Thursday, January 6, 2011

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Dear New Mother I Met Last Sunday...

('new' mother is a bit misleading, as the mother in question had an older son at home, but she was quite 'newly' a mother again)

I was in Soft and Cozy Baby in Baltimore on Sunday. You might remember me as one of the mamas with the baby slings. I helped you try out a Moby Wrap, and you really loved it. You were a natural, and your little one, on her due date no less (she came three weeks early), seemed so snuggly and content.

I was really excited when you bought the carrier on the spot. I'm always leery of encouraging others to 'waste' money, but the light that came into your eyes when we helped you get your tiny daughter into the carrier -- it was such a beautiful thing. All the fatigue of caring for a newborn, the nursing struggles, the recovery from your surgery -- it all seemed to fade away into this radiant 'click.' 'This is easy, this works.' For the mothers and caregivers of newborns, what works is absolutely precious.

This is babywearing.

It was a lovely experience for me as well. I've recently become somewhat withdrawn, but seeing your gorgeous smile reminded me of why I'm passionate about slings. Thank you.

Anyway, I hope it's still working out for you, and I hope, whether or not you're having difficulties, you'll come to our next meeting this upcoming Saturday. I'd love to see you again.

And I hope ... no matter what, that you feel safe with your baby in a sling. I know we talked about keeping her head from falling chin to chest, and how important it was for you be able to see her face and monitor her breathing, and explained about head control and positional asphyxiation. I'm not worried that it scared you -- I feel this information is critical and I wouldn't have it otherwise. I'm worried because there is a big storm brewing, and it brings misinformation and fear that I can't really protect you, or any parent new to babywearing from.

But the reality is that your tiny baby is as safe, or even safer, in her Moby than she is anywhere else you might put her. Babywearing provides three factors proven to reduce the risk of SIDS: 1) vestibular motion, upright positioning, and skin to skin contact. Isn't that amazing? That there's a way to care for your baby that is safer for her and more convenient for you? It's not supposed to be like that, right? The Puritan work ethic stipulates that harder = better right? All those baby books too -- it's better to make the children more convenient, not the parenting. Right?

I'm so happy that you saw it wasn't true, and that wearing your wee one coincided so neatly with your convictions. You saw that what you wanted to do wasn't impossible or self-sacrificial. That other women wanted to do the same and had rediscovered how humanity has done it from our earliest history.

Sorry to ramble, Dear Lovely New Mother. But I really am happy for you that you discovered how simple and amazing babywearing can be, and I'm happy for myself that I was there to see it.

Kindest Regards,

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Caleb's Birth Story

This is not a contemporary recollection. The only bit I wrote about Caleb within a week of his birth was:

Born October 21, 2008 (determined to be a Libra, I guess) at 7:29am
Weighing 6lb9oz, 20in long (poor kid had no butt cheeks -- none at all)

He baked for three or four 'extra' days -- but was covered in vernix and lanugo. Healthy and happy (unless you are trying to change or dress him). Likes to sleep in in the morning and stay up all night (just like Daddy). Very much a cuddlebug.

(birth story to follow...)

So, here goes...

One would think that when you're 40w4d pregnant with #2, you would not assume that that pain waking you up at 1am are 'stomach cramps.' As the grogginess lifted, I realized they felt a bit more like menstrual pain. Oh. I got up.

About four hours earlier, chatting with my mom, I starting feeling 'fluey' -- hot and cold, and achy. In retrospect, this was probably my hormones shifting. I think I even told her that I expected to go into labor soon.

At twenty past the hour, I headed to the washroom. A little bloody show and *ahem* diarrhea. Alrighty then! Downstairs, I found sweet hubbie playing games? Listening to music? Unshaven? Anyway, I kicked him off his computer and straddled his desk chair while looking for Contraction Master and trying to figure out how to use it.

Now, does not rate contractions on a scale of 'meh' to 'whoa doggie!' so I didn't really need it, by around 1:45am, to assess my progress. I was fairly convinced. Instead, we called everyone, and Chris shaved.

Karin arrived first, followed by Lisa. I woke up my mom and my Jeremiah.

We got assembled. Bags were already packed. We decided that Chris and Jeremiah would ride with my mom, and Karin would drive our car with Lisa. And me. I guess I had to be there too. That way, Mom wouldn't get lost, and Chris wouldn't freak out if I started making Scary Noises. While driving.

At some point, I read Jeremiah a story. It was a short story: Baby Come Out. I swear that the contractions waited. They were about 4-7 min apart at this point, and I could feel one building and building, and as soon as we finished the book, I rolled onto hands and knees and it hit.

So bags in cars and/or trucks, lovely adult diaper donned (a bit premature, I think, but SROM in the car? No t'anks.), and I believe I dithered a bit about whether or not wear my slippers or my shoes, and finally decided on the former. We started driving around 4am, with the non-laboring mom group having a head start.

Lisa sat in the backseat with me, holding my hand and being awesome. Karin was the awesome driver seasoned by years in the Bay Area. A rocking team. Lisa timed my contractions on her phone, and I pulled on the driver's side headrest through them. That felt wonderful. I remember worrying that I had mobilized everyone for a false alarm, but Karin and Lisa were pretty convinced.

About 10 minutes from the hospital, the contractions subtly but clearly changed. They had very slowly gotten more frequent, but now they felt more ... resolute? Is that a good word? I believe that this was the true beginning of active labor for me, though at the time, I wondered if it might have been transition.

The truck arrived ahead of us, and we got a panicked call from Chris. But we were there within minutes, at 5am, and I waddled through emergency and was introduced to the admitting nurse by my sweet family, who had warned her I was coming. I was brought to a room with a tub (yay!) and a pelvic exam revealed that I was dilated to 4 (from 2cm, almost two weeks before). I was put on 'the belt' for 15 minutes as standard procedure, signed a couple papers refusing antibiotics for GBS+, and my mom and Jeremiah came in to visit for a bit. Chris put on the music I asked for.

We started the tub, and the nurse told me I could get in at any time. The details at this point get hazy for me. I don't remember when Mom and J left the room. Nurses were in and out with the doppler, and the midwife was on her way. I remember getting out of the tub because I felt like I had to use the toilet, and my water broke, and saw a thin trickle run down my leg. It was, much to my relief, clear. This was around 6:50am. I tried to finish up *cough* emptying myself on the toilet, but couldn't quite manage it. I broke down crying.

Back in the tub, laboring on my side. I remember Karin's hands on my head, reminding me to keep my mouth open, and I started moaning/chanting/something through the contractions. This was it -- transition, and every contraction ended in a tiny push, that turned into a more insistent push, and then it was all pushes, and I was complete. Viv was there -- my favorite midwife.

I told her that I wanted to keep pushing on my side (because I didn't want to tear), and I did for a little, but I didn't like the feeling, so I got into a squat. Still, I wasn't pushing. I reached and felt for Caleb's head, and he felt, so, so deep to me. I thought of my water breaking, and of refusing antibiotics, and I started crying. I wanted him to be crowning,and he had so far left to go. Viv checked my cervix, and a nurse used the doppler, and everything was still and calm, but I did not want to push. "I can't!" I said. "I don't remember HOW!"

I pushed with the next contraction, squatting, and Caleb came, head, body, and placenta all at once. I pulled him from the water, to find him en caul, and pulled it away. He had a seriously angry look on his face, and started howling.

I could tell he was tiny. The nurse came to clamp the cord, and I held up my hand to stop her, and then looked with confusion at the placenta that had been fished out and was now floating in a pan. Someone gave me a shot of pitocin in my upper arm, and I looked at Caleb. He was covered in vernix and fine hair on his shoulders, and long long fingernails.

Karin had snuck away to get my Mom and Jeremiah, and they came back in, Jeremiah having been warned that 'Mama and brother (no name yet) were in a very dirty bathtub.' He met his little brother and touched his head.

I had big tear to sew up, and Caleb needed his exam. He was a full pound lighter than his brother, at 6lbs, 9oz, but the same length, 20 inches. As a result, he had no butt -- absolutely none -- though it worked just fine, and he christened his poor Auntie Karin quite quickly. He had a sacral dimple (just like me, Viv cheerfully informed me, as she sutured). I had torn along the old scar tissue, as well as a couple small labial abrasions. I enjoyed some nitrous oxide during the repair.

Slowly, everyone left, and Chris and I were alone with our new, still nameless sweetling. He was precious.

Because I had refused antibiotics in labor, Viv recommended screening Caleb for GBS. I felt so guilty when they hunted his tiny arms and legs for a vein. I felt like he was getting the stick that I refused. It is true that we had not been in hospital long enough for both doses, but I still feel guilty. In the end, we were there for 30 hours -- longer than the 24 recommended for close monitoring, so the screen was pointless. I still rue allowing the screen, and sitting hunched on the bed trying to pretend that I couldn't hear my baby scream.

I was eager to get home to Jeremiah, wanted my breastfeeding 'accessories,' and really just wanted to pee on my own toilet (my bladder was emptied twice by catheter), so I was relieved when they discharged us the following day, with hugs and good wishes and a lovely homemade flannel blanket.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Jeremiah's Birth Story

I am absolutely delighted that I found this! I was sure I had lost it. While I remember the events (and a few details that I left out) this was written less than a week after he was born, and there's no way I could recapture that feeling. He was born on January 3rd, 2005, in Alberta.

Commentary is in italics.


Jeremiah came along a little over a week later than advertised.

He made up for that week with a bang though, waking me up around 5am with -contractions- that, to my amazement as I watched the clock, were about 2-3 minutes apart. It was Monday morning, January 3rd, and my husband was due back at work at 9am after two weeks of vacation.

The first bang-zoom contractions were actually at 2am, and I decided that if I could go back to sleep, I wasn't really in labor, so I got a three hour nap *and* managed to sleep through early labor. In retrospect, probably a huge boon for a primip.

We're only 15 minutes from the hospital, and he is my first baby, so I called the hospital to see if I would be "lame" for going in, since I had only been timing for about 30 minutes.

The nurse said that I could come in, but that I could probably take my time. My sweetie and I piled into the car and headed out. He was so worried about me.

I was hooked up to a fetal heart monitor (that never seemed to be in the right place), and it looked like my baby's heartrate was dropping with each contraction.

I was encouraged, by the triage nurse, to consider getting an epidural 'just in case' I needed a c-section.

Panic started to set in. The nurse checked my cervix, and at 7:30am I was 3 centimeters and fully effaced. They would keep us. I was started on an IV for antibiotics, being Group B Strep positive.

After a little more monitoring, with me laying as much on my side as possible, I was given the go ahead to hop in the shower. The doctor was out of surgery and ready to check me around 10:30am. I was 5 centimeters dilated and she broke my water, which was green. More panic. Another 30 minutes of monitoring - probably the worst of it, as the contractions got worse and I couldn't move around - I think I finally started yelling at this point. The baby was fine and I could hop back in the shower. I never made it.

I had to push. It was scary how much I had to push. It didn't hurt, exactly, it just had to happen. A very sweet nurse named Linda quietly watched me struggle in the bathroom for a moment, and thought that she should probably check my progress.

I had asked her to come in, with great embarrassment, because I was defecating with each contraction and could not seem to clean myself enough to be 'presentable' and return to the delivery room.

I wasn't expecting much, and I was very ready to ask for an epidural, because I knew I wouldn't be able to keep from pushing at this point. As she leaned over me, I assured her that I would -not- be ready to push, and she laughed and assured me that I was. It was maybe 11:30am. The doctor had left for her lunch break, and she almost didn't make it back in time.

I don't remember how many contractions I pushed through, but it wasn't more than five. I heard the nurses commenting that the baby's heartrate was dropping sharply in the birth canal - lower than mine, and I needed no other motivation. Just thinking about how scared I was then still brings tears to my eyes. I ended up with third-degree tear, but I really don't think I felt that either.

Suddenly I had a baby on, rather than in, my belly, and I saw that we had a Jeremiah. It was 12:12pm. He weighed 7lbs, 9oz, and measured 20 inches long. He was quite a bit smaller than we were expecting, but I have no complaints. ^_^

The meconium team was there to suction him out, and they gave him right to me, all pink and glowy. Once everyone was done poking at him, he feel silent and blinked at us for an hour or so. I had the serious shakes right after delivery, so Jeremiah spent a good deal of time bonding with his daddy while his mommy was getting sewn up.

I was such a baby for the stitches. I whined through that, and every time the nurse pressed on my uterus. We stayed at the hospital until Wednesday morning.

Jeremiah has been an easy-going, watchful baby. He's very alert and strong. He still hates getting poked at, but forgives quickly and easily. He's a champion napper, and I find that I have to wake him to feed him at times. Breastfeeding has been something of a challenge, but we're getting better at it.


Remembering J's birth brings tears to my eyes. Happy tears, not resentful ones. I am struck, reading this, by the fear and tension I obviously had, over things that I now know to be perfectly normal, like his heartrate falling during second stage. And this was a perfectly successful, uncomplicated, barely intervened, rather quick birth!

I recall Caleb's birth (and now I guess I should write *that* up) with less tension and panic, and far more warmth, love and comfort, but also with less magic, less sense of triumph and wonder.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Would you like to take a survey? Waterborn babes...

Please help me out. This is a very informal collection of information. I do not stand to profit in any financial manner, but I am learning how to collect and assemble information, so I stand to gain knowledge and skill (hopefully).

I'm looking for the numbers on waterborn babes, so please reply if your baby was born in water.

1) Location of birth (hospital, home, Pacific ocean, etc)

2) Type of pool (single use inflatable, jacuzzi, rented, normal bathtub, Pacific ocean, etc)

3) Type of attendant (OB, MW, Considerate Dolphin, etc)

4) Please note *any* prenatal complications.

5) How many babies have you had, and which one was this?

6) Did your attendant (or staff) ever express concern over your baby's heartrate during labor?

7) Did your attendant ever diagnose your baby with distress in labor?

8) How long was your active labor (4+ cm dilation, contractions < 5min apart)?

9) When did your membranes rupture?

10) What was the condition of the amniotic fluid(blood, meconium, etc)?

11) Did your baby cry immediately after birth?

12) Was your attendant (or yourself) concerned about his/her condition, and why? Do you know your baby's APGAR scores, if taken?

13) Was your baby transferred (or taken) for intensive care? Why?

14) Did anything striking or unusual happen (like a snapped umbilical cord or precipitous delivery)?

15) How long was your pregnancy?

16) Where you induced, and how?

17) Were you augmented with Pitocin?

18) Date of birth(s).

19) What else do you think I should know?

Thank you so much for your time, and please pass the word! ^_^

If you don't feel comfortable posting in the comments, please respond to

Monday, April 19, 2010

Selected thoughts from a truly amazing woman: Eleanor Roosevelt

(though I'm sure she'd scold me for calling her that...)

Sometimes I wonder if we shall ever grow up in our politics and say definite things which mean something, or whether we shall always go on using generalities to which everyone can subscribe, and which mean very little.

What you don't do can be a destructive force.

You can never really live anyone else's life, not even your child's. The influence you exert is through your own life, and what you've become yourself.

A little simplification would be the first step toward rational living, I think.

Do what you feel in your heart to be right- for you'll be criticized anyway. You'll be damned if you do, and damned if you don't.

Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product.

Have convictions. Be friendly. Stick to your beliefs as they stick to theirs. Work as hard as they do.

I can not believe that war is the best solution. No one won the last war, and no one will win the next war.

I have spent many years of my life in opposition, and I rather like the role.

I once had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue: no good in a bed, but fine up against a wall.

In all our contacts it is probably the sense of being really needed and wanted which gives us the greatest satisfaction and creates the most lasting bond.

It is not more vacation we need - it is more vocation.

One's philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes... and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.