Monday, December 30, 2013

Breaking up With Tim

Like ripping off a bandaid, I'm just going to say it -- I've become disenchanted, even super annoyed, with my beloved Tim McGraw.  This love, obsession, whatever you want to call it, has existed almost since the beginning of his career.  I loved his early stuff, but I really started liking him Summer '97 and joined the fan club in 2000.

Recently at a Birth Boot Camp training workshop, one of the trainees told me that I was exactly the way she thought I would be from reading my blog -- except she had no idea how much I love Tim McGraw.  Yes, I will find a way to work him into almost any conversation.  It's been great fun over the years.  I don't do anything in moderation and this obsession was no exception.

I took this one at Cowboys Stadium.

I've seen Tim play live 16 times and in all kinds of settings -- huge stadiums, front row at a casino, from the PIT with beer spilled all over me more times than I care to remember, the set of CMT Invitation Only: Tim McGraw (I'm on the front row, right to Tim's left), and we even did the Tim McGraw cruise to the Bahamas in 2007.

 My "Tim eyes"
I met Tim about a month after he quit drinking and it was the worst show I've ever seen him play (Grand Junction, CO).  No encore and angry.  Sad that that was the day I met him.  (I gave him a framed copy of this picture at the CMT taping in Nashville, but I suspect that is what got me banned from the fan club....)

I've seen him play drunk and reckless, even tossing a glass he'd been drinking from into the audience.

I've seen him forget the words to songs and let the audience sing the entire song (more than once!).

I've seen him hold a stadium full of screaming fans captive, hushing everyone to where you could hear a pin drop.

I've seen him and Faith play together twice and they are just amazing together.  Really, a great show.

I've seen him play acoustic songs, sitting on the stage, just him and a guitar.

I took this picture at Winstar Casino.
#11 (Dallas) was the best show I've ever seen him play.  Unfortunately it was not one I was front row for, but it was just amazing.  He was in such a good mood and played such a great mix of songs.

I really love "Cowboy Tim".  I've always thought with him, what you see is what you get. He's pretty honest about where he's been and he loves his wife and family.  He looks great in a cowboy hat and jeans and boots.  I love his music and the way he sings the word "can't"... Sigh..

So... the last couple of years things have changed with Tim.  He broke his foot but never said how. There was a lot of speculation but nothing ever confirmed.  In fact, I saw him play with the broken foot in Indianapolis. (Indy fans, y'all were the most drunk and the rudest bunch I'd ever seen Tim with!)

Two months later, he fired nearly his entire band, many of which had been with him since the beginning of his career.  Together, they bucked the system, recording albums with his touring band, the Dancehall Doctors, instead of a studio band, which apparently is unheard of in country music.  I loved Tim's band and he seemed to really love his band too.  Again, not a lot of information about why they were fired, but a lot of speculation.  I hated to believe what the band members were saying was true -- is Tim a "tyrant"?

His new band?  Really really hard to love.  Mohawks and they are nearly all from Europe.  Do they even listen to country music in Europe?!

And have you seen Tim lately?  Let's face it, Tim is a skinny guy.  Even when he was drinking a lot, he has never been overweight.  But he's lost 40 pounds since starting Cross Fit.  You may not know this about Tim, but he has (or shall we say had) chest hair.  Where'd it go?!  He's all slicked up and shiny now.
As skinny as Faith....

His music feels different.  He's lost the facial hair and sideburns.  Many people have asked me if something is wrong with Tim, if he is sick.

Here's what I think -- he had a nasty lawsuit with his record label who was holding his new music hostage.  It did a number on his career and he's been trying to make up for it ever since.

The unfortunate thing is that it feels so ... fake.  So strategic.  He's so polished and scrubbed up now, I don't know what's real and what isn't.

It's with a very sad heart that I am taking him off my header of my blog.  I think this ship has sailed.  I will always see him when he comes to town and always buy his new album, but I've traveled a lot over the years to see him play and I believe those days are over.  I can't believe this is happening but I can't change the way I feel.  It is what it is.  Chris Young might take his place... ;-)

I will leave you with my favorite Tim McGraw live recording ever.  His hair was long, he had awesome sideburns and chest hair, and he wasn't so skinny!  I just love it.  Oh yeah, and he had his old band playing with him. This is how I will always remember Tim...

Monday, December 23, 2013

How to Deal With People Who Don't Want You To Have a Homebirth

I received this email this week from a reader and realized I've never addressed this topic, even though I've dealt with it personally and see students deal with it all the time. 

Hello there. I recently found your blog and have been reading your posts non-stop.  I am 13 weeks pregnant with my first, and my husband and I have decided, after weighing our options, to have a natural home birth. Once we made this decision, all stress and worries I had went out the window.  I feel very peaceful about my decision.  My problem is this: our family.  Not everyone is open to the idea of home birth, mostly because nobody knows anything about it and are "scared about what could happen."  I am already getting tired of having to defend our decision and explain why we chose to do this.  I am wondering if you have and suggestions for dealing with this issue and family?  I have been told I can come across as insensitive, so any advice would be great, so I don't hurt anyone's feelings and just tell them its not of their business!

Few decisions you'll make in life are as personal as where you want to labor and give birth to your baby.  With nearly everyone doing so in the hospital, many people are surprised when someone says they want to have a baby outside of a hospital.  It sounds dangerous and like a very... "hippy" thing to do. The first time I heard of someone having a homebirth (before I realized all my family was born at home!), I couldn't believe it.  I sincerely thought she was crazy.  They were from South Africa though, not America...  I'm embarrassed to admit that those really were my thoughts. Surely Americans don't willingly give birth at home -- without an epidural!

The American perception of birth mostly comes from our media.  Birth happens fast and is often dangerous. Either the mom or the baby (sometimes both) are in imminent danger.  It's a weird phenomenon in American media, but I guess it makes for more emotional and exciting entertainment. Labor comes on suddenly, painfully, and she must get to the hospital immediately.  Once her water breaks, the baby is going to fall out! Approach it from the flip side. People hear of a 30 hour labor, but all they really know about birth is what is mentioned before (sudden, painful, continuous, and dangerous), so if a labor is long, something must be wrong.  And the perception is that it's fast, painful, continuous, and dangerous for the entire 30 hours. People truly don't understand birth -- physically or otherwise.

So when a couple does their research and announces that they would like to give birth out-of-hospital, they are often greeted with shock and grave concern by their family and friends.

Both my parents were born at home, and their parents, and their parents, etc.  Homebirth was not uncommon for either of my parents' families.  My brother, sister, and I were all born at the hospital in traditional American form with lots of interventions and drugs.  David and I had our first two babies at hospitals, but decided at 33 weeks to have our 3rd baby at home.  My best friend had had a homebirth about 8 months earlier and my parents knew I wanted to do the same.  I didn't tell my dad about our decision because I knew he'd think I was irresponsible and stupid for choosing homebirth.  I wanted my mom there to help with the other kids and whatever needed to be done, so I swore her to secrecy.

To be honest, I don't really know what my mom thought of us having a homebirth.  She has never been that vocal about her opinions. She attended both of our homebirths and I wouldn't have had it any other way.  I don't recommend that for all couples though.  I have had lots of couples in class over the years with parents and family that have let their opinions freely flow.  The damage that is sometimes done can be significant. 

Understand that your family and friends love you and their fear comes from a place of love.  They don't understand birth and haven't researched like you have.  Many couples feel that they need to sway their parents or make them understand.  For many people, their beliefs about birth are so ingrained.  

In this woman's case, if you've been told you come across as insensitive, it's probably best to avoid the subject with those that are negative or fearful.  It's sad because you likely want to share your excitement, but they probably feel that you should acknowledge their fear and opinions.  It is their baby too -- or at least that is their perception.  

I know of a couple that was doing online Birth Boot Camp classes and planning a homebirth.  The parents -- specifically the mother -- of the father were not happy at all that the mother-to-be wanted a homebirth.  She felt that since it was her grandchild she had a right to express her opinions.  As you can imagine, it caused some heated discussions between the couple with the dad-to-be caught right smack in the middle.  Fortunately they had some people in their lives that were supportive who were able to give information to the opinionated parents and really help them see that it wasn't their place to decide where this mom should give birth.  (She had a wonderful uneventful homebirth by the way.)

So, while giving information about the safety of out-of-hospital birth might work with some people, it won't with others.  Use your best judgement. Remember, there are different ways to give information, too.  It doesn't have to be a face to face conversation or phone call.  If you find a good article or study, send it to them with a little note about why you like it.  

If it is someone close to you who is critical of your choices, you might consider taking them with you to an appointment.  They probably have ideas about your care provider that are way off base.  Giving them the opportunity to sit face to face with your midwife and ask their questions might give them peace of mind.  They will likely be surprised at the medical training and supplies that your midwife brings to the birth.  

Ultimately, you don't want to have your relationships damaged over your birth.  Know that they love you and want the best for you and your baby.  If emotions run high, don't invite them to the birth and don't tell them when you are in labor.  Don't talk about your upcoming birth. 

One more bit of advice in dealing with those people after you give birth. Brace yourself for the "You are lucky nothing went wrong" comment after you have a perfectly uneventful birth...

Monday, December 16, 2013

I am LOVING Juicing! The Results, Q&A, and a Few of My Recipes

It's only been a couple of weeks since I wrote the first post on juicing, but I feel that an update is necessary.  This Tuesday will be a month that we've been juicing.  I post about it a lot on my personal Facebook page and I get a lot of questions.  Apparently, y'all have been excited about what I've been doing because I have (last count) 5 people in my news feed that have bought juicers in the last couple of weeks.

It Ain't No Diet Mountain Dew in My Cup These Days!

Why I'm going to keep juicing:  

1.  No soda.  I have not had a Diet Mountain Dew since starting the juice fast.  I don't expect to go back to it.  There have been a couple of times when I wanted one but never bad enough to actually ruin what I've got going on.  It was more a part of the ritual that made me think about it than actually craving it.  I haven't had headaches at all.   I drink water with pomegranate stevia drops or water with an entire lime squeezed into it with a packet of stevia.  Most of the day, however, I drink yerba mate. Yum.

2.  I try to juice 2 meals a day.  The food pyramid described in Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead is largely vegetables (half cooked/half raw), fruit, raw nuts and seeds.  I've also had a couple of meals with some whole grains, but not much.  Meat is recommended just twice a week, but I've had it more like 4 or 5. The servings were very small.  Dairy and fats are at the top of the pyramid and I haven't really had much of that either.  I did enjoy about a 1/2 cup serving of Blue Bell Peppermint ice cream last night, but I controlled myself and just had the serving and then got out of the kitchen!  I eat a lot of nuts for snacks during the day.  The crunch, salt, and protein are satisfying.

3. I really do feel better.  I've lost the weight I gained over Thanksgiving.  My massage therapist said I've lost inches, so even though the pounds are coming off slowly, for once, it's not the main motivator, which is exactly why I feel like this is working for me!  My energy really is better. Normally, by bedtime, I am falling into bed and I'm asleep within seconds.  Now, I find myself still talking to David when I lay my head on the pillow.  I know people report they sleep better, but I slept fine before!  Now I just don't feel like I need quite as much as before.  Yay!

4.  Increased sex drive.  Do I write a paragraph about this or is it too much information?!  I don't think it's just because I'm not so tired at bedtime anymore.  It's for real.

Answers to questions I've gotten:

1.  Juicer or Blender?   We are ready to move on to a BlendTec. We are getting one this week in fact. We are anxious to make smoothies, add in some protein powder, and some things we haven't been able to juice, like banana or avocado.  There is a lot of leftover pulp with the juicing and this will allow us to incorporate the fiber and use less produce.  We will still juice once a day.  

2. Isn't juicing really expensive?  Short answer is yes, if you are still eating all of your meals.  Since we have cut out 2 meals, our grocery bill has actually gone down.  We are not eating out.  Yes, produce can be pricey.  It takes a lot to make juice.  I expect the bill might go down a little when we start incorporating the smoothies.  

3.  What if I'm pregnant and/or nursing?  I am not your care provider.  I think juicing is super healthy.  Let's face it.  I would NEVER eat all these fruits and vegetables, but now I'm getting all these nutrients I wasn't before.  I think adding things to your diet that you are deficient in (for example, orange or green veggies) by juicing is a fabulous way to get them in.  It is definitely easier to drink them than eat them if you asked me!  I would never recommend replacing meals with juicing if you are pregnant or nursing though.  You need so many other things in your diet, mainly protein.  

4.  How bad is the clean up?  Good question.  We have a Breville juicer, and from what I understand, it is easy to clean compared to some on the market.  Personally, I think cooking is messy.  This is no worse than cooking.  There are about 5 parts to the juicer and I rinse them immediately after making my juice so it's ready for the next juice in a few hours.  I use a bag to catch the pulp and I've seen a lot of people not do that.  Do it.  Then you just throw it in the trash.  Or you can attempt juice pulp crackers which I tried.  I'm still trying to master that one!

5.  What's the time commitment? No more than making a meal.  Half the time is juicing, the other half is clean up.  A juice for 2 of us takes about 15-30 minutes.  I usually make David one to take for lunch too.  If it's just me, I can do it in about 10 minutes or so.

6. Isn't it hard to keep doing it? Actually no. I'm in a groove now and can honestly say I don't feel hungry most of the time. When I am hungry I find myself making better choices.  I am trying to listen to my body and what sounds good.  Evaluating what and why I am eating has been an important part of this process.  I feel like the longer I do this the easier it's getting.

Recipes I've made up:

Yellow lunch juice:

Yellow pepper
2 yellow squash
3 oranges

V8 juice:
3 large tomatoes
6 med carrots
2 stalks celery
1/2 onion
1/3 cucumber
1/2 orange pepper

Green juice:

1 zucchini
1 cucumber
1 stalk celery
1 pear
2 green apples
2 kiwi

Made 2 16 oz cups.

Beet juice:

1/2 cantaloupe
1 beet
3 apples

Another fabulous green juice:

3 cups kale
1/2 green pepper
Large cucumber
3 green apples
2 pears

Broccoli juice:

Red juice:

Red grapefruit
1/2 cucumber
Red apple
Red grapes

Another green juice:

2 zucchini
3 Green apples
1 stalk celery
1 pear
2 cups spinach/bok Choy
2 cups green grapes
(Makes 2 BIG juices!)

Vibrant juice:
Red pepper

I'm not going to lie to you -- I think I'm dang good at making these recipes up.  I've even been able to look at recipes and pick out the ingredients that don't/won't make it good.  Everyone seems to feel like they have to have a recipe to do this, but the only one I've ever looked up was for the broccoli.  I hate broccoli, but the juice is fabulous.

I love juicing!  I love that I've quit soda and that wasn't the goal.  I love that weight loss is not the driving force but actually feeling better is what keeps me doing this.  Weight loss is a bonus.  

Who would have ever thought that juicing is what would work for me?!  Feel free to share your recipes and juicing success stories.  I'll let you know how things go when we work in the smoothies.  In the meantime, happy juicing!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

REBOOT: The Birth Boot Camp Refresher Course

Thanks for visiting my blog.  There's a lot of information here.  I've been writing it for YEARS!

I am super busy training and supporting instructors in teaching the Birth Boot Camp 10-week course, so I only teach the full series once a year, usually beginning in Nov and ending in January. I do, however, teach the REBOOT Refresher class on a fairly regular basis.

REBOOT is intended for people who have already had an unmedicated birth.  I charge $50 and it runs 3 hours.  I schedule this particular class on an as-need basis.  My next one will be the middle of March.  I have two spots left.  Email me at for details.

All Birth Boot Camp Instructors teach a Reboot Class, but they might spread it over a couple of nights. The outline is the same either way.  I have found that most of my Reboot couples are repeat clients. It's such a privilege to be a part of these growing families once again.  Each couple will receive the Reboot booklet and a cool Birth Boot Camp cup with a lid and straw. :-)

Here's what one (new to me) couple that just did the Reboot had to say:

"My interest in taking a Birth Boot Camp refresher course was simply to see what the big deal was about. I've heard many great things about the course.  This curiosity was the catalyst to pursue signing up.  During my 6th pregnancy I really didn't plan for the dynamics of birth and delivery, thinking, I've been through this 5 times already.  Surely I'm an expert by now.  Lesson learned.  Failing to plan is planning to fail.  The results of that delivery was a loss of control and I felt like an emotional wreck.  After the Birth Boot Camp (Refresher) course I feel more confident about this birth.  I'm really glad I had this opportunity.  There's a greater anticipation of meeting this little one.  I'm excited about going through the triumph of labor and delivery this time and know I'll enjoy the work it takes to bring her here." -- Michelle

"My wife asked me if I wanted to take a birth class with her. My reaction was, "Seriously?  This will be our seventh birth and five of them we have already had at home. I think we have this thing figured out by now, don't you?"  I listened to my wife and could see that taking this class was important to her, so it was important to me.  I found the Birth Boot Camp Refresher class enlightening.  Donna had a very easy going personality that put us all at ease.  There were a few exercises we did that really opened my eyes to have better communication with my wife before and hopefully during the birth.  I would definitely recommend this class to any expecting parents."  -- Matt

Do YOU need a REBOOT for your next birth?

You can have an amazing birth -- AGAIN!

Monday, December 2, 2013

What I Learned From My 10-day Juice Fast

Last spring my husband got on this kick that we should juice.  Josh Hamilton, formerly an MVP Texas Ranger, showed up to Spring Training this year having lost 30 pounds by juicing.  David went out and bought a juicer and decided he was going to do this. Sometime after he bought the juicer he watched the movie Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.  I couldn't believe how many fruits and vegetables he was buying and how much "waste" there was after juicing.  Oh yeah, did I mention how much I hated the giant juicer sitting on the counter?

So, fast forward a few months.  At nearly 43, it's gotten so hard to lose weight, but super easy to put the weight on. I am always tired.  I had my thyroid tested a few months back because I was convinced it was out of whack.  No one else seems to be this tired!  All my blood work came back perfect.   Healthy as a horse. To be perfectly honest, I was somewhat disappointed.  I wanted a pill that would make me feel better.  No such luck.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago.  David suggested we do a 10-day juice fast.  I was totally uninterested.  Did I mention that I drink Diet Mountain Dew all day long? Don't judge.  Juicing scared me. Go without food? Seriously? For 10 days?

I was driving back from taking one of the kids to school thinking about it and decided  "What the heck! Nothing else is working. How bad can it be?" I texted David and told him I was in.

We decided to start our juice fast on Sunday.  Looking back, I was only half in.  I had already told a friend of mine that I would still be drinking my soda. I had no intention of giving that up!

We kicked things off Saturday night by watching Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. Wow.  If you haven't seen it, you should.  It was amazing.  I was motivated.  Like totally pumped.  I could do this!  If they could do it, I could do it too.  (It was like this for me with natural birth, too.)

What really got to me in the movie was all the excuses people made about why they couldn't/wouldn't do it. People who had serious health issues acted like their health was out of their control.  We saw a couple of people in the movie who got off all their medications as they "ate" well and lost weight.  And no one was drinking soda. They just drank fruit and vegetable juices.  They had more energy, had less headaches, and all reported feeling better.  I decided then and there that I would not make excuses.  I was anxious to put this to the test to see if I would feel better. I would not cheat at all.  I was committed.

Day 1 was not that bad until that evening.  I made a really disgusting juice so dinner was beyond depressing. Right around that time I started a headache. I hadn't had a soda for almost 24 hours, so it's amazing I hadn't had a headache yet.  Unfortunately, it lasted for over 12 hours and was the absolute worst headache I've ever had.  I assume it was from coming off the artificial sweetener and caffeine.  I'm not anxious to do that ever again.  So, perhaps the coolest thing that happened from this juice fast is that I got off my diet soda and that wasn't even my goal.

The headache was brutal though.  I took ibuprofen during the night and again in the morning.  By afternoon, it was gone and I never had another headache after that.

I got pretty good at making the juice.  Combining colors that match seemed to work pretty well.  For example:

Orange, red, or yellow pepper
Spinach (this goes in every juice no matter what)

Sometimes I added cranberries or grapefruit to that one.  If you do something really sour, it's imperative that you add something sweet. Grapefruit and cranberries in the same juice is delicious, but I had to be sure to add grapes or oranges too.

We were sure to have at least one green veggie juice every day. I discovered that broccoli juices up beautifully.  I was a little disappointed in that because I hate broccoli.  I must tell you though - it wasn't that bad!  I added green pepper, green apples, and some lemon to it and it was pretty good.

The most remarkable thing about juicing is that you really don't feel that hungry when you are juicing.  If you haven't done this before, you can't understand how this can be.  But your body is getting the nutrients it needs.  You are still full, just not from food.

I see my awesome chiropractor, Dr. Kristen Hosaka, every-other-week and at my visit during the juice fast, she said my body felt 50% better.  It was a different adjustment than usual, too.  My adrenal glands are always super tender when she presses on them and she's told me time and again that if I will drink more water and cut out the soda they will feel better.  She was right!  No tenderness!  She said that whatever I was doing, my body liked it!  That was a pretty big deal for me.

Ask my husband and he'll tell you that the phrase he hears most often from me is "I am so tired."  I didn't say it even once while I was juicing.  It was amazing.  David noticed it before I did.  I usually require a short nap every day, but I only had a couple of quick power naps (usually when I really wanted to eat something) in the 10 days.

Day 5 was by far the hardest day.  My neighbor brought over chili dogs with jalapenos and for some reason, that made me want to freak out, thus, I took a nap to get out of the kitchen and not have to think about it! That night we went to see the premiere of Catching Fire and that was also very difficult.  But I made it through without having anything but my juice.

I learned how strong I really am on that day.  I have control over my actions.  The pain of hunger and the desire to eat something yummy does pass.

David would joke quite frequently that he felt like his "stomach was eating itself" and I knew exactly how he felt!  It does pass though.  Having a buddy to juice with was huge. This would have been so much harder to do alone.

We ended our juice fast the day before Thanksgiving. We did great that day, but the rest of the holiday weekend was brutal.  We had company and yummy food all weekend long.  We felt more tired eating regular food.  David and I decided to go back to juicing breakfast and lunch and eating a sensible dinner.

Anyway, I had so many questions about juicing and it was such a great experience, I wanted to blog about it here.  It was honestly life-changing.  I learned a lot about myself.  The food we eat really does affect how we feel.  Oh yeah, I lost 8 pounds in the 10 days and David lost 16.  The weight loss was a bonus to feeling better, having more energy, and quitting soda.

That juicer?  It remains on the counter.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Ultimate MRE -- Full-length Breastfeeding Class on DVD

For those of you that don't know what an MRE is, it stands for Meal Ready to Eat.  The folks in the military eat them quite often, and I actually have several in our emergency food storage.  We felt that this was a perfect title for a DVD about breastfeeding because breastfeeding provides complete nutrition and is terribly convenient.

I am so lucky to have had a wonderful lactation consultant, Mellanie Sheppard, to refer to for over 8 years. We started the Tarrant County Birth Network together, and then when we started Birth Boot Camp, she happily recorded her class for us.  She is our resident lactation consultant that serves on the Birth Boot Camp Advisory Board, too.  All students that take a Birth Boot Camp class -- live or online -- get this breastfeeding class, The Ultimate MRE, on DVD.

Like the online Birth Boot Camp classes, The Ultimate MRE is peppered with stories from various moms on a number of topics, including:

  • Specific instructions on how to breastfeed
  • Tips on how to properly latch and prevent nursing pain
  • How to know if your baby is getting enough milk
  • Troubleshooting problems
  • Info on returning to work and pumping your milk
  • Nursing in public with confidence

Now anyone can purchase The Ultimate MRE on DVD for just $29.95.  To purchase, click here.

Regardless of the kind of birth someone desires or has, we sincerely wish them a comfortable and rewarding breastfeeding relationship.  This 3 1/2 hour class on DVD can help!  Happy breastfeeding!

Monday, November 18, 2013

My Boring Old Blog

Over the last couple of weeks I've stumbled upon some really beautiful websites.  They have tabs across the top, banners along the side(s), coordinating colors, and a million buttons to click on that take you who-knows-where.  

Confession:  I never read anyone else's blog.  I'm so sorry.  On the rare occasion that I find myself on one, I admit to feeling overwhelmed and inadequate.  Not only do I not know how to do all that stuff, I have no interest in figuring it out!  And I call myself a blogger!  Ha!

Banned From Baby Showers is simple.  For the last six years, it's just a place where I've put down my thoughts -- mostly related to birth and breastfeeding, with an occasional personal post thrown in the mix. I've never really advertised any products, although there have been a handful that I thought were pretty cool and told you so.  

So, this is a thank you post.  Thanks for sticking around despite the lack of buttons and tabs.  Thanks for hearing me out, even when you disagree.  It's an honor to get emails from so many people telling me that reading my simple blog has helped them have a better birth.  That, my friends, is my goal. 

Birth Boot Camp is growing like crazy.  I am finding that it takes a lot of time which pulls me away from this blog.  I still try to post on Mondays, but sometimes it just doesn't happen.  Thanks for understanding.  I can't tell you how much Sarah (Mama Birth) and I enjoy meeting so many of you at Birth Boot Camp training who got there because you read our blogs.  Of course, her blog is much more interesting -- check out all her tabs and buttons! -- than mine. ;-)  When people meet Sarah they all say that she is so much nicer in person than they expected (it's because of the sarcasm). But with me, they say I'm exactly the same -- well, except that my hair is even bigger than they expected and my love for Tim McGraw runs deeper than they realized. (I'm quickly becoming a Chris Young fan, but we can save that for another day.)

Anyway, thanks again y'all!  Hope you'll continue to stick around.

Monday, November 11, 2013

A New Pregnancy = A New Care Provider?

Have you ever heard the story of the woman who always cuts the end off her pot roast before cooking, thinking it must be done to cook properly?  She did it because her mother had done it, so she assumed that it was necessary, never questioning why her mother did it.  Later, she discovered that her mother cut the ends off because the roast never seemed to fit in her pan!  Think of all that wasted meat!

I was thinking about this last week.  Something came up and I found myself thinking “Why are we doing it this way?”  Sometimes we get things in our head and just keep trucking along with life, even if it’s inconvenient or not the best way to do things.  Even if we are unhappy with the way things are.  (I am pretty sure the woman hated to throw away all that meat!)

Often, women stick with a care provider because it’s “comfortable” - even if it’s not.  They already had a baby with that OB or midwife, so it just seems logical to stay.  Or, you just know what to expect, and that feels… comfortable.  The fear of the unknown sometimes causes people to stay where they are too.  What if change is made and it is worse than before?

Personally, I have had 4 different care providers at my births.  But I truly needed different care each time -- not necessarily physically, but mentally and emotionally, I was at a different place each pregnancy and birth.  

With my first pregnancy, I trusted my doctor.  I wanted him to take care of everything.  And he did.  I wanted no responsibility.  I turned it all over to him. I narrowly escaped a c-section.

I had a CNM present for my second birth, someone who trusted the process, willing to let me labor and birth how I wanted, but also available to intervene if necessary or desired. I birthed in the hospital because I wanted that "safety."

Y'all know the story of my 3rd birth. I changed care providers from a group of CNMs in a hospital to a homebirth midwife who specialized in water birth. This was 12 1/2 years ago when I didn't know anyone who had had a water birth. My best friend had had a home birth a few months before and I wanted to do that. I had confidence that I could do it without the drugs since I had done it with baby #2. I still needed a confident midwife though, and I found one. She was the kind of person that steps in and takes over a situation or conversation. At the time, I needed that. I found myself over-confident in my ability to give birth and didn't prepare at all for the birth. Ironically, in many ways I did the same thing I did with baby #1 and turned over much of the responsibility to my midwife.

Four years later, baby #4 came along. I was in such a different place. I had been teaching childbirth classes for a couple of years by then and had learned many lessons from my three previous births. The midwife I chose was soft-spoken in her confidence. She also was a trained EMT but didn't advertise it the way my other midwife had. She asked me a lot of questions that helped me get in tune with myself and where I was and where I needed to be. After several appointments, she'd lead me into another room where there was a table to lay down. She'd put on relaxation tracks, cover me with a blanket, and tell me to relax. She knew I was teaching it, but needed to be sure I was also doing it! I felt so... nurtured. I hadn't experienced that before with any previous care providers.  

She was teaching a simple childbirth class one afternoon at her house and wanted me to come. There were 3 couples, a table of lovely snacks (which I never do in my classes!), and the sun streaming in through the windows. I let myself be taught by this wise woman who had been practicing midwifery for over 30 years.

When my baby was born, it's like she knew exactly what I needed - physically and emotionally. It was such a great birth. I have often reflected on changing care providers and how important that has been for me. If I had stayed with the "water birth midwife" my birth would have been very different. I wouldn't have owned it the same way, mostly because I wasn't encouraged to do so. She would have taken charge, and while I needed that with my first homebirth, I certainly didn't want or need that with my last birth.

All this reflection on my own experience to say this: Ponder what it is you want from your care provider. Their experience is important, obviously, but what other characteristics do you value? Do you anticipate wanting to be talked to in labor, or even told what to do? Some women want this. Or do you want her to be hands off and quiet? Of course, no one truly knows what they will want in labor (touch, quiet, music, etc.), but there is value in thinking about it and discussing it with your partner and care provider. Asking others who have birthed with your care provider can be very helpful. I have spoken with many women over the years that wish that their midwife had been more hands-on. That's probably the number one "complaint" I hear. Is she "hands-on" at appointments? Is she nurturing? Does she greet you with a hug when you come to appointments? There are a lot of signs during pregnancy that indicate how you will be treated in labor? If not -- and that is important to you -- consider hiring a doula if you do not want to change care providers.

When I switched care providers with my 4th baby, I was so worried that my previous midwife would be upset. We were both birth professionals in the community and word travels. My midwife had to request my records from her, so there was no getting around it. I never talked to her again, however, but we moved to Texas just 3 months after Darcy was born. It doesn't really matter anyway. It was a good choice for me and my family. It gave us the perfect last birth, rounding out our family.

I hope this post gives you courage to switch care providers if you feel that you need to do so. Like I always say, you will only give birth to this baby one time. Every birth counts. Seek out those people that are perfect for you at whatever stage you find yourself.

Monday, October 28, 2013

"Breast is Best"

We are all familiar with the phrase "breast is best," coined by the formula companies in order to make us like them better.  It doesn't say "breastmilk is best".  I'm getting slightly technical here, but I see so many women giving their baby breastmilk in bottles instead of just breastfeeding their babies. Let's talk about it for just a minute.

I received this message a couple of months ago:

The trend seems to be, and this is not limited to just my circle of friends, but pumping and giving breastmilk in a bottle. Simply because its faster or they're having trouble latching their babies. This tears me up inside, even though they are still getting the best nutrition! 

I'm not sure if you've experienced this in your community, but I want to help them without overstepping my boundaries. Any tips on how to help encourage true nursing? I've suggested books and lactation consultants, but I don't seem to be getting through.

Some of this depends on where you live.  When I lived in New Mexico, I never saw women pumping and giving their babies bottles of breastmilk, but in North Texas, I see it all the time.  From talking to women scattered around the country, it depends on where you are. My good friend, Sarah Clark over at Mama Birth, says that she almost never sees a woman feeding her baby a bottle.  The stigma is reversed. But she's in Northern California.

Before you get upset, understand that I am always happy when a baby is getting breastmilk instead of formula.  It is well documented and understand that breastmilk is superior and made for baby.  It is a healthy choice.

When I had my first baby in 1996, I was still working outside the home, so I bought an expensive pump. We loaded the freezer up and I experienced this weird guilt that I wasn't using the milk, but it kept accumulating. Weird, I know.  (I found myself working when he was sleeping, and eventually he quit taking the bottle.)  I remember going to church with a bottle of breastmilk once - thinking it would be easier - but it was so stressful!  

Women make this choice for a variety of reasons, I suppose.  I just wanted to put it out there why I believe the act of breastfeeding is about so much more than nutrition.

*Let's face it.  Life is busy.  I think it would be irresistible to just let the baby hold his/her own bottle.  Breastfeeding "forced" me to sit down and hold my baby.

*Feeling milk let down and my baby relax as milk flowed into his/her mouth was priceless.  I had a magic superpower!  

*The hormones released when breastfeeding made me a calmer mom.  My baby molded to my body when he/she nursed.  Even if I was anxious to keep moving on with my list for the day, by the time I was finished nursing (and/or baby fell asleep), that list didn't seem nearly as important!  There's nothing like holding a sleeping baby who just feel asleep nursing.

*We can't ignore the convenience factor - always with you at the perfect temperature.  

If you are one of these women that pump and give your baby a bottle, you are missing out on a truly unique and special life experience.  I'm sad that some women feel such a stigma attached to breastfeeding that they feel compelled to haul around bottles and take all that time to pump.  

I wanted to share a couple of professional pictures I had taken in 2006, back before it became popular to take professional breastfeeding pictures. In fact, the photographer thought I was crazy for wanting to do so!

"Breastfeeding is a mother's gift to herself, her child, and the earth."  

Notice this quote says BREASTFEEDING, not just BREASTMILK.

Check out the Birth Boot Camp Breastfeeding class on DVD, The Ultimate MRE (Meal Ready to Eat).  It runs 3 1/2 hours and is taught by IBCLC Mellanie Sheppard, peppered with stories and advice from several women on a number of topics.  You can buy it on Amazon, or if you sign up for a Birth Boot Camp online or live class, it comes with your childbirth classes.  Regardless of the type of birth you desire, we wish all women and babies (and dads!) a happy breastfeeding relationship!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Should the "Gentle Cesarean" be Marketed?

A few months ago I wrote a post about Mother-Friendly cesareans, debuting a Ceci-Jane video of a "gentle cesarean".   It was a necessary post at the time, not to mention a relatively new phenomenon.  Since then, they have gained in popularity and the word is out!  Women are flocking to the OB who will give them a "gentle" cesarean.  I know of dozens of women who have had these cesareans now.  The out-of-hospital midwives are super excited too because they feel they are not sending their transfers off to the butcher, but their couples can still have aspects of their birth plan honored.

I actually wouldn't even be discussing this again except for the fact that the Texas Health Resources mini magazine just came in my mailbox yesterday, and in it is an article called, "A Gentle Welcome to the World." I admit that I cringed the minute I saw it.  Now, now, before you get upset with me, I'm not saying that women shouldn't have access to this type of cesarean. Just the opposite! Really, in a perfect world, all cesareans should be "gentle" (we'll come back to the word choice in just a minute), for the sake of both mother and baby.

What concerns me is marketing its availability.  Women are already so terrified of childbirth, a cesarean seems so much easier.  They opt for it without ever feeling a single contraction.  And now, to be able to still have your baby placed on you right after surgery, possible delayed cord clamping, more bonding time with baby... Well, where do I sign up?!

Addressing the word "gentle" in regards to this type of cesarean, according to Dr. Laura Bradford, "It's called 'gentle' cesarean section because that's exactly how the baby perceives it."  I feel like swearing, but I won't.  She went on to talk about the benefits of not separating mom and baby immediately after birth, like this is new to everyone!  Then why wasn't this done long before now?!  Again, great marketing!  They are doing it for the babies, everyone!  The impression is that a "gentle" cesarean is easier on the baby than a vaginal birth.  Ugh.

As part of the Management Team over at Birth Boot Camp, we've had lots of discussion about including a "Mother-friendly" or "gentle" cesarean as part of our birth video selection.  Here's the problems we always come back to:

1.  When you watch natural birth films, most moms are working hard.  She probably doesn't have any makeup on.  She's probably sweating.  She's likely making sounds.  She might have facial expressions that are not "normal" - eyes closed, mouth open, bearing down when pushing.  While extremely beneficial in preparing for a natural birth, some women fear what they will look or sound like in labor.

2.  In the "gentle" cesarean videos, her hair and makeup are beautiful.  She's not making any uncomfortable noises or facial expressions.  She doesn't feel a thing, in fact.  It just looks so... easy.  And this is where the problem lies. The allure of the "gentle cesarean" is just so powerful.

For the very small percentage of women who actually need a c-section, this is so wonderful that this type of cesarean birth is being offered.  It's the marketing and overuse that is bound to happen that makes me sad. It's a smart marketing move though.  The hospitals and doctors offering the "gentle" cesarean are bound to make bank.  In a nation that says they are trying to figure out how to lower the c-section rate, where does the "gentle" cesarean fit it?  I can't help but think this has the potential to cause it to grow higher...

Monday, October 7, 2013

OB Scare Tactics -- "Let's schedule your C-section. Would you like 3:00 or 4:00? 3:30 is already taken."

Have you seen this video?  The reactions are varied.  As a natural birth advocate, I'm not sure if I should laugh or cry.  I'll give you a moment to watch it and then we'll talk.

*There is some language is this video.  Sorry.

Wow, right?  So, while there are undeniably funny parts to the video (it's almost impossible not to laugh at the vagina-butthole reference), I believe that couples are coerced into a c-section all too often because of the fear and undignified manner in which vaginal birth allegedly occurs.

Does a doctor really sit a couple down and have a conversation like this? Probably not.  But the subtle -- or sometimes not-so-subtle comments -- can strongly imply that a woman is better off choosing surgery over allowing her baby to pass through her vagina.

No one wants to poop -- and have everyone see it --  while they are pushing their baby out.  This actually won't happen to everyone, only about 20% of women.

The epidural comment -- that it'll be offered and rejected, but then later begged for and denied....  Well, that is also powerful to a woman who wants to go natural in the hospital.  Deep down, she knows if she is birthing in a hospital, the drugs are there if she really wants them.  The thought of being denied the drugs is cruel though, like a payback or punishment, since she wasn't obedient to her OB in the first place.

But more than anything, the idea of a "vagina-butthole" is downright terrifying.  This actually may happen to a very small number of women (less than 4%), but it is implied as a "given" when you choose to have a vaginal birth.

Let's talk about vaginas, shall we?  Let's just put it out there and put this horrible myth to rest, shall we?  I'll start.  I've had 4 vaginal births.  I had one tiny stitch when I had my first (and smallest baby), but I really didn't need it.  I never tore with any of my 3 natural births, just "skid marks".  I do not have any incontinence issues and My husband and I have a great sex life.  Things are not stretched out -- at all -- like implied by many.  (I do believe that kegeling helps tremendously with this area, as I do it a lot, and always have.)

I resent the care provider -- male or female -- that implies that things will never be the same "down there". They most certainly can! Couples should know that and not be scared off because they are afraid sex will never be the same.  It's just totally ridiculous.

Rant over.  Spread the word, ladies.  If you had an AMAZING birth, tell other people!  If you didn't tear and/or still have a great sex life, tell people! Well, as graciously as one can do that...  This will be fun at the next baby shower you attend. :-)

Monday, September 30, 2013

Birth Buffet

Recently, I heard someone talking about "methods" when it comes to childbirth education and they put Birth Boot Camp in that category.  It got me thinking...  Do we really teach our couples to do things a certain way at a certain time?  I thought about it for about 3 seconds before I answered NO!

I don't know about you, but when I think "method," you need to follow protocol.  What positions to be in at certain times, what to say and do during the pregnancy and labor, etc.  If you don't "succeed" is it because you didn't follow the "method" or because the "method" isn't what you needed or didn't work for you? I've heard many women say they "just didn't do it right".  Without getting into it, there are many methods out there.

I like to think of the Birth Boot Camp curriculum as a road map (with various roads leading to the same place) to help couples get an unmedicated birth. We do "train couples in natural birth" but it's not with a "method".  I have found over the years that there are some key aspects to getting a natural birth. You could be one of those women that are "lucky", but I don't recommend leaving it to chance.   I have a list of things that I think are important for couples to do. The order goes something like this:
1.  Education - Birth Boot Camp classes are amazing.  Just sayin. (Did you know we have a blog and online classes?!)
2.  Choosing - or sometimes changing to - a supportive care provider and/or birth place.  Learn the questions that really need to be asked, including the red flags not to be ignored.
3.  Communication between partners - on so many levels, this may be the most valuable thing you take away from classes.
4.  Practice and review the material - weekly assignments keep you on track and keep filing your tool box.
5.  Get your head in the game! OK, it's true, I LOVE High School Musical and I use that phrase as often as possible, but it's very applicable right here.

This looks different for each couple.  Everyone comes to class with their preconceived ideas of birth. Some have been educating themselves before they were pregnant and others have never given a thought to how the baby is going to get out, let alone birthing with a midwife or giving birth out-of-hospital.

So, call it whatever you want - a road map, a tool box.  We know that our couples are smart.  We will not tell you exactly what to do in labor.  There are just too many variations of labor to tell someone that they should do the same things as everyone else.  Work with your birth team.  You have so many tools to pull out because you have spent the last several weeks educating yourselves.

Yes, people talk about instinct when it comes to birth, but that can be overwhelming for some.  Some women find comfort in that belief and others do not feel in touch with their bodies to believe that they will really know what to do when it comes down to it.  This is one reason we feel so strongly that partners are educated too, really with the exact same 5 guidelines as mentioned above for moms.  Everyone is on the same page come birth-day.

The empowerment comes from making your own decisions, not when decisions are made for you!