Thursday, January 26, 2012

A few minor set backs

38.5 weeks and still going strong!

I have to say, that all in all, this has been a pretty easy pregnancy. Aside from some morning sickness the first trimester (first time I had ever really had it with any of my babies!) and some unwanted aches and pains (especially at night), I can't really complain... I've just been trucking along. Each Doctor visit has pretty much been the same... check the heartbeat, everything sounds good... you look great, baby sounds great, you're on your way!

The past few weeks have been a little bit of a different story, as I have encountered a few bumps on the road to my VBAC.

My first bump in the road started a few weeks ago when I started visiting a chiropractor twice a week. I met with my doula Katie to go over some things and discovered that the baby is sitting posterior. This basically means that her head is down (yay for that!) but the back of her head is on my spine instead of facing out toward my belly. The best position for birth is anterior, head down and back out to my belly. Good news is, she seems to still have room to move around. I am constantly feeling her little bottom out to my side, which makes it seem like she is trying to move out to the anterior position. Hopefully the chiropractor visits will help her turn. I am also doing some exercises from the Spinning Babies website to help her turn around.

This isn't a huge cause of concern in my journey to a VBAC. It could just mean a much longer, harder labor, if she stays in the posterior position. Not the most ideal when trying for a natural delivery... but we will make it work! The chiropractor adjustments should also help ease the pain of labor, especially with back labor (which is normally caused by a posterior baby!)

Then I encountered the next bump in the road a couple of weeks ago I am not sure if I have shared this in my previous posts or not... but my Doctor's wife is very ill and lives in a different state as she is in a special treatment facility for her illness. There was always a possibility that he could be out of town when I go into labor, visiting his wife. I can't fault him at all for this. I can't imagine only seeing my spouse once a month for a few days! A couple of months ago, he told me that his wife was in town through February... a huge sigh of relief at the time. A couple of weeks ago, I found out that she had to go back early. Dr. C. told me that his next scheduled visit with her would be February 16th, which would put me at 10 days past due. This isn't the most ideal situation, but also not the end of the world. I would like to think that my baby would decide to show up before then, but we really just don't know! I had hoped to not have any time constraints on this pregnancy, but now that may not be the case. I am left with two decisions, if she doesn't come into the world before then: 1. induce or 2. wait until he gets back and pray I don't go into labor while he is gone. I really don't trust anyone but Dr. C. to deliver this baby! He has been doing this for 30 years and knows what he is doing. I don't want to chance that I will get a Doctor who will fight me tooth and nail to just have the repeat c-section. I am just praying that I will not be faced with having to make this decision. Dr. C. is convinced that she will come before then any way, but said we would discuss options as the time draws near. I trust him completely. I know that most Doctors will never induce a VBAC patient, but I know that Dr. C. knows what to do in this situation safely.

Finally, at my 38 week appointment this week, I learned that I am GBS positive. (Group B streptococcal) Basically, this is an infection that can be passed down to the baby when the baby moves through the birth canal. Because of this risk to pass it down, it is standard procedure to give the mother antibiotics through the IV when in labor. The risk of the baby actually getting it is very minimal (even smaller than the risk I am taking with a VBAC) but can be very serious if the baby does get it. There are several reasons why I am upset with the news. One, because I had proactively been taking probiotics to keep from getting GBS... yet I still tested positive for it. Two, I really wanted to wait and labor at home as long as possible before going to the hospital. If I take the antibiotics, I may have to go in a bit sooner than I had hoped. Three, there are also risks to the infant with taking the antibiotics... it can cause respiratory issues as well as yeast and thrush (which could hinder the nursing process.) It is possible to retest at a later date and have it come back negative, but I am running out of time! It is also possible to decline the antibiotics... I just need to decide if it is a risk worth taking or not.

Again, these are all just minor set backs... I know it is still all in the Lord's hands! I never expected this to be a cake walk, that is for sure!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Regrets (If I could do it all over again)

37 weeks!!

First of all I'd like to say that I really don't have any real regrets in life. I truly believe that everything in life happens for a reason, and even though I believe I have made many mistakes in my life, I'm not sure I really regret it. My mistakes have shaped me into the woman I am today... and for that I am thankful.

That being said, if I had the opportunity to do it all over again, start fresh... go back to when I first became a Mom, there would be a few things I would do differently. I wanted to share some of them with you all. When I first started on this journey and even considered trying for a VBA3C, my first thought was that it was crazy! I didn't think any Doctor would even consider me as an option for a VBAC, so why even think about it? As I began to dig a little bit further, and learned that it was a possibility, I was more than thrilled! When I began to pray about it and seek the Lord's wisdom in pursuing it, I sort of made a pact with God. I told Him if He gave me the opportunity to go down this path, I would make the most of this special gift. That is when I decided I would most definitely start a blog and share my experience with others. I realize this was a risk, considering I still don't even know if this VBAC would be successful. But I strongly believe that my story can and will have an impact on others, whether I end up successful or not. I especially have a heart to reach those first time Moms out there who are just starting out with their first baby. There are so many things I wish I would have known, wish I would have done differently. So that is what this post is all about!

1. I wish I had done my research. I was shocked when I first learned I was pregnant. Steve and I had only been married 6 months. I was on birth control at first, and my birth control had just run out right before Christmas. My OB at the time wouldn't just refill my prescription without me scheduling my annual exam. Since it was Christmas, and I was very busy with Church stuff going on, I decided to wait until the first of the year to schedule something. Well, I was a little bit too late! I learned late January, that we were expecting our first child! I didn't really know what to expect, and I didn't really take the time to figure things out for myself. I didn't read any books, and I certainly didn't look into the options of birthing.

To those of you newly pregnant, I highly recommend that you read as many books as possible! And please don't just read "What to expect when you are expecting!" It's an okay enough book, but you need to read all different sides of birthing possibilities. Don't just go into this birth thinking that you know how you want things to go, and expect that it will all just fall into place. Be aware, be informed. I have mentioned it before, but I highly recommend Henci Goer's "The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth." It is a must read for every first time Mom. Yes, it is very pro-natural birth, but it is very informative when it comes to understanding what really goes on behind the scenes of a birth.

2. I wish I had chosen a hospital and OB more wisely. Let me just start by saying that I did ask around a lot for recommendations on an OB. But I didn't know what to really ask about. I finally settled on Dr. R. because she was recommended by a friend and the hospital was very close to my work. I figured it would be convenient with my many Doctor visits, and the hospital was supposed to be one of the best in the Dallas area. Yes, it is, but I didn't know to find out things such as: what is the hospital's c-section rate? What is my OB's c-section rate? To this day, I'm really not certain of Dr. R's c-section rate, but I would suspect it is pretty high. I learned after the fact (3 babies later) that my hospital's c-section rate was one of the highest in the DFW area (if not the highest) at around 28% as of 2009, and climbing! This is unacceptable, considering the World Health Organization states that there is no reason that any hospital should have more than a 10-15% c-section rate.

If you are a first time Mom, I promise you do not want to end up with a c-section unless it is a medical necessity! You can read more about the risks of a c-section on the following site:

3. I wish I would have listened to my Mom! When I first talked to my Mom about my pregnancy, she often would remind me that she had two natural births and encouraged me to consider it! I laughed, saying, "I don't have a high pain tolerance Mom. Besides, you don't get an award for delivering naturally!" Funny, I cringe when people say that to me today. My Mom was right. I should have considered it! The thought never even crossed my mind to consider it! Why would I go through all that pain if I didn't have to? Before giving birth to my first child, we took a class at the hospital. They taught us how to diaper a baby and some of the basics... but nothing about birthing. They asked for a show of hands who was planning on having an epidural, and every single woman in that room raised her hand! Let's face it, the majority of women today choose the epidural. I'm not saying that the epidural is always bad, but I do believe we should be more informed of the possible things that can go wrong with the epidural. For me, I truly believe that having the epidural was one of my biggest down falls. Epidurals are known to slow down the labor process. I had an epidural for 12 hours while I labored... and then once it came time to push, I truly believe it stalled my labor even more. I couldn't push, because I couldn't feel anything! It doesn't happen this way for every woman, but I do believe it happens often! Just consider it... God designed our bodies for birth. Pain can be manageable without the epidural. I realize I haven't experienced it yet, and I may chicken out in the end. I hope I don't! I will have my husband and doula by my side the whole time encouraging me to keep going... I do believe it is definitely possible to have a beautiful and wonderful birth, without the help of an epidural.

4. I wish I would have never agreed to being induced with my first child! This is hands down my biggest mistake. Please, please, please... if this is your first child, ride it out. You won't be pregnant forever, I promise! Unless there is a medical necessity, just wait! A "suspected" big baby, is not a medical necessity. Most of the time, ultrasounds are wrong on weight. Even if it is right, many women birth 10 lb babies without any problems at all! I was induced 3 days before my due date for several reasons: swelling and slightly high blood pressure, PUPPS rash and a suspected large baby. Carter was only 8 lbs 6 oz, hardly big at all. I could have managed through the swelling and rash. I should never have said yes! Who knows, if I had been given the opportunity, maybe Carter would have come on his own even within the next few days! He just wasn't ready yet.

5. I wish I had done more research on VBACs after conceiving my 2nd child. I really wanted to try a VBAC with Sydney, but I really didn't give it the very best chance. My OB certainly didn't either. I should have hired a doula, taken Bradley classes, read all the books and most definitely should have switched providers! If you are considering a VBAC, please ask your OB the hard questions. Ask their success rate with VBACs. I never asked my OB this. She told me she would support me in a VBAC, but she pulled the plug on me way too quickly. If you want a real opportunity to have a VBAC, you need to have all the support you can get, which starts with having a supportive provider.

This week at my appointment with Dr. C., I mentioned to him that I have been having some real contractions. I laughed, saying it's pretty funny that this is my 4th child and this is the first time I have experienced real contractions! He said to me, "Well you were never given the opportunity before." He is so right. Please get the support you need when trying for a VBAC! You will never regret it. Otherwise, you will just be on an uphill battle the entire pregnancy and delivery!

Again, this is just a "what if" post. I believe this all happened for a reason, and I am thankful for the opportunity to experience this! I just hope that first time Moms out there can benefit from some of the mistakes I made and make more informed decisions!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Let the countdown begin!

My 5 year old son took this picture, thus the poor camera angle which makes me look like a whale! I'm really not that big, at least not as big as I have been in previous pregnancies! I am now 35 weeks and 2 days... less than 5 weeks until my estimated due date! The countdown has begun, and it is time to get serious! Over Christmas weekend, I had the lovely (insert sarcasm here) pleasure of having a stomach virus and began to have a whole lot of braxton hicks contractions. I tried to stay as hydrated as possible, but I experienced contractions for a solid 3 days. I went to see my Doctor last Wednesday, and he said that was perfectly normal. During that same visit, I shared my birth plan with him. He was pretty much on board with everything on the plan and was impressed that I kept it all on one page! I don't want to come across as too demanding, but I do feel that what I put on my plan was very important to me. If you are curious to know what I put on my birth plan, I'll put it at the bottom of this post.

Today, I went to my very first chiropractor visit! As I have mentioned in previous posts, some Chiropractors are Webster-certified, which is a special technique used for pregnant women. By going to these Chiropractor visits, I hope to ensure that my baby girl is properly positioned for birth (head down, not breech or transverse!) I am also hoping it will help with this unbelievable lower back and belly pain I have been having (especially at night while I am sleeping) and help with the actual labor process. If I am going to do this natural, I need all the help I can get! I really liked the Chiropractor I chose (after asking around for many recommendations) and am planning to go again this Saturday, and hopefully bi-weekly until I give birth. Honestly, I feel better today than I have in months! My body is not in as much pain as normal... here's hoping I have the best last month of pregnancy ever! I have always said that I absolutely love being pregnant, until I make it to the last month. The last month, I could do without. It is uncomfortable and painful during the last month.

This coming Saturday, Steve and I will also meet with our doula one last time before "birth day." She will go over some relaxing techniques with us and answer any more questions we might have. This is becoming more and more real! Within the next 4-6 weeks or so, we will have a new addition to our family! I am just trying to wrap my brain around this whole VBAC thing and not allow fear to enter into my mind. I have been gathering Scripture and quotes to think on, to remind myself, that I can do this, that God will empower me to do this!

My favorite quote is by Eleanor Roosevelt: "You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do."

And my two favorite Bible verses: "Do not fear for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10

"Shall I bring you to the point of birth and not give delivery?" says the Lord. "Or shall I who gives delivery shut the womb?" says your God. Isaiah 66:9

I know my God will be with me every step of the way. I also know that if I am not successful in this VBAC, it will be for a very good reason and not because it was more convenient for my Doctor. For that, I am thankful.

Here is my birth plan:

Westdyk Birth Plan

Mother: Caryn Westdyk

Father: Steven Westdyk

Doula: Katie Perez

I desire a natural, drug free birth as long as I am able, with as little intervention as possible

Please do not offer me pain medications or an epidural, I will ask for them if I need them


I would like to have the following people present with me at all times during labor and delivery (and during c-section if needed): Steven Westdyk (husband) and Katie Perez (doula)

If birthing equipment is available, I would like to use: Birthing bed, birthing ball, birthing stool, squatting bar

I would like to have no restrictions on food or fluids during my labor

I prefer to have a heparin or saline lock

If possible, I would like to have a nurse who has attended a natural birth

Pain Relief:

I would like to be able to walk around and move as I wish while in labor

I have prepared for this birth with Bradley techniques


I prefer external, intermittent monitoring

Second Stage Laboring:

As long as the baby and I are healthy, I prefer to have no limits on pushing

I prefer to have no episiotomy and risk tearing (unless I’m having a medical emergency)

To help prevent tearing, please apply: hot compresses, oil, perineal massage


I prefer to have the lights dimmed and doors closed for privacy during labor

As long as my baby is healthy, I would like my baby placed on my abdomen immediately

Please delay cord clamping until it stops pulsing, or for 5 minutes (whichever comes first)

Newborn procedures:

I would like to delay the administration of eye drops and Vitamin K up to 2 hours after birth unless medically necessary
No Hep. B Vaccine please

My baby is to be exclusively breastfed, please do not offer formula without my consent

If it is medically necessary to have a cesarean, I would like to be conscious

If my baby is healthy, I would like to hold her and nurse her as soon as possible