Gazing Upward



First of all, I apologize for my lack of posts over the last few months. The 3rd trimester has proved challenging for me this time around with racing heart (on heart med to slow it down), low iron, walking pneumonia, and extreme fatigue.  (Like the kind where I cross the room and have to sit down because my body goes numb.) I will get back on track soon!

Secondly, I am in need of a big pep talk folks.  Last week, we discovered my platelet count had dropped by half. And it has gone down even lower since…below the level at which it is safe for me to have an epidural during delivery.  At almost 37 weeks, there is still time for the platelets to come back up before I begin labor. But typically that doesn’t occur until after delivery.  So here I am trying to prepare for natural childbirth. And I. AM. PANICKING.

I have friends who have delivered naturally, by choice and by accident. If I knew the labor would be fast, I could handle it. But hours upon hours of pain without any option of relief? I am scared to death. Yesterday, I ordered a couple of books including the Bradley method book which is so highly regarded.  As I wait for the books to arrive at my doorstep, I’d love to hear from any of you who delivered naturally.  Any tips or suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thank you! I’ll keep you posted on my test updates.


  • Comment by chinazhoumom — May 22, 2012 @ 8:06 am

    (I have never had a baby…) but what about acupuncture??? Maybe there is something that can assist..
    Sending you strength!
    Carol in FL

  • Comment by Heart & Seoul — May 22, 2012 @ 9:09 am

    Oh gosh- I’m really sorry you are going through such a tough time! I have a little experience wtih going naturally, kind of. I had a very weird labor/delivery. I was dialated 6 1/2cm and still wasn’t feeling anything at all, which is bizare since I have a ZERO pain tolerance! I asked for the epidural simply b/c I was afraid if I didn’t go ahead and get it, I’d miss my window of opportunity. Getting the epidural was like a bad bee sting and I’m HORRIBLY aftraid of needles, so for me at least, the epidural was a bit…ok, a lot traumatic. However, as soon as I got it, within minutes I was pushing. (Terribly strange b/c normally epidurals slow labor tremendously.) I went SO fast in fact, that my epidural didn’t really have time to take effect. I could feel everything. 6 minutes/2 pushes later, my sweet Perry was born. (Today is actually his birthday!) Those 6 minutes were terrible, but honestly, the labor pain wasn’t what was so bad. He was right on top of my sciatic nerve and I thought I was literally going to loose my leg! I tell you all this because honestly, it was so doable that I’m considering just going naturally next time. The epidural was traumatic going in and then, I actually had bad pain from the epidural for about a year afterwards. I’m not sure what went wrong with mine. It could have been the upsurd squirming and hyperventilating I was doing as the poor guy was putting it in… but still. If your platlets go up and you get the meds, great! But, if you don’t, you will labor like a champ!! You have such a stong spirit, I know you’ll be great!!! I’ll be praying for you lots and lots! Also, where are you delivering? My mom’s a delivery nurse at St. Vincent’s in Birmingham. Their whole team is fantastic and will get you through anything!! Promise!!

  • Comment by paige — May 22, 2012 @ 9:11 am

    I have to tell you that I have enjoyed reading your blog over the years. Your children are beautiful and I enjoy your honesty addressing the trials of parenthood at times 🙂 We have 3 homegrown children who are now 13, 15 and 17. Our 4 y/o joined our family through adoption in May 2010. My first 3 were delivered naturally but not necessarily on purpose. Delivery #1 we had planned on a natural delivery but accepted an epidural as backup. The hospital we chose was in a smaller (but not super small) town. As labor progressed and I begged for an epidural the nurses proceeded to give me every reason I couldn’t get one from “the” anesthesiologist was busy in surgery to the concern they hadn’t done many for childbirth. The pain was complicated because our dtr was “sunny side up” and it was our first. Well, she is graduating high school next week so I guess it all worked out. However, #2 and #3 were delivered naturally by choice but I did have a shot of ?? in my IV which helped some. Tips. Have a birthing plan and review it with your MD. Walking and being up and around makes a WORLD of difference. However, it is MUCH easier for the nursing staff if you are in bed with a monitor. Get your MD to agree to your desires or compromise something like walk x 25 minutes and in bed x 5 minutes. I sat on the therapy/exercise ball for the hard labor with our 3rd. It literally brought my pain from something like an 8/10 to like a 4/10. The relief was instantaneous. Bring distractions and/or focal points. Maybe a DVD and for sure music/favorite CD. The music helped a ton. The lamaze breathing technique didn’t work for me but simply moaning and rocking (and not worrying about the people in the hallway 🙂 ) helped too. During the process it is difficult to focus on anything other than yourself and your pain. You may try having your husband give sweet and gentle reminders or your precious new life about to be born-unless you scream for him to stop! Those poor husbands don’t know what to do? 🙂 You can do this! Best of luck. May God bless these last few days/weeks as a family of 5 and give you the courage and strength to get through the delivery of His newest miracle into your lives.

  • Comment by Carie — May 22, 2012 @ 9:53 am

    Do you have access to a maternity TENS machine? I borrowed one from the hospital (but I’m in the UK so it may be different) and found it really helpful, and it saved my husband from arm ache as the best thing I found before we got it was having him rub my lower back hard through each contraction. A warm bath was nice in the early stages and sitting on an exercise ball, and then gas and air later on. Try not to worry too much and here’s hoping your platelets zoom back up!

  • Comment by Julie — May 22, 2012 @ 11:04 am

    I have no advice to share, but I will absolutely pray for you!

  • Comment by Laura Gail Claassen — May 22, 2012 @ 11:52 am

    Kelley, I am so sorry that you have been having a hard time! I had no idea you were dealing with all this. I feel like I have been in survival mode myself but my c section is scheduled for june 7 so there is light at the end of this tunnel. 🙂 I think Susan told me that we have similar due dates – mine is June 14.

    I was in natural labor with Samuel for a long time because my cervix wouldn’t dilate and therefore they wouldn’t give me the epidural. There is another pain killer they can use but I’m not sure given what you said that they would even offer that to you. They had me bouncing on a ball, walking the halls, walking around the room… you name it. But nothing took the pain away like sitting in the bottom of a tub with ur back facing the shower head and it pointed on your lower back – especially if you have back labor which i did. Are you delivering at brookwood or st. vincent’s? At this point in the game you might consider doing a water birth. My friend McKenzie just delivered in Tennesee via a midwife and spent as much time as she could in a hot tub that they would let her b/c it helps the pain so much. I know Brookwood has water births available in their new hospital wing so it might be worth looking into and getting a doula to help coach you through natural labor.

    I’m the biggest wimp when it comes to pain and I will be honest ( I thought I was dying) but you seem so much stronger than I am and I know you will do great. I think the key might be having a good coach there with you that knows how to do natural labor. You will need the encouragement and attention. Blessings for safe and healthy labor and delivery!!!! LGC

  • Comment by ashley matteo — May 22, 2012 @ 1:20 pm

    hey, i have no advice but my prayer is for you to be more at peace and not fearful of the pain. pain is always worse when you are anticipating it and are tense. i pray God will calm you SUPERNATURALLY. i know i would need it

  • Comment by Joyce — May 22, 2012 @ 2:02 pm

    Each birth is so different. My first was a hard labor and she was tiny. My second came into the world so fast there was no time for an epidural and she was big. If I’d known before hand I wouldn’t have an epidural I probably would have been frantic. As it turns out I didn’t need it since everything happened quickly.

    I’m keeping you in my prayers.

  • Comment by Bethany — May 22, 2012 @ 2:02 pm

    I will give a shout out to Bradley’s “Husband Coached Childbirth” which is an awesome (albeit dated) book about conquering natural childbirth like animals do. This baby-round I tried his lying down, running pose (lying on your side with your upper leg up and bent) and deep breathing through the contractions. It was AWESOME!! Seriously awesome. I have had two other natural labors that weren’t nearly as awesome as laboring with this pose. It is the one he recommends for ALL laboring women who are in active labor 4-8cm as it moves things along and allows for optimum opening of the birth canal. I meditated on prayer intentions during each contraction (how much easier is it to tolerate pain for the sake of a young boy enduring cancer??) My husband would time each contraction so that we knew around when it was going to lighten up–he would give me a 30 second time check and then again at a minute and usually the contraction was lessening at that point. Transition is from 8-10cm and is always the toughest time, but usually you’re not in that phase for long and it’s already too late for drugs anyway. YOU CAN DO THIS! Stay on top of the pain; try not to get panicky. The best part is that you know you can’t have the epidural, so put it out of your mind and endure. You are going to LOVE it. Seriously love it. I’m a total convert after an accidental natural labor #3 that was anything but calm! lol. The after is the best–no catheters, no numb legs, euphoria over what you’ve just accomplished. Can’t wait to hear your success story!

  • Comment by Maria — May 22, 2012 @ 7:10 pm

    I’m so sorry that you are having health issues during this pregnancy! I had an induced labor with my first baby and it was a terrible, 50 hour ordeal. I took the epidural after 46 hours. My baby was groggy and it took quite a long time to get nursing worked out. She got a raging case of thrush from the antibiotics. I was disappointed because I had taken Bradley classes and wanted a natural birth.

    With my second baby, I went into labor naturally, got to the hospital at 7 cm, and wasn’t in terrible pain until pushing. It took an hour, and it hurt. But it was over, she nursed really well, I took a shower and felt like a million bucks. So much better. I even got stitches without anything because I had a tear. Not bad.

    I had a birth center, water birth with my 3rd. This is the way to go. It hurt much much less. He nursed like a champ, I took a shower and we headed home 4 hours later. Left the house at midnight, got home at about 10 am, kids didn’t even miss us.

    I did learn one important thing after this birth. With my second baby I had MONSTER after-pains. They were worse than labor. With the third, it took a really long time for the placenta to come- like 30-40 minutes. I finally asked and they said it was normal, and than probably my other birth attendants had tugged on the cord to make it come out faster. No tugging = no ripping of uterine wall = no afterpains. Don’t let anyone tug. Make sure your helper knows to pay attention for this after the birth.

    The key is to practice now. Learn how to totally relax every single muscle in your body. Limp. Once labor is just too much to be up out of bed, you need to relax limp. This is such an effective method of pain control. Between contractions, you should re-relax. Try to stay relaxed during contractions. Your labor will be much faster when you are very relaxed. Make sure you have a support person. My husband fell asleep during my first two births, so we got a doula for the third. He actually did a great job the third time, but the doula’s cold hand pressed against my forehead was really helpful. If something pops into your mind that you think would help, ask your helper.

    Best wishes on your labor.

  • Comment by Michelle — May 22, 2012 @ 8:01 pm

    Prayed for your platelets to go up! PLEASE GOD!!!!

  • Comment by Kathie Hikade — May 22, 2012 @ 8:14 pm

    I have three sons..ages 28, 26, and 21. When they were born no one even talked about epidurals. They were all three born naturally at 8lbs 10 oz, 7lbs 7oz, and 9lbs 5o! The first and last labors were long…over 24 hours for the first one and 10 hours for the 3rd. The 2nd came pretty quick…just about 2 hours after arriving at hospital. I can honestly say that it wasn’t that bad. I did get a little sick to my stomach but I don’t remember the pain being so So bad. I was able to push them out fairly quickly and that helped. I have NO doubt that you can do this. I would highly recommend taking a child birth class. Good luck!!!

  • Comment by Kelley — May 22, 2012 @ 8:28 pm

    You all are amazing!! Thank you for sharing encouragement, wisdom, and experience. I have compiled some notes from your comments so I can get prepared! 🙂 I am beginning to feel like I can do this!


  • Comment by Laurie — May 22, 2012 @ 8:38 pm

    You don’t know me but we were in China with Emily and Danny and I have kept up with your site since your last adoption. I am also a L&D nurse and was just wondering if you Dr has ruled out HEELP syndrome??? Its a syndrome that effects pregnant women and their hepatic system and makes them have low platelet counts like you. Just wanted you to make sure they have checked on this:)
    You can do this if you want a no medication delivery! Bring something to focus on and go to “your place” during contractions. Also remember 2nd time is usually quicker and involves less pushing! Also remember if you do need meds, there are no awards given out at the end of this (except that beautiful baby).

  • Comment by Kelley — May 22, 2012 @ 9:11 pm

    Thanks Laurie! I’ll ask about HELLP syndrome on THursday at my appt but I think my blood pressure has been okay. Isn’t it related to blood pressure as well? But good thought! I know we need to be sure that’s not the case. Thanks for the suggestions too!

  • Comment by Angela — May 23, 2012 @ 12:13 am

    Hire a doula…..they do an amazing job assisting with natural birth so that it can be a wonderful experience for both you and your husband (and less painful 🙂

  • Comment by Christina — May 23, 2012 @ 1:40 am

    One word for you- DOULA. They are the best- they will help you every step of the way and know exactly how to rub your back, help you breathe and encourage you. Know you can do this- and it’s so empowering and wonderful.

  • Comment by Julie — May 23, 2012 @ 8:16 am

    I had epidurals with my first two daughters, but didn’t make it to the hospital quick enough with my third little baby to get the epidural. I was scared to death when I realized that I wasn’t getting any pain relief, and yes it hurt, but it’s nothing that you can’t do. And, honestly, I recovered SO MUCH FASTER without the epidural than I did with the first two labors. I was up walking around within hours.

    I’m done with that stage of my life, but I always said that if I had to go through labor again, I wouldn’t get an epidural.

    I did use the Bradley method with all three — the slow, concentrated breathing really worked for me. Every woman is different, and every labor is different, but women were having babies long before epidurals were available. YOU CAN DO IT!

  • Comment by Dani — May 23, 2012 @ 8:46 am

    I am sorry you are having such a rough pregnancy. I have had 3 child birthing experiences and have only received nubane(sp) for 2 of them. This med didn’t take the pain away just took the edge off the pain. For me the key was finding what was relaxing. I had classical music and the 5 on the clock and my mother. My mother had experience being a L & D nurse so she was extremely calming by stroking my head or helping regain focus when the going got tougher. 🙂 Don’t know why the number 5 stuck but I would just breath slowly through my contractions loosing myself in the music and number. Things melted around me. Is there a picture or object that put you in a calm state? I know at home the exercise/birthing ball took some discomfort away and have heard of numerous people saying those helped them through labor. Since you are asking, just forewarning about the after-pains with the uterus. They can be tough so honestly I would take something for them around the clock for a few days. (HUGS) You will get through this, have some faith in yourself. You have a beautiful family!! Thanks for sharing your life’s journeys! Good luck!!

  • Comment by Brandi — May 23, 2012 @ 9:06 am

    My biggest advice is – you can do this! You are so strong, stronger than you know. The Bradley book is amazing. Relaxing and keeping yourself calm and letting your body go will get you there. Visualize your body opening up to let your baby out.
    A Doula or good friend as support will help wonders. Giving your husband a break. Surround yourself with comfort so you can relax as much as possible.
    YOU CAN DO IT! We’re all praying and cheering for you!
    Also check out “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth” my library had it and it was even more supportive to me than Bradley’s book.

  • Comment by Kathleen — May 23, 2012 @ 8:08 pm

    1 Corinthians 10:13: No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
    (Replace temptation/tempted with test/tested)

  • Comment by laura k — May 24, 2012 @ 12:26 am

    I totally agree that a doula is amazing – and a GREAT investment. your insurance may even cover her services.

    Also, labor at home in the tub or the hospital tub (if available). I was in the tub with my fourth and my husband was saying “time to get to the hospital” but I didn’t want to get out of the tub – it felt so good.

    Well, hubby’s “nice” way of getting me out of the tub was to open the drain. I could not believe how the pain increased as the water level decreased. I would have totally done a water delivery if that had been an option.

    (and it was a good thing DH got me out of the tub – he was right, we needed to get to the hospital).

    did I say doula? it’s worth repeating! LOVE having a doula.

  • Comment by Emily Jones — May 24, 2012 @ 3:34 pm

    Hey Kelly,
    I have been diagnosed with many of the same things you have – hypothryoidism, low iron, and adrenal fatigue. My doctor is also considering candida as a possibility and even heavy metal toxicity.

    Not sure if you mentioned whether or not you were diagnosed with the adrenal fatigue, but if not, it’s something that you might look into. It often goes hand-in-hand with hypothryoidism, causes fatigue and many other symptoms including gluten allergies like you have. Here is a website that I love on hypothyroidism and adrenal fatigue – I have been taking hyrdocortisone for about 5 months now and it has DEFINITELY helped me! It might be something to look into even before you give birth (Sorry I can’t help you on that front – I’ve never had a baby – but my sister did use a doula. I can pass her name along if you want it)and help you with your energy and your recovery — you have to have cortisol to heal/recover.

    Also, I dont know what kind of medicine you’re on for your hypothryoidism, but if it’s a synthetic T4 only medicine like Synthroid, that can often make your thyroid condition worse not better. You should try either Armour thyroid, a dessicated compounded thyroid with T4/T3, or Cytomel (a T3 only med) if you have a Reverse T3 problem (that’s what I have and only a T3 only med will help). Stop the Thyroid Maddness has info on the RT3 problem and so does this one – One cause of an RT3 problem is low iron, so it could be an issue for you.

    Lastly, I have found a great iron supplement that I love that has brought my ferritin levels up very quickly and has caused no side effects or consitpation. It’s this kind – It has Vitamin C which helps the iron be absorbed and is also great for your adrenals. I take 3 pills every other night – they say that gives you most of the benefit while lessening the side effects.

    I know you mentioned that you love your doctor, but I am seeing Dr. McMinn here in Birmingham and he is great. His website has his contact info – He is expensive because he does not take insurance, but I am going back and trying to file on my own.

    Anyways, just thought I would pass on some info that might help! If you have any questions or want more info, feel free to email me. Not sure how much you will be able to do before the baby is born, but maybe you can! Good luck and I will be praying for you!

  • Comment by Amy D — May 24, 2012 @ 7:31 pm

    You can do it! My epidural didn’t work for my second delivery. I will say, though, that labor with Julia progressed SO MUCH MORE QUICKLY than with my first. The pain was intense but very manageable – I pray it is the same for you!

  • Comment by Selina Bergey — May 24, 2012 @ 9:54 pm

    Oh, Kelly! I’m sorry you’re having a difficult end-of-pregnancy. 🙁

    I’ve had four PLANNED natural births. 🙂 I love natural birthing. Here’s my best “pep talk”.

    1. Hire a doula.
    2. Read Dr. Sears “The Birth Book”. Read it NOW. 🙂
    3. Google “natural birth stories” online and read for hours. Seriously, immerse yourself in stories and videos of other women who have gone naturally and lived to tell about it.
    4. After you read the above book, make a birth plan. Discuss it in detail with your husband. PLAN what positions and natural relief techniques you’re wanting to try. I could list some here, but the book will give you much more!
    5. Many women have horrible “natural” births because they were PLANNING for a pain-free birth (ie, epidural) and for some reason, it didn’t work out. So they spend the labor discouraged and unprepared. Prepare NOW, and you can totally do it!
    6. Once you are in labor, take one contraction at a time. Truly, anyone can work through just ONE contraction. Don’t worry about how many MORE contractions are coming—just tell yourself to work through just ONE contraction.
    7.Remind yourself (and have everyone around you gently reminding you) that YOU CAN DO THIS. God designed your body to give birth and YOU CAN DO IT! 🙂 Picture the moments after the birth, when you’re snuggling that precious newborn in your arms and it’s all over…..I even pulled out the new baby clothes during my labor and concentrated on the BABY that was about to join us.

    Hope that helps, even a little.

    So excited to read about your newest little blessing in just a few short weeks!

  • Comment by Kathy Pasakarnis — May 25, 2012 @ 8:43 pm

    Dear Kelley,

    I am so sorry you are having such a tough time. I will keep you in my prayers! We have 2 biological sons, the second born by planned natural birth. I will second, third? the advice to hire a doula. Ours came to the house and helped me in early labor until I felt it was time to go to the hospital. I that really isn’t an option, I would get the book The Birth Partner for your husband.

    Blessings, Kathy

  • Comment by Beth — May 27, 2012 @ 5:50 am

    I have to bio sons, one born with epidural and one without. I had the best nurse ever who massaged my back the entire time….she was wonderful! The massaging really helped manage the pain. They were also able to give me a local anesthetic for pain just before delivery….it helped. My recovery from my natural birth was so much faster!

  • Comment by Debbie W — May 27, 2012 @ 8:12 pm

    I’ve had four births, 1 with epidural, 2 without (1 not by choice and 1 by choice), and 1 c-section that was supposed to be natural birth, but the baby was breech. I have to say that my deliveries without epidural were the best for me. I was scared to death when they told me there wasn’t enough time for an epidural, but afterwards, I felt so much better and recovered so much quicker! What about a water birth, I’ve heard great things about those too. A doula would be like a dream come true too! Best of luck to you, hope you feel better soon!

  • Comment by The Mom — May 28, 2012 @ 2:49 pm

    I agree with much that has already been said: 1) Hire a doula who will be supportive of you no matter which route you go 2) Find out what your hospital is willing to accommodate…I agree that a tub bath or shower during labor and the ability to be mobile can be essential to getting through different phases of the labor 3) Remember that no one position will get you through the whole labor. The ball might work some of the time as might the tub or the shower, but you will likely find yourself needing to shift to different positions and different activities as the baby moves through the birth canal. 4) Bring a sound machine to the labor room and don’t worry if you groan or moan loud enough for the world to hear…I certainly did and survived it.
    5) Read the best books you can get your hands on but don’t obsess over memorizing anything. This is a natural process that you are facing, but one that will test your body and your mind to its limits. And you will have a wonderful gift at the end…even if you end up with a medicated delivery.
    6) There are now several drugs available (other than an epidural) that can be given at different points in the labor. Some just take the edge off the pain for a little while. Talk with your doctor and the anesthesiologist about what is available at your hospital.
    I had both natural and medicated deliveries. I never felt defeated or disappointed with myself after the medicated deliveries (except the one that I talked them into giving me an epidural at 8 cm and then had the baby 15 minutes later) Sitting still for the epidural was insane since I was in transition, but remember that women in labor are always temporarily crazy.
    I did enjoy my natural delivery as soon as it was over. I felt great. Was able to take a jacuzzi tub bath after bonding with the baby. My soreness was minimal.
    I will pray for you that all will go well. May the peace of Christ sustain you and may He enfold you in His arms.

  • Comment by Amy V — May 30, 2012 @ 10:38 am

    Kelley, you and Scott are such great parents with a wonderful support system in your families. Remember that the Lord will give you His supernatural strength to get through through the birth if your most beloved baby. Scott (whom I formerly worked for at MCG) is the best and you are so blessed to have by your side at every step. I always knew he put his family first. I go to Covenant with the Giffens and you will have many prayers surrounding you. Blessing to you all!

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