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?”
“Well, it is just to get the birth blood and such off.   It will be just fine.”
“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!!!
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 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
 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


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 

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!