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Entries in delivery (7)


Why I ate my placenta 


You may have heard the latest trend in new mothers eating their placenta (known as Placentophagy). Two years ago, after hearing about some great success stories from folks who had done this, I decided I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. And so I had my placenta encapsulated after giving birth to my second child. 

According to Bettina Roeper, founder of Live Life Acupuncture, who encapsulated my placenta, “Placenta has been used to aid postpartum recovery by many different cultures around the world. Placenta is extremely nutritious and contains many of the vitamins, minerals and hormones that a mother's body needs to adequately recover from pregnancy and birth. It is considered rich in vitamin B, iron and protein, all of which are useful for postpartum recovery, and a particular benefit to vegetarian women. Women who have taken placenta capsules report positive results such as feeling energized and less weepy. The positive effects from using placenta pills are often felt immediately after taking the first dose.

I couldn’t agree more! The placenta pills were like magic. Unlike my first delivery, I didn’t experience baby blues or postpartum depression. My milk production was great and I felt like my hormones were much more manageable. I had a lot of energy and felt happy, even if sleep deprived. Some argue that it’s the placebo effect but I don’t care. I believe my placenta worked for me and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Bettina was recommended to me through my Mother's Group. Many Doulas offer this service as well. It was a pretty simple process. After delivery Bettina picked up my placenta (which was placed in an ice cooler filled with ice). Before encapsulation my placenta was steamed, dehydrated and ground into powder. This preparation conserves the most nutrients possible. Preparing the placenta is a pretty lengthy process and takes about 24 to 36 hrs. After this process, the placenta pills were delivered back to me at the hospital. Pure gold.

Are you grossed out? Are you considering? And what was your experience if you had your placenta encapsulated? 



Becoming A Mother, Part II


It's a girl! Almost two years after I became a mother for the first time, I am a new mother again but this time I was blessed with a gorgeous little girl. She is 10 weeks old now and I fall in love with her more every day. Here is the story of her birth. 

Ava Elizabeth Morris was born on a rainy Tuesday evening in the spring. I was 39 weeks pregnant and oh-so-ready to not be pregnant for one second longer. I realize in hindsight that I am not a very inspiring pregnant person. 

I went in for my 39 week check-up the Monday before she was born. When my midwife checked my dilation, her eyes widened and she said, "Well, you're between 4 and 5 centimeters dilated and about 90 percent effaced." 

She warned me to be ready to get to the hospital as soon as contractions started because I wasn't going to hold this baby in for long once things got going. She estimated that the baby would come within the week. 

My husband Clayton had come down with the flu and I begged him to stay home and rest up for our baby. He did not. After that fateful doctor's visit, I called him to inform him that it was an anytime-now situation. I don't think men ever really believe it until someone is actually yelling Push!!

I called him around noon and he was coming back from a meeting with plans to rest on the couch for the remainder of the day. That never happened!

Before picking him up at the train station, I stopped at the market to make sure that my refrigerator would be properly stocked for my mother-in-law when she came to watch Miles while I went to the hospital. I was not careful at the market. I bended and twisted and lifted heavy things. I was deliberately challenging my body to go into labor. And it worked! It turns out a rigorous trip to Whole Foods was the ticket! 

After picking Clayton up from the train, I started to contract as he was carrying the groceries in. He thought I might be kidding but when I started to time them 7 minutes apart, I told him that it was time to take me seriously. He called his mother in Pennsylvania and told her to get to New Jersey pronto. 

"This is the call you've been waiting for," he said when she picked up the phone. 

We started to pack for the hospital with uncertainty. Contractions were still seven minutes apart and Clayton wanted his "lucky Adidas track pants," which were still wet in the washer. We waited for them to dry and I put on some makeup so I wouldn't look like a total beast when I met my new baby. 

I have always hoped not to be one of those women who gets sent home from the hospital with false labor. Well that happened. The baby did not come that night. My contractions were too piddly to get any kind of labor started and they remained at 7 minutes apart. 

The midwife told us to go home so that we could rest and try again tomorrow. Hospital rules prevented her from breaking my water in order to induce labor until I was exactly 39 weeks, which wasn't until the next day. 

"Go home, eat some spicy food, walk around a little, do some nipple stimulation with your breast pump, have a glass of wine, have some sex," she said. "When a woman has an orgasm, it brings the uterus down and can bring on labor." 

I nodded, willing to do anything. Clayton blushed in the corner and pretended to look at something on his iPad. 

I was heartbroken to be sent home while contracting and dilated. So I tried all of the above. All of it. I would have tried it all at the same time if that were possible. 

None of those things in and of themselves brought on labor. I ended up sleeping most of the night with a few contractions waking me up. 

The next morning I went back to the midwife for a checkup. This time it was a different midwife who was very much a fan of Clayton. She said that I had dilated another 2 cm overnight and that we should head back to the hospital to "get this party started." She also gave Clayton a prescription for a zpack so that he would be healthy for our newborn. We went back home for our bags and brought lunch for my mother-in-law who had put Miles down for a nap. 

I did not want to see Miles before we left for the hospital because I knew I would be too emotional but we dawdled so long that he woke up from his nap before we left. I will never forget the wide eyed look on his face as I left for the hospital. He was sitting on my mother-in-law's lap eating apple slices. I cried and kissed him and said, "Mommy loves you! I'll be back soon, sweetheart! I love you!" 

He didn't understand of course. He looked at me with big sleepy eyes and said, "Bye bye Mommy." I knew it would never be the same again and I hoped that I was leaving to bring him the best friend he would ever know. I cried for our family of three that would never be the same again, even though it was changing in a good way. 

Once we arrived at the hospital again, things moved quickly. They broke my water within an hour of arrival. 

I was on the fence about having an epidural and wanted to see how far I could get. Wow. That was some crazy bullshit. I dilated all the way to about 8-9 cm before I got the epidural and it was horrid. I felt like someone was sawing me in half. 

But I did not curse and I did not cry. Other than throwing a vomit bowl at Clayton when he tried to film a contraction, I kept it together. And I tried everything to endure that pain! I got in the tub. I sat on the ball. I bit down on towels. Nothing helped the pain subside. Whatever fortitude it takes to endure childbirth without meds, I do not possess. 

As the contractions worsened, Clayton could hardly look at me. It must be really hard to see someone you love in such agony. He tried to rub my forehead but was uneasy. "What does it feel like?" he asked. I couldn't even form the sentences to tell him. 

When I finally did order the epidural, I had to get 15 minutes of fluids via an IV. Luckily, I had the needle put in my arm earlier in the afternoon. In that 15 minutes, I had to endure about 10 more God-awful contractions. It felt like 15 hours! I was told that the anesthesiologist on duty that day was "the best" and bless his heart, he was! I barely felt the epidural and I had relief almost immediately! If I could remember his name, I'd send him flowers. A car. I would have put him in my will at the time, I was so grateful. 

After the epidural my midwife said we would wait a little while for the meds to take effect and my uterus to finish dilating. She left to check on a few other patients. Twenty minutes later another midwife, her colleague, walked in. It had been a busy night for them with five other women going into labor. I had warned them of the Hurricane Irene storm babies like mine!! 

The second midwife walked in smiling and said she had come to help. She checked my dilation and said, "Oh honey, you're ready. This baby is nearly out already!" She asked me to push once. I pushed and felt the baby move nearly half way out of me. "Lets do this!" she said.  

I asked for a fresh pair of socks that I had brought and the midwife and Clayton both tried to discourage me. Don't ask me why I was so fixated on those darn socks but I would not push again without them. 

"You don't want those socks, they're going to get all messed up," she said. 

"Yes I really do. I don't care. I bought them just for this," I said. 

"No hon, you don't want the socks," said Clayton. 

"I do, I want the socks," I said. 

"Are you sure? The socks are going to get icky," said the midwife. 


Once I had the socks, the midwife told Clayton to come hold my head and he had to scramble to get his cameras and get to my bedside. The nurse walked in and saw the baby nearly out and said, "Oh my! Hang on let me get set up!" 

Two more pushes and five minutes later and the baby was out! 

"It's a boy!" said the nurse because the umbilical cord was wrapped between her legs, looking rather testicle-like.

"It is?" I said, fully expecting this result. 

"Wait a minute, what is this..." she said, turning over my tiny bundle of joy. "No, this is a girl! It's a girl!" 

My baby girl. I was so shocked that she was a girl that I couldn't think much else. I cried. I cried through laughter. I cried more than I thought I would and more than I did when Miles was born. I was shocked and happy and grateful. So I laughed and cried and then laughed and cried some more.  

It wasn't all smooth sailing from then on out. Having not spent much time in the birth canal, Ava was still full of muchus and had a hard time breathing. Two nurses turned into six or seven and they all worked frantically to get her breathing easily on her own. They warned us that if she didn't start breathing easier they would take her to the NICU. The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. The acronym no parent wants to hear. I watched across the room as several nurses descended on my tiny baby and tried to put all the scary words I heard out of my mind. 

In the meantime, I lay on the delivery table bleeding pretty profusely. My placenta was wedged and I continued to bleed while my body failed to deliver it. My blood pressure dropped significantly and the nurse told me to hang up the phone with my mom so that she could care for me and try to bring my blood pressure back up. She warned of a possible transfusion if they couldn't stabilize me. 

It was nerve-wracking with both of us in potential danger but it passed quickly and we were soon stable. This world will soon learn that my daughter and I are resilient and strong. And soon enough they handed her back to me and I had my first real good look at her. 

"Oh she's pretty," I said with a hint of surprise. Not because I didn't expect her to be pretty but because I didn't expect anything of her at all. 

The beauty of not finding out the gender of your babies is that you have no expectations of them before they are born. You love them because they are your offspring but you don't anticipate them in pink or blue. You don't ask yourself if they'll be pretty or handsome, strong or feminine, smart or sensitive. You learn to love them for who they are - not what they are. It is a beautiful thing to have zero preconceived notion of your child when you meet them. 

My little girl is very sweet and mild and precious. She completes our family so perfectly. Her brother loves his "Baby Ava" and she absolutely lights up when he walks into her sight. Clayton calls her"baby girl" and looks at her with trepidation and even more awe. For the first few weeks or her life, he only touched her with the very tips of his fingers for fear of breaking her. He was not as gentle with Miles but Miles was an 8 pound boy. Ava was a 6 pound girl. 

As for me, I had no idea I could love a little girl this much. I was used to loving my little boy but had no notion of raising a girl. I wasn't excited for hair braiding or dresses. I could care less about dolls and pink and princesses. But I adored her from the get-go. She doesn't look much like me but she is a part of me in a way that I can't explain. 

Almost from birth, Ava could wrap her arms around my neck when I held her. It is the sweetest feeling to hold her and feel her holding onto me right back. It makes me want to cry to think about it because it is symbolic of our relationship so early on: She knows that I need her as much as she needs me. And she's right, I do.

When I look at Ava and Miles at the same time, I am overwhelmed to think, "These are my children. These are the two souls I have been blessed with." I don't think I'll ever get over how amazing it is. 

My children have saved me in ways that I cannot describe. They are such beautiful souls. May I always be worthy to be their mother.  


Labor? Not Now Honey, I'm Too Tired


Last night I was certain my water had broken and that I felt contractions. It was close to 10 p.m. Clayton's response: 

Clayton: Do you think it's labor? 

Me: Not sure. 

Clayton: Do you want to go to bed?

Me: Yeah okay. 

We both figured that if labor did come on, we would eventually get out of bed but we were too tired to drive to the hospital to see. Pathetic.

This made me realize that no matter when Baby #2 comes, I'm going to be too tired for labor. I wish I could schedule this delivery like I schedule a facial - when I am showered, and good and ready for some rest and relaxation. 

So how do moms of toddlers manage to deliver a second baby? The logistics alone are making me crazy. I have emergency babysitters, and backup emergency babysitters for Mo, as well as a long list of instructions for caring for him while I'm away. But how do I get myself ready? I'm too damn tired! 

If Baby were to come tonight, I would be far too exhausted and sore to go to the hospital. It isn't like labor with my first. I was well rested and well groomed. If my water broke tonight, the coversation would go something like this: 

Me: So my water broke.

Clayton: Really? So what does that mean? Do we have to go to the hospital tonight?

Me: Yeah, the baby can't go more than 24 hours without fluid in there. 

Clayton: So we have about 23 hours then. Wanna go to bed? 

Me: Yeah okay. 


Before You Deliver, Ask for Help


In your final months before giving birth, friends and family often ask, “What can I do to help?” First, realize that people really do want to help. Otherwise they wouldn’t offer. Then gladly accept. 

When our friends and family asked us what they could do to help, we meekly suggested meals. And for the first month, after bringing home Tazzy, we didn’t have to cook at all. Looking back, it was the best help we could have ever asked for. We were dealing with a colicky baby and had no time to cook. We used to eat in shifts. I would eat while Josh help Tazzy, trying to comfort her and then we’d switch.

I just finished making two batches of lasagna for friends who have recently had babies. I enjoyed doing it and I’m so glad that I can contribute to our friends transitioning from a “couple” to a “family.” No matter the temperament of the baby, new parents will be delighted with a meal.

Did you have help after you delivered? What type of help do you suggest for first time parents? 


Baby Beth has Arrived!s

Last Monday, October 11, my husband and I welcomed our little girl into the world. Here is our birth story.

My due date, October 5, rolled by as did the next day and the next. By this point, I was ready to meet our daughter so I was trying everything to boost her arrival. I walked the Lyon Street Steps,  ate spicy foods, exercised on my birthing ball and tried a few other practices that claimed to kick start labor.

My husband and I met with our OB and decided to schedule an induction on the Sunday following our due date. On Saturday night I decided to try one last thing, which I’m embarrassed to admit. I drank two tablespoons of Castor Oil. My hubby Tom, mom and I ventured out to the local drugstore in search of the ancient cure all. We ended up chatting up the pharmacist who said they might have some in the back and returned with a dusty bottle. That should have scared me, but at this point I was determined to try anything (that wouldn’t hurt my baby of course.) So we returned home, I drank the minimum amount and we waited. We went to bed and about 11:30 p.m. my tummy started hurting in a non-labor kind of way. I went back to bed and about 2:30 a.m. I woke up to more stomach pains though these seemed different and appeared to be coming every 4-5 minutes and lasting about a minute. Three hours later, my water broke! Tom and I quickly got our bags in order – this was the night we had been preparing for!

Tom, my mom and I all piled into the car and headed to the hospital. After checking me out and confirming I was indeed in labor and that my water had broken, they admitted me about 6 a.m. I was 1 cm dilated and about 80-90 percent effaced. It was 10-10-10 and we were told we would most likely have a baby today!

We quickly set to work on getting this labor to progress. I rocked in the rocking chair, sat on the birthing ball and took walks. Tom was incredible throughout the whole experience, monitoring my contractions, massaging my back, keeping my mind off the pain and helping me to the restroom (I had an IV in and a number of monitors so it wasn’t easy.)

By 5 p.m., my contractions were becoming very painful. Tom and I had a great strategy in place on how to manage the pain and were working through it well.

About 7 p.m., they became extremely intense so I requested the epidural. Minutes after receiving the epidural, my contractions slowed and became longer – not a good sign. I was checked around Midnight for the second time to see how far I had progressed. I was at 6 cm, one cm away from 7 when the transition phase begins which is super fast. At this point, they started bringing up the fact that the baby was probably going to be really big, which is why my labor hadn’t progressed. After two more hours and no progress, it was clear that a cesarean was in our future.

My husband dressed in his scrubs and walked alongside the gurney with me to the operating room. He had to stay outside while they got me prepped. Before I went in, we kissed and he squeezed my hand. We knew we would see our little girl very soon.

Once in the operating room, they set to work prepping me. Unfortunately the speedy epidural they put in place earlier wasn’t properly executed so I had to get a second epidural. I was shaking uncontrollably. Tom was in the room by now and I could tell that he was so sad to see me this way.

Having a cesarean was unlike anything I had imagined. I had no idea you could feel them pushing and shoving to find your little baby. I was elated though when I heard her first cries and I couldn’t wait to lay eyes on her.

Tom went to the warming table to greet her. He later told me he was worried whether he would feel an instant connection, but upon seeing her, fell instantly in love and knew that this was his little girl and he loved her more than he could have ever imagined. This still melts my heart to this day. He is so good with her and is such a proud father.

They brought little Beth over to greet me after a few minutes. She was so beautiful. I can’t even begin to describe the love and happiness I felt snuggling with her and seeing her with Tom. I couldn’t wait to hold her in my arms.


It was a long journey and wait, but definitely worth it.

**Friends and family reading this blog please know we are using the name Beth as a substitute for privacy.