31 January 2009
I couldn't help but think about how I use the image of floating on top of water to help women through contractions. Suggesting that they make their body soft and open and take up more space, let the sensation lift them up and up and up... And I also thought it funny that the key for my son was relaxing his throat...also so helpful in labor! "What goes above, so goes below".
29 January 2009
You heard it here first. I'm nuts, I know, for thinking that I might just join some friends and train for a half-triathlon. It's not until September. It's about a half-mile swim, about 10 miles on a bike and about 3.5 miles walk/run.
Why is this an out-there idea, you ask?
Well, I am not a swimmer. I swim just fine & used to be an avid scuba diver - I just never learned how to swim and do that breathing to the side thing. I'm planning to train using a mask & snorkel at first. I think the group is hiring a swim coach.
I am not a runner. I make myself run a little between walking sometimes. I'd like to be a runner but frankly they have not invented a jog bra that's strong enough to make it any fun. But I can walk.
I don't even own a bike, but I love spin classes.
I've never done a race of any sort before, unless you count a three-legged race or similar at a field day.
But some of my friends and I just joined a new gym together that is super nice & has a pool (missing from old gym) & the most awesome kid areas, climbing walls & the spinning is amazing, complete with jumbo screens playing bike races.
We also started Weight Watchers, knowing that all of this will be easier if there is a bit less of ourselves to lug around.
I'm putting it here because I'm pretty averse to backing out once a challenge has been set. So I will register and train and see how it goes. But I did buy a magnet for my car similar to the picture above to inspire myself. I had the thought today (in said spin class) that I have had three looong, natural labors and pushed some good-sized babies out, so I think I can do this. And apparently so can some 70 year olds who have to use a noodle for the swim part (or so I am told - this could be a lie to make me feel better - not sure)...so I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...
27 January 2009
She plans to breastfeed all eight babies! Wow - what a woman...my hat is off to her.
26 January 2009
25 January 2009
This is just an hour and a half of messages & yet it's been sort of hypnotizing. Is it any wonder that women line up for every bell & whistle that promises a "safe" birth? A lifetime of this barrage...on the news, on fictional TV shows, from our friends, from our mothers, in books...
It's overwhelming & insidious. And yet some of us are able to see beyond it all and trust birth.
I'm going to go turn off the TV - I don't need a solution to back pain...my back feels fine but if I listen long enough I'm sure it will start to hurt. I'm going to trust that I'm OK.
24 January 2009
23 January 2009
Molasses on oatmeal
Real black licorice, like Panda - it contains molasses
Yellow dock tincture
Cooking in a cast-iron pan
Floradix (both vegetarian & non-vegetarian)
Take a supplement with food-based nutrients (more easily absorbed, non-constipating iron)
22 January 2009
21 January 2009
I'm so glad I went down to DC! (pictures tomorrow, I swear!)
20 January 2009
19 January 2009
In the February 2009 issue of O, Oprah's magazing (p. 144) Isla
Fisher, an actress, lists the "5 books on my bookshelf right now" and
one of them is "Ina May's Guide to Childbirth"! She says about it,
"Women are happy to tell you their terrifying birth stories, but
nobody tells you the positive ones. So if you're going to have a
baby, you have to read this -- it's a collection of stories of
women's birth experiences, plus loads of practical information. In
today's world of modern medicine, it's so easy to have the experience
of pregnancy and birth taken out of your hands: You're measured and
blood-tested and ultrasounded. Sometimes it feels as if the whole
experience is happening to you. But women have the right to have the
birthing experience we desire -- whether it's a Cesarean or a natural
birth -- and to have the fear of the pain removed. A friend, Naomi
Watts, gave me this book when I was pregnant. It was such a special
time for me, and it was such a relief to read these stories."
18 January 2009
I'm wearing a set of three rings that read
Imagine Peace ForeverYes we can. Yes we did.
17 January 2009
16 January 2009
I remember the night you were born - L was sleeping at our house and I woke him up after your father called to tell us you were ready to come to us.
It was very cold that night, but L was very excited and didn't mind waking and facing the cold. On the way over, when we got near the George Washington Bridge, there were detour signs because of construction.
Grandma and L got lost...
By the time we reached the birthing center, you had already arrived. I specifically remember the joy in your mother's and father's faces just looking at you!! Everyone was thrilled to welcome you onto this planet!!
Each year as you grow, I see you loving this world and all those around you as much as they love you!!
Love, hugs and kisses.
Preface to I AM MOTHER - The Unfolding Lap
How could this maiden know that an answered call from my baby-to-be would generate changes so vast that pubertyʼs transformation would make sense?
Thirty six years ago I accepted the invitation from the Unknown into the world of mothering,. Now at the crisis of my mortality, I ponder -- what does being a mother mean to me?
At the tail end of a beastly winter, this is what came to me -- The Unfolding Lap.
The Unfolding Lap© Jeannine Parvati Baker
I AM MOTHER whose entitlement unlocks the doorless room
The home of a mystery that flays the soulʼs skin
Carving ego and rendering the oily mind into light.
I AM MOTHER who grows dreams in my belly
From my blood drinks the Tree of Life
Rooted in heaven until the birth quake
Splits me open in revelation and relief
And I awake from the nightmare of separation.
I AM MOTHER carrier of the secret told since the beginning
Hearth of the future, unfolding lap, volcanic breast
A daughter of uncertainty, the croneʼs executrix
The ultimate harvester of hope.
I AM MOTHER so hear me! Listen with labyrinthine ears
To the purpose of sound, sense the movement of your cells,
And the pulsing message from your bones that resonate with this;
Serve the Breath-Maker and be the BirthKeeper the Earth needs now.
Your mother will be so proud.
11 March 2005
thanks to Jill for passing this along and always helping the veils vise, no matter the time of day of night.
15 January 2009
At the start of that January, a few days before his EDD, I went to a midwife appointment at The Childbirth Center (the only free-standing birth center in NJ, now closed). I was told that I was 4cm and they were so sure they would see me that night that they would be keeping my file out, and to go have a nice lunch & pack up. So that's what we did...we called my friend Deb, who was to be with us; called my mother-in-law, who was to take care of our oldest & then bring him in time fore the birth. We wanted to give everyone a heads-up.
We went home and packed up and sure enough, contractions started that night. My favorite midwife was on & I was so happy. Contraction went on for a couple of hours and closer to morning we called everyone. And they came. Including my father-in-law. This was not part of the plan and somehow everything just stopped. Screeching breaks. Stopped in its tracks. Imagine the delight of hearing my father-in-law, in his thick Italian accent, say, "Kim, false alarm?" But I was not giving up...it was freezing, so we went to the mall and walked and walked. Deb and my husband would look at me expectantly sometimes if I paused...but aside from the odd contraction here or there, nothing. We went to see a movie (a LOOOONG movie - Crash, I believe)...nothing.
Because of the expectation - expectation that had not been there until that midwife appointment, I was on high alert, feeling desperate to go into labor. I tried just about anything you can imagine - drank all manner of foul tasting stuff. I sent my poor husband to Chinatown to plead for anything that might help (they just stared at him). A midwife came over to try to strip my membranes but found that my cervix was actually pretty far back. I had massages and reiki. I walked. My husband did all he could to get oxytocin flowing. I used the breast pump while doing hip circles on the birth ball. I shoveled snow. I ate spicy food. I did anything I had ever heard of to get labor started. The ladies who did reiki on me told me they had never experienced an energy of timelessness like they felt when working on my baby...he literally made their clock get all weird and loud and their CD start to slow down like a stretched out tape. They asked to meet him once he came.
And you know what? Babies don't come until they are ready - none of the stuff that's supposed to work was working because it wasn't time. I know that now, but I didn't know it then. However, we were approaching 42 weeks, the cut off for the birth center and so the midwife also wanted to get things started. I'm sure if I'd been resistant, I could have held off, but I wasn't and agreed to go in and let her break my water and start labor. And do you know what again? Nothing. There was hardly any forewaters, so she couldn't even break my water. This kid was just not ready.
So we left all our stuff at the birth center and went out. We walked around and went to breakfast. We walked to Starbucks and I sat on a lovely velvet chair and read the paper. That's where I was sitting when my water really broke. On it's own - a giant pop & gush, like my first birth. Fortunately, the chair was OK. Months later, I saw a very pregnant woman sitting in that same chair and couldn't resist telling her the story.
We went back so I could change, but then went right back out to walk and hang out. I was still tightly gripping at control, which is not such a great thing to do when it comes to birth...this is my own personal karmic story of my life.
Hours went by and miles were covered. I was pretty disgusted and giving up hope. So of course we decided to check out a Mexican restaurant. I ate a full dinner. I had a few contractions, one of which was kind of strong. The waitress asked when I was due and I said I hoped to give birth within hours - she was a little freaked.
We went back to the birth center and the head midwife was not there, though a lovely apprentice was. I put in a little time with the breast pump, but nothing big happened. We spoke by phone to the midwife and she suggested getting in the tub with some Sleepytime tea, relaxing and getting some sleep and hopefully waking up in labor. Or, she said, I could drive over to the hospital and get induced, to which I said NO! She wasn't really suggesting this, I believe (knowing her), as testing me, nudging me to get in the game. As I was on the phone with her, making a plan to give up for tonight, surrendering, I had an enormous contraction.
I got in the tub and the contractions didn't stop. My husband expected that we had a long haul, like the first time, so he couldn't quite understand why I didn't want to watch "Law & Order" with him or much care about his plot summary. I just wanted him to get out of the way so I could see the flickering shaddow that the candle was casting on the wall. I needed solitude and dark. The room was wonderfully steamy and the visit from the apprentice and her tween daughter, bringing more tea with honey, rubbing my shouders and stroking my hair...it was lovely. We chatted and laughed and it was like a slumber party. I asked my husband to call people and tell them to come and he said, "really?!" It had only been a couple of hours of labor. I don't know how long, actually, but not long. He didn't think it was happening anytime soon. But I told him yes - call. NOW.
The head midwife arrived and I told her I thought I needed to go to the bathroom and she said it was my baby's head. I did not believe her. I got out of the tub to use the loo, but of course she was right about it being the baby. The contractions out of the water were so different - so hard. She asked me to lay on the bed to be checked. Of course there was no more cervix. I heard commotion and realized that Deb had arrived. She ran in...she said "thank God for EasyPass or I wouldn't have made it in time". I asked her to come over so I could hold on to her for leverage - she didn't even get to take her coat off! I recall her smiling and nodding at me, with sweat on her upper lip. My husband was holding a leg maybe. I aske him to put my hair in a ponytail, but he wasn't doing it right, so I stopped pushing, got up on my knees and redid my hair and then went back to pushing, trying out a few positions and hollering loudly. I called out "oh God" and the midwife siad something like, "He's here for you" and I remember thinking, "oh - I did't necessarily mean literally - it's just an expression, but OK". Not long after, my son's head was born (with the help of lots of olive oil!). The plan was for my husband to catch, but we actually caught him together, me sliding my fingers under his arms before his hands were even born. We had to unwrap him from his extrodinarily long cord which contained a true knot. He was 9lbs 2oz and had a full head of hair.
My oldest and my mother-in-law got there just after he was born (more later on that), in time for the placenta, so my oldest felt like he was there for the birth. He was so sweet and snuggled with us and his new brother.
And now that baby is 8 and shares his birthday with Martin Luther King. His request for his birthday was not a party with lots of friends or tons of gifts, but and overnight with just me and my husband, so that's what we are doing. Happy birthday, O!
14 January 2009
...so glad I read it - it's just so achingly poignant and true. The part about the 11 year old skate-punk got me, as I happen to have one of those myself.
Referenced in the wonderful NY Times blog, Motherload in yesterday's entry asking an important question, Why Do People Try To Scare Parents-to-Be, is Rev. Meg Barnhouse's essay
Grab a tissue...
Letter to a new parent
A friend of mine is going to have a baby, a
little boy. My two boys are tall and funny
and heartbreakingly themselves—and nearly
gone. I feel like I know something, which
is a fairly new feeling for me on the
parenting front. Even though he did not
ask me for any advice, here’s what I
wrote to him:
I do not know why people try to scare you when you have a baby. As soon as they hear your news they go unswervingly to the horror stories. They’ve probably been scaring the baby’s mother for months now with stories of pregnancies gone wrong. If they can’t think of bad-seed kid stories, they say, “Wait until you have a teenager!” I want to tell you something a little different. Have fun is what I say. Enjoy this baby and enjoy your newly expanded heart.
The first thing that happened when my first son was born was that I fell in love so hard and fast it took my breath away. It was enough for me to sit and stare at him, smelling his head, watching his breathing, drinking in the fact of his presence on the planet. I carried him around like a delightful football everywhere I went. Any which way I carried him was fine with him, because he was as in love as I was. Plus I had milk, which made him very happy. We hung out and smooched and sang and did “baby-cize,” where I would touch his toes to his nose and count, which made him laugh.
It wasn’t all bliss, of course. There was that time he was up in the night for the fourth time, crying. Babies have no manners, and they do not care about your getting enough sleep. I remember waking my husband, telling him I had a sudden fantasy of opening the window and tossing the baby out, just to get some rest. “I’m up,” he said. “You sleep.”
Babies are fascinating, and they’re an astonishing amount of work. They get even better as they get older. They start talking, for one thing. That’s a big milestone. They ask questions, start practicing “no,” and they tell you they love you. That makes your life rich.
Another milestone was when he could climb into his own child seat, ending the lifting, bending, and buckling. He did not like that seat when he was smaller, and several times I would have to stop the car and rescue him from hanging head down into the floorboards, screaming with frustration, his ankles being the only part of him that was still in the seat. One long ride, I remember having a bag of red balloons next to me in the front seat, blowing one up, holding it so he could see it and grab for it, then letting it go screaming out the window, which made him laugh. We left a trail of deflated red balloons down Highway 17 that day. My apologies to the clean-up crew: It was red balloons or screaming insane despair. Mine and his. Is that too strongly put? No.
Getting himself dressed was another milestone, then, much later, doing his own laundry, followed by driving himself to school. Now he likes rock climbing and hard-core drumming, he’s dressing himself every day, studying to be a doctor, designing his own tattoos, loving a young woman so hard they’re talking about marriage. I still look at him and see that baby, the toddler, the skater-punk eleven year old.
Your baby will be who he is from the moment he comes into the world. He will turn out a little like you and a little like his mom and a lot like who he already is. You’re right about the child-rearing project being improvisational from the first moment. My mother told me to trust my instincts instead of books, but I did find two that were helpful. Children the Challenge, a book from the ’40s about how to avoid power struggles with your child. You say things like: “You may scream like that if you want to, and I’ll sit with you out in the car, or you may speak quietly and stay with everyone here in the restaurant,” or: “It’s time for bed now. Would you like to go right now or in about five minutes?” The other one was How To Be Your Dog’s Best Friend, a book about training German shepherds by the monks of New Skete. It was about how your job was to make your child/dog/whichever a pleasant companion in the world, which takes patience, consistency, and boundaries. I see shocked faces when I say that a book about dogs helped with my boys, but lots of the same things are true for humans and dogs. Instead of only correcting them when they do wrong, you try to “catch” them doing it right, and praise them for that. They like knowing who is in charge, and they’d rather it be you. I learned that from the monks.
I worried some about my sons getting hurt. I worried more about them becoming fearful. I remember letting my younger son climb up on a chair to turn on the light by himself. I watched and held my breath. What if he fell? I figured, though, that making him fearful in the world would be a more severe injury than a bruise or even a broken bone trying out something for himself.
As the boys grew, they wanted to chatter to me about their toys, their friends, their video games. They wanted to retell the movies we’d seen. It tried my patience sorely sometimes, but I would say to myself: “This is an investment in their talking to me when they are teenagers. If I don’t want great hulking teens who just grunt as they pass me in the hall, I need to listen now.” At the supper table, when they wanted to be excused to go play, I would ask them first to ask each person at the table two questions and listen to the answers. Mostly they asked, “How was your day?” and, “Tell me who you talked to today.” My oldest surprised me one night with a phone call from college to thank me for teaching him to ask questions. He said he had no problem talking to girls the way some guys at school did; girls loved that questioning and listening thing.
I used to wish my children were perfectly obedient, but now that they are grown I’m glad they have some strong-mindedness. I did not enjoy their arguing with me, but I tried to think of it as training in negotiation, which they need in the world.
When you become a parent, you have to get used to making mistakes. When you make one, it’s no big deal. Just say you’re sorry. They learn that from you. They also learn please and thank you by hearing you say please and thank you to them. I have seen people being rude to their children, then turn around and expect the children to have good manners.
Your son will make mistakes, too, as he grows, and some of those will make you cry. Being a parent is not for the faint of heart. Try to be in control of yourself rather than of him, and you’ll be okay. Love is hard on the heart. Your heart can’t remain perfect and proud, unscarred and perky. It will be worn and joyous, wise and beat up, and full of sorrow and amazement. It will tremble with the awful knowledge of how helpless you are to keep him from pain, of how closely he will watch you to see what to become and what not to become. I would rather have this heart than the one I had before the first baby.
All of this is to say you are in for quite a ride. Buckle everybody up, feel the wind in your hair, and crank up the music. Enjoy. Life has just gotten larger.