Here are some pictures from early April when Rowan turned 2 months old:
Today, Rowan drank 2 ounces of my milk from a bottle! This is a giant relief to me since I go back to work on Monday. He was reluctant to drink from a bottle previously, but Daddy worked his magic, and Rowan did just fine.
Also today, Forest kept his underwear dry all day even though the day included a lot of outings. We went to the Shawnee Early Childhood Center in the morning, then lunch at Sunrise Chinese Buffet, followed by a dentist appointment for Forest and then picking up Daddy’s new glasses at the optometrist’s. Mommy and Daddy are so proud!
On a bright and sunny Sunday afternoon, February 1st, I started early labor. I felt so excited that Rowan was on his way, and I felt fairly ready. I began breathing through contractions using the hypnobirthing method I had been studying. Forest helped by bouncing on the birthing ball under the baby hammock frame. He also helped by getting into the tub with me. The warm water felt good, and Forest said he wanted to “have contractions with me.” Forest’s sweetness and caring helped me feel like the whole family was doing this together.
Labor progressed to feel very intense later in the evening with contractions pretty close together, so I thought Rowan would come that night. Aunt Cheryl picked Forest up to stay with her and her son Zane, and Donald and I packed for the hospital. I was disappointed and shocked to learn that I was only dilated to 1 cm. after all of those contractions. Instead of driving 45 minutes to get back home, we decided to stay at a hotel nearby.
Early labor continued throughout Sunday night and all day Monday. Contractions were intense enough and close together enough, usually 7 to 20 minutes apart, that I couldn’t sleep. This pattern continued throughout Monday, and I danced, bounced on a birthing ball, and took warm baths. My friend, Karen, brought a bunch of positive energy and also a nice bath pillow to help me relax even better. Our Doula visited at the hotel to provide some coaching and encouragement. By Monday night it seemed that the contractions were again closer together and more intense, so we returned to the hospital to find that I was only dilated to 3 cm. I couldn’t believe it! Back we went to the hotel armed with an antihistamine they gave me to help me sleep a bit between contractions. My contractions lengthened out and de-intensified enough for me to sleep some that night. When I woke up, labor started up again, still irregular all day. We decided to go home to Shawnee for awhile. On Tuesday evening, I could finally distinguish that labor was becoming more regular and intense.
Donald was an amazing birth partner. I really fell in love with him all over again–really more so than ever before. He helped by massaging my back, reminding me to “open” and to be “soft” and to breathe. I told Donald I thought it was time to head back to the hospital after some particularly intense and regular contractions. On our way in, I saw a nurse that had watched me come in only to be turned away the past two evenings. “Third time’s a charm, I bet,” I said confidently. She wished me luck. They found me dilated to 7 cm this time. I was actually going to have a baby at last! That nurse cheered for us when she saw that we would finally be admitted.
As soon as we got into the birth suite, I asked to get into the tub for some comforting warm water. The nurses got a monitor strapped to my belly to make sure Rowan was doing okay. Our Doula was heating up extra water in a tea kettle she had brought to make the water just a bit warmer since she had long experience with OU Children’s Hospital to know that extra help was needed to achieve a comfortable temperature.
After an hour or so, they said Rowan’s heart rate was going down, so they had to get me out of the tub. They gave me oxygen, told me to continue breathing deeply, and helped me into different positions on the bed. Finally my water broke when I was about at 9 cm. There was some meconium in the amniotic fluid, so the midwife called a pediatric team. She explained that the team would need to immediately assist the baby after birth to make sure his breathing was okay.
My main goal was to have a successful VBAC, so I diverted from my birth plan and asked for an epidural when I was dilated to 9 cm. By that time, I was pretty tired of contractions by then, and I thought this would be my best bet for getting through the pushing and having a non-surgical birth.
The epidural didn’t totally “take” since I got it so late, but it took care of enough pain that I was easily able to push when I was fully dilated. The epidural did slow things down a bit, and my birth team had to wait around. The doula, midwife and nurses coached me through pushing, I think because they wanted to hurry up and get Rowan out.
I had asked for a mirror, and they set up a large mirror on a stand at the end of the bed. It was so beautiful to watch my baby’s head crowning slowly over several contractions and finally emerging. I felt intense joy and excitement seeing him arrive. Rowan Glen Winslow was born Wednesday morning, February 4, 2015, at 8:13 a.m.
It was very difficult watching them take Rowan over to the pediatric team and away from me, right after he was born. I wanted to hold him so badly. The one non-negotiable thing we had said we wanted on the birth plan was immediate skin-to-skin contact with me and delayed cord clamping. We didn’t get those things because of the meconium fears. After working on Rowan awhile in the room, they let me hold him briefly, then whisked him off to NICU.
I wasn’t as worried as I might have imagined I would be in this situation; I just had this sense that he would be okay. I was very eager for them to release me from recovery, though, so I could go visit him. I talked them into letting me breastfeed him as soon as possible which they let me do even though he was attached to many cords and tubes. It was very strange, and scary, yet I still knew that he would be fine, so I was pretty calm.
He spent one night in NICU. I kept going in to feed him, and he kept improving. He was released from NICU the next afternoon, and I got to spend one night in the hospital room with him.
He was such a calm baby from the very beginning.
We spent all day the next day in the hospital, then they released both of us on Friday evening, February 6th.
Although I had 60 hours of labor, I was so grateful to remain pretty calm throughout the labor and birth. I had worked a lot with affirmations in pregnancy and collected inspiring pictures for focus. I had a wonderfully supportive husband, a good midwife and nurses, and the most amazing doula. Although I did not have full benefit of a hypnobirthing class that I’m sure would have brought more relief from intensity and pressure, I had the most important benefit to me which was freedom from anxiety throughout labor and delivery. The nurses were saying they were amazed by my calm and control. I have a tendency to anxiety, but went through the whole experience feeling positive and joyful.
This weekend, we went on our first trip as a family since Rowan’s birth. The boys and I had a lovely Saturday wandering around the Chickasaw National Recreation Area while Daddy played in a chess tournament in Davis. Forest likes to be around water, and he did not waste time getting his socks and shoes off to enjoy the sulphur water brook that runs through the flower garden.
When we got home, Forest wanted to hold his brother.
Forest started actively potty training in early April 2015, and it’s been a whirlwind of activity since then. It started out very promising. Forest’s occupational therapist, Sonja, recommended that we start with tangible rewards. We opted for candy and a special bag of toys to play with. She suggested we offer small rewards for trying and larger rewards for putting something in the potty. We talked with him about the system the night before, and the next morning, he woke up and went to the bathroom first thing, without being prompted, and skipping his normal routine of going to his parents’ bed to snuggle first. This seemed very promising! The funniest thing he said in this early stage was, “Actually, when I need to poop, I prefer to poop in a disposable diaper.”
By mid-April, he was keeping his underwear dry most of the day. He was still going out in pull-ups, sleeping in a diaper, and putting on a diaper for poop. He was keeping his pull-ups dry and his overnight diaper mostly dry. He was emptying his own diaper in the toilet, and then putting it in the diaper pail.
On Earth Day, April 22nd, Forest laid a diaper over the seat of his potty chair, and went poop on the diaper on the potty! We celebrated this accomplishment with lots of high fives, high tens, and a happy dance with an impromptu victory poop song from mommy. Forest has also been keeping his underwear or pull-ups dry every day for the last week! We’ve made so much progress, and it looks like we are well on our way to potty independence.
Here is what I’m currently taking to try to fend off the postpartum anxiety that has appeared within the past few days:
Rainbow Light prenatal vitamins –very high quality (read “expensive”) food-based vitamins that you take 3X a day with meals
Fish Oil capsules 3X day
Vitamin D3– 4,000 – 6,000 IU per day
extra calcium and magnesium. The Rainbow Light vitamins have a total of 1,000 mg calcium and 500 mg magnesium. I’m adding another 250-500 mg magnesium in the evening in addition to what is in the RL vitamins. Back in 2011, I spoke with a Postpartum wellness counselor who recommended a very specific ratio of calcium and magnesium, which I’ve now forgotten. She seemed to have a lot of expertise in nutrition, and I remember she said something about women having too much copper after giving birth, and the calcium-magnesium supplements help correct this imbalance. If I continue to have trouble, I may contact her again.
1 cup of St. John’s Wort tea (I actually purchased some standardized extract in capsules, but my midwife said they don’t recommend SJW, so I’m holding off on that)
Florajen 3 probiotic (this needs to be refrigerated)
…and of course, anticipating that I would need extra support, I had my placenta encapsulated, and I am taking those capsules every day