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<p>I have never written about the experiences of bringing my ds into the world.  The difficulties still stress dh and me to this day and I thought it might be helpful to write them down. </p>
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<p>When my dd was born in 1996 labor was 58 hours, I pushed for over three hours and was finally able to birth her vaginally. I spent a day in the hospital and although I felt accomplished, I also felt that I had been through a war and told anyone who would listen that I had no intention of doing it again for 7-10 years.</p>
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<p>In November 2004 I had my IUD removed and we began the process of trying to get pregnant again.  By February we were pregnant, ecstatic and looking forward to the new addition.  It never occurred to me that anything bad could happen.  I went to my first ultrasound on my way to work (first mistake) at 9 weeks, alone (second mistake).   When they couldn't find a heartbeat, I was devastated, alone, forced to tell the school secretary why I would not be at work and I needed an emergency sub for my classes and forced to track down dh. He turned out to be working out and they had to page him at the gym.  I opted for a D&C and had a relatively easy time of it physically.  My wonderful family care physician who helped birth dd called me twice a day during my recovery.</p>
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<p>So we set out to try again and by early July we were pregnant again.  This time I started bleeding the week of Katrina.  Although they did an ultrasound and there was a heartbeat, I knew in the middle of that night that the pregnancy was over.  This time, everything passed naturally.  Thankfully, the testing that we did showed a bacterial imbalance in my cervix, most likely a result of the D&C.  We treated the imbalance and I was cleared to try pregnancy again.</p>
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<p>By first week of November we were pregnant again.  Yes you are reading this correctly; pregnant in February, miscarried in April, pregnant in July, miscarried in September and pregnant in November.  Pregnant long enough to gain 10 pounds each time but no time to lose the weight in between pregnancies.  I felt fat, exhausted and unhealthy.  By 14 weeks, the exhaustion caught up with me and I began to have severe problems with my breathing.  It felt like I was in the midst of a perpetual asthma attack.  The resulting anxiety reached a critical state and I couldn't stop crying.  If pregnancy was going to be like that, I didn't want to do it.  I went to the doctor who told me that my breathing was fine and that there was nothing physically wrong with me.  Someone suggested that I see an acupuncturist and I think that he saved my pregnancy and my emotional state.  It turned out that the problem was not with my lungs but was resulting from weakness in my kidneys.  We often don't recognize how difficult and taxing pregnancy is on the kidneys.  I ended up having to go to the acupuncturist 3-4 times per week until we could get my breathing problems under control.    </p>
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<p>By 20 weeks, I had to make a decision as to whether or not I would have an amniocentesis.  Given the fact that I was considered of advanced maternal age, I found myself internalizing all the horror stories and really didn't know what to do.  The perinatolgist was very understanding and experienced and made me feel good about whatever decision I made.  It was my family care physician who helped me decide by asking if it would make a difference what the test showed.  He asked me point blank if I would terminate the pregnancy if there was something genetically wrong.  Since my honest answer was yes, he encouraged me to go ahead with the amnio.  The amnio took 56 seconds exactly and put me into shock.  Once they stabilized my system, I went home to rest for the recommended 48 hours during which I had no complications.  As soon as I got up from the bed rest though, I started having horrible cramps, I was so scared and didn't know what to do.  The pain was so bad that I told dh that he was going to have to take me to the hospital.  Clearheaded, dh explained that they would give me narcotics if I went to the hospital and suggested that I try cannabis instead (we live in California, a medical cannabis state.)  Wow, did it work perfectly, I felt fine and was up and cooking dinner and doing laundry within a half hour.  The results of the amnio were normal and we began to think that this baby might actually be born.</p>
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<p>Birth, oh no.  As soon as I started thinking about the birth, my level of fear increased exponentially.  My last experience had been so long and painful that I just dreaded doing it again.  I started to research and found Hypnobabies home study.  It was so helpful keeping me calm, and keeping my mind off of the little stresses. My doctor was wonderful even when I told him I was reading everything I could get my hands on about unassisted childbirth.  I figured I had to be emotionally ready to birth the baby by myself and that the people I chose to have around me were there because I wanted them there rather than needed them. I normally gain 50 lbs during pregnancy and with the extra 20 that I was carrying from the first two pregnancies that ended in miscarriage, I was up a whopping 70 lbs.  Not good.  It didn't help that for several days in July, when I was 38 weeks that we had a massive heat wave in northern California that saw temps up to 115 degrees.  My feet blew up like melons and I could hardly walk.  In addition, we were in the middle of a massive remodel on our house, we were sleeping in the living room and were several months behind schedule.  It was clear that once the baby was born, the children I would be forced to move in with my parents until it was safe to move back into our house.</p>
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<p>Two days before my due date I began to have pre-term birthing waves, nothing at regular intervals and nothing too difficult to manage.  When I went to sleep that night I was expecting a difficult night but instead got the best night sleep I had in weeks.  When I got up in the morning I expected nothing but found that I was in regular labor 30 minutes later.  I got just what I envisioned, labor in the morning, my mother's huge bathtub by midday, the hospital in the early afternoon and a baby in time for everyone to be home for dinner.  Ds was born without drugs or complications at 4:24 pm.  I had a gnarly 3rd degree tear that took over an hour to stitch but ds nursed throughout the stitching and both dh and I are grateful that our doctor did such a great job stitching me up, ha ha. </p>
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<p>Ds is now 4 and life has settled into a routine but not without difficulties.  Definitely, no more children for us; too much drama, much I which I did not anticipate.  I wish that I had been more considerate of dh's feelings about all of the pregnancies and the stresses that accompanied them.  I wish I had been less self-centered and more understanding that the stresses were happening to both of us and that my pain was not more than his, just different.  Whereas I was healed by ds's birth, dh's stress took much longer to come to the surface and heal.  Thankfully we're moving in a better direction now.  </p>
 

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<p>Thank you very much for sharing your story with us, mama. I hope that getting it all out in the world has helped you in some ways, too. You are very strong.</p>
 
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