Saturday, February 15, 2014

My Experience with Placenta Encapsulation

I've learned in my old age to never say never.  This lesson often comes to you as a mother because there are now little people running around your house doing everything in their power to contradict any and everything you ever thought to be enforceable.

When I first heard someone tell me that they were planning on ingesting their placenta, my reaction was probably much like any one else: EWWWWW! 
I seriously thought it was over the line and gross.   I wondered why anyone would do it.
My postpartum time with Isla June was stressful.  She was a colicky baby.  And I was taking 3 online college teaching courses.  It was mayhem in our house.  And I was overwhelmed.  
Looking back, I can definitely say that I had the baby blues.  But, I never had post partum depression.

Until I stopped breastfeeding.  
Which wasn't until a year later.

Most people aren't aware (as I wasn't) that weaning can cause a similar fluctuation in hormones that can bring on post partum symptoms.  I had no idea what was going on and felt a little crazy.  I'm sure my husband was confused.  I later found out, after recovering from the symptoms, what had happened.  

And I never wanted to go through that again.    
Enter my research where I stumbled upon Placenta Encapsulation.  Anecdotal evidence shows that it lessens the likeliood of postpartum depression and baby blues as well as offering the benefit of more energy for a recovering mother.  It's also been said to reduce post partum bleeding (something I had already had a problem with after Isla June).

I read evidence based reports and scoured to find other mother's personal stories.  It seemed as though it was worth a try.  The only thing holding me back was the cost.  It was going to be over $200 dollars to have someone take care of the encapsulation for me.  Considering we were already going to be paying for all of my medical expenses out of pocket, I was a little hesitant to add one more thing to the bill.

But, then I got sick.  
And I really felt like my body was giving up on me.
I knew I was going to need everything I could get to make it through this post partum time.

Thankfully, my amazing midwife handled all of the care and set-up for the encapsulation.  She brought the cooler to the delivery.  She handled the refrigeration aspect of it and handed it off to their encapsulation specialist (who was a nurse at the hospital I delivered), and a week later I had these little pills in a cute mason jar that looked a lot like vitamins.  (the placenta is actually dehydrated and ground into a fine powder).

I seriously didn't even see the placenta.  Not.once.  
It was so not a big deal.

My experience with it?
I am so thankful everyday that I made the last minute decision to encapsulate my placenta.  
Considering that I hemorrhaged, twice, after labor, this was a life saving pill for me.  It had a lot of the iron I needed to get my health back on track.  I almost asked for it after labor because I was so tired and scared of the hemorrhages!  I don't know for sure if it would have helped then, but there is a good chance it would have.

I was also so, so much happier this time around.  Even considering the stress of the health issues and bed rest I was put on after the delivery.  The first week post partum, I cried 4 times: because I was happy, because I was sad, because I was overwhelmed; I was just emotional.  Then, I started the pills, and I only cried once in the next two months.  It leveled out my emotions that well.

My post partum bleeding was also pretty much non existent this time.  It was so light and stopped completely at 5 weeks and never came back, MUCH different from my last experience.

Another amazing benefit of the pills is the increase in milk production.  I'm not exactly sure what was going on this time because I never had supply issues with Isla June but, either due to my medical issues (low iron and high blood pressure), which can effect milk production, or the fact that Everly didn't eat very much in the beginning due to her super small size, I felt as though my milk was dwindling.  Two pills later and everything was back on track.  

I still have half a bag of pills left in my freezer that I am saving for the time that we wean, just in case I experience similar issues as before.  It has given me such peace of mind to know that I have something natural to use to help my body recover and support me in this venture.

Originally, I had sworn to never utter a word about this to anyone other than family because of the reactions I knew people would have to the notion of me ingesting my placenta, considering I used to have the same reaction about the topic.

But now, I want to help normalize this issue.  If my story can help just one woman not experience post partum depression, or help a mother more successfully nurse her baby, then I say it's worth it.  I feel as though God has given us something to help support us through a somewhat difficult and transitional time; Why not use it?

(Mommypotamus shares her Placenta Experience and answers some common questions HERE)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Bottle Battle

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Chicco. I received a product sample to facilitate my review and as a thank you for participating.

I have been incredibly blessed with the opportunity to nurse both of my babies.  Despite the rough start Everly and I had in the first few days, every meal of hers has been made by me. :)  We've dealt with food insensitivity and preemie belly upsets, but, we've persevered.  Nursing is one of my favorite things about this newborn stage.

But, with that being said, I do like the opportunity to step away from my momma duties and let someone else help out.  This means I can go on a date with my husband, or a dinner out with my friends, or just take a long, peaceful bath!  I need those moments to recharge.

With Isla June, she was such a hungry little girl that she didn't care what vessel her food came out of, as long as it was momma's milk.  It was so easy to switch between nursing and bottle feeding with her, which was vital considering I went back to work when she was 3 months old.

But, as I've learned, every child is different.  Even if they're from the same womb.  Everly is not a bottle fan.  And on top of that, she really hates pacifiers.  It's been a small source of frustration for this mommy.  I've assured her that life will be easier if she could just accept the pacis and bottles every now and then.  She has yet to believe me.

When Mom Central Consulting and Chicco gave me the opportunity to try out the new line of NaturalFit  bottles, I jumped at the chance.  Maybe this was the answer to our bottle feeding prayers!

The bottles come in 4 different sizes.  Since we were still getting used to the idea of bottles, I started us out with the 0+ months bottle.  Its a small 5 oz. bottle designed specifically for easy transition from breast to bottle.

I really liked that the bottles are made in Italy and feature twin anti-colic valves to help prevent air ingestion, gas and spit up.  Because, every momma knows that spit up is the pits!
Other momma approved features include:

  • a wide base with a soft, flexible nipple to help mimic the mother's breast
  • a uniquely made nipple with a wider and rounder base for proper neck positioning
  • internal ridges that help prevent nipple collapse
  • an angled newborn flow nipple designed for the way newborns feed that reduces air intake and is easy for baby to latch on to due to the soft silicone

The one downside to the bottles, in my eyes, is that they do not have a glass option.  So, we heat up the milk in a glass bottle and then transfer it to the Chicco bottle for feeding.

Because Everly still refuses to take bottles from me (she just chews on them if I try), Daddy became our bottle tester.  He said that she took to this bottle much easier than any other we've tried.  There was less cajoling her to eat and more actually eating.  Hooray!  

Chicco was amazing enough to also send us some pacifiers to try out.  The NaturalFit Deco Orthodontic pacifiers were developed with leading European orthodontists to help support oral development.
Sadly, they aren't taken to by Everly(yet), but I think if I had them in the beginning (like when she was 2 weeks old), then we might have actually had a chance at using pacifiers.  The smaller nipple would have been ideal for her preemie mouth in the first few weeks.  I think that was our problem with every other pacifier.
I'm going to keep trying though!  Between the three options Chicco sent us, I think she'll eventually take to one.

I would definitely recommend these new Chicco bottle and pacifiers to moms with new babies, especially preemie's whose mouths and sucking reflexes are small and still developing. 
(They can be purchased in store or online at buybuy BABY)

Did your baby have trouble taking a bottle or pacifier?
This is new territory for me, so I would love to hear about other mommy's experiences!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Everly Ann's Birth Story Part II

Continued from Part I

I crawled into my hospital bed and laid on my left side just as instructed.  I wasn't pleased with the idea of laboring in bed. But, I was less pleased with the idea of being hooked up to any drugs.

I put on my headphones and my meditation track and warned everyone that I was going to block them out and to let me know if they needed me.  I seriously just wanted to kind of do this on my own.
Jer sat towards my back and whenever a contraction hit I would yell, "RUB!" And he would begin to vigorously rub my back until I alerted him that it was safe to stop.

After about 45 minutes of this routine, my midwife informed me that we needed to talk.
My contractions were slowing down but my blood pressure was creeping up.
"I want to get this baby out before we have to put you on magnesium", she said.

This was it.  I knew what she was going to say.

I told her I was scared.
She said she understood.
I asked for a bathroom break.
She agreed.

When I returned to the bed, she broke my water.
It felt a lot like last time, but it was different. I didn't feel the baby drop but there was that extra pressure.  I put my head phones back on and continued to labor.

Now it was feeling intense.  My gentle requests to rub! were now demanded cries.
I insisted on one more bathroom break.
I was worried that the castor oil was going to do what it's meant to do.....

I labored for a bit in the bathroom by myself too afraid to move once I got in there.
Eventually my midwife knocked on the door and insisted that I come back to the bed.

"We don't want to have a baby in the toilet," she said.
"I'm afraid I'll poop on the bed!" I replied.
"That's most definitely going to happen" was her response (FYI- it didn't, but I appreciated her being some calm about the possibility)

I had one last contraction standing up that Jer helped me through.
And then I was back in bed, on my left side, having intense contractions. 
In between the contractions, I would open my eyes a bit to see what was going on in the room.  I remember my dear, sweet midwife sitting right next to my monitors watching everything that was happening.
I also remember the concerned look on her face.

Pretty quickly my midwife decided she could no longer hold off on the magnesium and began to connect my IV line to the bag of fluid.
I immediately felt a trickled down my arm.

"It's not working!" I hollered at her mid contraction.
She and my nurse scurried to get that faulty line out and start a new one.
I begged her to wait until my contraction was over.
She told me we couldn't.

(Afterwards I apologized and thanked her for being so quick with the new IV.)

The last few contractions were excruciating.
I'm pretty sure I hollered.
Jeremy was doing his absolute best to keep up with my back rubbing demands but I think his fingers were about to fall off.

Suddenly I felt the overwhelming urge to push.
I remembered this exact feeling the last time.
Except this time I could actually feel the baby moving down into the birth canal.

"I'm pushing!!!!!" I hollered out.
They all just nodded their heads.
"I'm really pushing!!!" I yelled to get more of a response.

My midwife opened my legs and immediately instructed me to stop.
Except, I couldn't.

Somehow my nurse coached me on breathing so I could stop pushing and just like that, the baby was out.
"It's a girl!" My midwife exclaimed.

I looked up to see the tiniest blue smurf sitting in the middle of my bed.
I was shocked. And a little loopy from the mag.

Jer was pacing in the corner.  Transition always scares the heck it of him.
And this baby came out like a freight train.

My midwife put her on my chest to hold her.  She was tiny.  And slippery.
I held her the whole time while we waited for all of the cord blood to get to her.  
Once the umbilical cord was completely white, my midwife offered for Jer to cut it.
And, again, he refused. :)
Our first nursing session and me, doped up on magnesium.
I remember barely being able to hold her in my arms.

This seemed like the end of our story.  She was here, she was healthy, it was over.
But, despite an APGAR score of 8.9 (she lost a point due to her blue coloring which was probably caused by her quick exit), she was 200 grams below the required weight to room in with us and they had to whisk her away to the nursery.
A nursery nurse arrived to get her and proceeded to ask me whether I would want formula or glucose water given to her.  Incredulously, I stated that she would be breastfed (we had already nursed at this point).  I remember her kind of looking at me like I just didn't understand and she began to rattle off a list of things that Everly would probably need due to her early arrival and small stature: heat lamps, oxygen, monitoring, etc.  She wouldn't be allowed to leave the nursery and they already knew that I probably wasn't going to be getting out of bed (due to the magnesium) to come and nurse her.  

"My husband will strap a pump to me if he has too!"  I was insistent.  And I couldn't believe that they were even thinking of giving her formula if I was insisting on nursing (and we had already been successful.)

Thankfully, about 30 minutes later another nurse came back to announce that Everly was so healthy that she didn't need any monitoring or interventions and would be allowed to leave the nursery for feedings with me.  I was elated.  But, not surprised.  She's a tough one.  
And she's our little miracle.

Our first picture of the little bean!
 This is the outfit I brought for her but it was entirely too big.

And now we knew that she was healthy.  She was ok.
But, my battle was really just beginning.  

I'm not sure about sharing the details of the ordeal.  
Let's just say it involved hemorrhaging.  twice.
Multiple bags of fluid.
My kidneys shutting down and my body going into shock.

It was a long night.  But, thanks to a few amazing nurses, I breastfed Everly the whole time.  And the next day, we were able to spend some time together and start bonding.  

2 days after being born and starting to wake up and see us.

The more I read about preeclampsia and the women and babies who have been through it, I know how incredibly lucky we are to have such an amazingly strong and healthy little girl.  
She truly is our sunshine and I am eternally grateful for all of the prayers that covered us during this difficult and uncertain time.  It is only through Him that we both made it.  

I also can't say enough about the care we received from the hospital and my midwives.  Without them, I would have never had near the birth experience that I received.  Going to a hospital and being unable to have the water birth I so desired was heartwrenching for me.  I am eternally grateful to the women who helped me to have such a beautiful birth in an unlikely situation.  I will forever be indebted to them.

Uncle Robby came to visit 1 day after birth.
I think this picture shows just how small she was.
(she's even wrapped in two receiving blankets here!)

First picture with her dad

Driving home; she barely fit in her carseat.

And now she's here.  And we're a family.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 { A Recap}

This post could also be titled, "All the things I should have blogged about but was too sick and tired to do".  So, to make up for that I've created this brief recap of 2013, if nothing except for my own reference of this crazy year in our lives.

The beginning of the year was spent building our house.
Oh, and I vomited.
A. lot.

And we announced our big news

Little girl became a biker chick (only riding in our gated neighborhood to the pool with a helmet on at all times)

We spent most of the spring going to festivals, picking strawberries at the farm and learning to sleep in a big girl bed.

This was the summer of road trips….

And weekly beach days with daddy.

Or we would hit up the neighborhood pool.

This summer also meant turning 3!

And all of the celebrations that came with it.

We made an epic trip to Tennessee with family.

and met our newest cousin….

We finished up the summer building at Lowe's,

riding carnival rides,

and going to baseball games.

Little girl also had her first haircut….

The Fall brought exciting things like starting Preschool for the first time

and birthday celebrations with daddy.

and expanding belly's.

But, it also brought scary things like Preeclampsia.

But then we met our sweet newest addition to the family, albeit a little early.

And introduced our two little girls to one another.

We were blessed with 6 weeks of family to help us transition and recuperate.

And we began to learn how to be a family of four.

I cooked my first ever Thanksgiving meal.  It was Gluten, Soy and GMO free for my precious family.

And I made my first ever homemade costume for Isla June's Christmas Pageant.

2013 has been full of so many ups and downs.  I'm so glad I made it out alive!  
I'm looking forward to settling more into our new house, growing as a family and finding that gentle balance in motherhood that I so often seek.  
I hope to be back here more as well.  

Welcome 2014, you already look so, so good.

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