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.


Baby Care: Two Tips

Hi, everyone! I wanted to pass these along before I forgot... These are two new things that have been added to our midwife's repertoire of baby care since we birthed with her last, and they're great!

(1) Goldenseal Powder instead of alcohol for cord care - This stuff is AMAZING! You only really need to apply it once a day, and it is instant and powerful - much, much better than alcohol. You only need about a teaspoon of the stuff for the life of the cord - apply with Q-tip.

(2) Olive oil for baby's diaper area - This prevents meconium, baby's first bowel movement, from sticking to baby's skin (which it generally does, with the tenacity of super-glue). Works like a charm!

Cheers, all!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

39 weeks, 5 days.... Plus 5 days: Baby is Here!

I'm sorry to have been so remiss! Baby arrived Tuesday morning at 6:47 a.m. following a lightning-fast labor (~7 hours) that started with my water breaking at 11:36 p.m. on Monday night. Against all expectations baby was a BOY whom we have named Glenn, and whose feeding and care are the reasons that my blogs have been ignored! I have about a 5-page birth story manuscript brewing in my head (I have so much to write about!!), so it'll probably be a while before I get that published - hopefully sometime next week before DH goes back to work. Anyhow, I just wanted to get that announcement out - I'll write more later, hopefully! Love to all!