Love. Him.

by Christina on August 25, 2014

We are so in love.


I’ll spare most of the details of the labor here, but will say that it was not quite what I had envisioned. After laboring at home for almost 48 hours and being stuck at 7cm for 24 hours, we transferred to the hospital where an epidural and a little Pitocin made it possible to avoid a c-section. It gave me a renewed appreciation for hospitals.

My dad recently gave me a letter he wrote me when I was born about the story of my birth – it was fascinating to read now. Here are some excerpts:

“Suddenly Dr Chua said “Quick, come here.” And I left her side and with bare hands began to pull you out into the world. It was an extraordinary feeling. You were warm, almost hot, and so soft and covered with damp mucous. You were gorgeous from the very start, just like Kimberly. I lifted you out and put you on Gail’s tummy where you both rested. We were all overcome with joy and happiness. I remember asking excitedely “Is it a boy or a girl? Is it a boy or a girl? Is it a boy or a girl? Is it a boy or a girl?” The nurse looked and saw it was a girl and both Gail and I were really delighted…”

“You looked in perfect shape except that you had a high temperature at first that later we realized was our fault because we had wrapped you up so much fearing you would be cold after being in Gail’s uterus. Anyway, you were taken to the intensive care unit where you were found to have a low sugar count so I gave you half an ounce of water. Your first meal!”

I can’t believe they gave me water!

Inspired by that letter, I decided to write our son a letter about the story of his birth hoping he might appreciate it one day too… here are some excerpts:

My sweet baby boy,

You have arrived! We could not be happier to have you finally in our arms. We are falling more and more in love with you every day.

My contractions began on Sunday during the day. They weren’t too painful at first but got stronger throughout the day. I kept thinking they were just practice contractions and would go away — I didn’t think you were serious about coming out so soon!

We spent the day that Sunday doing regular things: we went to church for the first time, got coffee and a bagel, talked with our parents, went to a barbeque, and did some errands. We got the house organized and set up the birthing tub.

We were up all night Sunday with contractions as they got stronger and more regular. Monday our midwife Jaime came over and I was 4cm dilated. That night I was 7cm. But then I stayed there for the next 24 hours! Your dad was incredibly supportive, comforting me, massaging me, trying to feed me. Jaime was wonderful and stayed with us the whole time — she kept giving me herbal medicines to help with contractions and dilation and had me try different positions to get you in a better position. But… I was getting so tired after 2 days and 2 nights of no sleep and nonstop contractions. We finally decided to go to the hospital Tuesday afternoon.

When we got to the hospital around 6pm that Tuesday, we were quickly taken care of — they took my blood, gave me an IV and fluids, and I got an epidural. Ahh an epidural! It wasn’t part of my labor plan, but it was an amazing feeling to go from intense nonstop discomfort (the worst pain of my life) for 2 days to being pain-free and relaxed. I could finally rest, and remember thanking the anesthesiologist profusely for what he had done.

Then the OB doctor came in. One of the first things she said was that I might have to have a c-section. She broke the bulging bag of water, started Pitocin, and in a few hours I was ready to push.

Your heart rate started going down with each contraction, and I kept having to turn side to side and breathe with an oxygen mask to get your heart rate back up. Everyone seemed worried and the doctor said we would have to go to the operating room where she could try a vacuum delivery but otherwise they would have to do a c-section. I did NOT want to go to the operating room and asked to try pushing a little longer. She said “I don’t recommend it but it’s your baby” and that she would give me 15 more minutes to try.

You were being wonderfully cooperative coming out and the doctor said she would try to the vacuum in the room. The first pull with the vacuum popped off (which was very distressing to your dad watching), and then you came quickly on the 2nd try.

They put you right to my chest and you cried immediately. Your Apgars were 9 and 9 – the best! We could not believe how perfect you were. Wrinkly hands. Long fingernails. The cutest little button nose. A little brown hair. And your perfect little head had a circular bruise from the suction on the vacuum.

We had a really nice time in the hospital after you were born and were impressed with the nursing care, as well as the food! They even helped us celebrate you by bringing us a fancy vegetarian (polenta and asparagus) dinner on a round table with white tablecloth!

The only part we were not happy about was the blood they took from your heel for the California newborn screen. They came for you in the middle of your first night when you were 24 hours old — your dad went with you to the nursery (we would not let you out of our sight) where they pricked your heel and filled big circles with blood. You did not like this at all and neither did we.

We could not be happier to be home with you. We love you so much, our most special most wonderful baby boy.



What diet doctors should recommend

by Christina on July 25, 2014

Just watched this short video by Michael Greger on Kaiser Permanente’s publication last year about physicians recommending a plant-based diet.

Check it out:

“Too often, physicians ignore the potential benefits of good nutrition and quickly prescribe medications instead of giving patients a chance to correct their disease through healthy eating and active living…

“Physicians should consider recommending a plant-based diet to all their patients, especially those with high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or obesity…

“Despite the strong body of evidence favoring plant-based diets, including studies showing a willingness of the general public to embrace them, many physicians are not stressing the importance of plant based diets as a first-line treatment for chronic illnesses. This could be because of a lack of awareness of these diets or a lack of patient education resources.”

And my favorite line:

“Further research is needed to find ways to make plant-based diets the new normal for our patients and employees.” (emphasis mine)

I also really like the paper’s recommendations for related performance-driven measurable outcomes such as:

  • the percentage of physicians who have completed a course on nutrition that includes a discussion of the benefits of a plant-based diet and exercise;
  • the percentage of our hospitals, cafeterias, and physicians’ meeting facilities that serve meals that are consistent with a plant-based diet;
  • the percentage of patients on a physician panel who are obese and who have completed a course on weight management and nutrition that emphasizes a plant-based diet; and
  • the percentage of patients in a physician panel with high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, or cardiovascular disease who completed a course on nutrition that emphasizes a plant-based diet.

Kaiser is now providing patient education on plant-based diets — hopefully other providers will follow their lead.

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Benefits of prenatal yoga

by Christina on July 24, 2014

While Ashtanga has been challenging for me lately, I’ve really loved going to prenatal yoga and now that I’m done with residency I’ve been able to go several times a week. It’s pretty awesome being in a small room with over 40 very pregnant ladies – such amazing energy!

If you live in the Bay Area, Jane Austin is by far my favorite class. Jane is a great teacher, knowledgeable about pregnancy and labor and birth, is hilarious, and attracts pregnant women from all over the bay area into her packed classes. She has really great tips for many of the complications and discomforts of pregnancy (flipping breech babies, carpal tunnel, back pain, sciatica, anxiety, sleep issues, and more).

While I still like doing some more intense exercise other days of the week (long walks, strengthening exercises), prenatal yoga offers something I can’t get anywhere else. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what it is, but some combination of the following:

  • Connecting with a community of women all going through the adventure of pregnancy
  • A time to mindfully connect with our bodies and our babies inside of us
  • A focus on strengthening the shoulders and opening the hips, particularly important for pregnancy
  • Learning and practicing labor positions
  • Focusing on our breath as practice for labor
  • Strengthening and releasing the pelvic floor in preparation for birth

Jane Austin also does a prenatal partner workshop – we took it a couple weeks ago and it was the best birth-prep we could have asked for. I cried and laughed as we went through massage techniques, ways to raise oxytocin levels, and practiced different labor positions.

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