Sunday, April 25, 2010

Not all things work out perfectly

I just attended a birth last night for a Bradley couple. I got a call at about 4pm from her husband because they were at the hospital (after having transfered from a birth center) and the staff were talking the "C-word". He was nervous and wasn't sure what to do. His wife was fully dilated and had been pushing for two hours in various positions but the baby just wouldn't move down. In my heart, once he said that, I knew that she probably really would need to have a cesarean and I offered to go to the hospital just to hold her hand and provide moral support.

Once I got there she was quite calm and surprisingly strong given the two days she had already been in active labor. Her husband too, still looked remarkably alert. They told me the positions she had tried. The staff was very supportive. Her OB when recommending the cesarean was compassionate, knowing that she really wanted to have her baby vaginally. After talking it over, she still wanted to try pushing some more in different positions just to see if that would help baby's head clear the pubic bone. She squatted down on the floor, pushed while standing and also tried hands and knees pushing. She pushed HARD. Strong woman.

But sometimes there is a baby in there who gets stuck. It does happen sometimes. And it's a bummer when it does, but the reality is that it is important to accept what is, and let go of unfulfilled expectation. Sometimes you just gotta get the baby out.

Cesareans save lives. Sometimes cesareans are unnecessary and that is what all the hubbub is about (as it should be), but when it's necessary, it's a gift of life. In this situation the mother would have lived, but not the baby. Incidentally the baby was transferred (GBS concerns and low blood oxygen levels) to the NICU unit at another hospital because the hospital where she delivered didn't have one. So now mama is separated from her baby and husband. Of everything that happened, that was the part that broke my heart. I feel that mother and baby should stay together always.

The days will be long for this couple. Breastfeeding will likely be impaired. Their birth has been a series of plan changes and disappointments, so I am hoping that she has magical nipples that that baby just grabs right onto when reunited. And if not, she'll need extra support for that too.

Not all things work out perfectly.

And yet, this is a strong family who I know will have a beautiful life together and I'm happy for them.

I feel that my job as a Bradley instructor isn't to lay guilt on people by holding natural childbirth up as the only standard by which "good births" can be measured. That isn't, and has never been, the point. To me, the point is to empower people with knowledge of how to have a natural childbirth and all that it can do for them and their baby, but also to know wise use of drugs and interventions if something abnormal presents itself. Any person who wears glasses, a hearing aid, or takes seasonal allergy medications should understand that sometimes the body needs some help.

As far as this couple is concerned, I sincerely hope they don't feel bad every single time they feel obligated to explain to someone why she needed a cesarean or why she may not be exclusively breastfeeding.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Ok, ok, Night Weaning

First of all, I don't claim to be any sort of expert or anything. Frankly, didn't mothers used to get to sleep through when the baby was a few months old or something? I'm always kind of curious about that since it sounds pretty darn nice. Anyways, I've never made that happen, but all that said, here's what I do:

I have two Pack n Plays, one in my bedroom, one in another bedroom. I like the Pack n Play because of the mesh sides and the portability.

As a newborn the baby is always in our bedroom. At some point I start putting her in the other bedroom for naps when it is convenient. Once she's comfortable with that then I start putting her down for bedtime in the other bedroom and go to her when she wakes in the night and bring her back into our room. After awhile I start going to her in the night and putting her back in her own room.

At some point I know that she is only waking up at night out of habit and not because she is genuinely hungry or really for any other reason. I also get to a point where I am so tired I can't take getting up any more and it really starts affecting my daytime mothering.

So once I hit that point I make up my mind that I'm not going to get her when she wakes up. She crys. I don't go in.

The next night she doesn't really cry anymore. After that she's sleeping through the night and so am I. I go get her when she wakes at 5:30 or 6am.

Once she is broken of the night waking habit, if she happens to wake up and cry I know it is for something real and not just because she's used to it.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Super Sweetie

I haven't done a baby post in awhile even though I spend each and every day loving up on this baby. There is nothing I love better than to hold her, squeeze her, make her laugh, and watch her do new things.

She's 10 months old and has been walking for about two weeks now. It started off as just a step or two, but now she's pretty good at it! I think it is so adorable the way she lurches forward and back trying to keep her balance. She knows she's doing something really good too because she'll stop and look at me and smile her big baby smile and clap her hands. I'm glad she's good at cheering for herself.

I'm so lucky to have such a sweetie.

I love the big smile she gets on her face when I pick her up out of her bed after a nap. See that smile in the picture? That's how she looks at me every time I go get her. I love the way she wiggles her bootie like a puppy and buries her face in her blankets when getting comfortable to go to sleep. I love when I try to change her diaper and she gets both legs going in big circles like the tap move "wings! wings! wings!" She's full of talking and sounds from "ma ma ma ma" and "da da da" to growls, sputters, raspberries, and tongue spits.

She can crawl up and down the stairs no problem. I don't even have to watch her or worry about her. Lately she loves to be pushed in the toy car or push Adam's Lightning McQueen toy.

She also loves to play in the toy house in the front yard. She opens and closes the little front door and makes herself right at home.

She can eat almost anything, and I'm much more adventurous with her diet than I was with Frannie especially. I loosened up with Adam I guess, and now I don't worry so much. She eats Joes O's, oat bran, oatmeal, cheese, pretzels, eggs, yogurt, applesauce, regular apples, she will murder a banana if I let her, she'll murder a strawberry too and that really does look like a crime scene when she's done. She still nurses several times a day. Just last week I night-weaned her and I'm finally sleeping through the night.

I've given her several nicknames, like Netter Sweater, Nettie Spaghetti, Natalie Spagatalie, Netta, and Susie. WHAT?? SUSIE? Yes. Susie. I don't really know why. Maybe because it is sort of a combo between Sweetie and Cutie. But one day I started calling her Susie. And then I said it again and again. And now I say it all the time. I say her real name too all of the time. And her middle name too. And sometimes it's Susie Natalie. Or Susie Meadow. Or Susie Natalie Meadow. It's lots of things. I guess I just have lots of little special names for my baby sweetie.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Why I'm becoming Christian

In a month or two it is likely that Jason and I will be baptized and then we will get the kids baptized too. We are currently taking Catechism classes with our pastor on Wednesday evenings. He is kind enough to come to the house because he knows it would be too difficult for us to find the time for 12 classes with the kids being so young. As part of the series we read from Luther's Small Catechism, the history of Martin Luther, and a Meaningful Worship book. The class is intended to be an introduction to Christianity and Lutheranism. First off, I'm so glad I found this church because after 10 years of going to different churches and mostly spending our time at the UCC, Jason and I FINALLY feel like we are learning something. There are so many things that I think people take for granted if they were raised in the church, that Jason and I have been clueless about. We have so many questions from basic to complex that have needed explanation! It feels good to finally feel like "Oh! So THAT'S what that is!" as well as learn a lot of history and get some foundational knowledge of the faith. We have four more classes before we're done.

So why Christianity? Why not Buddhism or Judaism or something else? I did investigate these religions and still believe they have value, however, I chose to learn about Christianity for a few reasons:
1. Because even though I wasn't raised specifically as a Christian, I grew up amongst it. Culturally it is what I feel comfortable with.
2. I got tired of celebrating Christmas and Easter as purely secular holidays. I got tired of having a life with no rituals set aside during the week to honor the sacred. All those years when I'd go to church and drag Jason with me, never really "getting" many parts of the service or "getting" Jesus, I went just to say my thank yous. Half the time I didn't even know what I was really doing there other than the thank you part.
3. When I was 34 weeks pregnant with Frannie I began to have "labor jitters". I spoke to Lori on the phone and told her that I was scared. I told her that I wanted to trust in God but that I was feeling afraid. When she heard me mention God, she asked if she could pray for me. I told her she could and she prayed for me right there on the phone and asked God that knit my baby in my womb to give me strength and courage that He will see me through. As she prayed I felt a weight lifted off of me and I began to cry deep sobs. It was the first time anyone had prayed for me, and after that I wasn't afraid to give birth. I knew that things could happen, but I came to a place of peace knowing that it was out of my hands.
4. When I did give birth to Frannie and I was in my deepest place I felt as if I could touch the other side. The other side is so close to us, like pinching fabric with two fingers. It's just right there. And when I was deep and pinched the other side I could feel tremendous peace there. I was in pain and at peace all at the same time. I know that there is a loving God. I know this as much as I know anything.
5. After Frannie was born I began searching more for a religion or a church. I doubt I will ever claim to have all of the answers to life or anything, but it is very important to me that my kids know God. I need them to know that when I die or someone they love dies, that we are always here with them. I need them to know that when bad things happen, they are never alone. When they feel lonely or scared or inadequate there is a loving God who made them and who walks with them.
6. It was Adam's birth that made me understand the concept of Jesus as a savior. Adam's birth was extremely painful. Much more so than I experienced with Frannie. His was so painful that it took me about 9 months to process what happened and to process the depth of pain. Why does God call women for this? Why does God ask this pain of us? This process of birth can feel like dying. Why? Why has God called his daughters to die to give life to our young? The surrendering of the body and bearing of pain is an act of pure love. This is what Jesus did for us. Perhaps God sent a Son and not a daughter because his daughters are the ones bearing the pain of ushering in life. In Jesus, he bears the pain so that we may make our way home. Ultimately bearing the pain has brought great joy to my life. I enjoy thinking about the days my children were born. Those were heroic days for me. I can see how Jesus' death while desperately sad, is also heroic and full of hope. His life is one I am just now learning more about. Remember, I'm a newbie.

So tomorrow morning is Easter Sunday. I am looking forward to greeting God and experiencing the hope.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Happy Easter! and a Vote

Reem told me that she wanted to do a photo shoot with the kids. I figured, "Sure, why not?" So I got into the spirit of things and put them in matchy-matchy outfits and even twisted a few pieces of Frannie's hair with a curling iron before assembling them outside.

All I have to say is Wow.

It is SO HARD to get three little ones to look sort of in the same direction, have a decent expression on their face, not move too much, and be close enough together to get them all in the frame.

On top of those gymnastics, Nattie was in a bad baby mood. I have no idea how Doreen does this!

Either which way, I forged ahead hoping for the promise of coordinated Easter pictures. are the good...

And here are some bad ones, just to get a feel for what MOST of the pictures Reem and I got look like.

Now, I need a favor! I would like to pick one of the good ones to print up to send to a family member or two. Which one should I pick????