Monday, November 30, 2009

Reconsidering Christmas Gifts

Last year I did daily posts throughout the month prior to Christmas, and while that was really fun for me (and hopefully for you!) I have a newborn this year and don't have that kind of energy! Furthermore, I've said a lot of the profound things I wanted to say!! BUT, I do still have a few topics for thoughtful posts this season, so every week or so I'll be waxing philosophical again.
Enjoy my (holiday) monday musings!

In the past, Hubby and I have typically set a dollar budget for Christmas (and then typically tried to get as many items as possible within that budget). On the one hand it meant we kept Christmas 'modest' in a monetary sense, which I think is good for moving away from the greed and more toward the giving and Christ-centered holiday that we want to teach our children...on the other hand the whole stress over how much stuff can we get for how little money kinda defeated the point of it all.

So this year we were talking about it and I brought up the idea of only having 3 gifts per person (since the Wise Men brought the Christ Child three gifts). Some people make it more specific where "The gold gift is something they want. The frankincense gift is something they need, like socks. And the myrrh gift is something to nurture their souls." (I've also heard the idea of giving 4 gifts: "something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.") These ideas felt closer to where we wanted to be, and yet neither was quite what we wanted, because one of the biggest issues is that we want our kids to care about the giving side of Christmas, so we want to encourage/help them to give to the other family members. Then Hubby came up with a brilliant idea!
We have concluded that from here on out each person in the family will get just one gift from each other family member. While the kids are young we will help them pick out gifts for each other person (and we'll subsidize) but as they get older we'll encourage them to think of gifts themselves (we'll still subsidize--within reason!). So for example Bear will get one gift each from dad, mom, Wolf, Santa, and each set of grandparents (not sure if we're gonna have gifts 'from' the baby brother this year, since he'll only be a few weeks old!). BUT, I'll also be helping Bear choose/give gifts to each other family member as well.
In the long run, we figure we'll be spending about the same amount of money, because there will only be one gift from mom, and one from dad (rather than several from us)...things will just have different 'from' labels, and be thought of/chosen by different people rather than all from mom and dad. (Hubby likes to do the Santa thing, so that will still happen...but I'm currently trying to negotiate for Santa gifts to be things that fit inside the stocking, so they will be small...keep the fun and 'magic' of the idea of Santa, but stay away from the greedy side of it. )

Anyway, I'm really excited because it will still keep Christmas spending/greed/stress to a real minimum, but this idea feels like we're going at it from the other direction--it's not about the dollar amount or the number of gifts, but since we each get to pick out just one gift for each other person, each of us is going to end up making it more personal and meaningful, you know? Especially as the kids get older I'm hoping to encourage homemade things or passing along things (like books or toys that they've outgrown). It feels so much better than if we were just trying to pack in the maximum possible bang for our buck.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Pregnant in America

Recently I watched the film "Pregnant in America." I have to agree with all the netflix reviewers who said that it was somewhat of a B-grade movie, and in many ways inferior to "The Business of Being Born." With that said though, I still recommend it for a couple of reasons:
1--it is clean (no language, no nudity...BoBB has quite a bit of both, and while they are in context, they are still bothersome for many viewers).
2--the film features interviews with a broader range of people, ranging from experts to random people on the street.

One quote (played during the credits, so I don't know who said it) was particularly memorable:
We can only change things in two ways: either with litigation, or with education.
Obviously, I'm a proponent of the latter.
While this movie does have its flaws (it gets pretty dramatic--in melodramatic way--at the end; and they don't provide references for most of their statistics, so I don't know how precisely factual they are), it's still an effort at education, and for that I must applaud least a little bit.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Facebook Friday

Sunday 11/22
Jenni wonders why people always ask if the baby is "a good baby." Of course he's good. He's straight from Heaven. Some babies have more needs than others, but they are ALL good.

Monday 11/23
...forgot how much harder it is to nurse a LITTLE baby at the computer...he doesn't hold on by himself very well!

Tuesday 11/24
... loves that new baby smell...mmm, milk breath!

Wednesday 11/25
... is going grocery shopping, to the post office, and to my 2wk postpartum visit with the midwife...Hubby is back to work and I'm back to normal life. I'm not sure if it's exciting or sad that the babymoon is over.

Thursday 11/26
Thanksgiving Day thankful for three little guys and a big guy
[and also for the church friends who invited us to join them at their inn--along with about 30 other people--for Thanksgiving dinner and 6 hours of friends to play with and good conversation.]

Friday 11/27 thinking about putting up some twinkle lights in the window...betcha Eagle will love them. (I know Bear will.)
[Christmas-related stuff is officially allowed now that Thanksgiving has passed]

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Oh yeah, we had a homebirth...

A couple of people commented that they thought I was planning a birth center birth, not a homebirth. It's true, at the beginning of this pregnancy I did talk about a birth center as my ideal. At the time it was. However, when we finally found out which city we were moving to, I discovered that the nearest birth center was 80 miles away (remember midwife K who arrived 10 minutes after the birth? She was from the birth center...) I actually considered going there but was hesitant about the distance particularly because my due date was in the wintertime and, well, this is Alaska! So I opted out of the birth center, which left me with either home or the hospital.
I didn't think that Hubby would be comfortable with home (since he wasn't last time), but I had heard such good things about the midwife here that I decided to meet her anyway. I also visited the L&D area of the local hospital, and actually it was quite nice: more birth center-like than I would have expected of a hospital, even in a pretty naturally-minded area. However I still just felt really good about midwife A. So I prayed about it--I told God that I liked the midwife and was feeling drawn to homebirth, but that I needed His go-ahead that this was an appropriate and safe choice for this birth. After all, the vast majority of births are safe at home, but occasionally one isn't, so I figured it made sense to get an ok from Someone who would know.
I continued to feel very peaceful about birthing at home, and as I started trying to visualize labor and birthing I always pictured myself at home (in the dark...see, I did know something!)
When I felt like I knew what I wanted, I talked with Hubby...I told him that I really liked the midwife, and that I wanted her to attend me at home, but that I needed him to be part of the choice, and to be comfortable with what we chose to do. He said that he "would be more comfortable at the hospital," but that he was "ok with home." So I started planning for a homebirth.
We basically adopted a "don't ask don't tell" policy about the homebirth plan though--we answered honestly if someone asked us (only a few people did), but otherwise we didn't volunteer the information. The reason for this was that we knew that some of our family members would worry a great deal over our choice, and we didn't want them to worry (nor to have to listen to their worries). So we simply waited until after Eagle was born and then called them and said "he's here, by the way, he was born at home...yes on purpose..." In the meantime, since we weren't telling our family our plans, it didn't seem appropriate to be telling the rest of the world either. So we didn't.
I used the term "midwife" here on my blog, but I guessed (and rightly) that many people would assume I was seeing a CNM who would attend me in a hospital or birth center. My mother and sister (both homebirthers themselves) saw the term "midwife" and assumed I was planning a homebirth, but I don't think anyone else did. ☺

At my 3-day postpartum home visit, Midwife A asked Hubby if he'd liked homebirth better than the hospital.
He said "yes."

Monday, November 23, 2009

Musings on Movies for Little Kiddos

Anyone who has a toddler or preschooler knows that they like the same things over and over: the same books, the same songs, and the same movies. While I detest using the screen as a babysitter, I’m not opposed to letting a kid watch a movie a few days a week (I usually use the time to get my housework done, to put a baby to sleep, or even take a nap…hey, sometimes I need one!)
Since they always want to watch the same few movies though, I at least try to help them see the lessons contained in those movies.
For example:
  • In “Finding Nemo” Nemo’s troubles all began when he disobeyed his father. I won’t argue whether Marlin was overprotective or bossy, I’ll just stick with the simple fact that if Nemo had not ventured into open water he would not have been caught by the diver. Lesson: obey your parents.
  • In “The Emperor’s New Groove” Kuzko was mean to Pacha. In fact, he was downright beastly—he lied and tricked Pacha on several occasions. But through it all Pacha forgave him and was nice anyway. Lesson: be nice to people and forgive them no matter what they may do to you.
  • “The Incredibles” has a lot of loyalty to family, teamwork, believing in yourself, and working hard.
  • “The Lion King” teaches about the circle of life (which I like), and also shows that facing problems works a lot better than running away from them.
  • “The Dark Crystal” shows a triumph of peacefulness over violence, and also vindicates hard work and tenacity.
  • I like most of the Veggietales too, but of course those were intentionally created to teach lessons, so I figure they are sortof obvious. ☺

And just for the record, here are a couple of movies I am really bothered by (because of the lessons in them)…
  • Aladdin—Everybody tells lies and it’s ok so long as you’re a nice guy, and incidentally lying can really pay off if you tell the right lies to the right people, and then apologize a little bit when they catch you.
  • The Little Mermaid—(besides the immodesty) It’s ok to disobey your parents and do whatever you want because in the end you’ll be right and they’ll be sorry.

Can you think of any children’s movies that you love (or hate) because of the lessons hidden within them?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Eagle's Birth Story

I have a lot of thoughts and feelings that I want to put with this story, but it's taking me a while to get them all into words, and since the story part is actually fairly short, I decided to go ahead and post the facts and then I'll post the thoughtful part later on.

There is a standard which suggests that if mama has contractions that are one minute long, 5 minutes apart, and continue at that rate for an hour, then she is in active labor and should go to the hospital (or call the midwife). In the two weeks prior to Eagle's birth I achieved that status at least four different times, always in the evening. On each occasion, I thought hey, maybe this is finally it...but since the contractions never got closer together or more intense (and in fact always slowed when I laid down for bed, if not when I was snuggling in the kids) then I knew it was not really labor. After three days in a row of it however I did call my midwife just to let her know what was going on. I told her I felt a bit silly calling, because I knew this was not it, but I thought she should know that I was contracting a lot, and regularly. She said that probably my body was warming up, and that as soon as the baby's head engaged I would have a fairly fast labor. She encouraged me to do things that would help him engage (ie--drop down and put pressure on my cervix).

I spent two days doing belly lifts/hip tucks and hip circles (both on and off the ball) trying to get him to descend, but so far as I know he hadn't engaged when I went to bed on Wednesday (my due date). He may have started to engage though, because over the course of the evening I had a half dozen contractions that seemed different from the many previous ones. I can't explain how, they just seemed different... I had a gut feeling that I'd probably wake up in the middle of the night in labor, but since I'd had that feeling on several nights in the prior two weeks I didn't bother to say anything to Hubby, and just went to bed as normal.
Bear woke up around 3, so I got up to comfort him for a few minutes, and as I got back in my own bed I had a really uncomfortable contraction. Then 10 minutes later another--the kind where you think gosh, laying down is terrible, I have to move. 10 minutes later I had a third so I got out of bed to lean on the bathroom counter and do hip circles, and the contractions promptly switched to being 5 minutes apart. After all the false starts I decided to wait another 40 minutes to make sure they kept on consistently before I woke Hubby, but I knew they were going to.

Shortly after 4am I woke Hubby. I told him I was in labor and that I needed him to put up the pool. He didn't know yet that I'd been up for over an hour, and later admitted that he wondered if it was another false start and was very tempted to roll over and go back to sleep. But he got up and started puttering around. I felt terribly impatient at this point and started working on the pool myself--we had inflated it to about 80% two weeks prior so it was quick and easy to finish the job. I think my impatience in getting the pool out helped Hubby realize that I was not at all iffy on whether this was the real thing, and he quickly stepped in to get it done for me. As he was working on the pool he informed me that he was going to have to run in to his classroom briefly, as he'd been working on some things the afternoon before and would need to put them away if a substitute was coming in that day. (After two weeks of figuring that any day could be the day, I guess he had reached the "she's gonna be pregnant forever" state of mind too!) He said he would probably only be gone about 20 minutes, so as soon as he finished inflating the pool I told him to hurry and go because I knew I'd need him soon. We called the midwife to let her know that this was it, and she said to call her back as soon as anything changed and she would come right over. So Hubby left, and I took a shower, lit some candles, and started filling the pool.

While he was gone my contractions continued to be 5 minutes apart. After a little while, needing to convince myself that I was making progress, I decided to do an internal check on myself. I had tried this several times throughout the pregnancy, and especially during the final weeks. During pregnancy the cervix is very high and also tipped to the back, so I was never able to reach it very well (I was familiar with what it felt like when I'm not pregnant because I check it regularly as part of my fertility awareness, but pregnancy is a whole different ballgame!) I had discussed with my midwife how I couldn't feel it, and she said that the height combined with the softness of it in those late weeks was probably why. This time when I reached in though I could clearly feel it: I guessed I was around 3cm dilated and I could feel the sack of waters bulging. The sack is the coolest thing to feel--sortof slippery and slimy but also obviously very strong. I couldn't feel the baby's head behind it, just the squishy edge of the sack, but I knew he must be right there since I was dilating.
I started really focusing myself into the labor. The body can (and will) do the work of birthing pretty much on its own, if mama will just relax and let it do so; on the other hand, if mama will work with her body (as opposed to merely stepping aside for it) then the whole process can be all the more effective and efficient. Ina May Gaskin talks about "integrating" contractions so that you can move forward and into the next level. Birthing From Within teaches a similar notion when it encourages the mother to go into the center of each contraction. So as I leaned against the counter and circled my hips I repeated words like "down" and "center" and "deeper." In the prior couple of weeks I had mentally stumbled upon the image of a drop or stream of water coming down onto a pool and the waves of ripples radiating out from it--so I took that image (with the downward and outward motion) and replayed it in my head over and over.

As soon as Hubby got home (around 5am) my contractions became noticeably more intense. I really think my body was just waiting for him to get home before it allowed labor to progress. I was needing to concentrate enough that I couldn't time them myself anymore, but Hubby said they were still 5 minutes apart. They were stronger though, so we called the midwife. Since my water had not broken, I'd had no bloody show, and they were still 5 minutes apart, she said she'd be over soon but we all understood that she wasn't rushing. Hubby got a quick shower and I got into the pool.
I had planned to labor in the water with Bear (although at the hospital they'd have me get out for the actual delivery), but labor had been so long that by the time we got to the hospital I was too tired to do anything but lay on the bed. This time I had had a nap the prior afternoon, plus gotten half a night's sleep prior to waking up in active labor--I was awake enough that I was far more conscious of everything that was going on (I was falling asleep between contractions at the end of Bear's labor). I also had enough energy this time to be upright and moving around, which I believe helped labor progress rapidly...although I think this would have been a faster and more intense labor regardless. In any case, warm water felt fantastic on my hard-working middle and back. I sat down in the water between contractions, but during them I still needed to be up and moving, so I knelt up and leaned on the edge of the pool and continued my hip circles...the only problem was that this brought my hips out of the water (right when I wanted it most!). So Hubby got a saucepan and poured water over my lower back during contractions. I have to say, now that I have labored with water, I cannot fathom wanting to labor without it! I started vocalizing through the contractions--keeping a loose throat can help keep a loose bottom, so a low "ahhhh" while contracting can be helpful--and it simply came naturally.

Midwife A arrived sometime around 6am I think--I was far enough into laborland that I had no concept of time. I had recently checked myself again and estimated that I was around 5cm dilated--still with the bulging waters. Bear had recently wakened and Hubby put on a movie for him. A had me get out of the pool between a couple of contractions so that she could check my vitals and dilation. I knew I was in serious labor because I didn't feel the need to grab a towel or sarong when I got out (I'm normally a very modest person, and had those things on hand because I'd expected to want them). Modesty is one of those things that just goes out the window in labor, which is good because it would be terribly inconvenient if it didn't! I was pleasantly surprised when she reached in and said "you're about 8cm dilated" (she later told me I'd been "a stretchy 8"). I got back into the water for a contraction while she called her associate midwife K (who had a 90 min drive) and got her doppler ready, and then I sat on the birth ball so that A could listen to the baby's heartrate through a couple of contractions. During the first one his heartrate dropped dramatically, but during the second it stayed steady. Contractions can be stressful for the baby, though not usually dangerously so, but she needed to listen through a couple more to determine which result had been the anomaly. The next three contractions--two with Hubby holding under my arms (suspending me), and especially the one laying on the bed--were awful. Contractions are intense anyway, but without the mediating effect of the warm water they were harder to integrate. (Did I really spend an entire labor on a bed last time? Yikes!) Baby's heartrate was stable through the subsequent contractions, so I got back into the pool.

Getting back in the water felt glorious, and was just in time...the next few contractions were stronger and I was getting louder at the peaks. I wasn't focusing myself into them anymore, just trying to stay on top of them and let my body work. I remember thinking that this was awfully hard and I'd rather just stay pregnant, and even that I totally understood why epidurals are popular...and then it hit me that those kinds of thoughts are a sign of being in transition, and that it meant I was in the home stretch! (I don't recall having any of those sorts of thoughts during Bear's labor--presumably because I was too tired to have thoughts that conscious.) Between contractions I stretched out, laying my head on the side of the pool and letting my body float out behind me. (A commented "now that's a woman in labor!" so we took a picture, but I cropped it for the blog...I'm open but not quite that open!)
I guess I woke Wolf at this point--though 7 would have been his normal wake up time anyway--he joined Bear watching the movie. I started feeling pushy. I wasn't sure if it was my body pushing or my mind wanting to push, but I told A because I figured she'd want to check me again to make sure I was fully dilated. That's what they'd done in the hospital after all. But A just said "do what your body wants to do; don't do anything that hurts." What perfect advice for labor! I don't know if the timing was coincidental or if her "giving permission" freed me, but with the next contraction I was definitely pushing, and I was getting louder too. A asked if my water had broken yet, and it hadn't, but within a couple more contractions it did. If feeling the bulging sack with my finger was weird, feeling the sack break spontaneously was really strange! (Bear's water was broken by the OB.) It was something akin to blowing a bubble gum bubble and having it pop all over your face...except of course it wasn't on my face. I really thought there was an audible pop, but I guess in the midst of labor sensory perception is garbled because Hubby and A both said it didn't make noise.
The older boys' movie got over and they came in. Wolf sat back but Bear came right over, put his hand on mine, and started vocalizing with me.
Within another contraction or two I knew things were getting close so I turned over and leaned back against the side of the pool rather than staying on my knees leaning forward. I know a lot of women deliver on their knees or hands and knees, but I wanted to be able to look down and see what was happening. In retrospect this was pointless because I couldn't see around my belly, but at the time it seemed terribly important. I reached in and for the first time felt my baby's head: all soft and wrinkly and covered with hair! The mind definitely doesn't function normally in labor, because I had the momentary thought "he doesn't have a skull" (because I could only feel the soft wrinkles of his scalp). Fortunately the work of pushing distracted me before I had a chance to linger on that notion!
Interestingly, once I turned around I no longer felt contractions nor a physical urge to push. I had a huge mental urge to push, but nothing physical. However I could feel the baby's head coming down so I had no hesitation about pushing like crazy. I'd had a feeling for some time that this baby would be bigger than the last one, so I had mentally geared myself up for a 9 pound baby. As I felt his head begin to enter my birth canal I had the thought that it was impossibly big and would never fit, but there's not really any way but down and out at that point, so I pushed anyway and remarkably enough he slid on down without much trouble at all. Of course sliding down the canal is one thing, actually getting out is another. I don't recall the classic "ring of fire" as he crowned, but I was aware of many hands being there--Hubby was in the pool with me catching the baby, the midwife's hands were supporting my perineum, and I realized that I had reached down to support myself in the front as well. Being part of my own 'catching team' was something I don't think I ever would have done in a hospital, but it came instinctively and I think it helped me not tear. His head came out, but then he stopped at the shoulders. I was pushing but he wasn't budging. Hubby moved aside and A started working the baby back and forth to get him out. My mind started racing with thoughts of shoulder dystocia and I just knew that she was about to tell me to turn over (it's easier to get sd babies out if mama is on hands and knees) and I was just sure she was going to have to break his clavicle to get him out (that's the official procedure if the baby won't come unstuck). All within the moment I was already beginning to mourn my baby's broken shoulder...but A never asked me to flip over. I felt pulling and stretching that made delivering the head feel like birthing a pillow (A later told me that she had her hands "in there with him" to get him free), and then suddenly she was done and Hubby was handing me the baby and A was putting a towel around the little one.

The first moments after birth are so precious, just staring into the eyes of my new little one and realizing the blessing of being part of a miracle.

I hadn't been able to see it, but Eagle had a nuchal hand (his hand was by his face as he was born, so although his head measurement was 36cm, the addition of his hand made it 38cm--15 inches). Hubby and A were discussing the nuchal hand when I felt a uterine twinge and knew it was time to deliver the placenta. I started to hand Eagle off to someone when I realized we hadn't cut his cord so he was still attached to me. I pulled back the towel to expose the cord and discovered that it had broken on its own! I had never heard of such a thing (and I have read a lot of birth stories). A said that it happens occasionally, but is very rare. She clamped it to make sure he did not lose any blood through it, and then turned to help me with the placenta. Delivering the placenta is easy--it doesn't have any bones. ☺
An unmedicated birth is followed by a rush of adrenalin, so I climbed out of the pool and took a quick shower. While I was showering midwife K arrived. Both A and K commented that I seemed very lively for someone who had given birth just minutes before...I wasn't trying to be lively or anything else, I just felt fantastic and ecstatic (and very glad to have the baby on the outside!). I climbed into my bed (how wonderful to be able to get right into my own bed!) and tried to get Eagle to nurse. He wasn't interested for a while, in spite of Bear telling him that nurn was good and he should try it. Wolf cut the umbilical cord (closer to his navel, as the break was several inches down). After we'd all had a chance to cuddle the baby a bit A examined me. She said that between the nuchal hand, the big head, and the stuck shoulder she'd expected to have a big sewing job, but somehow I had no tearing at all. I don't know if it was being in water, being well-supported, being relaxed, my prenatal diet, or something else, but A pronounced that I had "a beautiful vagina" and after double-checking that there was not even a skidmark, she tucked me back into bed with my baby.

B C Brighton
Born on November 12, 2009 at 8:03am
8lbs even, 20.75inches long, 36cm (14.5in) head
(Bear was 7lb1oz, 19.5in, but his head was the same size!).

This labor was shorter but more intense than my last one. I was more conscious of everything, but also more in control. I do not have regrets over my choices nor the events of my first birth; in fact Bear was not even an hour old when I told Hubby "I could do that again!" (a sentiment I did not feel for a couple of days this time). However if I could choose one labor & birth to repeat in the future, it would definitely be Eagle's.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Facebook Fri-er-Saturday

(hey, I have a new baby in the house, and when Hubby is home there's a sort of loss of sense of which day of the week it is...)

Saturday 11/14
Jenni always forgets just how tiny newborns are...even newborns who are a lot bigger than their brothers were!

Monday 11/16 knows the official score: dimpled children--2, undimpled children--1. Welcome to mama's team [Eagle]!!

Tuesday 11/17 writing out the birth story
I'm still writing...the story part is short and simple, but my thoughts and feelings about it are not so will probably have to be two posts.

Wednesday 11/18
Jenni's toddler is asking for airplane cookies (as he flies the cookie cutter around the house). I DID offer to make cookies together since he didn't get to go to scouts with daddy and big brother, but in spite of my attempts to explain it he doesn't seem to understand that the airplane cookie dough has to be chilled for several hours and thus won't work for tonight.

Friday 11/20 longer has to feel guilty: baby is in cloth now ☺
I was feeling a little guilty for putting him in disposable diapers for the first week or so (just as long as one package lasted)--not for environmental reasons, but for the comfort of it (because I had cloth for me during that time). ☺

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Quirky Thursday--I'm Weirder Than You

You know how there are some things that everyone likes, or that everyone dislikes? We have these seemingly universal human preferences, and then someone like me comes along and ruins everything.
I don’t like peanut butter cookies.
I don’t like ginger snaps.
I don’t like Jane Austin books.
I hate shopping for clothing.

…on the other hand…
I don’t mind grocery shopping.
I don’t mind doing laundry (and I don’t let it stack up).
I don’t mind scrubbing the kitchen floor--it gives me a wonderful sense of accomplishment.
I prefer kneading bread by hand
I don’t mind bathing the dog.
I got rid of my kitchenaide because I prefer mixing most things by hand.

So, how about it, where do you break the rules of normalcy?

Monday, November 16, 2009

"The Vulnerability of Men"

This is excerpted from an essay by Vincent Bach (you can read the full text here). He was born in the 60s in the USA when almost all boys were circumcised, but "by a fluke" as he says, he was left intact. He was aware of the difference from a very early age, and has written a number of essays about the issue. Incidentally, he is grateful for that "fluke" and strongly opposes circumcision.
As most of my readers probably know by now, I oppose routine infant circumcision. In talking with other mothers though, I find that many of them don't like the idea, but when they bring it up with their husbands, the father is insistent on circumcising so mom gives in and goes with it in spite of her feelings on the matter. For those mothers in particular, I share this essay.
First of all, you need to understand that circumcised men are cornered on this issue. They were circumcised without their consent and have no inherent knowledge of what being intact is like. Even though they rarely will discuss the issue, they are keenly aware that they have been surgically altered in a very private way. There are several ways for a man to deal with this issue but the safest way, psychologically speaking, is to believe at all cost that the surgery performed on them was an enhancement and is preferred by women. Confirmation of this belief is essential to their sexual self-image. Do I need to tell you that sexual self-image is a major issue for men? Didn’t think so.

Now put yourself in the shoes of the circumcised man. He asks for very little. All he wants is football on Sunday and to be assured that there is nothing wrong with his package. A nice bonus would be that women actually prefer it the way it is. Then along comes the newly pregnant wife and the issue of circumcision is no more personal to her than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and she starts openly discussing it with him with all the casualness that she would with her gal pals down at the salon. Yikes! Batten down the hatch. Incoming torpedo!!!! At first the strategy is to dismiss her without appearing to be alarmed. He’ll probably toss back the usual "It's not clean" or "That could cause health problems" hoping this will scare her off since he assumes she’s heard those things before. He won’t seem particularly disturbed at first. Its part of being a man to not show vulnerability.
I think it's important to acknowledge that its perfectly understandable that our circumcised friends react this way. Men who have been circumcised have an extremely difficult dilemma. For them to acknowledge that the practice is unnecessary and harmful means that they must acknowledge a painful personal reality. For that reason circumcised men can be forgiven if they don't want to lead the parade in the fight against routine infant circumcision. I can empathize and therefore understand completely why so many men will voluntarily offer their sons up for the same procedure without giving it a second thought. To do otherwise opens them up to some vulnerable feelings that can be most unpleasant. Society puts lots of expectations on women but it also puts a couple on men. One of them is that he be sexually virile. You know - masculine, strong, potent GRRRRR!! I think many circumcised men accept without question and perpetuate the myths regarding the intact penis in order to cope with this particular expectation.

So, the problem is how do we save our son’s genitals without psychologically emasculating their fathers?

Hmm...well I think the first step is having a better understanding of just how personal an issue this is for him. The reason I spent so long discussing it is because it's extremely important and he’s not going to tell you about it.

Going into the discussion, you’ll be much better off knowing what’s really bothering him. Trust me, he really doesn’t give a hooey whether his son’s penis looks like his. What is important is that his bulb is not dimmed. Probably not a good idea to refer to the practice in initial discussions as genital mutilation (although it certainly is that). The thing that you need to get across to him with all your female charm is that you love him EXACTLY the way he is and wouldn’t change a thing. In other words, I think the best strategy is probably to build him up as high as you can before lowering this boom on him. The ship can only take a hit so big before going under. So get your armor out and start fortifying his self-image. What means everything to him is that he is the best lover and provider that you could ever hope for.
Please don’t use my lame words exactly. I ain’t got no feminine charm :-). I suspect you get it and can take it from here. Ironically, if you succeed, you’ll be giving your man a huge future reward in that his son will someday be a man and will know all too well the tremendous courage it took for his father to break with this barbaric custom and leave him intact.
You can read further writings of Vincent Bach here.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Facebook Saturday ☺

Sat 11/7
Jenni just noticed a dusting of snow on the ground...last summer I was trying to help Bear understand when the baby would come, and told him "after the snow comes." This last week I was thinking our mild autumn would make a liar out of me, but I guess not. Maybe this is what baby was waiting for?!
  • Bear just went and looked out the window at the snow coming down and said "hey mommy, our baby is all ready to come out!!"
  • For the last three days every evening has been sprinkled with good contractions for several hours, but they always petered out when I went to bed. This morning though I'm already getting a few, so who knows, maybe today will do it! It's not really a storm out there...just a dusting so far, with more gently sifting down...but if it keeps up for a few hours we'll get a decent accumulation, so we'll just have to see!

Sunday 11/8
7:33am somewhat annoyed that the boy who can hardly drag himself out of bed at 7am on a school day has NO trouble getting up at 6 on the weekend to play computer games (but can't manage to take a break long enough to put on a Wiggles movie for his now-awakened toddler brother so I have to get up too).

Monday 11/9
...spent most of the night fighting with my unborn child. He thought it was a good idea to kick my rib. I didn't. I pushed that foot away a LOT of times. Just come on down and out kiddo, then you can stretch your legs all you want!
1:07pm doing hip circles on the birth ball. Move down baby, engage, move down...

Tuesday 11/10
...watched a house a block away burn to the ground in under 15 minutes last night. The family escaped safely but has *nothing* but the clothes on their backs. It really makes you stop and think about what is really important in life.
11:13pm [Hubby was stuffed up and it made him snore and I couldn't sleep] accepting that 2ish weeks of laborish stuff + no baby = no baby will ever come out and she will be pregnant forever. That's labor math for you!!

Wednesday 11/11
...just published the 40 wk belly photos. Hmm, didn't get to do that last time since Bear was born before the EDD.
[Guess I got those just in time, eh? I had planned to take some belly shots in labor which is what I did with Bear, but from the time I woke up in labor there was no way I was going to stand still long enough to pose for pictures because contractions are much easier when moving!]

Thursday 11/12
...announces the arrival of [Eagle], born at home in the water and into daddy's hands at 8:03am. 8lbs even, 14.5in head AND *nuchal hand, and mama has not so much as a **skidmark. (Yay for waterbirth!)
*A Nuchal hand means that rather than his arms being down at his sides, his hand was up at his head--in this case, on his cheek. It is not uncommon (I looked it up and it seems it may be as frequent as 15-20% of babies), but it does mean that the baby's head--already usually the biggest/hardest part to birth--now has something next to it as well so even MORE stretching is required. Nuchal hands are not dangerous, but they do usually involve tearing for mama. My thoughts on why I didn't tear will be included with the birth story which I'll probably get written and posted sometime in the coming week.
**A 'skidmark' is a very small tear, often not even stitched because it's so minor.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


...that Eagle arrived this morning at 8:03 after 5ish hours of labor.
He was born at home, in the water, into daddy's hands.
8lbs even

all the details will be in the birth story which I will get to sometime in the near future. ☺

Banking Cord Blood

I have to thank Miche over at Coordinated Chaos for sharing this post about cord blood banking. A lot of us have heard about cord blood banking, but what a lot of us may not realize is that there are two different types of banking: one is to bank it for your own family (for which you pay a pretty penny, usually around $2000 to start plus annual storage fees) and the other is to donate it to science. Cord blood contains embryonic stem cells and is therefore valuable for research even if you have no need or desire to store it for yourself. It also can be used in transfusions, and is somewhat comparable to bone marrow in that way--except that it's not painful to extract the way bone marrow is. And, of course, donation is free.
When I was expecting Bear I asked my OB about donation and he didn't know anything about it. I did a little poking around online but was unable to find anything, and admittedly I did not pursue it at much length. As it turned out, because the cord was around his neck so tightly, we had to cut it in the middle (to finish getting him out) and then cut it again closer to his navel. So I think it wouldn't have been possible to save or donate it anyway. But I still think it's an issue worth considering!!

Here are a few links for further reading (Thanks to Miche for sharing them first!):
Some basic information about cord blood banking (both personal banking or donation), with lots of links to additional information
How to donate cord blood--including information about who is eligible, where you can donate, and how the process works.
Frequently Asked Questions--including what is done with the cord blood, privacy issues, and what you can do if your hospital isn't currently set up for donations.
CordBloodRights--a site encouraging action for legislation to make saving/donating cord blood the default (instead of just throwing it away which is what usually happens unless you specifically request that it be saved). (This site is run by Cord Blood Registry, so it's not truly unbiased, but it does have some good information.)

There are those who prefer to leave the cord uncut until it has stopped pulsing (which means that all the blood has drained into the baby), or even those who do a "lotus birth" (which means that they don't cut the cord at all, but merely pack the placenta in herbs and then carry it around with the baby until the cord detaches naturally). If you believe in those things, then obviously cord blood banking isn't something that's going to work for you. However, for most standard births--particularly in hospitals--the cord is cut within minutes or seconds of birth, and there is plenty of blood still in the cord. If this is your plan for birth, then please take the time to check out some of these links and consider making a donation that could literally save lives!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

40 Weeks

It's here: that big official estimated due date! Of course, it doesn't really mean anything except that I'm now halfway through the period during which my baby is considered "on time." Thanks to the two weeks of prodromal labor I am feeling like he'll never come. It's frustrating and tiring and I feel sore and I'm sick of all the false starts. If I add up all the hours of contractions I've had over the last two weeks I'm sure I've clocked a good 12-15 hours of early labor. Most days I have minimal appetite and it's difficult to maintain my attempts to stay well-hydrated, avoid sugar, eat lots of protein, and take all my vitamins/supplements every day.

Bear was born at 39w1d (have I mentioned that yet?!) and of course laborish things started with this kiddo at 38w2d, so I've been anticipating birth any day now for a while. That is mentally exhausting in and of the physical discomforts of loose hips and a big belly. I think I mentioned before that there have been several nights where I was so sure that I'd be wakened in the middle of the night with hard labor that when I woke in the morning and found myself still pregnant it was a bit befuddling.

About a week ago there was a rainstorm all night long...every time I woke to go to the bathroom or settle my toddler I heard the rain pattering on the roof and thought "that would be perfect for laboring...tonight would have been a good night to have a baby."
Last Saturday we woke up to a dusting of snow, and throughout the morning more gently wafted down, and I thought "this is so beautiful, this would be a good day to have a baby."
Yesterday was 11/10/09, and I thought (as I have been thinking for several weeks) "this is such a neat date, it would be a great day for a birthday."
But Eagle has not come on any of those perfect days. I don't know why, but apparently the time is not yet right. I am having contractions--even regular ones that come close together for several hours at a time--but they never progress. We know that the baby is floating pretty high, and until he comes down and his head engages then my cervix isn't likely to dilate because it has no pressure on all these contractions are essentially unable to progress into active labor because of his position.
Ironically, most labor encouragements focus on stimulating contractions--and I'm already getting plenty of those--so they are useless to me. Even a pitocin drip would probably do me no good, since it merely causes contractions, and I have plenty of those! If I were to go in for a traditional induction I would probably spend several hours hooked to an IV with hard contractions but little or no dilation, then they'd conclude that my labor was not progressing so they'd break my water, (which brings the risk of prolapsed cord since the baby's head isn't covering the cervix, and that's an automatic c-section...) If the cord didn't prolapse then the birth would probably follow shortly BUT then one still has to ask the question--if this baby is not engaging on his own, why not?! And is it really a healthy idea to force him out if he's not ready yet?
So instead I am spending time doing hip tuck/belly lifts, hip spirals on the birth ball, and some lunges. All those positions are supposed to encourage the baby to drop into position, and once he does that I suspect that labor will come on and move quickly. For now it's just a matter of waiting for baby to come down (because I can only encourage and facilitate, not force him down!) so I keep talking to him about it and sooner or later he'll decide he's ready.

Until then, I have only one pair of pants left that fits, I have managed to accumulate more stretch marks (in spite of being well-striped already from last time), and I am feeling very very large. I keep crashing into things with my belly because I'm just not used to sticking out so far (need a cup from the cupboard? I'll need to grab a step stool cuz my belly holds me out so far from the counter that I can't reach the shelf any other way!) I'm tired, I'm sore, I'm cranky, and it's entirely possible that I'm losing my mental acuity at least a little bit (remember how I keep waking up confused at still being pregnant? Yeah, that...)

Here are a couple of pictures taken today (please forgive them being slightly's hard to take pictures of myself in the mirror one-handed, but I consistently forget to remember to ask Hubby to take the pictures on the right day, so this is what ya get!):

(No, I did not wear my shirt tucked into my pants all day--I may be losing my mind but I'm not THAT geeky! It was just easier to get an accurate profile that way.)

And the belly in all it's big stripey roundness:
(The other night Hubby put his hand on it as I was having a contraction and commented at how hard it was "it's like a basketball" he said "I could palm it!" Yeah, but betcha he couldn't throw it through a hoop!)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pause to Think...

Last night Hubby and I were sitting up watching a movie. I'd had some pretty good contractions earlier in the evening (the kind I had to pay attention to) so we were hopeful that baby might finally be on his way. (He apparently wasn't.)
It was just a little past 11 (I'd been timing contractions so I'd been looking at the clock a lot) when I saw a fire truck come down the next street over. As you may recall, we have large picture windows in our living room, and we are on the second story. It happens that the two houses across the street from us are both single-story homes, as are the houses behind them facing the other street. So I had a pretty good view of this big truck with lights aglow. As always happens when I see an emergency vehicle, I got a little lump in my stomach, and sent up a quick thought for whomever had called for help... I said something to Hubby about wow, we're on a little dead-end street without all that many people on it and that was a big fire truck. He surmised that it had been an EMT call since we couldn't see it anymore...and just then we saw the truck return and stop almost directly even with us (on that next street over). We only know some of our neighbors at this point, but we do know someone who lives right there, so we started watching out the window to see if we could tell which house they were going to.
Perhaps a minute later I was focusing on a contraction when Hubby said "oh my gosh" and I looked out the window just in time to see massive flames burst out of the upstairs window of a house on the far side of that next street (we didn't know those residents). There was very little smoke (at least that we could see) but within seconds we could tell that the house was a total loss--the flames were massive. (No, this is not the actual house we saw, this photo is from an insurance website...but this is similar to what it looked like.)
A second fire truck arrived as the roof went up and we heard the house collapse. Hubby said he kept feeling like he should try to go over there and help, except what would he really do but be in the way...the firefighters were doing all they could to contain the fire and we knew that anything still in that house was lost.
I was grateful that there was snow on the ground--if only a little--and that the air was cold and damp. Regardless, two neighboring evergreen trees burst into flame one after the other, sending sparks high into the dark sky. We stood there frozen, watching out the window with a strange mix of horror and awe at the magnitude and power of the thing. Both of us had fleeting thoughts of hurriedly grabbing some clothes and blankets and putting them in the van in case the wind changed and we had to run ourselves, but everything went so quickly that there was not much time to think it let alone respond to the thought. When the flames disappeared, and nothing was left but the enormous cloud of steam rising where the firefighters' streams hit the pile of embers, I thought to glance at the clock again. It was 11:24. I don't know exactly what time we saw those first tongues of flame, but the whole thing was at most 15 minutes, and probably closer to 10.

As we got ready for bed Hubby posed the question: If we had to get out of our house, and had gotten the kids, but had just one minute to grab one other thing, what would you want?
One thought came instantly to my mind, and as I voiced it he agreed that it was the first thing he had thought of too: we would grab the laptop computer, because it has years worth of photos on it, and photos are irreplaceable. Yes, we have scrapbooks and I have a couple of boxes of print photos that I am slowly getting into albums...but those would be hard to grab, and the computer has the most so with limited time that is what I'd grab.
Hubby asked what I'd grab if I had enough time for two things...I thought for a while...I have some beautiful things, some things I love, some heirlooms or things I've spent hours and hours creating...but they are all just things. The honest truth is that I'd probably grab the file folder with everyone's birth certificates and passports and our house deed, and if I still had time I'd try to grab some blankets and/or extra clothing for everybody, because yeah, I'm practical like that. Hubby said he'd grab his journals.


This morning I found out from my neighbor some more details about the family whose house burned. They were in bed but woke up and were all able to get out unhurt. They are a young couple with a toddler and she is 7 months pregnant. They have nothing but the clothes on their backs--he was not even able to grab his glasses, without which he cannot see. I am so thankful that they are ok, and am talking with my neighbor (since she knows them) to see if there is anything I can do to help.
I do not know how the fire started.
ETA--on my morning walk with Bear we walked past what remains...I was slightly mistaken in that it was two streets over, not one, and a one-story house, not two--the hill made it look closer/bigger than it was I guess. Also it's not quite gone--there is a bit of a burned-out shell left...but nothing salvageable.

It is all a very timely reminder though--obviously to think about what is really important to us, but also to remember about fire safety: The fires that usually kill are hot and fast, not slow and smokey. Don't expect to have time to grab stuff if your house catches on fire, you will probably have to just run as you are (so don't sleep in your underwear!!). Hold your family fire drills! Never leave a fireplace or candle unattended.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Thoughts on Inductions and Encouraging Labor

As you can probably tell from some of my recent posts (particularly my facebook friday one) I'm getting ancy for this kiddo to be born. Ironically I'm not even to my due date yet, but my body keeps giving signs of labor, and I'm past the date where I delivered Bear, so I'm feeling overcooked even if I'm not really. I confess this last week I've given some thought to inductions, and feel like I have some understanding for why women choose that route. (I confess I even had a dream wherein I got one of my crochet needles and broke my own water!!) I never felt this way with Bear, first because I was prepared to go past 40 weeks because I know that's common for first-time moms, but secondly because I didn't have ongoing prodromal labor as I have this time. When labor started with Bear, it started and it continued until he was born. This time has, obviously, been very different!
There are two types of "induction," but they're not really the same at all, so I prefer to think of them as "inductions" verses "encouragements." The former will stimulate labor forcefully, the latter will simply encourage it to move along if (and only if) it is ready to happen anyway.

Standard inductions include administering synthetic hormones (such as pitocin) via IV, or via vaginal suppository (such as cytotec, which by the way, commonly causes birth defects, uterine rupture, and maternal death--if you don't look at any other links in this post at least look at this third one here!).  Inductions of this sort are commonly done because the woman is "overdue," or because either the woman or her doctor had a schedule to keep and just wanted to get the baby out already. A friend of mine put together an excellent post on why "Overdue is NOT an Emergency" and she cites many references to back up that stance.

Dangers of Induction
In my opinion, one of the biggest problems with having an induction based on dating is that estimated due dates (EDDs) are just that--estimates--and are wrong at least as often as they are right. A woman who has anything other than a 28 day cycle (or who ovulates on any day other than day 14) will have an inaccurate EDD if she bases it on her last menstrual period--which is what most providers do.
Secondly, EDDs are based on average gestations, but some women gestate for 38 weeks and some gestate for 42, and there are differences from one child to the next as well as from one woman to the next. So even if you know that your dates are correct (because you know your date of ovulation) you still can't really know how long your baby needs.
Inductions do not always work--particularly if the mother's body was not showing signs of readiness (dilation and effacement) prior to the induction. As mentioned in the post I linked above, when first time moms with no dilation and no effacement are induced at 41wks (merely because of the date), they have about a 50% chance of ending up with a c-section for failure to progress. In other words, half of them will not go into labor in spite of the induction, so their babies will have to be delivered surgically.
Finally, there is evidence to support the idea that every week (even every day) that a baby spends in utero prepares him for life outside the womb. It is true that medical science has found ways to save the lives of babies born very very prematurely, but ask any of those premie's moms and they will tell you that they would have preferred that the babies be full-term. Just because the babies are able to live does not mean that it is in any way desireable for them to have been born so early! Babies who are even just a couple of weeks premature often have under-developed lungs, insufficient fat stores, eating problems, immature livers (leading to jaundice), and underdeveloped/undersized brains. But don't we also need to worry about the baby getting too big? Nope, we really don't.
I believe that inductions are terribly overused, and not nearly as appropriate (or as safe) as we are led to believe.

Encouragements are quite different from inductions, in that they will stimulate contractions, help ripen the cervix, or facilitate the baby's head engaging with the cervix, but they will not really force labor to start. I am comfortable with encouraging labor--particularly when the woman's body has already been giving signals that it's about ready.
Here is a short list of labor encouragements and how they work:
  1. Walking--being upright and in motion can encourage the baby to descend into the pelvis and engage his head with mama's cervix, thus stimulating dilation. Many women find that physical activity brings on contractions as well.  (Safety feature--if mama's body isn't ready for labor, the contractions will usually stop once she stops walking.)
  2. Doin' the Deed--yep, you got it, the same thing that got the baby in can encourage the baby to come out. This actually works in four ways: A--daddy's semen contains prostoglandins (the hormone that softens the cervix), B--if mama orgasms then those contractions can stimulate labor contractions, C--nipple stimulation releases oxytocin (which is explained more fully below), and D--getting mama relaxed and increasing her blood flow to her pelvic area can be helpful as well. There is really a lot more in common between getting babies in and getting babies out than what most of us have been told, but all the organs and muscles are the same, and many of the sensations are comparable, so it's only logical that they should work together so nicely.
  3. Nipple Stimulation--I've heard a few mothers say that nursing their toddler got labor up and rolling, or of course daddy can help out, or mama can do it herself with a breast pump (it does need to be a sucking type of motion). The reason it works is that it releases oxytocin, as mentioned above, and oxytocin causes uterine contracting--this is exactly why immediate breastfeeding helps to get the placenta out and reduces the risk of postpartum hemmorage (because it causes the uterus to clamp down).
  4. Consuming Castor Oil--basically castor oil will stimulate the bowels, and since the bowels and uterine muscles are ajacent, stimulating one often stimulates the other. (Loose bowels is a common symptom of early labor, as the body tries to get everything out of the way to make as much room as possible for the baby to get through.) Theoretically any laxative could cause this result, but obviously laxatives also carry the potential danger for dehydration, and castor oil is sufficiently nasty that I doubt the average mama would take enough of it to overdose! Incidentally, on top of castor oil being nasty, it doesn't always work, so you may be taking a dose of nasty for no reason...just something to keep in mind. ☺ (If you do want to try it, I'm told it can be chugged in a glass of orange juice to cover the taste, or try mixing it with some scrambled eggs (before frying them), and you'll get greasy eggs but they won't taste too bad.)
  5. Eating Spicy Foods--these can stimulate the digestive system, which may stimulate contractions. Of course, spicy foods may also stimulate heartburn, so attempt this at your own risk! I have heard that garlic may work this way too.
  6. Squatting--my midwife recommends spending time in a deep squat (like a yoga squat--lean against the front of a couch or hang on an exercise ball if you need some support). Essentially this position can help encourage the baby's head to engage with the cervix.
  7. Dance--get your hips moving in as wide a range as you can, especially in circles (like belly dancing or hula). The wide stance opens your pelvis, and the movement can encourage the baby to descend...sortof like a combination of the walking and squatting. Whether or not you utilize this to encourage labor, it is also a very helpful thing to do during labor.  (edited to add: this is what got this baby to engage and come out. After 2 1/2 weeks of solid "early labor" every night, but no progress, literally a day and a half of hip circles every 30-60 minutes got his head engaged and moved him right down. I did hip circles during almost every contraction in labor too, and he was out in less than 5 hours. Your mileage may vary of course, but I have become a BIG proponent of hip circles!)
  8. Evening Primrose Oil--this can be consumed in capsule form or applied to the cervix directly. Either way, many midwives advise it during the final month or so of pregnancy, and it is supposed to help soften the cervix, which in turn should facilitate dilation when labor does start.
  9. Acupuncture or acupressure--it's important to do this with someone who is trained specifically for it, but some women report rapid results. Of course some women also report that nothing happened.
  10. Chiropractic Adjustment, Massage, or Reflexology--some women say it works, some say it doesn't... rubbing the lower half of mamas calves (in the back) is supposed to get things going...
  11. Consuming Red Raspberry Leaf--RRL is a uterine toner, so consuming it throughout pregnancy is a good idea anyway. Consuming increased amounts of it in the final weeks will not generally stimulate contractions, but can help the uterus prepare to work effectively when labor does start.
  12. Consuming Blue & Black Cohosh--these herbs are commonly touted in the naturopathic world as a "natural induction" but they do carry risks. I am not comfortable with them myself at this point, but if you are inclined to try them make sure you read up on them first!
  13. Get busy doing something else. Really. Stop focusing on being not in labor, and go find something productive to do--once the baby comes you'll be too busy to do anything else for a while, so use your time now to clean the house, play with your other kids, spend time with your spouse, pamper yourself, or change the world. ☺
  14. This site also has a great list of suggestions (with additional links with additional info)

If any of my readers know of other methods (or references) that I have neglected here, please leave them in the comments and I'll edit them into the post!!

Facebook Friday (with bonus comments!)

(quick review of the end of last week...)
Friday 10/30
Jenni thinks that if last night is anything to go by, we're on babywatch proper now. The moon is full, I keep having contractions, and this little one may decide to be an October baby instead of a November one. [Also I lost my plug, which, you know, may mean 2 hours or 2 weeks...With Bear it happened at the beginning of labor...]

Most of my status updates this week involve being on babywatch...that is, that final few days of wondering and waiting and obsessing over every little thing that just might be a sign that labor is beginning. So I've included not just the status updates, but also some excerpts from the comments (the bullet points). Most of them are me answering questions from other commenters... there are also a couple of general comments from me, as usual...

Saturday 10/31
...FINALLY has a middle name for the kiddo. Now he can come out!

Sunday 11/1
... isn't in labor, and wishes her body wouldn't imply things and then back out. Just follow through already!!
  • I didn't have nearly so hard a time waiting last time...I think because I didn't get these crazy false starts. When labor started it was slow and long, but it was the real thing...this time I've had twice now with intense contractions right on top of each other...and then they just quit.
  • The name thing may have been holding me up mentally, along with not wanting him to come on halloween...but I'm particularly frustrated now because those are over/resolved, and still nothin. I think the big issue is that I don't contract when the kids are up--so I figure i'll go into labor after their bedtime, fine, but it seems the *entire* family is conspiring against me on that one.
    I know it's not false labor, but it's definitely false starts, and I'm so burned out (and miserable--physically and otherwise) right now that I had a massive breakdown this morning already and I haven't even been up for 2 hours. It's going to be a looooong day.
  • I've been napping with Bear every day, so that's something. I've stayed up a little bit with hubby the last few nights watching movies but I'm not going to do that anymore. If he wants to skip the sleep that's fine I'll go to bed without him.
    I do have a couple of people I can call to help out, but if I can labor at night then they'll just sleep and it should be easier on everybody to not have the extra people around...The way these mid-night contractions have been (and also my midwife's prediction based on how soft I am) I think this labor may be a hard fast one, so if that works out then hopefully I won't need to call anybody in.
One of the most frustrating things has been that I've had lots of other labor symptoms, including lack of appetite, nausea and/or heartburn if I do eat, feeling generally cranky and a bit spaced out. All of these things are fine in labor, but since I'm not having contractions and am therefore NOT in labor, it's really difficult to do things like, oh, maintain my nutrition!!

Monday 11/2

...has nested until it seems there's nothing left to do...laundry is done, kitchen is clean, bathrooms glisten...I guess I'll make some bread. Nothing like getting involved in a time-consuming project to make sure you get interrupted, right?!
  • [a couple of commenters asked if I'd come to their houses next ☺]
  • [JV] Aww, baby bread! I wonder if there's a recipe out there anywhere called that because it's "guaranteed" to make you go into labor either in making or eating it. Then again, that sounds a little... morbid. Never mind. Have fun with the breadmaking!

Tuesday 11/3

...made bread (both regular and banana), plus zuppa de tuscana for dinner, and managed to get some nice contractions going around bedtime...but they didn't stick. Today we'll try hands and knees scrubbing floors...
...just found out that my midwife is catching another baby today, so I guess I'm glad I'm not in labor at the moment...

Wednesday 11/4 (My sister's birthday, 39wks, and the gestational date at which in went into labor with Bear)
...will let you know when there's a baby to announce...until then, I'm still feeling crabby, my appetite is screwed up, my hips hurt, and I keep walking around chanting "down and out baby, down and out."
  • [DR] Sleep while you can woman!
  • oh I am D__. I nap with Bear every day and I've been trying to head to bed early. One of these nights I'd just like to be awakened by the baby coming out instead of the toddler coming in. ;)
...made homemade sesame chicken for dinner tonight--it's the first food that's actually appealed in a week, so I ate lots. Mmm, protein...

Thursday 11/5 (The gestational date at which Bear was born--yeah, he held off till after midnight)
...sees the midwife this morning...Since Bear had been born by this gestational date, I'd kinda hoped to not make it to this appointment. Oh well, every day is one day closer to meeting Eagle.
10:03am officially waddling. I guess the babe did move down last night, even if he didn't manage to get *all* the way down!
At my midwife appointment today we found that I'm still 1cm dilated and not at all effaced, and baby is still at a -2 station (meaning 2 cm above the pelvic bone) change from last week. She thinks I "look done" though...sortof like when you peek at the cookies in the oven and can tell that they are done even though the timer hasn't gone off yet. Neither of us expects me to make it to next week's appointment...
Tonight for the second night in a row I've had pretty decent contractions going through the afternoon/evening, and really thought we were probably going to see a baby out of it...but in both cases once I'd taken the time off to put the older kids to bed the contractions stopped. I think--and my midwife agrees--that my body won't labor when I'm in mommy-mode. She anticipates that I'll go into labor after bedtime one of these nights, and while that's possible, I'm noticing that the bedtime routine seems to be the end of my maybe next time I'll have hubby put the kids to bed and I'll do other stuff and see if the contractions will keep going...

Friday 11/6
...has decided to take it upon herself to create/organize a breastfeeding support group here in Homer. There doesn't seem to be one, and the nearest LLL is 90 min away. For all my friends who are involved with such things, do you recommend joining LLL or just striking out solo?
  • (yes, I am actively seeking ways to stay busy/distracted right now...but this is something I believe in and want to see happen anyway, so I'm not gonna ditch it when labor starts LOL!!)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Why Birthing Matters

A few months ago I was talking with Hubby about birth options, and he asked why women make such a big deal of where and how they give birth. After all, if the point is to get the baby out and have everybody healthy, then isn’t one place or method as good as another? (He really didn’t ask in a heartless way like that, he just genuinely wanted to understand.) This is an issue that is raised frequently, so here is my attempt to explain why birthing matters.

There are two parts to this in my opinion. First it’s about safety and respect, and secondly it’s about personal accomplishment.

Many women report feeling like they had no choices, no control, and/or no rights when they were laboring and birthing. Schedules had to be kept, this or that intervention came up, and lady you’d better be quiet because you don’t know anything anyway and we are trying to save your baby here. This sort of experience is often referred to as “birth rape” and (given the power-play involved) that seems to me an accurate term. During labor a woman is at her most vulnerable—not only is she without clothing and (commonly) laying down, but her body is doing things which are beyond her control, and in the midst of all that SHE HAS TO RELAX! After decades of being pushed around and told how we should labor and birth our babies, is it any wonder that women are becoming assertive about birth and insisting on different providers, locations, or methods for their births? A woman should to be able to choose the things which allow her to be comfortable. If there is anything that inhibits labor it is feeling uncomfortable! I don’t know anyone who can relax and let their body do its thing when they are stressed…it’s a little like trying to have a bowel movement with half the neighborhood watching.

There is a second reason why birthing choices matter though, and in some ways I think this one may even be bigger than the first, and that is that birthing a baby is the ultimate expression of femaleness. We in the western world live in a culture that has spent the last century de-feminizing women. Some of these changes are the result of technology, and many have come at the behest of the women themselves, but the result is the same: women are becoming more and more like men. They dress like men. They talk like men. They work in the same offices at the same kinds of jobs. They take medications so that their hormonal swings over the course of their menstrual cycle are minimalised. They can even limit or stop the menstruation itself. Many do not marry. Many do not have children (or if they do, they hand them off to be raised by nannies or daycare and school systems so that they can continue to work). They are out of touch with the natural cycles of the world: they live in a climate-controlled home that is the same temperature year-round. They work in a climate-controlled office. They drive in a climate-controlled car. They eat the same imported foods year-round and probably don’t even know what foods are in season when. As mentioned before, they control (or do away with) their menstrual cycles so that not even that bit of nature is allowed to occur naturally. But birth, that is an exclusively female domain. No man can do it. In other words, for many women, giving birth is the one time in her life when she is being true to what she is--when she is actually doing something as nature intended--and that can be a powerful (and empowering) experience. It is her chance to be a WOMAN rather than another androgynous clone. Is it any wonder that many women spend so much time and emotion planning for their births? Especially given that most women in our culture will only do it once or twice, is it any wonder that birthing matters?

Monday, November 2, 2009


Neither I nor any of my siblings have any dimples.
Hubby has one dimple.
Wolf has two (or three, if you get a really really big grin from him).
Bear has three dimples--which he obligingly shared with us within minutes of his birth.

Any bets on the baby?

I'm hoping for the dimples. They're just too cute.

I'm also harboring a tiny hope for red hair, although I know it's not terribly likely...but my mother has red hair, as does one of her sisters, and one of my brothers, and I have (natural) red accents, and they tell me that if grandpa grew his beard that was there's a tiny chance and I can hope, right?!
OK, fine, so I can't realistically hope for red hair. But maybe I can hope that he's got a big mop of hair (like Wolf) rather than being more or less bald for a year (like Bear)? C'mon, Hubby has really thick hair, so that should balance out how thin mine is, right?!

I have a sneaking suspicion that he has big feet. Both the other boys do (I noticed Bear's within the first day), and based on the size of the lumps that protrude from my belly when this kiddo kicks, well, yeah, I think he has big feet. That's ok for a boy though, I'll just hope that someday I'll have a girl with nice little feet like mine. ☺

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Musings on Contentment

Why is it that so few people are content? Why does it seem that the grass is always greener elsewhere? Some other job, some other house, some other city, some other partner... Why are we always saying "I would be happy if only I had _____"? How is it that we become so fixated on what we don't have that we forget what we do have?
It's something of an epidemic I think, and it's not a healthy one. Yes, it is good to make progress in life, to make changes and improvements, and to "move up in the world." BUT, most often the changes and improvements that need to be made are not in our environment but in ourselves.
The truth is that no thing, no person, no job, no house, no place will ever be perfectly perfect. I know people who spent vast quantities of money building their dream home, and almost as soon as it was finished they found aspects of it to dislike. Couples who are "totally in love" have divorced within a year of the wedding. The ideal job inevitably loses some of its excitement , and the perfect city reveals itself to have rainy days, cranky people, and bad traffic just like anywhere else.

I am convinced that contentment is not something that happens to us, but rather it is something that we choose. Contentment is an attitude. Life will always have imperfections, but scripture teaches us that "man is that he might have joy" and I take God at His word on that. If we are meant to be happy, but circumstances will never be perfect, then clearly we can--and should--make the choice to be happy regardless of our circumstances.
I know that is usually easier said than done. I have to frequently remind myself to notice the little things that are good and right in my life and world. Sometimes they seem elusive, but the more I practice finding them the easier they become to find. Last year this month I issued a Thanksgiving Challenge to myself and to any readers who cared to join me--on Thanksgiving Day I posted 365 things I was thankful for (one for each day of the year). When I started writing the list it felt slow, laborious even, to come up with so many things...but as I progressed through the list it became easier and easier. When I reached #365 I realized that I could think of a half dozen more things to boot.

There is always something to be discontent about...but there is always something to be content about too. The real difference between contentment and discontentment is not what kind of life you have, but which things you choose to focus on.

So no, this year I'm not issuing a formal Thanksgiving Challenge like I did last year, however I am issuing an informal one: Take a good look at yourself and your level of personal contentment. If you are happy, then good for you! If you are not happy, then step up to the plate and make the choice to get happy--to make contentment yours. Because it's there available to all of us, if we'll just make the choice to have it.

Linked Within

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...