Archive for the ‘childbirth’ Category

Since my last post about the loss of our baby I have received some news. After the lab work, my doctor informed me that I have the MTHFR gene mutation (and no, that does not stand for motherf****er…it actually stands for Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase if you really wanted to know). My mutation is compound heterozygous (C677T and A1298C mutations are both present), the second most serious type. That basically means I inherited one mutated gene from my mother and a different mutated gene from my father.

What does this mean? Well, I’m definitely no expert, but basically this genetic mutation may inhibit my body from absorbing folate (folic acid, B9, B6, B12 vitamins, which are, of course, essential to a growing fetus). This site has a quick description of MTHFR related to pregnancy, if you’d like more information: http://www.pregnancy-info.net/mthfr.html

How did I have a perfectly healthy pregnancy and baby with Henry? That’s the main unanswered question now. No one can seem to explain to me why some pregnancies are just fine and why others cannot progress. It’s all very new science and I still have my doubts as to whether this definitely is the cause of my miscarriage, but the gene mutation is definitely there, so that’s all I have to go on now.

My ob/gyn told me to immediately begin taking 4 milligrams of folic acid per day (5 times what’s in the usual prenatal vitamin) and I’ve also added B vitamins to my daily vitamin regime.

What does this mean for us? Not much has changed. It was nice to possibly have some kind of answer and to have some way to take action to prevent future pregnancy loss. Other women with MTHFR I’ve talked with on forums have mixed results after taking the loads of folic acid and getting pregnant again. It just seems very uncertain and I guess that worries me. If I get pregnant again I know I will be on edge until the baby is born.

We’ve looked into adoption quite a bit. It’s discouraging. It’s so expensive and the wait is so long. We’re not sure if that’s the direction we should be going right now or not. All I know is Henry needs a sibling! And quick! 😉 And Leo needs more babies. He deserves more babies. Perhaps that’s not meant to be. Our life is a happy one and we try to focus on that and thank God for that.


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Baby June

It has now been nearly two months since we lost our baby. Although the tears still come at times, the grieving has subsided and I am able to talk about our loss a bit more. The basic story is this: I was 18 weeks pregnant when we were visiting family in Washington, Missouri. I had some light spotting on Monday night, and woke up on Tuesday with some mild cramping and backache. We went to the emergency room where we discovered that our baby had no heartbeat. I was induced and gave birth to our daughter, June, at 1:15AM on Wednesday, August 24th.

That is a stiff, non-emotional rendition of the most difficult and exhausting event of my life. I can’t explain in words the heartbreak Leo and I felt when we were first given the news. Or the rage and sadness I felt when I walked into the labor and delivery room and was faced with the reality that we were never going to bring our baby home. The empty space on the whiteboard next to the “baby’s doctor” bubble letters sent me over the edge. I couldn’t even look at the side of the room with the rocking chair and baby bed. On that bed in a few hours, our nurse would carefully wrap our baby girl before handing her to us to hold for the first and last time.

I was surprised at the intensity of labor. Up until the point of pushing, it was very similar with Henry’s labor. I know I could have taken drugs, but I also knew that I could handle the pain and that I didn’t want to be at all foggy when our baby arrived. I wanted to remember clearly the short moments we had with our child.

We had an amazing nurse named Beth who helped us through every aspect of our situation – from bringing me ice chips and hot pads to grief counseling. She sent us home with a memory box containing June’s receiving blankets and a copy of her tiny footprints. We brought June’s ashes home to Arkansas with us. We placed them under a cherry tree we planted in our garden. I plan on making a sign that reads “For June – our little bird who flew away.”

A few days after the ordeal, Leo wrote this beautiful note. It captures the emotion of the situation so perfectly for me. He designed an image with a dandelion and the words artistically place on the page. It was such a perfect way for Leo to deal with his grief and I appreciated it more than anything. I am glad I have it because as time goes by, the memory of what I was feeling at the time tends to go as well. This note reminds me of what we felt during that time and I never want to forget that feeling because I never want to forget June. So here it is:

8/26/11 – Your little heart began to beat and brought your mama and me unspeakable joy. We were so excited to announce your presence to your family. Your brother Henry would point to you and say “baby!” as you grew inside of his favorite person. Much of your bouncing around inside was due to his antics. Your Babo says your brother is the smartest boy – we knew you’d be very special too. We were excited to learn if you were a girl or boy in a week. You were growing and we were preparing for your birth in January. We had discussed the who, what, and where of your birth and would never have dreamt we had the “when” wrong. Your mama didn’t feel well so we went to the doctor. After the first ultrasound was inconclusive, we prayed to God for a miracle. We weren’t ready to say goodbye – we hadn’t even said hello. After more tests, everyone kept saying they were sorry. I hugged your mama and we cried. We were forced to think about things that hurt our hearts in a way we’d never known. I wished I could take your place. Early the next morning your mama, hungry and tired, labored for a few hours. When it was time for her to push, she hesitated because she didn’t want to let you go. They wrapped your tiny body in a blanket and brought you to us. I held your mama, and your mama held you. We saw your little outstretched arm, five fingers, eyes. I was hesitant at first, but I wouldn’t trade that moment for anything. It was a helpless moment. Nothing could be done, but grieve the loss of our baby girl.  Our future had been abruptly altered. I envisioned holding you and hearing your first cry, your mama dressing you up, your brother teaching you how to play…. you would have loved Nana’s toy pile. We have to believe you’re in God’s hands and hope to see you again someday. We’re taking you back home with us – in our hearts and in a tiny box. We’ll plant a tree with your ashes and always remember our little baby June.


Now, two months later, I feel like we are healing and moving ahead with our lives. We still envision a large family and we are open to how that will happen. I am working with my OB/GYN and trying to find some possible reason why we might have lost our baby this late in the pregnancy. I am tired of hearing “these things just happen”. At first I WANTED to believe that it was just a random thing. It gave me comfort to think that I can get pregnant again and have a healthy baby no problem. But after researching, I’ve discovered that the possibility of it being a “simply” explained chromosomal abnormality is less than 5% (because of my age -under 30- and the late stage of the pregnancy). They are testing my blood right now and looking for the possibility of a blood clotting disorder (which seems like one of the more likely culprits). So we shall see. Leo and I are also exploring the idea of adoption. We’ve considered it for a couple years now and we are finally seriously looking into it. If anyone has any insight, feel free to share! If it comes down to spending thousands of dollars on tests or fertility treatments, we will definitely put that money toward adoption instead.

So, that’s where we are right now. That’s our story, our situation. Leo has been quite busy with work and I have been quite busy with our two-year-old fiddler, so we are thankful for distractions and for the other blessings in our life. Henry is amazing and this has made me appreciate him more than ever.

Thank you to everyone who prayed for us and supported us during this experience.

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Just came across this paragraph in Ina May’s new book. This is a nice summary of why I choose natural birth. Basically one medical intervention often leads to another which leads to another, etc.

“…so the epidural began to be used routinely in most hospitals. The epidural, especially when given early in labor, tends to increase the length of labor. For this reason, it became common to augment the strength and pace of contractions with intravenous synthetic oxytocin (such as Pitocin). The synthetic oxytocin causes severe contractions that can sometimes reduce blood flow to the baby for longer than natural contractions would. The problem introduced by this practice produced, once again, an increase in the number of cases of fetal distress leading to a C-section.”

-From “Birth Matters: A Midwife’s Manifesta” By Ina May Gaskin

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Two Months Old

Two Months Old

I just wandered back to ol’ Ruby Pines Adventures in Arkansas to see that my last post was three days before the birth of my son (over two months ago). You know all that stuff people say about babies taking up all your time and energy? Well, it’s true! It seems ridiculous that I haven’t been able to sit at a computer and type up Henry’s birth story in two months, but life has definitely taken a different twist…for the better, of course.

Henry was born at 9:30 a.m. on September 5, 2009. He was born at home as planned, although everything didn’t go exactly as planned. Here’s the overall adventure. My water broke and I immediately went into intense labor around 9:30 p.m. on Friday night. I dilated fairly quickly for a first baby, with intense contractions close together from the moment they started until I was ready to push around 3:00 a.m.. Although the contractions were incredibly painful, I was able to handle the pain by moving from the birth pool to the yoga ball to the shower, etc. and having Leo next to me to encourage me to remember all the relaxation techniques we had been studying. Now is where things start getting crazy. The pushing stage did not go quickly for me. I basically pushed with every contraction for six hours. When I saw the sun come up, I started panicking a bit internally because I was exhausted and felt like I was not capable of pushing this baby out on my own. The midwife was trying every technique she knew. I was trying every existing position trying to get this boy out! Poor Leo was almost as sore as I was the next day from me pushing and pulling on him. The baby was slowly descending, but there was a long period of time where he seemed to be hung up on something. Finally I was trying to take a break for a bit when another contraction came on and I felt like I wasn’t able to push anymore, but something took over (endorphins or something!) and miraculously, my baby was suddenly placed on my belly. Leo was the first to see that he was a boy and Henry began nursing immediately (Well, after pooping all over me and Leo). The only reason we were able to keep at it for so long was because Henry’s heart rate never changed throughout the entire process, and he came out perfect with an Apgar score of 9 or 10. Unfortunately, I wasn’t quite as perfect after his birth. I began losing too much blood. It turned out a blood clot had formed probably due to a rip in the uterus lining. Because the baby’s head was in the birth canal for so long, the blood could not drain, and a large blood clot formed. An ambulance was called when I was bleeding and I was given pitocin to stop the bleeding. Once the clot was delivered, the bleeding stopped. We aren’t sure if this is due to the pitocin or the blood clot being expelled. When the ambulance arrived I still had not delivered the placenta and I had a small tear, so we decided to go to the hospital to make sure everything was ok. We are still not sure if I didn’t deliver the placenta because of the pitocin or because my body just shut down. Henry rode with me in the ambulance and nursed the entire trip and nursed the whole time I was waiting to go into surgery. They sent me to surgery to remove the placenta and stitch my tear (second degree). Leo and I came home the next morning with Henry. It was sad spending that first night in the hospital, not sharing a bed with Leo and Henry, but we are just thankful everyone is healthy and that most of the things that were really important to us were able to happen. Henry was born naturally with no drugs and we were able to hold him in our arms immediately in the comfort of our own bed. Before we left for the hospital, the midwife weighed Henry and he was 8pounds, 10ounces.

About 15 minutes old

About 15 minutes old

Henry is now just over two months old. He is a beautiful, big boy! At his last doctor’s visit, he was seven weeks old and weighed nearly 13 pounds, which puts him in the 95th percentile for his age. He has also grown to 23 inches (he was 21 at birth). A few weeks ago, he really started to smile and laugh and he likes to be carried around in my wrap all the time. He is adjusting to life in the “outside world” and becomes more enjoyable daily. Here are some photos I took a few days ago:

Henry Grey Contemplative

Henry Grey Laughing

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Any day now…

Pregnant Rachel and Pregnant Tree

So this baby could be here ANY DAY! I feel as ready as a person could be. You always feel like there is more to read or learn, but at the same time I’m just ready to experience it for myself. I have the most supportive husband a girl could ask for. He has prepared as much as I have and will be a wonderful birth coach and an amazing father. I think I’m just as excited to see Leo as a dad as I am to meet this little person growing inside of me.

Think of us over the next few weeks as we bring the baby into this world and then adjust to the fact that it is now in the world!

I’m sure I will have gobs of stories and photos to share once the baby is here and we are settled.

Rachel and Leo kissLeo and Rachel kiss 2

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An important part of our Bradley Birthing Classes is to help us make informed decisions on the typical procedures done to babies and laboring women here in the U.S.. In our class last week, all the couples had to research a topic and present pros and cons for both sides of the argument. We learned about: circumcision, ultrasound, Electric Fetal Monitoring, IV use during labor, and newborn procedures (Vitamin K injection, Hep B Vaccine, Eye ointment, PKU test).

Some of the topics don’t necessarily apply to us since we’re having the baby at home (fetal monitoring, IV, etc), but we were very interested in learning about the newborn procedures and what we feel our baby needs to be safe and healthy. We haven’t made decisions on everything yet, but we are fairly certain that we will not circumcise our baby if it is a boy. There is simply no reason to do it. The couple who presented that research in the class was a doctor and his wife. The doctor has performed circumcisions himself and brought in all the different tools used and gave us a very informative demonstration and presentation. He basically said the medical hierarchies do not give any reason to have the procedure done. Many insurance companies won’t even cover it because it is considered “cosmetic surgery”. Unless you have a religious reason to do it, it is not necessary. From the Mayo Clinic Website:

“In 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a policy statement that says the benefits aren’t strong enough to recommend routine circumcision for all male newborns. Today, the AAP leaves the decision up to parents – and supports use of pain relief for infants who have the procedure.”  Mayo Clinic Website

 The argument for hygiene has little upholding because the findings they have are very small and also many uncircumcised babies are not properly bathed or taken care of. The main argument for circumcision is that it is necessary for “social reasons”, “so that the baby looks like the dad and everybody else”. To me, this is a weak reason. I don’t want my child to feel the need to look like everybody else. But I did leave it up to Leo since he is a man and he said he sees no reason at all to circumcise a baby boy. After researching the topic, the doctor and his wife have decided NOT to circumcise their son (they know they are having a boy and he is due the same day as our baby), which I thought was quite a testimonial.

“Worldwide, only about 10% of males are circumcised, and even in the United States, circumcision rates have declined from 80% in 1980 to 64% in 1995.” About.com: Pediatrics

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Preparing for baby

Rach pregnant

Our baby will be here in two months. We’re getting prepared. Researching topics like bed-sharing and co-sleeping, cloth diapering, birth plans, circumcision, vaccines, and breastfeeding. We started our 8-week Bradley Birthing Course last week. I think that will be a wonderful resource for us. The instructor is knowledgeable, but makes us feel comfortable. It is an intimate setting with four other couples. We have one nurse and one doctor in the bunch, which I found comforting. It made us feel less crazy for wanting a natural birth experience.

My mom gave us our first shower last week and we were blessed with so many wonderful gifts! We are feeling much more prepared with some of the “essentials”.

Here is a photo of the diaper cake mom made for us. It was hilarious…it was stuffed with cloth and disposable diapers along with every imaginable baby necessity crammed in every crevice. When I got it home and started looking inside it, it was like Mary Poppin’s carpet bag! Things just kept coming and coming!

Diaper Cake

Our midwife has also been a critical part of our preparation. At our last prenatal visit, she instructed us on how to make the bed for the birth and where to order our home birth kit. (She also informed us that I have the “perfect pelvis” for giving birth…haha…Leo hasn’t let that one go!)

This is when things are really beginning to sink in. In just a little while we will have a little person in our home! We are getting very excited. We can’t wait to meet the little Snyder/Kempf combination.

31 weeks pregnant

31 weeks pregnant

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