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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

So What Do Contractions Feel Like? My Birth Story

My Birth Story
After drinking the Augment Tea mentioned in my last blog, I began contractions around 4 am in the morning. These first contractions felt much like heavy period cramps which lasted for 45 seconds or so.
By 6 am, my Doula was over, to cope with me at home. I was still able to talk between each contraction, so it was an indicator to her that I was not dilated enough to go to the hospital. (4cm is the standard here).  By 7am, the midwife came to assess me and I was 3cm. After the assessment the contractions seemed stronger. I was now on my hands and knees to cope. Massages to the lower back helped throughout.   Finally by 8am, I pleaded to go to the hospital and threw on my jacket.
By the time I got to the hospital I was in active labor, pounding on the admittance table through my contractions as they look me up in their system.  While sitting in the assessment room, I begged and pleaded for the epidural, “Please can someone give me the Epidural, PLEASE!  PLEEEAAAASE!!”  The pain was intense and tears were streaming down my face.  Its hard to describe the feeling. The contractions start with a lower abdominal pain and works its way to the center of your uterus, squeezing the life out of you, literally....  The pain increases to a peak and then starts to subside. The break in between was 1 – 2 minutes,  sometimes it felt like only a few seconds and the next contraction would start again.  
They made me walk to my room, despite the fact I didn’t want to move at all. I suppose walking helped the baby drop lower in the pelvis and push against the cervix.  The walk to the Cedar room was LONG.
My eyes were completely closed the entire time, baring down on the rails on the way, screaming in the elevator and finally planted my face on the bed they assigned me. I dropped down on my knees and begged God to take the pain away! (I tend to do this 
Now shifting, to why the epidural was still not here yet, I started to accuse my doctor of lying to me and holding out on me so that my birth will be faster!!!  She reassured me that I would not be the person she’d hold out on and that the anaesthetist is on her way.  
Finally 11:30 am, the anaesthetist arrived with the epidural. She stood infront of me while my head was buried in my doulas shoulders and started to read the disclaimers. I said, “I don’t care, just give me the pen” and signed the damn thing.
Around 12pm,  the numbing took affect and my labour was a piece of Cake from then on. I felt NOTHING! It was great. I ate chocolate, prayed, texted my friends, all the while my contractions was getting stronger and stronger, opening up my cervix, larger and larger, and I felt NOTHINGJ
By 5:30, my doctor checked me and instructed me to push. 40 minutes later, my baby was out and on my chest staring at me in wonder and I stared back in awe and disbelief that he is really here, alive and well in my arms.  – Life is such a miracle. ! and all the pain in the world is worth it.

Here are My Two Cents:1) Get the Epidural ( it makes a huge difference )

2) Make sure to pack lots of juice boxes ( helped with pushing ) and snacks

3) Download the app "Full Term Labor" to time your contractions - It's Free!
4) Don't forget your camera and something nice for baby to wear the next day for photos

5) Remember to ask several nurses for the following items to take home with you:
    a) an extra pair of those funky sexy grandma underwear they give you
    b) nipple cream (you'll need this only if you are breasfeeding)
    c) pads (for bleeding)
    d) the Sitz Bath basin (to rinse and bath the stiched area if you have stitches)


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

3 AM - Leaking Fluid with Blood - No Contractions Yet

So obviously the Augment Tea mentioned in my previous blog works.
The main ingredient is the Verbena Oil (pure essential oil) and it is suppose to help with producing hormones to ripen the cervix, causing it to shorten and dialate.

The aroma also helped relaxed my body and made me sleepy. As I was getting ready for bed, I asked my husband to massage my back. After he was done, I shuffled a bit and a small amount of fluid leaked out. I started to walk downstairs and noticed that more leaked out. The fluid is clear and thick.  As I walked down the stairs to the bathroom, the fluid continued to trickle and it was mixed with blood.
"is this my water breaking?" or "is this my mucas plug?".
It is my first baby so I have no idea. Thankfully, there is a 24 hour on call care provider line. After speaking with a rep, she advised me that it sounds like my mucas plug; however it could also be a rupture in my amniotic sac aka water leaking.  My GBS test was negative, so it is safe in my case if my water broke. However if you have tested GBS positive; it is wise to get treatment asap and head to the hospital.
For more info on GBS:

She recommended that I get some sleep and call either her or my doula again once I feel strong contractions. Every women is different and it can be either in hours or even days. "What's considered a strong contractions?" She assured me that I will KNOW if I had a strong contraction. Currently I am experiencing mild cramps very similar to menstrual cramps.

I'm too excited to sleep. Instead, I double checked and packed a few more things in my hospital bag and now I'm blogging to document this for myself and share this with others who may be going through this in the future. After this entry, I'll probably pray myself to sleep. LOL.

:) Lucas will be arriving soon !!!

Monday, November 29, 2010

40 Weeks Plus 5 Days Overdue - Still Waiting for Baby

Well I am 5 days now past my due date. I've tried bouncing on a yoga ball, eating 2 pinapples, eating spicy food, as well as having a glass of red wine as recommended by my doctor to relax. Results? - Still no labor.

Yet I was assured today by my doctor that my body is completely normal.  I learnt that only 5% of women actually have their babies on their due date and 50% of women having first babies are past due.  The hospital would not even consider inducing me unless I was at least 10 days over due and even then, others may take priority based on medical circumstances.

Speaking with my own family members, I myself was 7 days over due @ 10 pounds and my father was 1 month over due @ 7 pounds.  Regardless, I do sympathize with all other women who are waiting because its not a pleasent process.

The doctor did check my cervix today and peformed "the sweep"
Results = Cervix is dropping, not dilated, and needs to ripen more. She did a partial sweep, quickly separating the membrane at the end of the cervix. It was not painful, but very uncomfortable.
We talked about possibility of inducement; however she warned me that it may not be wise to induce labor, before my cervix is open or "ripened". 

Her recommendations to naturally ripen the cervix includes:
1. Sex (apparently semen helps ripen the cervix) -
2. Augment Tea
3. More walking so baby will drop lower

Here is the Recipe for the Augment Tea

5 Drops of Verbena Oil
1 Medium Cinnamon Stick
10 Cloves
1 - 2 cm of Ginger Root finely sliced

Combined all except Verbena Oil and simmer in a liter of water for 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and add 5 drops of Verbena Oil
Let sit for 10 minutes
Sip until finished

I just finished preparing the tea and drank the entire litre! Please stay tuned....

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I'm Due Today - I Thought Women with RA are 2 weeks Early?

Women having their first child are usually late, so I hear. However, since I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, I thought maybe my baby will be pre-term.  Over 2 months ago, I gave Otis research studies a call to see what their statistics were from the sample of women they used in their studies who were pregnant with RA.
The results = average birth week at 38 weeks. 

Today, I'm 40 weeks full! It's my actual due date and I feel NOTHING. Well not exactly nothing; I'm sure my body is preparing for labor, so here goes something more in detail:

Early Labor Signs
1. Mild Cramping - I've had maybe 3 cramps during the last 2 weeks
2. Loss of Mucus Plug - No not yet, but slowly, I can see small amounts of egg white substance which started  a few days ago.
3. Spotting - No blood what so ever
4. Lower back pain - Definitely comes and goes
5. Nesting Instinct - This started 4 weeks ago - Started Cleaning EVERTHING like mad. Even the stains in my car upholstery.
6. Engagement / Tummy Drop - My last ultrasound at 37 weeks showed babies head already low and engaged, so he's in the position to be birth for 3 weeks now.
7. Braxton Hicks Contractions - I felt a few tightening of the uterus, but nothing painful or regular and this was about 2 weeks ago
8. Water Break - Definitely not yet - Check this out:
9. Contractions - Nope Nothing...
10. Cervix dilating - I don't know and do not want to check myself. Going to find out tonight :)

Ways to Naturally Induce Labor
Here's a list of 40 Ways to Induce Labor naturally. I myself picked the #25, and am scheduled for #33.

#25 - Eating a Fresh Pineapple - Does this really work? I'm eating one later today!
#33 - "Stretch and sweep of membranes - Your midwife or doctor can perform this simple procedure. A finger is inserted into the cervix and a gentle 'sweep' of the finger slightly separates the uterus wall and amniotic sac, sometimes leading to labor within hours or days. Some women say it's an easy, painless procedure, others claim it can be very painful. How well it works can also depend on if you are very far dilated or not." - I'm scheduled for this tonight. Will keep you posted !

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Is Enbrel Safe while Pregnant?

During the second trimester, I found that my flare ups were unmanageable and seriously considered going back on Enbrel.  Since Enbrel is a new biologic on the market, not enough studies have been done to consider it a safe drug to take during pregnancy.  It's classified as drug type C - "unknown".  

My rheumatologists recommended that I do not take Enbrel; for the very reason that there is not enough evidence to support Enbrel as a safe drug during pregnancy.  He suggested something more commonly used to cope during pregnancy; however with the drug he suggested, there is a slight chance of cleft palette deformity. No thanks! I didn't even register the name of that one in my memory. 

As I continued to research online, I came across an article by Otis:

I then spoke with a representative to ask in details the results of their studies done on pregnant women who have taken Enbrel.  The total sample of women at that time were 900, and none showed any deformities or harm to fetus due to Enbrel.  - 900 women within the entire United States is not a large sample at all, so I understand the caution medical professionals take when recommending Enbrel.

Some of you might be googleing Enbrel and Pregnancy as I did the same to read personal experiences from Moms who have taken Enbrel. I personally found that all of these mothers had healthy babies and none reported any problems accept for the feeling of "guilt".

After the June 15th incident (please see Coping with Flare Ups During Pregnancy- Spiritually), I decided to proceed with Enbrel. If anything were to happen to my child because of this decision, I seriously would not forgive myself, but something within me, assured me that it will ok. 

My doctor has been closely monitoring me and I've had 3 ultra sounds already and am due in 3 days now.
So far everything seems "normal".

Please stay tuned and I will keep you posted on how our new family is doing after birth. 

3, 2, 1....

Coping With Flare Ups While Pregnant - Physically

March 2010, I found out that I was PREGNANT!   "OMG, this is NOT the time, I thought", but apparently God's timing was and is perfect.  

Since the medication I was on, Enbrel, is a newer biologic on the market, not enough research was shown to deterimine its affects on a growing fetus. I was recommended to STOP all medication ASAP! 

Well, it didn't take long for my flare ups to start again.  If you are pregnant and can not take any medication for your pain, I hope you will find the following list helpful:

1. Hot & Cold Contrast Bath
(Dip flared area if possible in Cold Water for 30 secs, then hot for 10 secs) "Contrast baths decrease swelling, stiffness and pain, and increase movement and circulation. This is the only “heat modality” you can safely assume will not cause swelling, and in fact it is a proven method for decreasing swelling. Warm water dilates, expands or opens up the blood vessels, thereby increasing blood flow. Cold water constricts blood vessels, or makes them smaller. The alternating warm and cold water acts as a pump to get fluid out. Warm water alone may cause swelling."

2. Where protective splints / guards depending on which joints are hurting. This will protect the joints from further damage of sudden movements, or weight. There are splints meant for wearing to sleep which are comfortable and some with a cooling gel to reduce the swelling while sleeping.

3. Elevate the swelling joints / limbs by using pillows. This also reduces the swelling which inturn will reduce the pain while sleeping.

4. Castor Oil. I personally rubbed castor oil; however found it penetrated and relieved only my muscle pains rather than joints. However relieving any pain helped for me personally.

5. Camomile Tea / Sleepy Time Tea: it's a vicious cycle, the less sleep one gets the more flare ups, the more pain , and leading to lack of sleep.  I found sleepy time tea helpful. It did make me drowsy enough to dose off and get a good night sleep, but it did take me more than 1 cup that's for sure.

I hope you will find this helpful and if this is you too, I'm really sorry you have to go through this.
The good news is the disease will go into remission further along the pregnancy. It's a miracle really how this happens.  :)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

What is It? First Signs of Rheumatoid Arthritis

It was the summer of 2005, when I was 25 years old, the first signs of this awful debilitating disease hit me.
My right wrist was flared one morning. (aching, red, and simply stuck)  There was limited mobility and initially I thought, I must of sprained it somehow.  A few days past and the pain got worse to a point where it was not possible to drive (manual transmission).  Dreading to go to the doctors, I went. He then sent me for  blood tests and my RA Factor came back at 300 when it should be around 90 and so there it was, on paper, my initial diagnosis.

Next step was to visit a Rheumatologists who then recommended AGRESSIVE treatment since if treated early there is a slight chance that it can fall into remission. He explained that my left wrist did not show signs of the disease yet, and RA is an auto immune disease that affects joints symetrically, so there is a possibility to send this disease into remission.

The next half a year involved mulitiple doses and combinations of medications including:
Methotrexate (oral & injection)

The disease progressed and continued to spread to both wrists, shoulders, and knees.

Sorry to end here; but there is HOPE and more.. Please stay tuned....