December 9, 2013 § Leave a Comment
I’ve been meaning to write this for a while, but thought I should wait until I completed my pregnancy to do it.
Over the past five years, I have really embraced yoga as a part of my life. I’ve been practicing Ashtanga for about three years and was really happy with my progress. When she learned I was planning on getting pregnant, my teacher and friend, Alana, actually pushed me to learn how to do dropbacks because she thought the physical and mental challenge would be a great way to prepare me for childbirth. I have to agree with her, except for the fact that they are a piece of cake compared to 35 hours of contractions!
In any case, I did not want to give up my practice once I found out I was growing tiny Henry. Ashtanga yoga has its own set of rules and traditionally, it’s recommended that you don’t do any yoga in your first trimester. I couldn’t bring myself to follow this rule though; I found it actually helped my energy level and kept me from getting nauseated in the mornings. Plus I’d miss it too much! So with the help of this website and Alana’s advice, I modified my practice to be fetus-friendly.
The first things to go were the twists, headstands, and back bends. I had to keep from working my abs too much to ensure everything inside me would “attach” properly in the first three months, so the upward flow of the bandhas in Ashtanga had to be relaxed. I stopped going to the Guided Led Ashtanga classes in February or March and opted to just attend the weekday Mysore classes which are tailored to each individual and done at one’s own pace. It was nice to not have to worry about sitting out poses in a class full of people, some who didn’t even know I was pregnant yet.
I did Ashtanga exclusively, practicing 3 or 4 times a week, until I hit the 6 month mark. Then I added Prenatal yoga to my routine.
My first few Prenatal yoga classes were a lot different than the ones closer to my due date. I would do triangle pose, extended side angle, and forward folds as if I were in an Ashtanga class and the instructor would have to tell me to take it easy and do the simpler version. As my belly grew, these modified versions were necessary not only in Prenatal, but also Ashtanga. Don’t get me wrong though; Prenatal yoga had its challenges. For example, the exercise Aimee liked to do each class were wall squats while squeezing a block in between your thighs for 30, 60, and 90 seconds to simulate a contraction and that was hard work! The class was also helpful in teaching you poses specifically made for pregnancy and labour – I used a few of the poses, like a rocking squat, to deal with contractions.
Meanwhile, my Ashtanga practice had been shortened to from about 1 hour 15 minutes to 45 minutes. I’d practice up until Marichyasana A then do some restorative poses like a supported back bend, Baddha Konasana, and legs up the wall.
In my sixth month of pregnancy, I was practicing Ashtanga Mysore about 3 times a week and going to Prenatal once a week. This went on for another month and a half or so until I started getting heartburn from all the up and downs during Sun Salutations in Ashtanga and had to reduce it to twice a week, then just once. Prenatal yoga had finally become much more suited to my needs.
I’m proud to say I managed to practice both styles up until I was 38 weeks pregnant and can’t fathom why every woman in the same situation wouldn’t practice some form of yoga. It really helped me get through not only pregnancy, but a very long and painful labour. The breathing alone is so valuable and such a powerful tool for dealing with pain. I also can’t help but explain to people who tell me I look great for having just had a baby that it must have been yoga that helped me bounce back so quickly.
When people ask me why I didn’t have an epidural, I tell them it’s because it was healthier for me and Henry to do it naturally, with a much lower chance of getting a caesarian, and also because I wanted to experience childbirth the way it’s supposed to be. Ashtanga has taught me that taking shortcuts to get to the end result as quickly and easily as possible may be fine for some people, but it isn’t the way I want to live my life.
Now, after 7 weeks off, I’m back at it. I went to my first Ashtanga Led class yesterday and although my body is quite sore today, it was absolutely fantastic. I feel like I’ve come full circle and I couldn’t be happier.
December 2, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Henry is one month old today! It’s amazing how fast November flew by. I think I wore makeup a total of four times (pretty much only when I knew photos would be taken) and didn’t do any yoga for the first time in years. Henry had lots of visitors who were eager to meet him, including his Grandma and Grandpa Miller, Aunt Jenn, Grandpa Storch, Aunt Suzanne and lots of friends, including Uncie Paul (below).
Breastfeeding is now painless and although still unpleasant, I’m almost used to getting up 4 times a night to nurse. On average, I get about 6 hours of sleep a night and now drink coffee every morning. Nick & I have a great system where I go to bed around 9pm and he stays up til about midnight to feed Henry a bottle before going to bed so I can get at least 4 hours of sleep in a row. It was a little early to introduce the bottle, but he’s been so good with it and this way, I can actually stay sane!
He’s also been sleeping in his crib instead of his bassinet (which he hates) for about two weeks now which gives us all better sleeps. Video baby monitors with night vision are a must for our peace of mind at this young age!
We are just coming off a serious growth spurt where Henry wanted to eat constantly – sometimes 3 or 4 times in a row. It’s good to see my milk is going somewhere though; he’s already looking chubbier and more filled out. We have a pediatrician appointment today so we’ll see how much he weighs. His baby acne is also healing, which is such a relief because it was an exercise in willpower not popping those sore-looking pimples!
We have given him a bath about 4 or 5 times now (including one time where he peed on Nick before getting in the tub) and his hair is starting to thin out. I wonder if it will come in again in a different colour?
It will be exciting and fascinating to see what month #2 has to bring!
November 18, 2013 § 1 Comment
We have officially entered our third week with Henry and we are finally getting into the groove of things. Almost as soon as we got home from the hospital, my parents arrived and my Mom stayed to help out for Henry’s first two weeks at home.
It was so incredible to have her here, helping out, cooking, cuddling Henry so Nick and I could sleep, and giving newborn advice. She came with me to his first two pediatrician appointments and would wake up at 7:30 am every day so I could get a few hours of sleep every morning before Henry’s next feeding. I don’t have to tell anyone who’s had a baby how nice that is!
This weekend, my Dad and sister flew here to visit with us and they all left together this afternoon. It was so nice that Jenn could meet Henry while he was so young too!
Auntie Jennie is basically the best aunt there ever was. She gave him a baby massage today and for the two nights she was here, she fed him a bottle while I got 6 hours of sleep in a row!
Henry (and Nick and I) got so much love these past few weeks. It was sad to see my family leave, but Nick and I are both really looking forward to seeing how our new little family operates on its own. We know there will be some bumps, but after having so much help for two weeks, we’re feeling so much more confident. The three of us can’t thank my family enough for all their help. We love you!
November 10, 2013 § 2 Comments
Internet, meet Henry Nichols Storch.
Henry was born 7 lbs 9.2 oz, Saturday November 2 at 3:11 am after a loooong labour.
On Halloween at 12:45 pm, I got a membrane sweep from my doctor. This is a more natural way of giving labour a kick start and works in half the attempted cases. By about 2:30 pm, I was having contractions and getting excited. Nick came home from work early and we started to prepare ourselves. By 10:00, Aimee (our doula) came over to assess the situation. The three of us ended up getting some sleep until about 5:00 am Friday when I decided the contractions were getting too regular and strong to stay home.
We arrived at Manhattan’s Beth Israel Hospital in a car service just as my doctor was walking up to the entrance. It was perfect timing, even though I was grimacing through another contraction while trying to say hi. I ended up in a triage room for a few hours because they were cleaning the delivery rooms and the fetal heart monitor kept falling off and losing Henry’s heartbeat so they had to start over each time. Those first hours, I actually could not lie down and wanted to keep moving, including walking the halls and stopping to do rocking squats against my IV pole when contractions would come up.
By the time I got to the delivery room, time pretty much meant nothing anymore and I had no interest in leaving the room. I’m proud to say that I stuck to my birth plan and did not use an epidural or any sort of pain killer, and so I was alternating between incredibly painful contractions and almost total clarity in between them. I managed to get through the pain with keep breathing, lots of sounding, back massage from Aimee and Nick, using a birth ball, and using the shower. I did opt for a few interventions though, including having my water broken and adding Pitocin (to speed up and intensify contractions) at the end because I had kind of stalled out by the time I was almost fully dilated.
Finally, after 35 hours of labour, of only eating ice chips and coconut water, and of asking Aimee just once to remind me why I was doing this without drugs, Henry finally happened. I cannot even describe the physical feeling, but I can say the bazillion contractions I had were much worse than the actual birth.
Henry was born with a full head of hair and very healthy. I was able to lie with him on me immediately while I was fixed up. I’ve been reading about the rush you get after an unmedicated birth and have been so curious about how I would experience it. After a long and painful labour, I should have been passing out with relief, but I was wired afterwards and even joking around with the nurses and doctors. Nick and I arranged for a private recovery room so that he could stay over with us. He fell asleep as I stayed up and took photos of Henry, called my parents and sister, and sat in disbelief at what I had just accomplished.
I have to say that first of all, my doctors and Beth Israel hospital were absolutely amazing. You hear about the majority of mothers-to-be just hoping that their doctor will be available the day they go into labour, but there’s no guarantee. I had both of my doctors I had been seeing for the past 9 months, plus a slew of incredible nurses and one super-tough midwife who came in at the end, took charge, and got Henry out. No one ever asked me if I wanted an epidural and they would first suggest natural ways of increasing contractions like nipple stimulation before suggesting something more intense. The nurses while I was in recovery were so helpful and involved. They helped me breast feed, brought us food and snacks all day, helped try to fix the crazy heat in our room, and more. Beth Israel was the first hospital in Manhattan to become “baby friendly” which means they heartily support breast feeding, delayed cord clamping, immediate skin to skin, and the baby sleeping in your room with you.
Secondly, I knew that hiring a doula would be worthwhile, but I’m not sure if I knew just how important Aimee’s role would be. I could not have managed a 35 hour unmedicated labour without her help. She anticipated everything Nick and I needed before we knew we needed it. She handled each obstacle with calm and unbiased opinions as they came up and was with us the entire time, minus a few short breaks to get her and Nick food. This quote sums up Aimee’s efforts perfectly:
“If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it.” — Dr. John Kennell
Thirdly, Henry is now a week old and surviving this first week would have been much much harder without my Mom’s help. She has been here since Monday, cooking, coming to pediatrician appointments, cuddling Henry so I can sleep, and teaching us other newborn skills. I am so happy that I still have another week with her.
Lastly, Nick has been so amazing throughout the entire pregnancy, birth, and our first week of being parents. From running around to get birth certificates to try and get Henry’s passport ready for Christmas to changing diapers at all hours of the day, he is already a great dad.
[Find out more about hiring Aimee McCabe-Karr as a doula, prenatal yoga teacher, and other pregnancy and birth services here.]
October 30, 2013 § 2 Comments
Happy due date to Henry!
What a funny thing a due date is. It’s just a complete estimate based on either your last period or by measuring the fetus in your first ultrasound, but so much pressure is put on it. I’ve been getting emails, texts, and Facebook messages all day as if it’s MY birthday – some of them sounding so matter-of-fact that today is the day because that’s what an ultrasound I had 33 weeks ago predicted. It’s so nice of you all to think of me, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s just a fence post I have to pass by a certain number of days before Henry is forced out ;)
Meanwhile, I finally feel extremely pregnant. I am dealing with sciatica or pelvic girdle pain or whatever you prefer to call having 8+ lbs of another human (plus the weight of my placenta, extra blood, and amniotic fluid) constantly resting on my hips and pelvis. Unfortunately, I am done with any type of yoga for now and even walking has become challenging. My right hip, leg, and lower back just scream at me when I walk for more than a few minutes at a time. My last day of riding a bike was Thursday.
It’s taken a week, but I have accepted that I have to slow down and being apartment-bound is just something I need to get used to for now. This whole thing kind of reminds me of October 2009, when I was turned away at the U.S. border, house-bound at my parents’ old place in Whitby, and got the H1N1 virus. The big difference is that I actually have energy, my body just won’t let me use it like I usually would. What’s getting me through this is picturing each day as if I went into labour that night – wouldn’t I be grateful that I took it easy that day so that I had the energy to push a baby out later? Yes, yes I would.
Things are slowly progressing though. I hope I don’t have to do a 41 week update for you next Wednesday – stay tuned!
Oh, and to save you the trouble of asking me.
October 24, 2013 § 2 Comments
I am officially one week away from my estimated due date. Although my doctor will let me get to 41 weeks before being induced into labour, it’s so exciting to know that in no more than two weeks, I will have Henry in my arms! He is wiggling in my belly as I type – I think he’s eager to be photographed and shown off on the internet.
What’s happening? Well…
- Sleeping has gotten easier. Still lots of nighttime bathroom trips, but I’m used to it.
- After receiving a panicked voicemail from one of my doctors last Thursday about having to induce me soon, I showed up at the office and told them we were going to figure out my real due date immediately. Thanks to a bunch of clerical errors and confusion between the hospital and doctor’s office, I had 4 different ones. We are finally settled on October 30, which is what I was going by anyways!
- I’ve started taking Evening Primrose Oil to soften my cervix.
- I decided not to get the membrane sweep at my doctor today – I will wait until 40 or 41 weeks.
- Henry’s cervix head butts are getting pretty intense and are even happening in the daytime now.
- For the first time ever, while trying on bras last week, I had to keep asking if what I had was the biggest size. I miss small boobies!
- My hips are a mess. My right hip/S.I. joint is absolutely killing me. I have good moments and worse moments, but I was at my limpy-est so far today. I can only try look at this in a positive light: things are loosening and getting ready for labour.
- Everyone is nice to me now and I always get offered a seat on the subway or bus. Finally!
- Kate taught Nick and I how to install a car seat in a cab without a base last weekend. Thanks, Kate!
- I get a bonus ultrasound on Tuesday because I’m still measuring a few centimeters small.
- My sister has been texting me very personal questions to see if there’s any signs of me going into labour yet. I won’t repeat them here or you will blush.
That’s about it. I’m pretty much over pregnancy and ready to get Henry’s weight off of my hips and into my arms!