Sunday, June 15, 2014

Our Rebirth Ceremony

    Rebirth ceremonies can hold many different meanings for different people. Often times, a rebirth ceremony is chance for a mother to heal after a traumatic birth experience or even a fulfilling birth experience that didn't go as expected. Sometimes the birth itself was wonderful but the baby had a hard start, such as a NICU stay. Or some people just like to celebrate the most amazing day of their life by doing it all over again! The ceremony can be as long and drawn out as you want it to be, or simple and sweet. A lot of people like to incorporate a bath since the water represents the baby's life in the womb. Some include prayer or meditation. It's really up to you.
     Our birth went wonderfully, but I was very tired from the long labor and felt like I wasn't all "there" for those first few moments with Perrin. I also suffered from severe post-partum depression, so those first few weeks were especially rough. So to celebrate Perrin's birthday, I wanted a do-over, a fresh start. Joey suggested going around town to the different places we visited while in labor. We didn't go to every single place, but we hit the big ones and reminisced about those few days that led up to Perrin. For dinner, we made eggs and toast- the same meal that the midwives prepared for us after Perrin was born. Then Perrin and I shared a special bath. I filled the tub with warm water, bath salts, and lavender oil and dimmed the lights and lit some candles. We snuggled in the bath and nursed while I talked to him about our past year together. I told him his birth story, laid him back in the water in my arms, then pulled him up onto my chest just like when he was born. By that time he had had enough of pomp and circumstance and wanted to play, so Joey came in and sat with us while Perrin played and splashed and snuggled some more. After the bath was done, we all went and cuddled in bed. The whole thing was barely half an hour. But it was a nice way to reflect on Perrin's first year and commemorate the event of his birth.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Happy Birthday Perrin

   Today Perrin turns one year old. We made it! We all survived! We may have barely stumbled across the finish line, but we finished. Only it's more of a first mile marker than a finish line. The only thing even that even remotely resembles a finish line is still 17 years away. So, what is one year old Perrin like?

  Well, he's an adult portion of crazy stuck in a two year old's body with a one year old's brain development and motor skills. Imagine if you gave a kangaroo crack then set it loose in the McDonald's play place. It's slightly exhausting. I know I write a lot about the struggles of motherhood in an effort to help normalize the unromantic parenting experience. But today is not that day. Today is the day to celebrate all the stuff that doesn't suck and is actually pretty fun. So Perrin, these are the things I love about you:

- You are super affectionate. You started giving hugs and kisses around six months old and they have only gotten better. Now you'll get in our laps to snuggle and hang on to our necks so tight it's hard to breath sometimes.

-You are a really good climber and have great adventures. You are always willing to explore and take the risks and leaps that make me feel like I'm going to have a heart attack. But you usually reach whatever it is you were going for and then you look back at me with a huge smile to make sure I saw you. Sometimes you don't make it, and you cry and it hurts, but all it takes is snuggles and milks and you are right back at it.

-You are incredibly social, which is strange because neither your dad or I are. You make friends easily and will play with anyone. You warm up to new places and new people quickly. You are generally pretty at ease, which makes me feel better because I worry that my anxiousness will rub off on you sometimes.

-You are INTENSE. Happy, sad, mad,'s all 100% emotion. You don't hold back. You have feelings and you make them known. You are incredibly confident in yourself and never hesitate to express!

-You are the most curious baby I have ever met. You watch and observe with purpose. You explore and investigate and try new things without a second thought.

-You barely got your 4th tooth before this birthday. Your gummy smile is fading fast but I love it and miss it.

-You are still the world's worst latcher, but you nurse like a champ and your preference for nursing probably has a lot to do with us getting this far. I'm so glad you are getting so much out of our breastfeeding relationship and that you stuck through it with me even though we struggled so much at first.

-You are an adventurous eater. You love spicy foods, and sushi, and pretty much any vegetable you've ever tried. You LOVE when we get Ethiopian take out. And if you had it your way you would eat yogurt with everything.

-You like being in groups with mixed ages. You like to watch the older kids and interact with adults. We could be at the museum or zoo when it is complete chaos and you will make your way across the room, in between people's legs if need be, to do your own thing. You are so sure of your place in the world.

-You nurse less at night now. Sometimes I wake up and you aren't even touching me; you're sleeping on your own in your own space. So I scoot closer and snuggle you up.

-You are my tiny little side-kick. This has been the hardest thing to get used to- having you with me all the time, never being able to do anything on my own whim but always having to plan you into daily life. But it's also fun, because for you everything is an adventure. It's all new and exciting. And you don't need to have a plan or purpose. We can roam around or just sit in the floor with blocks all day or lay in bed and read books. We kind of rock. Some days are really rough, but then are others where I feel like we really "get" each other.

So here's to you, Perrin! Happy Birthday! I'm sorry this year has been a bit of a bumpy ride, but straight and narrow just doesn't seem to be your style. As much as I am sure it may kill me some days, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

A Scary New Trend

    My apologies if this seems like one of my ranty posts, but I’m starting to get kind of annoyed with a new trend that seems to be popping up. This is purely anecdotal, but from what I can tell natural and or evidence based birth has become some kind of marketing strategy. Now, part of this is desirable and to be expected. More women are being informed about their rights and options and are pushing providers to, well, provide. So in a way it is kind of encouraging to see hospitals remodeling L&D to be more family friendly and comfortable and to see places offering tools like birth tubs, stability balls, and wireless fetal monitors.  One would expect that more doctors and midwives would be looking at the actual research on things like doulas and VBACs and the hydrotherapy and adjusting their practices accordingly. These are all wonderful things.
   The problem is- from what I can tell, there also seems to be trend of providers paying lipservice to these practices and the failing to deliver. I’m talking about OBs saying they are supportive or pro natural birth and VBACs, but then at 38 weeks talking big babies, ruptures, inductions, failure to progress, and c-sections.  Or OBs and even pediatricians who claim to be pro breastfeeding or even having lactation credentials suggesting formula and supplementation without even addressing latch issues or supply. It’s like they realize that women want these things, but they aren’t invested enough to actually help them achieve it. There could also be a more insidious reason, which I hope isn’t the case- providers patronizingly assume that these women are jumping on some trendy natural birth bandwagon and don’t really know what they are asking for (and I guess ignoring the fact that these practices are based on the best medical evidence).
   Whatever the reason, it’s a worrisome trap because we have women who are well informed who are actively seeking out support for their choices- they know they need to find a OB who is on board and seek one out- only to find out at the eleventh hour that they were mislead.  So how do you tell the phonies apart from the real deal?
-          Interview. You are hiring this person to assist you in the birth of your child. Get recommendations, interview several people, and pick the one who feels like a good fit.
Red flags: If you don’t have enough time in your initial visit to go over your questions or the provider seems annoyed with you, it’s a good indication that they are not going to be very helpful or supportive. They are used to doing things their way and everyone else is just along for the ride.
-          Ask them to walk you through a typical birth of theirs. What procedures are standard? It is true that you can opt out of whatever you choose, but if your provider is used to doing things the exact opposite of what you want, there will be stress and friction and that is bad birthing mojo.
Red flags: If they say “everyone” or “all of my patients,” be suspicious. Unless they have only had one patient, I highly doubt that every birth, mother, and baby were exactly the same. You want someone who can recognize each birth as a unique and individual situation and can do what is best for YOU and YOUR BABY.
-          Ask for stats to back up their claims. They say they are pro-VBAC? Ask what their VBAC success rate is. Ask for their c-section rate, their rate of induction.
Red flags: If they don’t know or won’t tell you, it’s a bad sign. Doctors with good rates are proud of them and they are happy to tell you.
-          Get the specifics. Under what circumstances would they recommend induction? C-section? Supplementation?
Red flags: Be wary of dismissive language. Any “you don’t need to worry about that” or “just leave that to me”s. You are asking for their professional expertise. Hell, you are paying them for it. It shouldn’t be guessing game.
-          Don’t be afraid to switch. This is your birth and your baby. It’s kind of a big deal- like, way more of a big deal than some doctor’s ego. If you don’t feel 100% comfortable with that person, find someone else. There are way too many amazing doctors and midwives out there for you to be giving the shitty ones your business.

Other red flags: Watch out for the words “try” or “let” or “see how it goes”, i.e. “we can try a VBAC” or “I will only let you go to 40 weeks before inducing”.  You need someone who is completely supported and invested in your birth. You need a provider who is going to say “you will have a wonderful natural birth”, “you are going to VBAC this baby”, “ I recommend X, but the decision is up to you”.
You have a right to change your mind. If you decide you want that epidural, or that induction, or that c-section, or that you don’t want to breastfeed- that is totally okay. It’s one thing for people to try and help you stick by your original decisions (the “Are you sure?” and “But you said…”s), but no one should make fun or belittle you or make you feel guilty about changing your mind.
Don’t put up with providers who make fun of or talk down doulas, birth plans, etc. It’s not uncommon to hear statements like “one way ticket to the OR” or “oh, one of THOSE patients”. These birth practices are based on the soundest medical research and backed by ACOG. Would you go to a heart surgeon who scoffed at evidence-based medicine?

I know it seems sad and suspicious to be so distrusting of providers, but I have seen too many people get railroaded into a disappointing and even traumatic birth experience by someone they thought had their back. Do your homework and trust your gut.