diastasis recti: fun!

I mentioned in a pre-Fiona post several months ago that I have diastasis recti. Well, that became all the more clear during my labor, which took its time starting in the first place, and then seemed to pause for a couple of extra hours (and by “pause”, I just mean “didn’t progress.” Because no, I haven’t discovered the secret to pushing “pause” at the height of labor.) Pushing required more effort, too. And I felt very, very discombobulated when everything was all said and done. That makes perfect sense, of course, if you realize that your abdominal muscles have deserted their post, and there’s nothing keeping your insides in check. Details.

During my pregnancy, I’d done lots of reading about several different exercise-based approaches to healing a diasasis (rather than surgical). I’d figured I’d take a laid-back approach, incorporating some of their principles as it fit into my life. Ha. After the strange twists and turns of labor, and the condition of my muscles post-baby, I quickly realized this wasn’t going to be something to just “fit in” here and there. So I ordered a whole kit from Tupler Technique, including the not-a-joke splint (which I think could double as bullet-proof gear?) I’ll be honest: I watched the DVD, found out how much time this would really take each day, put the splint on and realized I’d be wearing that uncomfortable contraption for months — and cried.

But here’s the other honest truth: two days later, I didn’t feel like I was falling apart anymore. I’d read that simply doing the baby-step exercises and wearing the splint would be effective very quickly, but I was really surprised at how effective.

Still, this is for the long haul.

I’ve checked off three weeks’ worth of daily exercises. I’ve only torn the splint off a few times, when the humidity + kevlar was just more than my claustrophobic self could handle. I’m going to repeat Week Three’s regimen several times, waiting for 6 weeks post partum to really pick things up. It’s really hard to find 10 minutes, 3 times a day, when I can sit still and do the exercises. And it’s only going to increase in time as the program continues on. But my midwife, my mom, and my husband said: do it. It’s part of being faithful in this season, and so I just pray as check off another box, Lord, use this. Heal me.

(I’m posting this because I heard from several people that they, too, had diastasis recti. If you’re interested in how the program is working for me, or have questions, let me know!)

fiona, part one

I was just looking at my phone history to see what sort of text conversations were happening one week ago. They were something along the lines of: “If I don’t have this baby soon, I’m in ‘trouble.'”

Jameson was born hours before his due date rolled around.

William was born hours after his due date.

Beatrice waited a whole four days before labor kicked into gear.

And this baby? Well… Dates can be wrong, but you go with what you’ve got, and according to calculations, this baby was happy as a clam, despite the Big Bad Forty-Two Week mark that was quickly approaching. Sometimes I’d have a contraction that would make me perk up and wonder, Yes? Maybe? Then long minutes, hours, would tick by, and No. Not it.

Thursday, when I was 41w4d along, I met with my midwife and we discussed Options. When she left, I knew I had a few days to do my best to walk and take baths and drink tea. And I knew that Monday morning, she would call the hospital to make arrangements for me to go in and get things rolling.

Here’s the deal: I don’t hate hospitals. But I do home births for good reasons, one of those being a deep preference. Giving birth in a hospital isn’t my first choice, but getting an IV, pitocin, EFM, and all that could lead to? Really, really not my first choice. But [deep breath], God is bigger than all of that. I know that. I knew that. But I had to remind myself. A lot. Things don’t have to go my way. Sometimes they don’t for good reasons, for reasons I can’t possibly understand and simply have to trust in the perfect Father who holds my life in His hands.

These are the thoughts that would go on in my head while I walked briskly, mile after mile. (Because, as an aside, I felt really, really good right until the end of this pregnancy. I was incredibly thankful for that. Floradix? Liver? A walking regimen all 9 months? Whatever the reason, it was a gift.)

There were plenty of mornings waking up and feeling “hope deferred-ish”, as I told Ryan. And then I would remind myself, don’t hope in labor today. Hope in God. (Hope in God never leaves you with a “deferred-ish” feeling.)

Anyway, that Saturday, we had the option of having my midwife stop by in the evening to strip my membranes, or we could just wait till Sunday, when she was planning on coming and pulling out all the stops — herbs, membranes, you name it. We just couldn’t decide! Saturday or Sunday. Or Monday in the hospital? Were we getting ahead of God? Gah! I just couldn’t sense what was the right decision. My hormones, which had stayed amazingly in check for 9 months, were suddenly clouding everything. Take it away, Ry.

He made some last phone calls for advice, and finally decided Yes. Tell her to come tonight.

At 7:08, she texted to say she’d be at our house in an hour or so. I let my friends and family know what we’d decided, and then got a game plan together. “Okay, kids. Here’s the deal. In an hour, Regina is coming. We need to clean the kitchen, pick up the house, get pj’s on, and be in bed by then. Let’s go!”

And — I kid you not — no sooner had I stood up to start cleaning up from dinner than a contraction hit me. And another. And another. In fact, the whole time I was tidying, they just came faster and faster. It took me a bit to realize what was going on, and when I did, I just couldn’t believe it. Didn’t believe. Just cleaned faster and more furiously, thinking I should just ignore them rather than get my hopes up? But they were there. I’ve always been a bit excited when labor started, in spite of the looming ordeal, but I’ve never, ever been so thankful. Really? Really, we decide to go ahead with stripping the membranes, and Boom! Labor starts? Really? One more day of trying every trick up our sleeves, knowing none of them were sure guarantees of anything, and Boom! God steps in? Really? I wanted to cry, but I was just too surprised to even do that.

Ryan was out mowing the lawn — we all have our Before Baby priorities! — and although I was tempted to ask him for help with kids, I decided to let him keep mowing, and I’d just keep moving. There were a couple of snippy moments I had to apologize for, trying my best to explain to them that I was just getting really uncomfortable. Jameson seemed to understand, and got very busy going the extra mile on my behalf.

We all sat together on Beatrice’s bed to read Jemima Puddle-duck. Ryan came in, and I told him about the contractions. Regina arrived and smiled at the news. I finished the story, tucked them all in bed, and — deep breath — got ready to move on to the rest of the night. Here we go!

getting ready for baby

It’s starting to get pretty real:

— the growing belly
— the slower walk
— the acrobatics that begin every time I lay down
— the sudden days of exhaustion
— the always-in-the-back-of-my-mind awareness of a baby.

I’ll enjoy a bit more time of just thinking about a new baby before I dive into earnest birth preparations. For now, getting ready looks like:

— starting to feel like maybe it’s time to actually think about names. (I keep waiting for one to just be spelled out in the clouds or something.)
— talking more about a new baby with Beatrice. She sort of gets it, I guess: she will gently rub my belly and whisper, “shhh” in her most soothing ‘baby’ voice.
— walking as close to every day as possible, stretching, and doing simple toning exercises.
— laying down without apology.

Any favorite baby name sites to recommend?

10, 9,…

This, apparently, is about the size/weight of Baby #4. The boys are not impressed.

30 weeks. Almost 31. That’s how long this little baby has been growing. Depending on who asks about my due date, I either get eyes-popping “Wow, you’re huge already, and you have that long to go??” answers, or (generally, if it’s a guy asking), “That’s really soon!”

Well, yes to both of those. There’s no denying that this baby is all there, or that this baby has any intention of slowing his growth during the next 9 weeks. But mostly, I’m just wondering where the last seven months have gone, and how we already got this far into pregnancy #4.

I’ve been feeling great, and I’m super thankful. Just recently, on days with a bit too much digging in gardens and pushing of wheelbarrows, I’ve gotten painful twinges in my lower back. But really? I’m not complaining. I’m so thankful.

Of course, “feeling great” doesn’t take into account the exhaustion of pregnancy (which will only increase in the next two months!) Most weeks, there are at least 4 afternoons that find me fast asleep on the couch. “Do the boys still nap?”, people ask. And I have to say, “Well, I’m not sure what they do. I’m out cold!” (No, they don’t usually fall asleep, though it’s happened, especially on a cool afternoon after a string of hot outdoor days.)

We haven’t thought about or discussed baby names. Our bedroom and adjoining bathroom are very, very mid reno. (Another home birth is the plan.) I have this feeling that the transition to four kids is going to seem big.

The baby moves. I feel little feet, and sometimes I push back, wondering if he thinks it’s a game. Hello in there.

30 weeks down. Less than 10 to go. You can do a lot in 10 weeks, right?

But what’s neat about a baby is: they don’t care how much you’ve gotten done, how much you’ve wrapped your mind around their arrival. They just come. And you suddenly realize, This little person didn’t just happen. God prepared and wrapped His mind around them and His love, too. A whole lot of love. And it spills into and out of you, too, and who cares about the bathroom, anyway. There’s a new person to love.