Monday, December 26, 2011

The Designated Hitter

Now batting, the Designated Hitter, David Ryan.

Merry Christmas to one and all! I'm Donna's husband and am posting for Donna this week. I just read some of the requests on the Facebook page and will try my best to address some of the topics listed. (I just can't get over how every group seems to develop their own set of acronyms. I noticed one that was used was DH -- which to me, a rabid baseball fan, means "Designated Hitter".  I'm pretty sure that was not the intended use, but I decided to go with it anyway.)

Christmas can be a wonderful time of year full of tradition, both good and bad.  Traditions are pretty powerful -- especially when it comes to family.  We do things because of tradition. It's the way we've always done things and we like it that way! Like cutting both ends off of a pot roast before cooking it because that's the way mom showed me how to do it. (Anyone not heard that story before?)

I thought the theme of traditions would tie a couple of the requested topics together.

A few of you wanted to get a "male perspective" on circumcision. I don't hunt or follow NASCAR -- but I do have a penis. For purposes of full disclosure (don't worry -- no photos will be posted), I am circumcised.  I wasn't circumcised for religious purposes.  I am a Christian and have learned from my study of the scriptures that circumcision is not necessary per Christ's teachings.  So why was I circumcised?  Tradition.  I've never discussed the issue with my mother or my father.  I have to admit that I don't even know for sure if my father is circumcised.  I assume he was because that's just the way things were done.

We have a son.  We chose not to circumcise him because we did not see a reason to do so.  We broke away from tradition to what I believe is a better way.  Why wouldn't I want my son to be better off than me?  Was I worried about the "Jock Kingdom" mocking him in the showers? No. Did it bother me that his penis wouldn't look like my penis? No. In fact, I proactively avoid showing anyone in my family my penis (with the exception of Donna). 

I've heard all of the pro-circumcision rationales and the only one that makes any sense to me is religious in nature.  Covenants with God I understand.  Concerns about Junior's penis being intact while Daddy is circumcised I don't get. Pot roast.

Tradition plays a huge role in how we choose to give birth.  With our first, Donna wanted an epidural and didn't care to learn anything more about giving birth.  We toured the hospital, took a hospital class, and would have ended up with a C-section had it not been for my sister Tamara.  We were fortunate.

Initially, Donna didn't care because that's just the way women have babies.  They go to the hospital and let the doctors do the rest. That's the way it is done. Pot roast. There is a much better way.

Well, I think that does it for me. Happy New Year everybody! I am hungry for some pot roast.


Monday, December 19, 2011

Why I'd Make a Rotten Midwife

I have been asked several times recently if I have aspirations to be a midwife.  One midwife commented on all the young women that have had a baby or two and want to be a doula or midwife.  My children are older now and I've been an educator for almost 9 years.  They all are surprised that I am happy and content to remain "just" a childbirth educator. 

Let me tell you why I'd be a rotten midwife:

The number one quality of a good midwife, in my opinion, is patience.  Labor takes time and a laboring mom deserves just that.  For this reason, I'd make a great OB!  OK, just kidding.  I would seriously be like, "Come on already!  This is taking forever.  I've got other things to do!"   I'd be a clock-watcher, for sure and all over the "failure to progress" diagnosis.  I'd also be all about the pitocin.  As you can tell, I am not a patient person.  For the same reasons, this is why I do not work as a doula. 

I have always compared being a midwife to selling real estate.  For years, I thought I'd like to be a real estate agent.  How fun to drive around looking at houses, talking to people.  I could do that.  But then I realized that that part of the job is only a fraction of the big picture.  The paperwork and contracts, well, I'm not so interested in that.  In fact, yuck.

Being a midwife looks like so much fun -- catching babies and being a part of this exciting day.  It's easy to forget that it took 9 months of charting and appointments to get to this day.  A few hours and it's over.  All that paperwork.  Again, yuck.

I'm probably slightly queasy too.  Have you ever watched a woman be stitched up after a birth?  Whoa.  I'm not very good with blood either, although I think I am able to remain pretty calm through an intense situation.  

I love education, likely, because for me, education was a turning point.  When I learned what was happening to my body in labor and it took the fear out of childbirth.  I like those "light bulb moments" when someone gets it in class.  I like to see couples get information and make informed decisions when it comes to the birth of their baby.

If you had a great birth, there are lots of ways you can spread the good news of natural childbirth besides being a doula or midwife.  Those professions are often not that practical for moms with small children or babies anyway unless they have a great childcare setup.  Besides education, there are lots of advocacy opportunities.  Check to see if there is a chapter of Birth Network National in your community.  Attend nurse-ins and help normalize breastfeeding in your city.  Ask birth professionals in your area how you can be involved.

In the meantime, you're welcome for not becoming a midwife.

Monday, December 12, 2011

What's the Deal With My Blog Title, You Ask?

It's time to revisit the title of my blog "Banned From Baby Showers".  The Haters think that I am banned by the people having babies because of my strong opinions ("No wonder she's not allowed at baby showers!").  I had someone ask me if I have a Texas-sized opinion on all topics, or just childbirth!  Am I allowed at weddings?  Birthday parties?  In fact, my friend Shannon came up with my BFBS icon:  the caricature with the big hat, big hair, and big mouth!

If you'll indulge me in a little story telling, I'll tell you just how the name came about. 

I have been a Natural Childbirth Educator since 2003.  I had my first baby with an epidural in 1996, followed up with a fabulous unmedicated birth in 1999.  I have had 2 more unmediated births since then.  My message to all women?  You can do this!  Don't be afraid!  Birth is transformative.  You are strong! 

I found myself at playgroups and church telling every pregnant woman why she should have an unmedicated birth and seek out midwifery care.  It's an amazing experience that you only experience so many times in life.  Don't miss out on it!

By 2003, I had to do something with this knowledge and excitement for natural birth.  I got certified to teach classes and have taught over 300 couples since.  I love my "job."

In early 2006, I attended a baby shower with some women from church that I barely knew.  I had only lived here for about seven months.  Several of us seriously got into it.  It was ugly.  It was all about inductions and trusting your doctor.  We fought over being informed or, in my eyes, remaining ignorant.  Seriously -- ugly.

The rest of the day was yucky.  I knew I had not accomplished anything but alienate this group of women.  I called several of them before going to church the next day to apologize.  Awkward. 

After that experience, I told my husband that I could never put myself in that situation again.  Teaching to people who want the information would be my only "outlet."  Most people know what I do professionally.  If they want information, they can come ask me.

I simply find it impossible to sit and listen to a group of ill or mis-informed women talk about pregnancy, labor, or birth and not say anything.  Laughing about inductions and c-sections and how necessary they are is not my idea of fun. Most baby showers make a mockery of this sacred event.  

So I stopped attending baby showers.  Word spread pretty quickly, and the story of that famous baby shower must have also spread, as few people have questioned me about it over the years!  The fact that my blog title runs the length of my back windshield also clues people in -- don't bother inviting me.  (As a side note, I had several people -- usually women who struggle with infertility -- tell me over the years how they wish they could ban themselves from baby showers, too.)

I've always liked writing and my husband has bugged me for years to write a book.  He said the title should be "Banned From Baby Showers."  He's so funny and clever.  We laughed over it, and when I decided to write a blog, "Banned From Baby Showers" became the title.  This is my book!  I've been writing this blog for almost 3 1/2 years now.

So, when I talk about "Banned From Baby Shower moments," I'm referring to those experiences with your friends, family, or co-workers over childbirth.  The ones where you have to make a decision about whether to give information, or just walk away from the conversation to avoid a fight.  

I do continue to have Banned From Baby Shower moments, but they are far fewer these days.  I write this blog and I say whatever is on my mind.  If you don't like it, don't read it!  This is the one place I let it all hang out.  Deep down, however, I hope something strikes a chord within you that maybe you can have your baby without drugs.  Like I said in my "About Me," I hope reading my blog changes your life.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Not Just Another Induction Post

You might remember me posting on my Banned From Baby Showers Facebook page about a mom who had been declared "high risk" due to "maternal age."  She is 35 years old.  Her OB had also told her that her amniotic fluids levels were low.  At about 37 or 38 weeks, she recommended induction.  My student declined induction and I'd just like to take a moment to relay to you what the "Treatment Declination" form said:

Our records indicate that you have declined medical induction.

The medical induction was indicated for the following reasons:
1.  Maternal age
2.  High risk pregnancy

You have also been informed of the risk of declining said treatment/procedure, including fetal death, worsening maternal condition, irreversible neurologic (brain) fetal damage resulting in cerebral palsy, mental retardation, developmental delay and motor skills delay.  You are also aware increased cesarean section risks and increased risk of poor fetal or maternal outcome.

By signing below you have indicated that you completely understand the risk of delaying or declining the above procedure and willingly have decided to do so.

From the beginning of classes, I had told her she had some other (great) options in the Ft. Worth area.  Thanks to several of your comments on the Facebook page, she realized that she likely was not really high risk, and decided to go ahead and switch care providers.  It was  39.3 weeks when she transferred to the UNT Midwives.  Her charts had lots of doomsday stuff in it and the midwives recommended that she visit with their perinatologist. He commended her for declining the induction and told her there was absolutely nothing wrong with her, her baby, or her pregnancy!   She had a fabulous unmedicated birth 4 days later!

I've had some overseas births (France and Switzerland) in the last couple of months who were really pushed into using pitocin too.  One of them ended up not having it, but the other one did.  The nurses were very aggressive in wanting to keep upping the dosage and the mom was barely on top of things as it was.  She was dilating very quickly, but for some reason, the nurse wanted her baby to just fall out, I guess.  It made for a very difficult labor for her.  Afterwards, she hemorrhaged and battled dizziness for hours.  The very quick labor really took a toll on her.  Had they not pushed pitocin on her the way they did, she could have enjoyed her labor instead of gripping the rails, so to speak.

In 8 1/2 years of teaching, I've never had a baby die until recently.  The mom was pressured into induction (those declination forms are really scaring) and had a uterine rupture due to "misuse of pitocin."  The OB was extremely negligent and went in with a vacuum to try to get the baby out.  The mom was only 9 centimeters.  After 3 hours from the beginning of the rupture, they went to a code-red emergency c-section.  The baby was flown to an out-of-state hospital where he received "head cooling" for the brain damage and hematoma from the vacuum attempts.  The baby had such severe brain damage, after many tests, the parents were told the baby would not survive.  He lived 18 days.  They buried their sweet baby on November 1.  To make matters worse, this mom had to go back in for surgery because they left 4 centimeters of placenta and membrane inside the uterus.  She is understandably completely devastated.  I sincerely hope she knows this is not her fault.  This is the fault of her OB who pressured her into the induction and then went about it negligently.  My heart goes out to her and her family.  I am so very sorry they are living this tragedy.

As an Educator, I have gone through many emotions this weekend as I learned what happened to this couple and their baby.  Women are being scared into induction -- being told it is the safe thing to do.  Declining the induction is the unsafe route.  Are these parents being told about the risks of the induction themselves?  Never!

The women who are asking for VBACs are being told it's too dangerous -- they might rupture and kill their babies.  But we never hear of women being told about the risk of rupture when they are induced with pitocin, albeit, a small risk. Did you notice in the Treatment Declination form that it said that by declining induction, you were risking a cesarean section?  I love that.  When a woman is induced, she is twice as likely to have a cesarean than if she starts labor on her own.
Shame on these doctors for leading women to believe that induction is harmless.  As birth advocates, we must stand up and be loud about the risks of induction!  Risks to moms and risks to babies.  These babies deserve their time to grow inside the uterus and not be forced out.  They will let us know when they are ready to be born. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Baby "Milestones" are Stupid

I received a message from one of my former students today in distress over her family comparing her baby to her sister's baby, who is just two weeks younger. I have a feeling a lot of us can relate to this.

"I'm starting to receive concern from family members about Ellie being slow to hit milestones. She is a happy, alert, curious baby, but she does not sit unassisted yet, and she is nowhere near crawling. She is 7 1/2 months old. Of course all the concerned people are trying to figure out why she is "delayed" and pointing fingers at: too much breastfeeding, lack of solid food, the fact that she doesn't sleep in her own room or know how to "self-soothe," or the fact that I carry her too much.

I doubt everyone would be so concerned, except that Ellie is being directly compared to her cousin (my sister's baby) who is exactly 2 weeks younger. He has been sitting and crawling for weeks, and now he is starting to pull up on furniture to a standing position. He is formula-fed, started solids at 4 months, and was trained to sleep in his own crib (in his own room). My sister is also careful not to pick him up "too much" so as not to "spoil" him. So those methods now look more successful than my methods.

Anyway, I just wondered if you had a blog post about this (or maybe if you wanted to write one!), or if you had any other info about it, so that I could send a link or something to the relatives that are bugging me."

Give that boy a ribbon!  Oh wait, the ribbon goes to the mom, right?

When my first baby was little, I remember comparing him to every baby that was remotely close to his age.  The only thing he did "early" was sit up.  He was 5 months old and fat as could be.  He looked like a bowling ball.  I think that is the only reason he did sit up!  I was so relieved when he got his first tooth at 9 months.  He finally started crawling at 10 months.  In fact, my earliest crawler was 9 months.  Of four children, my earliest walker was 13 months.

As you could probably guess, my babies, like this mama's baby, were all carried extensively in the sling.  I was constantly talking to them.  They were learning language and engaged in all kinds of  activities they otherwise probably wouldn't have been from a stroller or car seat.

I have read -- and maybe this was made up by someone who wanted to make parents of "slow" babies feel better -- that babies who do things later tend to be soaking up more around them.  They tend to speak sooner and often more clearly.  I do think that when they are engaged in whatever activity their caregiver is engaged in, they are preoccupied.  When they are left "alone" they find ways to occupy themselves, often finding out what their body can do.  This is so not true of some babies and I'll probably incite a riot with that statement.   Babies who do things early are more focused on doing than learning.   Like I said, I have no idea if that has any merit whatsoever.  As we all know, babies are all so different.  They do things when they are ready.

I was concerned about one of my kids being dyslexic when she was small.  I took her in and they wouldn't even give me the time of day.  They said at that age  -- she was about pre-K -- the spectrum was enormous.  They said by 3rd grade that gap narrows significantly. 

I've always felt like, who cares if one kid can read at 4, or crawl at 6 months, or eat solid food at 4 months, or walk at 12 months!  It doesn't mean they are smarter or better than the next kid.  It also doesn't mean that you are a better mom!  Once they are talking, walking, feeding themselves, swinging on the swings, playing tag on the playground, playing video games, Facebooking with their friends, and downloading music on their ipod, no one cares about these milestones.  It's like due dates.   40 weeks is an estimated time of arrival.  As we know, it means little. 

Ultimately, those milestones, in my opinion, are kinda stupid.  I think a mom knows when something is not right.  Those milestones, like fetal kick counts, make a mom super paranoid, almost always unnecessarily.  If you do feel that something is not quite right, visit with your pediatrician about your concerns.  Follow your gut, but not what the kid next door is doing!  Don't compare your baby with other babies.  For that matter, don't compare your teenager with other teenagers!

A couple of years ago I had to tell one of my students to put the books away and just focus on her baby.  She was making herself crazy with all the things her baby should be doing, or parenting exactly the way the book said was the right way.  At some point, you have to just look at you, your kid, and your situation and do what works for your family.  Some things sound great in a book but just don't play out that way in your real life.  I experienced this quite a bit with my babies. 

As for my former student's message?  I feel bad for the other kid.  He's not getting breastmilk, he's choking down solid food, not getting held nearly as much as his cousin, and he sleeps alone.  Follow your instincts, Mama!  You are doing a fabulous job.  And your baby is so lucky to be parented with so much love.

For the record, none of my kids read at the age of 4, but they all read now.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Toddler Tantrums - Keeping it In Perspective

I am totally out of the toddler tantrum era (thankfully) and am fully immersed in teenage drama.  I don't know which is worse, really.  The toddlers are physically draining, but the teenagers are mentally and emotionally exhausting.  I love telling my toddler-freak-out-moment stories, but I'll refrain.  We've all been there, done that. 

I have a good friend that is dealing with a very active and inquisitive toddler and she has received some mixed advice lately.  She posed the question to a few of us and I wanted to share one of the responses she got.  I think there are probably several readers that could benefit from her words.  She practices Attachment Parenting better -- and more accurately -- than anyone else I know.

Here was the question:
This is so random, but I need veteran mommy help. Seems like (toddler) is having a lot of tantrums lately. Somebody recently told me that I need to stand him up and make him obey, that he shouldn't be allowed to have his way and that I should not nurse him after a fit as not to "reward" that behavior. Thinking on that. I try and reason with him, as he comprehends very well for 17 months. Any thoughts?
Here is the (fabulous) response:
A) I don't think children should be treated with less respect because they are little. B) if someone told (husband) to stand up to you and make you obey you would think they were a total jerk.

That being said - you don't deserve to be treated disrespectfully by (toddler) just because he is little either.

I don't want to raise obedient children, I want to raise thoughtful respectful adults. Respect begets respect in my opinion (well until they are 15, but I think that's a temporary freak out thing, kind of like being a toddler).

The problem with toddlers is that they are so frustrated in their little bodies because they cannot execute their big ideas. He's not freaking out to be spiteful or mean to you, he's just trying to get his point across using his improving communication skills. For all his life you have given him most everything his heart desired. Now his desires are getting more particular than just cuddling and nursing, which means that he is having to learn to not get everything he wants which sucks for him.

Our job is to teach them it's okay to have wants, it's okay if sometimes they aren't immediately fulfilled, and what the appropriate ways are to make those requests are and deal with the disappointments.

I think when a child tries to express frustration through a tantrum and a parent "stands up" to them with a scary show of force, it reinforces that that is acceptable behavior (a mommy tantrum) and also tells him that mommy has no better coping skills than freaking out too.

Going the alternate route of speaking in a very quiet voice and offering alternatives to the tantrum, and soothing words that you know he can take deep breaths and calm down reinforces that fact to you and him. If also forces him to lower his volume to hear you. Even if you achieve that reaction 51% of the time, you are reinforcing the message that most the time, overwhelming feelings can be dealt with calmly.

It is hard as heck to be calm when meltdown is occurring so that's why I focus on that scale being tipped rather than insisting on perfection in myself. For some reason this week has been really hard for her and I and a couple of times I have loaded everyone up in the car and gone for a drive.

I feel for (toddler daughter) when she wants something so badly and can't have it, while I just walk over and pick it up, or get it off the shelf. Now she is starting to self regulate and tell me she is taking deep breaths and thinking in the middle of her tears.

I don't do nursing sessions at this point to get a big tantrum under control (unless it's really a crisis), but at the age (toddler) is at, I would ask her if nursing for a moment would help her to relax and think more clearly and if she said yes I would nurse for a bit. That's been his comfort and how he regulated his emotions for his whole life- why should that change abruptly?

Also as nursing is changing, also pay attention to whether he is hungry/ thirsty/ tired , less nursing as he grows means different patterns of food and water consumption and of his blood sugar is down his behavior will suck....

Thanks Shannon, of, for those words of advice and perspective.  I have no doubt they will help another mama dealing with the exact same situation as our friend.  I have determined that it is easier to deal with a toddler tantrum than one of a 15-year-old not getting his way.  At least they are still cute as toddlers!  Good luck mamas!  This too shall pass.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Postpartum Sex -- Or the Lack Thereof

This is anything but a sexy post.  Let's start with the semi-sexi though:  50% of women have an increased sex drive during pregnancy.  Of course, the flip side is that 50% have a decreased sex drive.  I can usually tell which category women fall into when we have this discussion in class by the look on the dads' faces.  The sexy side is that sex is good during pregnancy for a number of reasons -- reasons that I'm not going into right now -- but then, the baby is born.  The crazy sex (for 50% of you!) comes to a screeching halt.

Your entire universe is turned upside-down by this little bundle of joy.  You now have a crying baby on your hands.  You are leaking milk everywhere, waking up in puddles.  The furthest thing from your mind is sex.  Maybe you tore and had stitches.  Maybe you've had a hard time going to the bathroom or sitting in a chair.  Things can be very tender for varying lengths of time.

Dads, on the other hand, have that 6-week postpartum check-up circled on their calendar.  You know, the one where they talk about birth control and give you the go-ahead to engage in sexual activity again.  (The significance of 6 weeks really has to do with the position of the cervix more than anything.  I didn't know that until my 4th baby.  I thought it was all about bleeding.)

News flash:  Many moms are not ready to have sex again by 6 weeks!  

New moms are wired to be 100% preoccupied with their new baby, even for months.  It is so important that couples have this conversation and do not just assume that at 6 weeks she will be ready.  I never tore with any of my babies and the first time having sex after giving birth was always pretty intense.  I'll be the first to admit, I was not into it at all, but felt bad for my husband.  It was guilt sex.

Physical obstacles include leaky breasts (some men like this and others are really turned off by it) and vaginal dryness.  Breastfeeding contributes to the dryness, but I've never been comfortable "blaming" breastfeeding.  As you know, sex for a woman is as much about what's going on in her head as it is what is happening physically.  Like I said, she is 100% preoccupied with the baby.  A lot of women find it hard at this point of motherhood to feel like the sexual being they were previously. There can be some emotions to work through and adjust to, and sometimes this can take months.

Depending on what baby number this is, she may be "touched" all day long by various numbers of children.  Nursing, holding, changing, consoling.  At the end of the day, she may just want to be left alone.  This is so hard for a relationship.  I've seen lots of moms (and dads) go through this.  I know, when David and I have frequent sex, our relationship rocks!  When we go long periods of time without it, we fight and get annoyed with each other.  He'd be thrilled to know that I'm writing about this!  I have no doubt that every relationship is the same way.  Going months without sex is hard on a relationship. 

I have not gone through this personally, but I know plenty of people who have.  It's been very trying and every mom I know feels terribly guilty.  In every case I know of, the mom tore pretty bad and was stitched.  They all felt that the stitches were too "tight" and not quite right.  All of them were embarrassed to talk about it and felt that what they were going through was very rare.  That's really why I wanted to write a post about it.  It should be talked about and women need to know that they are not alone.  Communication and compassion are crucial in a marital relationship enduring this trial.

Over the years, I've heard a few dads comment that they feel like they've been replaced by the baby.  This, too, is short-lived, trust me!  Every day I feel like it's me and David against these 4 crazy kids!

 A good friend of mine gave me a silly book several years ago called The Diaper Diaries: The Real Poop on a New Mom's First Year.  Normally, I really hate books like this, but this one is really pretty funny and I'm pretty sure I've laughed out loud at several of the pages.  I have often referred to this "chart" of a typical 20-year scenario with a child.  It's divided by years of motherhood-- what the baby does and what the husband does in that year.  I hope you enjoy it.

1st Year: 
Smiles every time he sees you and cries when you leave the room.  Says his first word:  "Mama."
Wants to breastfeed like the baby.  Changing diapers makes him sick to his stomach.

2nd Year:
Loves to sit on your lap and read Are You My Mother?
Baby bumps his head when husband is supposed to be watching him.
3rd Year:
Wants to marry you when he grows up.
Teaches baby Three Stooges eye poke.

4th Year:
Has developed bad habit of wiping his nose on your pants.
Wants to cuddle with you after you've had a bad day.

5th Year:
Insists on wearing Spiderman outfit to kindergarten every day.
Will listen to you complain about your boss every night.

6th Year:
Won't let you kiss him at the bus stop.
Expands cooking skills beyond "grilling" so he can make dinner the other 10 months of the year.

7th Year:
Begs for (and gets) puppy.
Will gladly turn off the baseball game to make out with you.

8th Year:
Is tired of puppy (now dog).  Will only talk about baseball.
Takes over puppy duties.

9th Year:
Thinks girls, homework, and vegetables are all stupid.
Watches Sex and the City with you.
10th Year:
Loses an average of one sweatshirt and one pair of sneakers every week.
Occasionally leaves sticky love notes for you on the bathroom mirror.

11th Year:
Will only talk about soccer.
Is willing to spend his whole vacation with your parents.

12th Year:
Thinks his friends are cool and you are dorky.
Worries about you when you have to drive in bad weather.

13th Year:
Won't leave his room because he has pimples.
Still thinks you're hot, especially when you wear your cut-offs.

14th Year:
Drives friend's motorbike through high school cafeteria on a dare.
Washes and vacuums out your car when you are harried.

15th Year:
Allows motorbike friend to tattoo rattlesnake on his ankle.
Encourages you to go back to school to get your Master's.

16th Year:
Wants to quit school to become a magician's apprentice.
Buys you a sexy sports car for your birthday.

17th Year:
Needs to borrow $4500 for a "once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity."
Reads the same novel you are reading for Book Club so he can discuss it with you.

18th Year:
Stops by the house just to shower and change.
Rearranges his work schedule so he can cheer you on in the tennis final at the club.

19th Year:
Wants to move in with girlfriend who is 4 years older than he is.
Waits up for you after your Investment Club meetings.

20th Year:
Wants to move back home with girlfriend because magician gig isn't panning out.
On your 20th anniversary, he says he'd marry you all over again.

Sometimes a bigger perspective is helpful.  Talk to each other.  Communicate.  If the bottle of lotion has to sit on the nightstand a little longer, so be it.  In a lot of cases, time changes situations if you can both be patient.

Monday, November 7, 2011


That's right, you read the title right. Let's talk about poop for a few minutes. Did you know that you might poop when you push your baby out? Most people never think about this, and others are completely obsessed with the possibility of this happening. I've even had one of my couples have a c-section over this topic. She made it to a 7, everything was going great, and she opted for a c-section. She just could never let go of the fear.

Approximately 30% of women poop when they push their baby out. There is a trend I'm starting to see pop up of offering/pushing enemas to women when they are in labor. I got an email from a friend this week and here is a portion of it: "They gave her an enema before starting pitocin because the doctor didn't want to be pooped on. Yes, he personally told the mom this."  Gotta love the OB that does things for his comfort and not the mom's. 

At any rate, the body, typically at the beginning of labor, will naturally get rid of waste.  She'll usually have loose bowels, sometimes even diarrhea.  She should eat and drink throughout her labor though, which means more waste.  And that's ok!  So, along with all the questions I've given you over the years to ask your care provider, here's another one:

"How do you feel about poop?"

If you are super concerned with pooping when you are pushing your baby out, do the enema.  If it makes you feel more confident, by all means.  Know that I am not advocating the enema whatsoever!  In fact, I'd really just like to see women comfortable with their bodies and not afraid to eat and possibly poop in labor.  But, like all interventions, I believe there is a time and place. 

Let's go back to the mom who just can't let it go, no matter how much her husband and care provider tells her it's ok, it's normal.  They don't care if she poops.  There are some other issues associated with this fear.  At the top of this list is sexual abuse.  Pooping during pushing is not about vanity.  I strongly suggest counseling in this situation.  To most, this topic is funny and only slightly embarrassing.  To others, it's completely paralyzing.  

Last I read, approximately 1 in 4 women have been sexually abused or molested.  Poop has the potential to be a big issue for many women -- even one million per year -- about to give birth.  I can't help but wonder about the women who elect to have a c-section and never experience any labor.  It's a question that simply cannot be asked, and yet, I can't help but wonder.  Is sexual abuse a part of their history?  Labor and birth is an extremely vulnerable time in a woman's life.  She is exposed in every way possible.  It's a lot for a woman who has not been abused or molested to come to grips with.  But for a woman who has endured abuse or molestation, vaginal birth  may be much too overwhelming.  

If you have seen Orgasmic Birth, they address sexual abuse and birth in a very tender story.  The woman is terrified to surrender to the power of her birth.  When she does, she comes out stronger on the other side.  If you have not seen the movie, check it out.  It's about much more than just "orgasmic" birth!

What started out as a funny post, took a very serious turn.  You know me, I can't end like this.  So, in class, the mamas planning a water birth always want to know about pooping in the water.  (My water birth is the only birth I didn't poop!)  I tell them that if they are really worried about it, if the dad will just throw a bunch of tootsie rolls in the water at the time of birth, she'll never know if she pooped or not.  (I've never had anyone actually do it, but it would be a very funny trick to play on a midwife.)

Monday, October 31, 2011

I Am a Homebirth Advocate and This is Why

This week I received a comment about looking for homebirth blogs, as I seem to be geared towards those planning a hospital birth.  It's true, the last several posts have been geared towards alerting the hospital birthers about certain practices/policies to be aware of.  I certainly don't want to be known as a Bradley birth blogger though!  Statistically, up until this last year, 25% of my students have birthed in the hospital.  Over the last year, it has gradually flip-flopped to 75% are out of the hospital.  This is what happens when a birth center makes your class required for their clients though! 

I have birthed two babies in the hospital and two at home.  I believe that a woman will birth "best" where she is most comfortable -- physically, and more importantly, emotionally.

Over the years, the normal progression for people that take my class has been this:

Baby #1:  Switch from an OB to a CNM, remaining in the hospital (just in case).

Baby #2:  Switch from a CNM to a CPM and birth in a freestanding birth center.

Baby #3:  Birth baby at home with a CPM and wish they had done that from the very beginning!

I decided to go through the homebirth blog posts I have written over the last three years and link to them this week.  Enjoy!

I found so many other posts that were related to homebirth -- dozens when it was mentioned -- but these are probably the ones that homebirth is the main focus.  Still aggravated after all these years that "homebirth" is flagged as not being a word.

Romy's Birth Story from Ceci Jane on Vimeo.

This video of my co-chapter leader for TCBN, Shannon, about sums up the beauty of homebirth. Ceci is another TCBN chapter leader and she did this amazing video. Shannon had an incredible team of women there, all hand-picked. Her husband was incredibly touched by the love and support they received as they welcomed their new baby into their family. It is evident on everyone's face this was a glorious homebirth. I am so lucky to work with such talented people. If you haven't seen this video yet, grab your tissues. Then go read all these homebirth posts I've written over the years!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pushed into Supine Pushing Positions

When I was thinking about getting pregnant with my second baby, I visited my OB, Dr. Brian Wolsey, that "delivered" my first baby.  I had been gathering lots of information and knew I would do things differently with the second baby.  One of the questions I asked him was how he felt about me pushing in a different position besides flat on my back.  He got down on the floor (in his very nice clothes), and on one knee, contorted his body, and while looking and reaching up, said, "Well, it's kind of hard to catch a baby in this position."  He was more concerned with his comfort than mine when it came to pushing my baby out.

I never returned to his office.  

This is an important question to ask your care provider. The answer should be a respectful "Let's see how you feel when it comes time to push.  The benefits to using gravity and an upright position are ...    An example of when you might not want to use gravity is ..."

I've had a number of people return to class saying things like, "My doctor said I can hang from the rafters for all he cares" or "I can squat on the floor like I'm in the jungle!"  They seem happy with these responses, but in reality, your doctor is making fun of you.  He thinks its undignified and foolish.

If I am an OB -- or even a Certified Nurse Midwife -- working in a hospital, chances are, approximately 90% of the births I attend is with an epidural.  The mom is mostly on her back.  Like it or not, this is how I get used to catching babies.  This is what I am comfortable with.  Even to have a mom on hands and knees, well, this looks different to me, and I am not as comfortable with this situation.  I will find a way to get this mom on her back.  I will give her lots of excuses that sound really good, such as, "The baby is caught on the pubic bone and I need you to lean back."

If a woman is left alone to choose her birthing position, very often she will use gravity in some form or another.  Rarely will she lay flat on her back to push her baby out.  Squatting, for example, is known to widen the pelvis up to 30%.  Many OBs will not suggest a mom get up and squat, but instead, will cut an episiotomy to get the baby out quicker.  Or worse, perform a c-section because her hips were "too small."

I simply wanted to let women know that what position you birth your baby in is your choice.  This seems common sense, right?  I routinely hear women talk about their doctor wanting them in a certain position when it comes time to push.  Pushing while flat on her back can cause more problems that it fixes.  The only person benefiting from this position is the OB. 

When you ask your care provider this important question, listen for silly answers that are really meant to make fun of you.  Listen for responses that put his/her comfort above your own.  The good answers are the ones that inform and respect you and your comfort.  Follow what your body is telling you to do.  Don't let them push you around when it comes to pushing your baby out!  

Monday, October 17, 2011

It's Just an IV -- What's the Big Deal?

I posed a question on my Facebook page this weekend asking if an IV was required at your place of birth.  As expected, the majority of those birthing in the hospital said yes.  I recently had an IV when I went for a colonoscopy, and I must admit, I did not like it.  My number one complaint is that feeling of cold fluid running through my veins.  Not a fan. 

What about for labor though?  Should an IV be a part of a normal labor?  The hospitals think so.

Let's face it -- nearly everyone who finds themselves on the Labor & Delivery floor will have an epidural.  Or an induction.  Likely both.  Before an epidural is placed, a mom will receive a couple of bags of IV fluid.  Epidurals are notorious for causing the blood pressure to drop, so these fluids are necessary.  Here's why they want you to have an IV when you walk through the door:  The minute you say you want an epidural, they can give it to you.  Otherwise, they have to wait for these IV fluids to be administered.  They believe that you will eventually beg for the epidural, no matter how many times you say that you want an unmedicated birth.  I hate to sound paranoid - or make others paranoid - but the truth is quite ugly when we talk about IVs.  You will very likely have other things running through an IV besides saline water, with pitocin at the top of that list.  Even if you don't have pitocin during the labor, you will assuredly have it after your baby is born to "aid" in the delivery of the placenta.  If you have an IV, you won't even know pitocin was added.  They simply do not ask your permission. 

Antibiotics are often added to an IV.  This is given, typically, under three scenarios: 

1) Mom develops a fever.  This could be due to infection, but epidurals cause fevers in many women.  Since we aren't sure either way, antibiotics are administered.
2) Water is broken so antibiotics are given routinely, you know, just in case she might develop a fever.  (Can you hear my eye roll?)   

3) Mom tested positive at 36 weeks for Group B Strep and antibiotics are standard procedure.  This post is not a post about GBS, but suffice to say, antibiotics are very necessary if the baby actually acquires GBS on the way out of the birth canal, but only 2 out of 1000 babies that are born to GBS-positive mothers will be affected.   One-third of women will test positive, so that is a lot of women receiving antibiotics -- just in case.   I have strong feelings about antibiotics from my own personal experiences, but you may not care one way or another.  Maybe you feel that it is better to be safe than sorry.  It's a decision each parent needs to make for themselves.

Is an IV ever necessary in labor?  In short, yes.  A woman in labor should be eating and drinking plenty of water.  Water is crucial in helping the uterus work effectively.  Without it, the uterus can become "irritable," often making an IV necessary.  Under these conditions, she'll often experience contractions close together and intense, but only lasting about 30 seconds.  An IV might help her stay hydrated and therefore causing more effective contractions.  If a mom can't keep fluids down, she might also require an IV.  As with all interventions, there is a time and place for everything.  IVs should not, however, be a routine part of a normal labor. 

 It seems that many moms end up consenting to a hep-lock, which is an open vein.  If they need to give you an IV quickly, they won't have to "fumble" to find a vein.  To quote one of my Facebook readers, "They said it was in case there was an emergency and I started to bleed out.   I said "If you're telling me if there isn't anyone here that can save me in an emergency if I dont have an IV line in already then I need to leave because I don't feel safe." They laughed, said good point and left me alone."  The hospital group I refer to in the Fort Worth area, the UNT Health Nurse-Midwives, have not required even a hep-lock for my students unless there was a medical reason to do so.  

One more thing I found extremely interesting about IV use in labor.  This can have a negative effect on breastfeeding.  Mellanie Sheppard, IBCLC, explained this at a Tarrant County Birth Network meeting one evening:  When a woman has IV fluids, she becomes swollen and puffy until the extra fluid has time to leave her body.  This can include extra fluid in the breast.  A woman who didn't think she had flat nipples before now may have a problem with the baby latching properly.  She might be started on a nipple shield and thus started down a road that could have been prevented by simply avoiding the IV in the first place.  

Last week I wrote about various policies that contribute to the high c-section rates and neglectfully left routine IVs off that list.  It should have been there.  Drink your water.  Talk to your care providers.  If you are choosing to birth in the hospital, search out the care providers who practice evidence-based maternity care.  You will likely have to concede on some issues, but choose your "battles" carefully and thoughtfully.   

Monday, October 10, 2011

Hospital Policies that Encourage these Outrageous C-Section Rates

Over the years, I have narrowed down the hospital policies that are the biggest problem for moms who want to have an unmedicated birth.  Short and sweet!  Here are your red flags:

1)  The use of continuous Electronic Fetal Monitoring (EFM).  I wrote about this one last week.  This chains mom to the bed.  She's not moving around, helping her baby figure his/her way out.  This policy is applied in nearly all hospital births.  It's very convenient for the nurses, but not for the mom.  Evidence indicates that it is not safer for the baby and the c-section rates rise when EFM is used.  Check with your hospital and your care provider.  If your care provider "approves" intermittent monitoring, make sure that gets written in your chart.  (Just a heads up -- while this improves your chances of not having EFM, it is not a guarantee.)

2)  If your water breaks, you are in bed for the duration of your labor.  They claim this is for your benefit, saving you from a c-section, as the umbilical cord could suddenly slip out, endangering the baby, making a c-section necessary.  The chances of this actually occurring are about .3% of all births.  How can you prevent this from occurring?  Don't let anyone break your water!  This is more likely to happen if the baby is high in the pelvis.  If your baby is low, this is not really a risk.  Also, if this is going to occur, it usually happens when the water breaks. 

A couple other things worth noting that may or may not seem obvious:  You will be on a time clock once your water breaks (find out what that means at your place of birth - usually 12-24 hours), so you really want to do things that encourage the baby to come.  Laying in bed on a monitor doesn't really do that!  Pitocin is usually started after water breaks.  Evidence just doesn't make a lot of sense with this policy.  They say that they are trying to prevent you from having a c-section, but by keeping you in bed, that is exactly where you are headed!

3)  Vaginal Exams every two hours.  The reason women are given vaginal exams are because they have epidurals and can't feel when they are ready to push.  A woman who isn't numb doesn't need to be told how dilated she is or when to push.  Failure to Progress is the 2nd most common reason women have c-sections (2nd to already having had a previous c-section).  So let's add this up:  She's in bed, on a fetal monitor, having vaginal exams every two hours.  She's not moving or using gravity. I know of a hospital midwifery group that hardly ever does vaginal exams, unless there is a medical reason to do so.  This is how it should be.  Many women will stay at a certain number of dilation for many hours and then suddenly dilate in a short amount of time.  Labor is not all about the dilation of the cervix!  Vaginal exams are directly related to the dreaded time clock. 

4)  Does your hospital employ midwives?  This is a big deal.  If there are not midwives at your hospital, only the medical model of care is practiced.  This is the only model the OBs use and the only model the nurses see.  The midwifery model of care views labor and birth as a normal process.  The medical model views childbirth as a medical emergency waiting to happen. They believe that medicine and technology improve the safety and process of birth.  

5)  Does your hospital have a no-VBAC policy?  Then they don't trust birth and they don't read the evidence.

Finally, don't ignore the red flags.   I could go on and on about policies that the majority of hospitals have that are problems for a natural birth mama.  Follow your gut.  There are great places to have your baby.  Seek them out.  Hopefully this list will be helpful on your journey.  Don't be a victim!  Like I always say, as long as your baby is still inside, you have options.  This is your birth.  Choose a birth place that respects your wishes and shows reverence towards your special day.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Electronic Fetal Monitoring -- Is it really saving babies?

 As Tim McGraw's biggest fan, I subscribe to a number of Country news emails and Facebook groups.  I skip over most of it, but sometimes I'll see something that catches my eye that is not even related to Tim.  As you can imagine, it usually has to do with someone having a baby.

A couple of weeks ago it came across my News Feed that Jewel was showing off her new baby.  She lives in this area of Texas, about an hour from me, and because we have about a 50% c-section rate, I was very curious how things turned out for her.  (I had heard that she had desired a "natural birth.") 

The story goes that she was doing Hypnobirthing -- no details available.  Could have been self-study or CDs, maybe a class.  So I assume that desiring a "natural birth" really did mean an unmedicated birth, not just a vaginal birth.

The article went on to describe how violent the Braxton-Hicks contractions were and put the baby at risk.  Yadda, yadda, yadda... she had an emergency c-section that miraculously saved her baby.

The singer, who studies hypnobirthing, was eager to have a natural birth, but things didn’t work out as planned. When Jewel started having early Braxton Hicks contractions, Kase’s heart rate dropped. She admits, “I feel lucky to be pregnant in the modern age where they could actually tell he wasn’t well during those contractions.”  

In the end, Jewel says her scheduled birth plan wasn’t what was important to the young family. “We felt thankful that we had good doctors and a good hospital nearby, and that everything was OK,” she says. “I’m so lucky that we have a healthy baby boy. That’s all I cared about.”

I can't help but think this poor reporter got his terms mixed up about the contractions, and there's little information to go on from there.

Regardless, how many women have had c-sections that truly believe they were necessary -- that their baby would have died without the surgery?  Countless.  The year the Electronic Fetal Monitor was introduced, we went from a 5% c-section rate to 23%.  Studies have shown time and again that a baby who is truly in distress will be picked up with intermittent monitoring.  (Side note:  "intermittent" means different things to different care providers.  It may mean during and between a couple of contractions per hour, or 20 minutes per hour.  Find out what intermittent means at your place of birth.)

One of the problems with the continuous monitoring is the lack of communication between the birth team and the parents.  Mom is monitored from down the hall, and when a nurse does walk in, she tends to look at the monitor and not the laboring woman.  Another problem is obvious:  mom can't move around and help her baby out.  The baby is left to figure it out on his/her own. 

Problem number 3:  Any time a mom receives drugs of any kind, she'll be put on a monitor to be sure the baby is handling it OK.  This can mean hours and hours of a baby being exposed to ultrasound.  That's what Electronic Fetal Monitoring is -- ultrasound.  I've written posts on the risks of ultrasound in the past.  Click here and here and here.  You need to decide how comfortable you are with this intervention.

Problem number 4:  The biggest problem of all is simply that they have to do something with the results of the readout.  Take a baby that has a cord around the neck, for example.  This baby will have decels of the heart rate on the printout.  They aren't sure why the baby's heart rate is dropping, but better safe than sorry, right?  Lawsuit alarms start going off and a c-section is performed.  The baby is fine (Jewel's baby looked great!), but there is this perception -- or defense mechanism -- that thank goodness the c-section was performed and saved the baby. 

Was the baby ever in trouble?

We'll never know.  But now, because it's so hard to find a VBAC-friendly doctor, we've put this mom on a c-section path for all her children -- unless of course she becomes informed of her VBAC options.  As an OB, this is exactly where I want her.  Easier for me and twice as much money.  Few women will question the c-section because it makes her look like a bad mom.  She trusts her doctor.   It's easier to believe that the surgery saved the baby.

Another side note:  The cord around the baby's neck occurs in about one in three births.  When a c-section is performed where the cord is around the neck, the OB often makes a big deal about it, making the parents feel like this was very dangerous.  It's not.  The OB or midwife, after the head is out, will simply lift it over the baby's head.  It could be wrapped around the neck several times!  The most I've seen from one of my student's was 4 times!  Had she stayed with her original hospital and OB -- who required continuous monitoring -- she assuredly would have had a c-section.  Instead, she had a fabulous water birth with CNMs at a different hospital.

So, I feel bad for Jewel.  Maybe her baby really was in distress, but I suspect that the doctor didn't want such a public birth taking a chance at going sour.  Given the high c-section rate in our area, perhaps he was less comfortable with (unmedicated) vaginal birth than cesarean birth.  He knew he could perform a mean c-section and spin it like he saved the baby.  Again, just me speculating.  I do believe that she was likely another victim of our broken maternity system and doesn't even realize it.  While I always advocate for women being informed of their choices in childbirth, sometimes ignorance is probably quite blissful.

Monday, September 26, 2011

My SIL Has a Cool New Blog

My sister-in-law, Tamara, started a blog this summer called Mess-Cipes:  Inspiration for Early Childhood and if you have little ones at home, you will LOVE it!  She has always been super creative and good with kids.  This idea has been over a decade in-the-making, as her youngest child is now 18!

Some of the different topics include:  


Sorry for the super short blog post today, but I wanted to steer you over to Tamara's blog (Yes, the is the same SIL that was a doula and saved me from a c-section with my first baby.  Read the story here.)  

I hope you take some great ideas from Mess-Cipes and have fun with your kids!

BOLD Fort Worth was awesome, in case you were wondering.  The play was so well done and I think everyone laughed and cried, but most importantly walked away having a better understanding of their options in childbirth.  The Birth & Family Expo was so much fun and the vendors and silent auction were great!  Thanks to all those that volunteered and participated.  I have spent the day resting.  I hope they have too!  Now life resumes to normal, right?

Monday, September 19, 2011


What is BOLD Fort Worth?  It's 3 performances of a play called "Birth" and a Birth & Family Expo with over 60 vendors and a Silent Auction.  The event benefits the Tarrant County Birth Network.

This year, there are three performances of "Birth," a play by Karen Brody, to choose from.

Friday, September 23 @ 7:00 pm

Saturday, September 24 (Crybaby Matinee) @ 2:00 pm

Saturday, September 24 @ 7:00 pm

Tickets are on sale at several locations in and around Tarrant County, including several Birth Centers and Chiropractors' offices.  Tickets can also be purchased online and picked up at Will Call.  They are on sale for $10 each and will be $15 at the door.

Each performance will be followed by a Talkback, led by yours truly, where you will have the opportunity to hear from and ask questions of various birth professionals that work in Tarrant County.  The Talkback will run about an hour.

BOLD Fort Worth will take place at the Bob Duncan Center in Arlington.  There is plenty of parking on the south side of the building.

On Saturday, look forward to the Birth & Family Expo from 11:00 am - 6:00 pm.  The first 500 people through the door will receive a "green" goody bag.  This year we have twice as many vendors.  There is such variety in vendors, you'll enjoy every minute.  Pick up some fabulous products -- some for baby and some for you! -- and gather some valuable information and resources from various business in Tarrant County.

Also at the Birth & Family Expo, you can take part in the Silent Auction.  I am a total junkie and this Silent Auction is no exception.  Come bid and win on all kinds of services, products, gift cards, etc. 

All proceeds benefit the Tarrant County Birth Network, which I am a Chapter Leader.  If you live in the Ft. Worth/Dallas area, we invite you to be a part of our organization.  We hold free monthly meetings and have held some pretty cool events, and even published a book of birth stories, The Birth Next Door.  BOLD Fort Worth is our big fundraiser that makes these other things possible throughout the year.  I hope you'll come out and support Mother-Friendly choices in and around Tarrant County.

This year marks the 5th Anniversary of "Birth" being performed around the world.  The play is the story of 8 women as they share their birth stories, all very different from one another.  This year, Karen Brody added a VBAC storyline for one of the 8 women, so if you saw the play last year, it will be different this time around.  

We decided to put a rating on the play this year of PG-13.  It probably is not a play for children.  With that being said, we are holding a Crybaby Matinee on Saturday afternoon for those with babies.  The actors have been warned that this will be the noisy show! 

If you are not a fan on our BOLD Facebook page and TCBN Facebook page, that really is the best way to keep track of the updates. 

We are printing "My Body Rocks" t-shirts to celebrate BOLD.  You can also pick up TCBN logo shirts, "The Birth Next Door," as well as vinyl for your car window.  All will be available at BOLD Fort Worth at the TCBN table.  Stop by and see us.

 Buy your tickets now. See you this weekend!

Monday, September 12, 2011

My Thoughts on 9/11

I am writing this on September 11.  It's been 10 years since my country was attacked.  

I do not have any family in the military.  I cannot identify with the thousands of families that sacrifice to send loved ones out each and every day -- and year -- to fight for and protect The United States of America.  I am one of the millions that is not touched in my daily life by the War on Terror.  But I am one that is incredibly grateful for the sacrifice on my behalf, so that I can live free and free from terror.  Thank you.

I love my country.  I cannot hear the National Anthem without getting tears in my eyes.  Forget trying to sing it -- I can't even get through it!  I love to see my flag waving in the wind.  And since I live in Texas, the bigger the better!  The history of The United States is like none other.  In fact, the only text book I ever read cover to cover was US History in college.

My children are of ages now that they are learning about 9/11 and we have had many discussions about that day.  Life changed that September day.  Innocence was lost.  The whole world changed.   

I held my 5-month-old baby on the couch for days, watching the television in horror, not believing this was happening to my country.  Things like this didn't happen in America.  Who would ever hate us this much?  My son was 5 years old at the time.  He would look up at the TV every now-and-then and then continue playing with his toys.  He built towers and crashed other toys into them, knocking them to the ground.  It made me cry.  I wrestled with turning off the TV, but I couldn't.  I had to watch.  I had to know and understand what was happening.  Like all those that flocked to Ground Zero and the blood banks.  I felt a unity with my fellow Americans.  I could not turn off the TV and pretend this wasn't happening.

The sky was eerily quiet for several days.  I remember driving from Albuquerque to Santa Fe to see my parents, listening to Lee Greenwood sing "I'm Proud to Be An American" and sobbing my eyes out.  My father had a heart attack 6 days after 9/11 -- the first of several that would happen over the next 6 weeks.  It was a stressful time.  My siblings came from out of state when my dad was in the hospital and were surprised that I was still flying my flag on my front porch.  I never wanted to take it down.  In fact, I still wish I could fly it every day of every year.

This post has nothing to do with birth or breastfeeding, but I felt compelled to write it.  I live in my own little bubble most of the time.  My 10-year-old has a friend whose mom serves in the Air Force and is in Iraq again.  She leaves for an entire year, only coming home for 14 days.  I believe she's there for the third time.  Her friend has two little sisters, too.  I can't imagine the sacrifices that family makes.  The girl's dad came by to pick up Abby the other day, and it was windy out.  I have this little Uncle Sam statue on my porch with an American Flag in his hands.  The flag had blown down and was laying on the concrete when he came to the door.  He gently picked up the flag and place it back in Uncle Sam's hands.  I was humbled and quite embarrassed that it had been laying on my porch when everything about their family has to do with protecting our country. 

I wish we could remain naive. I wish we could greet loved ones at the gate instead of the baggage claim.   I wish our children didn't have to grow.  The world can be a yucky place.  When Vena, now 12, learned about 9/11, the thing that stuck with her was all the people that jumped from the burning towers.  How could that have possibly been better that staying in the burning building?  She had nightmares for weeks, that is, when she would finally fall asleep. 

I love our elementary school.   Every Veteran's Day they do a beautiful program in the school parking lot.  Every public servant you can think of -- all military branches, police, firefighters, EMT, etc -- are honored.  The kids learn and perform all those American songs we love -- America the Beautiful, I'm Proud to Be An American, and The Star-Spangled Banner.  I learned that first year, bring your tissues!  As long as they continue to do that program, even when I no longer have children there, I will make that my tradition on Veteran's Day.

I won't even touch on the politics, but I will say that the way I have viewed the world since 9/11 has caused me to change a number of attitudes, including how I vote.  I was never concerned about war and such before that fateful day.  I hope we never encounter a day like that again.  I am grateful that 10 years have passed and we haven't seen another attack like 9/11.  Someone was doing something right, I believe. 

Thank you to those that love this country as much as I do -- perhaps more -- to step out on the front line to defend this land that I love.  God Bless the USA.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Birth Plans

Birth plans have been a hot topic in my neck of the woods lately and I just wanted to throw my two cents in to the mix. 

When I start talking birth plans with some people, I see them roll their eyes -- even on the phone, I can actually hear some people rolling their eyes!  Especially Labor & Delivery nurses.  The comment I've heard most often is, "The lady that brings in a birth plan is always the one that ends up with a c-section!" 

My approach to birth plans has always been this:  A woman needs to know her options before she can think about a birth plan.  In class, we play an "Options" game where we talk about all types of things that will likely be brought up during your birth -- some positive, some negative.  The point is just to get people talking and learning about various interventions, when they are actually necessary, and finally how they feel about them.  We go over all these options and then I encourage them to go home and print out the 22 page birth plan online (you know what I'm talking about!) and check off all the little boxes.  Again, just to get the two of you talking about how you feel about these options.

From there, it gets significantly whittled down to a simple one page document that is unique to the two of you and your wishes.  My favorite is the "Yes, Please" and the "No, Thank You" columns.  Polite, and not a list of demands by any means, which I think sometimes the L&D nurses envision when handed the dreaded Birth Plan.  

When I was pregnant with my 4th baby, I had imagined myself laboring in my bathroom with the big garden tub.  I don't think I had ever said that out loud and it certainly wasn't on a piece of paper.  I loved that bathroom.  I had been contracting all day long -- it was such a great day, really -- but it was not until I got to that bathroom around 8:30 that night that contractions really picked up.  By the time David came in the bathroom about 30 or 45 minutes later, I was telling him to call the midwife.  He couldn't believe it.  After timing a couple of contractions and listening to me sound out my contractions, he agreed to call her.

I strongly believe in Emotional Relaxation.  I believe that the mind is a very powerful thing, possibly the most powerful tool in labor.  I've known many women in various labor situations that without a doubt, Emotional Relaxation played a huge role in how their labor played out -- good and bad.  I believe that imagining your birth -- imagining yourself remaining calm and relaxed, imagining the smells you want to smell, the food you might want to eat, the music you might want to listen to -- are all good things. 

Labor is a funny thing, as we all know.  We don't get to choose our labor, which I believe, is what makes it so exciting.  Hindsight is always 20-20 and you can always look back and think or wish you had done something different.  It's hard to just roll with the punches and enjoy the journey, but that is my best advice.  Take it one contraction at a time.  It's like I always say in class, if we knew exactly what your labor would be like, that's what we'd prepare for, but since we don't, we'll prepare for all sorts of situations that labor is likely to throw at you.  Hopefully you will feel prepared to deal with them as they come. 

Back to the birth plans:  Go ahead and make one.  Making a birth plan doesn't mean that you are married to one kind of birth and you are going to be unhappy with your birth if it doesn't look like it does on paper.  It just means that you have talked about all the options and have decided what is important to you.  You have a right to have those wishes heard and honored. 

We makes plans every single day of our life.  I live by my list every day, every week, every month.  Sometimes I get it all done, exactly like I plan, and other days, life happens and the list doesn't.  I understand that obstacles are in the middle of the road occasionally, and I may have to go around them or just deal with them head on.  Laundry is a weekly obstacle that gets in the way of my plans! 

You don't stop planning your life just because it might not happen the way you want it to. Go ahead, plan your lovely birth.  Pay close attention, when you imagine your birth, to the details -- the people in the room, the lighting, the temperature.  Keep the things you like and dump the rest.  Enjoy your labor.  It's yours and only yours, no matter what it looks like on paper.  Enjoy the journey, speed bumps and all. 

Finally, honor your labor and your birth.  I've had several people over the years that have had "necesareans" and some of those have rolled a little easier with the punches than others.  I think mourning the loss of something you didn't have or get is a tough place to be.  Talking to people who understand is so important, and at some point, acceptance is necessary.  Knowing you did everything within your power to carry out your birth plan seems to be an important step to accepting the outcome. My friend, Abbey, writes a blog called The Road to VBAMC and she just wrote a fabulous post this week titled When Your Birth Doesn't Go As Planned.  If you are in this situation, I suggest you head over there and check out what she had to say.  I think you'll find it extremely helpful. 

Birth Plans?  Don't be afraid of what might happen.  Go ahead and plan what you hope will happen.