31 December 2011
I'm waiting on a baby and enjoying family and friend time as this year closes and another opens...
I was always told that how you spend New Year's Day is important, for it is the foundation of how you will spend the whole year. I like to put the same mindfulness into the last day of the year too:
18 December 2011
You are perfect at 8lb 1oz and there is some talk of dimples! You will soon discover that your big brother is super cool - a total glass-half-full kind of person who, I'm sure, is super excited to meet you.
17 December 2011
Your proud poppa knew just how to do the hip squeeze your momma needed and was calm and right there every minute. Your grandma got to kiss your toes when you were only moments old.
You are a nursing champ, making your momma (a newly minter La Leche League leader!!) so happy.
What a big, beuatiful boy, 9lb 3oz, with lots of black hair and eyebrows. Your big sisters are going to love you so!
*the hospital was testing it's backup generator, so most of the power was off.
30 November 2011
Bananas with brown spots...no one around here wants to eat them that way. They usually go into the freezer for smoothies or future baking. Today, however, I decided to seize a rare moment of quiet and see if my middle kid wanted to learn how to make banana bread.
I'm sure they would figure this kind of stuff out if they need to, but I want to know that they will be men who have a few cooking techniques under their belts and can properly fold fitted sheets and any of the other stuff I feel compelled to show them...
As we were cooking, he said something that made me so glad,
"Mom - did you ever notice that food cooked at home tastes so much better than any other food you can buy?"
This from my non-eater. I love that kid, and I'm glad he gets the value of home cooked food...at least food containing chocolate.
23 November 2011
The photographer's commentary,
Only a mother can understand the joy of locking eyes with her newborn babe the moment they take their first breath.
After the powerful journey of labor, Natalia embraces her babe for the very first time. Sheer exhilaration, joy and love describes the moment of bringing forth her child. The gentle hand of her midwife, trusting in the innate wisdom of birth
Location: Homebirth. Tumbi Umbi, NSW, Australia
18 November 2011
Delayed Cord Clamping Raises Iron Stores at 4 Months
Ricki Lewis, PhD
November 15, 2011 — Allowing placental blood to flow into the neonate for 3 minutes, rather than cutting the umbilical cord within the first 10 seconds, as is common, increases blood volume sufficiently to elevate ferritin at 4 months, finds a study published online November 16 in theBritish Medical Journal.
Adequate iron stores are essential for brain neuron myelination, dendritic growth, neurotransmission, and energy metabolism in neurons and glia. Because iron demands are high in the young, iron-deficiency anemia and subclinical iron deficiency are associated with long-lasting cognitive and behavioral problems. Past studies that support a delay in cord cutting were conducted in developing or middle-income populations that have a high prevalence of iron deficiency anemia (ie, in Guatemala, India, Mexico, and Zambia), but did not follow up children past the neonatal period. Iron deficiency is less prevalent, yet still fairly common, in other nations.
Ola Andersson, MD, a neonatologist at the Hospital of Halland in Sweden, and colleagues enrolled 400 full-term infants born after low-risk pregnancies between April 2008 and September 2009, and randomized the time of cord cutting to either 10 seconds or 3 minutes. When a birth was imminent, the midwife would open an envelope assigning either cord-cut time. Midwives held the neonates 20 cm below the level of the mothers' vulvas for 30 seconds and then placed the infants on the mothers' abdomens to facilitate blood transfer.
The researchers assessed infant blood sampled on the second day for CBC (hemoglobin, packed cell volume, mean cell volume, mean cell hemoglobin concentration, reticulocyte count, and reticulocyte hemoglobin), iron status (serum iron, transferrin, serum ferritin, transferrin saturation, and soluble transferrin receptors), C reactive protein, and bilirubin and repeated all but the bilirubin test on 4-month samples.
Because past rationale for cutting the cord immediately after birth was increased risk for adverse events resulting from excess blood, the researchers also assessed the late-cord-cut infants for respiratory symptoms, polycythemia, and need for phototherapy to treat neonatal jaundice. Blood was drained from the placenta and volume measured, which explained the higher average weight of the babies with later-cut cords.
At 4 months, the infants in both groups had similar hemoglobin concentration, but the infants whose cords were cut later had 45% (95% confidence interval, 23% - 71%) higher mean ferritin concentration (117 μg/L vs 81 μg/L; P < .001) and lower prevalence of iron deficiency (1 [0.6%] vs 10 [5.7%] infants; P = .01). The delayed group also had lower prevalence of neonatal anemia (2 [1.2%] vs 10 [6.3%] infants; P= .02). The groups did not differ in respiratory symptoms, polycythemia, or hyperbilirubinemia.
Every 20 babies having delayed clamping could prevent 1 case of iron deficiency, the researchers estimate. They conclude that delayed clamping "should be considered as standard care for full term deliveries after uncomplicated pregnancies."
Patrick van Rheenen, MD, a consultant pediatrician at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, agrees in an accompanying editorial that "enough evidence exists to encourage a routine change in practice."
The study was supported by grants from the Regional Scientific Council of Halland; the HASNA Foundation, Halmstad; HRH Crown Princess Lovisa’s Foundation for Child Care, Stockholm; and the Framework of Positive Scientific Culture, Hospital of Halland, Halmstad The authors and the editorialist, Dr. van Rheenen, have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.
BMJ. Published online November 16, 2011. Full text
Unclear how this would impact cord blood banking for those who wish to do that, I contacted one of the major providers of this service, CBR. According to their phone representative, banking requires 100 million total nucleated cells - not a specific volume of blood. Every collection is tested to make sure there are enough cells for banking. It was the opinion of the representative with whom I spoke that allowing the cord to pulse for 3 minutes would still leave sufficient blood to allow for banking. Happily/surprisingly,CBR will call and give people the option to continue with the service in the event that not enough cells are present to meet their threshold for storage or exercise the option of a full refund. They said that it's very rare, as most samples are in the billions. They were aware of the study and it had been passed around there for their education. It is their hope that someday even small samples will be able to be "grown" into large amounts of stem cells.
15 November 2011
Just goes to show, it's not about the stuff or the toys - just being present with an open heart is often what's best. (minus the boots, maybe)
10 November 2011
08 November 2011
We are your future constituents and we are parents.
We are American mothers and fathers and grandparents and guardians. Our families might be the most diverse in the world. Blended and combined in endless permutations, we represent every major religion, political ideology and ethnic culture that exists. We are made from equal parts biology and choice. Our children come to us in every way possible—including fertility miracles, adoption, and remarriage.
Our very modern families embody the freedom that defines America. We embody America. We are rich in diversity, but we are united in our family values. We come together today, with one voice, to express our grave disappointment in the national political discourse.
The 2012 countdown has barely begun and we are already bombarded with the warmed-over, hypocritical rhetoric of 2008. We are living in a time where 15.1% of Americans now live in poverty, the unemployment rate stands at 16%, and we are spending close to $170 billion annually between the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Given the current state of affairs we would expect every candidate to focus on the issues that truly matter: job creation, debt-relief, taxes, education, poverty, and ending the war(s). Instead, it is already clear to us that the conversation has been hijacked, with the goal of further polarizing our nation into a politically motivated and falsely created class-war.
We will not stand for another campaign year in which politicians presume to know what our family values are as they relate to the nation.
To be clear, here are our family values:
• Affordable health care, including family planning, for all Americans. We will not tolerate any candidate using the shield of “Choice” to blind us from the issues that really matter. When funding is stripped from organizations like Planned Parenthood, access to sliding-scale health care (including yearly pap smears & mammograms), comprehensive sex education, and family planning is blocked from the poorest of the population.
• Access to education, and the ability to actually use it. We want quality, affordable, federally-funded full-day, pre-K programs made available in every State, in order to provide an even starting point for all children enrolled in public schools— regardless of the wealth of the district or town they live in.
• A reinstatement of regulations for banks issuing mortgages and full prosecution for those who engaged in fraud. We want full accountability —investigation, indictment and prosecution— of those individuals and financial institutions who engaged in fraudulent lending practices and who helped create the massive foreclosures that left many families homeless or struggling to keep their homes.
• A return of strict environmental regulations protecting water, air, food, and land that were removed in the last two decades. We want our children to grow up in a world not weighed down by the strains of pollution and global warming. Between BPA in our products, sky-rocketing rates of asthma in kids, questionable hormones in our over-processed food, and more, we need leaders who will put our needs and safety over the desires and profits of large corporations.
Family planning, healthcare, education, economic solvency and environmental safety: these are our national family values.
Candidates who demonstrate the ability to understand the gravity of these issues, and their impact on our families, and who can provide actual, viable solutions to these problems will garner our support and our votes.
We believe in our democratic system, and we'll continue to use our voices and our votes to see that it reaches its fullest potential.
Your future constituents,
The Mothers & Fathers of America
Dear leaders and aspiring leaders of the free world,
I bet many of you were called to politics out of a desire to serve and make the world a better place. Well, it looks like you have lost your way.
In addition to being a wife and mother, I work to serve birthing women and families. In that role, I see every day people within healthcare who have also lost their way. Not unlike physicians and others in healthcare, you have taken an oath to serve those who have entrusted themselves to you. I know as well as anyone the demands of service can take a toll personally. We are all human, with our own needs and our own families and aspirations. But when you find that your own interests are causing you to sell out the best interests of those you serve, it's time to move on. Otherwise, it's time to have integrity and do what you said you would do. It's simple really.
We gave you your power, please don't forget that.
BLOG-IN! SPEAK OUT! Parents Send a Letter To Washington
* Today, across the web, bloggers will be simultaneously posting this letter as a new form of democratic protest called the Blog-In. I am just one of many. Click here to see a full list of the writers participating. (Our hashtag on Twitter is #BlogIn2011.)
07 November 2011
I sometimes read my horoscope. There - I said it. I find it a bit embarrassing that I turn to horoscopes like a crystal ball when I'm stressed about something, but I do.
Anyway...here's part of what it said...not what I was worried about, but so very nice...about the nicest thing I could imagine reading:
If you have children, you will see them protected and cared for by a loving universe. You need not worry about your children!
"protected and cared for by a loving universe" - isn't that just the best?
27 October 2011
26 October 2011
Tonight I had to go to the mall (a sad visit to the Genius Bar at the Apple store; RIP family computer hard drive) and I passed the Pottery Barn Kids store...outrageously expensive Halloween costumes were in the window and there was a sale! I felt excited for a split second until I remembered that even my youngest, at 7, is too old for the adorable creatures they were offering...only spooky, preferably bloody, will do around here. sigh...
(picture of a PBK costume)
11 September 2011
Then, of course, the TV showed the second plane hit, live, and for a crazy second I thought, "wow - what a horrible coincidence...is there a problem with air traffic control??"...
I ran and told my husband (who would normally be at work downtown, but the kids had a pediatrician appointment and I'd asked him to go in late so I could make my meeting; he couldn't get back into his office for quite a bit after) to turn on the TV. Then I called my parents, in an earlier time zone, and told them to turn on the TV, that we were ok. I remember my mom saying, "oh, God...we're going to war over this". She was right, of course.
Because denial was part of the equation, I called my boss to ask if the meeting was still on (!) and she was freaking out...colleagues (not people I worked with closely) had been on one of the planes and people in our office (a high floor of a building adjacent to Grand Central, so that was a concern too) had kids at a church preschool down by the towers (the kids were ok) and they couldn't get through, of course, and for some reason there was no way for them to get TV or radio and I remember putting on WNYC and they listened over speaker phone for a long time.
Later, after the towers fell, we went and got our oldest from preschool. I regret that the TV was on for a long time before we realized our son was seeing the horrible images on a loop. We were sort of hypnotized watching... At some point, I ran into my town... not sure what I was thinking, but I bought emergency supplies, like for a blizzard. A stranger asked what she should buy and I told her what I was buying and she said she would do the same...she was so afraid. I saw a friend who had made it back from downtown...she worked at the towers but had been running late...she hadn't gotten to work yet, thankfully. She was so shaken but was buying food for all the strangers who had followed her home...people who didn't even live in NJ but ended up here just to get out. While I was in the store, people were either kind of zoned out or panicky and were exclaiming, "they just bombed the Sears Tower" and all the other rumors that were circulating. I ran to the bank and withdrew cash then went and got gas...for what? Where would we go?
I couldn't sit still at home, so we all packed up and went to donate blood with so many others. We waited for a few hours, sure that we would help save lives. If only.
Later, I was so aware of the quiet...no planes. And the blue, blue perfect sky, marred only by the smell of smoke, but more than smoke...
That evening neighbors came out into the street...was it that night we lit candles? I can't remember. People gathered and were kind, seeking connection and trying to process.
I feel guilty for feeling so sad when nothing actually happened to me. Sure, I know people who lost someone, preschool parents were lost, but we were ok. I do know that i changed my life partly because of that day...quit the law and became a doula, sort of a rebirth, but if I could turn back time, I would.
I hope you are with people you love, doing something you love today. Remembering however feels right. Maybe it will be another beautiful blue sky day.
06 September 2011
At a birth this week (I know...where are those baby announcements...I'm months behind...but this baby does not yet have a name, so I'm waiting...), the couple brought with them something simple yet brilliant:
a power strip! With all the cell phones, laptops, music sources etc., it was so very helpful.
30 July 2011
14 June 2011
this month's Holistic Moms of Essex County meeting:
Vaccines: Making an Informed Decision
Join us as Maureen Drummond, the former co-leader of the NJ Coalition for Vaccination Choice, shares information on vaccine ingredients and their impact on the body. She has been an advocate and activist for full disclosure and informed consent on all matters concerning vaccination for the last 18 years.
The meeting will be on Monday June 27th at 6:30 pm. We will meet at Maplewood Memorial Library at 51 Baker Street in Maplewood.
**Please note the change in time and location for this month's meeting**
19 May 2011
Joseph...Wowee...you sure took your time...days of practice contractions and then more than 24hrs of active labor while a big storm raged outside. Your parents were amazing...so prepared, knowing exactly what they wanted (and got)...all natural, very focused and calm. Your momma may have shifted some walls while in labor with you - she leaned and pushed and pushed on them for most of your labor! She's tough! Your folks never lost their cool and remained so happy and unassuming that it seemed everyone at the hospital was kind of giddy.
When it came time for you to be born, it was your daddy, with the midwife's guidance, who caught you and gave you straight to your momma. You were also very calm and alert and took it all in.
Welcome, baby boy!
10 May 2011
Your momma thought through everything and knew just what she needed to get you here. Your daddy was solid in his support, reminding her of her priorities along the way.
Enjoy your big brother, Owen...you will need to start working on your golf swing (and most other sports) now if you are to give him any competition... I bet you guys are going to have a blast! Both of you born on Tuesday...full of grace.
Welcome to the world, lovey.
29 April 2011
from a story in People, Victoria's Secret model, Miranda Kerr, nursing her son Flynn (actor Orlando Bloom is the dad) while on a work break...I appreciate her putting this out there...
28 April 2011
Vivian, after a slow but consistent start to labor through the night, your momma was a rockstar! ...a fun, leisurely morning at home with a pre-storm breeze blowing through the open windows and lovely music playing, old-school, on the turntable. Then a drive through a crazy storm - your momma said she was born during a huge storm as well. She was almost ready to push by the time we got to the hospital, leaving just enough time for the tub to fill. Three pushes and you were out, winking at us. Your daddy cut the cord and never left your momma's side. I think you will always be the youngest in your family, but I wouldn't mind if your folks had about 10 more babies because they are so wonderful!
Best birthday ever! ...happy birth day to you! xoxo
27 April 2011
belated once again! Born Saturday, 4/23/11 at 6:03pm, weighing 7lb 13oz at 20 3/4" long with LOTS of lovely hair.
"Saturday's child must work hard for a living" and so must her momma work for that child's birth, apparently...
Joyce, your mom worked so very hard, manifesting patience like almost none I've seen. Contractions that wouldn't quite "catch" to become labor started late Sunday night the weekend before you were born and continued almost constantly every day and night, with only a few naps along the way. We walked and lunged, did stairs two at a time, downward dogged, child's posed, soaked, showered, massaged, prayed and all sorts of other things. We even played some card games (I believe your mom won - I know I sure didn't). All the while, your momma cheered on every other baby being born while she was waiting for you to arrive, never losing her good cheer or kindness.
If their dedication to laboring is any indication of how they will be as parents, you hit the parent jackpot! And as an added bonus, they will be able to help you with your math homework (maybe they will help my kids too?? ;-)
Welcome, baby Joyce!
23 April 2011
I'm a bit belated because of other laboring mommas, but Townes joined us earth-side on Wednesday, April 20 at 10:36pm and weighed 9pm 14oz, 22" long with some serious hands on him...in short, he's perfect!
Townes, what a rockin birth you had! Family galore from far and wide and jokes and stories that even the doctor took part in. Let's just say it's good that you weren't a girl named Mary Jane! Your momma was so strong and determined and your daddy was right there every step of the way doing just what was needed. The "Push Power Mix" didn't hurt either..."Eye Of The Tiger" to inspire and "Home" with your youngest auntie singing along to call you here. Your parents were such a pleasure that nurses and residents and medical students all wanted to help you get here. Because of your birth, there is one young doctor who may be changing his specialty to obstetrics...I saw him on his way out that night and he was walking on clouds...you helped do that - your birth may make it better for countless babies and mommas in the future.
I can only imagine how fun life is going to be for you because your parents are filled with joy and you have an abundance of aunts, family and friends who are going to surround you with even more love...and really, really good pizza.
Welcome, big boy. I don't know if the world is ready for you but I know you are ready for it. Big hugs to all. XO
18 April 2011
16 April 2011
I have a good friend with several kids, all born by cesarean. She told me many years ago to remember that not every woman is troubled by not having given birth vaginally. She is one of them - totally pleased with the birth stories of her beautiful children. It seems obvious on it's face, but I was happy for the reminder and recall it frequently...we just can't assume or put people in boxes.
Recently she introduced me to a child as someone who, "helps take babies out of mommies tummies". I didn't correct her, for that is her truth.
*the above image, entitled "First Kiss", is by artist, doula & mother, Amy Swagman. It, and other art, can be purchased in support of ICAN this month for Cesarean Awareness Month
14 April 2011
ok - I'm re-posting this...I don't have daughters but I love this and now want to read the book, Bossypants.
The Mother’s Prayer for Its Daughter
First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches.
May she be Beautiful but not Damaged, for it’s the Damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the the Beauty.
When the Crystal Meth is offered,
May she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half
And stick with Beer.
Guide her, protect her
When crossing the street, stepping onto boats, swimming in the ocean, swimming in pools, walking near pools, standing on the nearby subway platform, crossing 86th Street, stepping off of boats, using mall restrooms, getting on and off escalators, driving on country roads while arguing, leaning on large windows, walking in parking lots, riding Ferris wheels, roller-coasters, log flumes, or anything called “Hell Drop,” “Tower of Torture,” or “The Death Spiral Rock N’ Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith,” and standing on any kind of balcony ever, anywhere, at any age.
Lead her away from Acting but not all the way to Finance.
Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes. And not have to wear high heels.
What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit.
May she play the Drums to the fiery rhythm of her Own Heart with the sinewy strength of her Own Arms, so she need Not Lie With Drummers.
Grant her a Rough Patch from twelve to seventeen.
Let her draw horses and be interested in Barbies for much too long,
For Childhood is short- a Tiger Flower blooming magenta for one day-
And Adulthood is long and Dry-Humping in Cars will wait.
O Lord, break the Internet forever,
That she may be spared the misspelled invective of her peers
And the online marketing campaign for Rape Hostel V: Girls Just Wanna Get Stabbed.
And when she one day turns on me and calls me a Bitch in front of Hollister,
Give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into a cab in front of her friends,
For I will not have that ****. I will not have it.
And should she choose to be a Mother one day, be my eyes, Lord,
That I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50 a.m., all-at-once exhausted,
bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back.
“My mother did this for me once,” she will realize as she cleans feces off her baby’s neck.
“My mother did this for me.” And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a Mental note to call me. And she will forget.
But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes.
13 April 2011
A still-rare (3/1000 births) but once incredibly rare (0.8/1000 before the rise in cesareans) and very serious placental complication, placenta accreta, is linked to having had previous cesarean(s). Because NJ, my home state, has the highest cesarean rate in the nation (for the 13th year in a row), one can extrapolate that we likely have the highest accreta rate as well. Here's a sobering story about a family in my town...
"We were making preparations for death," DeLeon-George, of South Orange, says now. "We grappled with a lot. There were a lot of what-ifs."
DeLeon-George had a rare condition. The placenta growing inside her was attached to scar tissue on the wall of her uterus from four previous Caesarean sections, forming its own extensive network of blood vessels, likely leading to massive bleeding — two units per minute — just as her youngest daughter Hannah was coming into the world. Essentially, the placenta, a life-giving organ for the unborn child, had become like a dangerous growth and had to be carefully extracted.
DeLeon-George’s problem is still a rare one for mothers-to-be, but doctors say as the rate of C-sections continues to increase, it’s apt to become more common. Called placenta accreta, it’s a disorder by which a placenta attaches to a previous C-section scar, and grows at an uncontrolled rate into vital organs such as the bladder, endangering the life of the mother.
07 April 2011
So my baby boy is 7 on the 7th today...his lucky year. And seven is such a watershed year anyway...it is said by some that every seven years our cells complete a cycle of change and we transform a bit...
He's not someone who has self esteem issues so far! At this moment, he's in the other room making himself a crown to wear. When he told me that the entire cafeteria sang to him at lunch, I asked if it was cool or embarrassing, he said it was awesome! He's very specific about what he wants...for instance, he asked for Chinese food for breakfast (so we ordered it last night), a cake that is not chocolate or ice cream, to eat at "the place where they cook in front of you" (Japanese hibache), the game "Jenga" are what we have heard so far, though his ideas keep coming.
I do love him so...
06 April 2011
Tonight I will tell him his homebirth story and put my boy to bed for his last sleep as a six year old!
05 April 2011
When I was growing up, my mom always said she would never make more than one thing for dinner like (fill in the blank of whomever was the object of ridicule on this topic)...
Well ya know what? I was an only child. In my house, it's pretty much a guarantee that at least one person in my family won't like what's for dinner. I don't necessarily make them something else, but I rarely make them eat something they really don't like (save for something green). I encourage "no thank you" bites if it's something new they are reticent to try. I certainly don't make them sit at the table long after dinner is over in order to choke down some canned beets or overcooked frozen veggies with now-warm milk. (But I'm not bitter...)
salmon, steamed artichokes with butter and lemon, baked sweet potatoes and spinach salad for dinner (and, as luck would have it, an alternate offer of pasta primavera with chicken)...middle son said he would like a pizza bagel (& an artichoke).
There's always one. sigh.
It's no wonder some people feed their dogs from the table...they are grateful for anything you give them!
04 April 2011
Sadly, "32.9% of Births Resulting In Major Abdominal Surgery; 13th Consecutive Year to Show Increase"...read about it on the ICAN site
If you are pregnant, considering getting pregnant or know someone who is, consider downloading "What Every Pregnant Woman Needs To Know About Cesarean Section" (2006, revised) The numbers are worse now, but still good information.
01 April 2011
31 March 2011
Happy birthday (not April Fools!)
...'cause I need to do some major juggling. Such is the life of a doula who happens to be the mom of three (or the other way around, I suppose)...who is also hosting a playdate and has to pickup from afterschool activities. And make sure the dog goes out. And there is some food to eat. Feels a bit like a game of poker...depending on which card is dealt next, everything could go perfectly smoothly (and I'm not even talking about the labor) or not...ah, adrenaline....guess I won't have that second cup of coffee!
*hey - is that a birth ball on which the circus performer is standing? ;-)
30 March 2011
29 March 2011
A reader comment from yesterday's post made me realize that I wanted to cover a bit more about birth plans and hospital birth in general.
I think that this whole "birth plan" era has also unfortunately ushered in a huge amount of antagonism between patients & nurses, which is just SO upsetting to me (as a nurse). Believe it or not, we WANT you to have the birth that you want, but sometimes things just don't go the way they are "planned." Welcome to parenthood, that's your first lesson that kids never stick to the plan!
Sometimes people have the impression that giving or receiving a birth plan is an opportunity for scorn and eye rolling. It certainly can be...I have clients ask me all the time if they will be annoying the staff with a birth plan. I've also heard care providers jokingly speculate that the people with the longest birth plans are the ones who get cesareans...and the implication is that it's all their own fault. I hate to hear this...the people saying it just have not met the right kind of birth plans (and the mindset that goes with them)! Just as I think birthing women should not be dogmatic, I would love it if care providers also took responsibility for not mentally penalizing people for their earnestness.
A big part of the equation that usually can't be planned for is the luck of the draw with the assigned nurse. Sure, some nurses can be invested in women having as few needs as possible, in them being quiet or not "suffering". However, I find that most nurses (and everyone really) can get on board with a just about any birth plan if they are approached from a place of respect and acknowledgment that they are there to help. Find your inner Dale Carngie: "We prefer that you don't offer us medication, but we sure would love some ice chips and another pillow!" or consider saying, "Here's what we would prefer/what is important to us...can you help us with that?". Most people are decent human beings.
When there is an adversarial approach, it is likely caused, in part, when people are not well matched with the care providers/birth place (you know what they say about not going to a fast food restaurant if it's fine dining you are after). But also when people are coming from a place of fundamental distrust. There is this fine balance, I think, between being prepared to advocate for yourself (as well you should) and going in looking for a fight. 'Cause if you look for a fight, you are more likely to find one. Hostility is not going to help anyone, including the birthing woman, who will surely need to be able to trust and surrender. An atmosphere of distrust or upset can actually stop labor from progressing...those stress hormones are like kryptonite to the hormones that progress labor.
Instead, iron out as many details before you go into labor and make sure you are comfortable with the answers you are getting from all your care providers. Ask what is typical, where there is wiggle room, under what sorts of circumstances interventions might be typical. Consider hiring a doula. Labor at home for a good long time if you can. And, as I have written before, picture your care provider telling you you need an intervention you really don't want...in your gut, do you trust them? If the answer is no, if you are finding that you are still anticipating an uphill battle, make peace with the fact that you may be with the wrong practice or planning to birth at the wrong place for you and then do something about it.
Again, I'm not suggesting you jump on a conveyor belt of unwanted interventions...I'm suggesting you find out whether the conveyor belt is there at all before you get there and then respectfully pick you battles.
Note to pregnant mommas: the darker Buckwheat honey is delicious (a bit more like molasses) and has higher amounts of iron than lighter colored honey!
28 March 2011
I do (remember)…that was a big scientific breakthrough moment for us (both of us). For one thing it created the understanding of how our solar system functions, but it also taught me the value of creating simple training aids to enhance the learning/understanding process of a person trying to grasp a concept, thereby making the teaching process easier and more valuable. That principle stood me in good stead later when I was instructing skydiving and computer training.
I spent last night and then again this morning reviewing an incredibly lovely client's birth plan. Um - it shouldn't take that long. And it should fit on one page. No one else (in a hospital birth at least, which is who this post mostly concerns) is going to really read it if it's way too long or complicated. They don't want or need a preamble. Make it easy for them - think bullet points. And know that they can't really sign off on incredibly specific requirements...sure, you'd like a heplock (if medically necessary) in your left hand if you are right handed, but what if they can't find a vein there? See where I'm going with this? Not for nothin', but I think sometimes some childbirth educators or resources out there can get hung up on dogma and end up doing a disservice to people who might expect that all they have to do is show up with the plan. It's not that simple...birth happens within the culture of our society and of individual institutions (unless you are having a home birth) and practices. So it behooves you to approach that micro-culture in a way it can understand most easily. And do your homework before you go into labor to make sure you are with the right care provider and birth place for the type of birth you want.
Don't get me wrong - I think the exercise is very valuable for the woman/couple. I consider it part of my job as a doula and childbirth educator to make sure people understand their options and know what will typically happen if they do not express a preference. The process is important (for those who want it) even if "the plan" never sees the light of day. It's also a great jumping off point from which to have a discussion with your care provider.
But a potential downside is that sometimes women and couples think that it is somehow a binding document or that it can be the end of the discussion with their care provider. I know that's what I thought when I was pregnant with my first. For some wacky reason, my care provider (an OB) actually signed my birth plan, complete with preamble. I was an attorney at the time - I thought we were set (and as it turns out, we were - everything cooperated). But what about the others in the practice? What if my birth hadn't gone the way it did? I think I would have been upset - we had a deal, right? And yet plans have to be flexible...if I am taking a trip and plan to take the very scenic and lovely Road X, but Road X is under construction, I need to find a way around it. I'm not talking about caving to every intervention thrown at you - not at all! I'm simply saying that you need to have an understanding of what you are getting or giving up with your choices and when trading in one preference might, in the big picture, keep you more on track with where you want to go and how, generally, you want to get there. I'm talking about avoiding bigger interventions.
I prefer the idea of "Birth Preferences" because that's what they are. And I suggest that instead of just one big talk, there be a continued mentioning of preferences at all subsequent appointments, just to keep reminding them who you are and what's important to you (there are a lot more "yous" than there are of "them", as in other patients). I also suggest that you consider making the receptionist aware that extra time is needed at the appointment where you intend to have the initial birth plan talk. Nothing like trying to be heard and having your care provider looking at the clock or having her hand on the door handle (though if that's the case, it might be time to consider a new practice!).
So when I am faced with an incredibly detailed birth plan, I know it's time for a talk about big picture. It may be that every item can be adhered to with no issue. But what if someone is dead set against an IV and then vomits for hours and labor stalls due to dehydration? Sometimes a little intervention can save a bigger intervention. That's why they are preferences. It's good, I think, to always consider what the next best thing is too...
"OK everybody," (it was really only me there)
"Be quiet - I have a call to make. (takes a deep breath)...OK - let's do this thing!"
Does my baby like a girl??
27 March 2011
Do you remember teaching me this? I remember like yesterday...you put an orange on a pencil (tilted on it's axis, naturally) & then rotated it around the hanging hotel light fixture (that looked a bit like Saturn, actually)...and I got it.
I just did the same for E...only it was a cherry tomato on a chop stick around a seltzer bottle. The moon was played by a smaller bottle. He completely understands now.
Apologies for not posting sooner, baby Kara Grace. Outside the three walls of glass on your birthday (March 13, NYC) morning, the whole city woke up to greet you. Welcome, beautiful girl - the world is out there waiting for you! Congratulations to you momma and poppa.
So the boy came through his surgery with flying colors. The recovery was actually a bit trickier than I imagined (not sure why that is - every mom who had btdt warned me!) but was also sort of nice. Firstly, my dad flew in to help (which we all loved), so I was able to get out to the gym and make daily runs for new ice cream flavors and foods that might be ok to grind up...though we discovered during the second week that soft scrambled eggs were like manna from the gods...a bit tough to say goodbye to egg friends though.
Mostly we stuck close to home and I was needed as a mom in a way I had not been needed in a long time. We actually had a middle-of-the-night cuddle sitting in the steamy bathroom with the shower running in order to sooth his throat. Either my lap has gotten smaller (not freaking likely) or the boy has gotten WAY bigger since last we did that.
Since his voice was so tiny and it hurt to talk, I gave him a bell to ring when he needed something. It was the very same bell I had used as a sick kid - I think my mom had gotten it at the mission in Carmel, CA where she grew up (I might be making up a more romantic heritage of this bell, but it makes me feel good to think that - and I think my dad liked the idea too). The kid enjoyed using the bell a little too much, if you know what I mean. I considered using rollerskates for a few days there.
So fast-forward to yesterday - the post-op doctor appointment at which he got the all-clear. On the way to the car, he said,
"Mom, it doesn't have to be over...we could just pretend that I'm still getting better. I can keep using the bell at least, right?"
18 March 2011
17 March 2011
In a fantastic blog post by a CA midwife about Japan, there is this bit of interesting/useful information for those who are concerned for themselves and their families on the west coast of the US (in particular):
....the general scientific consensus is that we on the West Coast will be "safe" from radioactive contamination. HOWEVER, since the jet stream is carrying everything toward us from Japan, it might be wise to feed your family superfoods that are radiation-protective. Especially if you are pregnant, or have young children, please check out the following links, and add miso, kelp, nettle tea, and the other mentioned plants and superfoods to your diets for the next several weeks, as things "fall out". Here is Susan Weed http://www.wisewomantradition.com/wisewomanweb/2010/11/surviving-radiation-the-wise-woman-way.html
and here is another excellent one from Christian Bates http://christianbates.com/?p=748
11 March 2011
Gonna be a long day.
10 March 2011
By the way, beautiful boy...I don't expect you'll remember, but we had a moment, you and I. You looked right into my eyes and held them for a bit and it made me cry...I don't cry at every birth and I didn't even cry when you were born - this was after. The enormity of being there and staring into the eyes of a baby who is only a few minutes old but looking so very wise reminded me how lucky I am to do what I do, so thank you for that.
ps: tell your momma to start playing the oboe again...she got lots of practice showing us how it's done! ;-)
06 March 2011
One of the biggest opportunities for reducing health care costs is improving the quality of maternity care. For most businesses, childbirth and newborn care is the largest or second largest (after heart care) category of hospital expenditures, and it's by far the largest category of hospital expenditures for state Medicaid programs. So even small improvements can result in large savings.
The place to start is with the most common hospital procedure in America -- the cesarean section. A C-section is a surgical delivery of a baby, rather than a normal, vaginal delivery. Not only does a C-section typically cost twice as much as a vaginal delivery, it is more likely to result in infections, injuries and other complications for both mothers and babies.
As for the rest of us, mental illness is not funny to watch...I get that it's hard to look away from the train wreck, but that's what I have been doing for the most part on this whole thing...it's just disturbing and there are worthier topics that should be dominating the news and captivating our country...like Wisconsin. Or Georgia.
And I'm not being holier-than-thou...I watch plenty of bad TV. But I don't wish to contribute life energy to watching a man implode on camera, preserving it forever for his children to watch for the rest of their lives. Sad.
04 March 2011
17 February 2011
02 February 2011
I love that my doula (now midwife) from my first birth (that son is now 13) sends out Groundhog Day greetings...and that I'm still on the list...
This was the first year they were not handmade little cards...technology does make staying in touch so much easier though - I don't blame her. It's just a happy little reminder of just about the biggest event in my life...the experience helped shape me and is, in large part, why I do what I do now. Thanks Chris!
The picture she included is the one at the top & here's the quote:
As the light grows longer The cold grows stronger If Candlemas be fair and bright Winter will have another flight If Candlemas be cloud and rain Winter will be gone and not come again A farmer should on Candlemas day Have half his corn and half his hay On Candlemas day if thorns hang a drop You can be sure of a good pea crop –
01 February 2011
But we know some babies will be born - but really, anyone who must travel in super bad weather - this was what I just posted on facebook:
dear midwives, doulas & imminently expectant parents...Stay safe, everyone.
the National Weather Service advises (in all caps - sorry - that's theirs):
IF YOU MUST TRAVEL...KEEP AN EXTRA FLASHLIGHT...FOOD...AND WATER IN YOUR VEHICLE IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY. I would add: a blanket and a well-charged cell phone and appropriate clothing/footwear.
24 January 2011
Today was a nutty day. I was just about to pick my oldest up from school early for an appointment when the school nurse for the youngest called saying he seemed fine but had come back for a second time today saying it hurt to swallow. No fever, good mood, just a red throat. So I scooped him up and made an appointment with the pediatrician just to rule out strep, which has been making the rounds amongst our friends. I called the middle son's school to send a message to him not to wait for his little brother and to come on home.
So now my youngest is with me to get his oldest brother at school and take him to the eye doctor. Diagnosis: quite nearsighted! He's a boy who knows what he likes and he didn't like the glasses the eye doctor had to offer. I've learned my lesson about strong-arming him into accepting things he doesn't really like/want...So we squeezed in a quick trip to a cooler glasses place and found a perfect pair (ca-ching!)...then we dropped him (oldest) at dentist and raced to the pediatrician who was not able to rule out strep because, in spite of him seeming well and not even looking like strep, he actually has a very bad case. Sigh...pick up oldest at dentist, head to pharmacy to drop Rx, head to market to buy groceries while waiting for prescription (since we will be home bound tomorrow - which reminds me, must call school and report strep & absence tomorrow...). Then picked up medicine and a few little treats and soup.
So what does this have to do with technology? Well, to keep him occupied at the eye doctor and again while waiting for the pediatrician, I allowed my youngest to play a game (Fruit Ninja? I guess my oldest loaded it because I sure didn't) on my iPad and now he's obsessed with wanting to play with it again. Here was his attempt:
him: "Mom - I was just talking with your old laptop...he's lonely. He really misses you. Maybe you should spend some time with him instead of your iPad tonight!"
me: "I don't think my laptop is a boy".
Crafty boy...I may just let him play with it as a reward for his creativity!
22 January 2011
20 January 2011
the instructions are there...the cream sounds nice:
be entered in a drawing for my homemade, natural hand cream made from herbs I’ve grown. It works great for all sorts of maladies. Dry, cracked hands or feet? Diaper rash? Other skin rashes? Stretch marks? This cream takes care of it all. I use it for my family, and I want to pass on a jar of it to the lucky winner!
19 January 2011
Our hope is that we can get it shown at a local film festival this year...
Create community, craft stories and share the vision of gentle birth healing mother earth.Wine & cheese & film screening of 90 minute movie, "Guerilla Midwife" of beautiful midwife, Robin Lim.Sunday, Jan. 23, 2011, 4 pm- 7 pmin Montlcair
I just caught my oldest, 13, about to snowboard down a ramp he created in the backyard...made from my teak outdoor FURNITURE!
It should also be noted that he was wearing shorts (boxer shorts maybe?) and a tshirt and snowboarding boots...no pants, no jacket, no helmet...sigh
me: "are you insane? stop immediately and put everything back right now!"
him: "it's fine - stop freaking out"
me: "it's so NOT fine...never do this again"
him: "well, I guess I can never have ANY fun around here!"
me: "I guess not"
him: "will you finally take me to Home Depot so I can get PVC pipe and build a rail then??"
me: ...silence and deep breaths...
(the above photo is, thankfully, not in my yard or that of anyone I know!)
Tonight at dinner...
my 6yo: "on my next birthday, I want a machete..."
my 6yo: "...but not the knife kind. I want the little pieces of paper-cut up-that explode-at a party kind of machete"
me: "could you mean confetti??"
my 6yo: " oh - yeah...confetti! That's what I want - confetti."
03 January 2011
Welcome to the world, little Georgia Teresa...