thrives in a high-carb environment and would thus be minimized by a VLC diet.

(4) Supplements in general - We have been fairly good about trying to take good supplements. However, this is not really a serious contender for HG prevention. I mention it only because it is "something I did." See my full list of supplements here.


And, as a side note, are there any methods out there that you didn't use?

I no longer use any herbs (including ginger) for pre- or post-conception HG prevention. I worked with herbs during an earlier pregnancy, and they simply did not help - rather, they made me sicker due to the horrible taste/smell. While some women do use herbs for HG management, my guess is that herbs are primarily helpful for women with mild to moderate NVP rather than active HG.

Additionally, I did not use any homeopathic remedies. I have heard of great success for some women using these methods, but I simply have never had any luck using them. I'll leave that for better women than I.



Let's say that I want to try the VLC diet for myself. What steps should I take?

That's a complicated question. Let's break it down into some basic steps.

(1) Leave me your email so that I can send you the diet sheets.

(2) Do your own research to determine if you are comfortable using this diet during pre-conception and/or pregnancy. If you're not, trash it. If you are, head to stage 2 on the diet sheets - the longer the better before conception, at least two cycles but preferably longer.

Again, dear readers, please realize that you assume all risks here. If you are not completely assured of the safety of this diet, do not do it. It's that simple.

(3) Realize that in both life and HG, there are no guarantees. I cannot say that this is guaranteed to work. Thus, make all of your usual preparations for an HG pregnancy. This means:
  • Ensure that you have a supportive care provider who is willing to be aggressive with HG treatment. 
  • Ensure that you have access to needed medications (i.e. Zofran, etc.). 
  • Do all that you can to ensure the best of pre-conception health: Healing nutritional deficiencies from past HG, addressing current health problems, healthy diet, supplements (like magnesium, fish oil, multi, etc.), sunlight, exercise, etc. 
(4) Add in all of the extras - magnesium, fermented foods, pre-conception acupuncture, etc. If you can think of it, add it to your protocol!



Do I have to do this pre-conception? Why can't I just start it when I get a positive pregnancy test? 

This diet is specifically for healing hormonal issues and retraining the body into a different type of metabolism. There are several problems with waiting till a positive test to get started:

(1) This is a very difficult diet to do. Waiting until "panic time" is not a wise idea, as it's difficult enough to learn during normal times!

(2) It takes your body time to heal, normalize, and get used to this diet. I honestly do not know if doing the diet after a positive test would even be effective in HG-prevention. It's always worth a try, and raising dietary protein levels while dropping sugar levels will always be beneficial for NVP sufferers - but it probably won't be enough to circumvent hyperemesis.

(3) Remember that your body is manufacturing pregnancy hormones long before you can get a positive pregnancy test. To do its job properly, the diet must already be well in place at conception, not one to two weeks later at test-time.

(4) Many HG women, myself included, get sick very fast and very early (for me, it's during week 3). This is before a positive test can be obtained. Trying to implement a very difficult diet while already nauseated is not a pleasant proposition - or often times, even a possible one.


Any special notes on how to use this diet?

A couple of notes:

- Do not mistake this diet for a run-of-the-mill low-carb diet. This is not a low-carb diet. This is a VERY-low-carb high-fat diet, and the two cannot be compared. Low-carb may improve NVP levels, but it will not cut it for preventing hyperemesis.

- Make sure that your diet is high fat as well as being very-low-carb. High fat is essential - if you attempt a low-fat low-carb diet, you will have problems with nausea even while not pregnant! The usual guidelines are to have 75-80% of your calories come from healthy fats and less than 5% from carbs.

- I also did my best to avoid industrial seed oils (soybean, cottonseed, etc.) and fake fats (margarine, shortening, etc.) and to focus on healthy fats like saturated animal fats, nuts, avocados, coconut oil, etc.



What if I'm not comfortable using this diet? Is there anything else I can try?

Yes! There are several other options! Check these out:

(1) Check out the fermented foods (H. pylori) method that a friend used to cure her repeat hyperemesis. Give it a try! (And, as I mentioned previously, adding fermented foods to your diet is an excellent thing to do alongside the VLC diet, but it can also be done by itself).

(2) One woman told me (and I've heard from others) that she discovered that sugar triggered her NVP. Cutting all sugars and high-glycemic foods, even if you don't go super-low-carb, is a great option for moderating NVP.

(3) One woman prevented HG-recurrence using the Paleo diet and supplements: Read about it here and here.

(4) Make sure your magnesium levels are good and high pre-conception! Ditto for vitamin D and DHA.

(5) Read this mama's experience and give her ideas a try!

(6) Check out HyperG Pregnancy for more ideas - especially try her free e-book (on the right sidebar) for a lot of excellent information.

(7) Check out Pink Stork Solutions (read her story here) for proven all-natural pre- and post-conception remedies for severe NVP and hyperemesis.



So, how did your use of the VLC diet proceed throughout the pregnancy?

As the nausea lessened over the course of the second trimester, I loosened up a bit more into traditional "low carb" foods that aren't allowed on the VLC diet - like whole milk yogurt, berries, and cottage cheese. From about 30 weeks and onward, I utilized more and more off-plan foods, such as beans and fruit. (It was a matter of realizing that these foods did have a bad effect on my energy and nausea levels, but enjoying them anyway since they were no longer dangerous.)

In the immediate postpartum, I plan to give myself a break between birth and New Year's, or thereabouts - which will be approximately six weeks. May I note that I am immensely grateful that this baby was born just before Thanksgiving and Christmas?? Yum! (Though I know that eating grains will bring back my seasonal allergies - not so fun.) I hope to transition back to the VLC at that point.

There's still so much research to do. While this pregnancy has been amazing (no Zofran!), there is still so much room for improvement. I also need to get back into things that have been neglected over the second half of pregnancy. I want to get back into a good regiment of supplements, and hopefully this time we'll be able to afford them! I also need to restart all of my lacto-fermentation cultures and get back into eating raw fermented foods. I'd also like to start pre-conception acupuncture, continuing after conception.

There is so much room for improvement, and I want to be ever-vigilant in searching for ways to make pregnancy better.



Any final notes?

Yes! HG mamas, I know that many of you out there are doing some awesome research and experimentation in finding what helps YOU to avoid repeat hyperemesis gravidarum. I would LOVE-LOVE-LOVE to hear from you! Please send me your stories, and the information you find, and I will gladly link to it. The answers are out there, and most likely it will be the amateurs - the HG mothers passionate about finding answers - who discover them. I would love to hear from you.

Please also consider joining us in the Facebook group Preventing Hyperemesis Gravidarum. This is an awesome group filled with super-knowledgeable women who are all doing their own research and discussing it. Come on over and join us!


Anything else?

Yes. I'd like to address one common misconception that I've seen. One is, "How can you tell a woman in active hyperemesis to adopt an incredibly difficult diet? Don't you know that hyperemetic women can't eat?"

Exactly.

This diet is emphatically NOT about taking a critically ill woman and telling her to start eating handfuls of walnuts. That is not possible. By the time a woman is in active HG, she is usually unable to eat anything - or at best, only easy-to-eat things that are usually some form of simple carbs. Additionally, strong food aversions usually make eating at will impossible, even if a woman is stable enough to eat solids.

The entire point of this diet is to prepare for pregnancy before conception - preferably as far in advance as possible. If a woman chooses to wait until HG has kicked in to try this... my guess is that it's not going to work. Anything is possible, I suppose, but I don't think there will be a good success rate.

Most of the other methods for NVP prevention are similar - magnesium supplementation, the fermented foods method, etc. They all need to be started pre-conception for best results.


And.... anything else?

One other thing that I have heard is some variation of the following: "You shouldn't tell people about this because someone might try it and it might not work for that woman. You shouldn't give people false hope."

I have considered that.

Actually, I have considered this issue in depth. I do not want to give anyone false hope. And, being an overly sensitive introvert, I strongly shy away from any type of publicity, especially negative publicity - even if it's within a tiny community like the HG community. I have actually considered keeping all of the above information to myself and not mentioning it publicly on my blog - I don't like the attention, and I don't want to lead anyone down the garden path with a method that might not work.

BUT.

The alternative is ugly. The alternative is that, finding something that worked for me, I keep it to myself out of fear and a dislike of publicity - regardless of how many women could benefit from this knowledge.

I can't do that. And thus, I am publishing this information. And my prayer is that it will benefit many - or even one mama.

But again...

(1) THERE. ARE. NO. GUARANTEES.

You might try this and still come down with active HG. I cannot tell you that you will not. I cannot even guarantee that I myself will not experience hyperemesis in a subsequent pregnancy. Please be prepared. Make all of your usual preparations for an HG pregnancy. Find other methods (magnesium, etc.) and add them in too. Do everything you can to avoid HG, but be prepared for recurrence.

(2) Again, if you're not comfortable doing a low-carb pregnancy, DON'T DO IT.
If you're not comfortable being in ketosis, DON'T DO IT.

This article is not a command. It is not a guarantee. It is a simple statement of, "I tried it. It worked for me. Here is the information in hopes that it can be a blessing to someone else."

Does that make sense, everyone? I know I'm repeating myself here, but I think it bears repeating.


Closing remarks?

Thanks, everyone, for your help, support, and patience! It's been an amazing journey, and it's not over yet. I hope that this information is of help to some of you.

You can check out the podcast where Rachel of HyperG Pregnancy and I discuss VLC diet and hyperemesis here.

You can hear the podcast with Dr. Fox discussing the VLC diet and hyperemesis here.

Blessings!

Diana


***

Polite discussion and honest questions are always welcome! I'll answer any that I can! Please know that I cannot have this blog turned into a war zone, so I will have to quietly delete any comments that are rude, insensitive, hurtful, or combative in nature. Structure your conversations kindly, ladies!

Lots of love, dear friends,
Diana


Material on this blog is provided for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for medical care or advice. Please consult your healthcare provider before undertaking any changes to your pregnancy healthcare. Under no circumstances, shall the author be liable under any theory of recovery for any damages arising out of or in any manner connected with the use of information or documents from the site.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Notes from Postpartum-Land


Hi, everyone!

I thought I would check in with a few notes of what's going on around here! Nothing fancy, just some random scattered thoughts as we progress through the postpartum period:

- Baby Greta is a darling, and so far an easy baby. She is a true marathoner - she likes lots of sleep, lots of being held (preferably by mama!). and lots of food. That's about it!

- The postpartum period is, as usual, a bit on the chaotic side, but that's to be expected. Thankfully it's been much better than some rounds! We have truly been blessed during this postpartum period, and that has been awesome.

- It's amazing how much our "baby" (the 2yo) has "grown up" in the two weeks since our newest arrived. In other words, it's really taken the new baby's presence to make me realize that the 2yo (who is almost three!) is not a baby any more - and that's a good thing!

- Thanksgiving went well - actually very smoothly. We had my parents and DH's parents in town, and everyone contributed a couple of dishes - meaning that nobody was too over-stressed.

Speaking of holiday dinners - it's fascinating how different people bring different approaches to hosting the holidays. My mother, who worked full-time outside the home, hosted every holiday for our extended family. Every holiday was done formally (formal dishes, formal serving, etc.), and she absolutely insisted on doing everything herself - even when others offered to bring something, she refused.

My thoughts on doing holidays that way? Ack! No, thank you! I can't imagine taking on that amount of stress voluntarily. We do host several holidays for our family, but they are casual and done potluck style.

How do you all approach the issue of holiday hosting?

- We are currently on break from school and will continue on break through New Year's. Hurray!

- I am happy to announce that I think I have (almost) figured out curriculum choices for next year. Quick translation: Come back in a few days, and all of my choices will have changed. (Okay, actually they changed before I finished this blog post.) Anyone know the feeling?

- Now that we're officially in the postpartum period, I need to take some time to go over my supplement and diet protocols to update them and get them ready to start again come New Year's. I'll hope to share those soon!

- Either today or tomorrow, I hope to post my summary post regarding my use of the VLC diet to fight hyperemesis. Please let me know what you think, and if you have any questions!

- What I'm reading:

  • My postpartum reading selection was an unusual one - I went through my entire collection of Sherlock Holmes. Fun stuff! Now that I'm older (I haven't really read them since high school) it was fascinating to track social trends, religious and secular lines of thought, scientific advances, etc. Period literature is always eye-opening when it comes to tracking social history!
  • I'm currently also enjoying two other books:
    • Keto Clarity: Your Definitive Guide to the Benefits of a Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet  - A must-read for anyone trying a ketogenic diet.
      • "Leading health blogger Jimmy Moore and researcher and internist Dr. Eric C. Westman join forces again to explain the powerful therapeutic effects of a ketogenic diet—one that combines a customized carbohydrate restriction, moderation of protein intake, and real food-based fats—which is emerging in the scientific literature as a means for improving a wide range of diseases, from Type 2 diabetes to Alzheimer’s and more. Simply eating a low-carb diet alone isn’t enough, and Moore and Westman tell you why."
    • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking - Excellent! (They know me.)
      • "In Quiet, Susan Cain argues that we dramatically undervalue introverts and shows how much we lose in doing so. She charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal throughout the twentieth century and explores how deeply it has come to permeate our culture. She also introduces us to successful introverts—from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions. Passionately argued, superbly researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how they see themselves."

- I am planning to use this book list idea to have fun with the children during December. Easy, low-stress, and involving books. That's a win-win situation! We're also planning to make play snow as well as our usual crafts (glitter pinecones, paper snowflakes, etc.). I'm trying to find a compromise between "overdoing it" and "doing nothing." Time will tell if I can find this elusive balance.

- Today is the first Sunday of Advent! Time to break out the Advent wreath and our Advent calendar. Happy Advent, everyone!

- I don't know how much I'll be around in the next period of time - life is extremely unpredictable right now. No promises, but I'll try to check in when I can!

Happy Thanksgiving, dear friends! Enjoy this holiday season!




Monday, November 24, 2014

Welcome, Baby Number Five! (Birth Story Time!)


It's that wonderful time of year - birth story time! Thanks for joining us as we celebrate the arrival of our fifth little one!


The Pregnancy:

This has been an amazing pregnancy - beyond anything that I could have ever imagined. By the grace of God, I have been drug-free and non-hyperemetic, which is more than I ever dreamed was possible. It's been challenging with constant nausea, but staying out of hyperemesis has been an answer to prayer. (I'll be posting the big summary post about that very soon - look for it!)

And now for our birth story!


The Prologue:

You'd think that by now I would be over it, but I'm afraid not.

As the end of each pregnancy draws near, I am inevitably haunted by the same thing - an intense fear of childbirth. Most women seem to be able to work through this fear so that they're able to get into the mindset of, "I can't wait to go into labor so that I can meet my baby!" I, on the other hand, inevitably stall before that point - "Hmm. I'd like to meet this baby, but that would mean... childbirth. So, um, thanks, but I think I'll just stay pregnant forever."

Thankfully biology doesn't wait for me to be ready, or else we'd still be awaiting the birth of our second child. But it is an emotional challenge each time.

Several months ago, I was drawn to II Corinthians 4:17-18, and that has been my memory verse ever since. Here it is in a newer translation:
"For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever."
Though the original context is talking about the Christian life as a whole, it is very applicable to childbirth - the attempt to keep one's mind fixed on the end goal (a precious baby whose soul will live forever) rather than present troubles (childbirth!).

I can't say that I ever moved into the realm of, "Yay, childbirth!" - but I did gain some measure of peace as our due date approached.

Leading a field trip about three days before D-Day. 

The Birth Story: 

A week or two ago, I got it into my head that baby's birth-date would be Wednesday, November 19th. While I knew that it was silly to count on something like that, I did have it as mental background noise.

Thus, when I woke up on the morning of Tuesday, November 11th with classic pre-labor symptoms - blood-tinged cervical fluid and an upset stomach - I was a bit shocked. More than a week earlier than I had expected! I had to make some fast mental adjustments - today was going to be the day.

We did school lessons as usual, and continued with our normal schedule. At 2:00 p.m. I tried to take a nap, but as soon as I laid down, contractions became painful enough to keep me from sleeping. Eventually I gave up and got up.

In the late afternoon, things were a bit crazy. Contractions were getting more painful, but we had a ton left to do for the day, so we did our best to crank through our to-do list in a hurry. DH ran errands (library, shops, etc.) and I made an early dinner (pancakes!), and then we rushed the children into the bath to get things settled for the night as quickly as we could.

This was the first time I'd ever had to deal with ordinary life (children, schedules, meals, etc.) while in labor. Previously, my labors had all (except the first, when I had no other children to care for) been in the middle of the night, so I'd always had the freedom to labor without dealing with piles of "to-do" items. This was quite a switch!

Our midwife had a postpartum visit to make in our area, so she asked it she could stop by to set up her kit and check on me. We were very glad to see her - but as soon as she arrived (at about 7:30 p.m.), my contractions nearly stopped. (Embarrassing.) She's used to "performance anxiety," though, so she opted to stick around and wait to see how things would go. Eventually, we made the decision to let everyone try to go to sleep (our midwife camped out on the couch) and see how things would go from there.

It was a difficult night for everyone. The five-year-old (our baby with special needs) decided to get up in the wee hours and throw a two-hour party in his crib. The two-year-old was upset at being out of his normal crib (he's still in our room) and woke several times crying. It wasn't a particularly restful night for anyone.

I, of course, didn't go to sleep at all! I stayed in the bedroom, just laboring in the dark. In some ways, it was rather nice. I like laboring alone.

But in other ways, I was starting to get seriously confused.

In the past, my labors have always been strictly linear. That is, whether they were slow or fast, they always moved in the predictable labor curve of contractions that get more intense and closer together until the baby is born.

This labor was not behaving in that way at all. Some of the contractions were nasty, but some were not. And the timing was all over the place - anywhere from five to 20 minutes apart. Sometimes they would get me up out of bed, where I would try to labor on the toilet or in a semi-kneeling position for a while - and then I'd get tired, go back to bed, and the contractions would space out while I drowsed for a bit. Then I'd get up and do it all over again.

As time went on, contractions got more intense, sometimes requiring vocalization, but the puzzling non-linear pattern continued.

Additionally, I was really, really tired. I hadn't slept since the night before, and my main desire was not to have a baby but to go to sleep.

Every few hours, our midwife would pop in to check on me and ask if I needed her. Each time, my answer was a confused, "Um... I don't know." It just wasn't clear either way.

Around 5:30 a.m., contractions were intense enough that I thought I'd better have our midwife call out the rest of the birth team so that they wouldn't miss the birth. And then...

I fell asleep.

Completely and entirely. Labor stopped, and I was out cold until sometime shortly after 7:00 a.m., when I awoke to found the world in sunlight again.

I immediately felt more cheerful. And also slightly silly.

Here I had made our sweet midwife spend the entire night at our home waiting for a baby who was obviously not coming any time soon. And considering that there were no forthcoming contractions, I felt even sillier.

Shortly thereafter, our midwife came in to see us and chat about what was going on. She also offered to do a cervical check to see where we were at the moment. While both of us are against routine cervical checks, I immediately saw the sense in this and said, "Yes! Let's do it!" As she said, cervical checks can't tell you where you're going, but they can tell you where you've been.

A quick check revealed the fact that after something like 17 hours of labor, we were at a whopping...

Two centimeters. 

Well, crumbs.

Seventeen hours of labor in a multip should not produce a measly two centimeters. (Especially since I had previously checked my dilation and knew that we'd been at a minimum two centimeters for several weeks. In other words, we'd gone nowhere. Slowly.)

Additionally, our midwife said that baby's head was so high in the pelvis as to be non-palpable. Also not good.

My immediate question was "Are we looking at a malpresentation?" - having baby in a non-optimal position can cause wonky labor patterns, and that would also account for lack of descent.

Her immediate reply was "Yup." Based on heart tones and the lack of descent, her guess was that baby had slipped from LOA (left occiput anterior) back to LOP (left occiput posterior), where he had been a few weeks ago. Babies in the OP position have a nasty habit of not wanting to come out, and my weird labor was almost certainly a result of that.

Next, we talked about a game plan. Our midwife said, "You think you're okay, because you've had an hour or so of sleep. But you're not okay. You're sleep-deprived. And if you're going to face doing labor all over again from the beginning, then you need some sleep."

We made a quick plan, and I followed it. Our midwife left to give us some time, and I immediately followed her suggestions - a snack (cottage cheese and a banana), a bath, taking a Unisom, and crashing on the bed to get some sleep. (Still no contractions.)

I was also careful to lay on my left side (stretching over as far onto my stomach as I could) in order to facilitate baby swinging back from LOP into LOA. (The fact that I had been lying on my right side the entire night had most likely confirmed baby in his unfavorable LOP position.)

I immediately fell asleep and slept for something like 60-90 minutes. It was lovely.

I would have slept (much!) longer, but at that point, I was awakened by a contraction. A sudden contraction, and a mean one. I immediately knew by the feeling (even half-asleep) that baby had swung out of LOP into LOA, and that we were now where we needed to be.

However, I was still tired, so I tried to keep sleeping. Nope. These contractions meant business. Even that first contraction had required vocalization.

But I was still so tired, so I tried to ignore them. "La, la, la, I can't heeaaar you." etc.

During the third contraction, my water broke.

What? Really?

It was just a small gush, maybe two to four ounces of fluid - not a huge amount. Thus, I wasn't really sure if my water had indeed broken. However, I immediately swung out of bed and headed for the bathroom to avoid getting the bed soaked - just in case.

I immediately sat down and tried to figure out if my water had broken or if I was just imagining things. Immediately, another contraction started.

And that's when things got crazy.

The contraction began, and I knew instantly that I was in trouble.

Oh, no! I'm feeling pushy! I need to call my midwife RIGHT NOW!

But my body made it immediately clear that I was not going to be calling anyone, because within five seconds I had shot to my feet and was screaming my head off at the wall in front of me. (My normal reaction to the pushing feeling.) This wasn't just "feeling pushy" - this was PUSHING TIME RIGHT NOW, and this baby was coming.

Within a second or two, I knew that my midwife wasn't going to make it.

Oh, no! Joe's going to have to catch the baby!

Small problem. I was in the back bathroom, and my husband was nowhere around (thinking that I was sleeping). Despite the fact that I was screaming like a mad woman, our house is a good sound-deadener. I was on my own.

Thus, those thirty seconds went something like this:

Need the midwife! (Nope.) Need my husband! (Nope.) Oh shoot, I need a towel - I'm going to have to do this on my own!

But even the towel rack, two feet away, was completely beyond my capacity to reach.

Thankfully, my husband did actually end up hearing me, and he burst into the bathroom just as baby was born.

"Is the baby coming? Oh, there's the head!"

He leaped for me as I hit the ground in some sort of half-kneeling position, and he caught baby and handed her to me - after taking the time to notice that baby was, indeed, our first girl!

So there we were - sitting happily shell-shocked on the bathroom floor, surrounded by a pool of every birthing fluid known to man.

What better way to spend a Wednesday morning?



Within a minute or two, Joe was on the phone with our midwife. "Guess what? Diana's sitting here holding our brand new baby girl!"

The really funny thing was that Joe had told our midwife a few hours earlier that he had planned to call her with those very words - as a joke! Thus, when he called her, her first response was something along the lines of, "Are you kidding me?"

Our midwife immediately shot out onto the freeway to get to us, all the while making sure that we were okay and didn't need to call emergency. (We were completely fine - no hemorrhage, and baby was born already snuffling and fussing about for food. No issues there!)




A few minutes after the birth, the placenta followed - completely effortlessly and painlessly.

Our doula made it to our house first, followed shortly by our midwife. They immediately checked us out and began helping us get cleaned up and settled in bed.

We have absolutely no labor or birth pictures (or video), but here are some postpartum pictures!

Our 8yo got to cut the cord for the first time:






Newborn exam! Baby was 8 lbs. 8 oz. (fitting in nicely with our last baby, who was 9 lbs. 9 oz.):






Pictures with the birth team!



Placenta exam picture!




And a proud papa with his first solo catch (he's caught all of our babies, but never by himself!):



Some postpartum pictures:


Waiting for baby's birthday cake! (Mint chip!)

With Grandma.

Love that newborn stare! 


Reflections:

There is part of me that would have loved to see what would have happened if this had truly been a solo birth - not for the experience itself, but simply for the incredible comedic potential of the moment. To have my husband walk into the bathroom and find me calmly nursing an infant - ah! That would have been truly a great moment. All it would have needed was a great one-liner to go with it, and we would have had a moment to remember.

However, DH was great as a baby-catcher, and it will remain one of our best family memories forever.

I've always wondered what it would be like to have an unassisted birth. Now I know, and I hope it doesn't happen too often! But to all you dedicated unassisted birthers out there - I take my hat off to you. You are an amazingly strong group of women!

An interesting question that I have posed to myself is - how would this birth have gone in the hospital? It's an interesting thought, because it could have gone several different ways. We could have had an unassisted hospital birth... or a cesarean... or a car baby... or an unassisted at-home birth. It could have gone in many different directions.

But, as C.S. Lewis says, no one is ever told the story of "what might have been."

Finally old enough to hold a sibling on his own! 

Holding baby sister with mama about 0.5 inches away! 



Afterword:

This pregnancy has been an incredible growing experience. It's been difficult, but it's also been wonderful. The Lord is growing our family at the same time that He is growing us - and it's wonderful both to watch and to experience.

This pregnancy has been a pregnancy of firsts.

This was our first non-hyperemetic pregnancy.

This was our first pregnancy welcoming a GIRL into our brood.

This was our first intentionally unplanned pregnancy.

This was our first 100% on-land labor and birth.

This was our first (accidentally) unassisted birth.


We can't wait to see what God is going to do with our family from here!


Welcoming baby Margaret (Greta) Fern
Born November 12, 2014
Eight pounds, eight ounces

We are blessed.