Thursday, December 31, 2009

Interview with Joy Szabo

ICAN has posted an interview with VBAC-warrior Joy Szabo - check it out!

Interview: Joy Szabo

I posted on her (about two entries down) a week or so ago, but for anyone who hasn't heard about this story - Joy Szabo was threatened by her home-town hospital in Page, Arizona with a court-ordered cesarean if she did not submit to an elective repeat cesarean section for her recent birth (the hospital has stopped "allowing" VBAC births). Although nothing has been done about the criminal behavior (my opinion) of of the hospital in question, Joy successfully thwarted the system by moving to a different town for the last few weeks of her pregnancy in order to birth at a VBAC-friendly (or VBAC-allowing, at least) hospital. And... she got her VBAC!

Hopefully this story will bring much-needed publicity to the VBAC scene, which is currently in a ridiculous state of hysteria. VBAC birth is statistically safer than repeat cesarean birth, but it is not more profitable - and it is more liable - so the current trend is for repeat cesareans, or "trials of labor" that are stacked against the mother (and so turn into repeat cesareans). The tide needs to turn sometime, and it is great stories like Joy's that will help it to turn!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Medical Cannabis for Hyperemesis Gravidarum?

This is not a new article (2004, I think), but I just saw it when a birth buddy posted it on Facebook. Interesting stuff! I haven't really been involved in the medical marijuana debate, so I don't feel justified in posting an opinion (morally, politically, medically). Here is the original article:

Medical Marijuana: A Surprising Solution to Severe Morning Sickness

Does anyone out there know anything more, or have any opinions to share?

I took a quick look around the web to see what the status of medical marijuana in the U.S. was (try this site) and found that it is legal in thirteen states, not including my own (which is in some odd state of legal limbo).

With regards to severe morning sickness (my own particular pregnancy problem), I post all information I find, however wacky!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Good for Her!

Joy Szabo got her VBAC! Hurray!

This is the woman who was threatened with a court-ordered cesarean if she didn't submit to an ERCS (elective repeat cesarean section, i.e. a cesarean for no good reason) at her hospital in Page, AZ, a hospital which has an active VBAC ban. She decided to spend the last bit of her pregnancy here in Phoenix in order to birth at a hospital that allowed VBACs (vaginal birth after cesarean).

Mom fights, gets the delivery she wants

Of course, this doesn't do anything about the underlying problem - a hospital that is threatening court-ordered cesareans for moms who want VBACs is a MAJOR problem and an enormous human rights abuse. Frankly, I don't know why this isn't bigger news nationally. There's a lot of work to be done.... But congratulations to this mama and her baby and her family! Great job!

The article also has some good tips on avoiding unnecessary cesarean birth, and a it's presented with a good perspective! Hurray! I'm going to reprint those tips here:


1. "Doctor, is this an emergency, or do we have time to talk?"

Sometimes you need a C-section to save your life, your baby's life, or both. In those cases, there's no room for discussion.

Delivery room emergencies include excessive bleeding, a breech position where the baby is headed out foot-first, or when the baby has certain heart rate problems, according to Flamm.

"In these situations, this is not a good time to talk about your desires for a natural birth," Flamm says.

2. "Doctor, what would happen if we waited an hour or two?"

The vast majority of the time, when your doctor or midwife tells you it's time for a C-section, it's not an emergency, Flamm says.

In many cases, women just need more time to labor, he adds. In fact, he says the No. 1 reason for a C-section is "failure to progress" during labor. "If that's what we're talking about, then it's not an emergency," he says.

3. "Doctor, are you sure the baby is too big for me to deliver?"

Sometimes parents are told a baby is too big to deliver vaginally. Dr. Ware Branch, medical director of women and newborns clinical program at Intermountain Healthcare in Utah, says parents should ask whether a C-section is absolutely necessary, especially if labor hasn't advanced very far.

"If it was my wife in labor and she's three or four centimeters dilated and the obstetrician says the baby's head is too big and she can't deliver him, I'd say, 'Nonsense, she hasn't really had a trial of labor, doctor.' "

4. "Doctor, is there something else I can try before having a C-section?"

Antunes, a spokeswoman for DONA International, which certifies doulas, says there may be options such as maneuvers like the one she used on Ste. Marie to get a slow labor moving.

You shouldn't be afraid to speak up and say you'd like to try to labor longer.

5. "Doctor, can we talk more about the baby's heart rate?"

If you're told you need a C-section because of the baby's heart rate, try to get your doctor or midwife to be as specific as possible.

Some heart-rate problems mean a C-section is necessary immediately, but other types of heart-rate issues are not nearly as serious, and you may be able to labor longer.

"This is a very gray area," says Debbie Levy, a certified nurse midwife in Marietta, Georgia. "It takes years to learn how to read fetal heart tones, and it's not an exact science."

Levy says it can be difficult to ask these questions when the person delivering your baby says it's time for a C-section, especially since mom and dad are often exhausted.

"This is a very tough discussion to have in the delivery room," she says. "You're vulnerable, because you're talking about your baby's well-being."

But she says as long as it's not an emergency, you should have these delivery room conversations with your doctor or midwife.

"You shouldn't be afraid to speak up and say you'd like to try to labor longer," she says.


Does anyone know what the maneuver mentioned in the article for getting a baby repositioned was? I hadn't heard of it before. It sounded like McRoberts, but that is for a totally different problem (shoulder dystocia).

Good stuff!

h/t to my hubby, who saw the article, knew I'd been following the story, and sent it to me! Aren't those guys just great!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Happy Beginning-of-Life Day, Baby!

No, I am not pregnant. Just realized that the title might be misleading, so I thought I'd better disclaim first.


A midwife friend of mine said some time ago that she always celebrates her baby's first beginning-of-life (my own phrase) day - the day when he/she began life on this planet (as in "day of conception" rather than "day of birth"). I thought it was a lovely idea, and I intended to celebrate our baby's beginning-of-life day - and I just remembered today that it was four days ago! Ah well, better late than never.

December 12, 2008 was the day when I charted that cute little basal body temperature-rise that signals that ovulation has occurred... and knew that unless God Himself intervened, we would most likely conceive that cycle. I won't say why. Ahem. And one week later, when the nausea and heartburn hit, I knew I'd been correct!

Actually, in some ways, since conception occurs within 0-48 hours after ovulation, you could say that I knew about our baby before he was conceived! Pretty cool. (Long live Natural Family Planning!)

So.... Happy First Beginning-of-Life Day, Baby! You have been a most welcome addition to our family!

Birth Story

This is a blogger I love, MckMama: birthing, babies and beyond, and this is the story of her first birth, which occurred about four years ago. It's beautifully written, not too long, and a very enjoyable read. Check it out!

This birth is a good example of how one's plans can change; she planned on an all-natural waterbirth in-hospital; what she got was an induction due to post-dates at 42 weeks, a four-day labor, an epidural, AROM, multiple complications (fever, etc.) and a vacuum delivery with a broken tailbone. (Despite that run-down, it's not a birth horror-story... really.)

BUT... I wonder how it might have been different under different care. What if her midwife had not insisted on a post-dates induction? Might all of the above might have been avoided by waiting for labor to start on its own?

I know care-providers are really nervous about going over 42 weeks. Some nowadays won't go over 41 weeks (a rule that gave a friend of mine two unnecessary cesareans) or even 40 weeks. Bad things can occasionally happen with postdates babies.

But some babies do just need to cook longer. Would it have been acceptable to do biophysical profiles, keep an eye on the baby, and only induce when baby's welfare looked questionable - instead of going by dates alone?

Not being a professional, I don't know the answers! (If you do, feel free to fill me in.) However, this is still a great story by an AMAZING woman, and I really admired her fortitude during her birth. See what you think!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Great Pictures

Navelgazing Midwife posted some amazing and really interesting birth photos that she's taken over the year of various birth-rarities (birth in a caul, etc.). Check them out!

Later note: Here are some more pictures she added later. Just terrific!

Saturday, December 12, 2009


I had hoped never to be writing this again, but once again, our dear friends' babies are now in heaven.

I had been haunting Facebook and my friend's blog for news ever since Thursday, when I was expecting their announcement (their transfer of their adopted babies was on the 2nd), and by today I was pretty seriously worried. They announced this afternoon that their test results confirmed the worst.

I am devastated for this family. They have now dealt with years of infertility, adoption paperwork, and two failed transfers. I can't even imagine what they're going through. God knows what He is doing, but we do not... I'm not sure that my faith would hold up as well as theirs has.

The next time I make an announcement for this sweet family, I sincerely hope that it will be about an upcoming birth. Praying for them!

Parenting Advice

The following was written several years ago and shared with me by one of my wonderful-and-amazing doulas, who has seven children (one still in-utero). If you know this family, you know that they should have a baker's dozen - they're an amazing family! Enjoy!

"We currently have five children and are expecting the sixth. They are ten, eight, six, four, and two. So I am mostly talking about younger kids. Seven years ago my husband and I totally overhauled our parenting style from a very punitive to a positive style. We have spent much time reading about parenting and talking to each other and other parents about the way we want to do things. We are still a work in progress, very much so. I have some very special mentor mothers to thank for much of what we do today to discipline our children. Thank you Joanne and Lisa most especially.

"Have a vision for your family and children. I encourage you to set your standards very high but not beat yourself up when you don’t reach them. I really don’t expect us to obtain the perfection of our vision but we will certainly be so much better for trying. Don’t practice “accidental” parenting. You can collect many tools (i.e. tips) but if you don’t know what you are building you won’t know which ones to use or when to use them.

"Our vision for our family is to have a peaceful home in which we all take care of and are kind and respectful to each other. A family where we always try do what is right because it is the right thing to do, regardless of whom is around. Of course this includes the parents too. :-) Share your vision with your children often in little ways throughout the day. This will help to keep you on track too. (This can really be the hardest part.) For example: One morning I made muffins. As we all sat down one of my children wanted to “call” the one she wanted. In our family we don’t “call” things. She asked me why I had made this rule. I told her, “Because it is selfishness. I want a family where, when we sit down to breakfast you will turn to your brother and ask ‘Ethan, which one would you like?’ and then he will do the same for you.” To my surprise, her brother turned to her and did just that! I thought they would roll their eyes at me because it was pretty idealistic. J

"Once you have established a vision it will be easier to choose which tools you will use. Throw out the ones that don’t help and may actually destroy what you are trying to build. Your definition of what “works” may also change. Though one tool may yield immediate results, its long term effects may be undesirable. For us, this meant throwing out hitting of any kind, yelling, all punishments and most rewards. (Pretty much the whole tool box) We do still discipline. Discipline does not have to equal punishment. Ultimately, I want to raise people who will choose the right from an internal motivation. Rewards can foster a “What’s in it for me?” attitude. They can also put you in the position of wondering what to do when the child has decided the reward is not worth it. In the same way, punishments can lose their scare factor and sometimes they just don’t make sense. Most importantly, these are both external motivations and don’t foster an internal motivation for choosing the right. Hitting and yelling are neither respectful nor kind and in no way foster peace in the home. Neither do they foster peace in the soul of either party. (We are STILL working on the yelling.) So what do we do?

"We try to have natural consequences whenever possible. For example, if a child won’t control his/her body (i.e. he is hitting, running off) Mom will have to help you. This may mean being removed from the situation or sitting on mom’s lap etc….I try to always explain why I am doing what I am doing, even to very young children. When I say being removed from the situation it may mean leaving a play date five minutes after arriving, leaving a whole cart full of groceries, etc.

"We had one child who was almost never flushing. Yuck! The consequence was to clean the toilet every time I walked in on an un-flushed toilet. Very rarely do I now walk in on an un-flushed toilet. :-)

"If I can’t think of what the appropriate natural consequence should be I often ask the offender what they think would be fair. They are often much harder on themselves than I would be. For hurting another (including with words), the family rule is that the offender do an act of service for the one they hurt as well as an apology. This can be getting a glass of water or making a bed, etc. We did this because we found the apologies had become much less than heartfelt and very forced and it is so beneficial to both parties.

" * Whining-I tell my children “You are whining. I can’t hear whining.” Then I help them bring their voice down by saying “Mom” (this is usually the first word whined) over and over in a normal tone until they bring down their voice to a normal tone to match.

" * Fights- If it is a small disagreement I ask them if they tried handling it with words and often give them an idea of words that could help like, “May I please have my chair back?” instead of shouting “MOVE!”

"For larger fights I don’t ask what is going on. It almost never matters who started it or what happened. I start by asking each child “Are you doing what is right?” They usually try to launch into their side of the story but I will only hear a “yes” or “no.” (It is almost always “no” from both parties) I then ask them each “How can you do what is right?” This gets them to think about how to solve it themselves and what part they own in the fight instead of how awful their sibling is.

" *For very young children that refuse to do something I ask “Mommy do or Baby do?” This makes it their choice. My help is not doing it for them but hand over hand “helping” them.

" * For rude answers or demands I say “Try again.” This gives them a chance to rephrase. I often will give them an example of an appropriate way to say what they mean.

" *On our way to special events or restaurants we go over the behavior expected of them. I always ask them to tell me how they should behave so I know they’ve got it. It is only fair to them to know what is expected of them.

" *Try to not assume negative intent. (Messes are usually the result of curiosity or boredom not a devious two-year-old’s plot to ruin the last three hours spent cleaning.:-))

" *Notice the good in your child. Do it often and out loud in front of them and others, especially for those “challenging” children. This helps you too to be more gentle and loving in those rough moments.

" *Practice “Get off your rear” parenting. Be proactive and thoughtful with words and actions. Would you want someone to treat you the way you are treating your child?

" *Everyone will choose different tools but two that will work for every child are love and respect.

" *My favorite parenting saying of all time is

“'Good parenting is that which leaves both parent and child’s dignity intact.'”

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Ultrasound Article Link

I tell you... Once you have enough "birth junkie" friends on Facebook, you don't have to do much research - the articles just arrive in droves! Love it!

I think I read this article when it came out, but it's a good resource for those who are ultrasound-leery. It makes some good points. Check it out:

Ultrasound: Weighing the Propaganda Against the Facts

I'm on the fence with ultrasound.... Like most obstetrical interventions today, I believe that it is majorly overused. Personally, if I have another baby, I don't think I'll be having an ultrasound. I didn't have one with our first (who was miscarried) or second (our son); I did have one ultrasound with our last baby because I felt (for whatever reason) that I needed to - however, I don't think I'd do it again. After all, I wouldn't abort for any reason, so it's kind of pointless (it is nice to be forewarned of problems... but I do think that there are risks with ultrasound, so I'd rather play it safe).

However, everyone is different, and some women live for ultrasounds. For most of my friends, ultrasounds are the high point of their pregnancies. (I was so nervous that the tech would slip and tell me baby's gender that I didn't enjoy mine at all!) So... to each his own! It's definitely a wonderful technology that can be used for great good, and it's helpful in many situations. Also, for parents who like to know ahead of time if baby has problems so that they can be prepared, it can be quite useful.

Thoughts, anyone?

Birthing Magazine Online

I haven't read this magazine, but it looks great.... and to introduce their online version, they're offering this issue free to read online! Check it out here.

Cross-post on Co-sleeping

I posted this article on Facebook, but didn't have time to blog about it - but my friend Kathy did! So check it out what she wrote here.

I find it utterly fascinating that I have instinctively chosen the exact position for co-sleeping that the study mentions is extremely common among co-sleeping women - curled on one side facing the baby, arm curled around baby, knees drawn up under baby. It feels (and is) incredibly safe, and is very practical for nighttime nursing.

As I commented on Kathy's blog.... "I don’t feel comfortable in any other position. When I’m in that position, I “remember” the baby even when I’m sleeping, but when I use any other position, I “forget” that the baby is there while I’m sleeping and then wake up, think “Oh my gosh, where’s the baby?” and panic until I find him. That’s why I exclusively use the described position for co-sleeping."

Interesting stuff!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Male Doulas?

Sure, why not? I don't think it would be for me, but whatever works:

Your Space: Doula Man

Kind of like a male midwife - hard to get one's mind around it, but some women really do prefer male caregivers. If so, this guy is for you! :)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Incredibly Funny Birth Story

Kayce has posted this birth story, and I'm linking to her blog instead of the original story because there are four parts (she has links to each part). Check it out! It's not a natural birth (i.e. sans drugs), but it is a VBAC - hurray for VBAC!!!! And what a wonderful hospital and doctor she had! Birth balls, labor tubs, not-too-pushy of a doctor - nice!

Incidentally, her description of contractions really reminded me of my own experience - and why I wouldn't have been able to have a natural birth in-hospital! There are some goddess-like women who apparently have the willpower to have drug-free hospital births, but I am not one of them! Staying where drugs aren't available for birth is the only way natural birth happened for me - or will ever happen! If I'd been in-hospital, I too would have taken an epidural. Make that ten or twenty epidurals. All at the same time. Double strength.

Anyhow, that was really a rabbit trail. Just a random thought.... But check out this birth story and prepare to giggle!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Embryo Adoption.... PUPO

Our dear friends J. and T. had their embryo adoption transfer this week, and things went really well! So J. is now "PUPO" - Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise. For now it's just a waiting game as they wait to see if the babies were able to successfully implant (which will be shown by a positive pregnancy test). We are hoping for wonderful things for them! As two embryos were transferred, there is a good chance of TWINS! (Or triplets or quads, as each has the possibility of splitting.)

J. and T. decided on embryo adoption after the barrage of fertility tests they underwent showed them that they were not only infertile, but completely sterile due to the husband having Kleinfelter's syndrome (a genetic condition which renders males sterile). So the embryo-babies that are transferred are transferred just like a usual IVF cycle, but they have different genetic parents who have given them into the care of their adoptive parents (just like babies and children are given to adoptive parents post-birth). This is a wonderful option for genetic parents who have more embryos than they can transfer themselves.

Praying for this wonderful family!

New Midwifery Partnership

Our midwife, having lost her former business partner (she recently retired temporarily after the birth of her baby), has formed a new partnership with midwife Marinah Farrell, and they are now taking clients! You can see Marinah's blog here:

Midwife in the Clouds

For some reason I haven't had this blog in my subscription, but I've added it now and am looking forward to reading it.

Marinah is also somewhat famous for her series of articles in Midwifery Today on the subject of bullying within the midwifery profession.

We're not planning any more kidlets, but if we do, we'll look forward to working with Marinah as well as our midwife!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

New OB Blog

I haven't looked through this blog at all (so don't quote me), but the top article (which I saw on Facebook) was absolutely astounding, amazing, wonderful, etc. Here it is:

Delayed Cord Clamping Should Be Standard Practice in Obstetrics

Do I really need to say more?

I've subscribed to this blog and am looking forward to reading it!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Good Quote

I saw this comment on "My OB Said What?" and thought it was great... Sometimes we women (myself included) focus unhealthily on what childbearing and time do to our bodies rather than the importance things we are doing with those children and that time. This is a good reminder to me:

"You know what? I could spend the rest of my life trying to hang onto the body of a 19 year old, worrying about gaining half an ounce, spending half my day at the gym, and spending a fortune on products and eventually plastic surgery. But I’m still gonna get old. I’d rather work my way toward having the body of an 80 year old great-grandmother, who carried, bore, and nursed 5 children (for a grand total of 49 months, a bit more than 6!), who spent her days caring for those 5, plus 2 more, and a husband, whose only diet was healthy, home-cooked food, whose exercise was bouncing a baby, then a grandbaby on her knee. I’ll probably never pose nude in Playboy, but I really do not care."

Good stuff.

Target's Response

I emailed Target to encourage them (nicely!) to support public breastfeeding, and very quickly got the following back:

Dear Diana,

As a family-oriented retailer, Target has a long-standing practice that supports breastfeeding in our stores.

We want everyone to feel comfortable shopping at Target. Guests who choose to breastfeed in public areas of the store are welcome to do so without being made to feel uncomfortable. Additionally, we support the use of fitting rooms for women who wish to breastfeed their babies, even if others are waiting to use the fitting rooms.

We strive to provide a distraction-free environment for all our guests, including nursing moms. We regret the incident in our store and will continue to provide a shopping environment that respects the needs of all guests, including nursing mothers.

At Target, we work hard to provide you with an enjoyable shopping experience. If you ever have concerns during your visit, please visit the Guest Service Desk and ask to speak to the Guest Service Team Leader. They'll make every attempt to resolve the issue while you're in the store.

We appreciate the opportunity to share this information with you.


Target Guest Relations

Very nice indeed! Way to go, Target!

Parenting Book Recommendations

I wanted to send out an "I love these books" recommendation for the following, by Dr. Kevin Leman:

Have a New Kid by Friday: How to Change Your Child's Attitude, Behavior & Character in 5 Days

Making Children Mind without Losing Yours

Most parenting books, I have found, are way too heavy on principle for me. By "principle," I mean vague directives like this:

- "Look for the heart message in what your child is saying"
- "Use biblical methods for discipline"
- "Teach your children good manners"
- "Don't let your children be disrespectful"
- "Parent gently"

And etc. I'm just not bright enough for those! I need things that say "when you see bad behavior A, respond with action B." These are the books for that! I'm looking forward to reading his other books.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Looking at the Other Side

The birthing world often (way too often) chooses sides (natural v. medical, midwives v. OBs, clients v. doctors) and then proceeds to blame the other side for all of the birthing world's woes. We in the naturopathic birthing community are just as guilty of this as the other side! So.... here is a great blog entry by an OB (whose blog I have just discovered) showing a great example of a birthing mother who was... hmmm. Suffice it to say that we can't blame doctors for all the problems in the birthing world! It goes both ways:

Overheard in a Beauty Salon

I have overheard similar conversations myself... there's nothing to make one angry/depressed like a mother being absolutely cavalier about her baby's health so long as her convenience is consulted. Mamas, we can do better than this!

Later addendum:

Kayce reminded me that we don't know the other side to this woman's story, and that it is unfair to judge her harshly when we really don't know the details. Read her comments on this article for details (she is a mama who also has had a baby in the NICU). Thus, I wanted to publish a public apology for being unfairly judgmental and/or harsh in my above writing. Eating crow as we speak! Thanks to Kayce for having the kindness to gently correct me. :)

News Item: Target Calls Police on Breastfeeding Mom

Breastfeeding - that's definitely a criminal activity worth calling out your local law enforcement for!

Target Calls Cops on Breastfeeding Mother

It really gets me how women can dress as absolute whores and no one will blink an eye, but as soon as a mama starts breastfeeding, people get on their moral high-horse.

For.... what?

Sometime I'll write a post about public breastfeeding, but for now, if you'd like to send Target a word of encouragement for them to support breastfeeding, here's an email link for them:

Contact Target via Email

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Arizona Health Department Survey

From the survey website:

Arizona Department of Public Health Services
Bureau of Women's and Children's Health

Community Survey of Women’s and Children’s Health

The Arizona Department of Health Services Bureau of Women’s and Children’s Health wants your help in identifying what you believe are the most important healthcare problems and needs for women and children in your community. Please read the statements below and use the scale to evaluate each health problem and healthcare need for these populations in your commmunity.

Here's the link:

Community survey of Women's and Children's Health

Take a few minutes to fill out the survey, and use the bottom boxes to tell the state of Arizona how important midwifery care is to woman/infant/child health!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Prayer Request

Some very dear friends of ours are having their second Embryo Adoption transfer this week, and we are praying hard for them! Their first transfer last fall ended in the miscarriage of twins, which was extremely hard on them (following several years of infertility testing and subsequent adoption work). We're hoping to hear wonderful things in a few weeks!!

Life, Updated

I've updated my hyperemesis blog with my latest life-stuff:

Random Thoughts

For the past year I've been cross-posting all my posts on both my birth blog and my hyperemesis blog, as they (being pregnancy-related) were pertinent to both, but now I'm not sure what to do! I may keep cross-posting for a while, or I may close one blog (it won't be this one).


Friday, November 27, 2009

Birth Story with Pictures - WOW!

Being that my life right now has about zilch-o free time, I have not yet read this birth story (though it's supposed to be great), but I did scan the pictures, and WOW! This is one of the best collections of birth photography that I have ever seen! Amazing! It's a all-natural, vaginal, singleton, midwife-attended homebirth, the pictures are gorgeous, and you'll probably never get a better look at birth through pictures than you will with this birth story! Check it out! Now! Get going and click on the link, for crying out loud!

Chloe's Birth Story

This is a "no holds barred" kind of photograph collection, so be aware that you will see anything and everything. For birth junkies, that's not a problem! For apprentice birth junkies, this will get you started, LOL!! (It takes a bit to get used to birth photos, but once you get used to it, they have a beauty like no other!)

Love this story so much!!

Hat tip to Rixa at Stand and Deliver!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Writings from the Mother of a Downs Baby

This is a beautiful essay by the mother of a Down Syndrome baby, starting when she discovered her pregnancy and her baby's subsequent prenatal diagnosis of having Down Syndrome:

My Life With Trig, Our Down Syndrome Child

These precious babies are such a special blessing to their families - and to all of us!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Back-to-the-Breast Tip

While researching the subject of "how to get baby off the bottle and back on the breast," I was able to find almost no information on the subject. Almost all articles I found dealt with the reverse - how to wean baby off the breast onto the bottle. Sad! But anyhow, a sweet commenter left the following advice, and I wanted to share it with the internet community because it sounds great! Here it is:

"First, take a nipple from the bottle that the baby is used to drinking from. Cut the whole large enough for your nipple to be partly exposed. Place the bottle nipple over your nipple and allow the baby to nurse that way. I would express a little milk first so the baby gets something right away from the nipple. Each time you nurse, progressively cut the whole a bit larger until you have only the "ring" of the nipple base over your own breast. The baby will gradually be taking more and more of your breast and finally be weaned off bottle nipples."

I would try this, but as a matter of fact (drum roll, please!!!)..... Baby doesn't need the help anymore! That's right! Baby Breastfeeding Bootcamp (i.e. going cold turkey on the bottle, after all else had failed) worked beautifully, and baby has not had a bottle since Saturday morning. He has been breastfeeding beautifully after catching up on his skills over a 72 hour period, and things are wonderful. The bottles are back in their packaging, and the breastpump goes back to the breastfeeding store on Saturday. Much rejoicing!!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

9 weeks postpartum: Finally, a few minutes of free-time

Yes, I'm blogging! Don't get used to it, though.... this is a one-time thing.

So, a LONG story made very short....

We had to start supplementing baby's diet with pumped breastmilk due to dropping weight. Breastfeeding still didn't improve. We found out that baby had tongue-tie and got that corrected, but it was done so late that baby was already good and hooked on the bottle and stayed exclusively-bottlefed. I have thus been tied to the breastpump for the past seven weeks - it's hard work!! Not only is it really hard to work breastpumping around a toddler's schedule, but it's a big time commitment and also rough on one's social schedule (not that we have one at the moment!). If anyone out there is considering bottle-feeding as a "convenient alternative" - DON'T DO IT!!! It's a pain in the neck!!! More details later.

Anyhow, here we are. We've had two appointments with lactation consultants, spent a fortune in breastfeeding paraphernalia (pump rental, bottles, etc.), and are really no closer to getting back to breastfeeding. So today, on our pediatrician's advice, we are going cold turkey. No pumping, no bottle-feeding, no nothing - only breastfeeding. Needless to say, baby is NOT happy! (And neither am I, for that matter - engorgement like this is quite unpleasant!) But I have hopes that he will see the light and convert back. He needs to, or I shall go insane from this breast-pump schedule.

So today is the day, and hubbie and son are out running errands. I've taken a break from nursing-attempts to blog, and I need to get back to it. So... that's all for now! Too bad, because I have lots to write about - but it'll have to wait (for another month or so, most likely). Much love to all, and I'll check in when I can!!

Lynsee's Birth, Part II

I've been following the discussions on this birth (which was broadcast live via webcam) on Facebook, and it's been really interesting!

I've also found out a few more details about the birth:

Lynsee was intending a natural, hospital birth, attended by a midwife. She labored in water for the first part, but accepted an offered epidural at around 8 cm. After that, it was a pretty typical medically-managed hospital birth, though thankfully it was vaginal.

I can derive two lessons from this for mamas who want natural births.

Lesson #1 - The hospital is not really the best place to have a natural birth.

Frankly, the temptation to take drugs is usually too powerful. There are simply not many women out there who can refuse an epidural when it's offered during transition! That's the stage when almost everyone says, "I can't do this anymore! I want out NOW!" I know I did!

Sending a woman to a hospital for a natural birth is like sending an alcoholic to a liquor store for a lemonade. Yes, it can conceivably be done, but it almost never happens. If you want to get a lemonade and avoid the booze, go to a lemonade stand. If you want to get a natural birth and avoid the drugs, have your baby at home or in a freestanding birth center.

Lesson #2 - Your birth team will make or break your birth.

Lynsee's birth team has received a lot of online flak for their handling of Lynsee's labor, and, I believe, quite rightly so. Their support simply didn't cut it for a mama who wanted a natural birth but was having a hard time with contractions (who doesn't?). They disturbed her labor and then offered and/or encouraged drugs rather than giving encouragement and suggesting non-drug options.

In a lot of ways, getting a drug-free birth isn't really up to the mom. Okay, yes it is, BUT.... in many ways, it's really up to the birth team. How do they handle the mom's emotions? Her discouragement? Her need for support? Do they give consistent encouragement and the help she needs to make it through the hurdles of labor? Or do they plant seeds of self-doubt in the mother's head and encourage her toward the use of drugs for pain relief?

My birth team was instrumental in my birth. They never mentioned giving up, giving in, going to the hospital for an epidural, etc. Instead, they brought drinks, washcloths, chapstick, hair bands - whatever I needed for my comfort. They gave massage, counter-pressure, a hand to hold, their voices talking me through each contraction, encouragement ("You are doing this! You are great! You look so beautiful!") - everything I needed. If they had said, "Gosh, I don't like to see you in pain. Are you sure you don't want an epidural? Would you like to go to the hospital?" - I'm not sure I could have gotten through.

So.... Choose your birth team with great care. Make sure you have an awesome care provider, and spend a LOT of time picking a really great doula or doula team. Birth plans.... have one, but don't depend on it. Spend the bulk of your time getting a top-notch birth team who will protect your space, your rights, your privacy, and your birthing ability.

More later, most likely....

Friday, November 6, 2009

Reflections on Lynsee's Birth

I saw on Facebook tonight that a first-time mom, Lynsee, was broadcasting her labor and birth on the web via a live webcam recording, so I went on over to check it out. As a matter of fact, it's still going on, and if you're in time you can probably see it:

Lynsee's Labor

First of all, good job, Lynsee! Brave girl! And congrats on your upcoming birth! I think it's just awesome that she is broadcasting this.

But watching her labor made me think.

Just a few minutes after I started watching, the screen went blank and I learned that she had opted for an epidural. I was hit with a feeling of overwhelming sadness, and I haven't really checked back much since. I am sad for what she is missing.

Don't get me wrong, and don't write me with complaints of epidural bashing. I don't blame any woman for getting an epidural. Let me be blunt: I spent most of my first labor screaming. And if an epidural had been available, I would have gladly accepted it at least six hours before our baby was born.

But it wasn't available, as I was birthing at home. As a result, I was forced to live through the pain rather than taking the escape route, and I went on to have an all-natural birth which was the most ecstatic and meaningful event of my life. I would not trade it for the world. Ditto for my second birth. My birth experiences have given me an intense sense of pride, of meaning, of self-worth - it's really hard to explain. And I am simply grieved for any woman who doesn't get that experience. Not only does she miss out on all that, but she is left with the feeling that "it was too hard and I couldn't do it" - when she could have. She could have done it just like I did - if the escape route hadn't been easy and available, she could have done it.

Does this make sense to anyone? I don't mean to be negative toward women who take epidurals. Most of my friends are intense fans of them! And I know that I would have taken and loved an epidural with both of my births had they been available. But I'm so glad they weren't.

And that's one of the main purposes of this blog - to encourage women in birth. It isn't the least bit fun at the time (for most women), but it is the most empowering thing in the world. There's nothing in the world like it.

And that's why watching this birth made me sad (and why I don't frequent birth stories/videos of hospital births - I stick with homebirths). I hope Lynsee gets another chance with a subsequent baby to experience the beautiful, God-given miracle which is natural childbirth. It's meant the world to me, and I hope it will to her should she ever be blessed with a drug-free birth.

"BabyWise" II

A commenter left me this link to the story of her experience with "BabyWise," and it is so moving that I wanted to link to it - check it out!

Confessions of a Failed Babywiser

Her story is listed on an enormous BabyWise-watchdog site that I have perused before and which is excellent:

I would advise anyone considering using BabyWise (or any other Ezzo programs) to spend at least an hour reading this site before acting! It is an excellent resource - hand it out liberally.

I promise that I will post on Babywise in detail.... sometime. For now, check out the story and the website!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

"BabyWise" Post

My blog-friend Kathy has posted a great article on the Babywise phenomenon - check it out! I've been meaning to write a similar article on why I no longer support Babywise, but it looks like it's going to have to wait a while.... a long while. Though I am writing constant mental-blogging entries, actual blogging seems to have gone by the wayside during the postpartum period. So in the meantime, read Kathy's great article! There are also some good comments in the comment section.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Twin Homebirth Video

Have I posted this before? If I have, watch it anyway! This is a great birth - makes me cry each time I watch this. Hopefully Arizona mamas will someday have the option to have legal midwife-assisted twin homebirths (at present, midwives can't attend homebirths of multiples, VBAC or breech in the state of Arizona). Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Babies, Babies Everywhere!

My goodness, the world has been just filled with babies lately!

One of our midwives (Sarah) had her first baby about two weeks after ours was born, and we were able to meet her this past Saturday - adorable!

One of our doulas also discovered that her family has been blessed with baby-on-the-way #7 - how fun! And if you have met this precious family, you will agree with me that they need to have an even dozen or two!

One of my all-time-favorite bloggers, Angie of Bring the Rain has just announced a new baby-on-the-way as well! Dear readers, if you haven't checked out this blog, please do. I have been reading it for the past year and a half, and it has been an amazing blessing in my life. Angie started blogging when she found out that her unborn daughter, Audrey, had severe congenital defects and would not survive birth (this was about two years ago). Her blog has helped me so much through my own spiritual journeys and hardship, and I highly recommend reading through her story. Many, many congratulations to Angie!!

Another birth circle friend has also announced a pregnancy and is dealing with some yucky morning sickness - may you feel better soon!!

Not to mention that the girl who was originally going to be our doula is expecting #4 (congrats, B!), and at least two of my high school friends are both expecting their first babies soon (congrats A & K!)!

AND, some dear friends of ours, J&T, have been able to set their next transfer date for their embryo adoption process for early December. Their last transfer was last fall and ended in the miscarriage of twins at about 5 weeks.... so your prayers for this family would be appreciated. We are so excited for them!

So... babies are in the air! An exciting time.

Speaking of babies... My midwife has told me that, due to my status as a daytime-pumping-only mom, I can expect my fertility to return pronto. As in "any time, starting now." Too bad - I will miss having a year without periods! But we're also going to have to be very careful. I love babies, but.... ten months apart? Yikes!! (A childhood friend of mine actually did have one baby and then twins ten months apart... she had a constantly-tired look on her face. No wonder!)

Love to all! I'll post an update soon.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Childbirth... for Men

Check out this video!

A quick summary: By using electrodes to stimulate abdominal muscle contractions, a man is able to experience a reasonable facsimile of "labor" - and it's fascinating to watch! He calls it quits sometime during active labor (before things get really interesting!), and of course, they didn't have anything that would simulate second-stage (pushing) and birth. But still, a great video and a great idea! Personally, I think all men should do this. :)

A couple of quick notes (and they'll have to be quick, as I'm trying to type with a baby in my arms):

- I found it fascinating to note how he responded to labor in similar ways to laboring women - similar noises, facial expressions, and instinctive body movements. He actually looked... like a woman in labor! Wow!

- I also found it interesting that he called it quits at a similar point to the point where most women get epidurals. This man needed a doula! LOL (Of course, I wouldn't voluntarily endure childbirth either if there was no baby at the end of it.)

Okay! Enough trying to type like a circus contortionist! You'll have to think of your own comments from here. :)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

5 weeks, 5 days postpartum: Too Discombobulated to Think of a Title

Hi, everyone!

This is the quickest of notes to let everyone know that yes, again, I'm still alive - just with no time to blog!! Seriously, my computer time has scaled off to almost zero. I'm either doing round-the-clock baby and child care, or they're napping and I can't use the computer because it often wakes up my preschooler. That, and I'm still tied to the breast pump every 2-3 hours during the day - something that I hope to quit soon, but only time will tell. We have an appointment on Tuesday to see about possibly getting baby's tongue-tie corrected, and after that baby may be able to get back on board with breastfeeding. However, if he has (as I suspect) gotten extremely lazy with his bottle-habit, we may have more work to do before we can kick that habit.

But otherwise, he is growing quite plump and is very healthy - hurray!!

My blogs and my correspondence are definitely suffering, though - I haven't been blogging, I haven't had time to read the blogs I subscribe to, and I have gotten months behind in answering email. If you've emailed me and not heard back, rest assured that everyone is getting the same treatment!

I've been really doing serious thinking about family dynamics and how I want to form our family. Having two children is really a cosmic shift for me, being that I was raised as an only child in a family of only-children. What do we want to do with our family? Do we want to have the boys share a room, or have rooms of their own? What philosophical methods do we want to use for training and discipline? Do we want to homeschool, private school, or charter school? What should our routines be? I'm trying to read, think, and research to get some direction. We've ordered "Shepherding a Child's Heart" to read, and I'm thinking about looking into the PEGS system and Doorposts Ministries (thanks, BreAnna!). There's a lot to determine, especially as parenting does not and never has come naturally to me (unlike most of my friends, who seem to take to it like ducks to water... *sigh*).

I've also made a few resolutions to improve my role as a mother. The first, and by FAR the most difficult, is to (aack! hyperventilating!) do my best to avoid stressing about a house that is less than perfect - in order to spend more time with my children (deep breathing....). I can never be comfortable with a messy house - I find it deeply, fundamentally disturbing. But the truth remains that I simply cannot have a house that is clean to my satisfaction while I have two young children. I just can't - it's not possible. So I'm trying to focus on essential routines (dishes, laundry, meals, pick-up) and allow myself no more than 20 minutes of other cleaning per day (and honestly, that only happens 2-3 times a week max).

Secondly, I'm going to do my best this year to create holiday traditions. I'm pretty hopeless with holidays. I never decorate, we rarely attend holiday events, and I generally forget about the holidays themselves until the night before. For our kidlets' sake, I want to do better with that (within the bounds of sanity) - I have very fond memories of the holidays, and I want our kids to have the same. So this year, I'm going to do my best to make sure we have at least some basic activities going for the holidays.

Well, while I've been writing about improving my family, I've been neglecting my family! So back to work. I'll do my best to check in occasionally... but life is quite hectic right now, so it won't be often. Love to all!!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Unassisted VBAC Birth Story

Thanks to Cesarean Epidemic for posting this great Unassisted VBAC Birth Story - it's great! Very detailed, very honest - just a great story.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Baby Scale Addiction?

Here's an interesting anecdote:

We rented a baby scale several weeks back to help us with baby's weight-gain problems. When the time came to return it, I vacillated on whether or not to rent it for another week - but the added cost made me decide to send it back instead.

When my husband mentioned my hesitation to the breastfeeding-shop owner, he (the shop-owner) said that it was probably a good thing for us to return it - because he has seen mothers develop unhealthy attachments to their baby scales, something akin to an addition. They start weighing their babies compulsively (and constantly) and have a really hard time parting with the scale. He said that he had one woman keep her scale for nine months, and only returned it after her husband forced the issue (he called the store and begged them to ask for it back).

Of course, none of this applies to me. I was only weighing baby three or four times during a feeding, and maybe twice in between feedings - nothing excessive, you see. And I would only have kept the scale for another week or two - or six months at the outside. Really. And I'm only hyperventilating slightly at having had to return it. And I can easily visit the breastfeeding store without wandering near the baby scale section. More than once or twice, that is. Mmmm.... Baby scales.

But I don't have a problem. Really.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"What I Wish Everyone Knew"

This is a great post by Longing for More (a new infertility blog) titled "What I Wish Everyone Knew" - a post about miscarriage and how to handle it when it happens to someone you know and love. I love all the things she mentions! Somehow we human beings have an innate ability to say all the wrong things at all the wrong times, and miscarriages receive their fair share of "foot in mouth" comments. Check this article out... it's really good.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

3 weeks, 2 days postpartum: Yes, I'm still alive

And now for 30 seconds worth of blogging:

What a couple of weeks! I have had at least ten blog entries (for both blogs) written in my head, but I simply have no time for writing nowadays! This will be a super-quick entry, mainly just to let everyone know that (1) my blogs are not dead, and (2) I am still alive. :)

My pride got a good bashing two weeks ago when we had our week-visit with our pediatrician and heard the words, "His weight looks awful - you need to start supplementing." (Before everyone gets up in arms, I would like to say that our ped is really breastfeeding-friendly and also alternative-parenting-decision-friendly, so I tend to trust his judgment.)

Now, a bit of history... We had weight-gain issues with our last son too... However, we were able to solve them without supplementing. Our son nursed for two years and nine months, and I never once pumped, gave him formula, or fed him from a bottle. So... I guess I considered myself somewhat of a breastfeeding veteran? In other words, I didn't really anticipate any insurmountable nursing challenges with our newest.

Apparently I was wrong.

After getting the "start supplementing now" directive from our ped, I held out for three miserable days, determined that I could make it work. Well, I couldn't. Try as I might, I could NOT get this kidlet to wake up! Tickling, massage, bare skin, wet washcloths, talking, diaper changes, whatever - he could sleep through it all. So on Monday, after being reduced to tears by the whole thing, I finally gave in and headed for the breastfeeding store to rent a pump. It's been quite an experience, never having even bottle-fed before.

However, his weight did start to turn around, and things have much improved (for some reason it's easier to keep him awake bottle-feeding than breastfeeding). What a relief. Of course, it's rather embarrassing to be bottle-feeding, especially as I'm such a breastfeeding advocate. And I know that we have a HUGE challenge ahead of us in converting a bottle-feeding baby back to the breast (hints, anyone???). I'm trying to still give him some nursing time, but he's not particularly interested (surprise, surprise!). So that will be our next challenge.

And speaking of which, someone around here is hungry! (Hint: He's lying on my lap yowling.) So it's time to go! Much love to all, and I'll attempt to write soon!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Local Arizona Midwife Article: Stephanie Soderblom

This is so awesome! It is a great (and positively written!) article on one of our local midwives, Stephanie Soderblom, whom I have met through our local birth circle, and who is an amazing midwife - check it out!

Bringing Babies Home

For anyone interested in reading more about Stephanie, here is her website:

Nurturing Hearts Birth Services

Stephanie runs what is probably one of the largest birth-services organizations in the state - her office has a maternity (and family) chiropractor, a massage therapist, two midwives and numerous apprentice midwives, not to mention the childbirth classes, doula and childbirth education certification classes, birth circle meetings and other workshops/events that her office hosts!

Arizona has an absolutely amazing community of licensed midwives, and it's always great to see one get the recognition she deserves!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

USA Today Homebirth Article

Ran across this article link at Nursing Birth, and it was actually not bad! Of course the usual ACOG quotes were dragged out, but all in all it was a very fair article and actually included quotes from an actual MIDWIFE (instead of just disapproving doctors):

For Some Women, No Place Like Home for Childbirth

Wonderful VBA2C Story

Check out this wonderful birth story - it's a hospital VBA2C (vaginal birth after two cesarean births) - in a hospital that has an active VBAC-ban! Also great to note is her successful use of Hypnobabies birthing techniques.

My Successful Hypnobabies VBA2C at a VBAC Banned Hospital

Love those VBAC stories, ladies!

Thanks to Enjoy Birth for posting this!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Ethics in the NICU

This series of posts by RealityRounds was so thought-provoking that I simply had to link to it - check it out (Rixa at Stand and Deliver has also linked to these entries):

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is a War Zone

Is Letting a 21-week Premature Baby Die Considered Health-Care Rationing?

NICU Nurses Are Baby Killers?

I found these posts both fascinating and disturbing. For anyone who doesn't know, I am 100% pro-life... and yet I thought she made some very good points. I spoke to a Christian midwife a couple of years ago who expressed similar thoughts to what RealityRounds writes - that the attempted resuscitation of very, very young infants can sometimes be barbaric rather than loving.

But at the same time, I wouldn't want to be in the position of judging - "This life is worth saving, that one is not." I remember, for example, Baby Faith Hope, who, though not a preemie, was a baby fated to an early passing due to anencephaly. At first, Faith's mother was unable to find caregivers who were willing to do anything for her daughter - her OB simply wanted to deliver the baby and let her die. But her mama eventually found caregivers who were willing to give her care, and baby Faith lived beautifully for three months at home with her mother. (Of course, this was not a matter of major, life-saving resuscitation procedures being needed - baby Faith only needed a little bit of care to let her live out her lifespan, and there were no big measures taken to prolong her life unnaturally when it was time for her to go.)

What a hard predicament for caregivers.

As a parent... what would I do? Theoretically, I would much prefer to have a preemie (with no hope of survival) die peacefully in my arms rather than be subjected to horrifying and painful procedures and die in torment because of them. But.... as a mother, could I give up hope of a "miracle baby"? And what would be morally right to do? I don't know. It's something that's simply too heart-stopping and horrendous to contemplate for long. In fact, I think I'll stop now because it's just too upsetting.

Don't quote me - I haven't come to any definite position - it is an area that can show up as quite grey. I think I'll get some opinions from those who are more well-versed in life-ethics than I (this is you, J. and K.). And I would love anyone's input on this. What do you think? But it's definitely food for thought! I'd love to hear what anyone has to say.....

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

At Long Last: Birth Story!!!

Tomorrow night is baby’s week birthday, so here goes!! Birth story!!!

(I have to admit that even during the worst labor pains, I was busily writing my birth story. I have a bad habit of writing – mentally – about things even while they’re happening, and there were no exceptions here.)

I know that I’ll be coming back to add/improve/clarify this birth story for at least a month, so this will have to serve as a rough draft at best.

I had originally thought that we might just have a due-date baby (September 5th) due to the fact that our due date fell on a full moon – our midwife had told us that full moons and bad weather tend to put moms into labor. Well, we didn’t make it to the full moon – the bad weather got to us first!

I had a ton of long-lasting pre-labor symptoms that had me living on edge for about 2 weeks before baby actually arrived – a week and a half of an upset tummy, a week of menstrual-type cramps, and 48 hours of blood-tinged mucous. Completely unlike last time (when labor set in suddenly). It was kind of like waiting for the other shoe to drop… and it took its time to do so!

On Monday night (August 31st) we had a terrific electrical storm – thunder, lightning and lots of rain. I wondered briefly if “tonight would be the night.” Thankfully we were ready! (We found out later that the storm brought not only our baby, but two more – our midwives had three births that night!! One of our midwives arrived at our labor straight from another birth, and our other midwife arrived at our labor only to have to leave ten minutes later to attend another birth - you can read that birth story here.)

I went to bed sometime around 10:30 p.m. and woke up at 11:36 p.m. to use the restroom. When I sat up, my water broke! But unlike last time, when there was enough fluid to drench several counties (thus making it quite obvious what had happened), this time there was only a small amount of fluid – making me unsure if my water had really broken or not. However, by the time I had made a quick trip to the bathroom to clean up, I had already had one good, strong contraction – and so I knew that this was the real thing.

I let my husband, Joe, know what had happened and went back to bed in hopes that labor would hold off long enough to get some sleep, as I was quite tired. However, it was not to be. Two strong contractions later I was resigned to the inevitable – so I hopped out of bed and started moving our birth supplies out to the kitchen table and posting the informational signs I had made for our birth team, and generally getting things ready. I was quite nervous.

Sometime around 1:00 a.m., Joe went ahead and called our midwife. I hesitated on letting him do this, as I didn’t want to wake her (not knowing she was already at another birth!), but things were really moving quickly and he thought it would be best. She told him to go ahead and get our doulas, Rose and Nikki, to come over, so he called them and they said that they would be on their way. I was really embarrassed when Joe told me that he had called them already, as I thought that they wouldn’t be needed for several hours and shouldn’t be bothered. However, our midwife was really on-target with that one (surprise, surprise!) – by the time they arrived, I was completely ready to have them there.

When our doulas arrived, I was still able to deal with contractions by closing my eyes and focusing, but within a short time of their arrival I felt the need to start moaning with each contraction. I asked them how soon they thought I could get in the tub, and they said that any time would be good! So they went to start getting things ready in there.

I should say that despite the hours of research I have put into the subject, the only method of pain management I have found that works for me is making massive amounts of noise – moaning, groaning, shouting, yelling, whatever. Sad, but true! I trust that our birth team is recovering well from their client-induced hearing loss, because I was quite loud – just like last time, but this time I didn’t bother trying to suppress or control it.

I got in the tub sometime around 2:00 a.m., and stayed there for the rest of the labor and birth. Things really moved along quickly. Contractions got more and more and more painful, and I got louder and louder and louder! That about sums it up. Having our doulas there was a wonderful godsend – their coaching, encouragement and physical help were lovely. It didn’t reduce the pain, but it made it less of a panic-stricken ordeal and more of a journey with companions who had been there before. If you don’t have a doula, get one!!!
Our midwife arrived at 4:00-something, and our second midwife arrived shortly thereafter – however, she had to leave for another birth within a short time, so one of their students was called to help out. We were sorry to lose our other midwife, but their student did a terrific job as well.

I found it super-interesting to notice changes between my first and second labors. For one thing, it didn’t get as painful or as terrifying. It was still hard and extremely painful, but it never reached the level of labor #1. My estimate is that it got to about 70% of labor #1, plus or minus about 15%.

Additionally, I stayed much more cognizant of my surroundings. With my first labor, I was really out of it. I didn’t notice most of what was going on or being said, I didn’t notice anything that was being brought in or done around me, and I completely lost the ability to communicate verbally with anyone (I spent about 2 hours trying to say hello to my midwives – never managed it.) With this labor, I noticed most of what was going on (people arriving, equipment being brought in, etc.) and was able to hold a conversation throughout my entire labor (though I refrained through most of active labor due to fatigue and the need to focus – but I was always able to communicate when I wanted to). I even managed to greet all three of our midwives and hold (extremely) brief conversations with each of them. Fascinating! That fact alone made me think that I was a lot less further along than I really was.

Our three-year-old woke up at 5:00 a.m., and Joe got him started with some toys, which kept him happy. He wandered in and out of the bathroom at various intervals, always pausing to spout some of his birth knowledge (“Mommy has to make noise to get the baby out”) and adding a tag about Winnie the Pooh (“And Tiggers don’t like honey!”). He was completely unphased throughout the whole thing. According to my best memory, he was present during the entire pushing phase and the birth, as intense as it got, and dealt with it perfectly. We had set up a babysitting team who ended up being unable to be there for the birth, but thankfully he didn’t even need much supervision – our preparation definitely paid off! He was just fine.

We tried counterpressure duing one contraction, and it was very powerful – unfortunately, it made the contraction much worse! Also, for some reason I felt really uneasy facing the back of the tub. So after half of a contraction, we gave that up.

During what I guess was transition I had my one big throwing-up spell, just like last time. I was worried that it might be earlier (I’d recently heard a midwife say that some moms throw up at 4 cm and then again at 8 cm, or some such thing), but it was actually pretty close to the end.

Second stage was fascinating. Last time I had no idea when the dilation phase edged into the pushing stage – it was a gradual and hazy transition that I never noticed. This time, the change was instantaneous and noticeable. After one contraction, the lights in my head switched back on, and I opened my eyes and looked around – “Hello, everyone! I’m back!” It was amazing! What a complete switch! One of our doulas said that she noticed the switch actually happening in the middle of a contraction – it started as a dilation contraction and ended as a pushing contraction. Wow!

Pushing contractions started immediately. Now, I must say… I hate pushing. I really hate pushing. I often hear women say that pushing is a relief for them, but for me… no. Pushing is just as bad or worse than dilation, even though the contractions themselves are less painful. So with the beginning of pushing, I was pleased to find out that I could control the urge to push – and not push! (Heh, heh, heh… I’m supposed to be pushing, but I’m NOT!!! Mwa ha ha ha!) It was great.

Unfortunately, that lasted for only 3-5 contractions. At that point (and this gets a bit hazy, so don’t quote me on the order of things), I had a forebag emerging (where the bag of waters emerges intact in front of the head) – I’m not sure what I thought it was, but when it burst…. Well, with apologies for the profanity, all hell broke loose as far as I was concerned. My body started pushing violently, completely apart from my own willpower, and so I was dealing with tremendous pain. Pushing had started in earnest!

I checked his head to see how far he was descending, and it was encouraging – quite low, with just the thinnest rim of cervix (which wasn’t a problem at all) - though in between contractions his head would shoot all the way back up out of reach (our midwife said that this is typical of multip labors – unlike primip labors, in which progress tends to be a steadier 2-forward-1-back progress).

Then our midwife came over to check heart tones (which she’d been doing all along), and things got even more intense because baby was having some serious heart decels – down into the 80’s with bad recoveries. She immediately said, “Okay, this baby needs to come out NOW,” and started helping to coach some pretty intense pushing. I pretty much lost all control at this point and was screaming my head off! Pushing was bad enough, but sustained and hurried pushing was worse. However, as before, I reached a point where I finally gave in and thought, “Well, if I really have to push out a bowling ball covered in broken glass shards, I may as well get on with the job” – and started pushing like a maniac. Once we got his head out, our midwife helped to deliver the rest of the body (thank goodness!) to help hurry that part along. Baby was born at 6:47 a.m., and Joe was able to catch.

(Apparently something similar happened with our first son, though in a much more minor way, but I was too out of it to notice – I hadn’t known anything was wrong until after the birth when my husband told me about it. However, our first son was crying almost on the perineum and was completely fine immediately (additionally, his decels hadn’t gone so low and had a better recovery in between contractions. This baby didn’t have good recovery between contractions and was a much slower and harder starter.)

When baby came out, his color was not too great (grey-purple) and he was none too anxious to start breathing/crying. We stimulated him on my chest and our midwife suctioned him repeatedly with her DeLee (first time I’d seen a DeLee in action – very cool). I have no conception of time, but it definitely took a while to get him going.

For some reason, I was not worried at all during the time it took to get baby started. I'd been paranoid about him for the entire pregnancy, but now I really felt that everything was going to be just fine - and it was.

Meanwhile, I was getting really uncomfortable from third-stage contractions. Eventually (quite a while later, actually) I got out of the pool to try to deliver the placenta, and it fell out as soon as I squatted down. Hurray! I had specifically requested no cord traction unless an emergency occurred, and that was just lovely. It took longer, but what a relief!

I moved onto the bed, but unfortunately (as with my first birth) I was immediately hit with rather yucky afterpains that made the immediate postpartum extremely unpleasant and completely prevented nursing for several hours. However, this gave Joe some great time with the baby, which he very much enjoyed.

We had decided to utilize placenta medicine, but for those with weak stomachs, I will not detail that here. You can read about our escapades with that here.

Last time we had the distinction of having a super-long umbilical cord… This time we had a super-large placenta!! Fun!!!

Upon examination of our placenta, it was confirmed that our water did break twice, just as I’d thought.
I loved looking at the placenta – so fascinating!! Last time I didn’t even really give it a glance. Mamas of the world, check out your placentas! They’re beautiful things!

Our birth team got going about three hours after the birth (when they were all ready to drop), and we were left with our beautiful newborn!

I can’t say I’m left with an immediate “Let’s do it again!” feeling…. But I loved being at home, I adored our lovely birth team, and I had a great experience of being respected, loved and treated with the utmost care. All in all, a great birth! Thank you, birth team!!

Baby Glenn Matthew
Born at home on Tuesday, September 1st, 2009 at 6:47 a.m.
7 pounds, 15.5 ounces, 21 inches long

Monday, September 7, 2009

Too Fun!

While checking my blog subscriptions, I clicked on this new homebirth story and started reading.... Not only is it a great birth story, BUT I think the evidence points to the conclusion that this is probably the birth that one of our midwives left our labor to attend! I'm waiting for her confirmation, but it's kind of coincidental that both of us live in the valley, delivered on Tuesday morning and had midwives who delivered three babies that night. If that's the case, we birthed within five minutes of each other. How fun to find this out! Check out her story!

My own birth story is shaping up - I think I'll finish it today and then probably leave it to cure for a few days (i.e. leave it up on our computer so that I can run to the computer every five minutes to add something) and then post it. I'm afraid it is not as concise as the above mother - it's already over three typed pages, and I've just started in on second stage... *sigh*. :)

Have a very happy holiday!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Writing From the Dark Side: Further Adventures in Placentophagy

Well, my friends.... I can now say that four-year-old rhubarb is no longer the most interesting thing in my freezer! LOL

(I just can't get rid of that rhubarb... We've been through so much together! *Sob*)

So... Placentophagy! I am now writing from "the other side," and what can I say? I'm a believer!!! This stuff rocks!!

(I'll pause to let some of you get a bit of preliminary gagging out before continuing.)

You can also see my previous post on placentophagy (consumption of the placenta) here if you need to catch up on our history.

SO... My plans were to do both immediate consumption and encapsulation (dried), and I have indeed done both. Here's my story (with recipes!!):

After the birth (story forthcoming), a friend made a "placenta smoothie" for me - all the usual ingredients (berries, orange juice, yogurt, banana) plus a good-sized piece of placenta. It was great - I couldn't taste a thing. The next day when I went back and made one for myself it was a bit harder, but still... very unobjectionable.

Here's an interesting note: After the birth, I was quite tired (wonder why!) and also was immediately hit with my usual afterpain problem that has with both births made the immediate postpartum rather miserable and has prevented immediate breastfeeding due to the pain. However, after the smoothie, I felt a lot better! The afterpains continued, but they have receded with much greater rapidity than last time (last time they were here for at least 6 weeks; this time it's already down to a few bad hours a day).

Additionally, my energy is great (barring that lost due to sleep deprivation!) and I have no signs of baby blues of any kind. Hurray!!

The next day, a friend showed me the procedure for placenta encapsulation, which I will write down below, and I've been taking it ever since.

(My in-laws were over while we were pounding the placenta - they asked my husband what we were doing, and he said "I really don't think you want to know" - no more questions were forthcoming. If they weren't convinced of my insanity for planning a homebirth, they most certainly are now.....)

I actually have a harder time with the smell of dried placenta than I did with the fresh - odd, but true! I made one smoothie with a bit of dried placenta, and that was my last. :)

My one regret? That I let my first placenta go the way of all good biowaste - which it certainly was NOT!!! I am so grieved that I simply discarded it when it had so much great potential.

However, I know this isn't for everyone.... Normally I wouldn't be doing something like this myself, being that I have one of the weakest stomachs in three states. But for some reason, when I read about this I thought, "Okay, makes sense; let's do it." I'm not really planning on any more kidlets, but if I were to have a birth again, placentophagy would be part of it!

I don't know how much open talking I'll be doing about this (potlucks? family dinners? church fellowship?), but I've definitely added one more thing to the list of "things to talk about that create awkward pauses and abrupt topic changes".... first homebirth, then longterm breastfeeding, then having our son at our birth.... and now placenta consumption! I'm definitely treading on dangerous ground. :)

Placenta Smoothie:

- All your normal smoothie ingredients: Banana, Frozen Berries, Orange Juice, Yogurt, Etc.
- One good-sized piece of fresh placenta (1-3 ounces?? Just guessing... not sure), not including cord or membranes (have someone take the meat off of the placenta for you).

Blend and enjoy! But frankly, have someone else do this for you if you can. :)

Encapsulated Placenta:

- One Placenta
- Knife, Dehydrator, Blender

Remove (again, have someone do it for you if you can) meat from placenta with a sharp knife; discard cord and membranes or save for planting under a tree. It will be easier if the placenta has been placed in the freezer for a couple of hours prior to cutting up.

Place in between paper towels or a clean chux pad and pound lightly with a meat hammer (this reduces the time for drying; not completely necessary.)

Place pieces in dehydrator - let dry for 12-18 hours. Turn if necessary. Done when completely dry and feather-light. Do outside if at all possible due to the smell.

Pulverize in blender - will take a few minutes.

Encapsulate in empty gelatin capsules (buy at a health food store) - use an encapsulator (sp.?) or do by hand with a spoon.