Posteriority

October 17, 2013 at 4:04 pm

Eight years ago today my second baby came into this world upside down, or “sunny side up” as some people say. And she has indeed been a ray of sunshine in my life.

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She was posterior (facing my front side) rather than the normal anterior position (facing my back). Her posteriority (I think I just invented a word!) brought with it some surprises. I had fully expected my second birth to happen very quickly. My sister’s labors were each roughly half as long as the previous. My first daughter’s birth lasted less than six hours, so I was expecting my second to come in less than three! I suspected she might be posterior, however, when that supposed-to-be-fast labor turned into an on-again-off-again roughly 28-hour labor.

The Many Faces of Travail

October 11, 2013 at 9:13 pm

I’ve asked myself more than once over the years: “Why do I get to have it so easy?” I’ve never had to “try” for long to become pregnant. I’ve never experienced more than mild morning sickness, never “prayed to the porcelain gods.”  I’ve had four uncomplicated, fairly easy pregnancies. I’ve given birth vaginally four times after three smooth, uncomplicated labors, never pushing for more than 25 minutes (and that was with one posterior baby). I’ve never had a truly colicky infant. It doesn’t seem fair, does it?

Especially when I think of my sister-in-law who waited desperately for four-and-a-half years of infertility before finally adopting her son. Especially when I think of another friend who waited even longer and now waits yet again to adopt a second child. Especially when I think of a friend who has experienced debilitating morning sickness through six pregnancies. And when I think of my cousin who gave birth after pushing a posterior baby for five hours (he finally turned and was born quickly afterward). And especially when I think of a friend who gave birth a few years ago… desperately wanting a VBAC after three prior cesareans (and one prior VBAC attempt), finally with a wonderful midwife who supported her wishes and believed in her, only to get to nine centimeters and discover that she really did need a fourth cesarean after all.

How can it possibly be fair that I get to have it so easy?  That question has been rolling around in my head eliciting a variety of answers. And the only one that gives me peace is this: Every mother must experience travail to bring forth her children, but that travail is experienced in a variety of ways. 

For Your Birth Bag

August 22, 2013 at 5:32 am

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This morning, a friend posted on my facebook page wall:

“Do you have a full list of things you recommend to bring for people who choose to have a hospital birth? I would love to pass a list on to my sister and friends who are pregnant, if you have one.”

I told her I didn’t have one, but she had given me an idea for a great blogpost. I should preface this by saying that I didn’t bring any of these things to my hospital births. But if I could go back in time, I would! Ten years of studying childbirth have taught me a lot!

Aside from the usual change of clothes, toiletries, and baby gear, here’s what I’d recommend you pack in your bag to ease your hospital birth and postpartum experience.

Sound Body, Sound Birth

August 4, 2013 at 12:31 am

Before my most recent birth, I made a list of “Hopes for next time.” I outlined the ways I hoped to make my fourth birth even better than the previous three. (Most of the items on my list didn’t happen. Oh well.) My first pregnancy was the beginning of my childbirth obsession, but I had no idea back then just how deep the things-to-learn-about-birthing “rabbit hole” was going to go. Now ten years down the road, it goes deeper still.

If I were to write another “Hopes for next time” post, I have another item I’d now be putting at the top of my list: singing.

Shaving, Showering, and Slathering

June 25, 2013 at 1:24 pm

My husband gets to have the same conversations with me over and over (or, rather, he gets to listen to me ramble over and over about the same bizarre stuff that rolls around my brain). For example, the conversation about how we all shower and shave too much. I really do talk about this excessively. Sorry, husband. I’ve been contemplating writing this blogpost for a long time. I nickname it “the pubic hair post.” Ha ha. But really it’s about so much more than pubic hair. Hear me out…

So here’s my premise:

Body hair is surface area for oils, pheromones, and other unseen natural chemical messengers we probably haven’t yet discovered.

And:

These unseen chemical messengers give us valuable information about each other, facilitating some relationships and preventing others (for good reason).

I’ve written about this concept before (see my “Mate Selection” post HERE). And a 2008 Psychology Today article, sums it up well: “As we act out the complex rituals of courtship, many of them inscribed deep in our brain, scent-based cues help us zero in on optimal partners—the ones most likely to stay faithful to us and to create healthy children with us.”

As I was rambling about this topic to my husband (again) yesterday, I mentioned that it’s unfortunate that the phase of life when it’s most important for our body’s natural oils and scents to be broadcast to the public (during the mate-selection process), most “first-world” people are daily shaving, showering, and slathering themselves in artificial fragrances (I know I did). As a society, in general, we are routinely stripping away and masking our authentic scents in an effort to appear/smell “attractive” to potential mates when, in reality, the way we’re most likely to find an ideal reproductive match would be to shave, shower, and slather ourselves less.

Birth Boot Camp

June 13, 2013 at 8:57 pm

In 2003, when I was pregnant for the first time, the only prenatal classes my doctor’s office informed me about were those offered at the hospital where I would give birth. The class we took did give us a few helpful tools, but I wasn’t overly impressed. So much has expanded in the world of natural childbirth education since that time. Today I’m excited to share an interview with the lovely Sarah Clark about the recently-created natural childbirth preparation program Birth Boot Camp. Sarah is a mother of four, a natural childbirth instructor, and is on the management team for Birth Boot Camp. She blogs about natural birth and motherhood on her personal blog Mama Birth and writes for Mothering.com.

How did you become involved with Birth Boot Camp?

Natural Birth Classes 250 x 250 alt I had been a natural childbirth educator for a few years when a friend of mine, Donna Ryan, approached me about working with her on a new project. (Donna had been my inspiration for becoming a childbirth educator and was actually MY instructor when I was pregnant with my first child. Her class helped me have a natural birth with a very long first labor.)

So, in a way I feel like I just got lucky. Donna asked me to join them, and I flew out to Texas to start working with her and the other board members to get everything ready before the launch. I started out helping with writing some of the materials and relaxation practices, and I also help Donna in training our new instructors. I met some fabulous women, many of whom I now consider good friends, and we have all been working very hard ever since.

Pic-happy

May 31, 2013 at 8:48 pm

If you follow me on facebook, you may have noticed that I’ve become a wee bit obsessed with sharing quote-pics of late. This is partly because I discovered Pinwords, and it’s so fast and easy to make them that I’ve become a little overzealous and perhaps a bit addicted.

Another reason I’ve been so pic-happy is that I’m a little late in discovering that facebook shares status updates and photos with more people than it shares links. Pics are a way to reach more people. Plus it’s easy to read and share a pic in a few seconds, whereas it takes significantly more time to click on a link and read the post before deciding whether to “like” or “share” it. But mostly I’m just enjoying having a new creative outlet.

Here are some of my creations… please feel free to share them on your social networks. Click on the pics to read more about the various topics.

My First Home Birth

May 29, 2013 at 11:10 pm

On April Fool’s Day of 2009, I gave birth to my third child (my only son) at home (10:55 pm, 7 lbs 8 oz, 19 3/4″ long). After two smooth and low-risk pregnancies and births, losing our maternity insurance, and lots of prayer, we knew home birth was the right path for our third (and fourth) pregnancies.

It was a near-perfect birth from start to finish. My water broke in the afternoon, I relaxed at home, contractions started a couple of hours after membranes ruptured, I ate dinner, my birth support team arrived, labor picked-up, I hung out in the birth pool during the most intense contractions, I pushed for five minutes, baby boy was born on my bed. You can read all the details HERE.

It was magical. And I’m so glad I had my friend Cassie and my sister-in-law Brooke there as my doulas/photographers. I created a slideshow with my birth photos that you can view HERE. But I realized yesterday that I’ve never shared the photos themselves in a blogpost. Here are some of my favorites, taken by Cassie (and Brooke) at the end of my pregnancy, during labor, and afterward:

Midwives Save Lives

May 22, 2013 at 10:50 pm

Midwives have been saving mothers and babies for thousands of years. Long before the words “hospital” and “obstetrician” even existed, midwives were passing down the skills and wisdom of their wise women, nurturing mothers and babies into life.

In one of humanity’s oldest and most well-read stories, midwives were saving lives. The first chapter of Exodus tells of two midwives (Puah and Shiphrah) who saved countless lives through their courage and compassion. When Pharaoh demanded that they kill all the male babies born to the Hebrew women in slavery, Puah and Shiphrah saved the boys instead. It is likely thanks to them that anyone knows and reveres the name of Moses. Midwives save lives.

My own faith’s history claims many brave midwives. In the late 1800’s, Emma Andersen Liljenquist attended a course in midwifery after Mormon church president Brigham Young had urged many women to receive medical training to meet the needs of the Utah’s growing families. (You can read more about Utah’s midwifery history here.) Emma recorded these experiences from her years as a midwife among Utah’s early settlers:

Morgan’s Miscarriage

May 6, 2013 at 4:46 am

I was talking with my friend, Morgan, at the park this past week. We got on the subject of miscarriage, and she told me about her miscarriage experience. Then I asked her if she’d be willing to share it here. I learned some things from her story. Maybe you will too.

Morgan has “five wonderful, crazy, adorable children and a perfect match of a husband.” She dabbles in a little bit of everything, and she spent a little bit of time as a midwifery apprentice until she moved away from her mentor. Morgan loves to sew baby stuff like baby carriers and cloth diapers. Her main pursuits lately are mothering her brood, building her business, and learning energy healing.

Plus, I’d love to add, she is one of the most genuine, kind, radiant people I know. Love her.

Here’s her story…

Film Review: Birth Story

April 24, 2013 at 4:52 am

“Some of the best birth footage out there–a must-see for anyone even remotely interested in the subject.” -Ceridwen Morris, CCE, childbirth educator, and co-author of From The Hips

When I received an email last week asking if I’d be interested in reviewing the film Birth Story on my blog, I immediately responded, “Yes!” I received my copy of the film over the weekend. My husband watched some of it with me, in between doing the dishes. I was impressed at how much it didn’t seem to freak him out. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. He’s been married to me for almost twelve years, after all.

My Conversion Story

April 21, 2013 at 6:59 am

When I was a young girl, I went with my grandmother to visit a woman who lived in a tiny white house behind our family fruit orchard. She had added another newborn to her growing flock of little ones. We peeked at the baby, sleeping calmly amid the hubbub of the other children. This experience would likely have receded into the annals of forgotten experiences if it were not for one detail that blazed it into my memory. This woman had delivered her baby at home, on purpose. I don’t remember how old I was at the time, but I was old enough to know that babies were supposed to be born at the hospital. And, besides, why would anyone want to experience that pain?

Not long after I got married, I had a brief conversation with a young woman we knew. She was pregnant with her first child and carrying a stack of birth-related books from the library. The books prompted our conversation, and she mentioned that she was planning to give birth without drugs. I responded, in shock, “I didn’t know people still did that?!” She answered me with two sentences that changed my life forever: “My mom had all her babies that way. There are actually a lot of benefits.” In sincere curiosity and ignorance, I spent a few minutes drilling her about the benefits of natural childbirth. I’m pretty sure she mentioned the Bradley method and midwives in there somewhere. And then the conversation ended. I have since forgotten her name, but I will be forever grateful to this young woman for opening my mind to a path I never would have found or chosen on my own.

Never give up

February 20, 2013 at 5:29 pm

We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.  -Marian Wright Edelman

Back in January of 2010, I got a surprising email from a local friend.  I discovered:

1) She was pregnant with her first baby.

2) She had been following my birth blog.

3) She had chosen a practice of fantastic nurse-midwives.

She also said, “I’ve loved reading about your home birth… I just am not ‘courageous’ enough to go that route on a first (maybe our next?).”

All of these discoveries made me giddy with excitement.

Then at the end of April, she and her husband attended my “Birth Coach Boot Camp” where I shared what I believed were the best ways husbands can help their wives in childbirth.  Her due date was right around the corner, so I sent her home with my birth ball and my copy of The Birth Partner, by Penny Simkin.  And then we waited.

This is why I carry on

February 17, 2013 at 6:48 am

Every once in a while I start feeling weary of this “work.” Lately I haven’t even been able to muster the energy to blog about anything specifically birthy.

A few years ago, I was feeling discouraged, wondering whether I was wasting my time making a big fuss about nothing with my blog and all the time and energy I put into birth advocacy. Did it really matter as much as I thought it did? Then I got an email from a friend-of-a-friend that rekindled my passion to carry on in my cause.

A few weeks prior, she had discovered that a certain medication she was taking would prevent her from having an epidural. So she had begun scrambling to prepare herself for an unexpected drug-free birth two weeks before her due date. A couple of our mutual friends had alerted me to her predicament, so I had whipped-up an email with attachments and links and tips. I didn’t hear any more about what happened until she sent me her email. Here’s what she said…

Deck the walls with birth and babies

January 4, 2013 at 11:56 pm

I mentioned on my facebook page that I recently turned our bedroom into a sort-of tribute to bellies, babies, birth, and life-giving. And people wanted pics!

I’ve been taking what we already had (with the addition of a few cheap Goodwill frames) to decorate with. So that means we finally hung up lots of things I’ve been planning to hang up for ages, including many of our birth and pregnancy photos (most of them taken by my talented doula friend, Cassie). And lots of trees, green things, life, love, and growth.

I think this is the first time we’ve ever really had stuff hanging in our bedroom. I really like how everything looks!

Now for the pics…

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