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Pelvic Instability

The Home Birth of Baby T

Baby 3 is here. It’s a boy, and he is now eight weeks old!
Baby T 8 weeks

 

Baby T was born on Father’s Day and is a dream come true in every way. To be a mother to three (three!) children is such a mind-blowing thing after a road to parenthood that involved loss and infertility. We are so grateful for our sons. They teach us and grow us every day. Baby T’s birth was also a dream come true in another way: he was born at home. This had been a dream of mine since I was a teenager when I babysat for a mom of three who was a lawyer, Bradley Birth instructor, homebirther, and later went on to be a midwife. When the kids were asleep, I would peruse her educational bookshelf. These readings left a deep impression on me. I learned that birth need not be a unbearably painful, drama-filled thing like in movies. I learned that birth is a process that harnesses the amazing design of the female body and our incredible hormones (the classic Childbirth Without Fear <affiliate hyperlink> is a good read on this).

Fast-forward many years: for V’s birth, we finally settled on a hospital birth versus home birth in the 3rd trimester for financial reasons.** The hospital, even with a doula, ample preparation, and self-advocacy, was not a fit for me.  For E’s birth, we knew we’d find a way to make the money work, as certified professional midwife (CPM) care was a vastly better fit for processing birth trauma as well as pregnancy with pelvic instability. But, with pending construction at our house, we opted to deliver at a freestanding birth center rather than home. It was an amazing home-away-from-home birth, with all the same (lack of) equipment as home, but we still had to load up, drive to get there, drive home, etc. So, for the third time around, we knew we wanted to be at home for the whole thing. Provided baby and I were healthy, it was time for the dream to come true! Now, here’s the story.

*Check out this irony: a hospital birth cost $11K-$30k+ but our part is $0 with insurance. In contrast, non-hospital pre-natal care and the birth is about $4k, but our insurance covers none of it.

 

The Birth of Baby T

Disclaimer:  this is a birth story. It involves bodily functions. I have not shared anything here that I am not comfortable saying aloud to you face-to-face. But, if you aren’t interested in such details, stop reading now. Read more…

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I was 24 weeks pregnant with my oldest son (I’ll refer to this as PG1) when I woke up one morning and felt like someone had kicked me between my legs. I felt bruised from the inside and outside. It was painful to walk but also painful to lay down on my side. I made an appointment with my OB practice and I was diagnosed with diastasis of the pubis symphysis, a more extreme version of the symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) that many women experience late in pregnancy. Diastasis symphysis pubis (DSP) is such an extreme separation of pubic bones that they are considered dislocated.  For simplicity, I am going to refer to all of these as SPD in this post, but for the record: SPD can also be referred to as pelvic girdle pain (or PGP), pubis symphysis pain, and a few other names that may refer to the same specific issue or some broader ones, like pelvic instability, which may also refer to issues with the sacroiliac joint (naturally, when the front of your pelvis spreads the rear pelvic joint is impacted, too). The pelvis naturally widens during pregnancy, especially in late pregnancy, to accommodate for delivery. This increased pelvic girth and flexibility is part of a woman’s amazing ability to birth a baby. But for me, it happened too much and too soon. The obstetrician (OB) I met with at the time told me that my diastasis was the most extreme case he’d seen in over twenty years of practice, but there was nothing to be done save for taking pain medication and making some small comfort measures. Getting a second OB opinion didn’t yield me any additional hope. From a physiological standpoint, the doctors were correct— the gap wasn’t going to close itself during pregnancy. But, there is more to health and healing than mainstream western medicine’s focus on medication, surgery, or bust. For my next pregnancy, where SPD became intensely painful at just 20 weeks, I knew better and utilized many strategies to make the pregnancy considerably healthier and happier. So, here’s what I know now through two pregnancies and four years* of pelvic instability.

Symphysis Pubis

Location of the symphysis pubis

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Continued from Part 2: The Hard Work of Progress or start at Part 1

I went home physically and emotionally exhausted. It was at this point that fear and anxiety set in. I had always—well, from my late teen years when I heard about the Bradley Method through a family I babysat for— truly believed in my body’s ability to birth a baby of its own accord. But here I was, feeling that I’d read my body’s signs wrong, or that they had misguided me, and it was emotionally draining.  The length of the labor wasn’t the bad part—I had just told nurse that we’d waited 2.5 years for this baby, we surely could wait a few more days—but the beginnings of the realization that my body might not just make this work had set it. Thankfully, I was still largely a believer, just a believer with some innocence lost. And, I kept on going. I called my Bradley instructor and she was encouraging. At about 3 PM, I started having contractions again. They continued to be painful back labor contractions. I sat in the living room on the ball and watched Netflix to pass the time.

Friend Kelly brought us California Tortilla for dinner around 6. Nachos for me! I was sitting backward on a folding chair in the living room processing through regular, intense contractions again about 5 min apart. Later she shared she could have sworn from my contractions and my reactions that baby was coming very soon, like concerned-we-were-still-at-home-soon.

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Continued from Part 1.

For Baby E’s half-birthday birthday, I shared the story of his amazing, empowering birth (plus gorgeous pictures). Writing big brother V’s story has been harder.  At first, I was afraid to face my own story, but I moved beyond that and wrote and wrote. Then, I moved into being afraid of others hearing my story, that they would judge it: that was your traumatic birth? That was nothing or If you would’ve just gone along with X like everyone else does, you wouldn’t have been so upset. Ultimately, I decided that others judging it is ok. I’d rather share it and let a few people glean something helpful than not share it out of fear.

So, what’s the deal with birth trauma anyway? Some people say ‘healthy baby, healthy mama’ is enough when it comes to a birth. For me—logical to you or not— it is not. Yes, the “destination” is imperative, but the journey matters, too. It is possible to both celebrate an amazing new life and mourn the journey it took to get there at the same time.

For example, if you completed a marathon, but got injured on the way, no one would say, “All that matters is that you crossed the finish line”. No, people would care about your twisted ankle, they’d want to hear your story, maybe they’d even commend your endurance. They would know that the medal is great, but the journey also matters.

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Babywearing Through Chronic Back Pain

I’d always hoped to wear any baby we were blessed with, but when the ligaments of my pelvis over-loosened to an extreme degree at 24 weeks pregnant, and I began living in near-constant pain, I wondered if it would work out. My medical team all assured me that my body would heal itself shortly after delivery, so I kept on figuring out which wearing options were best for our family.

While I was interested in soft-structured carriers, namely the Beco Gemini, the idea of wrapping really enticed me. I loved that woven wraps were amazingly beautiful and versatile from infancy to toddlerhood. When Baby Boy V was born, I was armed with a stretchy Moby Wrap and a Neobulle woven wrap. I wrapped baby for the first time at about thirty hours old in a Moby.

 

To the surprise of all, instead of my pain getting better after V was born, it got worse and worse as the pain spread from my pelvis to my lower back, upper back, shoulders, and neck. Life became consumed with thrice weekly chiropractic visits, weekly physical therapy, and a battery of doctors who didn’t quite know what to do with me.

Holding baby in my arms would exacerbate the pain, but what else is a new mom to do? I quickly discovered that when I wrapped V, it distributed his weight across my shoulders and back and made carrying him around bearable.

After a few weeks, I decided to pull out my woven wrap to see how that compared to the Moby. It was trickier to get snug, but it felt so much more supportive. After getting some pointers at a Babywearing International of DC-MD-VA meeting, I discovered that I had less pain wearing V in a woven wrap than pushing him a stroller which required me to hold my arms in an uncomfortable position. I realized that a very snug pocket carry acted as a back brace, plus having baby so snugly next to me gave me an emotional boost, an important thing when dealing with chronic pain.

  
Because the Moby is stretchy, it has give in every direction and felt like it was pulling away from me. In contrast, a woven wrap only stretches slightly on the diagonal so it can get scrumptiously snug and conform to every inch of baby and me to provide unparalleled support. I wish I had started with a woven from the beginning!
The carries that are best for me have three things in common: they are symmetrical, have a pocket, and use a spread-out cross-pass. If that sounds like a foreign language to you, you are not alone. It sure did to me! Come to a meeting and ask for help, but in the meanwhile, take a look at my two favorite carries that do all three of those things, the front wrap cross carry and double hammock back carry with a cross-pass front. 

My medical team members are in agreement that supportive, symmetrical carries in a wrap are not contraindicated. Most of them were not familiar with wrapping, but extended their approval as they learned more. It is still unclear if my body will ever heal completely, but I should “graduate” from physical therapy right after V turns nine months old! I am so glad that I found a way to care for V in a way that allows me to parent in the high-contact way that is important to our family while helping my body grow stronger.
This post was orginally published at http://beltwaybabywearers.blogspot.com/2011/09/wearing-through-chronic-back-pain.html

 
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