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Placenta Encapsulation

Placenta encapsulation helps countless women have an easier postpartum experience. Your placenta contains a unique composition of the hormones and nutrients that your body may benefit from soon after birth. I can help you bottle up those benefits into a little capsule.

 

Placenta encapsulation just may be for you if you desire an easier hormonal transition after birth because the drop in hormones after birth can be intense and unexpected. Placenta capsules can help you ease that transition into a much more manageable experience.

 

Placenta encapsulation just may be for you if you have concerns about building a healthy milk supply. Research is limited on placenta encapsulation but there is one study that has shown evidence that ingesting placenta has the potential to positively affect milk supply. In this study 86% of women were found to have an increase in milk supply within 4 days of consuming their placenta.

 

Placenta encapsulation may be for you if you are looking for a natural way to beat postpartum fatigue. It is very common for new moms to describe their early postpartum experience as exhausting. It’s also very common to find that newly postpartum mothers’ iron levels are low. Low iron levels are a common cause of fatigue. Your placenta is an easily accessible source of iron which has the potential to restore your iron levels and in turn decrease your postpartum fatigue.​

Using Your Sister’s Eggs

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Introduction: 

You can hardly listen to the radio for too long without hearing a Fertility Center advertise for egg donors. Traditionally anonymous donors for both eggs and sperm have been the more preferred method of in vitro fertilization. A new trend is emerging where more and more couples are turning to relatives, especially siblings, for donations. Our experts weigh in on the physical and psychological ramifications of more familial fertility assistance. Would you rather have a family member assist you with starting your family?

Article: 

More and more women are doing just that. But is it weird when your daughter is your niece? These two sisters say no—in a story you may never forget.

A stuffed baby duckie.” That’s what Emma Grace Pearrell told Santa she wanted for Christmas. The three-year-old had been eagerly waiting her turn to sit on his lap at the kids’ holiday breakfast held by ambulance volunteers in Brunswick, Maryland. Santa heard young Emma’s request and gave her a big smile. “You are a special little girl,” he told her.

Santa didn’t know the half of it. The mother he handed her back to, Juliet Pearrell, is also Emma’s aunt.

Let us explain that: Juliet, 39, a software systems analyst, used an egg from her sister, Jen Kimble, 27, to have a baby. And they are hardly unique—sister-moms are one of the biggest new trends in the fertility world. In fact, 5 to 10 percent of women who use donor eggs to conceive are now choosing to get those eggs from a sibling, according to fertility experts and data shared with GLAMOUR by the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology. (Cases in which men give a brother sperm are also rising but on a smaller scale.) “The tradition has been that everything about a donor must be anonymous,” says Robert Brzyski, M.D., Ph.D., former chair of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s ethics committee. “Now there’s much more interest in having information on the donor. And when you use your sister, you have the family DNA.”

Granted, the idea can seem awkward—it’s not like your husband is having sex with your sister, but their sperm and eggs are, effectively, hooking up. Still, the Pearrells, like several couples GLAMOUR spoke to, are proudly open about how they chose to have a baby. Recently, in what’s become a typical exchange, Juliet found herself telling the story to a stranger at the mall, who then asked, “Were you afraid that your daughter was going to have a bond with your sister?” Juliet didn’t blink: “Well, she does have a special attachment to her aunt Jen. But our mom died when we were young. We felt like the only way to keep our family going was to do this for each other.”

Every sibling pair on these pages (see “Meet the Sister-Moms,” on page 123) has a saga to tell, but for Jen and Juliet, Emma’s birth became a happy ending to an unbelievably heartbreaking tale.

The ultimate gift

Juliet was 12 and Jen just six months old when their lives were first torn apart. On Friday, October 25, 1985, their parents packed everyone into their silver Honda Accord and headed home from a beach getaway. Roughly halfway through the drive, a van smashed into the passenger side, killing the girls’ mother.

After the accident the family, dazed with grief, tried to regain a sense of normalcy. But within a year, Juliet and Jen’s father, an Air Force officer, began dating someone new. “For me that was too fast,” says Juliet, who ran away to Washington, D.C. There, at age 13, she found herself on her own in the inner city, and the streets quickly turned dangerous. “I ended up eating out of trash cans and exchanging myself for somewhere to sleep,” she says. “You do bad things in order to stay alive.” After six months of toughing it out, she realized that home couldn’t be any worse. But when she returned, the house was vacant. “I just sat there on the porch,” she says. “I didn’t know what to do, where to go. So I turned myself in to the police.” From there she landed in foster care and bounced around from family to family, growing angrier and tougher with each failure. After the fourteenth placement fell apart, her social worker, Tracey Sasso, put her in a car and drove her to a no-nonsense couple in Nokesville, Virginia. “You’ve got to make this work,” Sasso said. “I have nothing left.” That last-chance foster mom, Erma Koontz, took one look at the cocky 15-year-old walking through the door and melted. “I saw this very sad girl with a chip on her shoulder,” Koontz says, “and I think that’s why I fell in love with her.” Juliet stayed through the rest of her teens and came to call Erma Mom.

Thirteen hundred miles away, little Jen was growing up and making the best of things in Houston, where their father had moved her—but by third grade, she, too, wound up in foster care due to physical abuse at home. As one of 200 kids her foster mother took in over the years, she felt more like a passenger at a way station than a member of a family. “It wasn’t the kind of ‘loving’ I ached for,” Jen says. She could barely even recall having an older sister.

For Juliet, however, the memory of a baby sibling was haunting. Among her five or six only possessions were a tattered photo of Jen as a toddler, taken the last time they were together, and a set of tiny barrettes she’d bought and never had a chance to give her. “I always longed to find her again,” Juliet says. “She was the only blood I had on this earth.”

But they didn’t meet again until their father died. When Juliet, by then 28, flew to Houston for the funeral, she drove first to the foster home she’d learned her younger sister was living in. And as she pulled up in a rental car, Jen, 16, stood waiting in the driveway; they hadn’t seen each other in 14 years. “She was so grown-up,” Juliet remembers thinking. “I couldn’t get out—I just sat there crying. I had spent my whole life waiting to find this girl.”

They clung to each other fiercely, and before leaving, Juliet told her sister, “If you want to come live with me after high school, I’ll pay for a one-way ticket.”

It would be a full five years before Jen took her big sis up on the offer. But then, one day, “about to lose the couch I’d been sleeping on,” she called—and flew to Baltimore-Washington International Airport. When Jen stepped off the plane clutching everything she owned in a garbage bag, Juliet took one look and saw her former self, holding that same bag, walking up to so many strangers’ homes. “I knew what it was like to be a foster child and feel like you never had your own family,” she says, “and I was so happy I could finally offer one.”

By then, thanks to the Koontzes’ steadying influence, Juliet had built a solid life in small-town Maryland with a job as a hospital billing manager and an adoring husband, Lester. (Juliet had met him at a bar one night and asked if he was going to kiss her right there in the parking lot. “Because if you can’t kiss,” she’d told him, “this is not going to go anywhere.”) He welcomed their new housemate, and the couple teamed up to get Jen situated with new clothes, a job, a car, and plenty of unconditional love. With the sisters back together, the one thing missing from their homey 100-year-old place, almost a cliché with a white picket fence, was the sound of children playing.

And baby makes four

Even before the sisters were reunited, Juliet and Lester had hoped to have a baby; when it didn’t happen after five years, Juliet went in for tests. Surgery to remove a benign tumor left her without fallopian tubes and only one ovary, and by the time she took in Jen, she’d spent more than a year—and $5,000—juiced up on fertility hormones trying to use a friend’s eggs to conceive. Each failed attempt felt like an unbearable loss, and Jen sensed her older sister’s deepening disappointment.

One morning in the kitchen, out of the blue, Jen turned and said, “I’d love to give you my eggs if it would help.”

“Oh, no, no, no,” Juliet answered quickly. “Don’t do that. It’s too weird. I’m going to figure this one out.”

“I want to,” Jen insisted.

Juliet didn’t take the idea seriously at first. But when Melissa Esposito, M.D., her ob-gyn at Shady Grove Fertility Center, told her in no uncertain terms that the friend’s eggs weren’t working out, Juliet brought up Jen. Having handled other sister-to-sister donations, Dr. Esposito felt it could be a good option, especially because Jen was only 21, with younger, more-viable eggs. But the doctor was careful to explain the drawbacks. “Some women get upset at the thought of sitting across from their sister at the Thanksgiving table and having her say, ‘I don’t like the way you’re raising our child,’” she recalls telling Juliet. The key, adds Andrea Braverman, Ph.D., director of the Braverman Center for Health Journeys in Philadelphia and a specialist in infertility counseling, “is to have a donor who doesn’t see her egg as her baby but instead thinks, I wouldn’t be using it anyway, or, Look, we share the same DNA—my eggs, your eggs, what’s the difference?”

In these cases, experts agree, sisters can feel an amazing connection. “We get close to people we share life experiences with,” says Braverman. “And this—every pun intended—is the mother of all experiences.”

“I felt like we’d come to the end of a long journey and this was our miracle. We had an unbelievable bond.” —Juliet Pearrell, left, on giving birth to a baby made with her sister’s egg

After the visit to Dr. Esposito, Juliet approached Lester, and he was immediately on board. “To me it was a blessing that somebody in the family was willing to do it,” he says. So Jen got ready to donate her eggs by starting ovary-stimulating injections, while Juliet received hormonal shots to sync her cycle and prepare her body for pregnancy. In three months all systems were go: Dr. Esposito could extract Jen’s eggs and transfer an embryo to Juliet. The total cost would be $37,750, an amount Juliet took out a home loan to pay. “Who even writes a check like that?” she says incredulously. “I made Lester stand by me at the kitchen table for support.” (Costs can vary, depending on the medical condition and the number of in vitro fertilization [IVF] rounds. And some sisters actually donate the egg and carry the baby for a sibling, but legally that can be very complicated, says New Jersey reproductive lawyer Melissa Brisman, and doctors shy away from the practice because the surrogate’s emotional bond to the child may be too strong.)

After Jen’s eggs were fertilized with Lester’s sperm, they were implanted in Juliet’s uterus. The first and second attempts didn’t work, but on September 4, 2007, after the third attempt, Juliet learned she was pregnant.

Who will she love more?

The next nine months were a breeze for Juliet—physically. But inevitably, doubts started creeping in. “Initially I thought, Lester and my sister are having a baby, even though I was carrying it,” she says. “One friend actually joked, ‘Why didn’t you just let them have sex and save the IVF money?’ And Erma’s concern was: What happens when Jen sees the baby? Will there be a longing?”

Something else nagged at Juliet. Her biggest worry, she says, was “my daughter wanting Jen—knowing I wasn’t the real mommy. I had many a dream that she would come out of my womb and run straight to Jen.” (Such dread is common, says Braverman: “It’s known as the impostor syndrome and usually diminishes once you have the baby, get busy with the day-to-day tasks of parenting, and quickly become the ‘expert’ on your child.”)

Lester, it turned out, had no hesitations. “Jen did us a favor,” he says. “But I don’t really think about her egg. To me this is Juliet’s and my daughter.” (All the fathers GLAMOUR spoke to in similar cases echoed that sentiment.) As for Jen, within four months of donating her eggs, she became focused on her own exciting news: Having gotten engaged to Erma’s nephew, Josh Kimble—a father of three girls in Richmond, Virginia—she now was pregnant herself.

Jen still remembers racing to Frederick Memorial Hospital the day Emma was born. “My sister was crying as I walked in,” she says, “and I felt immense love for her.” Juliet was overwhelmed with emotion too. “When I gave birth and the nurses said, ‘Congratulations, Mommy,’ I thought, They can’t begin to realize all it took to get to this moment to hold my baby,” she says. “It felt like Jen and I had come to the end of a long journey and this was our miracle.” At one point, both sisters recall, they stopped ogling the new baby and simply looked at each other. “Even though my husband was involved,” says Juliet, “almost everything that happened was between my sister’s body and mine. We had an unbelievable bond.”

Four years later, Lester is still in awe. “Each of these women went through so much,” he says. “It’s crazy how it all came together and happened.” He and Juliet have already started easing Emma into knowing her unusual heritage: “Mommy’s body couldn’t do all the things Mommy wanted it to, so Aunt Jen helped,” Juliet tells her. And “cool Aunt Jen,” now married to Josh and studying to be a nurse, couldn’t be more ready to give another egg. “I don’t feel Emma is my baby; she’s part of the family,” she says of her role, and adds, with a laugh: “I’d love for us to keep going—Jen and Juliet plus 20!”

Maybe someday. For the moment the sisters are content with what they already have. “Our own mom died, our father abandoned us, and Jen and I spent so many years apart,” says Juliet. “We longed for this—to have each other, to have our own kids, and to not feel lonely anymore. But the way we’ve created family has taken it to the next level.” How Much It Really Costs to Make a Baby

The number-one reason to use a sister’s eggs? To have a genetic link with the child. But it’s also the cheaper choice:

Treatment

…costs with an anonymous egg: $15,000

…and a sister’s egg: $15,000

Medications

…costs with an anonymous egg: $2,000–$7,000

…and a sister’s egg: $2,000–$7,000

Donor compensation and agency fees

…costs with an anonymous egg: $14,000–$19,000

…and a sister’s egg: $0

 TOTAL

…costs with an anonymous egg: $31,000–$41,000

…and a sister’s egg: $17,000–$22,000

Average fees from the Sher Institute, which has fertility clinics in Illinois, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Treatment costs can vary based on location, medical condition, and insurance coverage.

Liz Brody is a National Magazine Award winner and editor at large for GLAMOUR.

   

Autism

April is Autism Awareness Month. If you are not directly affected by a child with Autism you mostly likely know someone who is.  Autism like many other childhood disorders is being diagnosed more and more every year. Is there something in our environment or our current lifestyles that is contributing to an increase in Autism or has the medical community become better at recognizing children on the Autism Spectrum? From immunizations, food allergy links and over misdiagnosis there have been ongoing debates in the Autism Arena for years now. See what our experts have to say about Autism and share your own experiences, comments and opinions with us.     Autism seems to be getting more common. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 1 in 88 children in the US have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Some children are profoundly affected; they can’t speak, rarely (if ever) look other people in the eye and frequently exhibit repetitive behaviors. Other children with an ASD look and act so typical that, at first glance, you’d never know anything was wrong. Because autism includes such a vast array of behaviors and abilities, it can be hard to get a grip on what, exactly, an ASD is. But despite their range of abilities, all kids with an ASD share certain challenges. “Autism is a developmental disorder in which the child has problems with communication, social skills and unusual behaviors,” says Georgina Peacock, MD, MPH, medical officer and developmental-behavioral pediatrician with the Prevention Research Branch in the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. Children with an ASD may speak late (or not at all). They have a hard time relating to other people. And they repeat certain behaviors, like rocking or hand flapping, over and over. Risk Factors No one knows what causes autism or why there’s been a spike in the number of kids with an autism diagnosis in recent years. Most researchers suspect a genetic link. Kids whose siblings have an ASD are more likely to have an ASD, and among identical twins, studies have shown that if one child has an ASD, then the other is affected about 60 to 96 percent of the time. Certain medical conditions, including Down syndrome and fragile X syndrome, may increase the risk of ASD. So may some medications taken by the mother during pregnancy, such as SSRI antidepressants. It’s important to know that vaccines do not cause autism. A well-publicized article claimed a link between vaccination and autism, but that article was found to contain falsified data and has since been debunked. No other studies have replicated the results. So you can rest assured that it’s okay to follow your child’s pediatrician’s recommended vaccine schedule. Some suggest that autism could be triggered by environmental causes; others believe certain areas are more likely to have kids with autism because they’re affluent neighborhoods — and people with higher incomes are more likely to have good medical care and get diagnosed. Not all the suggested connections out there have been proven. Signs and Symptoms Autism is typically diagnosed when kids are about four or five years old, but many parents report seeing worrisome symptoms before three years of age. About one-third of parents noticed symptoms by one year of age; 80 percent of parents were sure something was “off” by the time their child turned two. Children with an ASD may develop according to schedule in the first few months or years of life but eventually fall behind on certain developmental milestones, such as talking. That’s why pediatricians and autism experts encourage parents to become familiar with the typical developmental milestones and to seek medical advice if baby doesn’t hit them. “We look for cooing, babbling and gestures by one year of age,” says David Perlstein, MD, medical director and vice chair of pediatrics at St. Barnabas Hospital in Bronx, New York. “By 15 to 16 months, a child should be able to say some single words, and by two years, they should have some couple-word phrases.” Peacock says it’s a good idea to keep track of your child’s developmental milestones so you know if and when he falls behind. She recommends “Milestone Moments,” a CDC-developed pamphlet that’s available on the CDC’s website. “You can check off the milestone your child hits, and if there are some you’re concerned about, you can take the booklet along to a well-child check and talk with your child’s pediatrician about your concerns,” Peacock says. Other early symptoms of ASD include:
  • Not pointing at or showing interest in objects by 14 months
  • Repeating words and phrases over and over
  • Avoidance of eye contact
  • Becoming easily upset by minor changes
  • Hand flapping, body rocking or other repetitive motions
  • Obsessive interests
  • Not playing “pretend” games by 18 months
  • Unusual reactions to sights, sounds, tastes, smells and physical sensations
Also know that baby’s pediatrician will likely be on the lookout for autism symptoms. “The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends screening all kids for autism at 18 months,” Perlstein says. Most docs use a tool called the Checklist for Autism in Toddlers. If they notice any troubling symptoms, they may ask you to carefully observe your child’s behavior over the next few weeks. “I’ll give them a diary so they can track their child’s behavior, or I’ll tell them, if they have a smartphone, to videotape the child doing things,” Perlstein says. And red flags may mean follow-up treatment. Diagnosis and Early Intervention If your child has any type of developmental delay, your pediatrician will probably refer your child for treatment — even if he hasn’t been diagnosed with autism. That’s because early intervention is crucial for children with any kind of developmental delay. “If I find that there’s a language delay, I’ll refer the child to language therapy. If there’s a motor delay, we’ll start motor therapy. If there’s a social aspect where the child doesn’t engage, we’ll try occupational therapy or behavioral therapy,” says Perlstein. Most kids will be eligible to receive in-home services through their state’s early intervention program. (In many states, it’s called the Birth to Three program.) Children who are over three can receive services through their local public school. Meanwhile, your doctor will work to rule out other possible causes of any developmental delays, such as poor hearing. Your child might also be referred to a developmental pediatrician, neurologist or child psychologist for a formal diagnosis. These experts will look for difficulties in communication, poor social skills and repetitive and unusual behavior. If your child meets the criteria listed in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, your child may be diagnosed with an ASD. Treatment Remember: There is no known, proven cure for autism — despite what you might read on the Internet. “There are a lot of ‘quick fixes’ being promoted out there, but there really isn’t a quick fix,” Peacock says. “We don’t know of anything that will cure autism, but we do know that early intervention is beneficial.” Early intervention programs are designed to meet your child’s needs and will vary from child to child. “If a child is having trouble communicating, you need to find them a way to communicate. If they’re tantruming so much that they can’t learn those skills, helping them get that behavior under control makes them more ready to learn,” Peacock says. “The goal of early intervention is to help children learn how to communicate and to get them ready to learn.” It’s impossible to know, at the time of diagnosis, just how much your child will overcome their autism symptoms in the future. “You never know where someone’s going to end up at the time they present,” Perlstein says. “But the earlier you start therapy, the better kids do.” Discuss any promising treatments with your physician. “There are tons of people out there who claim they have appropriate treatments for autism,” Perlstein says. But just because something seems to work for one kid — or even for thousands — that doesn’t mean it will work for yours. Emerging therapies, such as music or immune therapy, may be beneficial for some children with an ASD, but no one knows which kids are most likely to benefit, and unproven treatments can be expensive. “Until we’re better at understanding how to figure out which patients will benefit from which treatments, your best bet is to go with the treatments that have been proven to be effective,” Perlstein says. “If you’re a parent of an autistic kid, number one, get the primary therapies, like the speech therapy and behavioral therapy. Then be very careful about all the other recommendations.” Any treatment plan should involve the family. “It’s really family support that helps these children and families be successful,” Perlstein says. It’s a good idea to get support for yourself too. Look for local support groups for parents of kids with autism, or get involved with an organization like Autism Speaks; you’re likely to meet other parents who are going through the same types of things as you  

Establishing Routines: Finding What works for you and your baby

Babies — and their parents — often thrive on routine. The tough part is coming up with one that works for all of you.
By Michele Piazzoni from Parents Magazine

Why Routines Matter/Eating and Sleeping

Many babies thrive on routine: They eat better, sleep better, and are more emotionally secure when they know that their needs are going to be met in a predictable way. But, as most new parents quickly discover, the routine a baby likes isn’t necessarily the one you’re trying to impose. There are simply no guarantees that her schedule will mesh with yours. “The first few months of any new job — including parenthood — are hard to organize,” says Andrea Phillips, a registered maternity nurse at Hoag Hospital, in Newport Beach, California. “Your ultimate goal is to arrive at a system that works for both you and your baby.” Here, some expert advice regarding three major areas of concern.

Eating and Sleeping

For newborns, these two activities are inextricably linked, as most babies sleep a total of 16 to 18 hours a day. And because an infant can hold only enough food in her stomach to sustain her for a few hours, she’ll awaken when she’s hungry. “Newborns need to be fed on demand, so I recommend that you postpone attempts at establishing a schedule until your baby is at least 4 to 6 weeks old,” says Linda Black, M.D., a neonatology fellow and general pediatrician at the University of Minnesota, in Minneapolis. Although it may not be possible to impose much consistency in those first hectic days, there are some steps you can take to foster an early sense of routine. Try to sit in the same place each time you nurse. You’ll also want to keep the area well-lit, day and night, to discourage your little one from dozing while feeding. Jodi Mindell, Ph.D., associate director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and author of Sleeping Through the Night (Harper Perennial, 1997), recommends starting some sort of sleep ritual for even the youngest infants. “A simple routine — feeding, changing, then singing a lullaby — helps your baby understand that it’s time to go to sleep.” Arrange your activities according to your baby’s natural tendencies. If he’s soothed by a nice, warm bath, for instance, consider giving him one in the evening; on the other hand, if the water and splashing rev him up, switch tubtime to earlier in the day. Above all, make sure that your baby is awake when you put him in his crib. “It’s how he learns to sleep on his own,” Dr. Mindell explains. “If he’s dozing after a meal, gently wake him and then put him down.” By the time your baby is 4 months old, he’ll be able to hold more in his stomach and remain satisfied longer. He’ll also be alert for longer periods, so you can attempt to initiate a more regular eating and sleeping schedule.

Taylor Durant Birth Story

On Tuesday night, April 9th, Clark and I walked a half mile to dinner in Cleveland Park and then home again to Woodley Park. I knew something felt different, lower, heavier, in my belly. Clark and I talked about what our baby would be like, and did a mental run-through of labor, laughing about how we felt ready and just wanted her to come! When we got home, we watched an old episode of “Arrested Development”, and I went to bed around 10:30 pm. At 10:45 I woke up, and my water had just broken. At first it was just a little water – and I thought maybe it was pee – but then it gushed a bit more, and I knew it was not. The water was nice and clear. Contractions began immediately. I had been feeling contractions over several hours on a couple of occasions over the previous 10 days or so. Those were the contractions that would make my belly hard, but nothing that really grabbed me forcefully. These new contractions were more intense, lower down, and more in my back/butt than before. From the get-go, they were coming 4 or so minutes apart (i.e. 4 minutes from the beginning of one to the beginning of the next). We let our birth team (doula + midwives) know my water had broken and that contractions had begun. Our doula Nicole happened to have another birth in progress, so she connected us with her partner Alexa, who we spoke to on the phone. Not a problem…we flowed with it. Nicole, Alexa, and Laura (the mid-wife on duty, who we love) said the contractions may just be ramping up initially, but they would probably ease back, and then we would settle in to labor. All recommended trying to sleep through the night. We were hanging out in bed. I was lying on my side and Clark was alternately lying next to me dozing off and then waking up and bashfully applying pressure on the muscles on either side of my spine. Mostly he was saying, “You’re doing great, babe,” and then dozing off. After an hour or so, the contractions were still coming 4 minutes apart. Clark called Alexa and Laura back and said we’d kept up the 4-minute pace for an hour, that 5-1-1 had been the rule of thumb and we were safely inside of that, and shouldn’t (a) the doula come, or (b) we head to the hospital. Clark was very calm and to-the-point on the facts. Both Alexa and Laura spoke to me as well. I gave them the same update. They said I sounded pretty good, and that meant I probably had a long way still to go. It was now about midnight. Alexa told Clark that I sounded like I was in the 1 to 2 centimeters-dilated territory. Clark and I tried some different positions to get comfortable. The contractions were increasing in frequency and intensity, and averaged about 3 minutes per contraction over the next hour. It became harder to speak during the contractions. I wasn’t losing modesty because I had none to begin with! I had been naked from the jump, so there was no stripping away of clothes. At 1 o’clock, Clark called Alexa back and said that the intensity had increased and that he wanted her to come to our place (which would take an hour from Baltimore). She agreed, but cautioned him to caution me that we may still have a long way to go. At 1:30 or so, there was a good bit of blood and mucus that came out. Contractions were 2.5 minutes a part. I began to feel the baby trying to push her way out and/or to feel myself the urge to push. Clark recommended squatting and holding on to the bed during contractions, which did feel better. Clark called Laura back and said maybe we should come in before Alexa arrived. Laura recommended waiting till Alexa arrived so she could perform a vaginal exam. Alexa arrived at 2:15 AM or so. Clark was just wearing his board shorts, and I was squatting naked by the bed. Nice to meet you, indeed! She did a vaginal exam, and said, “we should go the hospital now.” I was already 10 centimeters dilated, and our girl was +2 in station, or thereabouts. Alexa was very candid about how this surprised her, and this made Taylor and I feel like we weren’t crazy after all. Alexa texted Laura and told her the situation. Alexa told me to stop pushing and just breathe through the contractions. She sat in the back of the car with me in case the baby came on the car ride! Clark drove us carefully/cheerfully to the hospital. Clark and I felt vindicated that we had made more progress than Alexa and Laura thought. We knew it! I enjoyed the feeling of wind in my hair with the windows down, and just tried to breathe that in…it seemed fitting that we were rushing down Rock Creek Parkway, as I’d gone on a ton of walks with Pepper when she was in my belly down this very stretch of road. It brought me peace then, why not now? We got to GW hospital at 2:45 or 3 o’clock. They wheeled me in a wheelchair up to my room. Laura arrived a few minutes after us. I got up on all fours on the bed, and then squatted back when contractions came. I beared down and pushed. I tried to use empowering words to motivate myself that I used when I was an athlete. I also talked to our baby, trying to connect with her and let her (and my body) know that I was ready. When Alexa or Laura would say, “blow the pain away,” I would!  It took a little less than an hour of pushing (which went by fast). The babe came out at 3:46 AM. The midwife, doula and nurses were really helpful and wonderful. Clark got to catch our baby! He passed her to me. It was so surreal to have him hand me the baby. For a moment, I couldn’t believe it was our Pepper! She belted out a cry! Amazing. What an adventure. We let the cord pulse for 3-4 minutes, and Clark cut it. She was free in in our arms! My advice to any woman is: You know more than you realize from all these weeks with your baby, and feeling out what it means to become a mom – inevitably, you will once you get started! So, just stay positive. Stay flexible. Trust your body. Trust the baby.  Love! Taylor & Clark & Pepper

Delivery room drama: Has birth become a spectator sport?

Jacoba Urist TODAY contributor May 20, 2013 at 11:38 AM ET View original link Expectant moms thankfully no longer have their mother’s delivery room experience, with Don Draper era dads sitting in waiting lounges until a doctor reports that baby has arrived. But the pendulum may have swung too far in the other direction. These days, delivery rooms can be rife with drama as grandparents-to-be vie for the best camera angle, or a mother-in-law angles to be the one feeding ice chips between contractions. As family members increasingly treat birth like a spectator sport, and expect to share in the challenging and intimate first moments when an infant is born, more new moms are left in the awkward position of figuring out how to limit who is in the delivery room. Message boards on parenting sites like BabyCenter and DC Urban Moms and Dads are replete with expectant moms trading tips on how to tell their parents, in-laws and other family members that they don’t particularly want them front and center for the action. One mom says she had to request hospital security to escort her in-laws off the premises, because they repeatedly tried to barge into the delivery room. Another woman recounts how her mother-in-law appeared, uninvited, during her C-Section prep— and somehow ended up holding the new baby before the mom could. And one pregnant mom, after two hours of pushing, asked her own mother to leave when the grandma-to-be elbowed their midwife out of the way to get the perfect shot with her camera. Wendy Bradford, a director of social media for Mommybites and Manhattan mom of three, knows just how important it is to clarify your policy about family in the delivery room. While she asked her mother to stay in their one-bedroom apartment “with the sole purpose of being there” when her first grandchild, Bradford’s eldest daughter, Molly, was born, Bradford neglected to spell out what she meant by “there” exactly. The evening of Molly’s birth, Bradford and her husband left for the hospital and instructed Bradford’s mom to wait for them at their home, until they called. At 6:00 am, Bradford was ready to start pushing, so they told her mother to come to the hospital. “In the midst of this crazy birthing, I remember being shocked that my mother came right into the room,” says Bradford. “But there’s my mom, poking her head in the door to let me know that she’s here, and I shouted, ‘Oh my God, get out! GET OUT!'” Andrea, of Toronto, Canada, (who asked that her last name not be used because she didn’t want to alienate family members) wishes she had told her in-laws to leave when they sauntered into the delivery room at 2 a.m., just as she was being stitched up from a second-degree tear. She’s grateful that her in-laws weren’t there for all the pushing, but she would have appreciated a little discretion while the nurses finished cleaning up the delivery room and putting her gown back in place. As long as mother and baby are having a healthy labor, a woman should be in charge of her birthing environment, according to Dr. Rob Olson, a Bellingham, Wash., obstetrician and gynecologist, and founding president of the Society of OB/GYN Hospitalists, who’s been practicing for more than three decades. Sometimes, he says, helping a woman control her birth experience means limiting the number of people around her. And he reminds new moms they can always blame a hospital’s “restrictive” visitation policy, rather than telling an overly exuberant relative outright that she’s not welcome in the labor and delivery room. In the 1990s, Olson explains, there could be between five and 10 people in a delivery room— which could be hard both on a doctor, who is trying to maneuver around a small crowd, and on the laboring mom who, not infrequently, felt like she had to entertain “guests” instead of focusing on herself. Due to various concerns about hygiene, the influenza virus and yes, personal space, many hospitals, over the past five years, have started restricting access to the delivery room. At Yale New Haven Hospital in Connecticut, for example, a patient can name up to three friends or family members when she arrives at the labor and delivery unit, unless there are special circumstances and a patient has received permission beforehand. (Yale allows only one support person in the operating room during a C-section.) And Sibley Memorial Hospital, in Washington, DC, permits two additional support people (including a doula or midwife or a spouse) with a mother during labor and delivery. “I’ve seen lots of situations where laboring moms change their minds about the team they’ve created and need to ask people to step out,” says Megan Davidson of Brooklyn, NY, a labor and postpartum doula who’s attended over 300 births. So Davidson always encourages her clients to speak openly with anybody they have invited to the birth about the possibility that they might be asked to leave if a mother finds she needs more privacy than she expected. Davidson says a big part of her job as a doula is advocating for a mom in the delivery room— which can certainly mean telling a mother-in-law or a best friend to hang out in the cafeteria or go home, so a woman doesn’t have to worry about a potentially prickly dialogue with anybody mid-labor. Ami Burnham, a licensed midwife and registered nurse in San Francisco recommends that anyone who does plan on being a support person for a delivery watch a few real birth videos before the big day. Otherwise, she explains, things don’t always go according to plan. Burnham describes a mom she helped a few years ago who wanted to have both of her sisters with her in the delivery room. But as things progressed at the hospital, the client’s younger sister “was in the corner of the room, really stressed about everything that was going on, crying and carrying on.” Understandably, the birthing mom asked her sibling to please wait outside until after the baby was born.

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