Monday, 25 January 2016

Tevia's Birth Story

I was due to give birth around October 6, 2014.

Early Labor?

About three weeks before my due date, I went to the hospital to get checked because I was bleeding some bright red blood (not normal) and was experiencing some minor contractions.  My contractions were apparently quite consistent but I hardly felt any of them, just a little bit of cramping occasionally.  There was no apparent cause for the bleeding and it stopped within about an hour.

I had a cervix check and discovered I was already 3-4 centimeters dilated!  So the nurse told me to go walk as much as possible for the next two hours to see if I would progress.  I was absolutely exhausted by the time we returned.  (Note that for the past two months or so I had trouble walking half a block because of extreme back and hip pain.)  The result: no change in my cervix and the contractions were less frequent, but the baby had dropped a bit more.

"Wake Me Up When September Ends"

I had contractions on and off from then until the end of September but never too painful to handle while at home.  I desperately wanted to be done being pregnant (remember PUPPPs) and seriously considered getting induced.  I bounced on an exercise ball to help start things up (and it worked for me!).

hydroelectric waterfall
Picture this... in bed.
[Photo credit: grendelkhan]
At exactly 4:00am on October 1, my water broke in a huge flood on the bed, waking me up (cue Green Day!).  The night before I was pretty sure I had heard a "pop!" and pressure change in the upper part of my belly.  I was in such shock that I couldn't get myself out of bed until the waters reduced to a trickle, meanwhile trying to wake up Lucas.

What a mess!  I sure didn't expect things to start that way for me.  Lucas rushed me off to the bathroom while he started to clean up the bed.  I sat on the toilet to let more trickle out before I jumped in to the shower to quickly clean myself up.

The Labor

Within an hour we were at the hospital and my contractions had started.  We had to stop a few times from the car to the hospital wing for me to breathe through my contractions.  When they checked my cervix I was 6 centimeters!  I was immediately transferred to a delivery room.

While Lucas was carrying our things from room to room, I sat on the toilet to relieve myself... except I couldn't.  I instead had the urge to push and couldn't urinate or have a bowel movement like what I was expecting.  Lucas helped me onto the hospital bed and I laid on my back to help myself resist pushing.  I spent most of my labor on my back and a short time leaning over the top of the bed on my hands and knees because I didn't feel comfortable in upright positions.  I felt really light-headed and dizzy whenever I was upright and thought I was going to faint several times.

Within two hours I was 8 centimeters along and having difficulty controlling the urge to push.  It was so difficult for me to resist that I began swaying my legs and hips side to side to help distract myself.  I concentrated hard on relaxing my entire body and breathing evenly through the contractions.

I was checked frequently until I was 10 centimeters.  Finally, I was allowed to push!  I did a sitting squat for pushing, part of the time anchoring myself on the squat bar with my legs.  I think I pushed for at least an hour.  Man, am I grateful for the breaks between contractions!  I was asked if I wanted an oxytocin injection to help things move along faster and I didn't hesitate to refuse - I liked my breaks, thank you very much!

But when it was the "ring of fire" stage, I very much wanted that to be over as quick as possible.  The pain really does burn!  And then you have to endure the stretching pain during the breaks between contractions.  When I was pushing through it I wasn't thinking at all about what I was getting (boy or girl), just that there was a head of hair coming out and I wanted it out now!  I didn't want to touch the head but I did it anyway.  How strange to feel!

I did the small pushes as quick as I could once the head was nearly out.  The baby slipped out easily enough once the head and shoulders came out.  The extra pain to push out the bigger parts was minimal and lasted for only a second or two because of how quickly I pushed.  The umbilical cord was unwrapped from around the baby's neck and cries were heard right away.

The gender was announced and the purple-grey baby with brown hair was laid immediately on my chest skin-to-skin, as requested.  Dark blue eyes stared up at me.  Lucas cut the cord and then the baby was whisked away because I wasn't responding to anyone.

I was so exhausted and in shock after giving birth that I couldn't speak.  I was shaky and my legs were cramped up from the pushing stage.  After a short break to stretch out my legs and let my body get ready, I pushed out the placenta - so much easier than a baby, but my body was quite sore by now so it still hurt to push it out.  I was so out of it that I didn't notice an injection of Pitocin into my thigh to help speed up getting the placenta out.

I had some superficial tearing that was stitched up immediately after the placenta came out, but there was more severe tearing deeper inside that required surgery.  Surgery sure didn't sound so scary after going through child birthing!  Lucas took the baby and four hours later we were reunited in the maternity unit.  I think things took longer on my side of events in the recovery room because I was hemorrhaging and birthed a small amount of placenta that didn't come out earlier.

It's a Girl!

My labor lasted a total of 6.5 hours from the time my water broke to the birth of a healthy, beautiful daughter, Tevia Hazel Ogrins at 10:39am.  She weighed 8 lbs 7.6 oz, and measured 21.75 inches in length.

1-day-old Tevia Hazel

She is actually fairly dark-skinned for a white person (darker than both of us).  She has my legs and feet, long fingernails, and looks a lot like I did as a baby.  She has Lucas's ears and a combination of our lips and noses.
October 12, 2014: "She is so cute and skinny.  Her legs are as long as my forearm.  Everyone says she is super cute, cuter than most babies."

Mommy and Baby Tevia


October 11, 2014: "I'm still a little in shock over the whole experience.  When I look back on it, it seems so much scarier than it really was.  I was actually very calm and felt right about it all as it was happening.  I refused medication and Pitocin because I wanted a natural birth experience.  I think Dr. A. and the nurses were impressed and pleased with how well I handled everything."
I'm very pleased with myself that I went through the entire experience without pain relievers.  (I felt like a wimp later though when I took pain relievers for the healing stage.)  I also had a short enough labor (due to early dilation) that I was able to bear the pain.

As hard as labor is, I preferred child birthing than being pregnant.  But that's from my experience.

Our little family

If you've had babies, how did your labor go for each?  Did anything special or unique happen in your experiences?

Next week's topic: [Dream Home Floor Plans: 2-Story Library & Indoor Playground]

Monday, 18 January 2016

My First Pregnancy

I feel guilty to have this opinion, but I do not recommend getting pregnant.  Of course, this is entirely based on my (terrible) experience so don't make any decision based on this account alone.  I just want to share my experience and explain how it has affected me and whatever decision I make as to whether or not to expand our little family.

"Morning Sickness"

I felt nauseous all the time for the first 3 months or so.  I rarely vomited - unfortunately.  (What a relief when I did!)  I had no appetite but was always starving, and if I didn't eat immediately once my stomach started grumbling, the nausea was unbearable!  Almost all scents triggered nausea as well, so cooking was left to Lucas most of the time (while I hid in the bedroom).

I began to dread tutoring because I felt sick so frequently.  It seemed to get worse whenever I was stressed.  Eventually I stopped tutoring in April 2014.  Other community activities like choir and partner dance lessons had to be put on hold as well since I was getting sick more often than not.

I often stayed in bed most of the day reading books to distract myself from the nausea and the depression that began to set in.  Lucas checked in on me whenever he could, sometimes to the expense of missing school.

photo credit: Alison via photopin (license)

My First Journal Entry About Depression

April 6, 2014:  "Over the last three months I have steadily been growing more and more depressed, manic, dark, hopeless, defeated.  You may not likely have noticed this since most of my entries as of late have been about my better days.  Especially in the last week my mood swings were becoming unbearable.  I felt like a crazy person, being ripped up inside, wanting so desperately to be happy but having no hope.  On Friday [April 4] it was really bad and delayed Lucas and I getting to [my hometown to visit family].  I was close to having suicidal thoughts (or at least afraid that I might cross that line) and I didn't know what to do anymore.  When Lucas got home [from school] I unloaded on him that it was no longer grief about moving to [our current home], that it had gone so far that it didn't matter where we went, I had no hope that I'd be the former Kristina I was in [my hometown], doing the good I had been doing.  I told him I needed help because I'm so far gone I feel unable to get back on my own. ...
 "I remember crying and Lucas comforting me and telling me to just let it all out.  Eventually I calmed down enough that he turned off the light [to go to sleep].  I can't remember very much of what was said last night [April 5], but I do remember that I began crying again and eventually said I didn't want to continue being tormented by these evil spirits (and there was even some relief in just saying this because I had just identified why I had been feeling so terrible and helpless).  Lucas verified what I said and I told him I was pretty sure there were two or three evil spirits attacking me (I don't know how I was able to identify this).  Lucas asked me if he could say a prayer for me and then rebuked the spirits for tormenting his wife and to never return in the name of Christ.  I instantly felt lighter, and sobbing again I hugged Lucas and thanked him.  I already felt different and hopeful for a bright future.  I climbed out of bed and offered a prayer of thanks.  I felt now that saying my prayers and reading scriptures wasn't so hard (like the way it used to be) and that I really would be able to do the good, righteous things I used to do.  When I climbed back into bed and closed my eyes I kept seeing pure white and I felt happy and pure.  It was like being baptized and feeling clean again.  It was such a purifying experience and now I've been able to feel the Spirit so much easier (like I used to) and have the yearning and enthusiasm to read my scriptures, etc.  I think I might have slowly fallen trap because of small inconsistencies in keeping the commandments but also because of the effects of pregnancy on my mind and body, like the dreams I was having.  For a while I hadn't been feeling like myself but now I'm really glad that it is over."
So I thought.  That was just the first deep, dark pit of my depression.  I was fortunate to have the blessing of being lifted out of that hole and back on level ground for a time.
April 24, 2014:  "[Lucas] came home to me having terrible crying fits.  I've decided to meet with the Bishop about all of these episodes (possibly depression?).  It's only been less than a month since I was released from those evil spirits, but I still wind up in the same hole.  I'm stuck again, but I don't think I'm necessarily being tormented by demons."
By the time I wrote this entry I had started to research about depression during pregnancy.  I now began to shift my original perceptions of depression as an explanation for demonic possession to being an actual illness in the brain.

Near the beginning of May 2014 I hit my next deep pit of depression.  I won't go into details, but it was really hard pretending nothing was wrong when we had friends and family over.  I kept my depression a secret (even from my family) for a long time.  Lucas was my only true support.

There were times when the depression was so bad that I couldn't be left alone, even in the bathroom.  I was so afraid that I'd do something stupid and terrible like overdose.  But I always knew that if I did commit suicide, I'd be a murderer as well.  The best thing at that time in my prenatal depression was that my baby was alive and I was still alive (though somewhat reluctantly).

Feeling Baby Move

Finally some happy news.  First hearing the baby's heartbeat at my first obstetrician appointment and then feeling movement!
April 24, 2014:  "Today was the first time I felt the baby move inside me!  Actually, the first recognized movements.  I've felt them a few times before but didn't realize what it was.  To make sure it wasn't gas inside of me I turned from one side to the other to see if it shifted, which it did.  I generally have to be quite still and laying down to notice them.  I also shone a flashlight on my belly and felt movements.  I can feel them in my left side right now."
June 9, 2014:  "'s been very fun feeling this baby kick.  Sometimes the kicks or pressure kind of hurts or feels funny (like directing towards the cervix or bladder [or bellybutton]).  Sometimes I can see the movements on my belly.  Lucas has been able to feel the stronger kicks since 20 or 21 weeks (I am on week 23 now)."
Even more exciting was my first ultrasound!  We chose not to find out the gender.

Reaching for [her] toes!
The "Thinker" Pose

I had a second ultrasound at 32 weeks to check my low placenta.  I didn't mind because it gave me another opportunity to see my baby!
August 12, 2014:  "...this baby is exceptionally large in regards to the head size (but also pretty big everywhere else) - in the 98th percentile.  Apparently big heads run in the Ogrins side. ... And the movements I feel are very strong and frequent."
August 23, 2014:  "I wanted to add to the ultrasound results that [Baby] has huge lips (they look bigger than the nose in my opinion) and my feet (long, narrow and with the second toe longer than the big toe)!  The lips part would be inherited from Lucas since he has big, luscious lips haha..."

Big lips like Lucas!
Long second toe like me!

Other Uncomfortable Symptoms

In addition to common pregnancy symptoms like dizziness, forgetfulness, fatigue, frequent bathroom trips, etc., I also dealt with severe heartburn that required medication, terrible back and hip aches made worse by my scoliosis, a huge belly with stretch marks, and immense weight gain (about 70 lbs).
July 28, 2014:  "I am 30 weeks pregnant today and whoopie for pregnancy brain - I forgot to go to my appointment!  ... Good thing I haven't been having any issues with anything except heartburn (which I can pick up a prescription for this evening).  And I had even been talking about this appointment for days but thought nothing of it until I was in the shower shortly after [the time] my appointment was booked for."
September 14, 2014:  "...about a day or two before my last entry [August 30] I went to the hospital to get checked out for some abdominal pain.  I think I may have torn a lot of abdominal muscle due to stretching and baby kicks and pushes.  I had such terrible pain that no position was comfortable or relieving in any way.  They monitored me for a while and it showed that I was having contractions but they were all painless.  I was sore for quite a few days after."

And then the worst symptom of all (other than depression)...


From mid-September until about 2 months after Tevia was born (so a total of about 3 months) I suffered immensely from the uncommon, detestable PUPPPs rash (Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy).  I had a very severe case in which I considered getting induced and also endured the rash for much longer than normal (for most women it clears up soon after giving birth).

Final belly photo!  I was a whale of a woman!
PUPPPs usually appears in the last few weeks of pregnancy in less than 1% of first-time pregnancies on average.  Its cause is unknown but frequently occurs in first pregnancies of women who have large bellies or gained a lot of weight during their pregnancy (me, me, me!).  It's not dangerous but extremely annoying (to say the very least).

This hive-like rash starts out in the stretch marks on the belly and spreads to the rest of the body, sparing the face, bellybutton, palms of hands, and soles of feet.  I had it everywhere possible and it was so unbearably itchy that I had multiple panic attacks and couldn't sleep unless Lucas held me so that I couldn't scratch anything.  It was worse if I was hot, if my clothes rubbed the affected areas, and if I did happen to scratch it.

Since it doesn't look too pretty, I'll just leave you to look up images of it on Google...  Or just don't.

Future Pregnancies?

July 16, 2014:  "I have been very reluctant to write in my journal this pregnancy.  It has been a very hard road and there are many things that I would rather not remember...  I've just started out in my third trimester and the last month has been going so much better.  I have energy most days; my mood swings are minimal and mostly only appear when I'm tired, hungry, or hot; and I'm motivated to do certain things that I used to like to do.  Within the last two weeks I actually have started to feel like me again, emotionally and spiritually (to some degree), just with a belly full of baby.  I am concerned still about how any following pregnancies will go.  I really don't want to experience depression like that again (and hopefully I don't get postpartum depression either).  Lucas and I are going to try to plan things so that pregnancy and moving to a new place don't overlap, especially in the first half of pregnancy.  It made things really hard on me adjusting to a new environment while not feeling like myself (it's really hard to make friends if you feel like you don't know who you are)."
I still am not keen on enduring another pregnancy, especially if I have to suffer through depression and PUPPPs again.  Fortunately, no pregnancy is ever the same even for one woman, but there is no guarantee that I won't experience these things again.

To the women who read this post:
If you've been pregnant before, how was your experience?  If you haven't, what are your feelings and expectations about getting pregnant?

To the men who read this post: 
Please support any woman who ever gets pregnant, especially if they are pregnant with your baby!

Next week's topic: [Tevia's Birth Story]

For more information about PUPPPs:
Fit Pregnancy | Pregnancy Rash: Is it PUPPPs?
Pregnancy Corner | PUPPP Rash During Pregnancy

Monday, 11 January 2016

Life Before Postpartum Depression

In order for you to truly see how depression affected me, I must tell you about life before the mental plague took me down.  I say that 2013 was the absolute best year of my life; 2014 was the absolute worst.  This is not an exaggeration.

By the end of 2013, I had accomplished many great things to my benefit:
  • I was recently married.
  • I finished university a semester early.
  • I enjoyed tutoring math to many wonderful individuals.
  • I enjoyed teaching beginner piano lessons to a little girl.
  • I had many, many good and close friends that I socialized with often.
  • I felt that I had a close relationship with my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
  • I enjoyed studying the scriptures, praying, and going to church.
  • I lived very close to my loving family.

I was so enthusiastic about starting a new, exciting life in a new city with my new husband the following year.  I wrote in my journal the first day in our new ward:

"Oh, life is so good here!  Everyday I've been so content and happy and blessed.  I've loved being able to relax and be with Lucas."

Oh, happy day!
Photo credit: John Greep

I was sad to not be able to tutor my previous students (who had become dear, young friends of mine!), but was hired to start tutoring math again almost immediately.  I also started to make friends (or at least acquaintances) and started to get involved in the community and at church.

I knew it was important to set goals for myself to help me settle into a new place and I now had time to do the many things I wanted to do for so long.  I got started right away on developing talents, skills, and just trying to be a better person.

I was then pleased to find out I became pregnant very shortly after we moved.  By the beginning of February 2014, I was already feeling the effects of pregnancy hormones: mood swings and nausea.

Sadly, it all goes downhill from there...

Have you had a distinct change from absolute joy to absolute despair that happened within a relatively short time? What caused it?

Next week's topic: [My First Pregnancy]

Monday, 4 January 2016

My First Impression of Depression

I used to believe that "mental illness" was just a scientific term to cover up the psychological effects of sin either committed by the affected person or by one who could influence the affected person.

For example, I believed that depression or schizophrenia were consequences of sinful behaviour that encouraged demonic possession.  As well, I believed a child was said to have ADHD because the parents willfully neglected to properly nurture their child's needs.

With a focus on depression -- yes, it can be a result of sinful behaviors, such as substance abuse, alcoholism, and addiction to pornography.  But it is important to understand that sin does not necessarily cause depression!

I learned through experience and research that there are multiple possible causes for depression that, combined in some intricate and God-known fashion, lead to a unique depressive state for each affected individual.  I believe my depression was driven by a combination of:
  • pregnancy hormones, 
  • it being my first pregnancy,
  • it being a very difficult pregnancy,
  • moving to a new city,
  • it being my first move away from home and family,
  • having difficulty making new friends, and
  • genetics.

I will be sharing my experience with PPD (postpartum depression) over several blog posts this year.  I hope that my words will help to heal me and other readers experiencing any depressive disorder.  I hope also that it will help you to understand what someone you know may be silently suffering mentally and emotionally.

This documentary video (produced by a friend in the Spring of 2015) will act as a preview to what I will discuss in future posts.

What do you think of people that say they have mental illnesses or disorders?  Do you think they make up or exaggerate their symptoms?  Are you intimidated or annoyed by these people?

Next week's topic: [Life Before PPD]

photo credit: Canon EOS 60D - 'Tempus Volavit' - Directional Flash Test - PK Fit Vivitar f2.8 28mm via photopin (license)