Friday, December 23, 2011
My first reaction was nearly crying. Not again, not again, not again. Suddenly, the reality of repeating my previous labor experience seemed intensely real. Then, as quickly as the sadness of that had descended over me came, it left as I realized that this time I was in labor. I was having strong contractions. This time would be different.
I woke my husband. The second time in his life to be roused from sleep with the words, "my water broke!". The poor man! He asked what to do, and I told him to call our doula. This time, I saw no reason to get our midwives involved before it was absolutely necessary. I think a part of me wanted to be sure that labor was progressing before starting that stop watch. Even the midwives have limits when safety is a concern.
Our doula, after a week of worrying about me and knowing that I was frustrated and ready to go, was happy to hear that this was finally happening. She instructed us to time them and call her back.
While my husband timed them, I was in and out of the shower, bath, and back upstairs to our bedroom with the birthing ball. Eventually, he called the midwives. They said we didn't have to come in until we wanted to and I wasn't ready so we stayed home. The pains got stronger and I knew I wanted our doula with us soon so she showered and came over at around 5 in the morning. I had no conept of time - I know the timeline only because she kept track and wrote us a lovely birth story and noted in it the timeline.
By the time she got here, I had been having a lot of bloody show and mucus and the like and I somehow believed that this was indicative of being around 3cm. I was somewhat scared that if this was 3cm, I might not be able to handle 8 or 9. But after an hour, we were all in agreement that it was time to head to the midwifery. I was not fearful, but I was concerned that I was not as far along as we thought. I think this stems from being told repeatedly during Jack's labor that I was not in labor, was not progressing, that my contractions were not real.
The midwifery is a special place. When you arrive there, the walls are covered floor to ceiling in the tiny blue and pink footprints of every baby born there in the last 12 years. They are running out of room on the walls. They have three labor rooms - each with a queen size bed and a jacuzzi tub, and the feeling is homelike. One of my biggest fears throughout my pregnancy was that the rooms would be full and I would not be able to labor there. When I realized that it was Thanksgiving day, I was convinced this would be so. But we arrived and were ushered into a room with pink walls.
The downside of laboring at home for so long is that a 20 minute car ride to the hospital at 6 in the morning is the longest 20 minutes of your life. And possibly the most painful. Every time my husband stopped at a light, it took all of my willpower not to open the door and get out. Once we arrived at the midwifery, I had to be lying on the bed with the monitors for 20 minutes. This was almost as painful as the car ride, made worse by the monitor dropping off of my daughter during contractions, which meant more like 45 minutes of monitoring to be sure she was healthy enough to labor there. She was!
When we finally got unstrapped, I got into the shower. The tub was not warm enough and they were working hard to get it ready for me, but I needed something to help with the pains. At that point, I had already begun to feel the urge to push but was convinced that it wasn't time because when they checked me, I was only 6cm. I say "only" but in reality, I was thrilled to hear that. I had been terrified that I would only be 2 or 3cm. My husband got into the shower with me and during my contractions, he supported all of my weight while I dangled from his arms and tried to relax my muscles. Our doula coached from outside the shower, applying counter pressure to my lower back during surges.
When I finally couldn't ignore the urges, I told my husband I wanted to push. The next thing I knew, I had to get out of the shower because they wouldn't allow me to deliver in there (no room) but the tub wasn't quite ready. I remember asking over and over why I couldn't get in the tub and never hearing anyone answer, although I'm sure they did. I know now that they needed the temperature higher first. When it was ready, I was in there as fast as I could get in and my husband climbed right in there after me, a first for our doula after attending hundreds of births. I started out sitting but when I said I wanted to push, someone suggested I turn over onto all fours, with my arms on the built in seat. This gave me the leverage I needed and kept my head mostly above water (I do remember breathing out several times and discovering that my mouth was in the water). It took about 15 minutes of pushing. I remember feeling her descending. I'm certain that I could feel her head go through my cervix and travel down the birth canal. Despite the pain, it was an amazing thing to witness!
And then...and then she was here. My husband caught her, which means so very much to me. During my first pregnancy, I read about a couple who had a homebirth in a tub, and the father caught his baby. It struck a cord with me and became a part of the ideal birth in my head. Within moments, everyone was helping me turn over and she was in my arms. I felt instantly that I recognized her as my daughter and felt that she was the most amazing thing in the world. I felt that all of my work had been shared with her, that we were a team and she had wanted me as badly as I wanted her.
I am amazed with my body and even more amazed that moments after delivering her, I stood up while holding her to my chest, climbed out of the tub, and walked to the bed. Obviously, I was assisted but I had no idea that I could do that. The midwives prefer to deliver the placenta on the bed, and with her still connected to me, we looked into each others eyes. I was thrilled that there was no rush to cut her cord, but when offered, my husband declined (again - but Jack's was wrapped around his neck and had to be cut before the rest of his body could come out) and the next thing I knew, the midwife was handing me the scissors and telling me where to cut. I think it speaks volumes that the midwives would offer such an option. I've never heard of a mother cutting the cord (but then, most fathers are more into doing it themselves).
I should mention here that last night, my husband informed me that the scariest part of labor was when I stood up from the tub because blood was gushing out of me. I never noticed, possibly because I was totally enamoured of my new little baby girl.
No one tried to take her from me. She lay on my chest for a long time. She peed on me, and when I encouraged her toward my nipple, she refused it, preferring to find it on her own and nurse contendedly for a while. She was loud, screaming for much of her first hour of life outside my womb. At first, we were worried that something was wrong. Then we realized that it was good, healthy, normal for her to scream. It just seemed abnormal after our son was born medicated and quiet.
Somewhere in there, our doula asked eagerly for her name. We had kept it a secret and were pleased to introduce Paisley Evelyn to her and her midwives, who had been caring so lovingly for both her and her mother for so long. We made phone calls, took pictures, and she had her footprints taken. My husband had one put on his arm, and later had it tattooed on there.
Eventually, she was weighed and measured and my little chunky butterball baby was 8lb 9oz (a whole pound bigger than Jack was as birth!) and 20 inches (and an inch and a half shorter!). We have had no real issues with nursing and she is for the most part a happy baby. She sleeps well and is growing fast!
I cannot imagine a better birth story. Labor isn't easy and for the most part, it isn't fun. I learned the hard way that no matter how badly you want to, it isn't wise to push through the ring of fire and somewhere where I can't easily see, I'll have a scar to show for it. But that aside, everything went exactly as I had hoped it would. The most wonderful thing was not having to worry about my needs as a woman being met. I needed to be present, participating in my labor and dictating how I labored with support from women who knew what to expect. In fact, the midwife and the nurse were barely there in my memories of her birth. They were in the room, quiet and in the background, ready for her arrival but not intervening or invading my space. When I believed I could not possibly survive another second, my doula and my husband both reassured me that I was 100% capable. I felt safe there.
In a couple of weeks, Paisley's footprints will be added to the walls of the midwifery. For some reason, this means the world to me. It represents a journey that for me, was so essential. I once read that for as long as a woman lives, she will remember how she was made to feel while in labor. Since Paisley's birth, the pain of Jack's labor has dulled. I don't dwell on it anymore. It doesn't make me quite so sad. I'll never forget, but stronger now is the memory of how empowered, respected, and safe I was made to feel in my second labor and delivery.
I wish every woman could labor and deliver at such a magical place.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Basically, Jack was the only good thing that happened the day he was born.
I hate to even say that, but the fact is that the 24 hours leading up to his birth were awful for me. I was treated like a bystander...worse, a bystander who knew nothing about anything. I was treated with little or no respect and nurses were rude and impatient with me for wanting a natural childbirth. They made it clear that this was, in their estimation, not going to happen. The OB we were working with was subtly threatning me every time he came in the room. He looked at his watch constantly, counted down the hours until we would have no choices (as though we ever really had any). He flat-out lied to us several times.
You see, my water had broken before my labor really started. For that hospital and that doctor, that meant I had exactly 12 hours to produce my son before they would be hooking me up to everything they could and getting him out as fast as possible.
They knew from my birth plan that c-section was the last option for me, and they used that to threaten me into pitocin. When the pitocin kicked in and hit me like a ton of bricks, I had an epidural before I knew what was happening (and, incidentally, I believe I had started to handle the contractions pretty well by the time the anestesiologist showed up so I wish I had put my foot down and said no).
Once the epidural was in place, magically the nurses stopped coming in every 20 minutes. Suddenly, I didn't need so many cervical checks (or, as it turns out, any). Did I mention that when the pitocin kicked in good, one nurse forcably checked my cervix in the middle of my contraction? She solicited consent from my husband by scaring him. She told him if I was in that much pain, I must be ready to push. Then she told us that no, I was not dilated at all and informed my husband that I couldn't handle natural birth. Nice, huh?
I spent the next few hours crying quietly in my hospital bed. Sleep? Forget it. The numb feeling from the epidural drove me crazy. I wanted to cut my legs off. And someone came in every so often and turned me over, increased the medications, and took my blood pressure. Not sure who could sleep through that. I was also freezing cold. When I started feeling contractions again, they informed me that I was almost ready to push. My husband woke up and before I knew it, I was pushing with my husband on one side, a nurse on the other, and the absolute terror that the OB wouldn't get there in time.
The nurse informed me that all the nurses had delivered babies, so I shouldn't worry. That just made me wonder why I needed an OB at all. But he did show up, just in time to catch Jack, deliver the placenta, and stitch me up.
And Jack was beautiful. He was quiet - didn't even cry for his bath. I recall holding him on my belly, and then having him taken away for apgar, bath, etc. So important to get his weight and length as soon as possible...then, suddenly, my husband had him. He was all swaddled and pink and they looked so beautiful together that it took me a while to realize that I was supposed to want to hold him.
I was supposed to. It isn't that I didn't want to hold him. I just felt no connection to what was going on around me. When I asked for him back, my husband handed him over and I remember being so amazed that he was really here. There really had been a baby boy inside me all those months and now I was finally holding him in my arms and yet...something was missing. I felt no rush of love. I knew, intellectually, that I loved my son. I had loved him from the moment I saw two blue lines and through all the morning sickness that had me dry heaving at night and left me almost 15 lbs under my pre-pregnancy weight before I could eat again and began to gain. I loved feeling him kick and tumble around, a little acrobat in my belly constantly reminding me of his presence. But I felt like an outsider in that delivery room.
Then they took him away, claimed his heartrate was too high and he needed monitoring. Well, no wonder. He was drugged up on pitocin and the epidural. It was hours before I saw him again. And the next two weeks were a blur of pumping milk for my newborn, who wouldn't latch, crying, nipple shields, more crying, and feeling completely inept at this whole parenting thing. I thought it must have been a mistake. That we shouldn't have been given this lovely little being if we couldn't decode his cries and what kind of mother can't find a way to get her son to latch on and drink her milk?
We did get the whole nursing thing sorted out and it didn't take me long after that to feel so completely head over heels in love with my son that I could barely remember that detachment I felt the moment of his bith. But not a day has gone by in his 2.5 years that I didn't think about his birth with sadness. Yes, my son was healthy and I should be greatful. But I kind of find that line of thought demeaning to women. Yes, I am eternally greatful to have a healthy baby, especially when I hear stories of less fortunate parents and children. But that doesn't take away my need to have a safe, healthy birth and be treated with respect.
So when I found out last spring that I was pregnant, I knew I needed something different. We had just moved and I was pleased to learn about a group of midwives and a speacial place inside the labor and delivery unit of a nearby hospital where these midwives assisted with natural, normal childbirth. I knew I wanted to welcome this child into the world at the midwifery, in the peaceful and loving atmosphere where women's bodies are respected for all that they can do, and labor is considered something a woman does, not something that happens to her.
I made an appointment that day, before I even told my husband I was pregnant. I also started looking for doulas. I was leaving nothing to chance. I knew that my husband, scared and overwhelmed at our first labor and birth, would be more confident. But I also knew I wanted someone who had a lot of experience with natural birth to be there for us, help guide us on a journey that would be very different from our previous experience. We found and hired an amazing doula, took a real childbirth class, and eagerly awaited the arrival of our little girl.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Things to do with the little jar of apple pie spice you bought for Thanksgiving and won't use the rest of the year...
That said, I have since been looking for other uses for this little jar of tastiness and have come up with a few uses that my toddler loves. He even came up with a recipe on his own!
So here is my list of ways to use up apple pie spice. Because you know it won't be fresh enough next year, right? RIGHT?
Apple Pie Scented Playdough (recipe below)
Mix with a little bit of sugar instead of cinnamon to sprinkle on toast
Jack's recipe for Apple Spiced Granola and Peanut Butter sandwich (recipe below!)
Add to applesauce or pearsauce instead of cinnamon (basically, use instead of cinnamon anytime you want!)
Keep cooking that applesauce until it turns into apple butter
Dust over vanilla ice cream
Chop up an apple (peeled, if desired), and saute in a pan with a little butter, apple juice, and apple pie spice until soft
Add to oatmeal along with some chopped, cooked apples or apple sauce
Add to pancake or waffle batter (add diced pieces of apple as well for bonus points); top with apple butter instead of maple syrup
I have found that frequently, Jack will happily try something if I let him add spices to it himself. So when I am cooking, I will let him add pinches of whatever herbs and spices I am using to the dish. The tiny amounts he adds don't make much difference and they let him feel like part of the process. Since he was very young, he has loved to taste spices - even dry mustard or crushed red pepper MUST be tasted! He is more interested in trying foods when he has tasted everything that goes into them (usually, he wants to try all the other ingredients, too).
Apple Spice Scented Playdough
1 c flour
1/2 c salt
2 t cream of tartar
2 t apple pie spice
1/2 t cinnamon
1 T vegetable oil
1 c water
red food coloring
In med. nonstick saucepan blend dry ingredients. Mix in wet ingredients until smooth. Add food coloring. Put pan on medium heat and stir until it makes a large ball. Remove from heat and place on parchment. Allow to cool. Knead until consistancy is right. Store in ziplock baggies up to 2 weeks.
Jack's Apple Pie Spiced Granola and Peanut Butter Sandwich
1 Nature Valley Granola bar, crushed into small pieces
2 slices whole wheat sandwich bread
2-3 T natural peanut butter
sprinkle of apple pie spice
Spread peanut butter on one slice of bread. Sprinkle granola bar and apple pie spice over peanut butter and top with second slice of bread. Cut into fun shapes and serve :)
Saturday, July 9, 2011
So here's the math, according to the Huggies website:
1 in 3 American families struggle to provide enough diapers for their child.
Again, according to their own website, as many as 1 in 20 mothers have been forced to clean out soiled diapers and reuse them. I have heard of mothers letting wet diapers dry and reusing them, but this is the first I have heard of a parent removing feces from a disposable diaper, presumably wiping it out or maybe rinsing it (?) and reusing it.
Basically, we have people who are using disposable diapers the same way they could be using cloth diapers. Only, inexpensive prefolds can be washed thoroughly and reused safely.
So, what's the solution?
Apparently, YOU should buy more Huggies!
I noticed that on many, if not all, packs of Huggies have a banner on them for the Every Little Bottom program, stating that your purchase = a donation. But I searched the pack (we use Huggies at night, mostly because coupons are usually readily available so they are cheaper and work a lot better than the eco-friendly options we would ideally prefer) and couldn't find any details. So what kind of donation is made? According to their website…wait, I can't find it there, either.
If you can find it, please let me know. But I read a blog that is affiliated with the program and according to that blog (which I won't name because they are sponsored by this program), if you purchase a pack of the demin print diapers, Huggies will donate ONE diaper to the cause.
I have only ever see the Huggies denim print diapers in cases, never in jumbo packs, so that means that for something like 50-60 diapers purchased, ONE is donated. SO generous, Huggies. You are making such a difference for those 1 in 3 families.
They are also peddling donations on their website, and one way to add to their donations for FREE is to upload a picture of your child…in a Huggies denim diaper. Every facebook like also adds to the count. So far, they claim to have donated 7,670 diapers through this aspect of their program. Not too shabby, but when you see that they have a banner on their website that says they have donated 22.5 MILLION diapers so far, you have to wonder. Digging deeper, their website says they will donate 22.5 million diapers in 2010. Uhm. That was last year? We are more than halfway through 2011, so I can't help but wonder why they haven't updated that.
Another way to donate? Buy a pack and donate it to a local diaper bank. They'll even help you find one…if you register on the website.
I'm not fundamentally opposed to donating disposable diapers to those in need. Not even a little. I'm not naïve enough to believe that cloth diaper education can make enough of a difference for people who are struggling, although in an ideal world, it would be a lot easier for anyone to walk into a store and buy good quality cloth diapering supplies. I'd be happy to see Indian or Chinese prefolds and some decent covers are Babies R Us, but that's not likely to happen any time real soon. I get asked all the time whether I use the "gerber kind" of cloth diapers, so I know most people have no idea that there are so many better options out there. And, honestly, if I didn't own my own washer and dryer, I would likely not be able to use cloth diapers. So I have to assume that cloth isn't a viable option for at least some of those who are having trouble buying enough diapers.
I am fundamentally opposed to telling mothers a sob story in order to sell a product. This is exactly what Huggies is doing. They know that women who have children in diapers will instantly feel for an imaginary mom out there, scooping poo out of a diaper and reusing it. They know that most moms out there would be heartbroken to feel they are unable to change their child's wet diaper as often as they would like and will feel a great deal of compassion for the 1 in 3 women who have no choice.
I wonder if Huggies is also making donations of Pull-ups. That's probably a good way to keep children whose families can't afford enough diapers in diapers for as long as possible.
The saddest thing to me is that is was not Huggies' idea. They didn't come up with it. Diaper drives have been going on for several years and Huggies was donating a ton of diapers to many drives around the country. I liked that about Huggies. Then they decided to not only embrace this concept, but claim it as their own and in all likelihood they aren't donating any more than they were before. But I bet business is boomin'.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
I recently saw an episode of "19 Kids and Counting" where Anna (the oldest Duggar son's newish wife) waxes poetic about how it's okay that she is currently driving a Hummer H2 because her baby is wearing a cloth diaper in the backseat.
Uh, sorry. No.
I could care less what she is driving, but since when do the good Christian family the Duggars brag and boast that their parenting decisions are better than everyone else's? Frankly, the momma driving the Prius next to her in traffic is probably using cloth diapers, too and she is getting like 60 miles per gallon, not 3.
Jack is past diapers mostly, so I get fewer inquisitions in public than I used to. But I was always fond of telling people that I don't care about the environment. I'm just frugal.
No, frugal. Let's go with frugal. I bought cloth diapers for our son before we knew he was a son because I have known for many years that for me, they are just the better choice. They are less expensive (unless you want to spend more, in which case there are still a lot of options for cloth that breaks the bank). End of story.
I also read some compelling research about how disposable diapers affect male fertility and that made a difference. But the decision was already made, and as an intellectual human I cannot believe there is enough evidence since disposables have only been the "norm" for most of my life, and many of my peers are not even attempting to procreate just yet. Are they also great for the environment? Well, sure, maybe. Depends on who you ask. But frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn. I also happen to think they are cuter and in some ways easier.
Cloth is cheaper. For me. But maybe not for you, if you have the time and energy to chase the deals. A dear friend of mine just gave birth to a lovely little boy (he is a week old today!) and she has about 3 or 4 months' worth of diapers in her son's closet that she has been stockpiling throughout her pregnancy. Friends also gave her their leftover diapers when they switched sizes mid-pack and I found an amazing deal last fall on a case of Pampers that made them all but free and had them shipped her way. She has probably not come close to the cost of cloth diapering and she probably won't ever hit what I have spent, and will continue to spend, on cloth diapers.
The thing of it is, I bought an entire set of diapers before I knew all that much about them, and they turned out to not be what I thought they would be. We had to invest in more, and had to buy new covers along the way when Jack outgrew them because the ones we bought before he was born didn't fit him well. And many of those covers can be re-used with our new little bean when s/he arrives come November, but many are worn out and will have to be replaced. I intend to invest in nicer covers when I need to, but the cost is still up there. And since many of the diapers we used for my son are not re-usable anymore, we'll probably invest in more prefolds (which, shocklingly, I turned out to like better anyway) If I have a 3rd, I'm pretty confident that I'll spend less in the long run. But I couldn't say we won't spend more than my friend will over her diapering years.
And, guess what? We also used disposables, and now that we are down to 2 diapers a day (nap and night), we use no cloth diapers. I cannot justify washing 2 or 3 diapers at a time. We have yeast rash issues if we use cloth at night, so we have been buying disposables since Jack was 6 months old. Thirty disposables a month isn't the end of the world, but it does add to the cost. Now we use about twice that many.
At the end of the day, we all do what we believe is best for our families. It is true that many parents have no idea that cloth is a viable option and therefor don't make a "decision" concerning diapering. But you will never catch me telling someone that I can waste other natural resources because my child wore cloth diapers. You will never hear me claim that not only is cloth better, but that I'm better for using it. I'm a stay at home mom, like Anna Duggar, and I have time to wash diapers. I'm sure there are many other moms out there who make other decisions that will turn out to be better in the long run, whether they diaper with Pampers or Thirsties.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Jack is still the most amazing creature I have ever laid eyes on, just as he was that first day.
He blew through milestones that first year, crawling, standing, taking steps. He now has all 20 of his baby teeth and can and does eat just about anything. He no longer walks, but runs, and talks to us in full sentences.
Having a conversation with someone you literally created is fantastic, mind blowing, every time.
For the record, Jack says he wants a sister. But he also insists alternately that the baby is in either HIS belly, or Daddy's.
Happy birthday, little man. I hope this year will be just as full of discoveries and happiness as your first two have been.
Saturday, March 26, 2011
My son LOVES fruit. There is nothing I can do to make him eat less fruit, short of not buying it. He sees bananas, pears, apples, on the counter and asks for them. Grapes or pineapple in the fridge = demands when he sees the door open. The mrere existance of kiwi sents in himto a tailspin.
Dairy is also not a problem. He loves cheese (so he is definitly mine), and ate yogurt daily for the first 6 months or so of his foray into solids. Now he eats it often, usually in fruit smoothies. We like greek yogurt for the protien content. He is even now thankfully drinking milk, mostly without complaint. I give him 2% because...well...it's what I always buy. Whole milk grosses me out, is more expensive, and would end up getting throw away since he is unlikely to drink the entire bottle before it goes bad.
Meat, however, is another issue entirely. I gave him beans and rice, tofu, eggs, but no meat until about 10 months. I think in general we eat too much meat so I thought I was doing him a favor by not making it normal early on. Then we could all enjoy meatless meals without complaint or feeling like something is missing. I wanted him to like inexpensive protiens as well.
What meat does he like? Chicken nuggets. Yes, my son is one of those toddlers who only wants chicken nuggets. This was the entire basis for my "make-all-the-baby-food-lots-of-veggies-nothing-processed" mentality. I didn't want the kid that only eats food that is breaded/battered and fried. Especially since high-quality chicken nuggets are not only hard to find (impossible, in our new town) but also rather pricey. I have tried making my own with no sucess.
He also loves meatballs. But meat as nature made it is hard for him to chew. Why? He has almost all this teeth (last time he let me look, only 4 were missing).
So the answer simply must be my delayed introduction.
So I guess this post is mostly a confession that I didn't do everything right, like I thought I did. At the time it made sense, but next baby will get a more well-rounded diet. For now, I'm going to get bean cakes back into our meal plans and keep on serving up those little cut up pieces of chicken off the grill and not the Tyson bag and hope for the best.
Meanwhile, I have decided that in reality, it isn't the end of the world if my son eats chicken nuggets every now and then. It didn't kill me, and it won't kill him.