Monday, November 29, 2010

From the Mouth of a Five Year-Old

I had forgotten, until recently, what a cute age five can be.  Here are a couple of things my five year-old has said to me the past few days:

(While watching me put sprouts on my sandwich)
5 yo: "I don't like sprouts, but when I'm a Dad I'll like them... or when I'm 10."

(While snuggling in bed trying to get to sleep)
5 yo: "The baby's not cute."
Me: "Yes he is, and so are you! Will you ever get to a point when you stop being cute?" 
5 yo: "When we're bigger." 
Me: "And you won't need to be cute anymore?" 
5 yo: "Because we'll be strong."

I love my kids!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

VBAC With Inverted T Incision

Last year I blogged about an emergency cesarean for face presentation, which resulted with an inverted T-incision.  Even after such an intense experience, the mother was determined not to let her cesarean scar keep her from giving birth vaginally in the future.  She went on to have a successful VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) with a planned home birth and a support team that spanned the globe.  You can read her two amazing birth stories here:

Monday, November 22, 2010

Approaching Pregnancy After Miscarriage - Personal Feelings

I've entered an entirely new area in my life.  I lost a pregnancy just a few months ago.  It was my 6th pregnancy, and my first miscarriage.  I wrote as a form of therapy about the entire experience, even as I was going through it.  It's a long story, filled with a roller coaster of physical and emotional turmoil.  There was healing even in the midst of the turmoil, and even though it was a very difficult thing to experience, I felt I was blessed and able to learn and grow from it.  Even though I still didn't understand why it had happened, I was able to find some meaning in it.

What's surprised me is how my feelings toward pregnancy have changed.  I've experienced nervousness before, wondering whether I was pregnant, whether we were ready for another baby at that time, reflecting on how I would handle pregnancy and one more child.  I remember being most nervous with my first pregnancy, but I also had a sort of ignorant bliss.  As informed as I thought I was, I really was ignorant when it came to pregnancy and birth.  I was 21 years old and embarking on a completely new life experience.  It was something I had wanted and hoped for since I was a little girl, a fulfillment of dreams and goals.  There was a mystery and wonder to it all, and I was mostly fearless.

I had 5 wonderful mostly uneventful pregnancies, all ending with full term healthy babies.  I had amazing birth experiences and learned how strong and capable my body and spirit were to be able to carry several babies to term and to birth them all vaginally, and 3 of them without any pain medication.  I even birthed a breech baby at home!  I felt somewhat invincible when it came to pregnancy and birth.

After losing a pregnancy I find I'm questioning myself.  I know I'm capable, that confidence is still there, but there's a new element.  I wonder about a lot of things.  Will the next pregnancy stick, or will my body flush it out like the last one?  Is one miscarriage all I'll have to experience, or are there more in my future?  If I have to go through that again, do I really want to get pregnant?

For the first time in my life I wonder if my body is somehow broken.  I have an inkling of how a woman must feel when she's told her body is incapable of birthing on its own and she must have a cesarean.  I know it's a lie, and yet the feelings are still there.  

Why would my body work and then suddenly not work anymore?  It doesn't.  It's like when I asked my midwife how delivery of the placenta is achieved in a home birth without the aid of pitocin.  The response: "Why would your body be capable of doing everything itself only up until a certain point?  Why would you be able to birth your baby without medication only to need medication to get the placenta out?"  It doesn't suddenly stop doing what it's been capable of until that point.

So I'm not broken.  I know that.  But do I believe it?  Yes and no.  I realize, more than ever, that I'm not the one in charge.  I can do everything within my power to have a healthy pregnancy, and I could still miscarry for unknown reasons.  Does that mean my body messed up?  I don't think so, but I still don't understand how it works.  I guess it's not for me to understand.  Like I said, I'm not the one in control.

I don't want to try to get pregnant and I don't want to try to prevent pregnancy.  If I try to get pregnant I feel I might be setting myself up for another failure.  If I prevent pregnancy then I feel I'm denying my spirit and body what I know they need and can handle.  I know there's another baby to come to our family.  I just don't know how many pregnancies it will take to get her here, and I'm not sure I'm up to the task if it means experiencing more loss.

Maybe this article helps explain why I feel this way.  At least it gives me a little validation.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Baby Bond Giveaway

Photo from Baby Bond
Enjoy Birth is giving away a Baby Bond cover!

Baby Bond nursing covers cover mom without covering the baby, allowing for discreet breastfeeding.

Click the link above to learn about this giveaway and enter to win!

Entries will be accepted until midnight November 20.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I've Been Published!

If you follow my Facebook fan page then you probably already know that I recently got a freelance writing job posting original content on the Pampers website!

I'm very excited that after blogging about pregnancy and childbirth for over two years I'll be making money doing what I love to do!

My articles will be relatively short and light in nature.  I can write on topics from a list of available search phrases, and I'm trying to find topics that interest me.  Sometimes the popular topics I can choose from are more what I consider to be "fluff", and I prefer to talk about pregnancy topics that are weight and important.  So far I've been happy to find some of my preferred topics, and I'm really enjoying the writing process.

Here are the first three of my articles that have been published.  

Using Pregnancy Calendars

Adjusting to Life With a Breastfeeding Infant

The Role of a Postpartum Doula

If you like them, please share the links with your friends and family!  I'll continue to post the links to future articles as they're published.  Thanks so much for your support!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Touch in Birth

This is a great resource for partners, doulas, midwives, and birth supporters everywhere.

I've been supported in birth by my husband (as licensed massage therapist), a doula, and midwives.  All of them used physical touch in supporting me, and I can personally attest to the great comfort and importance of touch in labor and birth.

I found this video through Enjoy Birth

Friday, November 12, 2010

Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex

Have you heard of D-MER?

That's okay, until recently I hadn't either.

"Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex is a newly recognized condition affecting lactating women that is characterized by an abrupt dysphoria, or negative emotions that occur just before milk release and continuing not more then a few minutes."

Many women experience this, but are unaware there is an explanation and treatment available.  They may feel embarrassed and afraid to tell others what they're going through.

D-MER is thought to be caused by a dopamine drop that happens just before milk let down.  If dopamine levels drop too much, it can cause these strange negative emotions.

There is treatment available through both prescription and natural methods, including diet, homeopathy, massage therapy, supplements, herbs, and other treatment options.  All of these treatments are meant to help increase dopamine levels and stabilize a breastfeeding woman's emotions.  Even taking encapsulated placenta is thought to help ease D-MER.  Some treatments may work better than others, and some women may respond better to certain treatments compared to others.  I would personally recommend prescription medication as a last resort after other methods have been tried.

Please help spread the word!  If you or someone you know is experiencing this troubling problem, please seek treatment!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fear in Childbirth (Video)

This is a really good video citing many fears women have about childbirth, how those fears impact their experience, and what can be done to better support women in pregnancy and birth.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

$100 Cloth Diaper Giveaway!

The Cloth Diaper Report is giving $100 worth of cloth diaper products.  If I win I think I'll get some diaper covers to replace my homemade covers that are wearing out.  

Click here to enter the giveaway!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Flu Shot During Pregnancy

The link above goes to a great blog post about the flu vaccine and pregnancy, and the ways the media and medical professionals play on a mother's love for her baby to persuade her to get the vaccination.

Here's a short part of the post, a warning label from one of the manufacturers of the flu vaccine: 

“Pregnancy Category C: Animal reproduction studies have not been conducted with Influenza A (H1N1) 2009 Monovalent Vaccine or Fluzone vaccine. It is also not known whether these vaccines can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman or can affect reproduction capacity. Influenza A (H1N1) 2009 Monovalent Vaccine should be given to a pregnant woman only if clearly needed.”

The post also outlines other means by which you can prevent the flu.

I personally don't recommend the flu vaccine during pregnancy, and I think that expectant parents should seriously consider all the facts before making a decision.

For more information about the flu vaccine, please see the following: 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Roller Coaster: Healing

This is the twelfth and final post in a special bi-weekly series.  It's a sequel to The Longest Weekend of My Life series.

Part 12: Healing

To explain my healing after miscarriage, I need to explain about the past and my beliefs. This is something so close to my heart, that I've avoided speaking of it to others, particularly in such a public venue as this. However, it's an interwoven part of my experience and my healing, and if I'm to tell my story, this must be told as well.

After my husband and I had been dating for a few years, he broke up with me. I wrote him off, swearing I'd never get back with him, and I did my best to move on. He came back to me, wanting to get back together, or in the least to be friends. I refused and ignored his pleas. He had hurt me and I was determined not to get hurt again.

It was one such day that he sat with me as I cleaned my bedroom. He had been asking to spend some time with me and I'd shot him down yet again. He was furious and decided to leave for good when a voice stopped him. Here is his account:

As clear as day I hear a little girl say, 'Daddy, don't go. If you and Mommy don't stay together then I won't be able to come, so Daddy please stay.' I looked around the room to see if someone else was there, or if someone down the hall was watching TV or listening to the radio, but nothing. And my wife kept right on cleaning and ignoring me as if she didn't hear a thing. I start to get back up thinking I'd just imagined it when again I hear this little girl say, 'Daddy please don't go...'. And so I stayed.”

I eventually forgave him and we got engaged and married. My husband told me about the voice after we were married, and although I hadn't heard the voice I trusted that it was true. We thought it meant we would have a girl first, and it would be that spirit who spoke to him. We were surprised to have 3 boys in the next few years, and when we discovered our fourth child was a girl we thought for sure this was the little girl we'd waited years for, and our family would be complete. You see, by then we both had a feeling that once this precious girl child came to our family, we could rest assured that our family was whole and we could be done having babies.

However, when we were choosing a name for our first girl, we felt distinctly that the name we'd chosen for the long-awaited girl child didn't fit for this baby. Even in the last trimester of my pregnancy I felt the presence of a girl spirit, and I somehow knew in my soul that it wasn't the spirit of the child I was carrying. This other spirit was with me and was saying “Don't forget about me!” I told my husband we couldn't be done having babies, because our little girl needed a sister!

My fifth pregnancy was unexpected, but I was excited because I thought it to be my second little girl, the one we'd waited for. However, when the ultrasound was done we were surprised to find that we were having a fourth boy instead! We speculated that his little sister had to let him come first to make sure we wouldn't forget about him either. That was our home birth, our breech baby Liam, and we couldn't imagine life without him.

When I discovered I was pregnant for a sixth time both my husband and I felt that perhaps this was finally the child who'd spoken to him and come to me in years past. It was an interesting experience, to say the least, with the craziness from the beginning of pain, suspected ectopic pregnancy, followed by bleeding and possible miscarriage.

Throughout those harried weeks I had many little comforting moments in which I felt my future daughter's presence or thought of her. There were moments when I'd see a child out of the corner of my eye, thinking it was one of my children, only to realize that no one was there. There were quiet moments at night when all of my children were sleeping and I'd hear the soft giggle or sigh of a child in the room with me, not in the other room where the kids were asleep. Almost daily I had the distinct feeling that our family was incomplete. Usually this feeling came when I was with my five children and did a quick mental head count, as mothers often do. I'd count all their precious little heads, only to feel that someone was still missing. I'd had this feeling many times through the years as I was having babies, but this feeling was coming more often and becoming stronger.

The night before the miscarriage was confirmed my husband awoke me at 3 o'clock in the morning. He told me he had seen our future daughter. He'd been up watching a movie, as he has trouble falling asleep, and he'd seen out of the corner of his eye a small child walking from one bedroom to the other. At first he dismissed it, thinking it was our 2 year old daughter awake walking to another room. He saw it a second time, this time moving in the opposite direction back to the other room. He noticed a white summer dress and realized our daughter didn't wear a white dress to bed, and this child was a little taller than she was. The third time he saw her was the most clear. She had strawberry blond hair, lighter and curlier than our 2 year-old had.

We talked and we both felt it was the spirit of our unborn daughter, and we speculated about the reason for her appearance. We wondered if I was pregnant with this child, how could her spirit be walking around? My husband worried that perhaps this meant the pregnancy had ended, but I didn't want to consider the possibility.

The next morning was when I awoke to find the bleeding and then discover that the pregnancy had, in fact, miscarried weeks earlier, most likely when I'd had the bleeding at 6 weeks. Suddenly I realized why our little girl had appeared to my husband the night before. I talked with him as he cried, and we both felt that perhaps she was letting us know that she was still waiting to come.

I felt comforted by her appearance, and as the emptiness and shock of the first day receded, it was replaced by peace. I couldn't explain it. I knew that many wonderful friends and family had said they would pray for me, and I felt perhaps those prayers were carrying me through what otherwise would have been devastating. I knew that prayers were powerful, but had never felt the impact of the prayers of others in such a direct way.

As I write this, three days have passed since my miscarriage was confirmed. I don't feel empty anymore, but I still haven't cried much. I wonder if I'll need to, and if the time comes I will. I feel profoundly comforted and at peace. Somehow, knowing that the miscarriage was so early is also comforting in knowing that my body is already healing. The whole experience was somewhat surreal, and I feel that perhaps from the start it wasn't meant to be. I wonder if my daughter's spirit ever actually inhabited that tiny dying embryo, but I don't worry about that because I know she's alright. I feel that I didn't actually lose a child, because I know her spirit is still there, waiting. I know that she'll come when the time is right, and that gives me more comfort than anything else could.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Expert Advice For Expectant Parents

Jill from The Unnecesarean attended a lecture by Penny Simkin recently at UCSD Medical Center, and she's recorded and shared her notes from the lecture here:

Penny Simkin is one of my heroes.  I've read some of her books, and I admire her for her work with childbirth and in helping to establish doulas all over the world to support women in labor and birth.

Here's a very short bio from Jill:

"Penny Simkin is a physical therapist, co-founder of DONA, doula and childbirth educator who emphasizes the importance of providing women with compassionate care in labor."

Please read through all of the notes.  Penny has some really important words of advice for expectant parents everywhere!  Please also look into reading some of Penny's wonderful books, including "The Birth Partner" and "Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn".