Monday, November 30, 2009

my journey to homebirth, part 1

I haven't always been an advocate of natural childbirth.

In fact, my views on birth used to be very much in harmony with the status quo. Use an obstetrician, birth in a hospital, go with the flow. Why not?

When I became pregnant with my first child, I was seeing an OBGYN. And so, seeing no reason to change that, I continued to make my appointments with the same office. I liked the doctor; she was energetic and personable.

Jeff and I signed up for a class which taught the Bradley Method for childbirth. We knew someone who had spoken well of the Bradley Method, and we decided to check it out. As it would turn out, that decision changed everything for us.

The class was taught by a nice woman, about our own age. She had two children, and taught the classes in her home. Her first baby had been born in a hospital: the second in a freestanding waterbirth center. We took in that information, but it wasn't until a few weeks later that we ever really started to entertain the idea of not birthing in a hospital. We learned so much from that class: about how a woman's body functions before, during, and after labor, and about a slew of interventions commonly pushed on birthing mothers.

I was 7 months along. Jeff joined me for my prenatal appointment, as he always did. I remember that it was my birthday. We had come to the doctor's office with a few new questions this time. What did she think of routine fetal monitoring and IV use in labor? What was her position on episiotomies? Was there a time limit for the pushing stage of labor? These are just a few of the questions we brought to the table that day. In retrospect, we may have put her on the defensive just a bit. Two earnest, eager parents-to-be, wanting some answers. We did get answers, but they were not the ones we had hoped to hear.

It was a beautiful autumn day. We walked out of the office building that day with the distinct sense that we would have to argue for what we wanted all through the childbirth process. We would have to be constantly questioning, reminding, being on guard. We stood there under the fall leaves, in the dappled sunshine, and we both knew that this wasn't how we wanted to bring our child into the world.

I believe that it in that moment when Jeff's thoughts turned toward the waterbirth center. I was a bit slower than he was, still thinking of finding another OB. But the more we talked, the more I liked the idea of visiting the birth center. We could at least check it out. Besides, if we were going to fire our OB at 7 months into a pregnancy, we had better examine all of our options.

So we went. The birth center was 45 minutes away from our house, but as we made our way inside the door for the first time, it felt almost like a homecoming. Everything was lovely, comfortable, and relaxed. We were ushered into a room called the "Lavender Room," where we spoke with a midwife named Desiree for more than an hour.

We'd brought our list of questions again. I remember being nervous as they were pulled out, but with each answer we heard, Jeff and I relaxed more and more. No routine episiotomies? No electronic fetal monitoring or standard IV use? I could push as long as I wanted to, as long as everyone was doing well? Really? We were thrilled. And all the while we talked, Desiree had a little smile on her face, as if to say, "Of course."

I've heard it said this way: most obstetricians consider birth to be complicated, until proven otherwise. Midwives consider birth to be a normal, usually healthy process, until proven otherwise. For many doctors, "normal childbirth is a retrospective diagnosis." (from Babycatcher by Peggy Vincent, pg. 58)

And so, in a way we had come home. Home to the place where our first child would come into the world. Home to the very room where we would spend the first night after his birth. And home to a view of childbirth which would change the way our family grew, forever.

"Not me!" Monday

The beginning of yet another week brings us to yet another Monday. And what does Monday mean, besides "Not me!" Monday? Well, a few things. But I won't be mentioning them here. Hop on over to MckMama's blog, My Charming Kids, to see what else is going on in the "Not me" department. Here goes...

I definitely don't still have a suitcase to unpack from the beginning of November. No. Way. Not me. I would never leave my kids' stuff in a suitcase, only to sometimes remove things as I got a bit behind on the laundry. I would never be such a procrastinator. Not evah.

I absolutely wasn't tickled pink to come home from shopping on Saturday with a big, beautiful lavender candle in tow. And I could not possibly care less that it's the kind that makes lovely wood-burning noises as it goes. I can certainly wait, an indefinite amount of time, to set it up next to my bathtub in the new house.

Speaking of said bathtub, I for sure didn't finally give in and try it out during our weekend visit to the new house. I haven't been curious about how roomy/crowded it would be for childbirth. Not at all.

And I would never be so foolish as to tell my oldest child that, if he did not choose to have his birthday party at Build-A-Bear, he could invite as many guests as he wanted. Who would make that kind of rash statement to an almost 7-year-old? But if I had said such a thing, I would certainly live to regret it.

After helping myself to a slice of fresh Spiced Pumpkin Bread the other night, I definitely didn't lick the buttery crumbs right off of the cutting board. Nope, not me! That would be so very undignified.

Speaking of undignified, I certainly am not about to throw the towel at any and all maternity pants. Because it's cold, and I need pants. But, still...ugh.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

homebirth supplies

Maybe I'm antsy because I know we'll be moving a few weeks (a month?) before Little Bit arrives. Maybe I know I'll be busy, and stressed, and I'm eager to take the burden from Mindy-in-January's shoulders. Maybe that's it: entirely possible.

But in truth, I've always been this way. Wanting to get things set up, ready....prepared. I've been known to spend the better part of my nesting time squirreling away things like shampoo, hand soap, contact solution, mascara, garbage bags, and food packed into the freezer. I really, really like to have any and all of my ducks in a row.

And so, I'm ready to get on the birth kit. I've got a few things assembled already, and I hope to get the rest of it organized within the next few weeks. (Hey, don't laugh...I will be 31 weeks on Monday. That's not too soon...right?) And...I thought I'd share my list(s) with you, dear readers! Aren't you thrilled?

Here is the basic list I received from my midwife~
  • posted name of, address to, phone number for, & directions to hospital closest to my home
  • foods for the birth team and laboring mama (i.e., whole grain bread, real peanut butter/almond butter, raw veggies, cheese & crackers, fruit, orange juice)
  • large maxi pads
  • bowl for the placenta
  • large freezer Ziploc bag for the placenta
  • small kitchen strainer
  • bendy straws to drink from
  • Recharge sports drink
  • lots of bath towels and washcloths
  • baby blankets and hats
  • electric heating pad
  • antibacterial hand soap and clean hand towel
  • bleach
  • hydrogen peroxide (1 large bottle)
  • large trash bags
  • laundry basket lined with trash bag, in birth room

And here are a couple more which I've added on my own~
  • lavender-scented candle(s)
  • the CD of "labor songs" I made
  • filled water bottle
  • birth ball
  • bath pillow
  • container handy in case I need to vomit during transition
  • breath mints in case I need to vomit during transition
  • newborn baby clothes
  • video camera (with plenty of tape and charged battery)
  • digital camera
  • disposable cameras for the bigger boys

Wish me success!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Here are a few of the things I'm feeling thankful for this year~
  • grace
  • Jeff
  • Jeff's job
  • a healthy, loving family
  • healthy pregnancies
  • finding homebirth
  • the ability to be a stay-at-home mom
  • working vehicles
  • fetal hiccups
  • baby kicks
  • 4-year-old charm
  • A 20-month-old who finally holds my hand (or his brother's hand) and walks alongside
  • 7-year-old maturity (or, the 7-year-old version of maturity)
  • that my children's grandparents are all still married to one another
  • parents who demonstrate a loving, lasting marriage
  • nourishing food
  • nourishing chocolate
  • music
  • friends
  • my church family
  • finding so many commonalities with homeschooling moms I've met
  • the ability to visit the house we're having built every weekend
  • the laughter of my children
  • the ever-surprising love of God
  • new mercies every morning

Monday, November 23, 2009

"Not me!" Monday

Hey, all! It's time for another edition of "Not me" Monday, the carnival blog created by the spirited MckMama at My Charming Kids. Enjoy!

I absolutely didn't sit all three of my boys down to watch "Sid the Science Kid" on PBS, in lieu of doing science on that particular day. I mean, I would never substitute television viewing for school! Even if the show does have "science" in the title...

When I need something from my chest freezer, I definitely don't need to move at least five hefty objects off of it. I would never live in such a way that would make it necessary to move a box of up to six empty half-gallon milk jars, a bag of apples, a bag of sweet potatoes, a heavy cookbook, and not one, but two big ol' squash. And if I did, I wouldn't tend to find myself muttering about it, pretty much every time.

I would never be nearly giddy because, on our "shopping date," Jeff and I picked up a brand new vacuum. That would be a little sad, I think. Even if our old, 10+ year-old one had gotten very, very annoying.

Along those lines, I would certainly not be greatly amused at hearing my boys argue over who gets to vacuum next. Arguing is never amusing!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

the visiting hour

Today we made another visit to the house. Jeff had the ingenious idea to go have a picnic there after church, and that's what we did. It was a great time.

It's so much fun to see the progress that's been made! All of the interior painting has been done for a week or two now. Much of the trim is up.

And today: interior doors are all in, and we have light fixtures!

Our visit today was a wee bit dusty.

Here are Ben and Kyle in their bedroom.

I can hardly wait to see the kitchen and the remaining details come together. We're really getting somewhere here!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

preparing for childbirth

The blessed event we're awaiting in February will be my fourth experience with childbirth. Well, aside from the time when I was born, of course. But I suppose you were already under the assumption that that particular birth had happened.

So, this will be the fourth baby I've ushered into the light. If all goes as planned, the fourth waterbirth, and the third homebirth. All the same, I have certain ways to prepare myself for the big day.

At this point, I don't feel a huge need to study up a lot on technique. I remember the stages, the sensations, the progressions. I remember that I tend to think "I can't do this anymore!" right around transition. I remember the new tricks which I've learned over the years: using low tones with vocalization (high pitches tighten, low pitches loosen), pushing while leaning against the tub and on my knees, and smooching with my husband (yes, it really helps! loosens things up.)

I also remember what I don't like: bright lights, noise, vomiting during transition, and having contractions while on a quick trek to the toilet. I remember that I detest pushing.

Still, I do have my rituals: my ways of getting my head and heart in the game. There are several books I like to read while preparing for baby's arrival:

Babycatcher by Peggy Vincent
This book is a poignant memoir written by a midwife. I was especially drawn to it upon my first reading because, contrary to the stereotype of midwives, Peggy seems to be very "white bread." She grew up on the midwest, started out as an obstetrical nurse, and found her way to midwifery several decades ago. I'm always struck by how well-written this book is. A wonderful, touching, thought-provoking read.

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
Ina May Gaskin is another midwife. She is famous for being a pioneer in modern American midwifery, an unwavering advocate for women and their right to a gentle birth experience. She offers wonderful advise and wisdom, most notably saying "Your body is not a lemon." Birth works!

Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way
by Susan McCutcheon
If I'm feeling the least bit rusty or unsure about the birth process, I turn to this book. It was here that I first learned about natural it works, why it works so well.

Hello Baby by Jenni Overend
This one's for the siblings! I recently became aware of this sweet picture book, which depicts a (fourth!) baby entering the world at home, surrounded by his parents, siblings, and a midwife. It is such a precious story. And the illustrations are beautiful!

I also read birth stories. A lot of birth stories. I can't seem to get enough of them. I watch homebirth videos on YouTube (I just tracked down my absolute favorite one from a few years ago! It completely made my afternoon.). I watch the videos of my own children's births. I view the waterbirth video we were given from the birthing center where my first son was born. It's definitely a part of my ritual to gird myself with tales of positive, encouraging birth experiences.

I'll share which supplies I'm gathering in a later post. There's plenty of time for that, anyway. For now, I'm preparing my heart and mind for this sweet little one's arrival. My anticipation is growing, yet I know I've got a ways to go. For now, I'm living vicariously through the experiences of others....and I'm dreaming...

Monday, November 16, 2009

pregnancy at 29 weeks

Twenty-nine weeks. The first week or two of the 3rd trimester have treated me well. I have a few aches and pains. Heartburn, naturally. But nothing worth complaining about. Overall? I feel terrific.

Jeff made a comment to someone the other day. He said, "We're getting a new house in two months, and due with a new baby in two and a half months." Wow. Talking about putting it in perspective... I'm praying this little one will be as "late" as the big brothers were. I'd sure like some time to get settled in before Little Bit arrives.

But please, don't quote me on that.

"Not me!" Monday

Greetings to you on this November Monday! I'm happy to announce that "Not me" Monday is back...and even happier to share that MckMama's darling son Stellan is home recovering from his surgery, and doing gloriously. There's an honest-to-goodness miracle there; it's nothing short of amazing. Hop on over to MckMama's blog, My Charming Kids, for the story, as well as a great many more "Not me" festivities.

As for me, I definitely didn't find myself in way over my head when I took my two older boys shopping for a friend's birthday present. The interests and needs of an 8-year-old girl do not baffle me in the least. I mean, I was a girl once. Not that long ago. So of course choosing this gift was a piece of cake.

And I absolutely didn't attend a wonderful marriage conference with my husband, and then forget to blog about it. No way. But I'm sure it was a helpful aid for the week following said marriage conference, since I've hardly seen him for an hour a day since then...

I definitely haven't already asked my midwife for the list of needed "birth kit" items. Because I am not in the least interested in having things lined up, and squirreled away. I've never been a person who cares about having all my ducks in a row.

Speaking of birthy stuff, I for sure didn't try on the blank tank I use to labor in, just to see whether or not my back looks fat in it yet. I would never be so vain.

Upon acquiring the newest Steven Curtis Chapman CD, "Beauty Will Rise," I certainly didn't cry all the way through the first time I listened to it. No way. I am not touched at all by what his family has gone through, and music never moves me to tears. Especially not honest, beautiful, poignant instrumentals and lyrics. Nope, not me!

And when the 4-year-old in my home hurt my feelings the other day, I certainly didn't eventually retreat to the bathroom, locking the door, to cry. I mean, as a grown woman, I am always in full possession of my emotions, as well as my hormones. I am never, as a friend of mine put it, "hormotional." And especially not at the hand of a preschooler....

Friday, November 13, 2009


Observant readers of this blog may be aware that I am love homebirth.

All three of my babies arrived naturally, and in water; the second two were born at home. And yes, that was on purpose.

Although Jeff and I have been pleased with each of our birth experiences (and I do mean "our," as he works nearly as hard as I do during labor and delivery), there is something about birthing at home that is inherently special. Maybe it's because, able to be in my most familiar and comfortable environment, it's naturally easier to relax - and in labor, relaxation is the name of the game. Maybe it's the convenience of not having to make that cold, dark drive to another location, all the while dealing with contractions. Or, hitting transition during rush hour on a major highway. Just, you know, theoretically speaking.

Or maybe it's because there is something beautiful about bringing a baby into the world in his own home. Having the first lights he sees outside the womb be the softly glowing lights - perhaps even a fireplace - of home. Maybe it's because there's something precious about pajama-clad boys with tousled hair waking up in the wee smas, to meet their new baby brother.

Very probably, all of the above.

We're planning for our new little one to make entry into the world in the same way. I'm dreaming of the new house (no doubt with many boxes still filled) being christened through one of my favorite family traditions.

There are no guarantees, I know that. Unexpected things can happen. Plans can change. Yet for now, I'm dreaming of something beautiful.

Birth. My family, growing. At home.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

tell me how you really feel

This afternoon, I was served up some homework.

In the midst of "working" on his reading workbook, Benjamin brought me this paper. He said that I needed to order the words into a sentence that makes sense.

Seems perfectly clear to me.

Monday, November 9, 2009


It's been a struggle to have a good attitude about living in this apartment.

I am well aware that we are blessed to be in this position, and I'm continually trying to count those blessings. But I wouldn't be telling the truth if I said it was easy for me.

We feel so crowded. There are still so many boxes, both packed and broken down. It still feels as though we're living in a cardboard jungle. There simply isn't space to put things, even the things we use regularly. I am continually wishing I had access to something (the meat thermometer, the blender, my large roasting pan) which is put away in storage somewhere. We have things stored in three separate spaces: the garage at Jeff's parents' house, a garage here at the apartment complex, and at the U-Haul place. Things are spread to the far corners of the earth, it seems. And it's a good thing, because we certainly don't have the place to put it here.

My beloved maternity sweaters are still at large.

They're not in any of the other places, so I'm resigning myself to the belief that they are impossibly packed away, walled in within the U-Haul storage unit. I'm telling myself that it'll be like "new" clothes when I get access to them during the last month of my pregnancy. That is, assuming I can find them before the baby arrives.

But here's something.

In Kyle's prayers, he always thanks God for "our peaceful apartment."

Peaceful? I don't really think so. Our three months here have been full of stress and clutter. We seem to be too loud for the amount of space we occupy. I'm desperately missing having a garage, now that the near-constant rain has begun in earnest. And I feel so vulnerable here. We keep the boys' window shades down and closed all the time; their bedrooms face the parking lot, and the sidewalk passes just beside the windowpanes. I just feel so foul language, foul habits, and prying eyes. It doesn't feel quite safe, somehow.

Yet in the eyes of my 4-year-old, it's...peaceful?

It seems that he's been able to grasp something which I haven't. That being able to live here is a gift. That it's working for us. That, in spite of the ongoing frustrations, we're doing okay.

So I'm going to continue the struggle. I'm going to make an effort to count blessings ...not just for grace, health, job security and family, but the blessings God has given us through this very place. Here's a start....

~that the sale of our old house finally worked out
~a dry, warm place to live while our new house is being built
~that the apartment is on the ground floor
~the ability to keep the sleeping arrangements we're accustomed to
~the honest truth that there's no room for a child to sleep next to our bed when he comes in during the middle of the night
~a separate bathroom for our young boys
~space to put our chest freezer in the kitchen (and ready access to our supply of grass-finished beef)
~the fact that no neighbors have complained about our often-noisy children
~the fact that our upstairs neighbor, who hits his snooze button an average of 5 times a morning, does not have to get up at an ungodly hour to get ready for his day
~that the apartment is only about 5 minutes from our church
~living very near a college campus with a stunning display of autumn leaves
~a garage available to rent, relatively close to our door
~the fact that we've only about two more months to go
~our last month here will be incredibly busy (and hopefully go quickly)'ll be Christmastime!

Monday, November 2, 2009

no "Not me"-ing

I just thought I'd stop by and say, officially, that there will be no "Not me!" Monday post for today. As you may recall, MckMama, the lovely creator of "Not me!"-ing, has a young son with a heart condition. Stellan has been back in the hospital for the past few days. As a result, I'm not posting anything for "Not me!" Monday today; it just doesn't feel right.

If you feel led, please keep Stellan and his family in your prayers. He's holding his own, but he has some big stuff coming up.