Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Monday, November 28, 2011
I love my red dishes. They make me happy.
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Monday, November 14, 2011
Friday, November 11, 2011
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
My friend Erin came over. She gives great haircuts. I wasn't at all worried about her skill. Only the fact that we'd be losing some of the length we've fought so hard to achieve here.
So we only took a little bit off. Just a trim, to even up the ends. Besides, I'm told that a child's hair will come in more thickly when it's been trimmed.
Elise amused herself by playing with some jewelry I had provided for that purpose, and spraying herself in the face with water. She was a pro!
And here is the end result. We really didn't take much off...and Erin, as always, did a fantastic job.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Friday, November 4, 2011
In September of 2002, when I was 7 months into my very first pregnancy, my husband and I made an exhilarating choice. We decided to walk away from my OB, and instead hire a midwife to attend our child's birth. In fact, in that moment we also walked away from hospital birth, standard interventions, and the "norm." We were planning a midwife-attended waterbirth, at a freestanding birth center.
It felt huge. It was huge. People tended to be pretty stunned when we told them. "What about the drugs?" they'd ask. (Answer: no drugs. I didn't even want the option of any drugs.) And "wouldn't the baby drown?" (Answer: no. Babies don't inhale until they get into the air, anyway.)
The change in my prenatal care was astounding. Instead of the short, hurried appointments we'd experienced under an obstetrician's care, my prenatal visits now lasted around 1 1/2 hours each. There was no rush. They offered us ice water or hot tea. There were questions such as "How are you doing, emotionally?" and "How are you eating?" Although I stepped onto the scale at each visit, no comment was ever made about how much weight I gained.
When my estimated due date came and passed, no one mentioned induction. At my 41-week appointment, my midwife brought up the subject of a non-stress test, but that was all.
My labor felt long. It began one evening and ended around 14 hours later. We were up all night, and the baby was born just before noon. I remember feeling so tired during the last part of my labor. Jeff and I drove to his parents' house across town and labored there for most of the night. Their home was considerably closer to the birth center than ours. We decided to wait to go to the birth center until the morning, and when I was checked upon arrival, they found that I was 8 cm dilated. Wonderful! We got into the birthing tub for the rest of the labor. It was hard work, but I did it! My midwife was wonderfully attentive, and my husband was an amazing support. After my baby was born, I wasn't tired at all anymore. I was riding high on a wave of adrenaline. And being at the birth center was wonderful; we received such tender care.
When Jeff and I began talking about the birth of our second child, he brought up the subject of homebirth. I admit, I was shocked. I didn't know anyone who'd chosen homebirth...except my midwife, who'd had her baby a few months after ours. And I had always thought that a strange thing. Why had she not chosen to have her baby at the wonderful waterbirth center?
Yet the more we spoke about Jeff's idea, the more it seemed like the natural next step. Have things set up at home, stay where we were, and have the birth team come to us. We took a while decide for sure, and I still received prenatal care at the waterbirth center. It was very similar to how the last part of my previous pregnancy had been. The difference was, that when it came time for the baby to be born, we didn't leave home.
Birthing at home was wonderful. I still remember that first homebirth as the easiest of my births.
Part of the beauty of homebirth is that the mother is in her most comfortable, familiar place. She doesn't have to fight for her privacy. She has control over who is present during her labor. She has the freedom to move, eat, and drink as she desires. Many of these factors were present during my birth center experience. But this time, I didn't find myself hitting transition inside a car, on the highway, during rush hour.
When it was time for our third birth, Jeff and I chose homebirth again. That, too, was a wonderful experience. I know that the day may come when I will bring forth a child in a hospital setting. We may not be able, financially, to always manage the kind of births we love. Or, conditions may arise which would necessitate more complicated medical care.
But for the time being, I am so pleased to be planning for another birth, at home.
Something that recently struck me was this: recently I heard someone comment on the language women often use when they speak of birthing in a hospital. "They let me move around." "They let me eat." "They let me labor in water until _____." These kinds of statements speak volumes about where the control lies. In that kind of setting, it comes down to having permission, or not. A laboring mother is dependent on the benevolence of the setting where she has chosen to birth.
At home, it's quite a different story. I have control over how I labor. Afterward, I can crawl into my own bed with my baby and my husband and rest.
With a low-risk, healthy pregnancy, under the guidance of a wise midwife, homebirth is a wonderful option. I'm so glad I found my way to it!
Thursday, November 3, 2011
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." (fromBabycatcher 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.