Category Archives: Birth

Elizabeth’s Birth Story

We welcomed Elizabeth Suzanne late on Friday, May 24th after a lovely labor and hypnobirth! It’s been a wild few weeks, and we’ve been having a great time as parents so far. We started the pregnancy going a rather traditional route, through an OB, and quickly changed course to midwifery care through the Connecticut Childbirth and Women’s Center. We felt they respected our needs, wishes, and wants while providing the most compassionate care we could have ever imagined. A thousand thank yous to the entire staff are not enough!

Without further ado, here is Elizabeth’s birth story.

Thursday, May 23. I was 40 weeks, 4 days and getting a little bit impatient and anxious. My husband debated going to the firehouse for his shift that day – I encouraged him to go because sitting around to wait for me go into labor wasn’t going to make it happen any sooner. I went to bed around 11pm and woke up at 1am to our dog staring at me and whining.  He wouldn’t leave me alone, and had been acting strange towards me all week… he knew something was going on. After he hounded me for a few more minutes, I caved to taking him out in the middle of the night. I rolled my pregnant self out of bed to find my bathrobe but as soon as my feet hit the ground, I realized he had simply been trying to tell me something: my membranes had ruptured (water broke) and it was go time!

After getting over how cool it was that the dog woke me up for this, I could think of nothing else other than how happy and excited I was that our baby was finally ready to meet us and immediately started talking to the baby about what a nice labor we were about to have. At that point, we still didn’t know if we were having a boy or a girl. I spent a lot of time prior to Elizabeth’s birth day preparing for her birth – whatever that was going to be. So much of that mental preparation came from the Hypnobirthing class we took (pregnant mamas in Fairfield/Westchester… click the link and sign up to take Muneeza’s class!). After spending hours learning how to fully relax, reciting affirmations about birth, and taking in as much information as possible about labor,  there was no reason for me to be anxious or nervous about anything.

The CCWC is about 50 minutes away from our house without traffic, so I prepared the car for the possibility that things could get messy. Chris got home from work and by the time we got on the road it was 2:30am and free of the Memorial Day traffic that would surely block the roads later on that day. By the time we got there, around 3:30am, I received the first round of antibiotics for my Group B strep. The on-call midwife informed us that with GBS mothers, they like to see the baby birth within 24 hours. I tucked that into the back of my head, and we were on our way to a nearby hotel to get some sleep instead of driving back home.

It was next to impossible to sleep (how could I sleep when something SO exciting was happening?!) but I got a few hours of shut-eye in between what were very mild surges (contractions). We woke up, had breakfast, and went for a walk later that morning until we went back to CCWC for a mid-morning check-in. Turns out I was only 2cm dilated which didn’t bode well for our baby to be born within the day. Our midwife discussed options with us – continue to get rounds of antibiotics and risk infection for baby and/or mom, or change our birth plan and head to the hospital for a Pitocin drip.

There was that word. Pitocin. The only part of our natural birth plan where the word Pitocin appeared was in a sentence that read, “Absolutely NO offers of Pitocin or pain meds unless a medical necessity or emergency.” In the moment, I went back to one of the most important takeaways from class – that as much as you can try to plan something, there are still unexpected turns. This was one of them.

Most importantly, I felt very safe and confident in the hands of the midwives at CCWC. If one of their most seasoned midwives was telling me we needed to seriously consider pit, then we would consider it. I knew she wouldn’t steer us wrong, and she wanted to see us have a birth as close to our plan as possible. I also reminded myself that we were prepared to handle whatever turn Elizabeth’s birth would take – whether it meant Pitocin, pain meds, or in the worst case scenario, an emergency C-section. Together, we decided to head over to the hospital in a couple of hours, and I held it together until we got in the car.

To be honest, I was worried. What if it made my surges crazy? What if it put the baby in danger? What if things didn’t go smoothly? What if, what if, what if. After a few deep breaths, I put on my big girl pants and we moved on with our day. We fueled up on a big lunch at a nearby diner, and then checked in at L&D at the hospital.

Once we got set up and started the Pitocin drip, I made a point to stay as as calm and relaxed as possible. I listened to the Hypnobirthing CD, relaxed, and settled in for the ride. Luckily, my body cooperated with the Pitocin as my surges increased fairly rapidly in intensity and frequency. I had to wear the fetal monitor throughout labor which felt a bit like a tether, but the upside was that the soundtrack to labor was Elizabeth’s heartbeat. I was so worried beforehand about what music I would want to listen to while I was laboring, but it turned out that while being hooked up to the fetal monitor was a bit of a pain… it meant that the soundtrack to the day was Elizabeth’s heartbeat and I didn’t want to hear anything else. The steady drumbeat of her heart was enough to relax me and help me focus on the task at hand.

I moved around a bit – walked the halls, labored in the tub for a little while, made trips back and forth to the bathroom. I relaxed through each surge as much has possible and relied on the breathing techniques we learned in class as well as reaching back to every single yoga class I’ve ever taken. I reminded myself that if I had successfully held complicated yoga poses in a sweltering hot yoga class for much longer than any of the contractions lasted… this was going to be more than manageable. My husband was my rock – he was with me every step of the way, holding my hand and encouraging me to work through each surge. He didn’t flinch, once!

After about six hours of increasingly frequent and intense surges, I knew Elizabeth was ready to start making her way into the world. I gave my body up to the birthing process – putting all of my energy into each surge to help her birth. It took about two more hours, but Elizabeth did a great job of moving and twisting and turning when she needed to, and I was able to reach down and touch her head as she was crowning. They put the mirror up and I caught a glimpse of what was happening. I spent a couple of moments thinking, “Holy s&#! that’s my body and there’s our baby’s head and OMG what a beautiful, crazy, emotional thing is happening!” I heard the encouragement of my husband , our midwife, and L&D nurse all saying the same thing, “You’re so close. This is it. Almost here!”

A few incredibly intense surges later, she emerged into the world and our midwife put her on my chest. I could not stop smiling and kissing and smelling this little baby and saying to Chris, “We have a baby, we have a baby!” Our midwife reminded Dad that we were all waiting to know if it was a boy or a girl, and he beamed with pride when he announced, “It’s a girl!” To boot, she was born just shy of midnight on my maternal grandmother’s birthday. It’s pretty cool how life works sometimes.

Over the last few weeks I have felt a whole new level of love – emotions beyond anything I could have imagined. If it’s even possible, I am more in love with my husband every day – I see him holding our daughter and being an awesome dad; and when I see our daughter I am overcome with love and  joy and gratitude and excitement for what’s to come. Cheers!

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15 Tips by Trimester for First-time Pregnant Moms

The countdown is on – the final days are here! I’ve nested, prepped, packed, organized, re-organized, and been thinking and reflecting a lot. Over the last 40 weeks (and even some time before that) I received a lot of advice about being pregnant – some good, some terrible – but thought I would pay forward some of the most useful tidbits. So, here goes!

15 Tips for first-time pregnant moms

First Trimester

1. Find the right care provider for you.  Just because you’ve been going to the same OB for the last 10 years doesn’t mean they are a good fit for you and your baby. For us, we found great midwives and a hypnobirthing coach. They have made this whole experience 10,000 times better than I ever could have imagined. So, explore your options… and don’t feel guilty about it!

2. Don’t read pregnancy books (or internet discussion boards) that cause you anxiety. Sorry, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, but you are kind of scary. And Google? You are way too quick to lead me to believe that there is something majorly wrong with the little cramp I just felt “down there.” There is such a thing as too much information, and it’s really hard to avoid but… try to stay away. If you really think something is wrong, call your care provider before trying to self-diagnose.

3. Buy a nightlight for your bathroom. During the first and third trimesters I’ve spent more time peeing in the middle of the night than I can count; the overhead light in the bathroom was too jarring and I found it hard enough to navigate my way there without stepping on the dog, any of his toys, or walking into the wall half asleep. That little beacon of light coming from the bathroom has saved me many times… best five dollars I’ve spent!

4. Go easy on the maternity clothes. I mean, maternity pants are kind of amazing and I never want to wear anything with a normal waistband again but… save some money this trimester. Pick up very few essentials that you really need (for me, it was a pair of black maternity slacks and a new bra) and wear the hell out of them until you have a better idea of how your body is changing as you go.

5. Find your support system. Find family, friends, a new mom group, La Leche League, whatever works for you! Make a point to stay engaged, ask questions, and meet new moms. Having the support as you go through pregnancy and beyond is invaluable. As one of the midwives at the birthing center said, “When you grow babies together, you form lifelong friendships.” Truth!

Second Trimester

6. Go away – no, really! Whatever it is that will help you relax – time away with your partner, your friends, or just you… make a point to get away and enjoy it.

7. Cross major items off your to-do list. Get the nursery set, finish projects around the house, and tie up loose ends before third trimester exhaustion creeps up.

8. Take a childbirth class and learn about your rights as a patient and parent. The more you know, the better off you and your baby are during birthing and beyond. Decide what type of birth experience you want to have, learn everything you can about the procedures in place where you’re birthing (from what you can do during labor, what tools do they have available to help you, to what their procedures are for the baby after birth including tests, vaccines, etc.) and then decide if it’s a good fit for your family.

9. Sleep a lot (and write down your crazy dreams). Sleeping was one of my favorite parts of the second trimester – for me, I was still sleeping comfortably and wasn’t peeing as often as I was during the first or third trimester. And those crazy pregnancy dreams? Write them down and share them with people (if they aren’t too weird) because they are hilarious.

10. Back to those maternity clothes. It’s probably time to expand your wardrobe – see what you can borrow from friends or find second-hand; save your money to buy a really cute outfit for your shower or maternity photo shoot if you’re doing one. Other than the hand-me-downs I received, my go-to shopping spots for a few necessities (which I’ve worn to death) included the clearance racks at Macy’s, Target, and Kohl’s.

Third trimester:

11. Everything is harder on your body so celebrate the small victories – and ask for help. Honestly, I didn’t even feel that pregnant (other than my bout with morning sickness) until I hit the third trimester. All of a sudden everything was harder and I needed help with things… I hate asking for help. My low point came at the end of a long day at work when I found that I could not comfortably reach down to unclasp my sandals; I decided my small victory for the day was getting them on in the first place, and then sucked it up and asked my husband to reverse-Cinderella the shoes off my feet. 

12. Savor the time your baby is in your belly… it’s almost over! I have felt nothing but amazement every time I feel the baby move (OK, and a little bit of discomfort during those kicks and punches to the cervix) or wake up and see that my belly has grown. It’s just SO cool! As excited as I am to meet the little guy or girl, I’m a bit sad that pregnancy is almost over. Baby is safe and always with you when they’re in your belly. It’s a special time – so take every opportunity you can to soak it in.

13. Put a waterproof pad underneath your fitted sheet. Your body will continue to do things that are out of your control, and you will appreciate the waterproof pad saving your bedding if your boobs leak/you pee yourself/your water breaks at night/etc. at any given point in time from here on out. After baby comes, use it for any and all of the inevitable messes you’ll be dealing with. 

14. Stock up! It’s helped me mentally prepare for a big change knowing that I have easy-to-eat-with-one-hand meals in the freezer, ready to go, and that I’ve stocked the house with necessities and recommendations from friends like:

  • Post-birth goodies: chux pads, maxi pads (yes, like the ones you used in middle school), mesh underwear (the least sexy underwear you’ll ever put on, or so I hear), Preparation-H wipes (in case that happens, again)
  • Baby essentials: diapers, wipes, shampoo, gentle laundry detergent, clothes
  • Kitchen goods: paper towels, dish soap, napkins, dried & canned goods
  • Bathroom supplies: toilet paper, shampoo, soap
  • Other important stuff: bottles of wine, cheese, updated netflix queue for middle-of-the-night feedings

15. Make a wishlist – plenty of people (family and friends, near and far) will ask what they can help with. Be ready with an answer (or two). Don’t be afraid to take someone up on their offer of walking the dog, throwing in a load of laundry, or even picking up a few things for you at the store. People want to help, but sometimes don’t know what to do so… help them help you and be ready with that wishlist!

If nothing else… enjoy every minute of your pregnancy – the easy days and the hard ones. This is just the beginning of a fantastic journey so keep a journal, take pictures, and savor it.

What did I miss? I know there’s more great advice out there from moms and mom-to-bes! Leave your advice in the comments!

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Natural Childbirth? Sign me up!

So now that pregnancy has been progressing along, I’ve started to think a lot about labor and birth. I don’t know what labor feels like, I have no reference point for what birthing a baby might feel like. In fact, for the most part, I’ve been regaled by pop culture and other mothers telling their oftentimes unsettling birth stories. Things going wrong at every turn, pain medicines and epidurals, stalled labors and c-sections and in the case of Hollywood – women screaming, lashing out, hating the experience, and begging for drugs.

I had to wonder… does it have to be like that? Would I be like that? Is that typical? It wasn’t until I spoke with my friend who had her first child at a natural birthing center who said, “I had such a lovely birth experience that I honestly can’t wait to do it all over again!”

I found myself saying, “Wait, what? A lovely birth experience? One you would do all over again?” It was both strange, yet utterly refreshing, for me to hear such a positive story about birth. (This was well before I learned I was pregnant, so I tucked that away in my back pocket for when the time came.)

The time did come for us to have a child and my husband and I went to our first prenatal appointment a couple of weeks after finding out that I was pregnant. I was so excited about everything – the appointment itself signified a big milestone of pregnancy and I was ready to ask questions, learn about all of the details, and more. I was so excited about this appointment that even the nurse taking my blood pressure noticed but unfortunately, I left more disappointed than I can remember being in a long, long time.

Nothing bad happened, but nothing good did, either. We were rushed from our “discussion” time with the doctor (where only about 10% of my questions were answered) to the exam, handed a folder of information, and sent on our way. But wait, what about all of my questions? And the things I needed to talk to someone (other than my family and friends) about? And what exactly does the first trimester screening mean? And what do I do when… my list of unanswered questions went on.

I knew right away that I should trust my gut – that feeling of disappointment was not something I wanted to deal with throughout many more prenatal appointments and in the delivery room. Did I want a doctor who seemed disengaged to oversee the birth of my child? No, thank you! I wanted needed to be much more involved in my prenatal care and my thoughts turned to the birthing center my friend had mentioned.

It certainly was  a lot further away – the OB’s office and hospital in town were both about 10 minutes from our home – but from the moment I walked into the birthing center I knew I had found the right place. Even before my first appointment – during a meet and greet with one of the midwives – I felt completely at ease and she answered many of my questions that my OB had failed to address. She spoke with me frankly, treating me like a real person instead of just another patient. I immediately scheduled my first prenatal appointment with them and have been so happy with that decision ever since!

The entire process is a significantly different path than the hospital birth I would have had if I stayed with my OB. As long as pregnancy and labor progress normally, we should have much more control over our experience at the birthing center than we would have at the hospital. All that said, I know it’s possible for complications to arise or risks to come up – and I’ve got backup plans just in case. One of the most attractive things about the birthing center is that it’s right across the street from the hospital – making it very easy to transfer if the need arises. Win-win!

I can’t wait to see how it all goes… but in the meanwhile, I’m doing everything I possibly can to prepare my mind and body… including taking hypnobirthing classes (more on those in another post – I LOVE them!) and keeping my body in shape for the baby now, and also in preparation for what will likely be one of the most physically demanding experiences of my life – birth. And, a major thank you to Ivana Vacation 😉 who turned me on to all of this in the first place! Stay tuned!

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The Broadbents are having a baby!

We are very excited to announce that we’re having a baby! We’ve been slowly but surely spreading the word (and I’m happy to finally blog about it)! We’ve gotten a lot of questions, so here are some of the top responses:

  • Baby is due in May.
  • No, we don’t know if it’s a boy or girl and we won’t be finding out until he/she arrives!
  • Yes, Cooper (the dog) is very excited.
  • No, I haven’t had any particularly strange cravings or eaten anything really weird.
  • I’m feeling good!
  • So far, we haven’t agreed on a name but we have at least a few months worth of debating left.
  • We found out the morning of September 11th – the only time on that day in many years that I’ve cried tears of joy.

I had a delusional fantasy that I would be of those super active and productive pregnant women who never let being pregnant stop them from doing anything. And I will admit that maybe I even pushed myself a little too hard at the beginning to keep up with what I thought I should be doing.  To make a long story short, I learned the hard way that the days of working like crazy, going from one job to another, and super intense workouts are on pause. Talk about a balancing act… time to re-prioritize!

I’ve decided I can still be productive and not push myself over the edge… it has just taken some getting used to. I scaled back on everything – including the workouts. I’ve made room for more resting and calmer activities like yoga, barre classes, and walking. After pushing myself so much physically over the last few years – from training for triathlons to getting in shape for the wedding and more – I will admit that it’s been kind of nice to step into a slower lane for a little bit (and indulge, guilt-free, in some ridiculous desserts from time to time).

Now that we’re well into this crazy pregnancy journey and our schedule has calmed down from the fall, I will be back in the kitchen whipping up new finds and old favorites and sharing them back on this blog. I’ll also be writing about this new sense of balance we’re working through (and towards) with Baby on the way!

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