Saturday, December 3, 2011

Forgetting Our Mother's Stories

Do we know the stories of our mother's births?   Do we honor our mother's pain, the process, the love and the teeth-gritting honesty that labor and delivery inspires?  Our birthdays come and go with the celebratory drinks, the parties, layer cakes and candles and yet, do we pause to consider the gasp and the groan that delivered us to this moment?

I asked my now deceased grandmother once about the birth of my mother.   I was probably 10 or so and did not even have the smallest grasp on the gravity and emotional tiger that birth is but in her story I could already sense the injustice and the pain she still carried remembering the experience.   When my mother was born, it was a time in obstetrics when women did not play an active part in the birth.   My grandmother was, in fact, put under anesthesia and the babe was born with the use of forceps.   Please consider this for a moment.....  A Northern Minnesota woman.   A woman very capable of hard work.   A woman who can simultaneously raise a family and a house without the aid of modern day conveniences being told that she is not capable of delivering a baby.   This method was not questioned at the time.   Full faith was put into doctors and women began to discredit their intuition and power.   The woman (my grandmother and probably your grandmother too) woke up and was handed a washed, swaddled and fed newborn baby.  The process is completely out of her hands.   Her power is completely stripped.

In speaking with my grandmother about this, she had a certain amount of distance about the topic.   I sensed more questions would make her uncomfortable so this is truly all  I know about my own mother's birth.   I do, however, want to make a small aside at this point and let my readers know that when my grandmother began giving birth, obstetrics had just taken a step away from a horrible process known as Twilight Sleep.   You can read all about it here if you want more info.   But for those who just want to know what it is and move on:


In reality it was not a sleep at all, it was a combination of morphine and scopolamine , not only did it aid in taking away the pain of childbirth for the mother, but it also took away a mothers memory of the event as a whole, while also taking away her self control. Because of the loss of control women were often tied to beds for not only their own safety, but for the safety of the hospital staff, but they made sure to use soft materials like lambs wool that would not leave marks on the arms and legs of these women, because then their husbands (who mind you were not allowed into the delivery room) would question what the hospital did to their wife.  But mom’s were not the only ones who suffered from this drug, it also had an impact on the infant, as do many pain relief drugs still used today.
The move away from this form of delivery was such a relief to women that even Life magazine made it a cover story.

My own mother's birth of me was much different but still holds the power of birth out of the reach of most women.   My mother and I have talked about her birth process many times and I am still riveted each time we revisit the topic.   It was the early 80's and my mother was told by her doc to head to the hospital as it appeared labor was beginning,   My mom, knowing the strict and overbearing nature of hospitals, took her sweet time getting there.   She did some shopping, took a shower, ate some lunch and moseyed on in quite calm to an angry pack of nurses furious with her for not rushing to the hospital as directed by her doctor.  My delivery went so fast that they did not have a lot of time for the zillions of interventions that were routine at that time but one thing that sticks out to me from my mom's story is this: the episiotimy.   This is where the skin between the anus and the vagina is cut to allow more room for the babe to enter the world.   In my mother's mind, she had heard so many horror stories of tearing and that the episiotimy would soothe this concern that she would not push until she had the cut done.   My birth weight was just over 5 pounds and my mother is of average height/weight ratio.   The episiotimy was completely unnecessary and took a whole lot more time to heal from had she torn, which from the birth weight seems improbable.   But, you see?  The fear.... the fear that a mother is incapable of bringing a babe into this world; that our bodies will not stretch or accommodate a baby to be born.   My mother actually halted the pushing process (and if you have ever pushed a baby out, you will know what sort of resolve this would take) so that she could have an unnecessary procedure done, a procedure wed out of fear and purchased on the diminishing power of women.   I find the dichotomy between the mom willingly tossing the ridiculous advice of her doctor to race to the hospital at the onset of labor and the mom who halts pushing for the same ridiculous advice so perplexing.   Women are so often at the mercy of the doctors and nurses they trust when we feel so vulnerable and unsure.   My mom is one strong lady and I credit her for the ferocity I carry and that is why it strikes me so....

My own birth stories are all so different from one another and would take pages and pages but in a gist-
Twins- 8 years ago, c-section, 32 weeks, 1 month in the NICU
Singleton-Almost 3 years ago VBAC (Vaginal Birth After C-Section), homebirth
Singleton- 4 months ago- VBAC, hospital

Each of the above experiences is beautiful, unique and sometimes painful to discuss.   But what prompted this blog and all of the above ramblings was this photo:


I found it on the web with the line, "one of the most beautiful birth photos I have ever seen."   Intrigued, I clicked on it and what unraveled was a thread of comments so shocking and unreal, I was left confused and deeply hurt.   The view of what birth is and what birth should be in our culture is a sad state of affairs.   With our c-section rate at 1 in 3 births, it is no wonder a photo like the one above prompts other women to disapprove.   However, what is even more shocking is that the criticism from other women is often aimed at causing the woman in the photo shame, hurt, and even remorse for sharing this photo.
A smattering of some of the ugly comments (I left the terrible grammar alone):
If you wanted the best for your child you should of went to a hospital where they can save you and the baby if somthing happend. Doctors are educated and around for reasons. This picture is sick to look at if she was on her back in a hospital bed might be a different story.
The photo is beautiful but I feel like it is staged after the birth. Her hair looks perfect, her hand is relaxed. Perhaps she had a very quick labor and delivery but still she doesn’t appear to be in much pain.
Strikingly powerful? More like nauseating. Being a mom to be, most births I’ve seen make me a bit emotional. This just makes me want to puke…
How do have a baby on your knees? Wouldn’t you be more comfortable lying down? Why does the man look naked? I think having a baby is a beautiful thing too but the way I was raised it sould be more private. Thumbs down.
I disagree. It is mainly striking to her and her husband and the baby I think. This photo is very disturbing…. I am sorry to say that, I am a mom too. I don’t thinking screaming to the camera so the world can see my baby coming out between my legs is cool at all.
This is the most disgusting thing I have seen in awhile. It does not looke real as many have said .She does not look pregnant at all. Too many bones showing for her to have a baby. As for your comment Jasmine ,hurtful is not what people are saying. Just the truth. You must have looked like that.
Sorry I think this picture is gross. I gave birth twice. We have two wonderful sons my husband and I but I would be in a real frenzy if a picture would have been posted for the world to see. It’s a private moment with agonizing pain where the sun does NOT shine so why would I post this willingly? We ALL know what giving birth is like and yet you don’t see us running around showing everyone what it was like.
I think that is a good representation of comments (negative).   To be fair, most of the comments on the thread are positive and defend this woman's right to birth as she pleases but the level of hate is just so alarming!   We have come so far in our rights as women to give birth and share our birth stories without fear and here it is, almost 2012 and we still have jackasses saying, "shouldn't she be on her back?"  People say this picture is gross and makes them want to puke....   what I see is people forgetting their roots, disrespecting their mothers and the process which brought them to the very keyboard they are spewing their hateful garbage upon.  Let's not forget the glory of our mothers: the sweat, the tears, the stretching and moaning; the pull of the moon from the sky, the earth between her toes, the visceral cry of wonder, pain, and bliss.   Please, let's not forget. 


For those of you interested in reading the birth story of Phoenix, the beautiful baby of the mother discussed in this blog, click here.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Notes From the Underground

So, my efforts in regular blogging have failed miserably but, hey…I’m back!   Did’ja miss me?   I missed me.  Writing is like breathing to me, if I don’t do it regularly; I will die (for real).   The PPD (postpartum depression) really kicked my ass for a while and made it nearly impossible to do even the simplest of tasks and truly my life has been a bit of a disaster clean-up area for the last six weeks or so.   Well, that is enough of the excuses so here is what’s been going on behind the curtain:
As far as the PPD, it is all better!
Mmmmm snuggles!

Looking back on it now, it is quite mind blowing how warped I was.  I would get furiously angry with Sparreaux for normal baby behaviors such as crying or needing to be held.   It was almost like I had expectations that she would understand I was tired or sad and didn’t want to feed her, rock her, etc…   Very strange for me being the AP parent I am to be feeling this way.  Justin even brought up how little I wanted to hold or be with Sparreaux and I flipped on him for even suggesting such a thing.   I truly did not have a grasp on how far from myself I really was.   I think the anger flares are the most surprising aspect of my experience with PPD.   I have experienced depression before but nothing like this.   It was like I hightailed it outta my body when Sparreaux was born and some nut-job took my place.   We (Justin and I) invited our doula over to discuss what we should do.   We were both at a loss on how to handle my disappearance.  It truly was like I wasn’t even there.   I felt like I was orbiting above my life, watching myself act like a completely selfish jerk but had not control over it whatsoever.  Our really lovely and compassionate doula told us that in her experience, women generally did not “bounce back” from PPD but truly did need a combination of therapy and anti-depressant medication to recover from PPD.  
I did visit my doctor and took the depression screening test.   I checked off that everything was a problem except feeling suicidal, I didn’t have that.   Since I am nursing, I was not able to have a vast array of medicinal choices so I took a list of the three SSRIs that I could take home with me to do some research and ultimately decided upon Prozac.   It was kind of a bumpy ride starting the Prozac but in the course of time it did what it was supposed to.   The thick, heavy veil of depression was lifted and I could look around and breathe with clarity.   I bonded with Sparreaux, felt less anxiety, my OCD tendencies reduced greatly, Justin and I did not argue about everything, I could effectively live my life.   I could review my thoughts and emotions whereas before I would just spew them everywhere with no regard to my family’s needs.   I make it sound like I was a grade-A asshole but really I was just quite sick and in need of some support.   With my trusted therapist and a few weeks of this medication, I feel at home within my skin. 
More baby lovin'
Sparreaux is going to be four months old this month!   Man, does time fly.   She is starting to blow spit bubbles.   She can recognize herself in a mirror (which is a blast to watch).   Indra adores her.   She wants to kiss her all the time!   Just last week Sparreaux was crying and I was holding her on my lap.   Indra was very concerned so I asked her, “What should we do to help Sparreaux feel better?”   The little sweetheart started lifting my shirt and pointing to my breast and said, “nuse, nuse.”   How freakin’ adorable is that?   I melted, I really did.   Unfortunatley, Sparreaux had just nursed so I suggested a nuk which Indra felt confident in helping with. 
Indra hearts Sparreaux
Indra, she is a blog post all on her own.   She is a toddler-beast!   She makes the simplest of tasks daunting and difficult.   From putting her shoes on to eating her dinner, she is one obstinate little kid.   And you know what drives me absolutely crazy about this?   She is an angel at daycare.  NO crying, NO tantrums, NO fits; all love and kisses and sweetness.
My sweet little bear (oxymoron is intentional)

  Justin and I have to practically wrestle her into her clothes in the morning.   Threaten everything under the sun if she doesn’t stay in her bed.  Promise her rainbows and unicorns if she will just take ONE bite of her dinner.   We have her working with specialists to develop her speech and foster her independence which is going ACHINGLY slow.  I love her to little itty bitty pieces but sometimes I just want to scream, “Come on Indra, it’s just a pair of freaking socks!  Put them on and let's go!”   *deep breath* But, I don’t.   We plod on gently and carefully each and every day trying new charts, routines, techniques; our efforts are constantly being renewed.   She is 30 months this month and going to be heading into pre-school and she cannot even communicate.
That is actually her "puke bucket" on her head. She thought it made a better hat (btw, there is no puke in there)

  I truly think that the communication or lack thereof is so frustrating to her and may be the root of many of her meltdowns.   I worry about her entering into a world of make-believe and ABCs when she doesn’t even know how to tell me where on her body she just got an owie.   Oh, little love.  My heart aches for you.

Our funny faces!!   Aren't we FUNNY?!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Baby Blues

The baby blues.   I have not experienced this before.   Unexplained sadness, anxiety, irritability, mood swings, crying....
It is so very strange.   I know that I am okay but I have this haunting sensation that follows me around all day tugging on my happiness, adding weight and burden to simple tasks and conversations.   I do not have adequate words to explain.   I am enjoying the new baby.   Our family is adjusting beautifully.   Breastfeeding and bonding couldn't be better.   So what is it?   What is wrong?

I look at myself in the mirror and I am confused by what I see.  I can see the effects of the conflicting emotions on my face.   My skin appears heavy upon my bones.    My eyes seem numb and unaware.  

And maybe the fact that there isn't an answer or a reason why is causing such panic in me.  

So, for now, I guess I just wait.   And hope.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

And a Sparreaux Flies Into Our Lives


The contractions began on Monday in the late afternoon.  I had gone to work that day and everything seemed fairly normal from what I had been experiencing in the way of practice contractions.   I came home from work and ate dinner and the tightening became a bit more pronounced.   The contractions felt a bit lengthier and came from the back rather than just a tightening of the abdomen.   I went to pre-natal yoga at 7 and the contractions continued throughout the two hours I was there.   During the quiet relaxation time at the end of yoga, I relaxed fully with the contractions and turned all of my attention inward toward my babe.   In the strong and comforting circle of pregnant mamas, I felt my little one inside me move and wriggle.  I felt certain I would be meeting this little one very soon.   I asked for my send off at yoga even though my due date wasn’t until the following week.    For those of you who have not attended pre-natal yoga, a send-off is where the mama who is about to give birth sits in the center of the circle and the women lay their hands upon your belly and body.    They sing you a song of blessing and strength to guide you on your way through labor, delivery, post-partum and motherhood.    The invocation of power and compassion is so strong it is nearly overwhelming.   I closed my eyes and allowed the movement of the song and the strong hands of mothers and soon-to-be mothers fully envelope me and the babe.   I felt ready.
4 days before the birth

Monday was one scorcher of a day and we yoga mamas went down to Lake Superior after class for a much deserved swim in the cool, dark lake.   It was such a blissful experience to glide naked through the inky black waters with my yoga sisters.   Feeling the weightlessness of the water surround me, cradling me and the babe.   The contractions continued to gain in strength and intensity there on the beach.   After I got out of the water and put my clothes back on, I turned to see the moon just barely peeking out of the water on the horizon.   We women stayed to watch the moon make her journey up over the horizon line and light up the night sky.  The amber-colored moon swelling up over the water was nearly full and so incredibly beautiful.  The pull of the moon on my uterus was crazy!!!   I felt the contractions deepen and baby snuggle down even more, preparing for the birth.    I thanked the water and the moon and even the sand in my toes for such a thrilling connection to the earth during this time.   I cannot even believe how granola all of this sounds but every word and feeling is the complete truth.   I am so fortunate to have had this experience at the dawn of my newborn babe’s birth.   
Stock photo- but you get the idea

I left the beach just shaking with anticipation.   This was it!   I knew babe was on its way.   The whole drive home the contractions continued and I knew I would need to get some rest for the upcoming labor.  I slept soundly that night cuddling my toddler and dreaming of the new baby.  
The next morning the contractions kept on coming and I sent messages to my family and boss that baby would probably be born that day.  The funny thing about labor, even when you have experienced it before is that you keep doubting that it is the “real thing.”   I have heard this over and over again from other mothers relating their birth stories.   It isn’t until you reach active labor that you finally say to yourself, ok, this really IS it.   We timed the contractions and they were about five minutes apart and taking some concentration and breathing to get through.   I did do some hula hips and sat on the yoga ball for a while but the contractions just did not feel all that strong.   I had all of these “labor projects” that I had saved to do while I was working through early labor but I kept holding out on them because I did not feel like baby was really all that close to coming.   Around noon Justin and I started discussing the outlook for the rest of the day.   We agreed that we should pick up Indra from daycare at 4 and have her stay for supper before we dropped her off with family. 
Justin's encouraging drawing on the white board in our kitchen

   Judging from how Indra’s birth went, we thought that baby would probably not be born until late that night or even early the next day.   I started to get pretty hungry and tired so I asked Justin to put a movie on for me and make me some lunch while I lay down.   I put down a waterproof pad on the bed just in case.   As I was lying on the bed and Justin was putting on a movie for me, I had another contraction.   This was a pretty big one and I worked through it with pretty loud “ooooooooohhhhhsssss” and I heard and felt a POP and water gushed from between my legs.   I said to Justin, “Oh my God!   My water just broke!!”    I couldn’t believe it.   With Indra I did not experience water breaking, it was just a slow trickle the whole labor but this was just so intense.   I gingerly got up from the bed with the pad between my legs and a whole bunch more fluid came out when I stood up.   I waddled my way to the bathroom and sat on the toilet.   I asked Justin to call our doula Anne and ask what we should do.   While he was on the phone I was debating whether or not to go to the hospital.   I didn’t want to go to early and judging from how the labor had been going and also comparing it to Indra’s birth I guessed I was at about 4 centimeters dilated.   While he was on the phone with Anne, I had another HUGE contraction.   One that had me rocking my whole body and moaning from the depths of my belly.   Anne said to get me to the hospital now and that she would meet us at the front door.   I still felt pretty skeptical that we should even be going but suddenly there was this huge rush of activity to get out the door.   Justin was running around grabbing the last few remaining items for our hospital bag and I was trying to put on some underwear but that was not really working as every time I tried to put some on, they just got soaked with more amniotic fluid so I gave up on that pretty quick.   The contractions promptly became all-consuming and profound and about a minute apart.   We made our way to the van for the dreaded ride to the hospital.   Every contraction I would lift myself off the seat and breathe as best I could in a seated position.   About halfway there Justin noticed a change in my vocalizations and asked me if I needed to push.   I told him that I didn’t think so, the contractions were just very intense.   We pulled up to the hospital which is about a 5 minute ride from our house and Anne was waiting for us.   I finished up another contraction before exiting the vehicle and Anne directed Justin on where to park.   He quickly pulled away and Anne and I walked up to the birthing floor.   Every single person we passed asked me if I wanted a wheelchair but honestly, sitting was the VERY last thing I wanted to do.   I just walked at a fast pace, kept breathing and knew that I would make it up there.   In the elevator, I had probably the strongest contraction yet.   Anne held the door of the elevator open as we had arrived at the birthing unit and I held on to the bar behind me and naturally began a squat.   Anne talked me through the contraction and once it was over brought me to the front desk.   I asked for some water and the nurses all just sat there so I said, “Will someone PLEASE bring me a cup of water?!”   That got them moving.   The water was brought to me and we (Anne and I) were still standing at the front desk and the lady behind the desk was starting to ask questions about my insurance and such.   Anne asked her if she would like me to have the baby right there in the hallway.   It was the first time I accepted that this baby was coming very soon.   I realized that I needed to let go of my ideas of laboring on through the night, this baby was coming!
We walked to the hospital room and the place started swarming with people.   I held on to Anne as another contraction completely took me over.   I held her in a great big hug and swayed back and forth on my tip toes as the contraction gripped my whole body.   I screamed, “The baby!!   It is coming now!”   The doctor introduced herself to me and said she would be delivering my baby.   No time for Dr. Reichoff to get there and Justin was still not there either.   They asked me to lie down and I shook my head in refusal.   No way was I going to be lying down.   The nurses lowered the bottom half of the bed and asked me to kneel.   I shucked off my skirt and knelt down on the bed.   The nurse to my left said something about needing to check me and she was ardently trying to get the contraction monitor around me.   Anne, in her graceful way, inquired why she would need to do these things since the baby was already crowning.   They fitted me with an oxygen mask and told me to go ahead and push.   I begged Anne to call Justin.   Mind you, we had only been in the hospital for probably ten minutes before I found myself kneeling on the bed ready to deliver the baby.   I was scared to deliver the baby without Justin being there but with the force of the next contraction my whole body bore down for a push.   I felt the head coming, I pushed more, I felt the shoulders coming, I pushed more and before I knew it, the doctor was placing my newborn babe on the bed in front of me.  The baby was born with just one push, ten minutes after arriving at the hospital, twenty minutes after my water broke.   Justin entered the room just as the baby was being handed to me.   I couldn’t believe he had missed the birth.  
First nursing session


Pretty little Sparreaux

Lookin at her mama

For the next two to three hours, I fell into a state of shock.   My body shook, my mind went blank, my emotions flat.   I could not hold my baby.   I could not communicate to anyone.   I asked Anne what was happening to me.   She assured me that going into shock from such a fast delivery is completely normal and even the feelings of not wanting to bond with the baby are normal.   She said that what I had just experienced fell well within the realm of trauma and my mind and body are working hard to catch up with what just occurred.   Justin held Sparreaux and was in a whole other state of shock.   He had missed the birth, his partner was losing her mind to shock and not bonding with the baby.  He knows how much I look forward to those first hours after birth where you just snuggle and nurse and fall in love and he was at a loss to understand how I could not be in a place to do that.   He had never, ever seen me like that and honestly; I have never experienced shock before.   The nurses offered me morphine to calm down which I declined.   I was worried it would take me even further away from my goal of grounding myself.   After about four hours I was able to eat and relax a bit and take my baby back in my arms.
More nursing.   She is a pro already!
  
I had a hard time coping with hospital protocol and politics after this.   When one of the nurses from the nursery came and asked to take Sparreaux for a naked weight and other newborn procedures I told her no and that she could do it in the room.   The nurse said that she could not do it in the room but that Justin could go with.   I started to cry and told her that she would need to tell me what EXACTLY she was going to do with Sparreaux.   She started naming off the procedures and when listed off bathing, I said, no bath.   She looked at me like I was an alien and said, “Oh, do you have a certain product you would like us to use for her?”
“No.”
“Well, it is just to get the birth blood and such off.   It will be just fine.”
“No.”
“But….”
“I said, no.   There is no way I will let this baby’s first bath be at the hands of a stranger and in the hospital no less.   Her first bath will be and home and given by her mother.”
“Oh.”   And she looked like she had just come into contact with a complete lunatic and backed away from the bed.
Oh well.
I expedited our release and we were out of there 25 hours and 4 minutes after Sparreaux’s birth.   I did not find the hospital to be relaxing or nice in any respect.   There were nurses and people in and out of my room constantly!   I could never get a moment’s peace.   Even in the middle of the night.   Take this example.
Nurse comes in to take baby’s vital signs at about 4 a.m. and I am snuggled with baby next to me sleeping.
Nurse says, “Would you like me to put baby in her bassinette?”
“No thank you, she is just fine where she is.”
“Oh, well, do you want me to put the bed rails up?”
“No, that’s okay.”
She huffed, “Hmmph, well, I just need to discourage you from sleeping with your baby.”
“Ok, thanks.”   I said.   Not moving.
She left the room angrily.   
What a sweetheart!


The shock and processing of the fast delivery has taken me about a week to fully digest.   The first week of her being at home was a whirlwind of emotions.   I would cry at EVERYTHING!   It was so much of an issue that Justin and I had Anne come over to talk with us about coping techniques to get through this hard time.   Things still aren’t 100% but it is improving every single day.   The hardest part for me is accepting that my toddler is no longer my baby.   She looks absolutely huge to me now whereas before Sparreaux was born, she was just my little baby.   I can’t be there for her like I used to before the baby was born and the weight of this on my heart has been too much to bear some days.   I am learning a new role as a mother and Indra is learning a new role as my daughter and a big sister.   We are taking it one day at a time and truly cherishing Sparreaux’s arrival in our lives.
Daddy and Sparreaux


Sparreaux Moon (homage to the moon in the sky the night before she was born) Snow
7 pounds
19 inches
Born 07/19/11 at 2:04 pm
Clara meeting her little sister for the first time

Ellie: so proud!

And, the first bath (not with nurses in the hospital)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Breastfeeding Kicks Ass

One of the many parts of mothering an infant that I LOVE is breastfeeding.   There is something so magical that happens when you put baby to breast for the first time.   You can see in their little faces all this confusion, you can see that they are trying to process and make sense of their new environment and birth process.   And then you put them to breast and they settle right in and the love, ah, the love just starts to surround the two of you until you almost can't stand it.   Your baby is free to look around but still find the security they need from the scent, taste and feeling of their mother's breast.    And what is so awesome about this is that you get to do it over and over and over and over again!!!
Hortense
But that is also the hard part of nursing your little one.   You are their primary and constant source of support, nutrition, comfort and so much more.    You must be there for them always even as your ass is falling asleep from sitting on the couch all day nursing, even if you have had to pee for the last hour and you can't remember when you showered last.     There is no passing the baby off to another breast so you can get rest or a solo poop in the bathroom, it is you and your breasts that the baby needs.
What I find amazing is that with all support that breastfeeding gets, there is still a strange social stigma that follows it around.    I have no issues nursing my baby wherever and whenever just like most people don't have a problem plopping down on a park bench to eat their lunch or having a snack during a public event.    You know, I don't think I have ever walked into a bathroom to find an adult scarfing down her lunch.   But yet, there are so many people out there that make no bones about their viewpoints that you, as a nursing mother are being somehow perverse or indecent by feeding your baby.
So blissful!
 I have never personally been asked to stop nursing while in public.   I have gotten looks of severe disapproval to which I just hike my shirt higher and display by bare breast just that much more but never have I been asked to stop.   It is just crazy to me all these things they sell to women to help maintain modesty but really you just end up looking a whole lot more conspicuous. 
Like this!   Makes you wonder even more what she's got going on under there.
And here is two moms just hanging out and feeding their babies.   Nothing to hide!
Even though I am sure all of you know why breastfeeding rules.   I think I should pay some lip service as to why:
  • Breastfeeding makes you feel good, the hormones produced during nursing have an endorphin effect  giving you a relaxed feeling.
  • You have a great excuse to sit down and relax.....
  • You can nurse while sleeping...nursing moms get more rest than formula feeding moms.
  • Breastfeeding saves moms about 7 hours a week off their feet.
  • No screaming baby in the middle of the night waiting on the formula to heat up.
  • It's the only time you can ever lose weight without dieting or exercise!
  • Breastfeeding is more convenient, when traveling, all you need is to take diapers, the milk is always available, sterile, and the right temperature.
  • During times of disaster,  you don't have to worry about finding formula.
  • Breastfed babies smell great....spit ups don't stain, or smell, and poopie diapers are not offensive...(until solids are introduced)
  • Breastfed babies know their moms and will never confuse them with a sitter.
  • The strong bond developed with nursing is much more intense.
  • There is no feeling to describe the child suckling at your breast and letting go to give you a big smile; and knowing that the  growth of your baby came from what your body produced! Wow! What a feeling!
  • The satisfaction of knowing you are giving your baby the best start in life!
  • Breastmilk taste great! Sweet tasting! Variations in taste according to foods moms eats.  Have you ever tasted formula? Ugh!
  • Breastfeeding requires the use of only one arm....you can do other things while breastfeeding, (except cooking and driving)
  • Children receive the most complete and optimal mix of nutrients & antibodies
  • The varying composition of breastmilk keeps pace with the infant's individual growth and changing nutritional needs
    Breastfed infants develop higher IQ's, and have improved brain and nervous system development
     
  • Breastmilk is free- reducing or eliminating the cost of formula (in the thousands of dollars/per year)
     
  • Breastfed babies are sick less thus reducing healthcare costs to family in Doctor office visits, prescriptions, over the counter medicine purchases, and hospitalizationsMoms miss less time off from work due to child related illnesses  
  • Helps the uterus contract after birth to control postpartum bleeding
Matisse
 I must admit, part of the reason I love nursing is how lazy you get to be.  You don't have to pack, wash or sterilize bottles.   You don't have to warm up or cool down milk, your breastmilk is always the right temperature.  You don't even need to get up in the middle of the night to feed your baby!   You can just tuck them next to you and do side-lying nursing.
Doesn't she look so relaxed?
And you can lose pregnancy weight just sitting on your butt.   Can't beat that with a stick.  

All of my babies have been happy, breastfed little lovies and I can't wait to meet the newest addition and develop that special bond once again!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Sleep

Baby's due date draws near and we still do not have Indra in her toddler bed.   It is set up, it is ready to be slept in but one huge factor stands in our way.   She won't sleep there.
When we came up with this crazy plan of Indra sleeping in her own bed, we assumed that she would develop some communication skills given that she is just over two years old.   We could say, "Hey Indra, look at your big girl bed!   Won't it be cool to sleep in the same room as your big sisters and have your very own bed??"
But no.
The unused toddler bed

She cannot talk.   She cannot understand what we say.
That is not entirely true.  She does talk, she does understand what we say but it is pretty limited.   She does not speak in sentences, she can speak words but they are only really understandable to Justin and I.   All of these toddler milestones such as moving on to her own bed and even toilet training cannot occur unless there is some basic communication.  
So, it has become clear that a new solution is needed.   Indra cannot fall asleep or stay asleep unless she is touching either myself or Justin.   Her entire worldview, all of her trust and love and understanding of who she is will come crashing down around her if suddenly there was a new little baby in mom and dad's bed and she wasn't invited.  Now, that might sound a titch dramatic and maybe it is but I just do not think I could handle seeing her confusion and hurt.   She is such a sensitive and sweet little love.   Indra is different from most kiddos.   The best way I can describe her would be a "spirited child."   There is a great book all about these types of children called.  Raising Your Spirited Child

http://www.amazon.com/Raising-Your-Spirited-Child-Perceptive/dp/0060923288 



Spirited kids are the exception to the rule, “Ignore them and they’ll stop.” Spirited kids can cry for hours, and if by chance they fall asleep, they’ll wake up and start in again on the same issue. They are the kids who can be triggered by seemingly insignificant things such as a change in the weather, lint in a sock, the red cup instead of the expected yellow one, or a friend who looks at them the “wrong way.” Relatives freely offer unsolicited advice as to how you should discipline them. 

On good days, spirited kids prove to be more delightful than you ever imagined. They make you laugh, pull your attention to the bugs and bees you would have missed without them, give you an excuse to play, and encourage you to take naps. On bad days, they refuse to do anything you ask — usually in a loud and angry voice; they spit at you, kick you, and rob you of your sleep with their demands and the worries they arouse. Often they make you cry. They may also leave you feeling a little crazy, even stunned, wondering how, if it’s like this now, you will ever survive adolescence. 
                                                             -Mary Sheedy Kurcinka

And Indra is the spirited child.   She needs to be swung in blankets to calm down and transition.  She needs food presented to her carefully lest she whip it on the floor in anger.   She needs constant reassuring and hugs.  She needs her clothing to feel a certain way and not be too loose or too tight, no itchy seams, etc...  She is a special girl who, at this point in her life, cannot sleep by herself.   It would just be cruel to Justin and I and Indra. 
My spirited toddler making sand pie

Here are my new ideas on the subject of co-sleeping or the family bed.
I think I am going to get an Arm's Reach Co-Sleeper and attach it to our bed.   That way, the infant has a safe space to sleep free from flailing toddler limbs and can still be snuggled and nursed with ease during the night.   I am not really sure why I hadn't thought of this before.   We (Justin and I) were coming up with all kinds of crazy ideas like- Justin sleeping downstairs on the floor next to her bed, bringing the toddler bed into the living room, getting a twin size bed instead of a toddler bed so a parent could sleep with her downstairs.   But this co-sleeper attachment just might do the trick!   I have not considered the quality of her sleep just yet given that she will be sleeping in the same room with a newborn but that is a bridge I will cross when I get there.   Right now, I just need to figure out how to meet the needs of my spirited toddler and soon to be newborn. 

Forget about my quality of sleep.   New moms and sleep are foes from way, way back.   I would be a fool to think otherwise.

Three more weeks!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Opening

Doing a lot of thinking about labor and delivery lately, for obvious reasons.    This birth holds some mystery and fear for me that Indra's birth did not.   The biggest factor in this is that I am going to deliver this baby in a hospital where Indra was born at home.   Hospitals freak me out big time but for reasons out of my control, it has become the way it has to be this time around.    Indra's birth was lovely, calm and beautiful.   I want to re-create that as much as possible in a hospital setting but there are some reservations that I feel inside that are becoming a bit concerning.  

I am afraid.

Fear played no role in Indra's birth.   I felt strong, ready and able to take on anything.    I'm not feeling that so much anymore.   I am nervous and worried and doubtful of my abilities.   I have even considered just getting the damn epidural and rolling over to the politics of hospital births.   Me!   I told Justin about this feeling and he was pretty shocked and said that this is so very unlike me and worried about where this idea was coming from.   To be honest, I don't know.   This pregnancy has been difficult in so many ways and maybe I am just tired.  Maybe I am fearful of the hospital environment more than I think.   Until now, I have not considered the experience of bringing Indra into the world as "painful."   I remember it being very intense.   Opening up my body, opening up my mind and soul, breaking open, splitting open, ripping open but trusting that this opening was okay and welcoming each contraction because it brought me closer to meeting my baby.   I moaned out low "ooooooooooohhhhssss" and rocked my body back and forth.   I closed my eyes and absolutely surrendered to the process.
I'm not sure I can let go like this in a hospital.    I'm not sure I feel the strength and resolve I felt two years ago.   I have struggled with chronic pain throughout this pregnancy and to be completely honest, I have kind of had it with feeling pain and being uncomfortable.    So, I have been reading birth stories and trying to gain some confidence in myself.   I do not want to separate myself from my baby and the birth experience by medical interventions.   That is my conscious thought.   My body feels differently, my body feels ready to give up....almost.   Not really sure how to better say it than that.   It is important to me that I at least try but I know that these sneaking doubts women have regarding their own strengths come crumbling down under the pressure of nurses and doctors offering a full array of medical interventions.
From: Birthing From Within
 I will have my doula, Anne, with me and Justin who were both present for Indra's birth.   Anne was my rock during Indra's delivery.   She harmonized with me on all of my vocalizations, crawled with me on the floor, quietly held herself in my sacred birth space, she fed me spoonfuls of sweet honey between pushes, held my sweaty, quaking body with so much compassion and love.   Having Anne as my ally in this birth is crucial to me.   I am valuing her more as a warrior on my behalf for the hospital whereas for my home birth we were two women connecting and supporting each other to bring a baby calmly and safely into this world.    Now, Anne's role will be two-fold; she will not only be there for that connecting point but also to be a barrier between myself and hospital interference.  We (Anne and I) have spoken at length about the differences between hospitals and home and she is very comfortable working with my doctor and the hospital environment.   If anyone could do it, it is her.   For now, I am going to continue to read inspiring birth stories and try to let go of my personal doubts and fears.   I only have a few weeks left!!!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Randomness From This Week

Lilacs are one of my very favorite early summer flowers.  The kids and I have been bringing fresh bunches into the house since they came into bloom a few weeks ago.   The smell is so comforting and sweet.   Last weekend, I was busy doing mom stuff (cleaning and other glorious domestic goddess duties) and I sent my twins out to play.   They came back with a basket filled with lilacs for me. 
Spooky cat loves them too!   She tried to eat some but discovered that the taste is not quite as lovely as their smell.   Although this summer/spring has been cold and crappy so far, the smells in the air make me so happy.   Fresh cut grass, dewy leaves, budding flowers; they are all so smelly!!
And check this one out:

Yellow Lady Slipper

I am the furthest thing from a green thumb and have better luck at killing plants than keeping them alive but I sure do appreciate their beauty and aroma.  

In other news, the preggo belly is growing more and more.   I can feel my body preparing for birth with lovely spells of insomnia, braxton-hicks contractions and lots of pelvic pressure.   I am feeling another kind of pressure too; pressure to get shit done!   I am stressed to the gills everyday about all the things left to do before this little one gets here.   Since my last post, we sure are making some progress but we have a LONG way to go.   I have decided to go to the hospital for this delivery and have not even begun any sort of preparation.   I did, however, print out a list of things to bring to the hospital.   We will see how helpful that is when I am in labor.....
Late night cereal munching

Indra also taking a cereal break
All in all, I think everyone is feeling ready for the little one to make an appearance.   I am super pumped to see who this person is I have been growing.   I am also feeling closer to having some solid name ideas.   I think the closer you are to delivery, the more you get a feeling for the spirit you are soon to welcome.   When baby really starts kicking and pushing around in its now limited space, I can rub the bottom of its feet and I tell him or her, "Soon I'll be kissing those little toes sweet baby."
Indra is also getting very curious about the baby belly.   She constantly wants to pull my shirt up and lay skin to skin on top of the bulge.   If I try and move or take her off, she refuses and gets very upset.   I am not sure if she can tell if it really is a baby in there but I would like to think that her growing interest is truly a spiritual connection she feels with the life inside of me.
Belly Snuggle

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Oh Baby

33 weeks pregnant today.   We have so much to do before this little one arrives!   I think Justin and I have been riding the "we've done this before" train a little too long and need to start preparing for the baby.   Indra (our 25 month old toddler) still sleeps with us at night and we have wanted to get her in a toddler bed for the last few months so she is comfortable with the transition before the baby comes.   Well......
The yet to be used toddler bed
Indra is the type of child that requires constant reassurance, holding, touching, talking in order to feel secure.   Even in her sleep she will reach out and feel for our faces, rub her hands along our arms and snuggle deep into us.   I really don't want to kick her out and put her in her own bed.   I adore sleeping with her and so does Justin.   Who wouldn't want to cuddle all night with a little bug that wants nothing more than to share her love with you?   Argh!!   So tough.   So, that remains on the "to-do" list before baby arrives.
Indra talking with the new baby

Names?   We are just starting to think of some.
Clothes?   Still in storage.
Gear?   Nothing.   The only thing I have purchased for this little one (albeit a very important purchase) is a baby wrap so we can wear the baby.
The birth plan was written last week.    And we have recently decided to go to the hospital this time around rather than do a home birth.   So, we need to re-evaluate how we are doing things from that angle alone.   Our decision to go to the hospital was not an easy one but we have many good reasons for choosing it.   One critically important reason is that I have been suffering (and when I say suffering....) from severe SI Joint and sciatica issues during this pregnancy.   I go to a physical therapist twice a week, take daily pain meds and still, am brought to my knees almost every day from the horrible pain.   I can totally handle labor and delivery, nerve pain is something different.   It is seriously the worst I have ever experienced in my life.   So, I am considering pain medications which are not available with home births in order to cope with the pain during labor.   I want to be able to focus my energies entirely on bringing this baby into the world and be fully present for it, which at this point, seems impossible if I am not able to mentally let go of the nerve pain associated with the stupid SI joint.   I want nothing more than to give birth in the comfort of my own home but it just does not seem feasible this time.
I am feeling more and more ready to meet this little one we have been growing.   Every now and then I still get the, "what the hell was I thinking?" feeling when I am overwhelmed or tired but overall I am excited and want so much to hold this little one and welcome him or her into our crazy but totally fulfilling family.