I would like to preempt with this —
this blog post is not meant to cause anxiety or further distress around this pandemic.
My husband and 8 month old are both high risk for respiratory issues. This means that we have decided to implement new lifestyle changes since this nasty virus showed up. It might seem neurotic to some, but I thought I'd share because a few of you might be interested, or think to try something you might not have thought of.
We know the virus is not in our home, so we have created a line of defense to keep it that way. Here’s how:
We do a combination of ordering food online with Delish Deliveries and shopping at the supermarket. When food is delivered to our home, we disinfect the boxes first, then bring the box into our home. We open the box and proceed to disinfect everything inside piece by piece. This whole process can take up to an hour, but now we have it down to about 35 mins or so. The fruit and veggies are placed in a water + vinegar solution or a Dr Bronner's castile soap bath. We are not able to recycle the cardboard anymore due to COVID restrictions, so we simply recycle it. We do the same system after a grocery shop. Every single item is cleaned and/or opened and placed away.
We use old, reusable plastic bags that we already had when shopping. Cloth bags are more likely to bring the virus into the home. When I have used cloth bags, I wash them immediately upon my return home. We leave the plastic bags outside the house as well.
When we visit the grocery store, we avoid going at peak times. It's very quiet during the day as most people are at work or working from home. We avoid going on the weekend if possible, as this is when you'll most likely have to cue up and wait to get in.
(This happened to me once, and I won’t do it again).
At the shops, we get in and get out. We don’t loiter and we don’t touch all the things. My husband saw a man sneeze in the cleaning aisle, twice, without covering his mouth. He saw the spit/spray absolutely cover all the products in front of him. It was a great reminder of how easy it can be for viruses to travel. So, grab what you need and move on.
We never leave the house without a mask. We use N95 masks or surgical masks. We also have double sided tape to create a flush seal if it doesn’t fit properly for any reason.
We leave our shoes at the door and do not wear them inside.
I don’t kiss my 8 month old on the lips anymore.
When we get home from the shops, doctor’s office, wherever…. we place our belongings down and disrobe. Then we have a hot shower and wash throughly. After this we disinfect everything that was used: wallet, credit cards, keys, phone. I think this is particularly important if you have small toddlers and babies who like to play with your phone/keys.
We always wash our hands after retrieving the mail and we disinfect our mail box.
We always wash our hands after bringing the garbage bins in, and we also disinfect the bin handles.
We do not eat out. We don’t get take away. We don’t get Uber eats. We don’t get coffees to go. Simply put, we don’t eat or drink a single thing prepared by anyone other than ourselves.
Have you made changes since COVID, or is life pretty much the same?
Wishing you guys all the best during this bizarre time.
Stay safe and be kind to yourself.
Emerson Rose came into this world hard and fast on July 30th at 2:30am
Monday, July 29th
I headed to see my OB for my standard weigh in, blood pressure and quick ultrasound. She wanted to do an internal to see how things were progressing, if at all. The week before, bub was high, nowhere near my cervix. Thankfully I had dropped a bit, so things were moving along, albeit slowly. I didn't want any intervention, and as she was all up in there, she said, "now I will just do a little stretch." I was annoyed because she did it without asking, but I couldn't really feel anything and decided not to let this grind my gears in the big scheme of things since I was not able to go over term anyway due to other factors.
I dropped my hubby off at work and then went to physio at 11am to get more work done for my SIJ pain. I ended up losing my mucus plug at 2:30pm. It came flying out like a bat out of hell. I remembered that my daughter was born the following day after losing my mucus plug, so I knew things were about to get real. I made sure I had everything ready to go in my hospital bag and then I tried to go about my day like nothing was out of the ordinary.
I didn't have regular contractions until 8:30pm about 2.5 minutes apart. We were watching The Block and I was pacing the house like those tigers you see behind the glass at the zoo. Oh yes, I remember this feeling...
If you've never had a baby before, you might not know this part, but they'll usually tell you in your antenatal class to call the hospital before coming in. They tell you to do this so that the midwife can ask you some questions and listen to you over the phone. She could tell when I was having a contraction and listened closely to how I spoke, and more importantly, my breath. She said that I should come in because of how close my contractions were, so we loaded up the car and rushed off in the pitch black night.
It was a really quiet night and there was a weird weather change, even a little bit of rain. The midwife said this either made for a particularly quiet night, or a busy evening with as many as 8 babies born to three midwives the weekend before. There were only two midwives on shift (normal) and there was only one other gal in labour.
I felt like I was in good hands.
I hopped on the table and had my internal exam. Given my level of discomfort, I was hoping to be a minimum of 3+ centimeters, at least. I remembered being told by a midwife at my first birth that getting from 1 to 3 centimeters was the hardest part. I was secretly praying to have passed that initial milestone given the strength and frequency of my contractions, so you can imagine my dismay when she said I was 1cm.
Yes, you read that right.
One. measly. centimeter.
(And in case you didn't know, you don't get to push until you reach 10 centimeters!)
"You're the same dilation as you were this morning at your appointment with the OB. One centimeter, maybeee 2," she smiled jovially.
I did not smile jovially. I sat stone faced and quietly panicked on the inside, joker face in play. I knew that second labours were quicker and I've heard they can be more painful, but this - THIS was a hiccup I was not anticipating. I expected to be 3-5 centimetres and hoping to push within the hour, maybe two. She interrupted my daydreaming.
"So, since you don't want medical intervention, you can leave to go home and labor there. Or, if you'd like to stay here, you're more than welcome because it's such a quiet night, and you can go for a walk to get things going. Either way I'm going to go call your OB now and let her know what's happening."
* What I didn't know until a few days later was the midwife did in fact call my OB, and told her what was happening. My OB said, "Do not let her leave the hospital! That woman has made up her mind to have a baby!" Damn. She knows me well.
I decided to walk the hallway with my hubs, taking breaks and holding onto the railing when I had a contraction. This is where my ballsy husband captured the moment he hummed the Rocky anthem to me on Instagram. The comment section is pretty hilarious if you need a good laugh. It was really difficult to mentally push past the fact that I was so little dilated. Doubt kept creeping in, much like anxiety does, and tried to make me lose focus and waiver in my birth plan.
I decided that I didn't want to be on my feet. Another labour done and dusted where I've had every intention of moving around heaps, but it just didn't resonate with my body. They wanted to hook me up to the monitors, and once I was in bed, that was it for me until she came.
Each subsequent check, I progressed another centimeter. I didn't want to move from the bed, which was a surprise because I spent a lot of time in the shower for my first labour, and I assumed I would do the same. I tossed from side to. Left, right. Left, right. Left, right.
I started to not feel too great, surprised at how strong the contracts were so early on. I tried to keep my head in the game, and ride each contraction, one at a time. If I focused on the only contraction I was experiencing, it made me feel better and less overwhelmed. You know that the contraction will peak, and relief is justtttttt on the other side. It's so easy to panic and think, but how much longer will this go on?? I'm just so tired. I cannot do this.
PAIN WITH PURPOSE I told myself, which was my birthing mantra. If you're thinking, wait, I need to write that quote down because it's AMAZING... please do. It was brought to my attention by my BFF and professional baby birthing guru, Rachel. She has had three water births, all drug free, and she is pretty much my birthing idol (and an incredible mum to boot). Since completing this post, she has had yet another baby. She's a freaking superhero.
It was around this time that the anesthesiologist came in to see me because the nurse messed up my cannula for my drip.
"So, how are you?" she asked while prepping my cannula.
I so wanted to roll my eyes, but I plastered on a smile and said, "Good, thanks."
"And what are we thinking in terms of pain relief tonight?"
My breath caught in my chest for a moment. I knew that this woman could take away all my pain. I knew it could slow my labour, and I also knew that getting an epidural freaked me out because my spine is precious. I really didn't want my baby to be exposed to any of those drugs. I was so, so tempted, so naturally I blurted out,
"I'll be fine thank you. I don't want one. Bye."
"Ok, that's great. I'd rather not give you one. I was only asking because I'm leaving for the night. So if you change your mind, I'll be over 30 minutes away."
I was quietly relieved because the farther away she was, the better in my eyes. If it isn't on the table as an option, then I knew it was all up to me, my cervix and a bit of grunt.
I continued labouring, left side, right side, on repeat. They wanted to leave the monitor on me because after each contraction, there would be a weird pause on the monitor readings. So I stayed on the bed and just tried to find distractions and munched on ice chips like my life depended on it. Hubs put on Spotify and then I suddenly felt the strangest sensation, and a *pop* inside my body, followed by a huge gush of liquid pouring from between my legs. I had hubs get the midwife, who said I might have peed (um, no) and she would check it out. Her face was surprised when she pulled the sheet back, which I found strange, because what's the big deal... my waters finally broke. What she eventually explained was that there was a lot of blood as well. I didn't stress about it, and I went out of my way not to assess how much was actually lost. We changed my bed pad underneath me, and business as usual continued.
By the time I was 5 centimeters I was really uncomfortable. My midwife came in and said, "you sound different. You're transitioning."
"What do you mean I sound different?" I was perplexed.
She said, "Your sounds are getting more intense. It's so nice to hear the moans from your room. We don't hear them that much these days." (Oh God, don't flatter me now babes, I'm in struggle town).
"I can tell they are getting harder and faster by listening to you outside."
For the record, moaning sounds funny, but that's exactly how I have to get through labour. I need to breathe deeply in my nose and let a gentle sigh, moan, hum leave my body. This is like a primordial necessity for me. It's fascinating, and not too loud or obtrusive.
Soon after, my husband was trying to convince me to hold off on applying the TENS machine. I agreed that was a good idea and held off as long as I could. When I felt like I was wavering, he kept reassuring me,
"You're doing great, you got this, this is so much better than last time."
I only had fond memories of last time, and seeing as I was up shit creek smack bang in the middle of this second labour, all I could focus on was the hurdle ahead of me.
Tuesday, July 30th
I dilated from 5cm to 10 cm in 40 minutes. Yep.
That is why I lost a lot of blood, because my cervix effaced so quickly. I felt so much pressure in my bum and the midwife asked if I wanted to push. I didn't want to, but the pressure was mounting.
Now this is going to be a hell of a visual, but those that know, KNOW. Have you ever seen a cow give birth at the fair? I used to watch them give birth every year at the state fair, and it was one of my favourite things. I distinctly remember the mother's distressed demeanor, her wide eyes, and the chains firmly wrapped around the baby calve's ankles. The mummy cow's body would heave and heave, and you could see it all happening before your eyes and under her tail. I felt like that bloody cow. Suddenly, it was all happening and my body had legitimately taken over, like, babe- I got this.
I felt my body push without my willing it. It was such a bizarre sensation, and I called out to my husband frantically. "Tell her, I'm pushing, but I'm not pushing!!"
Last we chatted, I wasn't far along enough in my dilation to start pushing. This was unsettling.
The midwife rushed into the room and said that my obstetrician was on her way (really?!) and would be here any minute. I knew we didn't have that long. I was on my left side, ( I birthed both my babies on my left side) and suddenly my OB breezed into the room and into an open gown that was being held by the midwife. In less than one minute she had slipped on her gloves and did an internal. "Erica. It's time!! PUSH!"
I took a deep yogic breath to the pit of my belly and gave an almighty push. The first push literally took my breath away as I immediately felt the ring of fire, hot and tight. My body immediately reeled back, I felt the head move back up inside me slightly. The ring of fire is when the labia and the perineum reach their maximum stretch around the baby's head. Instinctively, I didn't want to push a second time because I knew what was coming. I figured, the harder I push, the quicker this burn will go away. I'm SO close now, I know this birth should be done in less than 1 hour. I can do this!
After my second push, Dan and my doctor said they could see hair. HAIR! Already, I thought..?? No frigging way. I knew the ring of fire would subside once the head was out, so I gave another almighty push, to which she met me with a "STOP!" The cord was wrapped around bub's neck, so she quickly tried to free it which was difficult to do since only the head was out and the cord was so tight. This explained why the baby wasn't coping well after each contraction because breathing was a bit more difficult. Once she slipped the cord off, we worked together, "small push, small push, small push, BIG push!"
After my fifth push, she was caught by OB and I felt the most immense relief.
We became a family of four at 2:29am on July 30th.
I was still losing a lot of blood, even after Em came into the world, so I was put on a drip to contract my uterus and stop the blood loss. The medicine, combined with my body's natural uterine contractions were incredibly painful. The afterbirth pains worsen with each delivery, a fact that I did not know.
My placenta wasn't coming, even after the needle in my thigh, so my OB quickly gave me a catheter and manually drained my bladder. This helps the placenta to be delivered, which I found super fascinating. I actually got to see the placenta this birth, which was remarkable, and then it was swiftly taken away and properly stored for my placenta encapsulation lady.
I got the shakes hard core after this birth. The adrenaline kicked in something fierce and I was shaking uncontrollably. Not a nice feeling, but at least I didn't vomit after the birth like I did my first time around. We were escorted to our room on another floor and my husband and I were able to share a queen bed while little Em slept soundly beside us. I didn't go to sleep until after 5am and was woken at 6am to the sound of the breakfast trays being delivered.
Then, that was that... life goes on, much to our dismay.
We were forever a family of four from that day on.
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