Monday, July 29, 2013

Benefits of Natural Childbirth - Guest Post by Blogger Courtney Gordner

As you know, I've been accepting blog posts all summer long on various topics and from various people.  I hope you've enjoyed this series, getting to hear from different people and their opinions on a variety of topics.  There are still more to come, as we have decided to remodel instead of move.  My house, needless to say, is upside-down!  I appreciate those that have contributed this summer, including Courtney Gordner, who is featured this week.

"Women wanting to experience the joys of birthing a baby without anesthesia will tell you just how magical it is to give birth to a child naturally.  Despite all of the pain women are said to experience during labor, there are plenty of mothers who prefer delivering their children epidural-free.

Benefit 1: Natural Child Birth Gives Women Power
Nothing beats the feeling a woman has when she is in complete control over her own body.  For centuries, women have been giving birth without the use of drugs.  Natural child birth gives women power.  They generally heal faster and go about their daily lives in shorter time than mothers who remain hospitalized after birth.  They oftenconnect with their infants in a more intimate way when the child is born naturally.

Benefit 2: Natural Child Birth Recovery is Quicker

When a mother is required to feel the capacity of her own labor pains, she knows how hard to push to deliver her child.  An epidural numbs the pelvic area making it difficult to gauge how effective she is at pushing.  If that wasn’t enough to make you want to skip the anesthesia, knowing that you may need to remain in the hospital for a while after giving birth will.  You save both time and money by giving birth naturally.

Benefit 3: Natural Child Birth Helps Prevent Forceps Delivery

An epidural numbs a mother’s senses.  She may not know or remember how to push correctly and in the process her physician may help pull the child out of the birthing canal with forceps. Natural child birth allows a woman to feel her child leaving her body which will help her deliver better and prevent her doctor from using an instrument to extract the child from her. 

Benefit 3: Natural Child Birth Allows the Child to Feel and Be Aware of His or Her Surroundings

Natural birth allows infants to experience their surroundings without the haze that occurs from anesthesia.  If you want to give a loving gift to your child, choose to deliver them naturally.  You’ll heighten their awareness and allow them to connect to you and others in the room without fear.

There is nothing to describe the joy you feel holding your newborn baby for the first time.  Giving birth naturally allows you to experience this moment in its fullest capacity.  You and your child are able to bond without the haziness of anesthesia.  You also take pride in knowing that you’ve connected to your infant is an ancient and miraculous way.  Any mother considering natural child birth will gain peace of mind knowing that she is not putting her child in danger by delivering a baby under the effects of an epidural."
Courtney Gordner is a blogger with a passion for all things health, spirit and life related! Read more from her on her own blog,

Monday, July 22, 2013

A Letter to My Former OB

I have a great story. It's about a couple who educated themselves and broke free of their OB at over 39 weeks.  It was the difference between a vaginal birth and a c-section.  She was planning to give birth at the hospital where we did our rally last year - the worst in the area, as far as I'm concerned.  I wish I could tell you our rally made all these great changes in our community, but all it did was cause more animosity and bitterness - on both sides.  

I was so proud of this woman, not only for hiring a new care provider so late in her pregnancy, but also for writing this letter afterwards:
*This letter is shared with permission by the author.

As you may already be aware, I discontinued my prenatal care with your practice at 39 weeks on September 16, 2010. I am writing this letter to give brief explanation as to why, in the hopes that a better understanding of the situation will positively affect the care of current and future patients.

Until September 16th, I had been a patient with Dr. Udell for 10 years, I trusted her and respected her opinion. So when I found out that I was pregnant on January 10, 2010, it only made sense for me to continue my care with her. However, I was deeply interested in keeping my prenatal care as natural as possible. I am of the belief that my body was designed to create, carry, and deliver a baby with limited outsider involvement. This is not to say that I am completely against medical advancements and screenings, but I do not subscribe to inductions and cesarean sections when one or both lives are not potentially in jeopardy.  I do not agree that there is a sound medical reason for the cesarean rate in America being well over 30%. Being that I had done significant research on pregnancy and birth, I was well aware of possible complications that could happen and the implications carried with each of them. This being said, I made my wishes very clear to Dr. Udell early on in my pregnancy. Dr. Udell was agreeable and said she would do whatever I wanted as long as I kept in mind she was going to do whatever it took to keep both mother and baby safe.
When my husband and I took the tour of the hospital on June 13, 2010, we were unsettled by the policies surrounding labor and delivery at Medical Center of Arlington. The fact that the hospital did not seem to have any “pro-baby” policies, but instead had very rigid policies that were very counter intuitive made us very nervous about our impending delivery. The requirements for continuous fetal monitoring, and baby being taken from the room for 3 – 4 hours following birth, are the two that stand out in my mind at this time. However, the most unsettling issue was the statement, “Most of our births are scheduled inductions or cesareans.” The fact that Monica, our nurse tour guide, gave Dr. Udell a glowing review, was about the only saving grace for the entire tour. 
I felt secure in the fact that Dr. Udell was going to do exactly what she said. It wasn’t until my 30 week ultrasound on July 15, 2010, when my suspicions were confirmed that my son was going to be large, that my confidence began to waver.  I explained to Dr. Udell that both my sister and I had above average birth weights and my husband at the higher end of the average as well. She seemed to accept this response at the time, however getting a baby that was too big seemed to remain a recurring theme for the rest of my visits. It was not until my 37 week appointment, August 30, 2010, that I started to truly doubt Dr. Udell’s word.  I remember the comment that planted the seeds of doubt specifically, “I find that it’s best when somebody goes into labor naturally at 38 weeks, otherwise you run the risk of baby that can be too big.” At the time, I wrote it off and prepared for my 38 week exam.
At my 38 week exam, I expected a vaginal exam that was similar to the two I had already had on April 12, 2010 and August 24, 2010.  Instead, what I got was a very painful experience that resulted in spotting. I fully understand that vaginal exams are painful and can often result in spotting, the statement that Dr. Udell made, “You’re thinning, but not dilated. I tried to push through, but couldn’t,” was what worried me the most.  In hindsight, I should have asked her what she meant immediately. However, I was too shaken up by the whole experience to think about it at the time. When I called and spoke to Amy, her initial response was something along the lines of, “Dr. Udell was just trying to get things started.” Then when I mentioned that I did not want anything like that it became the standard of care.  Several times during the phone call I felt as though I was being made to feel like I wouldn’t know the difference because I was a first time mother. This, combined with my 39 week visit, where I was called out in the waiting room by Dr. Udell, told that she was feeling for the baby’s head, reassured that she woulddo whatever I wanted,  then told me whether I liked it or not to expect the next visit to be rough.  After that visit, I was very confused.  I got the answer that I ultimately wanted – I will do whatever you want- but it was followed by another comment that conflicted with the last.
In the end, the combination of the poor policies at Medical Center of Arlington and thecontradicting statements I got late in my prenatal care with Dr. Udell led me to believe thatthe likelihood that my birth would turn into a Cesarean section very quickly and easily. After my 39 week visit on September 13, 2010, an opportunity presented itself to switch to the Certified Nurse Midwives at Harris Methodist Fort Worth.  After several days of conversations with my husband and the midwives office, I made the decision that their philosophy of limited medical interventions, limited vaginal exams, intermittent monitoring,  clear fluids, and the option of hydrotherapy during labor were exactly what I was wanting. That combined with the fact that Harris Methodist Hospital was a “pro-baby” hospital, and had a wide array of policies that supported the birth that I wanted, including the fact that all testing immediately following birth are performed in room with the parents present.
I am happy to report, that on September 27, 2010 at 0130, I spontaneously went into labor, during which I was allowed to and instructed to freely walk the halls after my water broke,  I was able to have clear liquids, and use the tub for pain management. After being allowed to labor down for an hour and pushing for almost 3.5 hours, at 1552 on September 28, 2010 I vaginally delivered a 10lb 3.9oz baby boy.  While he was posterior until the last hour of second stage labor; we did not experience shoulder dystocia despite his above average birth weight.
While the prenatal care I received at your office was great, medically, I believe that it was the lack of confidence in the natural process and in my intuition in my body’s abilities that finally ended my care with your practice. I do continue to believe that if I had stayed with your practice this delivery would have definitely turned into a c-section and I would be fighting for my VBAC on the next one.

Thank you ,

Tiffany C.

If you were dissatisfied - or satisfied! - with your care provider, I encourage you also to write a note explaining why. Take it a step further and take a few minutes to fill out The Birth Survey.  In my humble opinion, this is how change takes place.  

Monday, July 8, 2013

Conversations in the Car

We are on a road-trip vacation, which I love.  I adore riding in the car.  If I am driving, I'm singing, though not well..  Sadly, we accidentally left town without any of our traveling music.  I wanted David to turn around 10 minutes down the road to get our Nancy Griffith CDs, but he refused.  So, we are driving a total of about 40 hours with nothing but Tim McGraw to listen to!  Needless to say, Darcy and I are the only ones OK with this!

 River Trail bridge in Little Rock, AR

Background on this post:  I didn't get a cell phone till I was 34.  In fact, I was pretty anti-cell phone before that.  Full disclosure -  I am a phone junkie.  If there is one nearby, I'm probably on it.  I knew if I had a cell phone, I'd never talk to my kids in the car again!  Looking back, I'm grateful I didn't have one.  Today, I try to be conscious of using the phone when they are in the car, especially when they first get in the car, like after school or a party.

Some of our most important conversations have taken place in the car. Everyone is buckled in and trapped.  It's a captive audience and I try to be one as well when they are talking.  It's where we talk about what happens at school, in the halls, recess, and how they feel about those things.  Lots of tears are shed in the car.  Lots of thoughts and feelings shared.  But it's also where a lot of laughter takes place.

I don't know what it is about the car.  You aren't necessarily looking each other in the eye, but often out the window.  It's easier to talk that way, sometimes.

I have learned something important over the years too -- kids talk about their day right after it happens, as they leave the building.  I don't know if they rode the bus if I'd hear as much as I do.  Now that my son drives, I rarely hear about his day.  By the time he gets home, he's on to other things.

On our drive this week, we had a wonderful conversation in the car with those that weren't plugged in to a device - literally.  I asked everyone about their thoughts and feelings about July 4th, which day we happen to be driving.  It was a great opportunity to not only share our feelings about the day (I don't think we would have on a normal 4th), but also to hear their thoughts.

I've learned that it's easier, not only for the kids, but often for me, to express my thoughts and feelings in the car while driving.  The key to to unplug and take advantage of the situation, even if it's only for 5 minutes here and there.  I notice that most of the parents are on the phone when their kids get in the car after school. They are missing an awesome opportunity for communication - one that may not happen as the day continues.  I've missed my fair share, for sure, and it's a very conscious effort to be off the phone when I'm in the car with my kids.

The experience this week reminded me of the importance of car rides and car conversations.  From Indiana, happy driving!

Monday, July 1, 2013

How I Became a Mormon

Yeah, I know, this isn't my typical line of conversation here.  I get a lot of questions though and decided to share my story with y'all.  I hope you don't mind.  In our circles, we say you should never discuss politics, religion, or birth!  We're already halfway there...

This is my simple - or not so simple - story.

I was raised in the Baptist church.  We went every Sunday morning and evening and again on Wednesday nights.  I didn't grow up hearing anything negative about "Mormons" and had 2 friends that were members of the church.  We didn't talk religion much, however, but I knew they didn't smoke or drink.  As I got older, like many teenagers, I strayed.  In fact, I started smoking at age 12.  By high school, I was a pack-a-day smoker.  (By college, I was easily smoking 2 packs a day.) At 16, I had a non-ambitious boyfriend 5 years older than me.  Combined with all the other things going on, my parents decided it was a good time to send me away.  Rather than military school (yes, I was accepted), I ended up at my aunt and uncle's house in Indiana.

It's interesting to look back at what sets you on a path and how you got to where you are today.  I landed in a dusty New Mexico town for college, as I was interested in majoring in broadcasting.  There was a tiny school with a good program.  Towards the end of my junior year, I started noticing a very cute boy around town.  I asked someone about him and they told me that he wouldn't date me for 3 reasons:

1.  He was 18.  (I was 21.)
2.  He was a Mormon.  (My religion didn't mean that much to me - I'm sure his didn't mean much to him either.)
3.  His dad was my boss at the TV/radio station I worked at.

The 3rd reason was by far the most terrifying.

But I kept seeing him around town.  I could tell by looking at him (I'm not joking!) that there was something different about him. I decided to call him. We met at the Tastee Freeze the next afternoon for a Coke.  I smoked 3 cigarettes during that date.

I knew in that first week of dating that he was "the one", but I think he needed a bit more convincing!  We were inseparable all summer long.  His dad set me a curfew so I'd get to the radio station for sign-on on time at 5:45 a.m.

After we'd been dating for about a month, we were sitting in his car one Saturday night when I asked him what makes the Mormon church different from other churches.  I was just looking for a simple answer. He was quiet for quite some time.  When he spoke again he just asked if I wanted to go to church with him the next day.  A chance to spend more time with him?  You bet! I had a sense, however, that he was about to share something very special and dear to his heart with me.

My first church "meeting" was a Fast & Testimony meeting.  I had never seen/heard anything like that before.   It wasn't one person running the meeting, but rather, several people sharing the deepest feelings of their heart in regards to Jesus Christ.  It was pretty amazing.  I liked being there. But I was ready to leave after an hour so I could smoke a cigarette.

I went to church with David for a few weeks.  Halfway through the summer we drove up to Santa Fe, my hometown, so he could meet my parents.  My mom wanted us to go to church with her Sunday morning.  After going to the "Mormon" church for several weeks, I must tell you, the feeling in the Baptist church was very different.  There was just a couple of people running everything, the prayers were written out in the bulletin, and honestly, it felt very... showy.  Like it was all a big show, trying to entertain the audience with the music and pounding the pulpit.  Children were in the nursery instead of with their parents.  I had forgotten about the offering plate getting passed, too.  That was, to say the least, awkward.  I was anxious to leave.  I felt different - better - at David's church.  It felt like the people really, for lack of a better description, meant it.  Their worship was... humble.

And so I continued to go to church with David during the summer.  I felt good about all that I was learning.  So many things that didn't make sense to me from what I had learned before made sense now.  I had a few key things happen that really set me on my own personal course of belief, not just relying on David's testimony.

David went to BYU that Fall and I was starting my senior year of college back in his hometown.  He was trying to decide if he should serve a 2-year mission, but it was a no-brainer.  I knew he should.  He had been such a good and positive influence in my life, I told him to go, that I would wait for him.  He had taken several years of French in high school and had a brother serve a French-speaking mission in Europe.  David desperately wanted to go French-speaking, but I could not stand the thought of an ocean separating us (don't ask), but I wanted him to have the opportunity to speak French.  I prayed that he would be called to Canada and would be able to speak French.  I could not believe it when he got his mission call to French-speaking Montreal-Quebec.  I simply cannot put into words how I felt.  I knew that my prayer had been answered, that my Heavenly Father was mindful of me.  I became more serious about the church after that experience.

I finished taking the missionary lessons and David baptized me 11 days before he left for his mission.  It was so good that I had those 2 years to be in church without David by my side.  As it turned out, my best friend, Janet, joined the church just 3 months after me.  We had each other and we grew in the gospel together.  Some of the most spiritual experiences of my life took place in those 2 years.

I love history. I found myself reading about the history and origins of the church.  I studied Joseph Smith's life over and over.  Simply put, through the Prophet Joseph Smith, Jesus Christ's church was restored to the earth.  This made sense to me.  There were/are so many churches who have so many different beliefs.  I've always felt that Christ would not be the author of so much confusion.  As I learned and prayed about whether or not Joseph Smith was a true prophet, I had a burning confirmation that, indeed, he was. He was persecuted, endured the most horrible hardships, and was eventually martyred at Carthage Jail in IL.  But he maintained that he knew what he had seen, and he knew that God knew it.  He would not deny it.  I have tender feelings towards our beloved prophet.

Are you wondering how I quit smoking?  I am here to tell you that it was by far the hardest thing I have ever done.  It was like losing my best friend. Truth is, I liked smoking.  I was depressed in the morning because I couldn't smoke.  It was hard.  I would quit on Sunday, but by Wednesday or Thursday, I was right back at it.  I was beginning to think I would never be able to quit.  My testimony continued to grow as I read The Book of Mormon and attended my church meetings.  I knew the church was true. May 12, 1994, I came across a scripture that I had read many times, but it hit me a different way this time:  1 Nephi 3:7  -- "And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father;  I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them."  The Lord would help me!  I needed to be very specific about what I needed.  My prayers had been half-hearted and shallow "Please help me to quit..."  This time, as I knelt with faith that the Lord would provide a way for me to live this commandment, I prayed that I would forget what it was like to smoke.  I never smoked again.

By the time David got home, I was solid.  We were sealed in the Salt Lake Temple just 2 days after he came home from his mission.

This year celebrates 20 years as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  My life is very different from the one I led before joining the church. I am eternally grateful for David sharing the gospel with me.

If you have any questions about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ask me or go to this link!  As much as I love all the other things in my life (birth, breastfeeding, Tim McGraw concerts), nothing is more important than this gospel.  I apologize for not sharing this with you sooner. As I was sitting in a meeting last Sunday, I had a strong impression that I needed to write my story here.

I searched for a short video to share with you about The Church, specifically, The Book of Mormon.  Many people do not know what it is about.  It is another testament of Jesus Christ, a record of the people on the American continents.  I feel much like this gentleman in this video.  Thank you for reading this post.